All Posts By

Joshua Claflin

Outdoor Hunting Lifestyle Marketing

How Outdoor Lifestyle Marketing Can Bolster Your Content Strategy

By | Outdoor Marketing

If you’ve been doing content marketing for a while, you may have noticed that the traction you once had is beginning to wane.

You’ve been able to build a sizeable email marketing list, your social media following has grown exponentially and you’ve been able to boost online sales through organic website traffic.

However, with the explosion of content in our industry, especially in the hunting, camping, and CCW segments—how can you continue to breath new life into your brand and content marketing to keep growing?

In this post, we look at lifestyle marketing—and how by integrating your customer’s narrative into your brand’s story—you can put your product into a context that goes beyond its features and benefits.

What is lifestyle marketing?

When thinking about a lifestyle, first think about what a lifestyle is. A lifestyle is a set of habits, attitudes, beliefs, interests, opinions, ideas and thoughts based on an individual’s unique God-given personality.

For example, you may define the outdoor lifestyle as:

  • Adventure
  • Free
  • Family
  • Discovery
  • Conservation
  • Escape

Or you may define the 3 million CCW holders lifestyle (Source: Denver Post) as:

  • Freedom-loving
  • Defensive
  • Aware
  • Protective
  • Heroic
  • Concerned

“Lifestyle brands define who people are and who they want or hope to be.”


Many industry brands solely focus on their product’s features, and minimize their customer’s lifestyle or don’t incorporate them at all into their marketing strategies. When attention to lifestyle is left out—brands miss out on a pathway to connect deeper with their customers. Lifestyle brands give your buyers a goal and vision to become something better. This aspirational aspect is what makes lifestyle marketing so effective. (Source: Pixelee)

Exercise: How would you describe your lifestyle? What products represent how you live?

How do you build a lifestyle brand?

Turning a brand into a lifestyle brand takes some time. Consistent, intentional effort that is driven by your company’s leadership is key to permeating your company’s culture to drive authentic experiences. Below are six tactics to help you get started:

Know your Tribe
Tribe,” coined by Seth Godin, states: “Tribe is any group of people, large or small, who are connected to one another, a leader, and an idea. For millions of years, humans have joined tribes, be they religious, ethnic, political, or even musical. It’s our nature. Now the Internet has eliminated the barriers of geography, cost, and time.” You must get to know your tribe as thoughtfully as possible to harness their pain points, interests and motivations—then you must lead them in the lifestyle your brand represents. 

Create awesome branding 
Brands that invoke the best visuals and messaging are more likely to garner emotional attachment. Almost all lifestyle brands have an active design component. A visually appealing logo/symbol of your brand that your tribe adopts will make them want to stick it on the back of their truck, or perhaps get a tattoo (just Google “Glock tattoo“).  

Invest in your culture
As your brand becomes more trusted, it’s important to show your people. Most companies in the hunting, shooting, and outdoor industry don’t show the people behind the scenes. The best cultures become the best lifestyle brands. Make sure they are living the lifestyle your brand embodies.

Leverage influencers
The lifestyle affinity is a natural fit for influencer marketing because your influencers are already living the lifestyle you want to integrate into your messaging. Your influencers can boost your content and storyline to their audiences through social media, garnering trust and expanding reach.

Create content
Content will continue to be an essential part of any digital or influencer marketing strategy for the foreseeable future, because of its effectiveness and long-term benefits. When creating content, don’t blow smoke about how great, amazing, game-changing, evolved, re-imagined, etc. your product is. Show how it improves your tribe’s lives without pushing your product.

Be present
Like any relationship, sometimes all it takes is showing up. Brand awareness is a key part of building a lifestyle brand, and this is where gorgeous cinematic hunting, camping or hiking video/photography and other tactics help you stay top of mind and part of people’s lives.

(Source: The A Group)

 

Four examples of lifestyle brands

Beretta

beretta-upland-lifestyle

Photo Credit: Beretta

Beretta’s lifestyle marketing consists of aligning their brand with an upper-class type of shooter and their experiences. The brand’s creative platform contains fonts that are clean and a color palette that suggests luxury. Their photography represents the customers they wish to align with that could be described as sophisticated, traditional and affluent—most likely influenced by the brand’s European origin. Part of what makes Beretta a lifestyle brand is its clothing line. Not only can you own and shoot the Berretta brand—but you can also wear it.

Beretta also integrates a robust content marketing program that adds value to its customers by helping them get better at their shooting and outdoor pursuits.

Sitka

Outdoor Marketing Llifestyle

Photo Credit: Sitka

Sitka Gear based in Bozeman, Montana is also a prime example of what it means to live the outdoor lifestyle. Sitka’s helpful articles, short films, and transparency in their design and manufacturing processes make it an excellent lifestyle brand. Much more than a camo company—their focus on their “Tribe” is based on their mission statement to “inspire, delight and enlighten hunters.” Their mission towards conservationism also gives the brand a much higher purpose, which makes it more attractive, exciting and admirable.

Yeti

outdoor-lifestyle-marketing

Photo Source: Yeti


No other company in the outdoor world does a better job than Yeti in integrating their products into the outdoor lifestyle. Yeti seeks to touch every aspect of someone participating in the outdoor world through story-based content. From Spearfishers to Big Horn Sheep Hunters—Yeti is a brand built for the wild as stated in their tagline. I found it especially interesting that they also have a Spotify list with songs from a broad genre that puts music to the Yeti Lifestyle. This is just another way lifestyle brands are looking outside the traditional channels to build their names into their customer’s lives.

 

Magpul

Magpul Outdoor Lifestyle

Photo Credit: Magpul


There was some confusion a few years ago when Magpul decided to evolve their firearm accessories brand into a lifestyle brand with the addition of apparel like gloves, shirts, and pants. Magpul has now become more than just a company known for its magazines, stocks, and handguards.

 

Make the connection

When thinking through on how to align your brand with your customer’s lifestyle—you must begin with their characteristics, problems, challenges, hopes, fears, and dreams; and start to build your marketing strategy around them, not your product.

Seek to dramatize your material around their outdoor, hunting or shooting activities—but also look for other aspects that define them. For example, your imagery can speak to the pride they have as a first responder, their desires to spend more time with friends and family, a lost loved one (see Beyond the Roar by Leupold below), ambitions of climbing Mount Everest, adventure (see Weatherby Timeless Video) or hunting with their Son or Daughter. Anything your brand can do to take them out or into a place they want to be is a critical component of lifestyle marketing. Your brand must become a storyteller that allows your customer to see themselves as their best self. 

The below video by Leupold is a great example of engaging lifestyle storytelling.

 

“Lifestyle marketing must be somewhat mythical and paint a visual that seems almost dream-like while remaining brutally authentic.” 

Today’s digitally empowered consumers are very astute. When you can get your target audience to build your product into their lives, making it a part of their narrative, you don’t have to solicit action. They feel like they found you, just the right fit for how they view themselves in the world. (Source: Marketing 360)

If your content strategy needs a boost, perhaps lifestyle marketing is the tactic you need for continued success.

Article image source: Fluid Peak Productions a lifestyle marketing company.

 


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Inbound Marketing & Creative Strategy
Josh helps brands in the tech, outdoor and firearms industry who are struggling to develop their brand; grow, stabilize or increase profits through their websites; increase revenue through online channels and enter the digital era of marketing.

 

Outdoor Website Design

8 Things We Learned Over The Years About Outdoor Website Design

By | Outdoor Marketing

Over the years, Garrison Everest has identified several factors that every outdoor website needs to be successful online. We’ve found (after completing over a hundred websites), brands who are meeting or exceeding their goals have these eight foundational website traits in common. By adhering to these basic premises, you will have a solid foundation to conduct digital marketing and grow your business more efficiently. 

outdoor-website-marketing-data1. Goals, KPIs, and Analytics

You can’t track what you don’t measure. Every website project should start with clear goals and key performance indicators (KPIs) on what you want to achieve. These goals need to be regularly tracked and reported on monthly. Having a good understanding of what metrics are important to you (visits, bounce rate, sales, shares, likes, clicks, subscriptions, conversations, etc.) will ultimately make your contact and sales generation more successful.

2. Credible Design, Photography and Copy

outdoor website lifestyle marketing

Engaging design, photography, and copy is a must in today’s digital environment. Canned stock photos will hinder the sales process and fail to build the necessary trust with your prospects. Short and concise copy—based on your buyer persona—is needed to grab and hold your visitor’s attention. Copy and imagery work together to tell your brand, product or services’ story—that ultimately spurs the sales process. Copy should be based on your prospect’s lifestyle and how you solve their problems.

