This 2-part blog series is about the evolution of product marketing and why it is imperative to take a holistic approach that integrates retail POP displays and online marketing components. In our last blog, we discussed some of the foundational aspects of Point of Sale marketing, the importance of having a high-impact point of purchase design as a part of any merchandising program, the synergistic effects of Point of Sale marketing on brand awareness. Today we’ll delve into online marketing and discuss why it needs to be incorporated into any holistic approach to product marketing.
Not too long ago many marketers were reticent about aggressively marketing their products online for fear of alienating retailers and distributors. However, this classic channel conflict has become a way of life in the blended bricks and mortar and online sales world in which we live. Therefore, figuring out how to compete online is vitally important for any company hoping to maximize sales. If done properly, Point of Sale and online marketing can be symbiotic and reinforcing as a means to capture consumers across multiple sales channels. Being channel agnostic is generally the best approach to take in developing a holistic approach to product marketing.
The challenge in online marketing is, of course, becoming increasingly difficult as the competitive intensity of online marketing has increased dramatically over the last few years. Today, every major retailer has a significant online presence along with large online marketing budgets. Forget about trying to outspend the big boys and focus on being nimble and creative in your online marketing initiatives.
Getting targeted online traffic that converts to sales should be your primary objective. There has been a lot written about strategies to accomplish that so we won’t go into detail here, but you should make sure your strategy incorporates the following 4 key components:
- Effective SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and SEM (Search Engine Marketing)– Developing a strategy to drive traffic around specific key words related to your product is the name of the game. It is important to take a targeted approach to key words that really matter to you while understanding how competitive each key word is and how difficult and expensive it will be for you to generate traffic for that keyword. There are a lot of good free tools like Google Analytics, Google Keyword Planner, Moz, Screaming Frog, and many others that you can use to analyze keywords and develop your strategy. Your strategy might consist of a mix of paid advertising and initiatives to generate organic traffic, but keep in mind that organic traffic is generally more valuable because it has demonstrably higher conversion rates than traffic generated by paid search.
- Content Generation– The best way to generate organic traffic is by putting out original content on a consistent basis. Many companies under-invest in this area because they either lack the time and resources to create meaningful original content or they don’t understand the impact it can have in generating positive search results. Content creation can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be.
Content can include blogging, info graphics, e-Books, videos, product images, and more. An example of an e-Book that has generated a lot of traffic for us is The Last Lecture on Point of Purchase Displays. We created that e-Book with our own internal team, but in other cases we have used outside resources to help us create content. There are many very cost-effective resources that are available on the web that can help you generate content. Upwork and Fiverr are two of our favorites.
- Social Media– Obviously social media has become a force that can’t be ignored in creating an effective online strategy, particularly when consumer products are involved. Crafting the right social media strategy is critical and requires indepth research. It’s easy, for example, to spend a lot of money on Twitter and Facebook ads to get traffic to your site, but in our experience, converting traffic to customers who will buy your product can be challenging. Social media is likely to play an increasingly important role in online product sales so it is worth the investment to dig in and really understand the nuances as well as the return on investment economics.
- Other Online Channels– Much of the online strategy discussion so far has revolved around generating traffic to your company’s website and converting that traffic to sales. But, there are many other online avenues to generate sales beyond your own website. In developing a multi-channel online sales strategy you should consider selling through:
- Online sites associated with traditional brick and mortar retailers (e.g., Target)
- Traditional online mass market retailers such as Amazon and Jet.com
Owning the customer across all channels requires a holistic approach to product marketing and an integrated strategy that spans offline and online platforms.