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Millennial Gun Marketing

How to Attract the Millennial Gun Buyer

By Firearms and Shooting

 

Now that the Presidential election is over, there seems to be a lot of confusion on what will be the fate of the gun industry. Will it slide into stagnant growth like in the Bush years or will it continue on its “up and to the right” meteoric trajectory of the past eight?

There are several trends that indicate continued stable growth. The fear of terrorism, mass shootings, distrust in law enforcement and illegal immigration to name a few. But more importantly is the trend of more “non-gun types,” like Millennials who are buying firearms for the first time. 

Millennial gun buyers are comprised of those who are between the ages of 19 to 35 in 2016. They are urban, ethnic, young, educated, and are composed of both men and women (Republican and Democrat) who are health-conscience and tech savvy. They see their world as a dangerous place and are do-it-yourself minded that are empowered to not only protect themselves but also their friends and families.

Millennials represent a new opportunity for firearm brands. Marketers that have shied away from this demographic in the past—are now rethinking this burgeoning segment—due to the anticipated economic and political environment. The era of the white, all-male, blue-collar customer is giving way to the younger, urban and more female firearm buyer.

In this post, I want to explore a few thoughts using the recent launch of The Saint, by Springfield Armory on how to attract these kinds of customers and earn their trust to help you build the next generation of firearm brand loyalists.

1. A new kind of gun marketing

With the launch of Springfield Armory’s SAINT in November, it’s no mystery who SA was targeting in their ads. If you direct your attention to their sexy imagery, messaging and tone—it’s aimed at people who are young, athletic, attractive and active. When I first saw the lead-up campaign, I thought SA was coming out with a fitness program (see point #3).

“Springfield has specifically targeted Millennials in its ads and creation of the clever campaign moniker complete with hashtag, says Jacki Billings for Guns.com. #DefendYourLegacy encourages consumers to engage in conversation with each other online and across all social media platforms. Also, the company assembled multimedia featuring young people accomplishing physical feats with voice-overs spouting catchy phrases such as “train your fear” — perfect for a generation known for 120 characters or less.”

Smith & Wesson also is picking up on this trend. “With younger, more urban buyers in the market, as well as more women, it’s a new demographic shopping for guns than in the past.” (Source: The Motley Fool)

Will SA set a new paradigm in advertising for the gun industry? I believe we’re going to start seeing a slight shift from the typical tactical and “mercenary-esk” imagery to newer, fresher campaigns from manufacturers focused on younger demographics that are more defense oriented and who are more female—SilencerCo. already being one of them. 

2. Millennials spend more time online

According to AdAge, Millennials are spending an average of 25 hours per week online – and they’re craving content-driven media. They’re scouring websites, blogs, and social media because they feel empowered by all of the remarkable content they’re discovering. They’re also sharing, liking, pinning, tweeting, snapping, forwarding, and commenting on all of their findings to impart this sense of empowerment to the online community. So, what makes this type of content really resonate with this group? Millennials trust what they feel is authentic. (Source: Hubspot)

Millennials are 44% more likely to trust experts (influencer marketing), who happen to be strangers, than advertisements and 247% more likely to be influenced by blogs or social networking sites. (Source: Hubspot)

If you’re not actively focusing your efforts online—now is the time to make a move to reach Millennials. They are not Guns and Ammo subscribers nor do they watch the Outdoor Channel.

Millennial Firearm Marketing

Photo credit: Springfield Armory

3. Integrate with things they already know and trust

Buying or shooting a gun can be somewhat of an extended and considered buying process as Millennials consider their options. One way to help bridge the gap is to infuse things that they already know and trust. Springfield Armory, whether they intentionally did this or not, used athletic imagery (models working out) to create the appeal of the SAINT campaign as well as shots leveraging the Under Armor brand to initiate trust. 

Fitness and self-defense go hand in hand. And it’s interesting to point out: 81% of Millennials say that they exercise regularly, compared to only 61% of Boomers. 76% of all regular exercisers are Millennials.

Military service members know the saying “Physical fitness is the cornerstone of combat readiness” by heart. Physical exercise keeps soldiers, airmen, seamen and Marines in top condition, so they’re always ready for any mission. Source: U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command: Standardized Physical Training Guide

Point being, fitness is a priority for urban and suburbanites—its a natural integration with the self-defensive nature of owning a firearm. I predict this trend will grow. 

4. Get your product in their hands

I don’t think there is a better way to sell a product than to get it in the hands of your prospect at a local gun store/range after a well-thought out lead nurturing process. I recently experienced this with my Millennial friend who was considering the SIG P320. After researching online and talking to me about what he should buy for a home defense weapon, we decided to head down to our local gun shop here in Nashville to shoot it. After squeezing through a few mags, he was hooked.

If you can combine lead nurturing that directs prospects to their local dealers for a hands-on demo of your product, your chances of closing that sale increase significantly. Research conducted by Forrester has shown that marketers see an average 20% increase in sales opportunities from nurtured vs non-nurtured leads. Furthermore, the research also reveals that companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales at a 33% lower cost (Source: Forrester, 2014). 