3. WordPress Content Management System

WordPress is an online, open source website creation tool written in PHP. But in non-geek speak, it’s probably the most straightforward and most powerful blogging and website content management system (or CMS) in existence today. WordPress powers over 27 % of all websites on the web (Source: Tech Republic). It is easy to manage and scale as your business grows.

4. WooCommerce

For E-commerce installations, Garrison Everest strictly uses WooCommerce. WooCommerce powers over 28% of all online stores (Source: Pixelo). Plugin subscriptions are updated annually that add extra functionality to your website for a fraction of the cost. Plugins include shipment tracking, payment processing, deposits, email subscriptions, automation and more.

Automation and Abandoned Cart Email

For every 100 potential customers, 67 of them will leave without purchasing. How much would your revenues increase if you were capturing those sales instead of losing them? (Source: Shopify) An automation and abandoned cart email program can make your e-commerce store more profitable. And don’t forget to add an email subscription form for prospects to sign up for your blog and newsletter.

 

Outdoor Website

 

5. Fast and Secure Hosting

Garrison Everest partners with WP-Engine to power our client’s website. WP-Engine hosting comes with an SSL (Secure Socket Layer) that shows your visitors you are a credible and trustworthy business giving you a rankings boost on Google. Our hosting also employs a Content Delivery Network (CDN) that makes your site faster and more secure—making it less likely to be brought down by hackers.

6. SEO and Content

Depending on your segment in the outdoor industry, updating your website’s blog regularly (at least twice a month) will be necessary for you to build organic rankings, links and value on search engines.

Companies that blog have better marketing results. Specifically, the average company that blogs has:

  • 55% more visitors
  • 97% more  inbound links
  • 434% more  indexed pages

Websites that provide helpful and relevant content will rank higher. Value-added content will also help grow your social media networks. (Source: HubSpot)

heatmaps7. Ongoing testing

Most companies will invest a significant amount of capital in a website, launch it, and then do nothing with it for three years. To get the most out of your website, ongoing audits, user interaction testing, heat mapping, copy, SEO and design experiments should be conducted to optimize your brand’s most important sales channel.

8. Instant Messaging

Gone are the days of forms for potential prospects to contact you. Since we’ve added Drift, the world’s first and only conversational marketing and sales platform to our website and other client websites—we’ve seen an almost 80% increase of leads. When prospects hit your website, they are searching for a solution to a problem they’re having. At this moment in their buyer’s journey, they are in the exploratory phase and are looking for answers to your questions. Instant message meets them at the right place and the right time.  

By adding and conducting these eight components on your outdoor website, you will have a firm digital marketing foundation in which to build your online business. 

Contact Us To Learn More


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Inbound Marketing & Creative Strategy
Josh helps brands in the tech, outdoor and firearms industry who are struggling to develop their brand; grow, stabilize or increase profits through their websites; increase revenue through online channels and enter the digital era of marketing.

 

Marketing Firearms

Before You Invest In Firearm Marketing, Ask Yourself These 4 Questions

By | Firearms Marketing

Most new business owners in the firearm industry come from an engineering background. When it comes time to discuss marketing, most will avoid the subject—because after all, how many engineers studied marketing in college?

In light of this fact, you may be feeling anxious to do some “sort of marketing,” but you’re not sure what that “sort of marketing” is.

Should you buy a banner ad on Outdoor Wire, develop a full-fledged content department like Sitka, sponsor a woman-focused group like the Well Armed Women, pay $10,000 to go to SHOT show—and what about Facebook and Instagram?

Before you get to the part in your business that requires you to spend some money on marketing—there are four questions you need to ask to ensure that when it does come time to invest in marketing—it will work.

 

1. Solve a problem that has mass appeal.

If you look at the biggest companies and brands in the world, they all have one thing in common—they solve a problem that everyone has: computing (Apple), fast food (McDonald’s), transportation (Ford), fast consumer goods (Amazon). Or they have improved upon an outdated product (coolers) that everyone has to have (Yeti)—or they have brought to market a better product like Magpul’s polymer magazines. 

 

Yeti Coolers

Photo credit: Yeti

Question: What is the #1 problem your product solves? Find that problem or unique difference and solve it.

 

2. Quality is job #1

A quality product that is reliable and durable is only the starting line in this industry. If you can’t do that, you need to go back to the drawing board.

According to a leading manufacturer rep, I had the opportunity to talk to the other day stated, “if word gets out on the street, you have a good product—the product will sell itself, just stay out of your own way.”

Question: Is your product of high quality and has it been thoroughly tested?

But this is still not enough—there are two other factors that form the basis of successful marketing—and that is timing and price. If the time is not right for your product, it can suck the life out of your business.

 

Maxim

Photo credit: SilencerCo.

3. Is the timing right?

A recent example of hitting the market at the right time is the Maxim 50 by SilencerCo. The Maxim 50 solves a huge problem everyone has: hearing loss and hunting in States where only shotguns and muzzleloaders are allowed.

According to Williams Mullen’s firearm industry practice group, “The Maxim 50 and its permanently attached silencer is not considered a firearm or a suppressor under the NFA.  Individuals looking for a hearing safe gun, whether for hunting, collecting, or recreational shooting, can now purchase one without having to go through the ATF’s burdensome registration process, which requires certain law enforcement checks, fingerprints, law enforcement notifications, a multi-month waiting period, and a $200 tax stamp paid directly to Uncle Sam.”

By integrating the silencer into a muzzleloader platform, SilencerCo. was able to solve a major problem in the market at the perfect time, earning massive industry attention. On September 19, 2017 upon the product’s release, SilencerCo’s website crashed due to the massive response.

Question: Is the timing right? What trends will fuel your marketing efforts?

 

4. Is it priced right?
If you can’t achieve good margins on your product, or if you extend yourself by going to market with several products (instead of just one or two), you might be heading down a black hole where there is no return.

According to Entrepreneur, no matter what type of product you sell, the price you charge your customers will have a direct effect on the success of your business. Though pricing strategies can be complex, the basic rules of pricing are straightforward:

  • All prices must cover costs and profits.
  • The most effective way to lower prices is to lower costs.
  • Review prices frequently to assure that they reflect the dynamics of cost, market demand, response to the competition, and profit objectives.
  • Prices must be established to assure sales.

A new resource in the industry you may not have heard about is Gun Broker’s Pricing Report. Gun Broker offers access to National Firearm Pricing and Trends to help you understand how to best price your firearms and accessories. GunBroker.com boasts 6 million unique monthly visitors a month and conducts over $3 Billion in cumulative merchandise sales. 

 

Pricing Report

 

What about sales and distribution?

For most startups and growth-phase manufacturers, distributors typically won’t take you on until you have a sales record. The exception is, of course, you have a breakout product – like the Hudson H9. So start with the above—develop a winning marketing strategy—and in time—and with some sales hustle, you’ll have distributors taking note.

In conclusion, by solving a problem that has wide appeal, building a quality and thoroughly tested product, launching at the right time and pricing your product accordingly will help make your marketing more successful. 

Free Marketing Firearms Ebook


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Inbound Marketing & Creative Strategy
Josh helps brands in the tech, outdoor and firearms industry who are struggling to develop their brand; grow, stabilize or increase profits through their websites; increase revenue through online channels and enter the digital era of marketing.

 

firearm marketing seo

3 SEO Reminders for Firearm Website Optimization

By | Firearms Marketing

Search engine optimization is crucial for small-large firearm businesses when it comes to finding customers over the internet. Current estimates suggest that Google is processing roughly 4 ½ billion searches per day. It has largely replaced the Yellow Pages, print advertising, and even word-of-mouth recommendations when it comes to finding products and services.

Given that reality, it’s not surprising that so many small firearm business owners are constantly looking for a way to improve their visibility on Google (64% of market share), Bing (21% of market share) and others. However, experience has taught us that many of them miss the point in important ways. They want to get more search traffic but focus their efforts and attention on the wrong details and techniques.

In this quick post, let’s look at three reminders that firearm businesses need to keep in mind when optimizing their website for search.

1. Don’t Over-Optimize Every Page for Search

On-page search optimization is important and valuable, but it’s easy to overdo it. For one thing, content that is too focused on search visibility can have a dry, robotic feel. And for another, there are declining returns involved. Making a bunch of small changes to one page isn’t nearly as valuable as adding fresh content to your site in the form of a blog

This isn’t to say that you should prioritize quantity over quality, or that activities like keyword research, internal linking, and keyword optimization aren’t important. Instead, it’s a recognition that you need to balance your time and effort between polishing what you have and being a source of fresh content and ideas.

