We don’t have to tell you that retail has changed in the past 10 years. It seems every week, we’re learning of a once successful brick and mortar retail store is closing up shop or merging with another. While this may cause anxiety, it doesn’t have to. These are signs of our times and an indication that people today shop differently. It’s a sign that omnichannel marketing strategies are more important than ever. What is omni channel marketing? This marketing method is a multiple channel approach to getting a customer. It’s clearer representation of how people today shop — in a multi-faceted yet very interconnected way. Here’s why omnichannel works for retail furniture where other marketing often fails and what you need to know to get started.
Retail stores that embrace this new reality can and do thrive. And this new reality isn’t just “the Internet” or “social media” or even search engine optimization (SEO). It’s broader. It’s omnichannel.
What Is Omni Channel Marketing?
Omnichannel marketing is a marketing strategy that involves fully integrating several digital and often brick & mortar channels into one cohesive marketing plan. Why do this, you might ask? Because the people who visit your website, follow you on social media, click Google ads or come into your store are often the same people, encountering you through different channels and at different spots on their journey as a customer.
There are several very important reasons this makes sense for furniture dealers like you.
Why Omnichannel Marketing Works Better?
By being present in multiple channels that work together, you’re seamlessly guiding a customer from deciding they need a new sofa to research sofas to buying that sofa from you to buying a matching chair and end tables too. And then, if all goes well, you get a great online review at the end and they become a repeat customer.
If you’re not present in one of these major channels, this gives competitors like the one down the street who started to take your customer base, an opportunity to snatch a would be a customer or existing customer away.
Just like the Aesop’s fable you learned as a kid, omni channel is about not putting all of your eggs in one basket. Don’t want to put all of your marketing dollars into one channel. A one-dimensional marketing strategy is very easy for competition to exploit. It may look like you’re making progress but collapse overnight when your competition makes their move – spilling your one basket of eggs.
And while trying to juggle 5 or more channels may seem cost- and time-prohibitive, it doesn’t have to be when everything is integrated. Each facet of omnichannel supports each other, reducing time and cost across the board.
What Channels Are in an Omnichannel Strategy?
Each omnichannel strategy is customized to your specific business, audience, and needs. Because it’s so versatile and customizable it’s hard for competitors to figure it out or counter it.
A strong omnichannel plan for furniture retail includes:
- Social Media Management
- Paid Social Media
- User-friendly Website
- Investment in Initial and Continuous SEO, including local SEO
- Search Engine Ads
- Email Marketing
- Content Marketing
- Your Physical store
Yes, it doesn’t all have to be online. Integrate what’s happening online into your store and vice versa to drive foot traffic and sales like you wouldn’t believe. As your omni channel presence grows, your best salespeople learn how to integrate the online experience with how they work with customers on the floor.
Social media management isn’t just occasionally sharing posts about special events. It’s a full-scale reputation building and engagement tool. What is omni channel marketing without this vital channel?
As part of your omnichannel strategy, you’ll build a presence in 2 or more of the major social media sites. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest are your top social media platforms for furniture stores, in most cases. But how do you actually build an engaged following?
The tactics vary from site to site, but you’ll likely be building your social media strategy around activities like:
- Social listening – Research what your target customers are looking for in your industry. What gets them excited? What questions do they have about furniture, designers, or home design? Who do they interact with the most? What’s your competition doing? There are online tools that help make this process more efficient.
- Sharing – Build and share content around what you learn from social listening.
- Contests – Contests with furniture prizes that people get excited about attracting the right audience and engage those you’ve already attracted. You can use contests to build an email list. Send offers, updates, and content directly to customer inboxes.
- Event Promotion – Use social media to promote events at your physical store like a room design workshop or carnivalesque tent event.
- Paid Social Media – Boost posts that get attention among your followers to find more fans like them. Run targeted social media ads in the feed and elsewhere to get people to visit your website.
- Interacting with Followers & Influencers – Whether it’s commenting, liking or answering questions, social media is a two-way street.
- Influencer Marketing – Engage with influential people in your industry and partner with them to share your posts with a wider audience.
And don’t forget review sites.
Review Sites = Social Media
Review sites like Yelp and Google My Business are a form of social media. 84% of customers today trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. So as part of your omnichannel strategy, fill these profiles out fully. Encourage online reviews from all customers.
Social media gives you an amazing platform on which to meet new customers. You can think of it as a meet and greet, very casual, light and unintimidating.
But to make the most it, you need to be a good host. That means that you have a great space in which to further their online experience in a more personalized way. This space is your website.
Your website is like your digital flagship store. It’s the central location that most represents who you are as a brand. It needs to be fast, modern, and easy to navigate with a seamless checkout process, delivery scheduling and customer support.
On your website, use personalization and automation tools to customize each person’s experience based upon their preference. This turns your website into the most intuitive salesperson you’ve ever known. Your site shows each visitor the most relevant ads, tools, and content. The more relevant, the more likely someone is to click and continue engaging with your site. The longer they engage, the more likely they are to buy.
