What, Why And How: Revealing the Complexity of Online Marketing Strategy

Online marketing is so complex that marketers struggle with where to begin and how to navigate. It takes some time for a true master of online marketing.

Most marketers feel that creating a digital marketing strategy is not easy. In this edition, we try to share practical suggestions that can help solve a few pain points for marketers in their digital efforts.

How to increase sales with Digital Marketing

Increasing revenue can be done in many ways digitally. Shopping, paid search, display, and retargeting are the most widely used forms of pay-per-click (PPC) or cost-per-click (CPC) advertising techniques. SEO, content marketing, and social are crucial for getting more traffic on your pages of people looking for offerings.

These days the question of whether a business should market online is never asked. It is implicitly understood that a business that is not actively marketing and selling online is a business on its way down. What the entire Internet industry has been hoping for, for the past two decades where all the business transactions would take place in cyberspace is coming true. In terms of coverage, we are halfway there. The mattress industry has perhaps found a big trend in online marketing, especially during these pandemic times. When “Internet first” mattress companies came onto the scene there was both a sense of disbelief and a sense of self-denial which was prevalent in the industry concerning the success rate of these companies. However, the new-age mattress manufacturers have done well and in a way have shown others, the traditional retailers, to follow suit.

Practical Guide

When it comes to marketing online there are numerous opinions readily forwarded by overzealous digital marketing consultants and agencies. In this article, we try to bring you a realistic guide that is practical, implementable and measurable for your business.

“We sold our products entirely on online channels, especially on Amazon and we have seen a tremendous response to our products,”

says Pallav, a mattress accessories seller in Bhubaneshwar. We asked people like Pallav and Amit Chand who runs a mattress store in Indore how they embraced online marketing. And the collected experiences of retailers in other industries closer to the mattress industry such as clothing stores, interior decorators, cotton fabric makers, sofa and furniture fabric makers and the like. There has been a unanimous opinion that people should systematically approach online marketing. Our readers may be already quite advanced in their online marketing journey and keeping that in mind we said that we will focus on some of the key strategies one can adopt, the roadblocks one faces and how to overcome these roadblocks.

Website: Any retail business that wants to be successful in online marketing should have a web presence — that is a first and foremost necessity. They can go for a simple HTML5 Single Page Web Application with their product catalogue and a contact form for visitors to reach them without fuss. The very first step in online marketing is to attract people to your website and get them to fill out the form or call you on a number that you publish on your web page.

A question may be asked at this point: why is it necessary to have a web page when I can run my business using a WhatsApp business account? To answer this question, we have to understand the psychology of a mattress buyer. A mattress buyer will not look for a WhatsApp channel or your business on WhatsApp because he just cannot discover it that way. The first thing a mattress buyer will do is go to a search engine like Google or Bing and search for mattress brands that she/ he can buy or mattress stores near her/him. When she searches using this keyword your page must come up on at least the first or second pages. A word of caution here, many marketing consultants and digital marketing agencies approach retailers promising the sky that is telling them that they can get them listed on the first page of Google when people search for certain keywords. Believe us, nobody not even Google, unless you take a paid ad, can guarantee you this. We will tackle this while we’re talking about Search Engine Optimization later.

Web Optimization: Once the web presence is established and the web page has been filled with relevant content one has to look at optimizing the web page for certain keywords. This is to help people who are searching for, say, mattress accessories, pillows, bed covers, bed sheets and the like to land up on your web page. Remember there will be hundreds of other mattress retailers like you who would be doing the same thing and you will be competing against all of them. It depends on how creative you would be in optimizing your page with the right keywords so that people will land on your page rather than on the pages of other players. This is called Search Engine Optimization.

SEO: There is more to Search Engine Optimization than using the right keywords. Google, which we will mostly talk about, uses more than 200 parameters to rank web pages based on the relevance of the search. It is in our hands to make Google find our web page more relevant and in doing so we have only a handful of parameters to control. One is the content which is the most important factor. Unless your content is relevant to the search even if you use the right keywords but the content is not in the right context, Google will not throw up your page to the searcher. That means your content and your keywords have to be in the right context. What does that mean? Let’s say people search for Virat Kohli a lot and if you decide to optimize your mattress retail store page for Virat Kohli as a keyword would it not be a great idea? It turns out that it is not. Virat Kohli as a keyword is not relevant to a mattress retail store and Google seeing this will immediately rank your page lower than the others. This simple case study shows that just stuffing interesting keywords that people may be searching for on your web page will not bring your web page to the top. While talking about content we should also know that the content has to be original i.e. it should not be copied from anywhere which Google can trace back and immediately penalize your page by ranking it lower. Your content should be free of grammatical and spelling errors. If you’re using pictures they should be relevant and have the right alt-tags to tell Google search engine about the picture.

The speed of your webpage is another factor that Google looks for in ranking your web page higher. If your web page takes more than 10 seconds to load, for example, Google may rank it lower than your competitor which may be loading faster. There are many reasons for a slow-loading webpage and one of the most common problems, that we see is the size of the images on the page and the number of images on the page which increases the page size and adds to the page-loading time. So the moral of the story is your page should have web-optimized images and not be stuffed with too many of them. As stated earlier, take care to have alt-tags for your images.

These days Google also looks at mobile-friendly web pages. If your web page is not mobile-friendly then Google may rank it lower. Many companies take advantage of a Google-sponsored project called AMP pages which renders mobile web pages and are faster to load. But remember it is not necessary and you can live with normal responsive web pages.