TIP: If you’re using WordPress, use Yoast to help you find the right balance of content and keywords.

 

2. Don’t Ignore Obvious Technical SEO Challenges

No matter how great the content on your website is, or what you’ve done to optimize your pages, Google isn’t going to pay much attention if you have obvious technical errors. Broken links, missing images, and slow page loading times are all signs of a poor user experience that will depress your search position.

Additionally, mobile functionality and SSL connections have become major search signals. If your website is missing these, then adding more content or focusing on different keywords isn’t going to make much of a difference. You simply can’t overlook the technical aspects of SEO and expect to get ahead of your competitors.

TIP: Use this Website Grader to see how your website stacks up.

 

3. SEO is an Ongoing Process

You can put a good search engine optimization plan into place, but unless you execute and refine your approach over time, you’re eventually going to end up being “stuck” in a lower search position. That’s partly because search patterns and best practices change, but also because it takes time and testing to increase conversion rates for incoming visitors.

In other words, search engine optimization isn’t something you’re going to do or invest in once and then cross off your list. If you really want to make it an important part of your inbound marketing plan, you’re going to have to stick with it over time.

When search engine optimization was still a new marketing technique, you could do a little bit of work and see your sales numbers increase dramatically in a very short period of time. Now, the rewards of earning a top position on Google are greater than never, but the competition is more intense. If you want to improve your bottom line through SEO, it’s imperative you keep adding fresh content, don’t overlook the technical aspects of your site, and follow a plan that keeps you moving forward.

TIP: Check out SEMRush’s free tool to get the inside track on SEO and your competitors.

 

Get Free Marketing Assessement!


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Inbound Marketing & Creative Strategy
Josh helps brands in the tech, outdoor and firearms industry who are struggling to develop their brand; grow, stabilize or increase profits through their websites; increase revenue through online channels and enter the digital era of marketing.

 

Firearm Voice Search Web Marketing

What is the Best Way to Optimize Your Firearms Website for Voice Search?

By | Firearms Marketing

As you’ve probably noticed by now, everyone is using voice search these days. More and more, your customers are bypassing Google’s minimalist homepage and opting to simply ask an app — backed by artificial intelligence—to find what they are looking for. The change isn’t being driven solely by mobile devices, either – digital assistants are making their way into operating systems, bringing voice search capability to traditional Windows (Cortana) and Apple (Siri) laptop and desktop computers.

For the average internet user, this means more convenience than ever. For a marketer, though, the rise of these tools poses a brand-new question: how do you optimize your website for voice search?

In this post, we give you a few things to consider and how to prepare for the future.

 

1. The First Step Towards Optimizing Your Website for Voice Search

40% of adults now use voice search once per day, according to Location World. Some predict, 50% of all searches will be voice searches by 2020. If you want to capture voice search traffic (and you should), then it’s important to realize that these types of queries aren’t structured in terms of traditional keywords. Instead, they are spoken in a natural language question-and-answer format.

Although exact matching has become less important and relevant in recent SEO iterations, it does still hold weight with voice search. So, having text, titles, and headlines like the one we used above – how do you optimize your firearms website for voice search? – can be helpful. The more of this type of content you have on your website, the easier it’s going to be for voice searchers to find you.

 

2. How to Integrate Questions and Answers Into Your Website

For firearm marketers who are used to thinking in terms of market-based keywords, posting content in natural language terms can actually feel a bit awkward. Besides, you don’t want to undo your existing SEO efforts to capture voice search traffic.

Knowing that one great idea is to simply beef up your Frequently Asked Questions page. This is the one place on your website where you can post as many natural language phrases as you want, and they are likely to be structured in a way that Google can easily crawl and understand.

Additionally, you might consider adding separate pages or blog posts for questions that come up often or point specifically to your expertise. Articles like this one can standout in Google’s search listings without making your FAQ pages seem unnecessarily long.

 

3. Finding the Right Questions and Phrases to Target

As with anything else in search engine optimization, finding the right targets is every bit as important as executing your plan. And with nearly 50% of people now using voice search when researching products (Source: Social Media Today), you should do what you can to identify the kinds of questions your best customers are likely to ask when using voice-assisted search apps.

Open Siri and give these a try:

  • What is the best AR15?
  • How much does a gun safe cost?
  • Where is the closest gun range?
  • What is Springfield Armory’s XDE Series warranty?
  • How do I attract Millennial gun buyers?

Naturally, you could begin by evaluating the kinds of things buyers tend to ask you about on phone calls, chats or during face-to-face meetings. You could also look into your web analytics to see what searchers are typing into Google that leads them to arrive at your website. Another good source for material is Google’s own auto-complete function, which could suggest natural language question combinations to you.

Firearm Website Voice Search

Each of these is a good way to brainstorm new ideas, and all of them can help you bring more voice searchers to your site. At the moment, that simply means you have one more edge over your online competitors. As voice search becomes more and more popular, though, it could put you on the cutting-edge of SEO for years to come.

If you could use some internet marketing and search engine optimization advice that’s tailored to your business and challenges, now is the perfect time to schedule a free consultation with our team and see how we can help. The future is coming! 

Get Free Assessement!


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Inbound Marketing & Creative Strategy
Josh helps brands in the tech, outdoor and firearms industry who are struggling to develop their brand; grow, stabilize or increase profits through their websites; increase revenue through online channels and enter the digital era of marketing.

 

Firearm Lifecycle Marketing

Use Lifecycle Marketing to Boost Your Firearm E-commerce Revenue

By | Firearms Marketing

Growth is hard—and expensive. The companies you see growing quickly, have a lot of money and usually have a really cool product. Does this describe you? 

When you think about ecommerce—the first thing most people think about is generating a sale. It’s all about the money, right? But what if I told you there’s more to it than that, and your thinking is too linear, and you’re leaving a lot of money on the table by not taking the process further.

In this post, taken from a recent webinar by Austin Brawner, of Brand Growth Experts for Klaviyo—you’ll learn three assertions about how to boost revenue through your e-commerce store via lifecycle marketing.

What is Lifecycle Marketing?

Lifecycle marketing is creating a managed communications or contact strategy to prioritize and integrate the full range of marketing communications channels and experiences to support prospects and customers on their path-to-purchase using techniques such as persuasive personalized messaging and re-marketing. (Source: SmartInsights)

 

Firearm ecommerce Marketing

Source: SmartInsights

What is Klaviyo?
Klaviyo is a marketing automation platform that helps e-commerce marketers get better results from data-driven marketing. In data-driven marketing, the main objective is to use data to get the right message to the right person at the right time. The best way for a firearm, hunting, and outdoor companies to do so (right now) is by email marketing.

 

Klaviyo Firearm Email Marekting

Assertion #1
The fastest way to grow is to outspend and out-convert your competition.

Right now web traffic is a commodity. You can go and cut a check to any industry digital media outlet, Google or Facebook (non-FFL items) to buy traffic. If you can spend $10 where your competitor can only spend $5, you win that customer. And if you can out-convert your competition, this means you are getting more of that traffic and more customers—which means more market share.

Assertion #2
Email marketing (when done correctly) virtually guarantees that you can outspend your competition. To spend more, you need to be able to either convert better or net a greater Customer Lifetime Value (CLV).

To explain this, let’s look at the Cost of Acquisition Payback Model.

What is CAC and Why Should You Care?

To put it simply – CAC is the total cost of sales and marketing efforts that are needed to acquire a customer. It is one of the defining factors in whether your company has a viable business model that can yield profits by keeping acquisition costs low as you scale. (Source: ProftWell)

CAC Model Lifecycle Marketing

The Cost of Acquisition Payback Model says that it will cost you money to get a customer (red), but after that customer purchases from you, you begin to break even and start to make that money back—over time. The goal is to move those customers into the (green) through repeat purchases. And the best way to do that is through email. The reason? Email creates more repeat purchases which are more profitable. According to the Direct Marketing Association, it yields an estimated 4,300 percent ROI. Every dollar spent on email marketing offers a return of $44, says ExactTarget.

If you have customers, that are interested in what you’re doing and you’ve won them over with your brand and products, email (right now) is the best way to continue to market to them. In the table below, you can see how one company was able to double purchases—the second order is almost 4x more valuable than the first.

Firearm CAC

Source: Brand Growth Experts

But one of the hardest parts of e-commerce is turning a 1x customer into a repeat buyer. Customer churn is expensive, time-consuming, and taxing. Once you have your customer, you must work hard to keep them engaged.