In conclusion, Millennial gun buyers are an untapped market segment waiting to be engaged. This is an exciting time to be in the firearms industry as opportunities exist to reach new buyers we didn’t have time for in the past eight years. This is sure to change the face and image of the industry forever. 

Firearm Website Design

10 Things To Boost Your Firearm Website’s Credibility and Trust

By Firearms and Shooting

 

If your website was designed over three years ago, there is a good chance that your firearms business is missing out on potential leads and sales.

If your website is suffering from high bounce rates, low traffic, cluttered pages or is just plain ugly—it may be time to update your website.

Here are ten things to keep in mind.

1. Design a professional impression

You never get a second chance to make a first impression. Make sure that your website is credible. Don’t use pixelated and small pictures of your products. Take the time and invest in your photo library. Most prospective customers will get annoyed and leave your site for your competitors—especially if they’re are struggling on what firearm to buy. Use a credible color palette and a clean layout that uses white space as a design element that doesn’t crowd your pages’ most important messages.

2. Verify and cite your sources

When blogging be sure to cite your information; include a link to the source on everything you reference. This will allow you to leverage industry experts and lend credibility to your topic. This also will help in getting your content shared on social media by industry influencers. (Source: HubSpot)

3. Show your people

Your people are the key differentiator in a marketplace full of identical competitors™. Show your people and list their expertise and link to their personal social media profiles like LinkedIn, Google+ and Twitter. This shows “social proof” and humanizes your brand.

4. Show real testimonials of real people

If you have great testimonials and reviews, ask your customers if they wouldn’t mind having their picture on your website. This improves your credibility and trust factor even more. Find them on Twitter and follow them back!

5. Make it easy to contact you

Give your customers an easy way to contact you if they have a problem with your product. Use a contact form, list your physical address, add a picture of your building, a map with directions, phone number and email address. Use your Facebook page or Twitter feed to answer questions or concerns about your products.

6. Don’t make your visitors think

Create an easy and intuitive navigation bar that segments their interests. Create a content strategy that is easy to read and follow. Use big section titles, white space and visuals to improve the “stickiness” of your web page. Don’t clutter your pages with paragraphs of text. Identify the 2-3 main points you want to communicate about your services or product and format the page accordingly. Ask yourself: what is the number one thing I want our prospect to know about our product/service? Use a Call to Action (CTA) that tells them what to do next: sign up for your email updates; follow on Facebook, download manual.

7. Refresh content regularly

Customers that see a website that is regularly updated—assign more trust to your company. Create a blog and update it at least weekly. Companies who blog receive 55% more traffic, 97% more inbound links and 434% more indexed pages. (Source: Writtent). By building your website pages based on your keywords—brick-by-brick, over time— you will naturally accumulate more traffic.

8. Security

Add a secure socket layer (SSL) to your site that proves to your prospects and customers that their data is safe and that you are a credible and viable business. It’s also been shown that Google will give you a slight bump in rankings. (Source: Search Engine Land) You can get an SSL at GoDaddy.com for around $60.

9. Avoid spelling errors and typos

Have you ever came across a website filled with sporadic spelling errors? Or the improper use of your, you’re, there or their? Make sure you have someone proof your copy to get rid of any spelling errors and typos. Correct grammar and spelling is crucial in today’s content-consuming internet. 

10. Create a responsive layout for mobile and tablet

51% compared to desktop (42%) use mobile as their primary internet source. (Source: SmartInsights) When designing your website, make sure that the layout responds on desktop as well as mobile and tablet devices. A cluttered or misaligned layout can be very distracting and reduces your brand’s credibility.

In conclusion, by taking into account these ten things to boost your firearm website’s credibility and trust—you will increase leads, on-page visits and reduce bounce rates and ultimately your bottom line. 

how-to-track-and-score-your-digital-firearm-marketing-efforts

How To Track and Score Your Digital Firearm Marketing Efforts

By Firearms and Hunting

 

When it comes to tracking digital marketing in the firearms and hunting industry, it’s easy to get confused with what metrics matter most. A lot of times we think we are tracking the correct metrics or ‘key performance indicators’ for improvement—but get lost in the pretty charts and graphs of what are commonly referred to as ‘vanity metrics’ that can lead us astray.

vanity-metricsIn this post, I want to give you a practical way on how to track, measure and report on your online efforts using a scorecard we use with our clients to prove the efficacy of our digital marketing efforts. The scorecard also helps us to understand where our strategy needs improvement and what to adjust over the course of our campaign(s).

So let’s dive in!

 

1. What is a KPI?
A key performance indicator (KPI) is a business metric used to evaluate factors that are crucial to the success of an organization. KPIs differ per organization; firearm businesses’ KPIs may be net revenue or a customer loyalty metric, while the government might consider unemployment rates, or non-profits, donations.

In digital marketing, there are three classes of KPIs we recommend you pay attention to.

