Now that it’s officially 2018, you’re undoubtedly itching to get your internet marketing plan firing on all cylinders. In fact, if you’re like most outdoor, hunting and firearm business owners we talk with, you’re hoping to get off on the right foot and overcome the setbacks, distractions, and inconsistencies that might have kept you from achieving your goals this past year.
With the economy predicted to set records and the industry coming to the end of the so-called “reset,” now is the time to maximize your online revenue channels.
In this article, I’ll give you five ways to kick start your internet marketing this year and what you should focus on most to improve your online efforts.
1. Get a Website Audit
A website audit is just an in-depth look into the HTML on your site that reveals any issues with things like search visibility, security, device compatibility, page loading speeds, and so on. With a few simple diagnostics, you might be able to identify problems that have been costing you sales and search engine rankings you didn’t know you were missing. Take a look at these tools to get started:
How many people are finding your business website? What are they looking for, and where are they coming from? You can’t optimize your site for sales and conversions without knowing the answers to these questions, but lots of business owners are afraid to dig into their analytics to find the info they need. A good web design team can help you decipher this information and turn it into actionable next steps. The outcomes can mean more search engine visibility and hence more sales. A tool we recommend is Databox. Databox helps you organize your analytics all in one place so you can quickly analyze and report on your goals without spending hours making spreadsheets and Powerpoint slides.
3. Update Your Text and Images
Is the content on your website out of date? Do you have duplicated paragraphs between pages (or worse, other sites on the internet)? January is the perfect time to review your text and images, ensuring they are all unique, compelling, and current. The last thing you want is to give customers the wrong impression because your images and messaging haven’t been updated in a long time. One tool we use for WordPress websites is Yoast. Yoast will help you identify these problems in a clear way on your WordPress’ dashboard. Look to Google Webmaster Tools as well to uncover issues or hidden malware and hacks that may be causing problems.
4. Check Your Online Reputation
Your online reputation is essentially the sum of what people see when they look up you or your company on Google, YouTube and Facebook. If you aren’t aware of what your reputation is like, or your brand has some negative reviews or comments that need to be addressed—it’s better to take care of things sooner rather than later. Your online interpretation doesn’t just affect your marketing, but also your ability to attract referrals, influencers, earned media and recruit employees.
5. Put a Content Plan in Place
Internet marketing is all about growth and focus. It’s a day-by-day, brick-by-brick type of operation. If you genuinely want to make 2018 a productive year as far as your website is concerned, now is an excellent time to put an inbound marketing plan and editorial calendar in place so you won’t have trouble generating blog posts, lifestyle photography, videos, and other forms of content once you get busy later in the year. Before you know it, SHOT Show and another trade show season will be here—and with it, another year of wasted opportunities.
If you’re looking to make 2018 your best year ever—now is a great time to reach out to our team and schedule a free assessment. In just one short meeting, we’ll be able to show you what you need to put the power of the internet to work for your outdoor, hunting or firearm business this year.
If you’re reading this, you’ve probably struggled with or maybe even have gotten into an all-out inner-conflict over the cost of photos you should purchase for your website or upcoming marketing campaign.
Should you go cheap and pick some “canned” image from iStock that costs only $10—or go big with the $500 shot from Offeset. Or go even bigger and hire a professional outdoor lifestyle photographer for $7-$10K?
Photography, like good design and copywriting, should be viewed as an investment, not a budgetary line item. According to NewsCred:
Articles that contain images get 94% more views than articles without.
40% of people will respond better to visual information than plain text.
93% of people say that visual imagery is the # 1-factor impacting purchasing decision.
In the fight to stand out in today’s crowded firearm, hunting, and outdoor marketplace, professional photography is just another way to differentiate and win more business by looking better and more credible than your competitors.
Good photography is essential to creating credibility, telling your brand’s story, creating a favorable impression, and engaging your customers.
Here is five ways quality photography influences buyer behavior in the outdoor industry.