Repeat business is the key from going to ‘feast or famine’ to stable, predictable revenue—like a SAAS company.

In a second example (below), when compared to Pay Per Click, you can see from this data, the difference between email and paid search, even when the order amounts are the same (250), the profit margin between email and paid is substantial. PPC obviously won’t apply to FFL items—but for scopes, holsters, safes, and other kinds of hunting, outdoor or firearm gear—this can be substantial savings.

 

Firearms PPC vs Email Marketing

Source: Brand Growth Experts

 

Assertion #3
The best way to implement email marketing is via a handful of proven lifecycle marketing campaigns.

Lifecycle Marketing

When a customer comes to your site, the customer is usually fairly excited and may end up purchasing more than one product from you. But over time, they become less engaged and will need more incentives and better offers to entice them to buy. So your goal as a marketer is to decrease friction with better offers. It’s also smart at this point to augment your email marketing efforts with content or inbound marketing to build/sustain your customer base and influence customer loyalty. 

The lifecycle dictates how to market: right offer, right segment, right time.

Conclusion: Master lifecycle marketing, master growth.

Email marketing combined with lifecycle marketing is one of the most powerful tools available to firearm, outdoor and hunting marketers—yet few have implemented it. Investing in a robust email marketing program that is wrapped into lifecycle marketing not only can generate revenue but build your brand and create customers for life.

Interested in seeing how your e-commerce store can be improved?

Contact Us Today!

 

Enhance your Firearm Digital Marketing


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Inbound Marketing & Creative Strategy
Josh helps brands in the tech, outdoor and firearms industry who are struggling to develop their brand; grow, stabilize or increase profits through their websites; increase revenue through online channels and enter the digital era of marketing.

 

Firearm Marketing in a Slow Economy

4 Questions About Firearm Marketing When Sales Slow Down

By | Firearms Marketing

Whether you’re seeing a “Trump Bump” or a “Trump Slump”—there are plenty of conflicting reports out there that provide insight into the health of our industry. Some true, but most of them false.

However, when sales are in a slump or your segment of the gun industry is stagnant (i.e. suppressors), consistent and creative marketing can be done cost efficiently to give you a little extra boost if you know where to start.

In this post, I answer four questions recently asked of me by a friend in the firearms industry that pertains to marketing when things begin to slow down. I hope these answers will give you some insight on how you can cost effectively boost your online sales if you’re in a slump.

 

Q1. What should a company think about when determining its marketing strategy in a slower economy?

A: It’s generally accepted that it costs three times more to find a new customer than it does to sell to an existing customer. In a slow economy (or when sales slow), focusing on your current customer base by using cross-sell/upsell tactics and customer-only incentives through email should be part of your plan to boost/sustain sales. Firearm enthusiasts tend to be fiercely loyal to the brands in which they put their trust. If you’re not showing love to your current customers via email marketing and social media—they may go somewhere else. Firearm manufacturers can no longer afford to have a one-way conversation with their customers, especially in a slow economy.

 

Q2. How does the slower economy affect, if at all, the mix of print vs. digital marketing?

A: A majority of firearm companies have not moved with their customers online. We need to remember firearm customers are also buyers of smartphones, music, cars, home repair services, technology etc. Over 60% of people begin research for these products and services on search engines. I believe traditional marketing is still important in the firearms industry because a lot of the opportunities other industries have available have been taken away from firearm brands (Facebook Ads, YouTube, and Google PPC). However, as firearm enthusiasts become younger, more urban and more ethnic, a magazine will not be the first place they go to research guns. Trends show more marketing budgets are being allocated to digital marketing (influencers, email, marketing automation, SEO, e-commerce, and content) because it’s cheaper, trackable and can be done in real-time. 

 

Q3. What are some low-budget but effective marketing tactics firearms and gear companies should consider? 

A: Influencer marketing has always been part of a smart marketing mix in the firearms industry. I believe it’s never been more important given the rise in fake news and manipulative advertising. Influencer marketing can be a low-cost way to reach hunters/shooters who have trusted followers on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. The second—and just as important—is combining email marketing with segmentation, abandoned cart, personalization and automated workflows. These programs have shown to have a high-rate of return on investment and are a highly effective way to convert new customers, retarget old customers and keep current ones engaged. 

Check out these email automation software providers:

  1. Klaviyo
  2. Seventh Sense
  3. HubSpot
  4. Mail Chimp / Mandrill

Q4. What marketing strategy or tactic is absolutely crucial these days — and why?

A. Today, companies still need a marketing budget that mixes print, tv and trade show—but when things slow down, digital and e-commerce can deliver more bang for the buck. This is especially important for manufacturers with smaller budgets and a small list of dealers. By focusing on helping your customers become better in whatever their particular interests are (recreational, competition, home defense, tactical etc.) along with an innovative product roadmap, firearm brands will be able to remain fresh and relevant.

Customers want to hear from the brands they trust. When your brand is the most trusted and top of mind—customers are more likely to choose your brand over any alternatives.

What do you think? Comment below or send me an email.

 


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Inbound Marketing & Creative Strategy
Josh helps brands in the tech, outdoor and firearms industry who are struggling to develop their brand; grow, stabilize or increase profits through their websites; increase revenue through online channels and enter the digital era of marketing.

 

firearm marketing success failures

5 Successful Firearm Marketing Failures To Learn From

By | Firearms Marketing

Over the past 17+ years as a designer/marketer—I’ve experienced many successes as well as failures. To fail is human, and to fail is to get better—as long as you learn from your mistakes and don’t give up.

After some recent time off and reflection on a recent face plant—I asked myself, how can I reduce failure and improve my processes, so I don’t repeat them?

In this “rubber meets the road” post, I want to share five hard-learned “successful failures.” I call them “successful failures” because I have learned from these “biffs” which have made me a better marketing professional and person. I hope you can apply some of these to your own business or marketing career—whether you work for a firearm brand or are going it alone.

 

1. Always identify the problem you’re solving.

I was recently approached by a large brand with the goal of expanding market share. They didn’t know how, why or where to start. This vague and all-encompassing goal had no clear finish line. After much time and thought I realized I had nowhere to start on building a strategy because the goal was too broad. After going back to get the information I needed, I was met with resistance because the VP was not open to new ideas. This left me with a proposal that talked in circles and that was ultimately turned down. 

When goals are not defined, they end up causing a lot of confusion. Pain must be identified to find the problem you’re trying to solve. If the goal isn’t black and white; figuring out which way to proceed can be costly.

Lesson: Define the pain points you’re trying to solve for and use the SMART method to determine your strategy. Get to the heart of the problem and stick to it. When things start to veer off-course—always point back to the goal you and your team agreed on. Do not accept directions or requests that are vague.

 

2. You can’t put lipstick on a pig.

Several years ago, I worked with a start-up who came to me with the goal of quadrupling their online sales in one year. The company was unknown, and the product had several flaws. They had ample budget from the start but soon ran out of money once the program didn’t bring in the expected revenue. This was mostly due to product returns, complaints and the fact this product was more of “nice to have” than a “have to have.” Plus, the product was overpriced and their website was poorly designed and loaded slowly.  

They raised more money, tried a different marketing approach with a different firm which also failed. They eventually went out of business.

I receive calls weekly from start-ups and entrepreneurs who claim their product is a game changer. In my early days, I would take any project that came across my desk. But after several failed projects—like the one listed above, I now know better.

When a new lead comes in, I’ll spend 15 -30 minutes on the phone to talk with that person to understand more about their product and more importantly—try to figure out what kind of person they are. After reviewing and running it through my qualifying filter which looks something like this:

  1. What is the problem this product solves?
  2. Is there a large group of people who have this same problem?
  3. Does this product address the problem in an easy way?
  4. Is this product a “nice to have” or a “have to have?”
  5. Does this product disrupt a category?
  6. Is it the right timing for this product?
  7. What trends can this product ride?
  8. Can I work with this person or company?
  9. What does the competitive landscape look like?
  10. What will it take to achieve this business’s goals?

After the above ten questions are answered—I’ll usually have a good idea on whether or not we can help them and go back to schedule a longer exploratory call. It’s taken a long time to get to this point of understanding and many setbacks.

Lesson: All the marketing in the world won’t make a bad product good.

 

3. Pick the right projects and learn how to “manage your boss” (or client).

I’ve met many hard-charging entrepreneurs, business owners and marketers over the years—and one thing I’ve learned through—trial and error—is how to best manage them. I’ve worked with many individuals who I’ve liked, some who have become good friends and others who I’d rather not ever think about again.

