Eric Snelz of top digital marketing agency Defero to share his wisdom with the lighting industry
enLIGHTenment Magazine: Describe what makes your agency different? Eric Snelz: Our CEO, Eric Brandt, often states that Defero is the “coffee shop” at the intersection of Marketing, Technology & Advertising. He has even coined the word MarTech™ (a combination of the words marketing and technology) to describe it.
Simply put, Defero is a full-service integrated marketing agency that specializes in digital brand management. We have launched marketing campaigns for such recognizable brands as Right Guard®, Purex®, and Red Hawk Casino. What’s fun for us is putting together all of the details that form a strategy, and utilizing different technology pieces and components that go into making it successful. No matter the medium, we help clients get to the right audience at the right time with the right message. Since one of our clients is International Market Centers (organizers of the Las Vegas Market and High Point Market), we’ve observed the B-to-B and B-to-C demands placed on manufacturers and retailers within the home furnishings industry. We’ve also seen this progress into a channel of businesses helping other businesses reach their common pot of gold: the consumer. This creates a true Business to Business to Consumer play. With so many options in marketing, so many solutions in technology, and all of the venues in advertising, it can be challenging for companies to determine the perfect method to reach their customers and even their customers’ customers. The lighting and home furnishings industries must generate a want/need with the consumer. You’ve got to get your product out into the world of the desired target audience and make them “have to have it.” EM: How do they do that? ES: It takes strategic planning and carefully choosing items that will work together towards the common goal. You do not want these pieces fighting each other for mindshare or real estate. The proper strategy can be made up of any combination of ways to deliver and help people find your content, whether through a Web site, blog, search, social media, mobile app, fun implementations like Pinterest or Instagram, video as content delivery, or email to keep in touch. Using all or some of these elements working together is the big key. EM: Which element is crucial? ES: You need an effective Web site to provide a backbone and supporting elements for both your goals and other digital tactics. A Website containing the basics of your core business is still essential in today’s digital landscape. It does not have to be elaborate, but it should provide a good introduction to your company and be a reflection of who you are (in tone, design, and function). Remember, a Web site is often the first impression you make on a potential customer. Think of your site as that initial handshake of yesteryear. EM: How important are analytics? ES: Through an analysis of your customer base, you can decide if you want to offer downloadable product catalogs, a smartphone app, or other strategic ways to capture a simple email address and start building that customer/contact relationship. Analytics that are connected to your Website are an educational tool that provides insight into the behaviors of those reaching and exploring your site. You’ll know if they are not finding what you consider to be the most important page of information – and discover if they are only watching the first 30 seconds of your 5-minute video. Analytics are the way to fine tune the dials, adjust the luminescence if you will, and shine the proper light on your efforts. EM: Who needs to have a blog? ES: We get a lot of questions about blogs. In our opinion, you should only blog if you have real, relevant content to share. Calendar it out and pre-write as much as possible so you are consistent with your postings and are meeting the expectations of your audience. Blogging is beneficial for search, but it doesn’t do anything for you if it is not updated on a regular basis. You can either integrate a blog into your Web site or you keep the blog separate. A nice idea is to provide perspectives from multiple experts, different designers, or even from various roles throughout the company. This technique offers a variety of voices for both you and your reader/customer. EM: How do Web sites get noticed? ES: You’ll want to be “found” by people who are searching for you by name or by your specialty. This means you want Google, Bing, and other search engines (but especially Google!) to know who you are and deliver your company in their results listings. You have the option of doing this via paid search or by optimizing your site for search engines with strategic keywords. We recommend the latter, using words that your customers are familiar with in the copy of each page on your site so that people can find it easily. Do not oversaturate the keywords on your site! This mean making sure your site is readable by a person, and not just a jumbled bunch of relevant keywords strung together. In addition, a simple way to create a searchable presence is by using pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, which is called “paid search.” This is a bidding system in which you bid on “real estate” and words to ensure that your name is coming up whenever relevant subject matter is searched. This can be very general or it can be highly targeted by region, time of day, etc. It can also be turned on/off to boost new product launches, or according to seasonality, or to push inventory liquidation. EM: Is social media a must? ES: There is no doubt that there is conversation taking place on social media that is relevant to your business, however, the question of should you be a part of it is