Today, as a home furnishings business owner, more than ever before, it is easy to build your advertising strategy on quicksand.
If you are not proactively using your customer’s email addresses to market and promote your home furnishings business, you may be like the owner of a store that is built on quicksand.
Today, as a business owner, more than ever before, it is easy to build an advertising strategy that leaves you sinking in a cycle of ever increasing costs, loss of control and lower returns.
Continuing with this metaphor, let's take a closer look at the causes of this quicksand phenomenon:
1. Your Media Partners are quicksand because they can change rates, distribution and content guidelines at any time despite what may be working well for you at the moment.
2. Facebook is quicksand that has been willing to offer free and reduced charges for years, but is now looking to charge top dollar. Facebook has continuously dialed up their choke-hold on small businesses. The consensus among those marketers specializing in Facebook advertising and promotions, is that only six percent of organic status updates are shown to your audience. This means that on average, only six of 100 of your Facebook page likes are engaged with you at any moment.
Retailers do have success paying to boost Facebook posts, but given the rise in cost of online advertising, especially in the mattress niche due to the direct to consumer guys, many retailers are getting less return per dollar invested in online media like Facebook and Google.
3. Yes, Google is quicksand too. They will always change the rules. As soon as you begin to understand them, they change! For example, a couple of years ago, Google released its "Penguin" update to their search engine ranking algorithm. This caused many businesses with #1 page rankings to sink like quicksand. Those retailers who over-relied on Google to engage with customers saw customer traffic and engagement plummet.
4. Your Vendors can be quicksand as well. They can change the rules in favor of bigger and better opportunities despite your years of partnership.
Of course these business partners are very, very important. However, they do control the rules of engagement and ultimately can change, at the turn of a dime, how they operate and impact your business.
Vendors may offer you a premium position on their website. Sometimes this position is earned through a combination of dealer loyalty, tenure and respect. At other times this position is purely a “pay for play” reward. If you’re not a top retail dog, and the rules change, you may find yourself trending downward.
Email marketing and the ability to maintain and engage customers with creative messages is, in my opinion, one of the most important things retail store owners can do to ensure long-term success.
So, what if you haven't invested enough time and energy to develop a good list? All is not lost. There are many ways to collect email contact information from your present and potential customers.
On Your Website
Unless you want to read endless reports about impressions, clicks, page views, and other metrics that can’t be taken to the bank, you should commit to using your website as an email collection tool. You will need to drive traffic to your website, and that probably means paying Google, but once they get there, it's imperative to encourage visitors to take the next step. If you don't offer to give them more information, and get them to voluntarily offer their contact information in return, you will leave a lot of potential sales on the table. Here is a list of places you can collect email addresses.
Your homepage: Offer information of value in exchange for customers' names and emails.
Entrance pop ups: Ask them to enter a contest or offer valuable information in exchange for emails.
Exit pop ups: When your customer is ready to leave your site, a pop up can appear to ask for name and email in exchange for information or a savings offer.
Coupons/specials page: Offer to send the customer a savings pass offered only to email subscribers.
Via Your Store
If you are like every other furniture and bedding retailer, most of your shoppers do not make a purchase on their first visit. If you want to encourage them to visit again and maybe purchase, you need to collect their emails. Without this piece of contact information the likelihood of a repeat visit is slim to none. Consider asking for emails using these tools in your store.
When you give a quote or price: If your staff is well trained and knowledgeable, it is likely that shoppers visiting your store learn something of value on their journey to purchase. Shoppers and customers who've had a good experience in your store are often glad to reciprocate by giving their contact information... if asked. Insist that your sales associates ask for full name, address, phone and email in that order, because you will collect more emails.
At point of purchase: Your single biggest opportunity to collect an email address is when a customer makes a purchase. There are many benefits your customers can receive from giving their email. They can be made aware of future offers, special events, trend information and more, now that you have an established business relationship.
To wrap up, here are two more very effective places where you can collect emails from potential customers to advance the sale.
In your advertising. Often you have limited space in your advertising messages. Expand your messages by directing readers to a specific page on your website where you can offer to email them information about additional savings or bonuses based on the content or subject of the advertisement.
At home shows or events: When you exhibit at a home show or external event, offer shoppers the opportunity to enter a contest to win something of value in a contest by completing a simple entry form.
Great marketers maintain a well-organized and properly engaged customer email list. This list is the foundation on which you can rest easy in the knowledge that no matter what any advertiser or vendor does, or may change with or without notice, you are secure that you will not sink in the quicksand of higher costs, loss of control and lower response rates.
About Jeff Giagnocavo: Jeff Giagnocavo is co-owner of the retailer Gardner’s Mattress & More and the co-creator of Mattress Retailer Weekly. Mattress Retailer Weekly is shared with you every week so you can get new customers, stay ahead of your competition and increase your sales tickets. Get your FREE subscription by visiting www.RenegadeMattressRetailer.com or text MRW to 484-303-4300.