Everyone is different and everyone has different expectations, ways of learning communicating and working. It’s up to you to figure out how to best manage the relationship. 

In his book, Managing Oneself, Peter Drucker explains how to figure out the best way to work with your boss (or clients) through understanding your strengths, weaknesses, how you work, how you learn, your values and how you can best contribute to your organization. 

“Bosses are neither a title on the organization chart nor a “function.” They are individuals and are entitled to do their best work in the way they do it best. It is incumbent on the people who work with them to observe them, to find out how they work, and to adapt themselves to what makes their bosses (or clients) most effective. This, is fact, is the secret of “managing” the boss.

Lesson: Learn who you are, what you’re best at, how you learn and how you best work. Keep to your core set of skills and inform the people that you work with how you work. Then learn how your clients, boss or co-workers work. This will make for better business relationships and ultimately better marketing outcomes.

 

4. Slow down. 

I’m very eager to please my clients—and this has gotten me in a lot of trouble when the production schedule gets off track.  

By saying you’ll have it done on Tuesday and then are not able to deliver it till Friday because a hundred things popped up (hacked website, downed servers, file transfers, email issues or just life in general) will tarnish your reputation and leave people questioning whether they made the right decision to hire you. Or, you rush through the deliverable to find out (from the client) it’s riddled with spelling errors and missed requests. 

Lesson: Don’t be afraid when setting the timeline to add one or two days (or a week) to everything you promise to deliver on. When it comes to contracts or project specs, go over the schedule in detail to make sure everyone is on the same page and expectations are set correctly. If you’re going to be late, tell the recipient well in advance, explain the situation and remedy it as soon as possible. Send your team, clients or stakeholders progress/update at least twice a week. Always remind yourself of the adage “under promise, over deliver.”

 

5. Don’t deviate from your core skill set.

I try to focus on three disciplines: brand development, design and utilize inbound marketing tactics to deliver my client’s brand to their customers. When I find myself talking to clients about things out of my core area of expertise, things start to go sideways and I end up trying to stick a round peg into a square hole.

Lesson: Stick with your core skill set and don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know.” Find experts in the areas you need help with. You will cause yourself less stress and deliver a better work product.

To sum up, marketing a firearm business can be extremely difficult—filled with failures, restarts, and do-overs. This is a competitive industry. Sometimes you need to figure it out as you go before finding out what works.

It took NASA over twelve attempts to get a rocket off the launch pad (Source: Wikipedia). Imagine if NASA would have given up after the 11th try. There’d be a Russian flag on the Moon rather than the Stars and Stripes. 

Hard-lessons make us better. The world was built on them.

So no matter where you’re at, keep at it. You might be one month away from a breakthrough that will change your life and business forever. Keep trying and don’t give up. Figure out what you’re best at and focus on getting better. Slow down, over communicate, fail often—fail fast and always keep striving to achieve your goals, no matter what they are.

Questions. Comments? Comment below or send me an email.

 


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Inbound Marketing & Creative Strategy
Josh helps brands in the tech, outdoor and firearms industry who are struggling to develop their brand; grow, stabilize or increase profits through their websites; increase revenue through online channels and enter the digital era of marketing.

 

SEO and Firearm Content Marketing

SEO and Firearm Content Marketing – Why You Can’t Do One Without The Other

By | Firearms Marketing

With the firearms industry coming off of eight record years of growth—traffic on your website may be dropping, sales may be slowing, and panic may be beginning to set in.

You may have clicked on this post because you’re looking to get into digital marketing and you’ve heard SEO may be the place to start.

Whatever best describes you, in this short and abbreviated post, I’ll explain the difference between SEO and firearm content marketing and why in 2017 you can’t do one without the other.

SEO

SEO is a marketing discipline focused on growing visibility in organic (non-paid) search engine results. (Source: Moz) By gaining visibility on search engines through organic (non-paid) results, your business can generate traffic, which in turn can equal sales. And with over 81% of all product searches beginning on the web, if you’re not showing up in search, your business may as well not exist.

Organic traffic in the firearms industry has a much higher rate of return because people searching are actively buying. This means their wallets are open and they are looking for a solution to their problem.

There are many factors involved in optimizing your website for search engines. Listed below are top ten must-dos to start. 

  1. Your website must be mobile responsive.
  2. Keywords that your prospects are searching for should be placed in the title tags of your website.
  3. Make sure your images are optimized to their lowest file size to decrease page load times and that they are also named using your keywords.
  4. An informative META description on your web page(s) that also include your keywords.
  5. Writing content on every page of your website that contains those same keywords at least five times (or 0.8%) within a 600-word text block.
  6. Having a well-designed page structure and code base where load hogging scripts are compressed and placed beneath the web page’s fold (the visible area of your website when it pulls up).
  7. A fast server and content delivery network.
  8. A good user interface that also contains your keywords in the main headings <h1>, <h2>, <h3> etc.
  9. Keywords in your URLs when possible.
  10. A good sitemap that can be read by Google, Yahoo, Bing, and others.

And that’s just ten. There are almost 200 other ranking factors that go into a well-optimized website.

 

Content Marketing

Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action. (Source: CMI)

SEO and content marketing is like a double-sided coin. Just like weight loss, you can’t just work out and expect to lose weight, you have to make smart eating decisions too— day after day, week after week, month after month to achieve your goals.

SEO and content marketing are somewhat similar.

You can’t gain and sustain ranked keywords without doing both SEO and content marketing—day after day, week after week, month after month to achieve your goals.

Here’s why. Google who controls over 60% of the entire planet’s traffic indicates you must create fresh and relevant content (Source: Google) for your site to attain and sustain keyword rankings.

Once again, ranked keywords = visibility = traffic = $$$.

When you optimize your website or are building a new one from the ground up—SEO is needed to start the fire where content is the fuel that keeps it going. Depending on how competitive the segment you play in (ARs, Outfitting, Concealed Carry, Optics, Safes, Lasers etc.) you may need more or less content to compete. Online dealers get this. Companies like Optics Planet, Brownells, and Lucky Gunner have large digital footprints and have been building content for years and in the process turned themselves into a brand which Google also seems to favor

Content marketing also helps to build backlinks, gives empowering information to social media followers and your email marketing subscribers, and attracts Influencers. Backlinks are important because they tell search engines that your site is more popular than your competitors hence, giving you higher rankings.

SEO and content are a double-sided coin. You can’t be successful with one without doing the other. They go together like gunpowder and brass, bows and arrows, turkey hunting and 12 gauges. If you hope to start building your own digital footprint through SEO and content for the future, the time to start is now.

 

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Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Inbound Marketing & Creative Strategy
Josh helps brands in the hunting, outdoor and firearms industry who are struggling to develop their brand; grow, stabilize or increase profits through their websites; increase revenue through online channels and enter the digital era of marketing.

 

artificial intelligence firearm marketing

What Does AI mean for Firearm Marketing?

By | AI Firearms Marketing, Firearms Marketing

Imagine knowing what email subject line always gets the highest open rate, what media buy offers the best value, and what combination of graphics, products, text, and CTAs produce the greatest results.

If you’re still skeptical on what you hear about artificial intelligence marketing or AIM for short, consider this post an introduction to help you understand what most are calling the “second industrial revolution.”

As more demands are put on marketers in the ultra-competitive firearms industry—an added advantage can mean the difference between who gets to market first and who doesn’t. We all know a great product goes a long way, but a great product with great marketing dominates.

For most of us, data can be a good thing—but it can also be a digital firearm marketer’s worse nightmare. With more and more data streaming in from social media, search engines, email marketing, automation, trade shows, banner ads, influencer platforms and others—data is or has become something of a curse. The term: “Paralysis by analysis” comes to mind.

That’s the irony with data-driven marketing. We have spreadsheets upon spreadsheets and dashboards upon dashboards—but do we really know what to do with it all? On any given day, you make a lot of small decisions that can have a significant impact on results:

  • What time should I send my email newsletter?
  • What topic should I write my next blog post on?
  • Should it be a blog post, or should it actually be a video?
  • And for that CTA in the conclusion, what color will actually make people click?

Thankfully, very soon, all of these questions will be answered by robots. Well, not robots, exactly … but artificial intelligence. (Source: HubSpot)

What is AI?

Artificial intelligence first and foremost isn’t what you’ve been led to believe in the movies. It doesn’t mean we’ll be under the rule of evil sentient beings i.e. the Terminator—or an army of robots seeking to take over the world. Even the best and brightest say that is an impossibility. (Source: GovTech) What it does mean is that man and machine will work together as a team.

