Remember the World Wide Web – Web 1.0 – and when you suddenly needed a website to promote your business?
“Seriously? Surely this is a fad…”
Cycle ahead a decade or so. Without warning, Web 2.0’s user-generated content model (think Wikipedia, Myspace, Tumblr) forged the path for Facebook and Twitter — and then Instagram, TikTok, and WhatsApp. Surely this is a fad…
If we’ve learned anything in the past 20 years, it’s that digital evolution is a real thing. The greater (or more disruptive) the change, the greater the opportunities. Since 2000, the e-commerce share of retail grew slightly less than 1% each year. At the beginning of 2020, it was at 16% — it’s now 27%.
Sure, there will be a resettling of sorts but it won’t go back to 16%.
Are you ready to leverage the digital opportunities of 2022?
If your retail focus was deemed essential during the pandemic, you’re more essential than ever right now. If you’re selling discretionary products, you’re even more discretionary now.
The good news is that the pandemic helped mature digital consumers to appreciate the power of community, cooperation, and sacrifice. As they age, our ability to innovate and attract them is our path to opportunity. Read on for a few ideas to spark your marketing creativity.
- Spend bigger ad dollars on smaller networks
Thanks to IOS updates and privacy changes within Facebook, it’s getting more challenging – and more expensive – to reach new customers. You could take JC Penny’s lead and focus on giving current customers more reasons to love you but if there’s one thing we know in the furniture and mattress industry, new customers are key to growth.
Maybe it’s time to start exploring new networks. A recent study by Pinterest showed that not only do their ads cost less, the ROI is bigger. Smaller networks aren’t as saturated with ads and with Pinterest, for example, ads fold into the news feed so they feel more like content that might be of interest. Less disruptive advertising — that ability to fit in — makes it easier to reach people who may be drawn to your product or service.
Florida-based Hudson’s Furniture strikes a healthy balance between homegrown, brand-specific, and upcoming sales content. If Pinterest is a network you’ve previously ignored, start here:
- Study your competition and engagement. Any ideas you can use for your store?
- Reach out to your suppliers and see how they can help with content – and what additional support they can supply (training, co-op dollars, etc.).
- Think about unique content you can post about your store. Employee stories, new product arrivals, store events?
- Start posting content and following your followers. And then measure everything to see which posts would benefit from additional ad dollars.
- Learn the art of short-form videos
Hello TikTok, can you introduce us to Gen Z? Four years ago, TikTok users spent an average of 8 hours per month on the platform. By 2021, that number climbed to 26 hours per month and the short-form video platform now commands more hours each month than Facebook and Instagram — combined. Thanks to Scott Galloway for these insights.
What’s driving the addiction? Their users are their creators, meaning perfect marketing videos are not welcome here. The vibe is entertaining, engaging, and authentic. LinkedIn and Twitter learned that lesson the hard way.
In 2021, TikTok launched Spark Ads, which allows brands to boost existing, organic content — watch for this to grow quickly as the platform grows. If you have video content available and want to try a new platform, start here with TikTok:
- Ensure your videos are short and snackable. Vidyard says more than half of video watchers will watch to the end of a video if it’s less than a minute long.
- Test your content on Facebook and Instagram as well – just make sure to customize it for each channel.
- Amp up the fun factor when it comes to creating your own videos. Try a challenge video that directly relates to something you sell in your store. Song imitations and dance videos (think dancing through the store) to a favorite song is another fun idea.
And remember, you’re not aiming for perfection here — embrace the chaos. Real videos of real people will get you TikTok fans.
- Build your PR and social media crisis plan
If you didn’t have one before the pandemic – and still don’t have one – it’s not too late. Yet.
Your social team needs to be involved in every aspect of your business to prevent your company from going viral for the wrong reasons. Whether it’s negative product feedback, customer service complaints or a glitch in your online purchasing process, it’s important to have a communication strategy — with digital at its core.
During the pandemic and the ensuing political upheaval and labor shortages, social listening has helped businesses understand their customers’ changing preferences and sidestep PR nightmares. If you’re ready to respond in real-time to consumer questions in the digital space, start here:
- Set up search streams in your social media scheduler to track your business name and any hashtags you use regularly. If you don’t have a scheduler, I recommend Hootsuite – they offer a 30-day free trial and the platform is super easy to use.
- Add search terms for competitors’ business names or products to help you understand what’s happening locally and within your industry.
- Involve the decision-makers in your company so they know what you’re doing and why. Open communication is key to success in this area.
