I know you work in the world of flooring, but there are a couple of stats from the world of advertising you need to be aware of. 

This year—for the first time ever—U.S. digital advertising spending will exceed that of traditional advertising. Digital ads will account for an estimated 54.2% of total U.S. ad spending; that’s up 19% to $129.34 billion for a total of 54.2% of all advertising spending in 2019. Of that enormous total, mobile ads will dominate by accounting for more than 67% of what’s spent.

Why does this matter to you as the leader of a flooring retail business? This stat is yet another bellwether of your customers’ transition to digital platforms for receiving the majority of their information, inspiration, and motivation to take action (translation: make purchases). If you’ve been reading this column for any length of time, you’ve likely learned that we’ve long since made the shift to a digital-first marketplace, with consumption of online content most commonly occurring first by mobile device—namely the smartphone. Long stats short, you must go digital to reach your customers, and these days, “go digital” should include advertising spending.

I speak with retailers frequently and am aware many of you still get solid traction from traditional forms of advertising. From radio spots to print, ‘old school’ media has its place in your advertising mix and can bear measurable results. I also know many of you are already on board with digital promotions, and that’s great! As you look ahead for the longevity of your business, you’ll be well served to become increasingly proactive with a digital advertising strategy. That’s what it’s going to take to answer the evolving priorities of your customers. 

What are some best practices to expand or start your digital advertising efforts? Let’s take a look.

  • Identify your goals and how you’ll define success for any and all advertising efforts. You should be doing this as a standard operating procedure for every last one of your marketing and promotional efforts but certainly have this in place before you embark—or go any further—with advertising.
  • Make your ads trackable and measurable in alignment with your defined goals. For digital ads, I recommend always including a click back to your website in order for the potential customer to take a specific action. Promise me now that you won’t ever pay for a digital ad that only sends people to your home page! Talk about an anticlimactic opportunity! Make the ad and the associated desired action meaningful both for your customer (which means it’ll be meaningful for your business, too).

For example, offer a discount that’s specifically aligned with the digital ad. Create a landing page on your website that people get to by clicking your ad. Don’t worry—a landing page doesn’t need to be anything more than a specially created web page—maybe even just a blog post. On that page, supply a super-simple contact form so people can submit email addresses in order to receive a special code via email. This relative basic approach is trackable based on clicks on the ad, email signups, as well as use of the code at point of purchase: a trifecta of measurability to gauge success of the ad! 

  • Ask to add or increase the digital components of your existing media buys of traditional variety. If you are presently advertising on radio, TV, or in print publications, be sure to negotiate as much digital value-adds as possible. All media outlets maintain online presence and offer advertising options within their digital properties. While I do not recommend spending more to get in on those online placements, I do suggest you connect with your ad rep to firmly request digital placements be added to or enhanced for your existing ad spend. 
  • Prioritize and break out your budget with strategic intelligence. The recent reporting that declared digital ad spending will top traditional ads this year came with an interesting chart showing how the dollars are being spent across top online properties. Google comes in first with 37.2% of revenue share and Facebook is second with 22.1%. 

I contend this is a good reference as you determine how to divvy up your digital advertising budget. Direct your biggest spend to Google and the second largest to Facebook/Instagram (Facebook owns Instagram, so you can easily create joint campaigns). You may likely be fine to distribute your entire digital ad budget between just these two businesses. If you get good at Google, Facebook, and Instagram advertising, you will be casting your net into the deepest, most targeted waters to catch your customers, for sure. 

  • Don’t think small or go DIY with digital advertising; get serious, budget well, and bring in expertise to do it right. Digital advertising can be daunting and confusing. Google Ads, Facebook’s advertising platform, and all digital properties in between are in constant flux and evolution. It takes lots of ongoing, hands-on use to work with these tools proficiently. That’s why I advise that business leaders like you defer to professionals to ensure your precious dollars are spent well and wisely for best results. 
  • As you seek professional expertise to do this right, you’ll find there are countless freelancers and agencies that focus on just one discipline, be it Google Ads or Facebook campaigns. If you go with any of these single-focused specialists, be ready to serve as “strategist-in-chief” to ensure that your goals are always top priority, the various team members are working in synergy, and you’re receiving regular tracking and results reports. 

The word count in this article simply doesn’t provide enough room for me to peel apart specific tactics for each digital ad platform, how to create effective ads, or the like. Those are topics that I’ll have to address in future articles. Until then, feel free to reach out to me with questions. I’m more than happy to hear from you and share insights. You can find me anytime over at irenewilliams.biz!