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5 Firearm Marketing Alternatives You Haven’t Thought Of Yet

By Firearms and Hunting

It’s harder than ever to get your message out to attract the influx of some 8 million+ new gun owners who’ve flooded the market (Source: FOXNEWS). For brands that have invested time in building their brand and digital marketing programs over the years are reaping the awards of their efforts as guns, ammo, optics, and accessory sales set new records.

If you’ve been on the fence about marketing and are now ready to capture this moment, in this article you will learn about:  

  • Podcasts – The old is new and the new is old.
  • Inbound Marketing – Create a strong digital footprint for years to come by creating blogs, lead-generators, email marketing and SEO to generate traffic, leads and customers.
  • Native Advertising – Publish branded content on major publisher sites and add your advertising within the content for context and greater ad results.
  • Focus on women and minorities – Women and minorities are a burgeoning segment—are you focused on them?
  • Influencers – Reach your audience through trusted firearm social media content creators.
  • Storytelling – Leverage the power of the story to clarify your brand message so customers will listen.

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

Facebook, Google and YouTube which was once a bastion for firearm, ammunition, and hunting knife companies to advertise, now bans all paid advertising related to direct weapon sales. And Instagram announced in 2020 that they will begin cracking down on influencers who work in the firearms segment. 

Fox, the NFL and other major media outlets that used to be friendly to firearm manufacturers have shut the door as well. You may remember when Daniel Defense tried to run an ad in 2003 on the Super Bowl. 

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


firearms marketing podcast1. Podcasts

The old is new and the new is old. In the last two years we’ve seen a resurgence in podcasts. Podcasts like Dan Bongino, GunTalk, The Dana Show, Restless Native and Bear Arms podcast offer a way for your brand to reach a broader audience and leverage the trust of the host. According to Influencer Marketing Hub

  • There are over 2 million podcasts.
  • 78% of Americans Are Aware of Podcasting.
  • 91% of Australians Are Aware of Podcasting.
  • Almost 60% of US Consumers Listen to Podcasts.
  • 160+ Million Americans Have Listened to a Podcast.
  • 65% Listen to the Whole Episode.

2. Inbound Marketing

I make it no secret that the inbound marketing methodology is a perfect fit for firearm manufacturers with a lengthy purchase process. Brands like Mossberg, Springfield Armory, Havlon, Stag Arms and Beretta have been using inbound since 2018. These brands have built digital fortresses of content that will continue to grow contacts and sales well into the future. Inbound marketing uses search engine optimized content, downloadable offers, landing pages, forms, social media and email marketing to attract, engage and provide real value to their customers. Inbound provides substantial cost savings to manufacturers, and the best part is, it’s all completely trackable. It removes the black box of advertising and provides real ROI and understanding of your brand and marketing efforts. Inbound is an important digital marketing element to influencer marketing. If your customers have questions about your product, you should be writing content. 


3. Native Advertising

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

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

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

 

Glock Women Marketing

Photo credit: Glock

4. Women & Minorities

Women and minorities are a burgeoning segment in the industry as you might already know (Source: NSSF). You should consider using content or sponsoring a free shooting class or range day in your local newspaper or county magazine to attract interested customers. Women are helping change some of the negative stereotypes typically associated with the firearm industry. Firearm manufacturers should embrace this trend and do all they can to promote it. Larger brands like Glock have added women in their imagery and creating sections in their publications and websites that speak directly to them.  

 

5. Influencers

Influencer marketing is a type of marketing that uses category leaders or celebrities to communicate your brand’s message and content to their vast number of followers. Instead of buying print ads or filming commercials, you use the influencer to get the word out for you instead. The industry is taking increased notice of influencers like Guns Out TVHickok45, IV8888, and Warrior Poet Society. Influencers who have large networks of trusted followers represent an important component of your marketing mix. By tapping these well-known hunters and shooters, you can gain entrance into larger audiences.

 

Bonus! But wait there’s more…

Another alternative that will transform your marketing, brand awareness, and overall messaging is utilizing a framework based on storytelling. Story is a sense-making device used since the dawn of time to communicate—our brains are hardwired for it. Used properly, story will give you an edge over your competitors—even if their product is better.  The reason why story works so well is that it cuts through the clutter and distraction of today’s ultra-competitive outdoor, shooting and firearms industry that helps your brand stand out among all the other “me-too” claims and clearly communicates the benefits of your product’s benefits without all the fluff. Too many brands play the hero, when they need to be playing the guide. This helps your customer understand your offering faster and helps them become something better e.g., a better marksman, more accurate, more aware, savvier or in some cases more advanced. 

In conclusion, marketing in these changing times may not be as difficult as you think. By utilizing podcasts, content, the women segment, influencers and story—you have the makings of a strong digital marketing strategy that is trackable and more efficient.

 

5-Keys-To-Stand-Out-and-Attract-New-Customers

5 KEYS ON HOW TO STAND OUT IN A COMPETITIVE MARKETPLACE

Is your firearm brand getting noticed?
In this ebook, we’ll give you 5 keys for 2022 that will help you differentiate and grow your business. We’ll share why it’s important to have a clear brand message, how to build a website that works, a simple marketing plan, how to gather testimonials the right way and a few marketing tactics that offer the biggest bang for your buck.

STAND OUT IN THE MARKETPLACE

firearm-inbound-marketing-tips

3 HubSpot Tips for Firearm Industry Marketers

By Firearms and Hunting

HubSpot is the leading marketing automation tool for inbound marketing. Heck, they coined the term “inbound marketing.” If you’re using the system or are interested in HubSpot and how it can bring a much-needed understanding to your online marketing efforts, then in this post—I’ll give you 3 tips I’ve learned along the way to keep your HubSpot portal organized and running smoothly as you build traffic, leads, and sales for your outdoor, hunting or shooting sports company. 

1. Keep your CTAs organized
“CTA” stands for Call-to-Action. CTAs are those little (or big) bright buttons (see the bottom of this page) or small ads on your web pages, blog posts and emails. They are like beacons that lead your visitors through the buyers journey and tells them what action you want them to take and where to go on your website.