Artificial intelligence is the “science of making machines smart,” says Demis Hassabis founder and CEO of AI company DeepMind (which was acquired by Google). At a basic level, “smart” means achieving a goal by mimicking human cognitive functions. That goal could be winning a board game, correctly identifying a cat in a photo, adeptly using data from sensors to drive a car or anything else a human can do.

There are many forms of AI already in existent. You might recognize a few already:

  • Siri by Apple
  • Watson by IBM
  • Einstein by Salesforce
  • Alexa by Amazon
  • Spotify Music Suggestions
  • Facebook face/tag recognition
  • Growthbot by HubSpot

How AI will help you

How AI correctly can be applied to the firearms industry, for the most part, is still unchartered waters. Companies with large eCommerce stores like GalleryofGuns.com and GunBroker.com may be the ones to benefit most from AI to help them analyze user data and trends—if they’re not already.

Other cutting edge manufacturers like Beretta who was one of the first to adopt marketing automation can adopt AI to analyze trends through their programs to send cross-sell and upsell email offers to their contacts at the right place and at the right time.

Tools like Databox can aggregate data from your entire Martech stack and give you a way to improve KPIs across the board based on accurate and definitive data that can be understood. Perhaps even a print ad in Guns and Ammo may be possible to optimize by design bots in the future.

AI Firearm Marketing Data

Business analytics by Databox combines data from multiple sources.

“AI is about automating known tasks without distraction. As humans, we get easily distracted. AI can operate without distractions and without wasting time, making AI teams more efficient,” says Digital Visionary, Kevin Kelly.

How AI can help you market more effectively

AI MarketingAI marketing assistants
If you’re looking to get started with AI, I recommend checking out Growthbot, a chatbot designed by Dharmesh Shah at HubSpot. Growthbot can help you discover keywords your competitors are using, top blog posts and other information that will inform you about your content marketing efforts. Here are a few sample commands of what Growthbot can do:

  1. What are top articles on recoilweb.com?
  2. What software does gunbroker.com use?
  3. Show me top posts from ammoland.com
  4. Company overview for sigsaurer.com
  5. Grade website walther.com
  6. Show me something funny
  7. Connect my Google analytics account
  8. How was organic traffic last week?

“Your marketing assistant in the future might well be an app that provides advanced analytics information to guide advertising or content-creation efforts to drive traffic to your company’s website,” says Dave Burnett of AOK Marketing.

These apps—most in their beginning stages—will continue to get smarter over time. They will help you save time, make smarter investment/media buying decisions and increase and accelerate revenue.

AI websites
Imagine a website you speak to, rather than typing in a search or clicking on the nav bar. A future prospect may visit Springfield Armory’s website, tell the site what they are looking for and then the site serves them three pistols for self-defense along with some videos and training articles—specifically designed and tailored to that known user’s interests.

This type of work is already taking place with companies like grid.io where all you do is place content and the site designs itself.

Better content through AI
Artificial intelligence platform Acrolinx uses a unique linguistic analytics engine to “read” all your content and provide immediate guidance to improve it. “Our technology is transforming how the world’s biggest brands create high-performing content,” says Dr. Andrew Bredenkamp, founder, and CEO. Other companies you should start becoming familiar with is MotivaAlbert, and BoomTrain.

Will AI take away our jobs?
Some say yes, some say no, regardless, what you should be doing right now is learning all you can about AI. How to use it, how it works and how you as a marketer will fit into the disruptive changes coming soon to our industry and marketing as a whole.

As you start to drink out of the fire hose that is AI, it’s important as firearm marketers to think ahead about how we can continue to push the industry forward in terms of technology, attract younger customers, delight current customers, and how all this wraps into protecting our 2nd amendment rights.

I predict, like others—AI will soon impact us all. Regulated industries seem to run 5-8 years behind when it comes to new technologies. Companies who can get out in front first will have a head start on what is sure to be an very interesting ride.

 

Enhance your Firearm Digital Marketing


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Inbound Marketing & Creative Strategy
Josh helps brands in the hunting, outdoor and firearms industry who are struggling to develop their brand; grow, stabilize or increase profits through their websites; increase revenue through online channels and enter the digital era of marketing.

firearm email marketing

The 4 Principles of Effective Firearm Email Marketing

By | Firearms Marketing

Email marketing in the firearms industry continues to be a viable and cost-effective way to reach current customers and build trust with those who’ve yet to buy from you.

With more and more channels taken away from digital firearm marketers (Facebook Ads, YouTube, Google PPC, etc.) email marketing can become one of your brand’s greatest ways to generate revenue—if you understand how to do it right.

In this post, I’ll outline the four principles of an effective email marketing framework to help you make your email marketing more effective.

 

1. Rise of mobile

81% of smartphone users say email is the most popular activity they use their phone for. (Source: Pew Research) With this statistic in mind, it’s important for marketers in the firearm industry to design and develop emails with a mobile first strategy. Most popular email platforms like MailChimp, iContact, and Constant Contact provide mobile-based templates built-in. Just make sure when testing your campaigns that you check them in a mobile browser to make sure they load fast, the type is large enough to read, and the call-to- actions look correct.

 

2. The significance of segmentation

When asked to rate the statement: “Most of the marketing emails I receive include no content or offers that are of interest to me.” 63% agree or strongly agree. (Source: DMA)

Data suggests that context is just as important as content. Don’t send offers for hunting products to people who are only interested in concealed carry or vice-versa if you have multiple product lines.

“Segmentation is the first step in personalization.”

Get started with segmentation by using forms that ask users to self-identify. Start by identifying your buyer personas and create lists within your database or marketing automation software around customer groups with the same interests.

For example, a form element that asks a website visitor to signup for your newsletter or downloadable user manual may look like this:

What best describes you?
– Hunter
– Recreational Shooter
– Competition
– Military
– LEO

This will help you understand more about who your customers are so you can move closer to personalizing your offers.

 

3. The power of personalization

94% of businesses say personalization is critical to their current and future success. (Source: eConsultantcy). 

After segmentation, the first step in personalization is to have a way to sort your database contacts according to their interests within the broader segment. The second is to be able to identify what behaviors (actions) they took on your website to identify other areas of your product offering they might be interested in.

Behavioral marketing (BM) is perhaps one the biggest advancements in email marketing in recent years. With the rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI), and event driven email technology, digital firearm marketers can become even more targeted and precise. (Source: Email Vendor Selection) BM can offer a distinct competitive advantage to companies wishing to optimize their firearm digital marketing and automation further.

What is behavioral email marketing?
Rather than maintaining simple ‘lists’ of customers, behavioral email marketing software allows you to build up an individual profile for each of your subscribers and sort them accordingly.

Behavioral email campaigns are based on the actions that your customers do (or do not take) when interacting with your business’ website. This allows you to send emails that truly matter to each individual recipient. (Source: Email Vendor Selection)

Using our example above, you may have a customer who has identified them self as a Hunter—but who has also visited your web page that sells choke tubes for turkey hunting at a middle price point. With behavioral marketing, you would send them an offer for a choke tube in the context of turkey hunting at the price point they’re interested versus a generic choke tube offer (or nothing at all). By using context, you’ll provide a more meaningful interaction and meet your customer at the right place and the right time—when they are actively looking for a choke tube for turkey hunting.

Statistics show that contextual emails (such as transactional and trigger-based campaigns) have an average open rate of around 50%, while offer-based emails have an average open rate of around 22%.

 

Context Firearm Email Marketing

 

Behavioral emails are effective because they are triggered based on a prospect’s behavior. As a result, these emails are almost never a surprise. They are an expected reaction to an action taken by a user.

That’s the true power of behavioral emails – they are activated by the user, not the marketer. (Source: HubSpot)

 

4. The importance of data-driven analysis and optimization

Analytics is the engine that powers the growth of your business. (Source: Hubspot)

Without a good and “understandable” analytics tool, you won’t know how to improve your email marketing efforts. Analytics helps you get away from “the send and pray you get a good click through rate” approach, that most firearm marketers conduct. Tools with A/B testing, dynamic content and the ability to use a customer’s name can help you understand what messages are working and what aren’t and help you become a better digital marketer in the process

When starting an email marketing program, begin with a mobile-first approach, start segmenting as soon as possible, personalize through behaviors and use a robust analytic tool to send event-based emails. By incorporating these four principles and optimizing over time, you can turn your email marketing program into one of your most profitable marketing channels.

 

Enhance your Firearm Digital Marketing


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Inbound Marketing & Creative Strategy
Josh helps brands in the hunting, outdoor and firearms industry who are struggling to develop their brand; grow, stabilize or increase profits through their websites; increase revenue through online channels and enter the digital era of marketing.

