Digital marketing can feel a bit like a buffet that has way too many options. Do you hit the salad station or the crab legs first? How long has that fried chicken been sitting under those warmer lamps? The pasta looks great, but is it the best bang for your buck?
The sheer number of options for digital marketing ideas can be overwhelming. Plus, some marketing tactics work better for certain industries, some require significant time or money investments, and none of them guarantee a great ROI for your business. Where are you supposed to start?
Furniture retail is kind of a funny industry right now. For as long as people have been buying furniture from retailers, they’ve gone to showrooms to see pieces firsthand, test them out, and physically feel their materials before dropping a lot of money on large pieces of furniture that were considered investments.
Today, more and more people live more minimally, foregoing those large, expensive, investment furniture pieces for smaller, multi-functional pieces that they view as more disposable as they move from place to place more frequently than previous generations did. And that means that more and more furniture purchases are shifting to the internet, where customers buy based on digital marketing rather than visiting a showroom and trying out pieces firsthand.
Furniture retailers who aren’t taking advantage of the ecommerce boom in their industry are likely to get left behind. If you’re not sure how to begin marketing furniture products for online sales, these 29 techniques are your buffet. Read on to learn about each marketing idea (and how it fits into your overall marketing strategy) so you can decide if it’ll be the right dish to fit your furniture marketing meal.
Marketing to Reach New Customers
If your business goal is to expand your current customer base and reach new buyers, try these marketing strategies.
Advertising in places where a ton of people will see your ads seems like a good strategy, but it often doesn’t actually help bring in new customers. What’s more effective is defining the type of customer you want to attract, and then advertising with sources where that target customer is likely to look. This is a particularly useful strategy of you sell a certain, specific type of furniture; for example, rustic wood furniture is likely to appeal to people who own cabins and farms, and so you might target that niche with your ads.
Lead magnets are offers that entice shoppers to come to your store over your competition. A lead magnet can be a coupon, a free item, and exclusive item with a limited number available, or a downloadable catalog. These kinds of offers add value, and can be powerful sales boosters with the added perk of driving new customers to your site to take advantage of the offers.
Paid ads come in a lot of different forms, but here are a few of the most commonly used kinds.
Paid search allows you to promote your brand with text ads on search engine results pages. This can help bring in new customers by targeting keywords they may be searching. Say your brand places a paid search ad that promotes your site when shoppers search for “brown couch.” This allows you to capture customers early in their buying journey.
Research shows that shoppers abandon $1.5 million worth of products in online shopping carts every day. With display retargeting, you can show ads to customers on other sites featuring items they’ve left in their shopping carts on your site. You can also show them ads for items they’ve viewed but didn’t ever ad to their carts.
Paid ads on social media can help you reach targeted audiences by setting parameters about the demographics who will see the ad, or by showing social media ads for products shoppers have viewed before, reminding them of purchases they considered.
A common way for ecommerce retailers to promote their products and websites is through links on third-party sites. This helps them reach a broader number of customers. Plus, one of the biggest perks to using affiliate marketing is that you only have to pay when a customer uses an affiliate code to make a purchase, meaning this marketing strategy can come with a very high ROI. Some of the most common third-party affiliate sites for furniture sellers and other retailers include RetailMeNot, Ebates, SlickDeals, and FatWallet.
Marketing to Build Customer Loyalty
Building customer loyalty should be a big part of any retailer’s marketing strategy—studies have found that 65 percent of a company’s business comes from existing customers, not new ones. If you want to increase your customers’ loyalty and bring back repeat shoppers, these are the tactics to try.
When customers make an online purchase, it’s a perfect and easy time to collect their email address to use for future marketing purposes. Once you have an email list built up, you can use it for all kinds of campaigns, from promotions to discounts to email-only specials.
Loyalty Programs and Referral Rewards
Customers are likely to be loyal to brands when they’re getting something out of the deal. A traditional loyalty program might be tough to pull off for a furniture retailer, since most shoppers don’t make frequent furniture purchases. That doesn’t mean you can’t offer perks, like discounts or free items, to return shoppers.