Here’s why CTAs are important:

  1. More than 90% of visitors who read your headline also read your CTA copy. (Unbounce)
  2. Emails with a single call-to-action increased clicks 371% and sales 1617%. (WordStream)
  3. Adding CTAs to your Facebook page can increase click-through rate by 285%. (AdRoll)

We live in an attention deficit world. CTAs help you focus your website visitors on what to do next. If your goal is to convert your website visitor to a customer, lead or subscriber—CTAs are how you do it.

CTAs however in HubSpot can get quickly out of control. By not organizing your CTAs properly, you’ll start to get lost when it comes time to analyze the data. A simple suggestion is to label your CTAs in this syntax: LOCATION: TITLE OF POST/OFFER. See example below.

HubSpot CTA

By keeping your CTAs organized by where they appear on your site and by title, you can quickly analyze which pieces of content are working and which ones are not. You can also use the various sort functions and charts within HubSpot. 

2. Start your persona and list segmentation early
One of the biggest mistakes I see when companies begin an inbound firearm marketing program is they start with unsegmented lists that they built from their previous email marketing program like MailChimp or Constant Contact.

This is problematic because they failed to capture key prospect information like hunter or shooter type, company name, and essential buyer persona interests. This leaves you with a mixed bag of contacts that doesn’t provide you with the understanding of who makes up your contact list, which is foundational to personalization or “one-to-one marketing.”

Personalization statistics:

  1. When asked to prioritize one capability that will be most critical to marketing in the future, one-third of marketers answered: “personalization.
  2. Marketers see an average increase of 20% in sales when using personalized web experiences. 
  3. Personalized CTAs resulted in a 42% higher conversion rate than generic CTAs.
  4. 74% of consumers get frustrated when website content appears that has nothing to do with their interests.
  5. 76% of marketers define real-time marketing as personalizing content in response to customer interactions.
  6. 78% of CMOs think custom content is the future of marketing. 

If you’re planning on starting an inbound marketing campaign in the near future, start your segmentation efforts now if you’re still using a standalone email or form marketing application. Define your buyer personas and add in form fields that allow your prospective customers to self-identify when they provide their contact information when exchanging it for one of your downloadable offers.

firearm-inbound-marketing-personas

Buyer Personas

 

3. Build 10-15 landing pages to supercharge your lead generation efforts

Without a focused and persuasive landing page, your lead capture efforts will fall flat. But also just as important is that you have enough.

Landing page facts: 

  • 48% of marketers build a new landing page for each marketing campaign. 
  • 68% of B2B businesses use landing pages to garner a new sales lead for future conversion.
  • 16% of landing pages are free of navigation bars. 
  • A whopping 68% of B2B organizations have not identified their funnel.
    (Source: HubSpot)

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.

firearm marketing landing page

And look how that leads index number spikes, even more when a company has 40 or more landing pages on their website. And here’s how it breaks down for B2B and B2C businesses:

firearm marketing index pages

Source: HubSpot

Make sure to clone each form for each landing page so that you can label and test for maximum effectiveness, especially when working with workflows.

By keeping your CTAs organized, segmenting your contact list from the beginning and creating more than 10-15 landing pages—you’ll keep your HubSpot subscription running like a well-oiled M4.

Have a question about HubSpot, schedule a call!

The-Future-of-Firearms-Advertising

What is the Future of Firearms Advertising?

By Firearms Marketing

The onslaught against the firearms industry has never in history been more fervent. Lawsuits are emerging at a disconcerting rate across the U.S., and as a marketer in the firearms industry tasked with advising clients on marketing advice I had to ask the question: 

What is the future of advertising in the firearms industry? 

In this article, I want to share five thoughts that will help you—the firearm marketer or business owner—think through your future advertising efforts to help you navigate and defend against the onslaught of our adversaries’ misunderstanding and the litigious efforts to destroy our industry and the good people in it.


1. What makes advertising effective?

Any piece of advertising (print, tv, radio, digital or otherwise) attempts to let others know about how a product or service can help them survive or thrive. If you are advertising a shoe’s new cushioning system that softens your foot strike or a pillow that enables you to sleep better, copywriters will typically use the following framework:

  1. Identify the customers’ problem 
  2. Offer your product as the solution 
  3. Show how your product solves the problem
  4. Show empathy and authority (why they should listen to you)
  5. Explain the consequences and successes of using your product
  6. Call them to action: Buy Now, Subscribe or Sign up

The above framework can be identified in almost every effective advertisement in the world. And yes, it does work when done correctly. Next time the MyPillow commercial on T.V. interrupts you, see if you can follow the above narrative. 

Advertising a firearm is no different than advertising a Toyota, Dr. Pepper, iPhone, or a pair of Nikes. Advertising seeks to inform potential buyers of a product’s functions and features that moves a buyer towards purchasing your product. By aligning your product’s brand attributes with that buyer’s worldview, you increase the odds of the purchase. We call this the customer transformation. Include an eye-catching image, a call to action along with a sizable media buy, and you’ve got the makings of an effective campaign.


2. But now we’re at risk.

If you’re a firearm brand that places an ad and your product is used in a shooting—even though the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act protects you—you could become the target of a potential lawsuit.  

gun ad

Photo credit: Remington

The Bushmaster ad being used against Remington Outdoor Co. in the Newtown shootings is now waiting to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. If the Supreme Court sides with the plaintiffs and allows the case to proceed, the case would go back to the Connecticut State Supreme Court to determine the merits. That could give the plaintiffs access to Remington’s internal marketing documents during the discovery process. (Source: WSJ)

UPDATE: November 15, 2019
U.S. Supreme Court denied Remington’s petition for review of the state supreme court decision. This means the plaintiffs may be able to gain access to Remington’s marketing materials through the Connecticut court. 

According to Joshua Koskoff, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, “the families lawsuit is intended to shed light on Remington’s calculated and profit-driven strategy to expand the AR-15 market and court high-risk users, all at the expense American’s safety.”

A ruling in favor of the plaintiffs will adversely affect the firearms industry and potentially set a precedence and open up every other industry to litigation. For example, if your tire falls off while you’re speeding and kills five people, those families could sue the tire company because the tire company’s ad told you that you were the kind of driver who likes to drive fast. 

