Have you heard the saying, “two heads are better than one”? Or what about “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”? If you’re a friend to omnichannel marketing, you know the meaning. If not, welcome to the MicroD Masterclass on omnichannel marketing. First up, the dynamic duo of Email Marketing and Paid Advertising. These two digital marketing tactics seem like they belong to two very different marketing strategies. But when you put them together, it can significantly improve email marketing campaigns and even help you save money on your SEM. Let’s explore 7 paid advertising plus email marketing strategies that help you dominate the retail home furnishings business.
1. Paid Advertising Builds a Better Email List
Email marketing has one of the highest ROIs of any marketing method. For most B2B and B2C companies, it’s the greatest return on investment. It’s proven. It works. But the quality of your subscriber list matters. Did they give permission for emails? Do they still want your emails? Do they click on your offers? Are they even the right type of customer for you?
If not, you may be working with a lead list that you paid for. Or you’ve been struggling with how to engage subscribers for a while so they’ve tuned out. Whichever the case, paid advertising can help you build a better list from scratch or enhance your existing one to improve email marketing campaigns.
How to Do It
There’s more than one way to build your list with paid ads. Here are two ways to get you started.
- Create a new ad campaign
- Set a goal of getting X new subscribers
- Create an email address form, often called a Squeeze Form.
- Offer people an incentive to sign up. In retail, it’s almost impossible to get people who don’t know you to sign up unless you offer an immediate reward. The arts and crafts store, Michael’s, offers 20% off the first order. Take a look at your margins to see what you can do.
- Analyze results and optimize your ad campaign
Capture emails as part of the buying process. When someone clicks on an ad to buy something, you’ll get more out of that click if you can continue emailing them offers. Now, you’re positioned for upsells, cross-sells and increased customer value. We’ll talk more about the remarketing side later.
See how it’s not one or the other. Email and paid ads are a perfect match. Each has different strengths and weaknesses as we’ll explore next.
2. Marketing Qualified versus Sales Qualified
Email is great. But it can take a while to see if your strategy is working. Why? Because emails nurture two kinds of leads:
- Sales Qualified Leads (SQL) – Hot leads who are ready to buy now
- Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL) – Warm leads who will likely buy soon
SQLs often cost more to acquire because the reward for you is instant and your competition is doing everything it can to capture these leads. MQLs are nurtured over time. Both can become high-value customers if you treat them right. Your MQL takes longer to ponder but may end up spending more when they finally buy. You don’t want to lose either of them.
SQLs are ready to buy so they appreciate straightforward calls to action (CTA). But send an MQL something that is too salesy too fast and they may unsubscribe immediately. While analytics can help you distinguish between the two, you won’t always know who your SQLs and MQLs are. So it’s important to find some balance between helpfulness and promotion. But just because MQLs take their sweet, sweet time doesn’t mean that what you’re doing isn’t working.
Compared to email, paid advertising gives you almost immediate feedback on what works and what doesn’t. With ads filling in the gaps in emails strength profile, you’ll improve email marketing campaigns so much faster than you could otherwise. Time is money in retail. Don’t meander around with your email campaigns. Refine your email strategy with what you learn.
How it Improves Email Marketing Campaigns
Keep your ad campaigns ahead of your email campaigns by at least a couple weeks. Test several variations of your intended email headline in an ad. Which earned the most clicks? Take this a step further by testing your CTAs as well to come up with a conversion rate optimized CTA-Headline combination.
3. Run Identity-Based Ad Campaigns
It’s natural to feel uncomfortable about how much data big tech like Facebook and Google collects about us. But the fact is that it really helps a retail furniture store like yours get more customers, increase customer lifetime value and personalize the customer experience. Customers really like personalization and most are willing to trade their data to get it.
Identity-based marketing is like the dream marriage between PPC and email. It allows you to upload your existing subscriber list onto Facebook or Twitter. You can then show segmented ads to your subscribers based upon location, demographics, buying behavior and more, depending on how you currently segment your emails.
Why Is This So Effective?
- The subscriber is seeing your brand in multiple places. This builds trust and keeps you top of mind.
- The ads reinforce each other. They may click the ad or they may click the email. It’s like getting two (or more) shots at the win. And these are very big shots!
- You’ve already segmented your email lists so you don’t have to waste time choosing all of the demographic information again in social media. You just saved time while potentially doubling the outcome.
4. Reach Customers At Different Stages of the Buying Journey
Remember those SQLs and MQLs? You can think of them as the same buyer at different stages of the same buying journey. A SQL, who is ready to buy now may very well have been an MQL yesterday. They needed to do their research, decide what they wanted, revisit their budget, and now they’re ready to buy.
The basic buyer’s journey includes:
- Awareness/Discovery – A person becomes aware of a problem you can solve or something you have that they want
- Consideration – A customer explores their options based on what’s important to them. This may be price, getting a good deal, high quality, their friends will like it, X celebrity has it, etc. And it’s important to realize they may be exploring these things with several retailers at once. You can’t assume you have a captive audience.