A. Mechanical KPIs
Mechanical KPIs deal with the performance of your digital hub, or in other words—your website. Four critical KPIs to gauge are:

  • Organic traffic – The number of strangers visiting your website of their own free will that found you on the first page of search engine pages vs. paid where you paid to be on the first page.
  • Bounce rates – Bounce rate is one of the most misunderstood metrics. Bounce rate is the percentage of single-page visits (or web sessions). It is the number of visits in which a person leaves your website from the landing page without browsing any further. A good industry bounce rate to aim for is 20-30%. To decrease bounce rates, entice your users to click to a second page on your website.
  • Marketing Grader – Your website must be fast and load under 3 seconds and meet these basic standards.  Grade Your Website Now!
  • Search engine optimization –Does your website meet the minimum criteria to be considered optimized? Fix Your Website Now!

A fast-loading, search engine (and don’t forget mobile) optimized website is the first step in ensuring a strong digital marketing foundation.

B. Website Conversion KPIswebsite-grader
Website conversion KPIs deal with how well your site is changing traffic into leads and nurturing them for customer conversion. Here is a list of conversion KPIs and how to improve them.

  • Returning visitors – Add a blog and other fresh content to keep your prospects coming back.
  • Visitor-to-lead conversion rate – Create problem-solving offers with landing pages and forms to convert visitors into leads.
  • Lead-to-customer conversion rate – Does your shopping cart get above a 2% conversion rate? Crunch your numbers using this tool.
  • CLV– Customer lifetime value (CLV or often CLTV), is a prediction of the net profit attributed to the entire future relationship with a customer.
  • CAC – Customer Acquisition Cost can be calculated by simply dividing all the costs spent on acquiring more customers (marketing expenses) by the number of customers acquired in the period the money was spent. For example, if a company spent $100 on marketing in a year and received 100 customers in the same year, their CAC is $1.00. (Source: Kissmetrics)
  • Workflow conversion rates – Research from Gleanster suggests that, even when it comes to qualified leads, more than 50% of leads aren’t ready to buy on the day they first convert on your site. If you call up these leads and push them into making a decision right away, you will likely lose them. Workflows help by nurturing these leads through an automated workflow that are based on a series of actions taken by leads on your website with the goal of nurturing them to customers or warming the sale. Make sure to track these steps and optimize for each stage.

You can also conduct A/B testing on small tweaks to your website that can be tracked over time, so you know if your metrics are improving or declining.

C. Brand KPIs
In the digital space (websites, mobile, social media, text, blogs, forums, etc.), it’s much easier to track brand engagement and understand if your brand is taking hold in your customer’s minds. One way is to monitor customer interactions and comments on social media or through Google Alerts. Record how many positive and negative social signals (likes, shares, retweets, and mentions) are posted about your firearm, ammunition or hunting product and track over time.

A few relevant brand KPIs are:

  • Direct traffic – Direct traffic comes from people who actively type in your brand’s name from memory, giving you a good indication of how well your prospects remember your products/services.
  • Brand mentions – How many people out there are posting positive or negative comments about your brand or product?
  • Network growth – Are your networks growing across your social media channels (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn)?
  • Blog subscribers – Are people finding your content interesting and signing up to receive more?

 

2. What KPIs don’t matter?
In the firearm and hunting industry, we are up to our eyeballs in statistics. From FFL registrations, background checks and the annual surveys released by the NSSF, these reports help us get our heads around how the industry is doing and how it relates to the health of our businesses. But there are some KPIs out there that just don’t matter.

Mentioned at the start of this post, vanity metrics are considered nice to have but don’t necessarily give us actionable data on making decisions about our marketing. Vanity metrics are things like registered users, time on site, pages/visits, downloads, and page views. They are easily manipulated and do not necessarily correlate to the numbers that matter: active users, engagement, the cost of getting new customers, and ultimately revenues and profits. (Source: Techcrunch )

I’ve talked to a lot of companies in the industry who consider Facebook and Instagram ‘Likes’ key metrics. But many struggle to tell me how many of those ‘Likes’ drive traffic, customers and sustained engagement.

Did you know that only 3% to 5% of your Facebook Page’s “fans” see the content you post? Regardless of how many people have clicked ‘Like’ once they’re on your brand’s page, the vast majority of them never return to the page itself and never see the content in their newsfeeds.

What to Measure Instead: % Feedback and Impressions

Use Facebook Insights, Facebook’s free analytics tool, to check which posts generate the highest level of engagement. The higher the level of engagement, the higher your EdgeRank score. (EdgeRank is kind of like SEO for Facebook newsfeeds) Think about the content and conversations that have the highest % feedback and impressions, and then come up with a plan for how you can replicate it. (Source: Hubspot)

reporting-add-on-funnel-reports

HubSpot Funnel Report Add-On

 

3. You can’t measure what you don’t track.
If you’ve ever tried losing weight, you know that every week you’ve got to stand on the scale to check your progress. Digital marketing is the same way. When it comes to tracking, there are a number of tools out there to use. We explicitly depend on Google Analytics and a paid software program called HubSpot.

When it comes to reporting, Google Analytics is way more powerful. It’s more flexible than HubSpot, and puts data in a granular, broken-down form. With Google, you can tell more about your online marketing and website mechanics as a whole, and you can slice the data in a million ways.

