Start slowly in digital marketing and build your way up, retailers say

Flat design Illustration: Content is king in digital marketing

Furniture retailers have spent most of the pandemic working to increase their online presence and generate more business and open new sources of revenue. But how much should a retailer be investing in digital marketing to begin with? 

David Enos, vice president of digital marketing for Phelps Digital, an HFA Solution Partner, and two HFA members talked about how much to invest initially along with other digital marketing strategies in last week’s HFA Live webinar, “Create Momentum with Digital Marketing.” 

Enos said the dollar amount is not as important as what retailers feel they can sleep peacefully at night with. “I would recommend to anyone that they start with a number in their budget that they are really comfortable, sort of gambling with, and they don’t build it until they’re confident that it’s driving in the right direction,” he said. 

A majority of the retailers polled during the webinar – 58 percent – said they are currently investing anywhere from 1 percent to 20 percent of their advertising money in digital marketing. Enos said retailers do not need to start at that top figure. “Make it a goal to get to 20 percent, but start with 5 percent or 10 percent and then really get confident with the results you want before increasing that amount,” he said. 

Invest conservatively to start

Josh Hudson, president of Hudson’s Furniture in Florida, said it’s just as important to find a digital partner who is willing to work with your business as it is to find the right investment amount. You need someone that’s willing to partner with you to start small and then take it easy with you,” he said. “Someone who swoops in and says, ‘Oh, I’ve got the magic number. It’s 25 or 30 percent of your budget or whatever it is, hold onto your wallet. Because you’ve got to see what your results are going to be.” 

Cara ConsigliCircle Furniture’s content manager, agreed. She said Circle Furniture, in Massachusetts, invests heavily in digital marketing these days because it has returned proven results. “But if you’re talking about spend for campaigns, if we’re trying something new, we’re definitely going to be a little bit more conservative,” she said. “We’re not going to go crazy on anything until we see worthwhile results.” 

Consigli said Circle Furniture is leaning heavily into content marketing, a strategy that hasn’t deviated over the past three years. That content includes blogs, videos and social media. “Any type of way to interact with our potential shoppers online,” said Consigli. “We have a dedicated content writer that works with our design team, and then we also have a dedicated videographer that also works with our social apps.” 

Hudson’s takes a different tack by investing in paid search. He said the strategy has evolved in the last five years. “It used to be the goal was, if you get website, then that traffic, or a certain amount of it, would make it to your store,” said Hudson. Hudson said that still holds true, but his company now leverages Google to measure the actual cost per store visit. 

He said Google allows retailers to see which campaigns, keywords and devices drive the most store visits to your business and understand the full impact of the return on investment. “We’re making a more informed, smarter decision now about our ads and how much we spend.” 

You can hear the entire webinar and others archived here.

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