SFN: How to grow sales with digital marketing

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By Megan Salzano

Digital marketing strategist at work
The session crafted a retail roadmap to digital marketing success in four basic steps.

“Having a digital strategy is the most important thing a retailer can do right now.” That was the driver behind one of the most popular breakout sessions hosted during this week’s 2021 Shaw Open Virtual Conference. The breakout session, titled “How to grow sales with digital marketing,” drew scores of retailers. Todd Callaway, Shaw’s director of digital marketing, content and communication, and the session’s organizer, took note of the large group—which interacted via a chat feature during the session—and the positive momentum it signified.

“The fact that you’re all here means you’re already [working on a digital strategy],” he said. “It felt like for many years there was a sense of trying to convince people that they needed to be in this arena. It doesn’t feel like that is the case anymore. People recognize how important it is to have a digital presence so the people in your community can find you.”

Callaway told attendees the next step was “to reiterate to yourself and your staff that this is an important arena and worth devoting time and energy to.”

The session’s main speaker, Carole Cross, founder and CEO of Mobile Marketing, took the lead during the session and broke out several ways in which retailers can grow sales with digital marketing. All strategies are available and managed through SFN’s Velocity program, which is partnered with Mobile Marketing.

However, before Cross delved into the four basic steps retailers can take to grow their sales, Callaway first spoke to attendees about several overarching tips to help ease the burden of digital marketing.

Tip #1: Feel good about asking for help.

“We’re going to talk about multiple things—SEO, websites, social media marketing—and no one can be an expert on all of this,” he said. “When you think about all you’re already doing to juggle your business, there’s no way you can do all of this alone. This is an area you need to feel comfortable asking for help in because it is a fast-changing and moving environment and a very deep and wide category.”

Tip #2: Invest.

“For many years it felt like digital was free,” Callaway explained. “You could get by without putting money into it. But today, it’s so important that we encourage you to invest because it’s still, in many cases, a new opportunity to reach consumers. It’s still cost effective, but no longer can you get all of these eyeballs for free. It used to be true, but it just is not today.”

Tip #3: Keep active and measure.

“We encourage you to pay attention to your digital marketing,” he explained. “Sometimes there were sites that were created and just sat there. Also, make sure you are measuring your digital marketing. With digital you can see the results and how your money is being spent. In some ways, you can get lost in the measurements. We want you to feel good about your digital marketing. So, you want to measure your digital sales. Are these efforts driving business? That’s the goal. With the right digital strategy that’s what it will result in—increased sales.”

How to grow sales with digital marketing in four steps

Cross gave an in-depth analysis of how retailers can use digital marketing to grow sales and the best ways to utilize SFN’s Velocity program. Following is an overview of the session:

Step 1: Increase awareness

Cross delved deep into the three processes that will help boost a retailer’s brand awareness:

  • SEO
  • Paid search (PPC)
  • Social media (organic & paid)

“SEO [Search Engine Optimization] is all about optimizing your website code and the content on your site so Google likes it, and it ranks it for free,” Cross explained. “The opportunities on-site are all things that we have to tell Google—who we are and what we do. If don’t do that well, Google won’t find us. You get high-quality leads from SEO.”

She also explained that SEO is a longer-term strategy. “You have to do the homework over time, and it takes time to make those changes happen.”

Pro Tip: What’s the best way to know how Google thinks about you relative to how you’re doing? Use your Google Search Console.

Paid search

“PPC (paid search) is when you pay to show your ads on the top of Google’s search results,” Cross explained. “Those top three positions generate 41% of all clicks on the first page. Eighty-nine percent of paid clicks are incremental to organic clicks. You may ask, ‘Do I need to do PPC if I’m doing well in organic?’ Yes. PPC lets you control the message you want put out, when you want it out and where. You’ll see an immediate increase in leads. When paid and organic work together, you get incremental engagement on top of it. That’s because when people see that you’re in paid search and organic search, they think you’re a pretty relevant player.”

