5 tips to raise your digital game

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digitalBy Jacqueline Hinchcliffe—In recent years, the way companies market their products has drastically changed. Today, more emphasis is being placed on interfacing with the consumer during the initial flooring research phase—long before she enters a physical store. In order to keep up with the times, it’s imperative that retailers better utilize digital marketing strategies to generate more exposure and capture those leads. Implementing even the smallest changes, experts say, can increase traffic to a store and/or website and, thus, generate more sales.

1. Personalize your SMS

When text messaging the consumer—whether it’s an existing client or prospect—it’s best to offer a personal touch, according to Sam Tuttle, public relations coordinator for Podium, a software company specializing in technology that helps businesses modernize customer interactions. “Using the customer’s name really makes it feel less like a marketing outreach and more like a discussion and conversation,” he explained. “I’d also adopt a more conversational tone. Usually we can say things like ‘Buy now!’ or ‘Offer ends today,’ but that’s not very conversational. That just seems very robotic. People want to feel like they’re talking to an actual person and not a robot or a person who doesn’t really care on the other side of the phone.”

2. Don’t stretch yourself too thin

With so many products to offer—and multiple channels to reach the consumer—it’s easy to get overwhelmed and lose focus. That’s why it’s important, experts say, to be selective in your digital marketing initiatives. “Focus on either your core products, your private-label brands or your brands that offer you the highest margins,” said Yuki Conlon, president of Jast Media, a company that helps various industries improve their online customer experience. “A lot of times, when we work with retailers and distributors, they’re struggling to do marketing that encompasses everything. We advise them to focus on the products that make the most sense for them. Stretching yourself too thin is what makes marketing overly complicated and cumbersome.”

3. Tailor your message accordingly

In a retail environment where consumers are bombarded by advertising, it’s critical to make your communications stand out from the pack. “Personalization is really big now; just going out there screaming from a rooftop, ‘Hey! I sell floor covering!’ isn’t going to get people’s attention because there’s probably six other companies in your market saying, ‘Hey! Come buy flooring from me!’,” explained John Weller, CIO, Broadlume. “How do you differentiate yourself and personalize your message? Think about the people in your market and start talking to a smaller segment of your target audience.”

4. Leverage social media

Social media is like any other advertising medium—it requires thought and may seem overwhelming at first. It really isn’t difficult but starts with a basic understanding of your business and what you’re trying to achieve. “If getting more customers and making more money is what you’re after, social media is the medium,” said Lisbeth Calandrino, who has been advising floor covering retailers on their marketing strategies for more than 20 years. “It’s today’s marketing tool and can help you achieve what you’re after.”

So, what are some of the ways retailers can utilize the platform to their advantage? Calandrino offered this advice: “Post new products on your Facebook page and ask visitors for their opinions. If this is new to you, or you’re not comfortable with these tools, get someone to help you. It’s likely your competitors are already doing this. Don’t give them an unchallenged advantage.”

More importantly, it’s best to be consistent in your social media activity—regardless of the specific platform(s) used. “You can’t post one week and then post three months later,” she warned. “Social media is a way to develop friendships and takes time and consistency to continue to build those relationships.”

5. Track your leads

Having the latest digital tools at your disposal is great, but if you’re not effectively tracking your leads, then it’s all for naught. That’s why experts like Jim Armstrong, founder of Flooring Success Systems, strongly recommends retail owners and sales reps ask a simple question of every single person who calls or visits their store: “‘What prompted you to visit (or call) us today?’ Will this tell you with 100% accuracy where every single lead and closed sale came from? Of course not. But by tracking this data over time, you’ll see patterns emerge,” Armstrong explained. “You’ll get a pretty accurate picture of how many of your sales were generated from repeat customers, referrals, customers driving by your store, website visits, digital advertising, etc. And this will give you a pretty good indication of where you should continue to invest your advertising dollars and where you shouldn’t.”

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Nov. 22/29, 2021

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