Photo credit: Bridgestone



That’s why you need to understand how to protect your company’s brand from these frivolous lawsuits.

Take action

ATTEND THIS WEBINAR: Marketing Practices Liability in the Firearms Industry
Orchid Advisors and Williams Mullen are sponsoring a Free Webinar Tuesday, November 12, 2019 at 2:00 EST 

Register by filling out the form on Orchid’s contact page and select “Webinar” under “I’d like to learn more about.”

Topics will include

    • A review of the PLCAA, the Connecticut case, and the theory of potential liability.
    • The severity of risk should an industry member get sued for criminal misuse of products.
    • Best practices for monitoring and policing marketing strategies.
    • Additional steps industry members should take to reduce risk.

  firearm advertising webinar
3. Virtue signaling

More and more companies whose CEOs worldview align with anti-gun sentiment and those who disagree with certain products and political positions are steering their ships in the direction of what is called “virtue signaling.” 

Virtue signaling looks like this: 

  • I don’t like your product 
  • Not liking your product can help strengthen my brand 
  • We should come out publicly against your product
  • Taking a position against your product will ‘hopefully’ breath new life into my diminishing brand 

We’ve seen this with Dick’s Sporting Goods and WalMart. You also might recall the Nike ad that featured Colin Kapernick as a way to strengthen Nike’s brand with its’ urban audience.

Photo credit: Nike

 

Shopify removed firearm dealers and manufacturers from using its platform last year. Due to the pressure of financial institutions and gun control groups, we can expect more virtue signaling in the years to come. 

Take action 

Manufacturers and dealers need to create open-source websites and avoid getting caught up in virtue signaling platforms and software companies who are against firearms. i.e. SalesForce. Make sure you know where your intended solution provider stands on the 2nd Amendment.


4. Social media and the ensuing increase in gun ownership

Facebook, Google, YouTube and Instagram make no secret that they are against the firearms industry. The latest bans and advertising restrictions implemented by the largest social media networks make it very difficult for the firearms industry to advertise their products—and from experience seem to be getting worse.

These restrictions are just another way they are shaming the firearms industry out of the public square of debate. However, this isn’t about debate anymore—this is blatant censorship. As customer behavior changes, firearm brands need to look for other strategies to help grow their businesses.

Word-of-mouth (WOM) marketing programs, though once hard to instigate, can now be developed at scale without the use of certain software platforms. Mark Schaefer, a marketing expert and author who spoke at this year’s NSSF CMO summit about the coming “Marketing Rebellion,” talks a lot about people not wanting to be sold—but to be helped because advertising is losing its effectiveness. I tend to agree with him if you’re trying to market toothpaste or car insurance—but not firearms, which is an enthusiast and hobby sport. As a law-abiding gun enthusiast, I enjoy looking at ads in Guns and Ammo and so do other law-abiding gun enthusiasts. 

As violent crime rates increase and would-be presidential contenders like Francis Beto O’Rourke and others tout gun confiscation, people will—by instinct—seek ways to defend themselves. This is one of the reasons the women segment is outpacing any other segment in the industry. They will make their decisions on what their friends and family recommend and only use Facebook and Google to reinforce their intended purchase, which I believe contributes minimally to the buyers’ lifecycle when it comes to purchasing firearms. Last month’s record setting background checks underscores this trend.

Take action

Brands building social media groups and followers on third-party platforms are at risk of losing precious marketing capital. Utilize multiple social media platforms as well as pro-gun and pro-hunting platforms like Powderhook and GoWild. Build great products, utilize your email marketing, SEO/voice and bolster your customer service programs to build word-of-mouth.


5. God, America, Guns, Masculinity, and Trump

Another front on our industry is how advertising restrictions are tied to the #metoo movement, masculinity, and those who support President Trump. Every marketer knows that riding trends can help push a brand message further. Gun industry opponents are utilizing the current culture war to amplify their messages. This is why you see a united attack on Christians, law enforcement, guns, hunters, men, and President Trump. The opposition makes no effort to hide it.  

It will be up to marketing professionals to communicate a message of respect, strength, resolve and defense along with our product’s innovations that stands resolute in the face of these blatant attacks and censorship.

Take action

Review your advertising with firearm legal professionals to mitigate the risks of your advertising. 

 

So, what is the future of firearm advertising?

Regardless of the outcome of the Remington case—firearm advertising, which once required little to no legal involvement will now pressure prudent marketers to add a legal review in their timelines. Some won’t comply, and that is their right. However, with the culture war reaching new heights, fake news, the division in our country getting deeper, and the disregard of the United States Constitution—it’s better to be safe than sorry.

What are your thoughts on the future of firearm advertising? Please comment below. 

 

Outdoor Firearms Hunting Advertising Agency

5 Ways To Make Firearm & Hunting Advertising More Compelling

By Firearms and Hunting

 

In recent years, print advertising across all industries have taken a hit. Advertisers are increasingly allocating more of their budgets to online ads and content at the expense of TV and print media.

While TV and online ads will continue to dominate the global ads market, print ads will be relegated to the last spot and have the smallest share in the advertising industry. (Source: Trefis)

Print is also expensive. The average full-page ad in Deer and Deer Hunting can run you $7,975 and for good reason. The quality of content by these publishers as well as the magazine’s reach can’t be beat and are still proven to be viable channels. But, how many times have you placed an ad with high expectations only to see your efforts vanish into thin air?

If you’re struggling or are considering placing an ad to increase sales or build brand awareness, I’d like to share with you five ways to make your firearm or hunting advertising more compelling and how you can tie those efforts in with your inbound marketing efforts to track effectiveness and ROI.

 

firearms advertising1. Use an interesting concept 
As important as photography is, you can make your ad much more efficient by integrating a brand concept into the design to make it more interesting. Take a moment to think about your brand and the value it provides to your customer. Is there a way to incorporate those values or benefits into your spread that not only showcases your product, but that also invokes an emotion to make your advertising more memorable. As the old saying goes, “People may not remember what you said, but they will remember how you made them feel.”