something else. The most important thing to keep in mind is that if people are talking about you – or a product or innovation that is relevant to your company – then you want to be a part of that conversation. If the people you want to do business with (B2B) are talking about business in a social media setting, you need to be there…but only if you are actively engaged in social media. It does not do you any good to have a Facebook page or a Twitter account that you don’t check. Therefore, you must be committed to social media for it to work for you. It will do your company more harm than good to just throw up a page that you never visit. If you don’t have time to manage it or can’t hire someone to, don’t do it! If you are committed, look for groups to engage with on Google+ or in private Facebook or LinkedIn groups. After joining, listen for a bit so that you can form a strategy and content plan that will position you/your company as an expert in the subject matter. Better yet, over time, you should be leading these engagements. Social media is a fantastic way to encourage brand loyalty and find advocates. It provides a means to push information and create effective and persistent brand impressions that are simply unattainable via traditional media. Best of all, you really get to know not only your customer, but even your customer’s customer. EM: How important is video? ES: The use of video is huge right now. If you can capture the brilliance of your lighting products in a short video, then by all means put it on your Web site. You can also post a video to YouTube or use it to augment social media content, or to post on other people’s blogs as long as it’s relevant to the topic being discussed. Video is so popular that you are bound to find a viewing audience. There are a few different ways to use it. Video can offer content or it can be used as an advertisement that leads customers to the expert in your category. How-to videos that are tagged properly are highly searched on YouTube – and yes, viewership is measurable. We have even seen customers present a choose-your-own-adventure style of video where the viewer decides the path and intake of information (which could be done animated or live action). EM: Is email marketing dead? ES: Used properly – and by that, we mean very targeted and managed – email marketing can still be a strategic and beneficial tool in your digital marketing tool box. Aside from the obvious advantage of reaching your audience in an effective, targeted manner, email allows you to maintain relevancy, stay “top of mind,” and customize the experience while employing your digital communication as a means to optimize ROI. With variability testing, you can track what works – and what doesn’t – to further tailor your message and increase the effectiveness of promoting your brand and your offerings. When you go as far as behavioral-based targeted marketing, with implementation into segmented and tiered drip campaigns, you are really taking email marketing to the next level! Every part of the email construction down to the subject line is fundamental to the success of your campaign. In fact, a slew of words in the subject line (and throughout the body of the email) can create trouble and interfere with deliverability. Lastly, constantly update your mailing list. Doing so allows you to rest easy knowing that your email will reach the intended recipient, providing more bang for your buck. EM: Are Pinterest and Instagram passing fads? ES: So many fun options have entered the digital landscape and are sticking that these very well could be relevant for your business (or the consumer influence on your business). Within the lighting and home furnishings industries, Instagram and Pinterest can be used alone or integrated with social media, blogs, and Web sites to help promote your brand and connect with your customers. These are highly sharable and spread far and wide when people with a high Klout score (someone of influence who is active on social media and has lots of connections) “likes” your content and their friends do the same. Done properly, this is all measurable. You’ll find out what people really like plus what they will buy – and that ability can influence more than just sales! Think about the research aspect you’ll have for the future engineering of product designs or sales. This is all powerful stuff that wraps back to your short- and long-term strategy. EM: How vital is mobile marketing? ES: Most of us are tethered to our cell phones and are rarely without them for even a moment no matter the time of day. We have come to rely on them for much more than just the ability to dial a number at will. Mobile marketing or communicating can mean simple text message campaigns or it can employ “geo-fencing” technology that reaches customers who have “opted in” whenever they enter a digitally marked perimeter. There are plenty of options in mobile advertising and review sites (i.e. Yelp). Determining the right solution for your business goes back to who you are trying to reach or influence and what your goals are. In a “make every dollar count” kind of economy, we focus on Return on Investment (ROI). All digital marketing is measurable. Metrics and analytics tell the ROI story and also serve as a guide to what is working and what is not. You have the option of testing and tweaking until you find the true sweet spot for your unique business. When you consult with a marketing agency, they should be able to recommend a combination of the above items (or even other solutions) that will provide results for your business. For more information on Defero, visit www.deferousa.com. ALA Conference Attendees: If you would like to meet with Eric Snelz on-site, email firstname.lastname@example.org