Digital marketing 101: How to make your strategy a winner

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February 17/24, 2020: Volume 35, Issue 17

By Megan Salzano

Digital marketing in the year 2020 is not a suggestion but a necessity for any viable retail operation looking to grow or even maintain a successful footing in the market. From baby boomers (aged 55 to 73) to Gen Z (those born after 1996), consumers today are gathering and sharing information through digital platforms, and that means sifting through countless advertising and marketing campaigns aimed at their spending dollars. To fight through the noise, independent flooring dealers need an arsenal of targeted strategies, including a sound digital marketing plan. To support retailers in that endeavor, we’ve highlighted five steps to creating a winning digital strategy.

1. Set your goals
Setting goals is key to any successful business strategy and it’s no different when it comes to digital marketing. You’ll want to outline your goals for the full year and into the future. There are myriad questions you can ask yourself to outline your goals. Do you want to raise brand awareness, increase foot traffic, engage with the community, up your game in a particular flooring category? It’s important to ask and answer these questions for your business but also plan how you will achieve these goals and set dates for their completion with a budget to match.

“A good set of digital marketing goals covers a range of different measures to help set, review and control performance across all digital marketing activities.”
Dave Chaffey, co-founder/content director, Smart Insight

2. Evaluate your branding and digital footprint
In today’s retail landscape your brand is your store’s lifeblood. Consumers want to know who you are, what you do and what value you’re bringing to the table before they even enter your store. In 2020, a store’s digital traffic will far out weight its in-store traffic and converting those digital eyes into real feet is key.

Digital marketing experts suggest evaluating your brand, its story and how it’s represented in the market before upgrading your strategy. Ask yourself, “Does this represent who we are and what we do today?” It’s possible your brand was created several years ago. So, it may be time to dust off your presence and make a fresh start.

“Examine your brand direction and messaging. Look over all of your brand properties, website, marketing materials and digital marketing channels. What needs to be modified? How much money do you have to achieve these goals? Start planning for the changes.”
—Janette Speyer, co-founder/partner, HotIceMedia

3. Create engaging content
Your brand is up to date and you’re ready to draw in customers. Well, when it comes to digital marketing that means you need content. And not just any old content—you need engaging content that will fight through the online noise and reach your target audience. You’ll need to focus on two major types of content: long form and short form. Long form content includes blog posts (do you have a blog yet?) that center around topics that help your customer with a pain point or learning curve and not just push them to buy your products. Short-form content is for your social media marketing efforts. It can be anything from Instagram photos of recent installations to two-minute video tutorials.

“One of the most effective ways to get the word out on your business is to create video tutorials. Teach people something useful. Step-by-step tutorials are all the rage. The better you are at this and the more value you provide, the quicker you can boost your visibility and, ultimately, your sales.” —R.L. Adams, author/founder, WanderlustWorker.com

4. Get social
Now that you’ve dusted off your brand story and created new content, it’s time to share it. The key here is to get your business in front of your potential customers and let them know you exist and what you can do for them—build awareness and engage. Social media is a strong tool with robust options for spreading the word. Social media is where you’ll find the millennials who are currently in the homebuying life stage and also where Gen Z lives, a generation with more influence over the purchasing decisions of their parents than any generation before them.

Experts agree, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest are the top three channels retailers should be focusing on. Each has a strong history of driving traffic back to your website, which is ultimately where you’ll tell your brand story, show your offering and coax clients in store. Remember, you don’t have to start your social media marketing on all three platforms. In fact, you should only start with one, do it well and then move to the next.

“The key to engaging [social media] content is to give your audience more of what they want. One of the best ways to do this is to look at popular hashtags in your industry and what the top-performing posts look like. Another great way is to view your [account] insights.” —Jenn Herman, social media strategist

5. Convert to sales
You’ve refreshed your branding, created engaging content, built awareness and socialized with your consumer. Now, it’s time to use that momentum to get your audience in the door.

“This is where you should use strong calls to action in ads and emails. Use incentivized offers like a free consultation if they ‘book a [store visit] today.’ Test different incentives and see what your audience responds to best. Keep in mind, the conversions funnel is a continuous and changing cycle and your methods should be as well. The conversations you have with your customers today may not be as effective tomorrow. Always be asking yourself what you could do to improve the customer experience.” —Chad Keller, COO/co-founder, Growth Stackers

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