A great example is Crimson Trace. They use a serious face inside a silhouette of a person using a laser in self-defense. They then communicate the mindset of their customer through the copy. 

Use Storytelling To Breakthrough
Story is a sense-making device used since the dawn of time to communicate—our brains are hardwired for it. Used properly, story will give you an edge over your competitors ads—even if their product is better.  The reason why story works so well is that it cuts through the clutter and distraction of today’s cute and clever headlines and clearly communicates the benefits of your product’s benefits without all the fluff. Too many brands play the hero, when they need to be playing the guide. This helps your customer understand your offering faster and helps them become something better e.g., a better marksman, more accurate, more aware, savvier or in some cases more advanced. 

2. Go beyond features and talk more about benefits
If you page through any firearms or hunting magazine almost all of the advertising is based on features. Don’t get me wrong, features are paramount, because they represent the manufacturer’s approach to solving a problem, but the problem is, everyone does this. Everyone says their product is superior, the best, most accurate, most durable or is the next big thing. And while that may be true, your biggest competitor isn’t the other manufacturer; it’s the clutter of “me-to” products in the marketplace.

gun-advertisement-features

Features!

To go beyond the features, you have to determine how your product will benefit the customer, and how this aligns with your brand’s positioning and the intrinsic characteristics of your buyer persona.  How will your knife perform when you’ve downed an Elk back in the dog hair—and it’s getting dark? Does the color of your knife’s handle or the strap on your head-mounted light solve this problem? Does your backpack make it easier to pack out without the hindquarter sliding all over the place?

Communicate the reasons why you built lightweight materials into your stock and hand guards. Tell them why less weight for the operator hiking 20 miles up Korangal valley in Afghanistan help them to go further that contributes to the success of their mission. Show these advantages in your advertising. Seek to connect the features with real-time application.

 

3. Create tension
Today’s consumer has seen it all, and they’re less likely than ever to notice even your masterpiece of art and copy, let alone internalize it. Your job is to craft a piece that rises out of the noise to make an impact. (Source: Luke Sullivan)

In his book, “Hey Whipple, Squeeze This”, Luke Sullivan explains the importance on drawing from highly emotional concepts to help customers remember your brand by creating tension or conflict.

In an ad placed on SilencerCo.’s website—they combine the oppressive event of the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 with their goal of communicating legal ownership of suppressors and that we (the public) are being suppressed (stoking the emotions of us red-blooded patriots) from purchasing silencers and that we should stand up for our rights. Combining this imagery with their branding creates a highly, emotional and thought-provoking ad through the use of tension.

SilencerCo-Fight-the-Noise

Photo credit: SilencerCo.

 

4. Use faces
One of the first things we focus in on when we are born is the faces of our family. This isn’t just because they are always around in those first few weeks. The brain has a specific circuit for recognizing faces called the fusiform gyrus, or the fusiform face area. We are hard-wired to respond to faces. In the ads below, what ad are you most drawn to? (Source: Canva)

firearm-hunting-advertising-marketing

 

5. Track for measurement and ROI
Lastly, if you can’t track it, what’s the point of advertising? The answer is likely because companies are now used to understanding what their dollars are doing. When print, TV and billboards were the primary ad spots, attribution was not an easy task. But today, companies have built a habit of understanding how much revenue is generated by their ad spend dollars thanks to the Internet and Google Analytics. (Source: Small Biz Trends) With thousands of dollars invested, it makes sense to try to track your communication. Here are a few ways to do so:

• Create a vanity URL and place it in your ad and use Google Analytics to measure
• Create a QR code
• Offer a free downloadable offer like an ebook or whitepaper to generate leads
• Offer an incentive like a giveaway to generate leads
• Create a special call in or vanity phone number

By implementing print ad tracking you’re reducing the amount of traffic that is wrongly classified as Direct or Organic search and gaining insight into how your different print efforts are working. With this practice, you will be beyond most companies who do print advertising with little understanding of how their ad performs. (Source: Small Biz Trends)

So to wrap up, use interesting concepts, go beyond just features, create tension, use people’s faces and track your print efforts to understand if your advertising is effective. By taking these extra steps, you can create more compelling advertising and make better marketing decisions. 

How Firearms Companies Can Outthink Their Competition With Inbound Marketing

By Firearms Marketing, Outdoor

For most emerging firearms and outdoor sports companies growing market share comes down to a matter of numbers.

You know your product is good because you’ve gone to great lengths to make it durable, reliable and functional (which is an absolute must in this industry).  You’ve received positive feedback from your customers, signed some solid purchase orders, your website, packaging and brand look great—but you just can’t seem to grow in the way or as fast as you’d like.

Smaller firearms, and outdoor sports manufacturers struggle to take their businesses to the next level because of the expensive barrier of entry to print advertising, T.V and trade shows.

Market industry leaders—or the goliaths—enjoy market dominance and the bulk of the market because of years of brand building. Their massive marketing budgets are hard to beat, making it seemingly impossible for the David’s or the emerging companies to compete against.

However, as some us well know—to bag the beast—you must outthink the beast.

If you haven’t noticed lately, magazine subscriptions are in decline (Source: Folio) and everything seems to be migrating online. Your customers are going to the internet first to research products. Look at some of these revealing statistics:

  • 61% of global Internet users research products online. (Source: Interconnected World: Shopping and Personal Finance)
  • 93% of online shoppers begin by using a search engine. (Source: Hubspot)
  • 90% of the purchase lifecycle is over before a customer decides to buy (Source: iMedia)
  • 65% of U.S. shoppers research products and services on a computer and make a purchase in-store (Source: Cisco)

… and these numbers are on the rise.

In this article, I give you 6 points about how you can “outthink” your competition in the firearms, shooting or outdoor sports business by looking at an online strategy first—versus investing more in trade show, TV or print.