4 Things Google Wants From Your Website In 2017

By | Inbound Marketing, Web Design

Google is the most popular search engine on the planet with over 11 billion searches per month and controls over 67.5 percent of the U.S. search market (Source: DMR). Love ’em or hate ’em, Google dictates whether or not your web marketing efforts will be a success or a failure. 

If you’re a business owner or marketer thinking about how to get more out of your website—here are 3 (actually 4) things that Google wants that should be incorporated into your web marketing strategy.

1.Useful content
Google continues to make strides on ridding its Search Engine Results Pages, or SERPs of irrelevant content. 88% of consumers will search and consult on average 10.4 pieces of content before making a decision to buy. (Source: Google, Zero Moment of Truth). It’s no secret that creating content on a consistent basis is a sure-fire way to drive traffic to your website, and for good reason:

  • Companies that blog have 97% more inbound links
  • B2B marketers using blogs generate 67% more leads
  • Websites with blogs have 434% more indexed pages
  • Websites with blogs have 97% more indexed links

(Source: WPVirtuoso).

If you’re feeling a little behind, there is a reason to be concerned, because if you’re not blogging and creating useful content on a regular basis—your competitors (who are blogging)—are generating 54% more leads than you. If you’re not blogging, now may be the time to seriously consider it.

2. Clean design
The web has evolved over the years from cluttered jam-packed home pages to clean pages where less is more. Your website needs to get to the point quickly as you only have 2-3 seconds to get your point across. Eyequant states that websites looking to decrease bounce rates and increase longer visitor times should adhere to these three precepts:

  1. Make your most important information the most attention-grabbing
  2. De-clutter unnecessary elements on your page
  3. Simplify: give users one task, not dozens

By following these guidelines, you’ll be able to maximize your website’s performance for increased visitor lengths. 

TIP: To test your website’s most important information use CrazyEgg: https://www.crazyegg.com

3. Fast load times
The web is a fast, get-in, get-out kind of media. You essentially have 3 seconds to capture the attention of your viewer or they leave (bounce) without saying goodbye. Websites should focus on load times between 2-3 seconds on a broadband connection.

TIP: To test the speed of your website, check out website.grader.com

google ranks for mobile5 things that slow your website down:

  1. Large images
  2. Excess javascript code
  3. Flash and embedded videos
  4. Non-utilized or useless CSS code
  5. Embedded third-party plugins like Twitter and Facebook feeds

By optimizing the above factors, you can increase your website’s load times and potentially increase your ranking on Google.

4. Mobile-friendliness!
Google announced starting April 21st, 2015—your website’s mobile-friendliness will now be a ranking factor. (Source: SEMPOST) This means if your website is not responsive and mobile friendly, you will lose out on potential ranking factors. To find out if your website is mobile-friendly, simply go to your iPhone and search for your company. If your site is mobile-friendly, it will say it under the green URL “Mobile-friendly.” To read more about responsive, mobile-friendly design, check this article out. 

So to sum up, in order to play in Google’s arena, you need to create useful, content consistently, have a clean design, make sure your website loads quickly and is mobile friendly!

 


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Inbound Marketing & Creative Strategy
Josh helps brands in the hunting, outdoor and firearms industry who are struggling to develop their brand; grow, stabilize or increase profits through their websites; increase revenue through online channels and enter the digital era of marketing.

Firearms Marketing

5 Firearm Marketing Alternatives You Haven’t Thought Of Yet

By | Firearms and Hunting

 

As we move into 2019, it’s harder than ever to get your message out to law-abiding customers.

If you’re not a big well-known brand like Ruger or Smith & Wesson, marketing your firearms brand and line of products for recreational shooting and hunting can leave you scratching your head wondering what to do.

Facebook, Google and YouTube which was once a bastion for firearm, ammunition, and hunting knife companies to advertise, now bans all paid advertising related to direct weapon sales

Fox, the NFL and other major media outlets that used to be friendly to firearm manufacturers have shut the door as well. You may remember this ad from 2013 when Daniel Defense tried to run an ad on the Super Bowl.

 

Below I’ve identified five firearm marketing alternatives that you haven’t thought of yet that will help you get your message out, build your brand and attract new customers.


1. Full30

If you have not heard of Full30 you should go check it out. It’s YouTube for the firearms community. “The Full30 platform also offers unique video advertising opportunities for the firearms industry, who have been blocked from valuable pre-roll advertising on YouTube, and Facebook. The pre-roll and banner ad server on Full30 now opens the door to firearm brands looking to capitalize on the extraordinarily high click-through rates, and unmatched brand exposure video advertising provides.” (Source: Truth About Guns


2. Inbound Marketing

I make it no secret that the inbound marketing methodology is a perfect fit for firearm manufacturers with a lengthy purchase process. Brands like Mossberg, Springfield Armory, Stag Arms and Beretta, are already using inbound effectively and getting great results. Inbound marketing uses search engine optimized content, downloadable offers, landing pages, forms, social media and email marketing to attract, engage and delight customers. Inbound provides substantial cost savings to manufacturers, and the best part is, it’s all completely trackable. It removes the black box of advertising and provides real ROI and understanding of your brand and marketing efforts. Inbound is an important digital marketing element to Influencer Marketing


3. Native Advertising

What is native advertising? Native advertising delivers top-level paid or earned content within the normal reading stream of organic content. These would include recommendation widgets, sponsored content and in-feed social. What binds all of these distribution tactics together is the word “in-feed.” They all deliver top-funnel content within the normal reading stream of organic content. It looks like it’s supposed to be there. (Source: Chad Pollitt)

Similar to the below example by Crimson Trace, native advertising is about creating helpful content and then placing your product within it as a reference or as a sponsor. For example, you may write an article on the “5 Things You Need To Know About Home Defense” and submit it to an online magazine (earned or paid)  then mention your brand as the perfect fit for a first-time buyer. 

Check out how Crimson Trace does it within their First Defender Library.

 

weatherby by women

Photo by Weatherby

4. Women

Women are a burgeoning segment in the industry as you might already know (Source: NSSF). You should consider using content or sponsoring a free shooting class or range day in your local newspaper or county magazine to attract interested customers. Women are helping change some of the negative stereotypes typically associated with the firearm industry. Firearm manufacturers should embrace this trend and do all they can to promote it. Weatherby just launched their Women of Weatherby website devoted and targeted towards women. Springfield Armory’s Night of Saint also seeks to capitalize on women as well. These two brands have recognized the immense opportunity this demographic holds and are seizing the opportunity by getting out in front. Look for more large manufacturers to follow in the months to come.

 

5. Influencers

Influencer marketing is a type of marketing that uses category leaders or celebrities to communicate your brand’s message and content to their vast number of followers. Instead of buying print ads or filming commercials, you use the influencer to get the word out for you instead. The industry is taking increased notice of influencers like Military Arms ChannelHickok45, IV8888 and Jon Patton of the Gun Collective. Influencers who have large networks of trusted followers represent an important component of your marketing mix. By tapping these well-known hunters and shooters, you can gain entrance into larger audiences.

 

In conclusion, marketing in these changing times may not be as difficult as you think. Through utilizing content and tapping into new firearm specific channels, the women segment and influencers, you have the makings of a marketing strategy that is trackable, and that bucks the trend of declining traditional marketing methods.

 

shooting-firearms-CTA
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Brand Development Inbound Marketing ConsultantBy Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Marketing + Strategy
Josh helps brands in the hunting, outdoor and firearms industry who are struggling to develop their brand; grow, stabilize or increase profits through their websites; increase revenue through online channels and enter the digital era of marketing.

firearm hunting web design ecommerce sales

3 Secrets to Reducing Your Firearm Website’s Bounce Rate

By | Firearms and Hunting

Do you know what your bounce rate is? A bounce rate is like having a hole in your boat. By not plugging it, you’re leaking potential revenue—and lots of it.

For example, if you look at your Google Analytics, and it says you’re getting 10,000 visits per month (which is a great amount of traffic), but your bounce rate is 60%—this means you only have 6,000 visitors—not so great. Bounce rate could be the one metric in your firearm or hunting brand’s digital marketing program that is holding you back from reaching your online sales goals.

When considering inbound marketing or any other kind of digital marketing program, it is necessary before any content is created to build an “inbound-ready website.” Since inbound is a long-term strategy that builds traffic, contacts, and customers over time, a firm and fast digital foundation (your website) is mission critical for success.

