SPI’s Marketing Tips for
Furniture Retailers

A Marketing Platform for the
Home Furniture Retailers

Marketing Ideas for
Converting Traffic Into Sales.

SPI’s Marketing Tips for Furniture Retailers

A Marketing Platform for the Home Furniture Retailers

Marketing Ideas for Converting Traffic Into Sales.

Home Furnishings Marketing Overview

Remember the good ol’ days? Promoting your furniture store was pretty easy. You’d run an ad in the newspaper on Friday and Saturday to drive weekend traffic. You’d drop a direct mail piece or circular leading into a holiday weekend and support that with TV or radio.

Enter the internet. That changed everything… and it continues to change.

First, you have to dismiss the idea that traditional marketing and digital marketing are two different animals. They’re not. It’s just marketing. How you mix and balance all the components of traditional and digital will determine how effective your overall marketing efforts will be.

Here’s a dozen ideas to consider when developing your marketing mix.

Marketing Idea #1

Develop an Effective Website

Think of your website as an extension of your showroom. It’s where the majority of shoppers will go before they enter your brick and mortar store. Here are a few things these “intenders” expecting when they visit your website:

Your site should reflect your brand.
You’ve heard the old saying, “You only get one chance to make a first impression.” Your website is often the first encounter a customer will have with your brand. Make it count! Think of your website as a “showroom.” You want a design that’s inviting and reflects the experience that that would have in person.

Make your site should be easy to navigate.
The quickest way to lose a visitor on your website is to make it difficult for them to find what they are looking for. Make it easy for them to find exactly what they are looking for with as few of step as possible.

Tools like an augmented reality room planner will keep customers engaged on your website.

Incorporate useful tools.
Keep visitors engaged with your website by offering them tools that are useful to the decision-making process. These would include things virtual room planners and augmented reality (AR) tools that allow to “see” what the furniture looking at would look like in their home.

Make your site mobile friendly.
We live in fast-paced, mobile society that relies on smartphones to keep us connected. Your website must be mobile-friendly and designed on a responsive platform. You want to make the shopping experience easy and seamless whether it’s on a desktop computer or a cellphone.

Marketing Idea #1

Develop an Effective Website

Think of your website as an extension of your showroom. It’s where the majority of shoppers will go before they enter your brick and mortar store. Here are a few things these “intenders” are expecting when they visit your website:

Your site should reflect your brand.
You’ve heard the old saying, “You only get one chance to make a first impression.” Your website is often the first encounter a customer will have with your brand. Make it count! Think of your website as a “showroom.” You want a design that’s inviting and reflects the experience that they would have in person.

Make your site easy to navigate.
The quickest way to lose a visitor on your website is to make it difficult for them to find what they are looking for. Make it easy for them to find exactly what they are looking for with as few steps as possible.

Tools like an augmented reality room planner will keep customers engaged on your website.

Incorporate useful tools.
Keep visitors engaged with your website by offering them tools that are useful to the decision-making process. These would include things like virtual room planners and augmented reality (AR) tools that allow them to “see” what the furniture they are looking at would look like in their home.

Make your site mobile friendly.
We live in a fast-paced, mobile society that relies on smartphones to keep us connected. Your website must be mobile-friendly and designed on a responsive platform. You want to make the shopping experience easy and seamless whether it’s on a desktop computer or a cellphone.

Marketing Idea #2

Create a Unique Selling Proposition

This is who you are. It’s what makes you, you. Customers want to know what sets you apart from the competition and why they should choose your company.

An effective USP identifies a clear benefit you offer.

An effective USP distinguishes you from your competitors.

For example, your credit department may develop custom payment plans to work within your customers’ individual monthly budgets. Your competition may not be so willing to help those budget-conscious customers. You could use “flexible financing tailored to fit your budget” as a USP.

Marketing Idea #3

Get on page one of Google

We know that step one for most customers will be to “ask Mr. Google.” That’s why you need to be all over page one of the search results. There’s an old adage that says,”If you want to hide a dead body, put it on page 2 of a Google search.” Almost nobody scrolls down and clicks to the next page. Remember, make it easy for the customer! Here’s a few ways to dominate those search results:

Paid Search
You can call it Pay-Per-Click, SEARCH or SEM. These ads are run through auction-based systems like Google AdWords. The main advantage here is that you show in the top positions (reserved for paid ads) and that you can control the ad copy and landing page. Know your keywords and buy them… or your competitor will! Don’t leave SEARCH up to organic Google ranking. This is a specialty area of SPI where we can help if you do not have the manpower, or time, or expertise.