Pro Tip: Ask about your Quality Score for Critical Keywords.

Social Media

“Why do we want to use social? It can help increase your brand exposure very quickly. You can get leads from social at very low costs—the ads are less than $0.03. And you can target areas around your store. You want to look at engagement as a metric to conversion.”

Pro Tip: If you post it, give it a little $$. It doesn’t have to be a lot of $$.

Step 2: Increase website engagement

  • Promotions
  • Product content
  • Visualization

“Promotions and Content Calendars serve as a guide across all your digital channels,” Cross explained. “The concept is to have a promotional and content calendar for the year.”

Product Content

“Having robust content capability on your site is critical,” Cross said. “Be your own brand online. If you’re fun and playful, be fun and playful. If you’re design oriented, be design oritened. Really be sure your site aligns with what your store is—who you are and what you sell.


“This is the breakout technology of the year. The ability for a consumer to see the product in their own room, in other rooms or different inspirational type rooms and to have the technology really work is essential,” Cross said. “Consumers are more likely to buy with visualizers.”


  • 7% increase in online ecommerce sales with visualization
  • Consumers are 5-times more likely to buy products they see in a visualizer

Step 3: Sales, offers, conversions

  • Important calls to actions
  • Lead management
Calls to action

“Calls to action allow you to capture consumer interest and enables your ability to follow up to work the opportunity,” Cross explained. “If you don’t have calls to action, you’ll have traffic and nobody to follow up with.”

Lead management

“Velocity has partnered with Retail Lead Management. What are the things that lead management helps you do? It helps you work the lead—following up, assigning it to an RSA, accountability, having oversight. If you’re going to pay money, work on SEO to get leads, etc., you want to put your best foot forward to work those leads and close them.”

Pro Tip: Listen to your phone leads.

Step 4: Growing loyalty

  • Ratings and reviews
  • Email/mobile communications
Ratings and reviews

“I can’t say enough about the importance of reviews,” Cross noted. “If you have online reviews and they’re bad, you really need to work on making them good. Consumers really do read them and do use them as a determining factor on the quality they think you are.”


  • 93% of customers will read reviews of local businesses to determine its quality.
  • 72% of customers won’t take any buying actions until they’ve read reviews.
Email/mobile communications

“Email and mobile communication provides those extra touches to keep your brand top of mind,” Cross explained.


  • 98% of text messages are opened

At the end of the day, Cross noted that closing sales and driving incremental business is what digital marketing and the Velocity program are here to do. “The Velocity Dashboard helps us understand what channels we’re marketing in, what we’re spending, what messaging is resonating, manage leads. You want to put more money into what’s driving that inbound traffic. So measuring is really important in the overall mix.”

Callaway added that Velocity really isn’t about a website, but about executing a digital marketing strategy. “Talk to other team members about their experience,” he added. “I think the transparency that is brought to the process is really important. It’s about how we help you sell more at the end of the day, and that’s what the program is focused around.”

Several retailers attending the breakout session did in fact voice their opinions on the program. Brent Ziegler, owner of H&R Carpets & Flooring, Waunakee, Wis., said, “Velocity has been a great partner for our store. Shout out to Carole and her team.”

Jeremy Flowers, owner of Flowers Flooring in Cornelius, N.C., said, “For those of you who are not on the Velocity program already, get signed up today! Carole and her Velocity Team are experts in their field, from developing your website to increasing your lead flow. Thanks Team Velocity!”

Renee Avent, co-owner of The Floor Boys of White Knoll in South Carolina, added, “Leads is a fantastic tool to keep up with our customer. Great tool for our sales team!”

Callaway and Cross also hosted an advanced digital marketing break out session during the week, which covered topics such as Retargeting, GeoFencing, Programmatic OTT, Virtual Appointments, Mobile Chat/Chat bot, eCommerce and more.

For more details and to see the advanced session, visit shawnow.com.

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