Five Tips to Drive Retail Sales with Online Marketing

Today’s retail market is competitive. Brands are not just competing with each other; they are competing against online retailers as well. So how do you drive retail sales when there are so many options and people are still pinching pennies?

Drive them with online marketing. And I don’t just mean banner advertising.

Today, “online” encompasses desktop, mobile, tablet, social networks, and music and video-streaming outlets such as Pandora and Hulu. Paid advertising is important, but also think outside the box. “Word of mouth” is still one of the most trusted and powerful forms of advertising. Dunbar’s original social circle model included 150 connections. But a 2014 study shows our average social circle is now 350, and the 18-24 age segment actually averages 649 social connections.

Here are five tips to drive retail sales with online marketing:

  1. Optimize your mobile site

Almost half (40%) of consumers don’t feel comfortable shopping online, and it doubles to 80% when we’re talking about shopping on a mobile device. This may look dismal, but the good news is that these same individuals are still researching online. Use this search behavior to drive to store for purchase. A mobile experience that is optimized and intuitive will provide a good online experience and drive store traffic–a win-win! People use desktop and mobile search for different reasons, so Google ranks these sites using different algorithms. Google’s recent search rankings algorithm makes it easier for users to find mobile-friendly sites when searching on mobile devices, since Google knows the experience will likely be better on that mobile-optimized site.

  1. The clearer, the better

Add interactive tools or a “chat” function offering help to your visitors–similar to how a sales associate would assist at retail. You can also add a store lookup option right in the ad, instead of driving users to the website. If retail visits are your goal, listing your locations can be an ideal way to drive foot traffic. If there is not a store in the area, drive to online. Don’t lose the opportunity for a sale. Another way to promote sales is to add a product carousel to your ad. We recently tested this approach for Golf Galaxy’s “Father’s Day Sale,” resulting in more than 12,000 interactions with the product carousel. This led to a significant increase in traffic to on Father’s Day weekend. Keep your site and ads clean so the message is clear and you increase the likelihood of a click or visit.

  1. Try geo-fencing

Geo-fencing is becoming a popular marketing tool for retailers so they are only targeting online ads near their retail location(s). This approach creates a virtual “fence” around a specific geographic area. When individuals move inside this fence, they can receive messages, special offers, or other information sent to their mobile devices. American Eagle capitalized on this tactic earlier this year. The company’s sales had recently fallen, as competition increased from online retailers such as Zara and Forever 21. In order to win back its market share, American Eagle launched an effective marketing strategy aimed at reaching its mostly teenaged audience via the one thing they can’t seem to put down–their mobile devices. Through geo-fencing, as well as a heavy rollout of beacon systems that use low-power Bluetooth technology, customers can be targeted within a fixed radius of an American Eagle outlet and drawn into the physical store.

  1. Know and understand your competition

One of the most important aspects of any retail brand is researching its competition. Spend time analyzing the competitive marketplace in order to determine where and how you should be investing advertising dollars. Know your competitors’ key online messages and use them to help determine what to test in your own marketing efforts.

  1. Test, Test, and keep testing

A/B testing is an excellent approach in determining the best promotion and messaging to use. Narrowing down the most effective aspects of a promotion can make your marketing effort more profitable and cost effective. Be sure to have at least two creative images to test. According to a study conducted by Rocket Fuel, ads that displayed specific products averaged 6% higher conversion rates compared to ads that did not show a product. Ads featuring humans averaged 4% higher conversion rate lifts. Simple changes, such as logo placement, can also make a big difference. Rocket Fuel’s study concluded that ads with a logo in the lower-left corner averaged the highest conversion rates. A/B tests shouldn’t be limited to just images; evaluate different ad sizes and call-to-action messages as well.

The retail market can seem intimidating, but placing your products and messaging in front of your target audience is both feasible and affordable. A simplistic site coupled with a clear message can create a lasting impact, turning potential customers into lifelong patrons.

To learn more about Martino Flynn’s digital media capabilities, contact Alyssa Mayer at 585.421.0100.

Behavioral Economics: Limiting Consumer Choice

Have you ever gone online to research a product that you wanted and become so overwhelmed by the numerous options available to you that you don’t purchase anything? The sheer number of product choices available to us as consumers can be overwhelming. Although choices are nice, too many of them can cause consumers to walk away and not purchase anything.

In an effort to refrain from overwhelming potential consumers, it’s important for marketers to know their target audiences and provide them with the products they want and need most, along with response methods that are familiar to them. Consumers don’t necessarily want more product choices; they want the products that are right for them.