Also, incorporate online design tools that allow a customer to take a picture of a room and them virtually place furniture from your store in it. They can completely design a space without ever setting foot in your showroom. They then add all of the items to their cart and buy. Make the design tool shareable to generate more awareness of social media.
What is omni channel marketing if not the perfect way to increase order sizes in a fun and effective way that customers love! No hard sales tactics needed. But in order for these tools to do their job, it’s important that you have ways to get people to the website. Social media is great at this. But you also need the visibility in searches that SEO provides.
When it comes to what omni channel marketing is, there’s a hidden element many ignore. SEO makes you more visible in organic search results. Searchers in Google are high-intention, meaning they plan to buy something now or are very close to making a decision. Continual investment in this area will help more customers find you exactly when they’re looking for what you sell.
SEO involves 4 vital components
- Building a very user-friendly website.
- Creating content that people are looking for, want to link to and share. And then you share it on social so people can find it.
- Building authority online. You do this by increasing traffic through social media, emails and more. Also, network with other non-competitor websites to generate links.
- Analytics & Measuring Results. You can’t SEO a site if you’re not focused on what the analytics are telling you so you know when you meet goals and are doing things right.
While SEO is good for the overall health of your site, local SEO is most important for a furniture company.
People want to buy furniture locally when they can for many reasons:
- If they’re environmentally conscious, they appreciate that buying local reduces their carbon footprint
- In they’re socially-conscious, they want to support local jobs
- If they’re focused on the health of the local community, they want to keep it local to boost the economy and create jobs
Local SEO involves strategies that help Google understand that you’re a local business. Google tries to give local business preference in their local and regional areas. Local SEO puts the local and regional business on a level playing field with Amazon and other retail behemoths. You can’t outspend Amazon. But you can outmaneuver them locally.
Local SEO is the way to do it. SEO is amazing. Being high in searches seems like “free advertising”. But you don’t get to the top overnight, so you need SEM.
When seeking to understand the answer to, what is omni channel marketing?, SEM should always be a part of the conversation.
Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is a combination of SEO and search engine advertising. You need both working together to get the most out over either of them. If your website isn’t SEO’d, then it’s not optimized for conversions. Ads will be less effective. People leave before buying.
But on the other side of things, search ads make the site visible when you don’t yet have a presence on certain queries.
SEO, SEM and social media help introduce you to new people. But email marketing allows you to take your relationship to the next level.
While social media gives you more exposure to increase brand awareness, email marketing gives you more control over the customer experience. Offers and content go right into their email, which everyone who has Internet uses at home or work. Even people who don’t spend time on social media have email and most check it regularly.
With email segmentation, you can send groups of subscribers the most relevant content. Segment your list by buying behavior, browsing behavior, interests, location, demographics and more. Relevance increases clicks and engagement.
Use automation to send emails at the perfect time. For example, if someone abandoned their cart, you don’t want them to get the email 2 weeks later when you get around to sending it. It should be automatic.
Email marketing has a 44:1 ROI, better than any other marketing strategy. Amazing, right? Why do you need anything else?
But keep in mind that in order to generate this kind of ROI, you have to build a list of engaged subscribers. You’ll do that through social media and your website. See how everything omnichannel comes together?
But there’s another major piece to consider. None of these strategies works if you don’t invest in content that you can share in emails and on social media. What is omni channel marketing without content?
Content marketing is the act of researching, creating, distributing and analyzing content in order to:
- Increase Brand Awareness – Whether you’re creating videos, quizzes, blog post or widgets for your website, content that is likable and shareable increases your presence on social media and in Google.
- Educate & Help – Create content to help buyers make informed decisions. From one piece to the next, content gently guides a customer to the buying decision. Avoid sounding salesy. Instead, build trust and interest. YES: What’s Your Design Style. Take this quiz to find out. YES: 9 Essential Elements of a French Country Home NO: 10 Reasons We’re the Best Home Goods Store in Houston, Texas
- Build Your Email List – Ask for an email before someone uses an online tool or gains access to certain content.
- Entertain & Amuse – Who doesn’t love funny TV commercials or radio jingle? Online content can be equally funny and entertaining. Find your personality to build a following. Contests are a great way to entertain. People love to have a chance to win. Incorporate user-generated content (USG) into your contest to further engage. This is when you ask someone to create something like an Instagram story in exchange for a chance to win something.
- Increase Conversions – While some content indirectly leads to conversions, other content very directly converts. Email content often falls into this category in addition to content that you may share on social media to introduce fans to a new line, designer or brand.
What is omni channel marketing? It’s a fully-integrated marketing plan that customers love as much as your bottom line does.
Why Omni channel Works for Retail
Omnichannel marketing better represents the complex way people buy online and in your physical retail store. It connects with people in various places to further their journey. It helps level the playing field with big online competitors. And because you’re diversified, it’s harder for the competition to exploit your weaknesses. Are you ready to see what omnichannel can do for your home furnishings store? Contact us to learn more.