Navigating the Online Marketing Channel: Marketing Strategy
By Larry Chasin, Thinkspace
As a recap, the adage to remember when thinking about navigating the online marketing channel is “Technology first, then Marketing”, because you only have one chance to make a first impression. At this point in our analysis you understand the website technology and data requirements you need to have in place before embarking into the online marketing channel. We’re now ready to explore some of the successful online marketing channels and strategies.
Online marketing strategy is a combination of a lot things, but at the core it’s about presenting an engaging message to a targeted prospect group, and using the power of online analytics to improve conversion metrics. Depending on the strategy, the message can be a combination of (i) educational information, (ii) product and brand promotions, and/or (iii) in-store events and contests. Depending on the marketing message, the conversion metric could come in a variety of forms, including: # of new visitors, # of wishlist items added, # of new website registrations, # of phone calls related to a website promotion, # of people attending an in-store event with an invitation printed from the website, etc. Depending on the online marketing budget there are many different online marketing strategies and conversion metrics.
Generally speaking, even if your budget is too small to buy meaningful traffic to your website, a highly effective marketing strategy is to focus on your existing customer base by inviting them to your website and incentivizing them to complete a profile, add items to their wishlist, and come into the store to try items on at a private appointment or at an in-store event. Remember: existing customers are the lowest hanging fruit in the marketing funnel, and taking your relationship with them online allows you to engage with them more regularly and more meaningfully. The most successful online marketing tools to employ in this regard include the following:
The customer profile
Encouraging your website visitors to create a profile and provide their personal information is one of the most important marketing steps you can take. To be successful with this you really need to make an offer to the visitor to entice them to give you their name, email, birthdate, anniversary date, children’s birthdays, favorite gemstones, favorite designers, etc. One option is to offer a $50 in-store-only gift certificate for anyone who completes their online profile (make sure to require an ID to prevent duplicate account creation). Another incentive that can work well is a pop-up on the website asking the visitor to provide some personal information in exchange for a chance to win a jewelry prize. The reason this step is so important is that it provides you with data about your customers, and a method to contact them in the future. Otherwise they’re just anonymous web visitors that you may never come to know. Throw them a lifeline and make a concerted effort to connect with them.
The wish list
One of the things consumers do after creating a profile is add items to a wish list. Knowing the dates of the milestone moments in the lives of the people, in combination with the jewelry items they like, makes it easy for store sales associates to pick up the phone and make a thoughtful suggestion. There is nothing more effective than a good old-fashioned phone call to a prospect with a special offer or invitation. Armed with the critical profile information, it will be easy for you to be proactive in contacting customers and prospects at the right time and with the right special offer.
From the technology perspective, you should want to automate the process of gathering and integrating new online customer profiles and wish list info with the profiles you gather in your POS. Please refer to Part II of this series for more details.
I wonder how many jewelers out there are not using Email as a primary method for online marketing. Most email services offer free account registration and a free limited service offer. Email marketing is still one of the most cost effective ways of making a consistent impression and a compelling offer. The big email companies typically charge a fee based on the number of emails sent, expedited transmission, access to email templates, etc. You should investigate the following companies, choose one, open an account, load your prospect list and work with someone to design and send regular email communication at least 1X per month:
If by chance you have not yet started to collect an email list, there is no time like the present! All it requires is for your salespeople to ask your customers for their contact information so that you can send them invitations to events and access to special promotions. Some customers may decline the request, but many will not- thus providing you with another way to reach and market to your customer base.
When it comes to email marketing, make sure to modify the e-mail message each month. Some months you may have a special product offer, or you could provide gemstone facts and educations, maybe an in-store event notification, or a seasonal trends discussion, or an update on what’s happening in the store. You can also configure a special landing page on your website and link it to the email so you can measure click-through effectiveness.
Google My Business Listing.
It probably goes without saying, but I’m going to say it anyway: make sure that consumers can find you online. Your address and phone number most importantly. Not only should this info be on your websites header or footer, but make sure you claim your Google My Business listing so that you are properly indexed in Google search results, maps and Plus social, which together act as the new yellow pages of days long since past. Use this link and do it now: https://support.google.com/business/answer/2911778
Facebook Post Boosting.
It’s now common knowledge that Facebook posting only goes to less than 5% of a business’ fan base organically. This means that you have to “pay to play” to get real exposure and quality impressions to your own base. But the good news is that you can use the Facebook ad platform to reach any Facebook user that meets your specifically targeted criteria for gender, ZIP code, income level, interests and more. This is known as boosting your Facebook posts and it’s a very cost effective method for reaching lots of consumers in your market and presenting an advertising offer or simply making an informational impression. Try advertising specific brands, specific products, an event or even a contest. Even with third-party management fees, Facebook boosting can be very cost effective and often costs less than ~$5 per thousand impressions (CPM).
Syndicated Blog Content
Syndicated blog content can be a very cost effective way to engage online prospects. Unfortunately it won’t do anything for for organic search results, but that’s not the goal of this approach. The Jeweler Blog, for example, costs as low as $69/month and can form the basis of an interesting and engaging daily communication to your prospects. But be wary of syndicated content providers whose information is too general and not engaging. And if you do use syndicated content, make sure that the blog pages are set to “no index” so that you are not penalized in the search engines for duplicate content. More importantly, blog content can also be teased on Facebook and then boosted to get an additional marketing benefit.
All of the above online marketing tools can be used very cost effectively to generate a long-term, consistent brand exposure with the ability to proactively work new leads who register on the website and create profiles and wish lists. You can begin to engage these customers at little or no cost in a variety of manners, such as with: an interesting and informative promotional email; with a telephone call prior to an in-store event or a birthday; with social posts about your events and promotions; your customers’ proposal stories, etc. The more meaningfully you engage with your customers, the more loyalty you win with them, and the more business you will do them over the long haul.
Future installments of this series will explore other online marketing options you have with a larger budgets to pull more meaningful traffic to your website.