The web is a highly fast, get in and get out kind of medium. By making your visitors wait for more than 3 seconds, you’re leaving a lot of revenue on the table.

firearm hunting website design performance

Below are three critical considerations to reduce your firearm or hunting brand website’s bounce rate.

1. Site speed

The first place to start is to determine where your website is now and what to fix. Check out these four tools to determine your website’s speed
:

If your website takes 3 seconds to load, it’s time to raise some red flags and make the necessary changes quickly. 

The first step is to look for large images. Every image should be around 50K or lower. The smaller your images are, the faster your site will load. Video should be compressed if you’re embedding it.

The second step is to minimize scripts and combine CSS files or move javascript (the code that makes your site come alive) to the bottom of the website. This tells browsers to load the content above the “fold” (content you see in your browser’s window) first.

The third step is server speed.
A lot of us spend little to nothing on a quality web host. GoDaddy, WordPress Engine, Rackspace and others provide a reliable service, however when every second counts— and you’re serious about moving the needle on ROI, a dedicated server or a CDN should be considered.

What’s the difference between a Content Delivery Network (CDN) and a Dedicated Server?

Content Delivery Networks serve content across a network of “edge” servers putting your website in closer proximity to your visitors no matter where they are in the world. This makes download speeds faster because data doesn’t need to travel across a shared network. CDNs like Cloudflare or Amazon are fairly inexpensive and can be implemented relatively quickly. CDN’s are a must for companies who have (or are interested) in acquiring international customers. For a more technical explanation on CDNs, please see this resource.

CDN

Source: GT Metrix

A Dedicated Server gives you the same type of computing power of a new 2.4 GHz 8GB Mac laptop—except it’s deployed over the internet. This means instead of sharing your hosting with hundreds or perhaps thousands of other websites—you have one server dedicated to your site alone. A Dedicated Server will boost your website’s speed exponentially. In a recent test, we were able to get a 5 – 12-second savings (over mobile and desktop) from moving to a dedicated server versus a shared server. Dedicated hosting is worth it especially if you’re running an e-commerce store and every sale counts.

2. Use engaging images and CTAs

A mantra I’ve tried to live by when it comes to web design is “don’t let my website visitor think.” This means that when a visitor hits your site for the first time, they are in “learning or search mode” and it’s up to you to think for them by matching their question, curiosity or interest with the solution your product offers. Provide the information to them in a quick and engaging way; then define the path you want them to take to achieve your goal: share, like, signup, contact or purchase. Use CTAs to direct their actions. 

3. Engaging modules

Quality photography and video is a must in the firearms and hunting industry because of its experiential nature—but what works even better is something that is interactive that helps users learn about your product and that moves them further down the sales process. Rifle builders, tabbed or accordion modules, interactive content, surveys, etc. can keep visitors engaged for a longer period and keeps them coming back.

Google uses site speed, and there is indications that bounce rate (Source: Search Engine Land) as a ranking factor. So if you’re in a competitive segment of the industry and need a boost from your search engine marketing efforts, a dedicated server, CDN or both will make your website faster and move you up in rankings. 

By focusing on the above measures, you won’t be left wondering what’s wrong with your conversion funnels and can be free to concentrate on optimizing other areas of your digital marketing without the nagging suspicion that your website is holding you back.

 

 

firearms-growth-driven-design

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Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Inbound Marketing & Creative Strategy
Josh helps brands in the hunting, outdoor and firearms industry who are struggling to develop their brand; grow, stabilize or increase profits through their websites; increase revenue through online channels and enter the digital era of marketing.

firearm marketing facebook

5 Ways to Build Your Firearm Company’s Facebook Audience

By | Firearms and Shooting

 

There are almost 2 billion users on Facebook, that’s billion with a “B.” As a firearm manufacturer, you can’t pay-advertise to any of them—nope, zip, nada. And to make matters worse, with Facebook’s new algorithm—only 2% of your audience will ever see the posts you upload.

If you’ve looked at the rules or supposed “guidelines,” they can leave you scratching your head when it comes to firearm advertising. Even I admit, there isn’t a clear understanding of what you can and can’t do. Can you advertise optics if they are on an AR? What about safes with firearms in them? Apps? I’ve reached out to Facebook with these questions and scoured other’s request to no avail. So in this article, I want to give you a few safe and simple “organic” alternatives on how to build your Facebook audience without getting your account suspended.

Why you shouldn’t ignore Facebook.
Right now, we are in a moment in time where brands made today through digital channels will be around for the next 50-100 years. It’s been deemed by some in digital marketing circles as the “second golden age of advertising,” because of advertisers’ ability to accurately target millions of prospective customers with a high degree of detail and precision for low-cost. On Facebook, if you don’t sell firearms or ammo, you can potentially reach thousands of potential customers for only a $20 boost. 

According to Gary Vaynerchuk of Vayner Media, most Fortune 500 brands have yet to figure this out, exemplified by their continuous spend on traditional mass media tactics like print and T.V. But this will all soon change as they figure out that digital offers a better way to advertise to their target audiences for greater effectiveness. You’ll start to see Facebook advertising costs go through the roof just like they did with Google PPC.

So with a goldmine of potential customers on the line, and like a dog trying to get at a woodchuck in the woodpile—how can you harness Facebook to build your brand, audience, drive contacts and customers to your website or dealers if you’re in the firearms industry?

 

1. Build your followers through email marketing
If your firearm or hunting website is not asking your visitors to signup for your newsletter, special offers or promotions, you’re potentially losing out on an opportunity to build a viable email marketing list as well as add followers to your Facebook page. In every email you send, you should be incentivizing or asking your subscribers to follow you on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, and the burgeoning network SnapChat.

 

2. Harness Twitter
Twitter is probably the easiest network to build. All you have to do is tweet—and tweet often. Tweet out your photography, videos and blog posts 5-10x a day using hashtags like #firearms, #optics, #hunting or other content specific tags based on your customer’s interests for people to find you. When you receive a new follower, follow them back and ask them to follow you on Facebook. It’s amazing how fast you can build your network just through this tactic alone. Stag Arms is a prime example on how to use Twitter.

 

3. Incentivize User-Generated Content
Probably the most useful tactic in digital marketing is to instigate user-generated content (UGC) from your current followers. A study by Reevoo found that “70% of consumers place peer recommendations and reviews above professionally-written content.”

Prospective customers are much more likely to buy from you when they see others using and promoting your product—especially if you’re trying to reach Millennials. This act of “customer-submitted” content is highly shareable and credible. By getting your followers to generate videos and then share your posts with their network on Facebook, you have the potential to exponentially grow your following.

When you have followers that comment, like and share your content, reward them in some way, so they keep doing it. People share content based on their interests, what they want the world to know about them and sometimes to make them look smarter or better in some way. You may want to send them a coupon, patch or something else to show them your appreciation. You can potentially build an entire UGC marketing program on this strategy alone.

 

4. Content via Blogs/Videos
If you’re not engaging in some form of content marketing, you’re missing out on adding real value to your followers and a chance to build trust and start a dialog with your followers—not to mention tapping into rich organic search traffic to attract even more fans. When writing your blog posts or videos, add social signals to the top of your blog posts to help readers share. Answer questions directly on Facebook and use it as a virtual department store.

Mark Zuckerburg, Facebook’s Founder and CEO, who is rumored to be somewhat a hunter, because he “prefers only to eat meat he kills”—predicts by 2020 90% of content online will be video. If you haven’t begun experimenting with video, you’re already falling behind. 4X as many consumers would prefer to watch a video about a product than to read about it. (Source: Animoto)

 

5. Tap Small to Medium Industry Blogger Audiences and Influencers
Another overlooked aspect of the firearm industry is partnering with blogging sites with small to medium sized audiences. By submitting guest (or paid) posts commonly known as native advertising and getting these publishers to share your content with their audiences, you can potentially reach a larger audience.

And you can always take the influencer route where you can compensate popular industry shows like 4GuysGuns, The Gun Collective, IraqVet8888 and Hickok45 to share your content as well—either as an ad, review or video reel highlight.

It’s not easy to market in the firearms industry, and it will take more creativity, ingenuity and the adoption of other up and coming platforms and alternative “gun-specific” social networks to reach your prospective customers. Things are constantly changing, but one thing is for certain—Facebook is not going away anytime soon.

 

Contact us for a free digital marketing consultation and how we can help you be more effective on social media.



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Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Inbound Marketing & Creative Strategy
Josh helps brands in the hunting, outdoor and firearms industry who are struggling to develop their brand; grow, stabilize or increase profits through their websites; increase revenue through online channels and enter the digital era of marketing.