Another option is to offer rewards, like cash back or discounts, to customers who refer others to your store—this brings you new customers and increases the loyalty of the existing ones. Win-win.
Payment Plans and Financing Options
Furniture can be expensive. Not every potential customer has the cash to drop all at once on a major piece like a sofa or a big-screen TV. That’s why you can seriously increase loyalty if you offer simple financing options that will make these major purchases easier for the customer. Payment plans that remain interest-free for the first few months are popular, and give the customer a financial break while also incentivizing them to pay for their purchases quickly.
Great, Transparent Customer Service
When it comes to building customer loyalty, nothing beats good, old fashioned customer service. Customers have high expectations of brands, so when providing service, you should seek not just to meet their expectations, but to exceed them. Delight your customers with service that goes above and beyond, and they’ll return to your store over and over.
One of the best ways brands can invest in themselves in the internet age is by investing in content. Here are some of the ways furniture brands can leverage great content into a great marketing strategy.
Have a Great Website
Think about this: You’re an ecommerce retailer, so your customers find, explore, and buy your products on your website. It’s not an area where you should be skimping.
Invest in a high-quality website that’s designed by a professional, with a stable ecommerce platform, great images, and comprehensive product information so your customers know exactly what they’re getting when they make a purchase. For this, having Product Information Management (PIM) software in place is essential—it’ll keep all that product information organized and up-to-date, and ready to push to your website and any other channels where you market and sell furniture.
Seek Out Customers’ Stories
Let your satisfied customers help create the content that will market your brand. One great example: Run a contest encouraging customers to submit their best personal stories connected to a piece of furniture they bought from your store. Those stories will tug at the heartstrings of potential new customers, and social proof is a powerful driver for more purchases.
Create Impactful Visuals
Furniture is often the visual highlight in any given room in a person’s home. That’s why it’s traditionally been so important for shoppers to head to a showroom to pick out major pieces—so they can see them in person and visualize how they’ll fit into a room.
Ecommerce furniture sellers don’t have that luxury, so they have to help their shoppers visualize in other ways. Every product you sell should have multiple high quality, professional photos showing the furniture from different angles and, ideally, showing the piece in multiple different rooms.
Tell a Story with Every Post
People love good stories. That’s why your business should reel in customers with some good, old fashioned storytelling. For example, tell your company’s origin story—not only will this set you apart from your competitors, but it will create an emotional response in readers, which can translate into purchases.
To tell good stories, remember the acronym AIDA:
Attention: Get the reader engaged with a first paragraph that hooks them into wanting to know more.
Interest: Use the power of your story to get the reader interested in your business or a product.
Desire: Build a desire throughout the story to make a purchase.
Action: Call on the reader to make a specific action, like visit your website or check out a certain product.
One thing furniture giant IKEA does well is provide animated videos to assist with assembling its pieces, something that can be notoriously difficult. If you have pieces that are multi-purpose or require assembly, an animation video can help potential buyers see all the features and what’s required before they make a purchase.
Social Media Marketing
In the internet age, almost everyone uses social media in some form, making it a powerful way for brands to reach new audiences and engage with their buyers. Here are some common ways to use social media in your furniture marketing strategy.
Since the furniture industry relies so heavily on visuals, Instagram is a platform your store should be utilizing. Encourage customers to tag you in their posts that include furniture purchases from your store, and repost photos that feature your products in different homes.
Facebook is the OG of social media, and it’s still a powerful tool. One of the biggest advantages Facebook offers for marketing is its targeted ad tools. For just a small investment in paid Facebook ads, you can closely control the demographics your ads reach, targeting people who are most likely to visit your website and buy your products.
Video is one of the fastest-growing segments of social media marketing, which means YouTube is a platform that’s worth investing in. There are tons of ways to use video in your marketing strategies (we’ll get to those below), so if you don’t have a YouTube account for your store yet, it’s time to create your own YouTube channel.
For home furnishings, Pinterest is still a powerful platform despite its age. You can use customer generated images of styled rooms that include your furniture pieces, then link them to product pages on your site.