1. What is inbound marketing?

Since 2006, inbound marketing has been an effective marketing method for doing business online. Sometimes called “digital” or “content marketing,” “inbound” is the opposite of “outbound marketing.” Where outbound is buying print ads, placing a TV spot and praying for customers; inbound marketing focuses on creating quality content that pulls people toward your company and product, where they naturally want to be. By aligning the content you publish with your customer’s interests and by solving their problems and answering their most burning questions about: “What AR-15 should I buy? What do I need in an optic? Or what kind of recoil pad is the best? — you naturally attract website visitors—or inbound traffic—that you can convert to customers and turn them into promoters of your brand. (Source: Hubspot)

An inbound approach also lends credibility and trust to your dealers by enabling them to reference great information off your website when their customers are asking for recommendations on what to buy or how your product works.

2. Why inbound marketing now?

Consumer behavior has shifted over the years. The days of “push” advertising and “salesy” tactics have lost their effectiveness. If you think about it, you yourself skip television commercials when watching your favorite show on the Sportsman Channel, ignore flashing online ads when surfing GunsandAmmo.com, hang up on cold callers, tune out radio ads that you have no interest in and throw the direct mail in the trash. Years of being bombarded with this “intrusive” form of advertising has changed the way consumers prefer to get information about the products they want to buy. Inbound turns outbound on its head. Instead of constantly pushing your message on your customers, you attract them to your website through your content.

Inbound marketing has been proven to generate 54% more leads than traditional paid marketing and saves you $20K on average a year over outbound marketing.

 

3. Content is the secret sauce

Content can be a blog, video, checklist, ebook, whitepaper or a download that attempts to solve your customer’s problems in a relevant way. Blogging is the best way to get started. Did you know that if you’re not creating content on a regular basis, Google will drop your search engine rankings?

For a good example of a blog, take a look at Beretta’s blog.

4. What am I going to write about?

Everyone is an expert in something. If writing isn’t your forte, you can always hire someone to help you out. There are hundreds of industry writers looking for work. Start by forming a list of questions that you hear most from your customers or dealers. Take that list and form it into a series of blog posts. In time, you’ll have more than enough to write about.

Most companies in this industry who blog—are blogging mostly for self-promotional purposes. Shooters, firearms, and outdoor enthusiasts don’t want to hear how great you are—they want to hear how you can help them. In the process, you’ll earn their respect, trust and ultimately their wallet.

5. Online marketing is not about Facebook and Instagram likes

There are plenty of manufacturers who have thousands of followers and likes on their Facebook/Instagram page. However, those likes don’t necessarily translate into website traffic and sales—especially now that less than 1% of your posts are ever seen by your followers. It is important to show “social proof” but Facebook likes alone does not mean you have an online marketing strategy. And with more and more anti-gun sentiment on social media, investing in Facebook is getting risky.


Today, there are only a few companies in the hunting, firearm and outdoor sports industry doing inbound marketing. From working in multiple industries and in the firearms/outdoor industry with a very well known brand—that the world, in general, is moving more and more online. The companies who start now will have a huge advantage down the road. By owning the online space in your category—be it knives, firearms, tactical rifles, safes, optics, suppressors, EDC etc.—you will gain significant advantage over your competitors.

 

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 Digital Marketing

What are Successful Firearm Digital Marketers Doing That You Aren’t?

By Firearms and Hunting

 

If you’ve ever launched a new website that didn’t attract visitors or sales, poured time and money into a search engine optimization plan that failed to improve your position in Google, or watched in vain as your social media posts fell flat, then you probably ask yourself a common question: what are my successful competitors doing that I am not?

In my experience, the answers tend to be surprisingly simple. Although a lot of business owners imagine it must come down to differences in budgets, we have learned that most successful firearm digital marketers simply share a few common traits and habits. If you’re seeing another company do better than you are, here are a few of the likely reasons why…

They know who their buyer personas are

While a lot of average marketers take a random approach to their messaging, the best know exactly who they are trying to reach and what kind of message they want to convey. If you aren’t sure what your best prospects look like, and where they hang out on the web, you’re going to have a hard time reaching them in a cost-effective way.

They have a distinct brand message

With so many me-too products, taglines, slogans and imagery in the firearm industry—successful digital marketers also have a firm understanding of what their brand purpose, positioning and value proposition is in their respective segments. They then beat key messaging into every piece of communication through text, imagery, tone, and style.

They invest in growth-driven web design

Unsuccessful business owners tend to see web design and digital marketing as a one-time cost. The best, on the other hand, devote a monthly or quarterly budget with the goal of improving and optimizing website performance over time. That’s important because consumer behavior, technology, and competitor tactics change roughly every six months. Conversely, it’s hard to do well when you take a “one-and-done” approach and try to accomplish everything at once.

They keep adding new blog posts and social content

Experienced marketers know that customer interest, search engine traffic, and a strong social following are all the byproduct of regular content updates and engagement. So, they work hard to release new content on a regular schedule. If you simply let your website and social profiles set without any new updates or additions, customers and search engines alike are going to perceive your business as having gone stale.

They check their web analytics regularly

The longer you spend in digital marketing, the more you learn that the devil – along with the opportunities – is always in the details. By paying attention to web analytics, you can see trends developing in real-time and remove bottlenecks from your website or sales funnel. But, if you aren’t keeping a close eye on the numbers—or you don’t even know what your numbers are—it’s difficult to make sense of the seemingly random results you get from your website from one week to the next.

They are getting experienced creative help

Web design and digital marketing are highly complex topics. Even if most business owners and executives could manage to stay on top of all that’s going on in our industry, they wouldn’t have time to execute most of their best plans and ideas. That’s why they turn to experienced creative teams that have a proven track record of success. Without a bit of outside help, they just wouldn’t have the time and focus needed to get everything done.

Digital marketing can be incredibly complicated, but it’s based on simple principles. If you aren’t getting the help you need, or the right kinds of results, now is the perfect time to call us and see how we can help in 2017!

 

firearms-growth-driven-design

Free Download:
Introduction to Growth-Driven Web Design

Is your website performing at its peak, or has it been sitting idle for 2-3 years? Was your last website redesign over-budget, out of scope and delivered late?

In this ebook, Luke Summerfield explains a different approach to website design that will help you save cost, launch faster and create a more effective sales and marketing tool that will grow leads, customers and sales online.

[easyembed field=”CTA”]

 


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.