A lot can be managed in-house by your marketing team. But the advantage of having a professional SEARCH expert who does SEARCH all day, every day, 24-7, for many different clients is simply going to know more strings to pull when setting up a campaign. This is an area we are most often called in to help. Even retailers with an in-house team will still want a dedicated SEARCH person managing their campaigns and dollars. At first glance, Google AdWords can look rather easy. But to do it right – meaning efficiently making the most use of your dollars – you have to take into consideration pacing, budgets, keyword exclusion, search query metrics, bidding strategy, location optimization and a number of other ploys. We recommend hiring a pro – in the long run you’ll save money.

Google My Business
Be sure to set-up and rank for Google My Business. This is the maps listing and review platform Google uses for geo-targeted searches. It’s a free listing you can optimize with your descriptions and customer reviews.

Search Engine Optimization – SEO 
Lastly, you have organic searches. By optimizing your website for keywords, gaining links, getting social media traffic, and adding content to your blog, the search engines (Google, Bing, etc.) will start to rank you higher and higher based on relevant, meaningful content. This is not an overnight process – this takes time to ramp up and convince the search engines that you are relevant to particular searches. That’s why starting with Paid Search is important. That’s immediate if done correctly.

Marketing Idea #4

Create a Strong Online Presence

What exactly is “Online Presence?” We can tell you what IT IS NOT. It is not just having a website. Too often companies put all their effort into a nice website and stop there. The world of “if we build it they will come” does not exist. A strong online presence may start with a website. But then there are all the other digital marketing tactics needed to DRIVE people to your website; and today, powerful tactics to “capture” prospects who are not even looking for you YET.

We have talked about SEARCH. But SEARCH is essentially a “harvesting” tool. People who already know what they are looking for will do a Google search. You want strong SEARCH content to grab those prospects. But it doesn’t stop there.

There is a type of digital marketing that will actually place your ads in front of people who have shown an intended interest in your type of services. It’s called programmatic media and one, just one, of its many techniques is called retargeting.

With retargeting, someone visits your website looking for info and does not directly convert – but we capture them with a piece of code (called a cookie or pixel). This is added to their browser so you can continue to share your brand or special offer long after they’ve visited your website. If you need help with this, SPI was one of the first doing programmatic and can help you.

Marketing Idea #5

Embrace e-commerce

More and more, consumers are embracing the idea of buying furniture and mattresses online. In fact, home furnishings is the 6th fastest-growing e-commerce category. As stated earlier, you have to think of your website as a showroom. If a customer invests the time to find exactly what they want, would you let them walk out of the showroom without closing the sale? Of course not. If a customer invests their time on your website to find what they want, reward them with the opportunity to make the purchase while there’s some shopper excitement.

Marketing Idea #6

Add visual impact on your website’s virtual showroom

Shopping for furniture is a visual decision-making process. Invest in high-quality photography that makes it easy for the customer to visualize how the furniture will look in their home. Staged room settings, close-ups of interesting features, the more picture the better!

Consider one-upping your competition and replace photography with beautifully shot, short videos. Why? Video is one of the most powerful ways to communicate on the internet. Computers and phones download videos quickly, so they are easy to view.

Here are a few facts why you should incorporate video content:

  • Video viewing accounts for 80% of all web traffic
  • 96% of consumers say videos help with them making a decision to purchase
  • 75% are more likely to make a purchase after watching a video
    *Source: Digital Marketing Institute
Marketing Idea #7

Traditional TV… and not-so traditional television

Up until this point, we’ve put a lot of emphasis on internet advertising. The fact is, television remains king of capturing eyeballs. Whether it’s national or local broadcasting, television advertising has the potential to reach a larger number of people.

Cable television offers a huge selection of topic-specific programming that makes targeting certain groups even easier. Are you into home improvements? There are cable channels dedicated to that. Believe aliens exist? Yeah, there’s programs about that, too.

There’s also advertising opportunities on over-the-top television (OTT). These are the streaming services like Hulu and Roku that deliver programming to your smart TV, computer or mobile device.

The key to maximizing your ROI when purchasing television advertising is to work with a traditional media expert. They have the tools and ratings reporting that guide them in developing a plan that delivers the most reach and best value. They are also masters at negotiating value-added packages that include things like sponsorship opportunities, inclusion of digital ads on the station’s website or the chance to be an “expert” on local interest shows.