Photo Credit: Fluid Peak Productions for Brenton USA
1. Creates a favorable first impression that engages your visitors Humans are visual creatures. We like shiny and beautiful objects. Most of us process information based on what we see. 65 percent of us are visual learners, according to the Social Science Research Network. (Source: Forbes)
When was the last time you were driving and stopped to take in a gorgeous sunset over snow-capped mountains? If you live in the mountain States, this may be an everyday occurrence. The same goes with engaging photography. Stunning photos can stop you in your tracks and make you take notice. It creates a connection—stirs your soul, ignites your senses and gives you a feeling of peace, excitement or maybe even awe and gratitude.
Marketers should not discount the fact that professional photography can be that extra element that creates that emotional connection between your brand and your buyer.
Good photography can also have positive effects on your website metrics by reducing bounce rates, keeping visitors on your website longer and increasing repeat visitors.
2. Makes your brand trustworthy
Trust is a diminishing factor for most brands today. Increasingly, consumers are making decisions well before the actual moment of in-store or online purchase. In fact, 88% of consumers research before they buy, consulting an average of 10.4 sources. (Source: Google, Zero Moment of Truth)
A CEB study of more than 1,400 B2B customers across all industries revealed that 57% of a typical purchase decision is made before a customer even talks to a supplier.
When every click and search counts, creating a viable and memorable impression through the use of good photography is crucial for influencing the customer purchase decision and building your brand and connecting with your customer’s outdoor or shooting lifestyle.
Photo Credit: Straight 8 Photography for F4 Defense
3. Creates style
Good photography sets a mood and creates a style of your brand. By utilizing people who resemble, look and act like your buyer personas, you can create a stronger connection with your customer.
So what makes a good photo?There are 5 rules of a composition according to Nikon that make a photo more interesting and engaging:
Use the rule of thirds
Watch horizontal and vertical lines
Have subjects looking off frame
Follow leading lines
Look for patterns and textures
Look for these elements when making a photo choice.
4. Imagery helps you communicate a story in thousand words in seven seconds
You can communicate more with imagery in seven seconds than in 1000 words. So when you put cheap looking “canned stock” on your site that isn’t interesting—thinking no one will notice—think again. A photo can potentially communicate all you want to say about your brand and how it will help your customer—in seconds. By choosing bad photos, it can also communicate things you don’t want to communicate—like cheap, unproven, unprofessional, etc. This ends up doing more harm than good. Good photography helps you communicate your solution quickly and more effectively. (Source: Assoc. for Psychological Science)
5. Look better than your competitors
Perception is reality—if you want to be the best, you have to look like it. By investing in good photography for your marketing programs and by taking professional product photos, you enhance the customer experience and push your brand head-and-shoulders above your competitors. When your competitors are cutting corners and using cheap photos, invest in quality imagery to stand out—it will pay dividends later. You certainly do not want to have the same cheap photos that your competitors are using either. It would be a tremendous embarrassment to show up at SHOT Show or Outdoor Retailer with the same booth photos as your competition—this has happened before.
Looking for quality stock photo agencies or photographers? Here is a list of our favorites:
In conclusion, when quality copy, dynamic design, and good photography work together, your brand image is more credible, engaging, creates a favorable first impression and aligns and appeals to your customer’s outdoor lifestyle. We highly recommend a sizeable photography budget when advising clients on their outdoor, hunting and shooting marketing endeavors.
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:
Or you may define the 3 million CCW holders lifestyle (Source: Denver Post) as:
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
1. 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
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.
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.
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)
7. 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.
Garrison Everest, Inc.
99 East Main Street, Suite 200
Franklin, Tennessee 37064
About Outdoor Industry Marketing Agency
Most companies in the outdoor, hunting, shooting sports, and defense industries struggle to clearly communicate their brand and products. At Garrison Everest, an Outdoor Industry Marketing Agency, we create proven messaging and digital marketing programs that grow traffic, leads and customers.