Digital Firearm Marketing

3 Digital Firearm Marketing Trends Poised To Continue In 2017

By Firearms and Hunting

 

It’s not always easy to tell the future in the world of Internet marketing. New ideas, apps, and challenges can seem to spring up from nowhere in a heartbeat. However, there are some trends and ideas that are so clear and profound that you can’t help but notice them on the horizon. The rise of search engine optimization, pay-per-click advertising (firearms excluded), and social media (as examples) were all fairly easy to see coming for those of us working in the firearms and hunting industry.

And so, as we gear up for the end of an eventful year and head into SHOT Show, it’s worth taking a moment to look ahead and see which new ideas are likely to pick up steam in the coming year as you evaluate your marketing plan. If you want to get a jump on your competitors, and make your business as profitable as possible, here are three firearm digital marketing trends you should prepare for in 2017…

1. Mobile-First Web Design

In a relatively short amount of time, responsive web design became the accepted way to create new websites because it allowed companies to maintain one presence that would work for desktop, tablet, and mobile visitors all at the same time. Now, many businesses are thinking primarily of mobile web visits, since they make up a growing majority of all web traffic.

Responsive design still makes the most sense for the average firearm or hunting business. The big change, though, is the knowledge that mobile visitors are likely to make up the bulk of your visits within the next year or two. And now with Google adding a mobile-only index to mobile users, if you’re not responsive, then you’re basically non-existent. 

2. Local And Niche Search Marketing for Firearm Dealers

Not so long ago, engaging in search engine optimization or pay-per-click marketing meant competing against other businesses in your market or industry from around the world. But, customers have gotten savvier – looking for both local businesses and those that can meet very niche demands especially when looking for the best deals.

The net result is that marketers have to be much more focused about the kind of visits they attract online. Targeting large groups of buyers might sound appealing, but it’s no longer efficient.

3. Conversion Optimization

Because the effort and expense associated with attracting visits to the website has gone up, the pressure on marketers to convert visitors into buyers has become greater, too. And so, companies aren’t just worrying about their search engine positioning, but also the rate at which potential customers are completing purchases and requesting information.

If your website isn’t efficient, then you’re leaving money on the table. Or, you might not even be making money at all. For those reasons, conversion rate optimization (which is the art and science of turning web visitors into buyers) is going to keep getting a lot of attention.

There’s no guarantee these will be the only three trends you have to worry about next year, but you can bet being ready for them will put you in a much better position than most of the other companies in your segment. Isn’t that worth aiming for?

 

firearms-growth-driven-design

Free Download:
Introduction to Growth-Driven Web Design

Is your website performing at its peak, or has it been sitting idle for 2-3 years? Was your last website redesign over-budget, out of scope and delivered late?

In this ebook, Luke Summerfield explains a different approach to website design that will help you save cost, launch faster and create a more effective sales and marketing tool that will grow leads, customers and sales online.

[easyembed field=”CTA”]

 


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.

Influencer Marketing Firearms Hunting Industry

What I Discovered About Influencer Marketing in the Firearms & Hunting Industry

By Firearms and Hunting, Influencer Marketing

 

Buffalo Bill Influencer Marketing

Buffalo Bill for Savage Arms

Influencer marketing in the hunting, outdoor and firearms industry has been a tried and true method of connecting with hard to reach demographics since the days of Buffalo Bill.

Often referred to as Pro Staff or Ambassadors—top hunters like Jim Shockey, Brian “Pig Man” Quaca, or shooting professionals like Colion Noir and Julie Golob and hundreds of others—have been commissioned by the industry’s top brands to exert their influence over their vast number of social media followers.

Consumers trust recommendations from a third party more often than a brand itself. And it makes sense if you think about it in a more personal context. You don’t usually trust a person at a party who comes up to you and brags about him/herself and spouts fun facts about his/her personality to convince you to be a friend. But you often believe your mutual friend who vouches for that person. An influencer is a mutual friend connecting your brand with your target consumers. (Source: Kissmetrics)

In this post, I answer five questions about influencer marketing that will help you understand how to integrate this powerful tactic into your marketing strategy.

1. What is influencer marketing?

Influencer marketing is a type of marketing that uses category leaders or celebrities to communicate your brand’s message and content to their vast number of followers. Instead of buying print ads or filming commercials, you use the influencer to get the word out for you instead.

Influencer marketing typically involves content marketing and social media as the mechanisms to propel those messages. Whether they are producing the content themselves like Mia Anstine for Beretta or you are writing it for them and putting their name on it—influencer marketing almost always involves the tactics of content marketing with social media as its primary distribution channel. (Source: TapInfluence)

2. How do you find the right influencer?

Did you know that just 3% of people generate 90% of the impact online? Considering this alarming statistic, it should come as no surprise that leveraging the power of this select group of influencers serves as a highly valuable strategy for businesses looking to expand their reach. (Source: HubSpot)

In the hunting, outdoor and firearms world, the industry is full of shooting, firearm hunting experts, and proponents that blog and create videos. A few are popular celebrities like Luke Bryan or nationally syndicated radio host Dana Loesch. Below, I used Followerwonk and Buzzsumo to identify top Instagram accounts of industry advocates that have large audiences to get an idea of the numbers we’re talking about.

  1. Dana Loesch / 444K
  2. Ted Nugent / 374K
  3. Matt Staser / 132K
  4. Michael Waddel / 141K
  5. Eva Shockey / 76.2K
  6. Colion Noir / 229K
  7. Fred Mastison / 51.5K 
  8. Jim Shockey / 63K
  9. Greg Kinman / 53.5K 
  10. Mark Kenyon / 44K 
  11. Steven Renella / 32.7K 

But how do you go about finding and choosing the right influencer? Do you go for a big name like Matt Staser in the hunting category who has over 147K followers on Twitter—or someone less known but who has a very niche group of fans—otherwise known as “power-middle” influencers? Both have pros and cons and will ultimately depend on your product’s contextual fit and marketing budget. There is growing evidence that “power-middle” influencers (2.5K – 25K followers) are shown to have a 16x higher engagement.