- Make sustainability part of your advertising strategy
If you sell mattresses, you know the challenges of achieving differentiation on the sales floor and online. Our customers have an incredibly wide variety of options for both their choice of brand and retailer. And they’re inherently promiscuous shoppers.
They may be moved to purchase by a need but they’re motivated by what and where to purchase by a deal – which leads to a highly promotional marketing and advertising environment.
But we can lower the promotional intensity with actions like including sustainability in the shopping journey and purchase process.
According to EcoCart.com, 67% of millennials often check a brand’s sustainability practices before a purchase. What’s more, 92% of consumers are more likely to trust a brand with sustainability practices. If you’re wondering how you can add sustainability to your customers’ journeys, start here:
- Partner with a company that offers a low cost for entry into their program. OneTreePlanted.com offers a cornucopia of branding opportunities to use in your marketing and advertising with no minimum donation commitment.
- Research companies like EcoCart can help customers reduce their carbon footprint at point of purchase.
- Team up with local charities to help you make a difference in your community. Tepperman’s (Canada) releases a sustainability report each year and makes community involvement a core part of their employee retention program.
- Learn what social selling & social commerce is and how to get in the game
Social networks are investing more and more into social selling, which allows users to buy and sell products without ever leaving the platform. According to SproutSocial research, 73% of businesses actively sell on social media while 79% expect to be doing so in under 3 years.
Instagram Shoppable Stories (launched in 2018) allows you to tap on a product sticker and purchase in the app. When your customers are ready to buy, these networks want it to be through them. And if your customer wants the opportunity to buy on Facebook or Instagram, wouldn’t you rather it be from you than a competitor? Hint: watch for TikTok, YouTube, and Twitter to announce similar platforms soon.
The average organic reach of a Facebook post is 5.2%, which is abysmal. And unless you’re creating viral content (*Ahem* TikTok…) you’re going to need to put ad dollars into digital, meaning someone on your team is going to need to know how to target the right audience. Why wouldn’t you want to sell to your consumer once you’ve gone to all that trouble to reach them?
If you’re not selling on social media yet, start here:
- Consider hiring a social media customer service person or team and train them in best practices.
- Set up a Facebook Shop and/or Instagram Shop and test product pins on Pinterest – and customize so the experience is visually seamless with your brand.
- Experiment with shoppable posts and ads to allow your customers to see your products in context.
- As with everything you do in the digital space: measure, measure, measure.
- What’s up with AR, AI & Meta?
Is this all just fun and games or will any of this help us sell more mattresses? Remember at the beginning of this post we talked about Web 1.0 and Web 2.0? It’s time to prepare yourself for Web 3.0. — it’s coming and it will change how we live our lives and do business.
AR, AI and yes, the Meta, are all currently in play in varying degrees, being used by people and by brands and social networks:
- Augmented Reality isn’t new technology and it’s being widely used already in our industry. Ikea, Wayfair, EQ3 (and many more) use it to allow consumers to see a product in their home before they purchase it. Deployed properly, it can boost sales, decrease returns and improve overall customer satisfaction. Read more: AR & 10 use cases in the furniture industry.
- Artificial Intelligence, again not new technology and used in a wide variety of applications. If you’re advertising on Facebook, you’ll see it in your look-alike audiences – or machine learning when you launch a new campaign.
- Meta. There’s no denying the Metaverse is coming but it’s in its infant stages still — and being shaped daily by its users. We’re still a ways off from mainstream use but the philosophies being tested, decentralizing social media, for example, are already beginning to shape our current social media usage. There are brands launching campaigns — and stupid amounts of money going into things like NFT’s — but you’re not going to miss anything by sitting and watching a little longer.
I’ve enjoyed taking a walk with you through the current and emerging trends on digital in 2022. We’ll be deep-diving into each one individually in future posts but in the meantime, I’d love to continue the conversation with you.
How are you integrating digital into your advertising strategy? Are there trends listed above that you’d like more info on? Hit me up on the social channels below and let’s chat!
Who the heck is Julia Rosien?
At the end of the day, it’s night and it’s my job to help you get a better night’s sleep – and lead a healthier, longer life. Pretty awesome job, right? As Vice President of Brand & Digital Marketing for Restonic Mattress Corporation, I also serve as the brand liaison for Restonic’s family of brands, which includes Scott Living and Biltmore.
My motto: life is better together. We all want to succeed and when we work together, we can make great things happen for ourselves, those around us and the organizations we serve. Connect with me on LinkedIn or Twitter.