At 1 Digital Agency we’re intrigued by industries that throw a wrench into the run of the mill digital marketing playbook. We’ve discussed it before, with the limitations put on the vape industry, and now we’d like to talk about an unconventional strategy for how to market furniture online.
When we think about digital marketing for eCommerce, usually we’re thinking about conversions. Are we doing everything we could be doing to get the most people possible to click ‘Add to Cart’? But one size doesn’t fit all, and some industries are unique enough that a successful digital marketing plan won’t involve conversion obsessed thinking. Furniture retail is one of those industries.
A piece of furniture is the kind of big-ticket item that people are still a little squeamish about buying online. That doesn’t mean, however, that a strong online presence doesn’t have a pivotal role to play in moving a customer down the furniture sales funnel.
A Google report from 2015 found that 63% of people take two weeks or more to visit multiple furniture sites while researching their next furniture purchase. They also predicted that, by 2018, 70% of all furniture sales would be influenced by the internet in some way. However, just 25% of those people, that did extensive research online, actually made their purchase online. The reason for this disparity is that a piece of furniture is an expensive purchase. Potential buyers feel that they need to see the actual piece in a brick and mortar store before they feel comfortable making a commitment.
This does not mean that a furniture web store is unnecessary; it’s actually just the opposite. Because people rely so heavily on the internet during their research phase, your online presence should be geared toward getting your products on your customer’s short list, and then closing in your brick and mortar location. The digital marketing strategy laid out below is how we at 1Digital Agency recommend that our furniture clients use digital marketing to influence decisions on their sales floor.
Do I Need a Web Store or Just a Website?
Even though this plan leverages your web presence to get people into your brick and mortar location, an eCommerce web store will still be more valuable than a simple informational website. When your customers are in the research phase they want to be able to browse as they start to consider their options. A well-designed web store is the easiest way for your customers to peruse the products you have on offer, and find the ones they want to short list. Also, you wouldn’t want to miss out on the 25% of customers who are ready to pull the trigger online.
Improve Your Responsive Design
A kickass mobile website isn’t just good for SEO, it’s also where a lot of customers begin their research phase. Google found that 49% of all home furniture searches happened on a phone or a tablet. If your website isn’t responsive, it should be. If you cheaped out on the mobile site the first time around, get it a redesign so it looks just as beautiful as your desktop site. Once you have a mobile site that’s up to par, look for an analytics tool that tracks cross device traffic. You’ll be able to judge the effectiveness of your mobile site by tracking how many of your customers, who start on mobile, come back to make a more serious appraisal on their desktop.
Focus on Local Advertising
Because you want customers who will be able to visit your brick and mortar store, a national SEO marketing campaign isn’t going to do very much for you. The good news is that, not only will a local SEO campaign work better for this strategy, but it will be cheaper, and target search terms that are a lot easier to rank for. When discussing keywords with your digital marketing agency, ask them to target keywords that are specific to the areas in which you have brick and mortar locations. For example: ‘Buy Couch in Cleveland’, or ‘Cheap Table in Tallahassee’.
SEO marketing is effective, but it can take time to get going. If you want to start seeing results right away, consider locally focused PPC advertising. Because the search terms you’ll be bidding on are location specific, they won’t be as competitive, and they’ll have a lower cost per click. Google Shopping is also an attractive advertising avenue. Through Google Shopping you have the option to list local inventory ads, which advertise to the customer that they can come and see the product locally.
Align Online Marketing with In-Store Experience
Once you’ve captured your customer’s attention online, it’s time to get them to take the next step, and come into the store. You might try offering a printable coupon on your site that is redeemable in-store. Also, make sure you use your social media channels to publicize sales, and other events happening at your brick and mortar locations. Use your creativity here to do whatever you can to get your customers out of cyberspace, and into your retail space.
Marketing for furniture retailers has really let us flex our digital marketing muscles for a different kind of end result. One that’s not as short term ROI, and conversion obsessed. Instead, this industry needs a marketing strategy that’s more focused on visibility, branding, and customer engagement. That’s a strategy that we’ve been happy to develop and implement for our clients who want to market furniture online.
If your business sells a big ticket item that could use some outside the box marketing, why not get in touch with us at 1Digital. If you know of other industries where the web store is better as the brand ambassador, instead of the salesman, share them in the comments, or on Twitter. In the meantime, I’m off to redecorate my house. I’m thinking beanbag chairs, everything beanbag chairs.
- Joe Chilson
- April 8, 2016