There are several other technical parameters that Google looks out for and some of them are:

• Have a Canonical link to your web page. This instructs Google to fall back on a standard URL to reach your web page
• Have well-formed HTML and XHTML tags.
• Do not use deprecated tags, for example, the blink tag which makes a text blink.
• Add alt text to your images.
• Structure your content in a neat hierarchy starting from the H1 tag to H2 and so on in terms of headlines.
• Make your web page URL SSL-enabled which can be accessed using HTTPS protocol.
• Keep your image size web-optimized and in kilobytes.
• Do not have hidden content to mislead the search engine.
• Have the right Robot.txt file in your root folder.

These are only a handful of things that can be easily fixed by a web developer and enough for a good SEO. The combination of a web presence which is search engine-optimized and a well-designed contact form is a wonderful tool for new or established online marketing. The contact form is important to have your visitors contact you. There is a tendency among new online marketers to add more than one contact form or what is called call-to-action links. There should be only one contact form and that should have only one call to action link. Taking another view, if you have a contact form you should not have another call to action link. The contact form itself will have a call to action link in the form of a submit button. Then what is this call to action link referring to? Imagine you have a web page and you have a contact form for people to contact you but then you also have a link which will take the visitor away from this page and to your image Gallery to your product catalogue. This disturbs the focus and attention of the visitor and instead of filling out the form and hitting the submit button she may, 90 percent of the time, move away from the page never to come back again.

Having potential buyers discover your retail store is one of the best ways to make your online marketing a success. Every time a potential buyer is searching for a mattress if your page is somewhere on the first page or second page there is more likelihood that he or she will visit your page. When you start on this journey you will most certainly not be on the first page the second page or even the 10th page but by consistently updating your web page with the right content and taking time to do so you will increase your probability of moving higher up in the search engine results pages. Patience is a virtue in this game.

Google Adwords

For those of you who cannot wait you can take paid Google ads. Most searchers these days can easily identify a paid ad from an organic search. But in the marketing world it is said that any visibility is good visibility and if you can afford to spend money on Google ads, earlier it was known as AdWords, you should do it.

Some of the things you should take care of while running your Google ads:

• Identify your landing page which can be your homepage or your product page with a clear call-to-action.
• The ads that you are going to run on Google will lead the visitor back to this page hence ensuring that you are giving the right content in an attractive style motivating the visitor to know more and to fill out the form.
• Use the Google keyboard planner tool to identify the right keywords to optimize your ads for.
• Write your ad copy in succinct, clear, concise language.
• Set your campaign goal, whether it is Pay Per Million or Pay Per Click, we call it PPM or PPC.
• Run your ad and watch the analytics and don’t be in a hurry to judge the ad. Keep going back to your keyword planner and fine-tuning the keywords that you will optimize your ads for.

Very often, people who are on paid Google ads get disillusioned in the first week by not seeing enough conversions. The conversion could be in the form of a visit to the web page, filling up the contact form, or calling your number. Google ads improve your chances of conversion as time passes. Start with a low reasonable budget, be consistent, give it time and slowly ramp up the budget as you see conversion going up. Typically people fail to take advantage of the conversions by not following up and that is a business loss. If you are running an ad, you should keep an eye on it daily.

Online marketing is not restricted to search engine marketing alone. These days mattress retailers are finding a lot of success on Instagram for instance. Instagram is a Facebook product and the advantage is that you can run the same ad in both Facebook and Instagram.

Social Media

To be active on Facebook and Instagram you should have your company page on these platforms. Getting traction on Facebook and Instagram requires a lot more involvement because these days due to the continuously upgraded privacy policies of Facebook your posts are not automatically broadcast to your followers or friends depending on their privacy settings. Facebook also requires you to pay to broadcast your post or page to a wider audience. For a mattress retail store, it is worth the time and money that you spend on Facebook and Instagram. Again, like in Google ads you should start small, plan well, continuously monitor and tweak your campaigns to get the best results.

One of the common complaints that we hear from Facebook and Instagram advertisers is: that I spent a lot but didn’t get any conversions. This could well be the experience of a beginner. Without understanding your target audience, targeted reach, and the right messaging it is unlikely that you will be successful in the very first campaign. Also remember that Facebook users are more interested in consuming good, informative, funny stories than looking at your sales pitch. So go back to your post and check if you are selling hard in those posts or writing something interesting that will pique the interest of the Facebook user forcing her to visit your web page.

More people than not that we interviewed were more bullish on Instagram rather than Facebook. On Instagram, you post images only and do not have links attached. But if you have a good story to tell through images people will jump onto the browser and visit your page.

The next online marketing tool that we are going to talk about is the newsletter. We believe in the newsletter as a great tool to reach people online, directly in their inboxes, where you can have their attention. The trouble with newsletters is that – more often than not they may end up in the spam folders of people. Earlier it used to be hard to create newsletters but these days you have good tools that help you create newsletters on the go. If you broadcast good information, and useful facts to your target audience then it may not end up in their spam or they may not unsubscribe from your newsletter.

The first time or the first few times that you send a newsletter there is a possibility that it will reach the spam folder. Studies have shown that by just using the right keywords or let’s put it the other way by not using the wrong keywords newsletters do get delivered to the Primary Inbox. Spend a lot of time crafting your subject line of the newsletter which most spam filters check and compare against their block list of words; if they find even a single word matching their block list then it is sent to the spam folder directly. Good newsletter marketers spend quality time with the subject line and test the newsletter with a control group before sending it out to a wider audience.

In this article, we have attempted to focus on three key online marketing tools, strategies to adopt, and pitfalls to avoid. We would be eager to know your experiences, We hope you will try the tips we have given and come back to us and tell us your success stories.

ISPF is an industry body which promotes importance of sleep and role of mattress for a Indian consumers. ISPF plays very important role in connecting Indian bedding industry ecosystem. ISPF also acts as bridge between India and international players.