Creating an integrated plan combining traditional with OTT and online is a core capability for SPI. We’re happy to consult if you have questions.

Marketing Idea #8

Invest in video production

Whether it’s for TV or your website, video is the most powerful way to communicate your story. As you begin to think about producing video, you need to consider the experience of the team that will craft your story, shoot the footage and complete the editing and post-production. In the age of YouTube’s user-generated content, people have grown accustomed to watching poorly produced videos.

Your brand deserves better.

SPI’s video production team has over 30 years of experience and will gladly answer any questions you may have.

Marketing Idea #9

Be social with social media advertising

When they first came on the scene, FaceBook and Instagram were often considered an afterthought for businesses. Today they demand our full attention.

Facebook challenges Google for online traffic dominance. As a marketing tool, we recommend paid social media as a must have. The advertising tools available are so robust you probably won’t be able to keep up with it all. The Facebook algorithm will target audiences with great accuracy, finding people most willing to engage with your content or convert on your website.

While organic content on your social media sites is fine, it’s important to stay engaged with prospective shoppers showing an interest. This is so important, we recommend you do not leave this communication to chance and use paid social media advertising.

More and more, retailers have come to understand the power of social media advertising – particularly Facebook advertising. The targeting options are extraordinary, allowing you to retarget people who visited your website or engaged with your Facebook page and create a lookalike audience based on your current customers’ personas.

SPI places a lot of digital media for many clients. Paid Social media, using Facebook, is almost always in our recommendations.

This is an area many try to manage in-house because on the surface it looks quite easy. But taking full advantage of the tools, a professional buyer will make your dollars go much farther creating better reach, frequency and efficiency. A professional paid social media expert who places media, every day, 24-7, for many different clients is simply going to know more of the available tools and how to best use them. In the long run, you save money, increase ROI, and keep interested prospective customers engaged.

Marketing Idea #10

Manage your reputation

Retailers have come to realize what a huge role online reviews play. Google or Yelp can do as much damage as good. It’s imperative that you constantly monitor them. Many consumers will look at review sites because they simply trust what other consumers say about you more than what you say about yourself.

There is no such thing as working in isolation in the digital age. How you treat a customer can have positive effects on your company if your performance meets their needs. In the long run, being courteous, attentive to a customer’s needs and treating them with respect can have as much of an effect on sales as the price of the furniture in your showroom. By the same token… treat a customer poorly and a negative review can cost you.

That said, you want a review program you can monitor and actively pursue happy customers to capture positive reviews.

Here’s an example of an email-based review program:

When they hit “Good”, it links to the review platform where you want a review. “Not Good” opens a feedback form. This allows you to encourage positive happy customers and respond to, and hopefully divert, unhappy customers.

Marketing Idea #11

Add testimonials to your website

In addition to outside reviews, use testimonials on your website. For those consumers who have not made it to a review site yet, you may capture them right there on your homepage with the right testimonials. Make sure they are honest and credible with a person’s name.

Marketing Idea #12

Use the right marketing firm to help you

Not all marketing firms are created equally. Some choose to pursue awards and industry accolades over results.

The right marketing firm puts results first. They measure success by traffic counts and sales. They understand retail marketing and how to target the right people at the right time with the right message that will influence their buying decision. If you’re nodding your head, you’ve found the right marketing firm… SPI.

We know one size does not fit everyone. So, we offer our services a la carte or full concierge service. We can provide all the services we’ve discussed here or just the ones you need. We know some of the bigger companies have excellent marketing teams in-house.

In today’s competitive marketplaces, it’s important to develop a marketing strategy and a team that can work together. If you need us to pull everything together for you, we can do that. If you have a great team but could use us to supplement the team in a key area, we can do that — we play well with others.

Put SPI on your team and you’ll be amazed at what can happen.

Tell us what you need.
We’ll get it done.

Rooms

SPI Collective’s Home Furnishings Blog
by Rick Mytych

Rick’s marketing career started 36 years ago at the in-house advertising department of one the nation’s premier furniture companies. From there, he went on to work with many of the region’s largest furniture retailers. From brand development to designing hang tags, he has done it all.

Rooms

SPI Collective’s Home Furnishings Blog
by Rick Mytych

Rick’s marketing career started 36 years ago at the in-house advertising department of one the nation’s premier furniture companies. From there, he went on to work with many of the region’s largest furniture retailers. From brand development to designing hang tags, he has done it all.

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