The typical firearms buying process can take up to 3 months. (Source: NSSF) From online research, background checks, buying a safe, FFL transfer, learning how to shoot, cleaning accessories, holsters and figuring out what gun to buy can take a long time for someone who’s new to the idea of owning a gun or someone who is considering an MSR.
81% of all purchases begin with a web search (Source: Retailing Today). And even more astonishing is that 57% of the sales cycle is over before your customers even contact you (Source: CEB). These two statistics are the main drivers why you need to maintain and optimize your website—which is crucial to increasing online firearm sales.
In a recent survey, 29% report to having already purchased a firearm online and 58% are willing to consider purchasing one online. This data is most likely higher today. (Source: NSSF 2011)
And unfortunately with more gun regulations on the way, rising crime and unrest, customers will continue to seek ways on how to protect themselves, home, family, and property.
Firearms sales are booming. (Source: CNN)
Right now, there are hundreds of thousands of customers searching the web on how to buy, shoot and own a gun. Here are the top searched keywords per month according to MOZ:
- ar15: 110,000
- ammunition: 90,500
- gun: 90,500
- shotgun: 40,500
- hunting rifle: 5400
- rifle scope: 3600
- firearm: 2900
- ar15 accessories: 2400
So how do you get a piece of this lucrative online traffic? Below are six secrets to increase your online firearm sales.
1. Understand the buyers journey
Does your website adequately address and incorporate the buyers journey? Is it answering your prospects questions? Does your website simplify how they can buy a gun from you? Are you building trust with your prospect?
To understand how to maximize your online sales, you must first understand the buyer journey. See example below:
You may be missing out on ways to grow your business or build a more predictable sale forecast by not understanding your buyers journey.
2. Know who your customers are
Each brand in the industry is typically a product of its company culture or its owner. How does your style match your prospective customer? To maximize your online sales, you must define the buyer persona. Buyer personas are fictional representations of your ideal customers. They are based on real data about customer demographics and online behavior, along with educated speculation about their personal histories, motivations, and concerns. Create content based on your ideal customer or buyer persona. (See ebook below)
3. Create valuable content
Blogs are great ways to attract more customers. Firearm manufacturer websites (49%), magazine articles (40%), and online forums/blogs (38%) are the most referenced information sources when considering the purchase of a handgun.(Source: NSSF 2011)
Eighty-two percent of manufacturers are incorporating content into their marketing strategy, according to the 2015 B2B Manufacturing Content Marketing Trends report, recently published by the Content Marketing Institute.
If you’re not blogging on a consistent basis, you are losing out on a viable and predictable way to sell and market more firearms.
Three big names in the industry have already adopted content and are moving into the digital era. Beretta, Mossberg, and Stag Arms have already integrated inbound marketing into their marketing programs and are having massive success. See Beretta case study.
Why leave content to industry magazines (that you have to pay for) when you can create content for your own company that attracts prospects, builds your brand and retains your current customers? After all, you are the expert. You work in the industry, and build guns every day. By sharing your knowledge with your prospects or customers, you become the known expert, which in the end equals profits.
Here are some stats on why blogging works:
- Blogs convert readers into buyers. 42% of consumers look to blogs for information about potential purchases; 52% say blogs have impacted their purchase decisions; and 57% of marketers have acquired new customers with their blogs. (leaderswest Digital Marketing Journal)
- B2C companies that blog generate 88% more leads per month than those that do not (Source: Rick’s Tips)
- 79% of online shoppers spend 50% of their shopping time researching products online (Source: HubSpot)
- Blogs attract repeat visitors who continue to come back to their website for fresh content.
4. Create downloadable offers to generate leads
When blogging consistently on topics that answer your customers most burning questions—you attract them to your website where you are then able to keep them their longer and keep them coming back. When creating a downloadable offer in the form of: How-to guides, pricing info, catalogs, etc. and then trade this information for their email address—you earn their permission to send them more offers.
This allows you build a qualified email marketing database that moves your customers from strangers to loyal customers and enables you to close more sales.
5. Nurture customers through email marketing
In 2014, email marketing was cited as the most effective digital marketing channel for customer retention in the United States. (Source: eMarketer).
Email marketing allows you to educate your prospects and customers on your products, cross-sell or upsell, generate new sales down the road and establish your expertise.
Email marketing is the most effective way to personalize messaging and ROI in the firearms industry.
6. Pull, don’t push
Ever wonder why all social media posts look the same?
Notice how most social media messages are all about “pushing a message.” Instead of pushing your message on your customers, a better way is to “pull” them to your message. By creating valuable and relevant content that solves their problems, answers their questions or helps them become better at something, (i.e. knowing about guns) you will attract them to your message and your brand much more easily. This gives your followers valuable information that they will appreciate and remember when it’s time to buy that second gun.
In conclusion, companies in the firearms industry can increase their online sales by focusing on the buyers journey, creating and identifying their buyer persona, creating content based on solving their customer’s unique problems, creating downloadable content offers, nurturing through email marketing and using social media to pull your customers to your message and content rather than pushing it on them.
FREE DOWNLOAD: A Hunting, Outdoor & Firearms Marketer’s Guide to Creating the Buyer Persona
The key to maximizing your marketing efforts
In this powerful template — we help you and your team think through and identify who your ideal customer is. This will enable you to set SMART goals to focus your marketing/branding and turn your website into a lead generating machine. It will also help you present your buyer persona to your team for internal alignment and clarity.
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.