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Digital marketing: Multiple ways to engage with consumers online

October 9/16, 2017: Volume 32, Issue 9

 

Screen Shot 2017-10-17 at 10.19.38 AMThe marketing landscape continues to change, especially as more shoppers utilize online media. To capture the attention of these consumers retailers are strengthening their presence online through digital marketing.

So, what constitutes digital marketing? According to Marketo, a leader in marketing automation software, digital marketing refers to “advertising delivered through digital channels such as search engines, websites, social media, email and mobile apps.”

While most retailers today have a digital marketing strategy that touches on a few of these channels, not all are aware of the different aspects of digital marketing.

Following are brief descriptions of some of the more common types of digital marketing.

Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising
According to WordStream, PPC accounts for 64.6% of ad clicks. This type of digital advertising usually refers to the “sponsored result” on a search engine results page. It is flexible, visible and can be tailored to specific audiences. What’s more, a retailer only pays for the ad when it is clicked on.

Re-targeting
This aspect of digital marketing utilizes marketing automation tools to track how customers engage with a brand across multiple channels. Once that information is collected, retargeting allows the retailers to serve those customers personalized ads across multiple channels.

Search engine optimization (SEO)
According to Marketo, 67% of all clicks are from the first five listings on a results page. In addition, 71% of searches resulted in a page one Google organic click. When retailers use SEO they have the ability to increase the rank of their websites in online search results and site traffic by using popular words and phrases. In order for a website to increase its rank it must have valuable and engaging content, be well constructed, easy to use and have credibility.

Social media marketing
Many consumers are using social media to discover and research different brands. To run a successful social media campaign, experts say retailers should weave social elements into every aspect of their marketing. One of the keys to social media is the opportunity for peer-to-peer sharing. This allows content to be seen by a larger audience which could increase engagement. Some common social media sites include Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter.

Email marketing
According to Marketo, a successful email campaign must be engaging, informative and entertaining. It should also satisfy the following core attributes: trustworthy, relevant, conversational, strategic and be coordinated across channels.

Mobile marketing
Similar to social media, this channel has multiple options including SMS, MMS and in-app marketing. As consumers increasingly rely on mobile devices, it is crucial for retailers to participate in this channel. For consistency, mobile marketing should be coordinated across all digital platforms.

Marketing automation
This integral platform allows retailers to tie all of their digital marketing together. In addition to streamlining and automating marketing tasks, marketing automation also measures the results and ROI of a digital marketing campaign.

Many of these digital channels can be strengthened with a concrete content marketing strategy. Great content can aid SEO, social media, emails and paid search ads by inspiring and educating potential consumers.

Overall, retailers have a ton of digital marketing options available to them. Furthermore, there are a significant number of companies willing to assist retailers with digital strategies. With all these channels and resources available, now is the time to develop and execute an effective digital marketing program.

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Distributor's perspective: Online marketing in flooring distribution

July 31/Aug. 7: Volume 31, Issue 4

By Steve McKenna

 

In this modern technology age, no one can dispute the importance of developing and maintaining a viable online marketing strategy. Problem is, many of us are not utilizing our websites to their full potential. As I look around the industry, I’m noticing our websites are vastly different from our day-to-day customer interactions.

Screen Shot 2017-08-07 at 11.39.53 AMIn the flooring distribution world, many distributors choose a strategy that attempts to set themselves apart by being experts in their industry and providing a higher level of service than our clients can receive elsewhere. As distributors, we pride ourselves on being problem solvers for our clients. We offer them a level of expertise they cannot obtain from our competitors.

So why do most of our websites look like, at best, a product marketing flyer? Most of the time we barely communicate who we are, what we really do and how we do it on any level.

Here is the difference between how we market online and how we market in person: In face-to-face interactions, we have a conversation with a client we probably already know. We analyze the situations they are working on. We have an active dialogue together about potential solutions, and we strive to offer solutions that will fulfill their needs, including budgets, time frames and expected performance. We don’t have to tell the clients we are experts; they already know because we have taught them something they needed to know.

Online, however, we might tell someone about everything we sell using a list. We may even have some links to the manufacturer sites, which give the clients the information they are looking for. The more advanced distributors likely have product videos and maybe even a bit of history about where some of our products have been used in the past. Some of us also use online portals that tell customers packaging information, pricing and availability of inventory. But this only serves to easily fill the order. It does not utilize any of the expertise we exercise every day in person.

If we are using our websites to let our customers know we have a pulse and they can place an order with us, then we have missed the point of the Internet. People generally aren’t going online to see who you are and where you’re located. They may do this once, but more commonly they are looking for information. The web is a great learning tool, and if we don’t take the opportunity to educate our customers then someone else will.

The most powerful service we can provide our clients is information that is easy to access, relevant to our specific needs and entertaining so they stay engaged. If we sell hardwood, for example, we know our customers may have several specific questions related to that particular product segment. (For instance: What is the best hardwood to use for my studio apartment? Should I buy oak or maple for this project?)

Odds are your sales and customer service staff are already answering these questions. Imagine if you could provide your clients and staff with a tool that answered all of these questions quickly and efficiently.

 

Steve McKenna is president of McKenna Distribution, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. He has experience across various positions, including shipping and receiving, inbound and outbound sales, purchasing and management.