But, HubSpot shows you more about how individuals interact with your marketing and website. It lets you connect performance data to an individual lead, giving you insight into their specific journey, and helps you nurture them through the buying funnel. HubSpot is also better organized than Google, and will show you the need-to-know information about your marketing campaigns. (Source: Nectafy)

 

hubspot-vs-google-analytics-2

 

4. Track it with the scorecard.


firearms-digital-scorecardNow that you got a good download on what the right and wrong KPIs are, let’s turn these metrics into something you can use.

A good place to start is by setting a SMART goal across the board at 20%. 20% is enough to cause you to feel a little pressure and angst, but it’s not so high that it’s out of reach. Digital marketing takes time, and it’s important that at each stage you test your efforts to see if they’re working or not—in a logical way (we’ll be discussing what to test in a future blog post).

In our scorecard, we’ve listed out most of the metrics stated above in a table to track over 6-months. Make sure to collect data from your sales team every month to accurately report revenue. Pay specific attention to increases and pieces of content that help you make actionable decisions.

By scorecard tracking, you’ll be able to more accurately gauge the performance of your digital marketing efforts and turn strategy into targets.

As marketers, we track so many different data points to better understand what’s working and what’s not that it can become easy to lose sight of what’s most important. Reporting on your business impact doesn’t mean you should no longer pay attention to site traffic, social shares, and conversion rates. It simply means that when reporting your results to your executives, it’s crucial to convey your performance in a way that your C-suite can get excited about.

Rather than talking about per-post Facebook engagement and other “vanity” metrics, use the six metrics we detail in the below cheat sheet to report on how your marketing programs led to new customers, lowered customer acquisition costs, or higher customer lifetime values. When you can present marketing metrics that resonate with your decision-makers, you’ll be in a much better position to make the case for budgets and strategies that will benefit your marketing team now and in the future.

 

ebook-6-metrics-your-boss-actually-cares-about

Free Download:
Six Marketing Metrics Your Boss Actually Cares About Cheat Sheet Plus! Digital Marketing Scorecard

Do you know which metrics actually matter to your boss? In this cheat sheet of metrics, we’ll share the six metrics that do.

  • 6 marketing metrics that prove the value of your marketing efforts
  • Formulas and examples to help you calculate your own metrics
  • Explanations and scenarios of why these metrics are important and how to interpret them
  • Bonus! Digital Marketing Scorecard Template

Download our cheat sheet to show your boss the true value of your marketing.

Download Now

 


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 digital marketing

7 Firearm & Hunting Digital Marketing Factors You Can’t Ignore

By Firearms and Hunting

 

The term digital marketing gets thrown around quite a bit in the firearms and hunting industry. You know you need to “go” digital, but are still unsure what going *digital* exactly means or how to integrate these tactics with your current pre-paid outbound ad spend.

Digital marketing is an all-encompassing term that uses strategies like inbound marketing and content marketing or tactics like banner advertising, PPC (pay-per-click), SEO (search engine optimization) SEM (search engine marketing), social media and video, specifically on the internet to market products and services. Digital is not print magazine advertising, billboard, radio, tradeshow or T.V. Although digital is used to promote or augment these traditional mass marketing methods towards the desired result e.g. more sales, these methods are often difficult to measure.

Digital marketing budgets continue to increase as a preferred method of marketing and advertising by senior executives because of digitals’ ability to prove ROI. (Source: HubSpot)

According to the latest survey, more than two-thirds of Americans own smartphones. More people are shopping online—up 14% from 298.3 billion in 2015. (Source: Internet Retailer) And now for the first time over 50% of all web traffic is from mobile.

I would also add—just as an observation—more hunters and shooters are taking their smartphones into duck blinds, deer stands, and gun ranges. They’re searching for tips, products, and information while participating in outdoor activities. They are also comparing prices with other retailers online while shopping in-store. 

hunting-firearms-marketing

Photo credit: Bass Pro Shops

Although many customers still prefer to shop in-store—customers are increasingly buying firearms, ammo, hunting supplies and accessories directly online. (Source: NSSF)

With over 70% of the sales process starting online and digital marketing becoming something hunting and firearm brands can no longer ignore—here are seven factors necessary to making the move to “digital.”

 

1. Website: Build a mobile-friendly digital hub

Some of the biggest names in the industry still have yet to move towards a mobile-friendly or otherwise known as a responsive web page format (websites that scale with screen size). Did you know that Google—who controls over 60% (Source: Search Engine Land) of all web search traffic—favors websites that are mobile-friendly? 74 percent of mobile users will leave unresponsive sites. And nearly a fourth of all Internet users access the Internet solely through mobile devices.

If you haven’t made the move to a mobile-friendly website, this should be your number one priority because right now you’re losing out on hundreds to thousands of potential customers, subscribers, and sales. 

A recent Google survey of mobile users found that 72 percent of mobile users say it’s important to them that websites are mobile-friendly, yet 96 percent have visited a site that doesn’t work well on their device. Almost three-quarters of respondents said they are more likely to revisit a mobile-friendly site. Users are five times more likely to abandon the task they are trying to complete if the site isn’t optimized for mobile use, with 79 percent saying they will go back to search and try to find another site to meet their needs.

