Merchant: DeWaard & Bode
Location: Bellingham, Washington
Platforms: Netsertive, Facebook
Bottom Line: Local retailers have to evolve their marketing strategies, and add more digital tactics to the mix, if they want to avoid losing millennial shoppers to big box competitors.
Six decades have passed since DeWaard & Bode opened its doors, and the local business landscape has changed in ways its owners couldn’t have imagined. But it wasn’t until last fall, when the appliance and mattress retailer’s online impressions started dropping and falling behind other retailers in the neighborhood, that executives at DeWaard & Bode decided that something had to change.
The retailer began relying more heavily on Netsertive to execute a range of digital marketing programs, including SEO, keyword targeting, call tracking, and seasonal promotions during key holiday periods.
“We’ve been around since the 1940’s so, as you can imagine, our marketing and advertising strategy has evolved extensively with each passing decade,” says Jordan Roorda, sales and marketing manager for the Washington-based retailer. “While we still use some of the same traditional, print advertisements that we relied on heavily in the past, we’re now evolving our marketing mix to include much more digital components.”
Back in 2014, DeWaard & Bode was spending 20% of its marketing budget on digital and 80% on traditional channels. Just two years later, digital’s share has increased to 40%. Roorda sees that number increasing even more next year, as the business incorporates more video and mobile tactics in an effort to reach more millennial shoppers.
“Our goal is to concentrate on how we can engage better through mobile and video — quality content that people want to engage with is the measuring stick,” he says. “It’s a complete change with how ‘success’ is measured, it’s like giving a thoughtful present, not a gift card.”
Just as the marketing mix has changed, the metrics that DeWaard & Bode uses to evaluate the success of campaigns has also had to evolve. Whereas retailers could once put an ad in the newspaper and measure the success by how many products they sold, Roorda says his company now measures success by tracking “digital touch points” along the path to purchase.
“Marketers are no longer just merely dangling a price and a product and expecting customers to buy it. They’re now trying to drive traffic to a website or landing page from an online or mobile search, hoping customers come across their product and, ultimately, visit their store,” he says. “Along the way, those digital touch points become measureable, valuable pieces of information for marketers, like myself, to glean insights from.”
On a more granular level, Roorda says bounce rates are something he’s always analyzing and looking to improve. If people are going to DeWaard & Bode’s website, clicking onto one page, and then jumping off, then he wants to know why that is.
Online and social advertising has allowed the retailer to get customers to spend more time on its website and ultimately get more shoppers into the store, although it wasn’t easy for Roorda to get the buy-in he needed initially to get his social media campaigns off the ground.
“Try explaining to a baby boomer store owner that Facebook advertising will drive more in-store revenue. It’s difficult to get that initial understanding and buy-in, but we need to be better at educating, being consistent and showing its effectiveness in reaching key audiences and buyers,” he says.
With the local marketing industry changing so rapidly, Roorda says it can be hard for businesses to keep up.
“You almost feel like you’re chasing a rabbit,” he says. “Fortunately for us, Netsertive is constantly keeping us apprised of these updates and changes, allowing us to be agile and constantly up to date with the always changing digital marketing landscape.”
Although Roorda says DeWaard & Bode’s biggest competitor is itself, the retailer has several major big box stores that it competes with directly. Roorda says he and his colleagues watch what those stores are doing, which includes checking their prices, monitoring their campaigns, and analyzing their digital marketing efforts. He also reviews monthly reports from Netsertive to measure his own ROI and track how his dollars are being spent.
“It takes a lot of fortitude to know that you are meeting the right metrics but not always seeing the result at the cash register. The most important thing is taking care of the customer and obviously making money is a close second. If you don’t make money, you can’t take care of your customer,” he says. “You can get reports all day long and mirror them up with your budget and they have to align. If they don’t you’re doing something wrong. We really try to balance those two out.”
Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.