To find your perfect influencer, you can start with good ole’ fashion research. Or you can pay for the latest and greatest influencer marketing software to help you find that perfect influencer as well as track ROI. Here are a few to check out:

You can also use sites like AlltopBuzzsumoFollowerwonk or Kred to start your search. While someone with hundreds of thousands of social media followers certainly could expose your brand to their followers, if they are not a snug contextual fit, their post or tweet would be moot as far as driving leads and customers. (Source: Kissmetrics)

true-influence-drive-action3. How to start with influencer marketing?

Influencer marketing starts with your ideal influencer image—and if your product fits within the context of what your influencer typically talks about and how they align with your buyer persona(s). You wouldn’t hire Justin Beiber who has over 88M followers to tweet out a picture of your Deer Scent Product next to a fallen Buck (although that may be kinda funny).

Create your ideal influencer based on age, gender, location, vertical, personality and average audience size. Next figure out, where can your brand’s content can be amplified. Do you need the visual component of Instagram or Pinterest or something more substantive and instant like Facebook or Twitter? Are you looking for social media followers, website traffic or both? Define your goals and begin your search.

According to Social Chorus, the best way to reach out to influencers is to start by getting their attention on social media through likes, retweets, mentions and shares. Then you’ll want to reach out via email. Keep your email simple, introduce your brand, why you’re interested and describe what you both can expect to gain through the relationship. You can negotiate your engagement by direct sponsorship, sponsoring their giveaways, content collaboration, shout outs or commission.

 

4. How to measure influencer marketing?
Below are three ways influencer marketing can be tracked during a campaign.

  1. Trackable links: Most software programs have their own conversion tracking technology that enables you to track how many online sales each influencer drove for you. However, trackable links can only be posted on platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and blogs. 
  2. Promo codes: Not only do promo codes help you track the impact of your campaign, but they also build urgency and an extra incentive for viewers to buy your product.
  3. Correlation: This entails correlating the time of posting with increases in sales or installs.
    (Source: Ready Pulse )

 

5. Brands doing it right.

As I looked across the industry, here are some examples of brands that base a large majority of their strategy on influencer marketing:

Hunting Outdoor Influencer Marketing

Photo by Yeti

 

Yeti
Yeti’s influencer marketing program is known as probably the best in the outdoor industry. “We do a lot of endorsements, from celebrity hunters to fishermen, and always try to engage them as ambassadors of the brand and then tell their stories in as many places as we can.”
—Corey Maynard VP of Marketing (Source: Adweek)  

Cabela’s
Cabela’s has about 20 “authenticity experts” who are asked to chime in on their areas of expertise (hunting, fishing, camping, etc.) to make sure their messaging truly matches the outdoor and hunting space. These are people who volunteer to participate because they are passionate about their own experiences, social media, and Cabela’s brand. (Source: Convince and Convert)

 

Mountain Ops
Mountain Ops uses several hunters/huntresses or “wilderness athletes” to inspire and help you get in “outdoor shape.” 

Hunting Influencer Marketing

Photo by Mountain Ops via Instagram

 

Glock
Glock may be the first in the industry to start using Facebook Live. This is a great example of mixing influencer marketing, content and live video.

 

Consumers have always valued opinions expressed directly to them. Marketers may spend millions of dollars on elaborately conceived advertising campaigns, yet often what makes up a consumer’s mind is not only simple but also free: a word-of-mouth recommendation from a trusted source. (Source: McKinsey)

So, is influencer marketing a right strategy for your brand? Here are a few statistics:

  • 78 percent of brands increased their content output in the last two years, but average content engagement decreased by 60 percent. Content marketing needs influencer marketing to succeed.
  • 92 percent of people trust recommendations from individuals (even if they don’t know them) over brands.
  • 74 percent of consumers use social media to make purchase decisions.
  • 81 percent of marketers who have used influencer marketing judged it to be effective.
  • 59 percent of marketers will increase influencer marketing budgets in 2016. Make sure you pick the right influencers for your brand. They’ll be in bigger demand.

(Source: Ion)

In the hunting, outdoor and firearms industry, I’d say there is overwhelming evidence that influencer marketing is a good way to move the needle. Combined with inbound or content marketing, influencer marketing could be the strategy you’re looking for.

What about you, what are your thoughts on influencer marketing? 

 

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. [easyembed field=”SITEGRADER”]
  • Search engine optimization –Does your website meet the minimum criteria to be considered optimized?[easyembed field=”SITEFIX”]

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.

 

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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.

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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.

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?

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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.

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

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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. 

firearm-inbound-outbound-marketing-tactics

How To Use Outbound Tactics To Accelerate Your Inbound Firearm Marketing Efforts

By Firearms and Hunting

If you’re one of those brands that work within the heavily saturated and competitive AR, optics, suppressors, hunting or concealed carry categories—an inbound marketing as a standalone strategy may not be enough for your brand to break through the clutter and stand out in a timely manner.

Inbound marketing takes time to build—but with the help of outbound marketing tactics—results can be accelerated. We all know that outbound ad spend is still a “needed” channel within the industry—but with the future belonging to those who are going digital, some brands getting to the game late will need to play a little catch-up as discussed in my last article about native advertising

In this post, I want to discuss how familiar outbound tactics like PPC (pay-per-click) can accelerate your inbound marketing efforts to bust through the clutter and supercharge your inbound marketing program.

1. Inbound marketing takes a long time

In the beginning, an inbound marketing program works like a slow moving train. When it leaves the station, it’s moving at a snails pace, but over time—as your efforts gain momentum— traffic, leads, and sales start to pick up speed that produces long lasting results. Typical inbound marketing campaigns can take up to 9-12 months to achieve their full potential, especially if you’re starting from scratch. This is partly due to the strategic nature involved in creating relevant and educational content about your products and the time it takes for Google to index and rank those helpful blog articles. When inbound is fully implemented—meaning you’ve built out your sales funnel, have at least 10-15 offers, 30-50 good optimized blog articles and lead capturing workflows—it puts your brand on the fast track to real marketing efficiency. But sometimes your marketing can’t wait that long—the VP of Marketing wants results now. This is where outbound comes in and acts like an accelerator.

inbound marketing content ad

Outbound/Inbound Marketing Ad Example

2. Use outbound tactics to accelerate your inbound marketing efforts

Unfortunately, for most hunting and firearm brands, Google, Instagram and Facebook PPC are not reliable (or available) options for marketers looking to purchase ad space due to these networks’ ban on firearm related products. Plus, some of these methods may cannibalize your dealers marketing efforts and relationships.