Almost three-quarters of respondents said they are more likely to revisit a mobile-friendly site. Users are five times more likely to abandon the task they are trying to complete if the site isn’t optimized for mobile use, with 79 percent saying they will go back to search and try to find another site to meet their needs. (Source: Search Engine Watch)

If this is starting to make you feel uncomfortable—there are several ways to get “mobile-friendly” fast. A complete website redesign is usually what’s required, but you can convert your current static website through making a few changes in your CSS (cascading style sheets) which means just changing your site’s code to percentages rather than fixed heights and widths. Talk to your web designer/developer on what it would take to make these changes if a web redesign isn’t possible.

 

2. Content: Build a robust content library

Starting with your positioning and brand strategy, create your content: downloadable offers, photos, and imagery. Start with your FAQs. How many of those questions can be turned into articles, how-to’s and videos?

Invest in professional photography and helpful search engine optimized blog articles and content, to begin building a digital foundation that can be grown and improved over time. The best part about content is that it can be tested, used across multiple formats and eventually retargeted. This can save time and money in the long run. Distribute this content far and wide through blog posts, email, social media, trade shows, dealer training, T.V. commercials and even in your sales process. Just like the print advertising you’re used to—think of content as “small ads” that “pull” your prospects to your brand through entertainment, education, and information—instead of “pushing” a message.  

 

social-media-firearms-digital-marketing

Photo credit: Springfield Armory

3. Social Media: Use a mix of “push” and “pull” 

One way to expand your shares and likes as well as drive traffic to your website is by having a good mix of helpful content in addition to the news, events and giveaways you’re most likely posting now. Brands that have this figured out are not only “pushing” their products but are also “pulling” their customers to them by helping them to become better at their identified interests. See Springfield Armory’s Facebook feed for a good example. 

“If you’re not heading in the direction of digital in the hunting and firearms industry, your brand is being left behind, and thousands if not millions of dollars are not making it into your company’s bank account.”

As mentioned above, you can only grow your audience and brand so far on social media with what you’ve been doing which most likely consists of “pushing” your product(s) with photos, videos, giveaways or questions i.e. “who’s going hunting this weekend?” Sure these posts are fun and sometimes drives engagement, but this doesn’t keep your brand relevant. Seek to add value and information to your Facebook, Twitter or Instagram feeds. Add in a video from Facebook Live to increase engagement. Aim to make your customers better, smarter and more informed. Your brand should be seen as “the expert” in your category. These tactics will pay dividends when your prospects or customers start looking to purchase that new optic, handguard, suppressor, lower, backpack, etc.

 

firearm-email-marketing

Photo credit: Stag Arms

4. Email Marketing: Your most effective channel

Email marketing is more powerful than it’s ever been. The reason is clear–for ten years in a row, email is the channel generating the highest ROI for marketers. For every $1 spent, email marketing generates $38 in ROI. When you want to grow your business, acquire new customers, launch a new product, offer a promotion, you turn to email. Why? Because email delivers better than any other channel. Email is 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers than Facebook or Twitter. (Source: Campaign Monitor) And as discussed in my last post, 7 Ways to Deepen your Digital Marketing Footprint, email marketing is the main mechanism to build and stay in contact with your audience. 

 

5. Landing Pages: Capture your audience

Landing pages are used to capture user data, such as a name and email address. The sole purpose of the page is to collect information that will allow you to market to and connect with the prospect at a subsequent time. As such, a lead capture page will contain a form along with a description of what you’ll get in return for submitting your personal data. (Source: Unbounce

There are many uses for landing pages:

  • Ebook or whitepaper
  • Giveaways
  • Discount coupon/voucher
  • Contest entry
  • Free trial
  • Notification of a future product launch

While most companies don’t see an increase in leads when increasing their total number of landing pages from 1-5 to 6-10, companies do see a 55% increase in leads when increasing their number of landing pages from 10 to 15. (Source: HubSpot

 

6. SEO: Don’t miss out on organic traffic

SEO is becoming an increasingly overlooked way to drive more traffic and sales to industry websites. Top brands are missing out on traffic that typically total in the tens of thousands because they don’t rank for the terms their prospective customers are searching for. This leaves open opportunities for your competitors to outrank you in the digital space. People are no longer just searching Google, Bing or Yahoo—they’re also searching Facebook, Twitter, Gun District, YouTube, forums and other networks as well. 

Start by conducting what search terms classify your products and what will drive the most traffic with tools like Moz, SEMRush or Wordtracker. Most offer a free 30-day trial.

Here are a few examples of how many leading industry product search words you may be missing out on per month:

  • hunting scope: 4,400
  • ar15: 110,000
  • ak47: 49,500
  • gun safe: 90,500
  • hunting knife: 6,600
  • suppressor: 12,100
  • silencer: 9,900
  • hunting backpack: 1,600

(Source: HubSpot’s keyword tool)

 

7. Analytics: Measure your results 

Do you know what your bounce rate is? Do you also know if your social media likes or shares are translating into sales? Analytics are critical in any digital firearm or hunting marketing strategy because it allows you to track what’s working and what’s not. Analytics allow you to make better decisions like how much ROI your marketing is providing.