- Decision-Making – Taking that leap and buying that new bedroom suite
If you fail to understand that customers are in different places, it’s easy to lose that sale altogether because both email and ads have unique but vital roles to play.
Unique Roles; One Mission
Paid advertising is like your bookends. It works very well in both awareness and decision-making (for those SQLs). But bookends are pretty useless without some books in between.
Email is effective in the consideration and decision-making stages but does nothing for new customer awareness. Email can, however, help in the awareness phase of a repeat customer.
Paid ads are more expensive. So some furniture stores want to skip that step. But to improve email marketing campaigns, you need to increase awareness first through paid ads.
However, much like email, paid ads don’t stand alone very well either. They’re too expensive without a strong email marketing plan in place to nurture that lead whose still in the awareness phase. Customers don’t typically skip from awareness to decision. They need what’s in those books in between your bookends to get to the next step in their journey. That’s generally helpful emails that guide them to helpful tools, blog posts, videos, and other consideration content.
Paid advertising and email seamlessly guide each buyer through the sales funnel that you create. And, if needed, paid advertising can even help you recapture leads that fell out of the funnel on the way down. It’s called remarketing.
5. Say, Yes, to Remarketing
There’s no subtle way to put this. Retail needs remarketing. It needs it badly. The Internet is a distracting place. People abandon carts because they got a Facebook notification on their phone. They remembered that they haven’t paid their credit card bill in the middle of entering payment information. Then they simply forget to come back.
And your email CTA worked so well! This is a tragic way to lose a sale.
These missed opportunities can really impact your revenues. But there is a ray of sunshine. Paid advertising can help this wayward customer circle back to complete what they started
How to Do It
You’ll be adding code that will put a cookie on the computer of the customer. This cookie not only tells Google or Facebook (your choice) that they’ve visited your site, it can tell them exactly where the person was on the site.
Automate your remarketing ads to invite people back to the website. There are different tactics to explore.
- Specifically, mention the abandoned cart in the ad
- Show them an image of what they were buying with a “still interested?” type message
- Simply, show them your store logo and ask them if they’re forgetting something
Just like all ad campaigns, you’ll determine what works best.
But what if they didn’t even make it to the checkout after clicking that email CTA? Can you still use remarketing? You sure can. As long as they reached your website through whatever means (ad, email, direct, social media, etc.), you can automatically send a remarketing ad to invite them back. These ads will appear on Google, Facebook, or their partner sites. And they’re surprisingly affordable considering how effective they are.
One final way to use remarketing ads is to hit an offer home. They saw the ad in their email. Then they see the same offer in ads. they’re more likely to see the offer the 3rd of 4th time and more likely to click. Remember a time when you were watching TV and they show you the same commercial two to three times in a row during a commercial break. It seems like someone made a mistake at the station. But these guys know exactly what they’re doing. That instant repetition works.
6. Test Your Visuals in Display Ads
We discussed how testing in ads can speed up your learning curve and improve email marketing campaigns faster. The same applies to visuals. Don’t miss out on a great email conversion opportunity by attaching the wrong stock image to the email. Test these images in ads first to see which resonates with your target audience. Test headline and image combinations to optimize your email before you even send it.
Because once you send an email, it’s ineffective to do re-dos. It confuses the people who already saw and responded to it.
7. Use Gmail Sponsored Promotions (GSP)
This greatly underutilized way of advertising for furniture retail may just be your secret weapon to improve email marketing campaigns. Google allows you to target people based on their Gmail activity. Gmail is one of the most popular home email providers. So this gives you the potential to reach a lot of people. After you set this up, your ad appears in their Gmail account among their emails as a collapsed ad, which they can expand to view more. You may have seen these ads in your own Gmail email list.
How to Use GSP
GSP works similar to other AdWords ads. You’ll bid on certain keywords. If those keywords appear in a person’s inbox, then they may be a potential customer. Some keywords will be more competitive than others. So you may need to build a small list of keywords to target to get the best results.
Consider what words a person may have in their inbox if they’re in the market for furniture. These might be words that indicate that someone is moving, has just purchased a home, got approved for a loan, got their tax refund, just had a birthday or anniversary, for starters.
Don’t forget to geotarget in areas where you have showrooms. You don’t want your ads going to people everywhere just because they have Gmail accounts. With all ads discussed in this list, you should narrow your audience. Otherwise, you pay for clicks in India or Australia who can never be your customers purely because of location.
It’s All About Omni Channel Marketing
Paid advertising and email marketing work together to help you reach more customers, generate leads, nurture leads and make those sales. But they’re only two pieces of what could be a greater omni channel marketing strategy for retail furniture company. Just like email and ads, other digital marketing channels like social media management, SEO, content marketing, enhanced website tools and more can not only improve your email marketing campaigns. They can enhance your ROI on marketing across the board. If you’re looking for better ways to improve email marketing campaigns and increase revenues, let’s talk about your goals and business.