The world of marketing has undergone a major transformation since the start of the social media era back in the late 1990s, forcing businesses across many industries to rethink their approach to customer outreach and engagement. According to the Pew Research Center, roughly 70% of Americans use at least one social media platform to connect with friends and family, engage with online content and interact with brands. What’s more, an estimated 87% of consumers start their shopping online before making retail purchases, according to research from Salesforce, which leaves offline garden centers at a bit of a disadvantage.
To remain competitive in the online and brick-and-mortar marketplace, marketers working for garden centers, greenhouse nurseries and local florists are having to get creative with their ad spending. More attention is being paid to developing organic, omnichannel marketing campaigns and cultivating an active online following. But how, exactly, can retail garden centers increase their foot traffic, profitability and brand awareness when there’s so much noise to cut through?
Boosting Brand Visibility
The challenge of social media marketing is that nearly every for-profit company is hoping to leverage this communication channel to differentiate itself from the competition. While large garden centers and commercial greenhouses may have the budgets (and technical know-how) to capitalize on digital marketing opportunities, smaller businesses often struggle to keep up. However, social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have leveled the playing field, providing nursery growers with a simple, cost-effective means of boosting their brand visibility.
Making a lasting impact with online audiences requires more than a social media profile, however, as garden centers must first define their brand in ways that will appeal to local customers. Simply positioning oneself as a family-owned business with extensive plant knowledge and personalized service isn’t enough, as modern consumers are increasingly interested in lifestyle brands. Since social media platforms are inherently visual, it’s important for garden centers to create engaging and aesthetically pleasing posts to catch the eye of online shoppers. Garden Center Magazine offers the followings tips for increasing brand awareness using digital content:
- Ensure consistent messaging and graphic design across all marketing channels
- Incorporate video content into your online marketing strategy when possible
- Partner with media outlets and industry organizations to get the word out
- Upload visually appealing images of products and gardening equipment
- Publish social media updates and new content regularly to keep customers engaged
Even after a garden center has built a sustainable audience, the need to constantly produce relevant content never truly disappears. As such, business websites can be a powerful tool for managing public image and staying top of mind with potential customers.
Optimizing Web Presence
Alongside regular social media updates, garden centers should also make use of their websites to drive brand awareness and engagement through unique content. According to research from Hubspot, brands that create 15 or more blog posts per month average 1,200 new sales leads per month. Of course, a website’s overall design and responsiveness can either support or limit content marketing efforts. To drive high-quality leads, greenhouse nurseries must ensure their websites are optimized for both desktop and mobile users, while also prioritizing searchability.
The practice of search engine optimization (SEO) is crucial for ranking competitively in search results – research from Zero Limit Web found that the first five organic results account for roughly 67% of all clicks on Google. Securing these top spots, however, typically requires at least some keyword research, competitor analysis and creativity. Luckily, content management systems like WordPress and HubSpot make it easy to hone in on digital marketing opportunities, publish multimedia content and manage websites in real-time.
Personalizing the Buyer’s Journey
Another challenge of social media marketing is the need to personalize user experiences, whereby garden centers send out specific promotions, discounts and product recommendations based on customers’ previous purchases. This strategy can not only help increase foot traffic to brick-and-mortar nurseries, but it may also give salespeople a better idea of what gardening equipment or plants customers are actually looking for. In fact, a recent study from the experience management firm Walker found that customer experience will likely overtake price and product as the key brand-related differentiator by the end of 2020.
The truth is, marketing techniques and technologies are constantly changing, which can make it difficult for garden centers and greenhouse nurseries to keep pace with shifting consumer preferences and shopping trends. Ultimately, increasing the effectiveness of any marketing campaign is about understanding who you’re selling to, what they value and how your business can exceed their expectations