Not too many retailers are currently utilizing Snapchat as a marketing tool, but they should be. More than 158 million people use Snapchat every day, and the app’s demographics tend to skew younger, so this is where retailers need to be if they want to capture millennial and Gen Z shoppers.
The advantage to using Snapchat for marketing now is the chance to build a following on the app before there’s a lot of competition. Snapchat is still growing, so it’s likely to be one of the top social media marketing platforms in the future.
One unique way to market your products on social media is by partnering with influencers, or people who have lots of followers and influence on different platforms. Many D2C brands have had success with this strategy, because consumers consider a recommendation from an influencer to be as trustworthy as a recommendation from a family member or friend.
While the organic qualities of social media can really help boost a brand, there’s still something to be said for paid social media ads. Platforms like Facebook and Instagram insert paid ads into users’ feeds, making them look like regular posts, and getting your products in front of potential customers’ eyes while they’re relaxed and scrolling could mean catching them when they’re ready to buy.
Video is one of the most popular emerging marketing strategies. Here’s how furniture retailers should be using video to get new customers and boost sales.
Platforms like YouTube and Instagram are now offering videos that have clickable pop-ups that take shoppers directly to websites or product pages. That means you can create videos (think, a home walkthrough) where shoppers can click directly on products they like to be taken to where they can buy them.
Training and Education Video
Educational videos on platforms like Masterclass and Skillshare are getting great traction, so think about the ways you can incorporate education into your furniture marketing strategy. Educational videos about how to style a room, how to choose the right upholstery, how to clean a couch—these are useful topics that could get a lot of organic views and also direct viewers to your site.
Shoppers like to see as much as they can about a product before they commit to buying it online. That’s why commissioning some video reviews can be a great marketing strategy for furniture retailers. This helps shoppers visualize the pieces they’re considering buying, plus a good review might help push them toward making a purchase.
In the same way that review videos help customers visualize furniture pieces, demonstration videos can, too. These are especially helpful for pieces of furniture that convert into multi-use pieces, or that serve a unique purpose. For example, a demonstration video showing how to change a desk from sitting to standing could be helpful for shoppers who don’t fully understand how they might use a convertible-height work surface.
The power of a testimonial or review truly cannot be overstated. Recent research shows that 92 percent of consumers read at least one review before making a purchase. Shoppers really do trust what others have to say about products online.
If you have a customer who is particularly happy with their purchase or the customer service they received, find out if they’re willing to record a testimonial video sharing their good experience with other shoppers.
Slowly but surely, online shopping is moving away from desktop devices and onto mobile ones. Here’s how furniture sellers should embrace mobile marketing to stay ahead of that change.
Mobile First Design
If your website isn’t mobile optimized, you’re missing out on more and more shoppers with every passing day. Your site needs to be dynamic so it displays and works just as well on desktops, tablets, smartphones, or whatever device shoppers are using to browse it.
A great way to capture tech-savvy shoppers is by offering the option to make mobile payments with tools like Apple Pay and Google Pay, rather than just traditional payments like Paypal, credit, and debit cards.
One of the most up-and-coming trends in digital marketing is augmented reality, which lends itself really well to the furniture industry. Tools like IKEA Place, which allows shoppers to use their phone's camera view to actually see furniture pieces in their rooms, are becoming more commonplace, and retailers need to be embracing this technology now to stay on the forefront.
Click and Collect
Shipping is a big part of online shopping, but with package theft constantly on the rise, more shoppers are turning to click and collect, where they make their purchases online and then pick up their items at a store or other designated pickup location. Any ecommerce retailer should be offering free, fast shipping in 2020, but to really stay ahead, you should offer a click and collect option as well.
Putting Strategies Together for Integrated Marketing Success
No good marketing plan will include just one of these strategies. To stay competitive in the growing world of furniture ecommerce, you need a comprehensive, integrated marketing plan. And to do that, you need PIM.
PIM will keep your product information centralized in one location where it’s always up-to-date and ready to be pushed to any channel. It’s the key to having a good omnichannel strategy, a must in today’s ecommerce landscape.
How are PIM adopters outperforming their competitors? Find out by downloading the free ebook below.