If you are looking to bring sales into your online shop in preference for your retailing network or online competitors, digital marketing can help with this, but it is not guaranteed. Although putting a strong digital marketing strategy in place usually has the aim of driving strong direct to consumer sales through the website, there are other factors at play that can frustrate this plan. Depending on your business, this isn’t always a bad thing, and you should take a look at this blog on omnichannel and multichannel marketing for our take on this.
We’ve worked with lots of online retailers, where their website isn’t the only way to get products into the hands of customers, and so in this blog we wanted to outline where digital marketing doesn’t always lead to online sales.
If you have a strong network of retailers that carry your products, your online play is in the main part a brand awareness function as part of your wider marketing strategy. When you work with a range of wholesale retail outlets that carry your products, their distribution network is often much stronger than you can compete with, with your own website. Pricing in big high street retail chains is fluid and often out of your control, and big chains like supermarkets will often dictate price point, discounts and flash sales regardless of how this affects your cut from the wholesale price.
If you are listed on Amazon, or one of your wholesale clients lists you on Amazon, then the price point on this platform is almost always going to keep on undercutting the price you have on your own website, which becomes a losing game. Price is a compelling factor online for customers, and so if you aren’t the cheapest, even if you are the original manufacturer, you aren’t going to make that sale easily without some incentivisation.
In these scenarios, advertising through social media, Google Ads and working your other digital channels helps you to put your brand out there on the internet. You can catch people in your targets and get them to look at your brand and start to add recognition of your brand in their day-to-day lives. When they are ready, they will buy.
Therein lies the rub though. The point at which a customer decides they are ready to buy might not translate to a website sale. The customer may decide to make the sale as they spot your product for the 20th time on the shelves in the supermarket whilst doing their weekly shop. For whatever reason, this 20th encounter with your product compels them to toss your product into their basket and you have finally made that sale. As a digital marketer you can’t track this kind of activity, other than to monitor in-store sales alongside campaigns, looking for specifics such as new product launch sales, so it can be frustrating.
You will be on the receiving end of feedback online though. When people buy from you, they buy from your brand and don’t much think deeper than that when they have a problem with the product that is in their hand.
The easiest way for people to complain is to come onto social media or hop onto Trustpilot or Tripadvisor and flame you, message you, spam your comments, and generally make your day a little less pleasant than you thought it was going to be. We wrote a blog about how to deal with negativity on social media here, to help guide you in the decision making process when dealing with negative feedback.
The alternative of course is that they bought your product in-store and *love* it! In this much happier scenario, your job online is to help keep that flow of love moving. Pick up on comments on social and answer them, thank people. Repurpose great reviews and turn them into content on your website, a press release or as part of your email marketing to keep that hype going.
If you are the new kid on the block you have a David and Goliath battle on your hands to make gains over your established competitors. If you are in competition with strong well-known competitors, then you have a tough battle on your hands. If your competitors have great reputation for their product, even if it is more expensive than yours, it’s likely they will make the online sale and not you.
Alternatively, you might sell something that is brand-new to market and has never been done before. In these cases, you need to use digital marketing to educate your audience about your product or service first to introduce it. In these scenarios, your first digital task is all about helping with brand building as part of a wider strategy. Remember that it is much easier to fan the flames of a fire that has already started, but it’s much harder to get that first spark going.
So when it comes to digital marketing, don’t be under the illusion that outsourcing to a digital marketing agency will create a ‘just add water’ business for you from scratch. Business development and sales is not the function of marketing, so there needs to be a solid team or process in place to take that customer the final mile… and that usually means you will need to be hands on too.
Take a look at the full series of myth busters about digital marketing:
We’re proud to say that we’ve helped many businesses generate millions of pounds of revenue through digital marketing. If you’d like help with your digital marketing email us on firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call on 01629 810199 for a quick chat.
If you’d like help with digital marketing, ads management, SEO, copywriting, websites, branding or social media management… or anything else related to the internet and digital, then get in touch with us. We’re a friendly bunch.