The ability to track and measure your marketing is perhaps the greatest benefit to going digital. This is especially beneficial for brands that run an online store.

Click here to get Google Analytics installed to begin measuring your website’s efficiency if you haven’t already. Without analytics, you’re flying blind.

Overall, most industry brands have a long way to go. Those who start now will be in a position to add a valuable revenue channel to their company’s bottom line and leave their competition in the dust. By building in the above seven factors, you’ll be well on your way to “going digital.” 

 

 

hunting-outdoor-firearm-inbound-marketing-checklist2

Free Download:
Inbound Marketing Checklist

Are you utilizing the most efficient channels for your digital marketing?

Chances are, you might be overlooking a few that can help drive more business to your website. To make sure you’re not missing any opportunities, we’ve put together a Free Campaign Checklist with our partner HubSpot.

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Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

Josh Claflin, Principle at Garrison Everest, helps companies in the outdoor, tech, and firearm industries who are struggling to develop clear brand messaging and increase revenue through online channels to grow in the digital era of marketing. Contact Josh  for a free consultation. 

3 Things Firearm Marketers Can Improve

3 Things Firearm Marketers Can Improve

By Firearms and Shooting

There are some things you just can’t change. From increased government regulations, internal politics, everything going digital or the IT guy who won’t upgrade your website—the firearms industry contains much of the same roadblocks and beaver dams as other marketers face, but with a few twists.

This industry is unique from other industries because unlike a tech or shoe company that is unregulated—we must abide by certain industry imperatives that hinder our ideas and abilities to improve or attain our goals.

Thinking about some of these imperatives and roadblocks on my way to NRA a few weeks ago, I came away with three things I feel we as marketers can do better in the firearms industry that will improve the individual brands we manage and perhaps the industry as a whole from a digital marketing perspective.

Shipping and faster delivery of goods

Digital has acclimated the public to expect instant results and quick responses. The commerce world is trying hard to keep up, and the delay is justified. Physical products take time to deliver, and right now there’s not a clear answer on how to speed up the process. However, because the larger industry knows that this is the key to success and driving the competitive market, the truncation of purchase fulfillment is a huge trend any e-commerce marketer should have a keen eye on. (Source: iMedia

There isn’t much that can be done in the way of speeding firearms to responsible customers when they have to go through the background check process. Some states like Hawaii, Colorado and California require a 10+ day waiting period. It can be months for NFA items. 

But when it comes to selling your other non-FFL items online (accessories, apparel, etc.), much can be done to create a better customer experience that may help offset delayed online firearm purchases.

Taken from a study done by eConsultantcy, when asked what would lead or has led to a recommendation of a retailer, the availability of free shipping or discounted shipping is the top factor.

Timely arrival of shipments and free or easy returns were the next most important factors.

“Since 41% of shoppers said ‘receiving my product when expected’ led them to recommend a retailer, both proactive communication regarding delivery time and reliable delivery are critical aspects to a positive customer experience.”

By implementing free shipping, communicating the expected delivery time, free returns and a way for easy exchange, you can increase your customer’s view of your brand. Brands will never be able to ship firearms directly to customer’s residences, but they can speed up their fulfillment processes in-house. Starting with an effective website and a well-managed fulfillment process is the first step. 

Complacent dealers are also a source of frustration for your customers. They may receive your product on time, but it ends up sitting in the backroom without the dealer notifying the customer. Don’t leave this important step to the dealer. Make sure to follow up with your customer to let them know their product is available for transfer. Find the bottlenecks and work with your dealers to improve over time—then track customer satisfaction.

Personalization

Personalization is a symbiotic relationship. On one side you, the marketer, are providing a spot-on experience for consumers that makes them feel understood, valued, and connected. It’s a positive engagement that’s borderline electric for the visitor. Don’t you get a little jolt when you’re served up an article, product recommendation, or email that’s perfectly aligned with your wants and needs?

On the other side are the consumers who, in exchange for this warm and fuzzy experience, reward you with more meaningful engagement, quicker conversions, higher cart values, increased spend, and ongoing loyalty. They’re happy with the relevant experience you’ve delivered. They dive in deeper. You collect more data points and create greater relevance. The cycle continues. That’s the personalization payoff. (Source: Adobe)

Your brand likely has a 5–20 percent chance of selling to a new prospect versus 60–70 percent for an existing consumer. Compound that with the fact that, on average, 55 percent of marketing budgets are spent on new customer acquisition, and it’s no surprise that increasing loyalty among existing users can reduce costs by as much as 10 percent. (Source: 5OneMedia)

Building a mutually beneficial relationship with your customer should be a priority that will increase profits. Why don’t most marketers engage in personalization? I think most don’t know where to start and for others it’s about getting over the hurdle of understanding who their customer is. You may be able to boast a large following on Facebook—but do you know who those people are? Facebook likes are considered vanity metrics that provide some indication of how your brand is perceived, but how are those likes and shares translating into revenue?

