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Firearms 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.

AR-15 Firearm Marketing

How to Stand Out In The Competitive AR-15 Marketplace

By Firearms Marketing

 

A recent article in the TC Palm, a member of the USA Network cited that: “The increase in gun manufacturing licenses since 2009 has strained the resources of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.” This means that there are so many new firearm companies popping up, the ATF can’t keep up with all the new license requests.

I would bet (even though I don’t have any data only hear-say from industry sources) the majority of these licenses are going to companies building ARs.

The AR-15 has soared in popularity among gun owners, due to a wide-range of factors. It is customizable, adaptable, reliable and accurate that can be used in sport shooting, hunting and self-defense situations. Civilians can also modify and personalize their AR-15 from carbine-length, stocks, optics, barrels, etc. The AR-15s ability to be modified to your own personal taste is one of the things that make it so unique. (Source: NRA

But before you jump into this highly saturated market segment and start an AR business, or make that next big investment—I want to share with you a video by Ryan Deiss’ of Digital Marketer titled: “How You Deal With Competition.” I thought his analogy of water (yes, water) aligned perfectly for those looking to start or build an AR company.

So to start, here are four questions that will help you think through how you’re going to build a successful AR company and brand. 

  1. What is the reason your AR company exists?
  2. Why are you getting into the AR business?
  3. Why would your customers want you to exist?
  4. What do you bring to the AR-15 marketplace that adds value and moves the industry forward?

There are hundreds of other AR companies trying to sell what you’re trying to sell. Using Ryan’s analogy of water he gives us a good framework and a fresh perspective on how to deal with the competition. 

Water is the most abundant resource on the planet Earth. We have more water than we know what to do with (kind of like AR companies). Water is sold in many different formats and in various ways, some of it is even free. Heck, we have so much of it, we flush it down the toilet. But yet some people have found a way to package it, sell it and market it and make you pay $2.99 for a bottle of it.

So using water, an abundant commodity—let’s look at how you can take this same line of thinking and apply it to your marketing strategy to create something in the industry that will stand out and give you a reason to belong and to exist.

 

custom-ar15

Photo credit: Sharp Bros.

1. Find your unique AR-15 flavor

Taking our analogy and applying it to the AR market—you have to start by finding your unique flavor. Some water tastes different; it may include minerals or additives that change its taste. Maybe it’s a different manufacturing process that contains a different type of material or machining. Whatever it is, it should be something that provides you with your own little spin. Maybe it’s your gruff “take–no-lip” attitude. Maybe it’s your location or color. Maybe it’s your team who happens to be former Navy SEALs. Whatever it is—find your unique flavor that will appeal to your buyer persona(s).

 

2. Add a unique AR-15 additive

POFUSA-charging handleAnother way to give you a reason to exist is to have your own unique additive. What is it that you do that no one else does? Is there a feature that you’ve added that no one else has? A great example is once again POF-USA. They’ve added “God Bless America” on their ejection port covers and a cross on the top of their charging handles. These little embellishments give their guns distinction and their owner’s something to be proud of. What can you add to your platform that makes it different? Maybe it’s a little spike on the trigger guard or a different kind of cerakote coating. Whatever you got in your bag of tricks, make sure it’s something that belongs only to you. Cobalt Kinetics and Battle Arms Development are also good examples of brands that break the mold in the AR category.

 

3. Add unique AR-15 packaging or delivery

custom-gun-case

Photo credit: Custom Made

How can you create some kind of distinction on how your customers receive and interact with your product(s). Every gun must be transferred legally through an FFL dealer after a passed background check to your customer. What if your product was only transferred through certified dealers that have agreed to your brand’s standards—that when your customer goes to pick it up, they receive 5–star service? Or perhaps your AR arrives in a handcrafted metal case with an engraved American flag on it? The gun your customer has waited for three weeks should be like Christmas morning. It could also be as easy as including a hat and sticker or a coupon for 10% off to their local gun range to go shoot their new AR. Whatever it is, focus on ways to differentiate your product’s delivery.

By picking one or all three of the ways mentioned above, you’ll have a very compelling reason why your AR company should exist. At the end of the day, you must be able to answer the question: “Am I adding value to the marketplace and my customers?” If you can respond to that question with a “yes,” then you have the beginnings of successful marketing strategy in which to build upon.

Interested in learning more about our services and how we can help your AR company stand out?

Free AR Company Consultation

 


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.