So, you’ve finally invested in your future and developed a fantastic website with full e-commerce capability. It’s a little beast, web responsive, beautiful product images, wish lists, opt-in forms and so on. Yet, what has it done for your business? Probably not much if consumers don’t find it. You’ve bought the Ferrari, but you must maintain the thing, put gas in it and trot it out so people can see it—or else why did you buy a Ferrari? So, you have one more thing to build: A plan.
If it helps, think of your store’s website like your brick-and-mortar store. Some stores have the luxury of built-in foot traffic based on their location, while others may be more of a destination. Regardless of your location, strategic marketing helps increase foot traffic and thus, sales. Your website is no different. In fact, it’s more difficult to drive quality traffic to your website because everyone is competing for the same space. This is where digital marketing comes into play. It drives traffic to your website where people can shop you and either buy online or visit your store.
But not all digital marketing is the same. Just like that half-page ad in the back of this magazine versus the full-page, inside front cover ad, there are options when it comes to digital marketing. Unless you know the difference, you’re stuck with the less impactful ad. That’s where a lot of furniture retailers live and don’t even know it.
Some furniture retailers even do their digital marketing themselves. Good luck with that, because the truth is digital is much more sophisticated than most even understand. I’m in retail. I should I be able to buy product for your store, right? Do you see how we are sharing a laugh together right now? OK, enough with that soapbox. This is why you need to build the plan.
You might be surprised by how many retailers spitball their marketing, and digital marketing in particular. This could be because they don’t understand it, don’t really believe in it, or simply don’t know how to budget for it. Usually they try it here and there and then write it off as not working. Well, there are many factors that go into that statement and, truth be told, most are doing it wrong. First things first: Build a plan. Building that plan includes setting and sticking to a marketing budget and, if you want to succeed online, embracing the many digital marketing opportunities out there.
Most retailers today dedicate 25 to 60 percent of their overall marketing dollars to online initiatives. (Overall marketing budgets are 6 percent to 8 percent of gross sales.)
Establish key performance indicators (KPIs) and measure conversions. Most retailers don’t do these things and, as a result, are left in the same stagnant rotation.
Find an experienced partner who can articulate a multi-layered approach to digital marketing—not just someone who talks about paying for clicks. What do they believe? What’s their strategy? Believe me, there is a difference.
Finally, remember that the aim is a complementary marketing mix. There is still a need for traditional media, but it helps to compare cost versus reach. It’s also helpful to rethink traditional media and how it can drive people to your online space. There are also numerous types of digital media such as paid search (PPC), social advertising, SEO, geo-marketing, retargeting, digital display and text-based marketing (SMS). You most likely can’t do them all and do them well, so you’ll need to select the types of media that complement your plan and objectives. Again, it’s about reach. If you don’t have an adequate budget for a particular type of digital media, you’re basically spending money on the “business card size ad.” Let’s be honest, that rarely works.
I challenge you to get serious about what you do online. Build a plan, put the right team in place and watch what happens in the next year. Times are rapidly changing. Furniture retailers will either adapt or slowly become irrelevant. Want to make 2018 great? Build a plan.