The first step to limiting consumer choice is to recognize who your target audience is and understand the reasons why they buy your product(s). Once you know this information, cater your product offerings accordingly. One simple example, a life insurance company that advertises in a magazine shouldn’t advertise all ten types of coverage available to choose from; instead, it should only advertise the most appropriate product or products for that magazine’s readership. By knowing your target audiences inside and out, you can offer products that are tailored for each specific group.

In addition, not only is it important to know what products your consumers prefer to buy, but also to know how and where they prefer to buy them. Going back to the life insurance company example, some consumers prefer to talk extensively to an agent, while others prefer to purchase independently online. To combat this, some companies offer four or five different options for purchasing. However purchasing options need to be limited and matched to the audience preference just as your product offerings and for the same reasons.

Limiting consumer choice can also help with consumer retention by limiting buyer’s remorse. By offering one or two relevant product choices, a consumer can make an educated decision and feel confident that he or she purchased the correct product. Keep in mind that for many products, like life insurance, switching companies typically comes at a low cost to the consumer and often there are little or no incentives for him or her to be loyal to a company.

By matching products and response choices with your consumers they will be able to evaluate and purchase your products more seamlessly. This will likely lead to increased sales and happier consumers. To learn more about other benefits of limiting consumer choice, please contact Heather Riexinger at

PRism Awards Recognize Industry Excellence

Martino Flynn earned 10 PRism Awards and eight Awards of Excellence at the 2015 PRism Awards. The firm also won “Best in Show/Corporate” for its work with longtime partner W.F. Young. The 10 Prisms were the most won by an entrant this year.

Hosted by the Rochester chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), the PRism awards ceremony took place June 18 at the Rochester Museum & Science Center to honor the continued excellence by local professionals in the field of public relations.

The agency received the “Best in Show” award for its work with W. F. Young’s Absorbine ShowSheen horse grooming products brand. To reposition the ShowSheen Hair Polish & Detangler in the minds of horse owners, Martino Flynn conducted extensive research and crafted the integrated “Detangle Like a Pro” campaign.

The campaign leveraged tried and true tactics of media relations and article writing, combined with a robust new media program in a manner that this market segment had not seen before. This program included print ads, e-blasts, and a sweepstakes in which horse owners had the opportunity to win one of six once-in-a-lifetime trips to an equine event. This creative brand development resulted in raised awareness and increased year-over-year sales for the ShowSheen brand.

In addition to the “Best in Show/Corporate” award, Martino Flynn received recognition in 11 different award categories, including:

  • Blogs/Blogger Campaign – Mentholatum Nighttime Vaporizing Rub
  • Business-to-Business Communications – Windstream: 2014 Integrated Public Relations Support
  • Consumer Product or Service Communications – Softlips Cube Product Launch
  • External Video – Buffalo Bills: ‘This is Our Time’
  • Facebook – Softlips Cube Launch Facebook Support
  • Integrated Campaign – W. F. Young: ShowSheen Celebrates 40 Years of ‘Detangling Like a Pro’
  • Media Relations – Every Minute Matters Campaign Launch Event
  • Media Relations – The Bonadio Group: 2014 State of the Construction Industry
  • New Release – The Bonadio Group Merges in Syracuse
  • Other Print Piece – BCCR ARTrageous Affair Promotional Materials
  • Other Print Piece – Absorbine 2015 Dealer Catalog
  • Other Print Piece – Absorbine ShowSheen “Detangler Dangler”
  • Other Social Media – Softlips Cube Influenster Launch
  • Research – Rohto Eye Drops Creative Concept Research
  • Research – Dick’s Sporting Goods Next Generation Golf Bag Research
  • Twitter – Softlips Cube Twitter Launch Support
  • Twitter – Twitter Takeover at Windstream’s 2015 Sales & Marketing Kickoff
  • Trade Show – Absorbine Launches ‘Woof Pouf’ at Global Pet Expo.

The annual awards ceremony is an opportunity to celebrate Rochester’s robust public relations and marketing communications industry. We congratulate all of our fellow award winners.

Impact Of Sampling Programs On Brand Buzz

Consumers LOVE free samples. It’s as simple as that. Can you blame them? The opportunity to “try before you buy” is a great value to today’s consumer. Ranked as one of the most effective tactics in direct marketing, sampling campaigns allow companies to extend their message beyond traditional print or media advertising by putting physical products in the hands of potential customers. Overall, 75% of female beauty consumers welcome samples as they eliminate the barrier to entry for the brand.

