Kurt Hawks, left, BridgeTower Media; Bob McCarthy, resident; Seraj Barwani, Acuity Ads; Alan Hirschhorn, GhostBed; and Chris Bradley, Bedinabox.com.
ORLANDO, Fla. — Digital marketing has fundamentally changed traditional advertising and sales paradigms, providing retailers and manufacturers with unprecedented data on consumers’ buying journeys while challenging them to become more and more sophisticated in how they access this data and translate it into a final purchase. .
This was one of the key messages shared by panelists on Furniture Today’s bedding conference panel, Connecting with Consumers Online. The panel, comprised of experts in the direct-to-consumer space, was moderated by Kurt Hawks, Chief Digital Officer of BridgeTower Mediaparent company of Furniture Today.
One of the other key messages, particularly as the number of DTC brands being sold in retail grows, is that tracking consumer activity once they hit retail is times more difficult and more important. Panelists noted that attribution (determining the return on investment of various media activities), a critical measure of success and future activity in the digital realm, becomes much more difficult once the consumer has made their first contact. with a point of sale. This is largely because marketers’ access to consumer journey data at this stage must often come from sharing data with retail partners, often a sensitive topic.
“There are a lot of things in the consumer journey that are transparent,” said Seraj Barwani, chief strategy officer at Acuity Ads. “Once you link it to retail, you have to follow through as best you can. The majority of retailers do not share data. »
Bob McCarthy, general manager, retail, at Resident, noted that having access to this type of data, commonly referred to as closing the attribution loop, can dramatically improve the effectiveness of digital marketing efforts. “As more data comes into the model, our model gets smarter,” he said. “When it gets harder to track, it gets harder to justify that expense.”
As sales and marketing in the digital and physical realms become increasingly intertwined, the importance of turning consumer interest into action becomes both more difficult and more important. “You pay a lot of money to get that first click,” said Chris Bradley, executive vice president of Bedinabox.com. “What you do after that makes or breaks you.”
It’s also increasingly important, panelists noted, to move consumers seamlessly between the physical and digital realms, as they are likely to switch between them frequently. While in the early days of DTC marketing there was speculation that e-commerce would supplant retail, it has become increasingly clear that consumers often want to try before they buy, especially when shopping. buying a mattress.
“At GhostBed, our intention has always been to go retail,” said Alan Hirschorn, executive vice president. “Half of what we do is drive traffic.” He noted that at some point the consumer journey may have started with that first store visit, today it is often difficult to tell exactly where and when the consumer journey to purchase officially begins.
What is clear is that at some point most consumers will enter a retail store, more often to test or confirm an intended purchase than to begin the learning process. This is especially true as the industry has become less price driven in recent years.
“When the prices go up, you’ll definitely want to try the mattress,” Barwani said. “Where you buy is still up in the air.”
See also: State of the Industry: Bedding Producers Reflect on Second Half