There are numerous tools out there to help you get better at personalization, and it begins with surveying your audience. Leveraging social media is one way to proceed. Tools like Social Mention, Talkwalker, Hootsuite, and Hubspot’s social media inbox monitoring tool, can help you get a better grasp on who makes up your audience. Survey Monkey is also a very inexpensive tool to start asking your customer questions to form your buyer personas that in turn will be used to develop your inbound and outbound marketing strategies. Having a firm grasp on your audience is the first step in getting your marketing right.

Point of purchase

When I think of a gun shop, the same image always comes to mind: barred windows, dusty racks, scratched glass counters and unfriendly customer service—at least in my town. Now contrast this experience with the soaring grandiose trade show booths of SHOT Show. Recall the experiences of being in those booths (if you were able to get out and walk the floor). How did they make you feel? Shouldn’t those same experiences be applied to every firearm retail environment?

One gun store getting it right is The Athena Gun Club in Houston. 

If you’re a gun dealer reading this article, take note. If you want to be the dominant dealer in your area, attract a younger customer and be a “shooting destination”—investing in your retail environment is something you should highly consider, and as marketers, we should highly encourage. We know we’re getting past the point were our typical demographic is defined as the white, 55-year-old male. We have to begin thinking more seriously (and with dollars) about how we can attract the next generation of gun enthusiasts by integrating our brands into the retail environment to create a cohesive brand experience.

Beretta Gallery

Beretta Gallery

Four retail environmental factors that form an engaging retail atmosphere are:

  1. Aesthetic drives experience – colors, texture, lighting, even smell—allows for a better and more welcoming experience that makes the customer comfortable. Your mood changes when you’re in an engaging environment—like staying at a luxury hotel. It allows your visitor to “open” up and drop their guard. It makes them feel good and perhaps more inclined to buy.
  2. Contributes value – The experience is informative, enjoyable and memorable. “People will forget what you say, but not how you make them feel.”
  3. Sends an aspirational message – The atmosphere you create says something about what you’re trying to communicate. Are you high-tech and polished, or 1990?
  4. Affinity – Points 1-3 make it harder for the person not to come back when faced with apathy, laziness or other options (Source: Forbes)

touch screen digital signage kiosk-1Another idea is to place a kiosk in your dealers that help the customer learn more about your products. This can help aid in a less than ideal dealer experience.

A quality and reliable product will always sell itself. As marketers, we have to make sure that a clear brand impression is sustained throughout the buying process and well after purchase. Faster delivery, personalization and point of purchase are only three areas that can make a big impact on your bottom line. What are your thoughts?

 

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FREE DOWNLOAD: A Hunting, Outdoor & Firearms Marketer’s Guide to Creating the Buyer Persona


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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.

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7 Ways to Deepen Your Firearm Brand’s Digital Marketing Footprint

By Firearms and Hunting

 

Some of the best forward-thinking companies in the hunting and firearms industry are diligently building their digital footprint online that in the long run, will return immense dividends. 

According to the latest Google algorithm, brands that:

  • Create consistent, helpful content;
  • Generate strong social signals;
  • Have fast loading and mobile-friendly websites;
  • and acquire good inbound links from authoritative websites;

…will outrank, outperform and outsell their competitors in the digital era. 

firearms-digital-footprint

Digital Marketing Footprint

What is a digital footprint?

Specifically listed with the firearms and hunting industry in mind—a digital footprint is the combination of seven digital assets that build website traffic, website authority, and a viable audience that: 

  • Builds your brand
  • Increases revenue
  • Creates an indomitable digital barrier to your competitors

Ever notice how some brands just seem to be everywhere? They’re number one on Google. You see their banner advertisement on Guns & Ammo. You find a link to their product review. You may also see a piece of content in your Instagram, Facebook or Twitter feed. And after a while you begin to notice your friends and family are talking about them as well.

If you’re serious about building your brand for the future, you must begin to consider how digital will play a role.

In this post, I’ve identified 7 elements that are widely used from the top firearms and hunting companies in the industry and how you can begin to build each into expanding your brand’s digital footprint.  

1. 10x content

10x content can be a video that demonstrates your product, a blog, infographic or downloadable offer that informs or answers your buyer persona’s (target audience) questions in context with one small catch… It’s got to be ten times better than your competition. It’s not enough to create mediocre content anymore. If you’re looking to get into content marketing by banging out a blog post here and there, it isn’t going to work. A high level of quality must be established based around the buyers journey to cut through the millions (or billions) of other pieces of content to be effective.

According to Moz, the criteria for 10 times better content consists of the following:

  • It has to have great UI and UX on any device.
  • That content is generally a combination of high quality, trustworthy, it’s useful, interesting, and remarkable. It doesn’t have to be all of those but some combination of them.
  • It’s got to be considerably different in scope and in detail from other works that are serving the same visitor or user intent.
  • It’s got to create an emotional response. I want to feel awe. I want to feel surprise. I want to feel joy, anticipation, or admiration for that piece of content in order for it to be considered 10x.
  • It has to solve a problem or answer a question by providing comprehensive, accurate, exceptional information or resources.
  • It’s got to deliver content in a unique, remarkable, typically unexpectedly pleasurable style or medium.