Influenster—a company that specializes in the distribution of new products—is a great partner for brands that are trying to create an authentic buzz. It is a demographic and behavioral-based sampling program that millions of consumers have signed up for. Consumers complete surveys, write reviews, and post on social media about products they have experienced. In return—based on the survey results—Influenster sends its most “influential” members more free products to sample from participating brands. This arrangement is a win-win for both parties. Consumers are incentivized to generate (invaluable) consumer feedback and social media content in an effort to receive more samples in the future. As a result, the brand is able to leverage consumers’ social networks to drive awareness and take action on provided consumer feedback.

In 2014, Martino Flynn managed an Influenster program that introduced the Softlips Cube. Engagement and impressions on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest increased substantially in a short three-month period. A newfound brand buzz for Softlips swept the Internet with consumer reviews on the Cube and there was an increase in organic following (upwards of 4,000 new followers) across all social media platforms. This sampling campaign helped Softlips generate more than 30 million online impressions and sales continue to exceed forecasts and are predicted to have double-digit growth this year.

Ipsy—another subscription-based sampling program—focuses its attention on the beauty industry. Members of Ipsy sign up for $10 a month and in return receive a “Glam Bag” with various beauty products to sample. Accompanying these Glam Bags, Ipsy includes collateral that drives the consumers to online tutorials with information highlighting the participating brands.

Hada Labo Tokyo, an ambitious brand in the beauty industry, partnered with Ipsy. The key initiative for this partnership was to improve brand awareness and familiarity among Ipsy subscribers for their Ultimate Anti-Aging Facial Mask. As managers of Hada Labo Tokyo’s social media accounts, Martino Flynn’s team quickly noticed an increase in engagement and that the campaign reached its goal. Results showed that 89% of “ipsters” had never heard of Hada Labo Tokyo prior to sampling the Ultimate Anti-Aging Facial Mask, and 65% of those samplers responded that they are likely to purchase it in the future. Additional results revealed that Hada Labo Tokyo’s partnership with Ipsy generated more than 4 million impressions across a variety of channels, contributing to the substantial increase in engagement and activity across social media platforms.

The goal of a sampling program is to attract new and (hopefully) loyal consumers. This has proven to be successful in raising awareness and educating consumers on the quality and efficacy of products. Overall, brands that participate in sampling campaigns are likely to receive substantial exposure, a solid return on investment, consumer loyalty, and valuable information about their target markets.

To learn more about how Martino Flynn can help your brand succeed with sampling campaigns, contact us at 585.421.0100.

Regional Media Relations Best Practices

“Come on, pick up,” you whisper under your breath. You’re sitting at your desk with the phone to your ear, waiting patiently for some reporter at Shangri-La Business Journal to answer his or her phone. The story you’re trying to pitch isn’t strong, but that’s not stopping you from pitching it anyway. After all, you’ve sent the reporter five emails within the past week, so you might as well continue. Sure enough, you’re sent to voicemail, where you find out that this reporter doesn’t even cover your story’s “beat” anymore.

What was done wrong in this situation? Everything.

Pitching a story to the media isn’t something that can be done on a whim. And contacting reporters in a distant market carries its own challenges—one being the fact that you don’t know any of the reporters.

A great deal of time and effort must be put into the “front end” of media outreach in order to raise the likelihood of coverage. Before you even begin pitching a story, take every element of your story into consideration. Keep these key points in mind before wasting a reporter’s time with a nonsense pitch.

  • Find the right reporter: If you were pitching a story about accounting, why would you reach out to the human interest reporter? In that case, you’re better off not even bothering with a pitch. Do a little research on the front end to determine which reporter would be most interested in picking up your story.
  • Be persistent, but never annoying: Reporters are busy. So sometimes, emails fall through the cracks. Sending multiple emails is fine, but try to limit it to two or three; if you don’t get a response, then call. Anything more than that and they will likely become annoyed. Remember: reporters hold all of the power and can reject your story at any point, so try to stay in their good graces.
  • Have strong content: If you’re pitching a story about nothing, or one that is self-serving, editors and reporters will know it… And will shoot it down. Treat them as you would your boss. Act as if you work for them; for the time being, you do. If you put their priorities ahead of your own and deliver the content they desire, you’re more likely to obtain the coverage you want.

Pitching topics to different markets can certainly be a challenge, but keeping these points in mind will make that regional media relations challenge a little easier. By treating reporters and editors with due respect, you won’t need to be constantly calling publications in Shangri-La; Shangri-La will be calling you.

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