“Build it and they will come” may not work, especially during a pandemic
In our last post, we introduced an issue food companies of all sizes (but especially smaller companies) have been forced to address amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Food purchasing habits have changed seemingly overnight, and not all businesses are in prime position to sell via direct-to-consumer (DTC) methods.
That same post outlined some of the logistical opportunities – as well as hurdles – companies should carefully consider before diving into e-commerce. Specifically, we walked through platform, shipping and customer service options that can help your company establish itself as a competent DTC supplier.
Now, let’s make sure your prospects can actually find you online when it’s time to buy product.
Here are five things to consider when marketing your brand online with the goal of converting traffic to dollars.
1. Define your target audience
You know your business-to-business customer, and you’re zoning in closer than ever on your end consumer. But your usual in-store patrons may not be the same as the typical online shopper.
Keying in on the online shopper is imperative when you go DTC.
Does your product sell best with parents of young children, or people with specialty diets, or even endurance athletes who are seeking brands that offer high protein sources to give them an edge as they compete?
Knowing who is most likely to purchase your product and why, and leveraging those insights can help you quickly find your footing. Ask your digital team to look through Google Analytics and review referral sites to get some basic ideas.
Your product on a shelf may be positioned for a certain demographic, but things simply are different online. Maybe there’s a town in the Midwest that loves fresh lamb and their local markets only carry frozen. Now they can seek it directly from you – for the first time ever.
2. Develop your online voice and messaging
Once you’ve defined whom you’re talking to, work with your internal or agency marketing team to develop messaging that will resonate with these audiences.
Since COVID-19 is top-of-mind for just about everyone, you may want to highlight your nightly sanitation procedures. Or feature the robot that helps pull product off the racks without being touched by people. Or detail the steps you’re taking to ensure your employees’ health and wellness. Those messages are so important today and tailoring them to your audience can work wonders.
At the same time, you don’t have to make it ALL about the pandemic. The product marketing basics are still at play.
Weave points of differentiation and your unique company voice into messaging. Think about what you stand for as a brand and as a company. Showcase how your product solves customers’ problems.
3. Set measurable, trackable goals
When launching a new marketing campaign, you should begin with a specific, quantifiable goal. Whether short-term to get through the challenges of COVID-19 or for the long haul, aiming toward a clear target will help ensure you’re on the right track and offer you data to review regularly.
Examples of quantifiable goals include:
- Driving 5,000 users to the site in 2 months
- Attracting 500 online orders within 3 months
- Selling $2,000 worth of product in May
- Improving your cart abandonment rate by 20% during Q2
- Increasing year-over-year sales by 15%
Decide what makes the most sense for your business, and then be relentless in pursuing your established goal.
4. Choose your marketing channels and tactics
There are countless proven strategies for marketing your company and product online. For starters, consider:
- Purchasing advertising through an ad network
- Partnering with influencers (people who have impressive online reach and can sway purchase decisions)
- Submitting newsworthy content via a press release to media outlets and companies such as Business Wire to improve online searchability
- Creating paid posts on your company’s social channels
- Email marketing
The sheer number of options can feel overwhelming, but it’s important to remember that you don’t have to execute them all to be successful. What’s important is selecting channels and sticking with them so you can evaluate their effectiveness.
Once you have enough data to see what’s working and what’s not, you can increase or decrease spend as needed, or take on additional channels as your budget and bandwidth allow. Read more in Step 5.
5. Measure and analyze
Tracking and scrutinizing the impact of your marketing efforts will guide you in making future marketing decisions.
Let’s say your target audience consists of heavy Instagram and Pinterest users. You’ve created promoted product posts on Instagram that drive significant traffic to your chosen e-commerce platform, but the site visits are not converting into sales. Concurrently, you promoted a Pinterest pin that entices slightly less traffic, but yields higher sales conversion rates. Following this data will allow you to shift your marketing efforts to where your money is working hardest for you.
As mentioned in our first post, this is one of those instances when your best “salesperson” may actually be a digital analyst.
Change isn’t easy, but you’re not alone.
We understand that e-commerce won’t work for all companies, and COVID-19 is presenting challenges most businesses have never had to endure. But if launching DTC selling is the most sensible way forward, we hope these logistical and marketing insights are helpful.
Please contact us if your company could use additional guidance and expertise. Our FoodThink team is ready to help.