The more your content aligns with the above criteria the more opportunities will be created to rank higher on search engines, garner more inbound links, social media shares, views and customer trust.

2. Display advertising

I’m not a big proponent of display advertising in the form of web banners, but I don’t see them going away anytime soon. The average click-through rate is less than 0.06% (Source: Hubspot). You’re more likely to complete Navy SEAL training than click on a web banner. SHOT Show sponsors this year only received between 0.1% and 0.08% CTR. I only suggest using banner advertising in conjunction with sponsored content, events and middle of funnel offers. With the rise of ad blockers and repeated market research data that shows user’s intolerance to ad banners, banners can be a risky marketing investment as a standalone strategy. The upside to banners is that they are a viable way to keep your brand image top of mind. This however is difficult to track and like its print advertising equivilant—should be directed to landing pages that are designed to convert visitors into customers.

firearm-banner-advertising

3. Social media

Facebook and other social channels continue to give the firearm and hunting industry grief. As long as you’re not blatantly trying to sell firearms directly or posting your latest trophy, you’re supposedly safe—but how long is this going to last? Can you imagine reporting to your CEO that you just lost your Facebook account of sixty thousand followers because of an inadvertent post? Regardless, these roadblocks can be overcome with 10x content that can still produce desirable results when adding in alluring photography. We’ve all figured out that engaging photography with creative lighting and filters of MSRs and 1911s as well as beautiful hunting scenery amass likes and shares. The average Facebook post lasts 3 hours, 7 minutes (Source: Edgerank), while the average half-life of a Twitter post lasts 24 minutes (Source: Edgar). Invest in these aspects of your branding to continue expanding your digital footprint on a consistent basis by posting on Facebook three times a day and to Twitter at least ten times a day.

4. SEO

Search engine optimization ties in directly with point number one. With good SEO ingrained in your 10x content—your efforts will help you obtain top rankings. The hunting category and self-defense segments thus far are the most saturated—so if you’re in this class, you have your work cut out. However, opportunities still abound for brands who do it right among other categories (safes, hunting/tactical knives and ammunition to name a few) where there is still digital gold to be mined. 

firearms-app5. Apps

Google announced that with its latest algorithm release their search engines will now begin indexing app content. That means that the content you create within your app will be indexed in search engines. This also offers expanded opportunities to claim top search engine rankings.

6. Product reviews

Manufacturers have a love/hate relationship with product reviews. Some are good and can help move the sales needle, and others paint the brand and product in a less than ideal light. However, having your product reviewed can create a good amount of web traffic and sales. 61% of customers read online reviews before making a purchase decision, and they are now essential for firearm and hunting e-commerce sites (Source: eConsultantcy). Manufacturers will always be under the eye of vocal hobbyists, so make sure always to enlist the right reviewers and thank them whether they get it right or wrong while directing that traffic to your website. 

7. Audience

The last and final element of your firearms digital marketing footprint is audience. One way to think of audience is by building your own private deer reserve. By creating a flourishing and self-sustaining habitat, you’ll have deer to hunt and eat for a very long time. The same analogy applies here.

Ever had to pay to hunt on private land? Right now, there exists opportunities to build your audience before your competitors do. Access to the audiences you seek will become harder to find, and will become price prohibitive—especially for start-ups. Where I live, access to good hunting grounds are vanishing as more and more hunters are forced to pay to access private land where the opportunities to bag a big one still exist. 

Chad Pollitt says in The Native Advertising Manifesto, “For some, this may sound like doom and gloom for inbound marketers out there. The good news is that many of the innovators and early-adopters that started publishing for the buyer’s journey early in their industry have built a substantive enough audience and acquired considerable domain authority. Marcus Sheridan describes these brands as being part of the “Digital Land Rush.” He calls them “Digital Sooners” and they’re depicted as Innovators and Early Adopters below.

Native-Advertising

Facebook is another way to look at this. Facebook owns your audience. In fact, they charge you now to access it through their ad boosts. The cost that it took you to build that audience most likely reaches into the hundreds of thousands of dollars—yet they hold it captive! Brands that are working now to build their audiences outside of these fickle and increasingly anti-gun and anti-hunting networks will be better off. Those who are classified as the late majority in the above content marketing adoption curve will need to pay much more to access these audiences in the future. I predict large publisher sites like Ammoland, Truth about Guns, Recoil and Guns & Ammo to figure this out with native advertising. 

In my opinion, the firearms and hunting industry lags behind other industries in regards to digital marketing. Many marketers and business owners in the industry are missing out on lucrative digital marketing revenue streams and audience-building opportunities. By building a solid digital marketing footprint now, your business will be ready for what inevitably lies ahead.

hunting-outdoor-firearm-inbound-marketing

Free Ebook: The Essential Step-by-Step Guide to Inbound Marketing for the Hunting, Outdoor and Firearms Industry

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1. Optimizing Your Website
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