However, by advertising your content instead of your product as a way to attract prospects, drive website traffic, leads and subscribers—you can bypass some of these restrictions altogether. Or in other words, instead of being found organically through a keyword search or a Facebook post, you can advertise your content instead of “pushing” your product directly. See the ad by Amtech suppressors.

By placing paid or earned media, you can add a boost to your campaigns, test messages and get results faster.

 

3. Use the firearms marketing matrix to understand how inbound/outbound work together

A lot of times we get fixated and stuck on old strategies that are losing their effectiveness, and can’t see the full picture of what an integrated strategy of inbound and outbound looks like.

The below graphic titled the “Firearms/Hunting Marketing Matrix” gives a good visual on how to visualize the pieces on how your outbound and inbound fit together. 

Firearms Content Inbound Marketing-01

This visual was inspired by this matrix by First10 and Smart Insights.

Due to the experiential nature of the shooting, hunting, and firearms industry, a lot of attention and money is invested in the entertainment quadrant of the matrix. Print, social media, T.V. advertising, apps, etc., all provide the “emotional” component of your marketing strategy to gain awareness but lack the “rational” component for your buyer to make an informed decision and trust your offering. 

To break through people’s ad blockers and move your prospect(s) to the convert stage more efficiently, a “rational” inbound component is needed to educate your prospect(s). By having the right mix of inbound and outbound content, you are accelerating your marketing efforts that give you the cold hard data you need to make better “entertainment” marketing decisions. 

In conclusion, if you’re stuck in a highly competitive category and looking to turn on the benefits of an inbound marketing strategy but need to start showing results sooner rather than later, consider budgeting outbound ad spend that drives traffic to your blog posts and content offers to supercharge your results. 

 

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

In this comprehensive guide, you will learn the 6 essential steps to internet marketing success.

1. Optimizing Your Website
2. Creating Content
3. Implementing a Social Strategy
4. Converting Visitors into Leads
5. Nurturing Leads into Customers
6. Analyzing & Refining Data

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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.

 

 

firearms-guns-hunting-black-friday-email-marketing

4 Ideas for Your Hunting and Firearms Black Friday Campaign

By Firearms and Hunting

The biggest shopping weekend of the year is coming up and now is the time to begin preparing. 

U.S. Thanksgiving and Black Friday online sales last year totaled over $1.7 Billion in 2015. And with background checks setting new records in the firearm industry last year with 185K, you can bet that this year is going to be just as good or better. And a few industry resources of mine mentioned to me, although unverified—

  • “For the first time, more people shopped online than store purchases”
    (Black Friday 2015 –
    Dick’s Sporting Goods)

Assuming you’ve defined an offer on your website, whether it’s free shipping, a sales discount or you’ve arranged some kind of offer with your dealers, there is much you can do to boost this year’s Black Friday sales to get a piece of the action.

Below are four ideas to help you move the needle for your hunting, outdoor or firearms business—based on latest online retail statistics and what other savvy companies are doing to boost Black Friday sales.

1. Segment your email campaign
If you’re planning to send a blanket email to your subscriber list, you may want to take a step back and reevaluate. Sending blanket emails may work if you sell only one multi-use product, but if you have multiple buyer personas, who buy your product—you’ll need to segment those customers and tailor those messages to their preferences to make your email campaign more effective.

According to Mailchimp, segmented emails perform markedly better than non-segmented emails:

  • 14.1% more opens
  • 59.82% more clicks
  • 8.86% lower unsubscribes

“When we first started with digital marketing, we were one of those companies that would send a one-size-fits-all message to everyone,” says Matteo Recanatini, Beretta’s Digital & Ecommerce Manager. “We needed a more effective way to identify the different lifestyles and preferences of our customers and deliver content that actually mattered to them through different channels.” (Source: Hubspot

What if I haven’t been segmenting?
If you haven’t been segmenting your contacts through some kind of marketing automation software, and you have no idea who your subscribers are, then the next best thing is to get busy setting up individual landing pages per persona and offer an incentive or discount code so you can begin gathering this information. Create a form on your landing page that asks what their interests are and how they use your product for better understanding. After the initial blast, be ready to send a personalized email to those segments to increase engagement.  Once they fill out the form, direct them to a thank you page for them to claim their offer, whether it’s an ebook, whitepaper or even a coupon code. Your product may be one-size-fits-all, but your customers may have different interests. Figure out what those differences are and create personalized emails based on solving their problems or providing solutions while attaching a discounted sales price.

Don’t forget an attention-grabbing subject line.
Subject lines are critical—33 percent of subscribers decide whether or not to open your email based on the subject line alone. With email volumes increasing exponentially around the holidays, your subject line needs to work even harder to get potential shoppers to open your email and take action.

  • Stand out: Using emoji gun-emojican boost open rates.
  • Be festive: Beyond emoji, use words like “Holiday Sale” for promotions. Holiday-themed open rates tended to be higher.
  • Ask a question: “Ready to knock out your holiday shopping?” or “What will you do with your 50 percent off holiday coupon?”
  • Make it urgent: Emphasize pending deadlines like “Cyber Monday Sale ends today” or “Holiday door-busters till noon only.”

(Source: iMedia)

2. Send dealer locations
For hunting or firearms manufacturers who choose to downplay their online sales, you may want to help your dealers out by sending their offers to your subscriber list and then segment those dealers by location, so your subscribers know where to go to buy your products. Create some urgency around the sale and send them the address and store hours so they know where to go. This can also help you build stronger relationships with your most important buyers and show you care about them.

3. Put your deals on the home page
Americans plan to do almost half of their holiday shopping online this year, and one in five of those who own smartphones will use them to purchase holiday merchandise, the highest since NRF first asked in 2011. (Source: NRF)

If you have a website that is somewhat extensive, you may want to run your deals directly on your home page with a quick checkout option or link to your dealer locator. Make it simple and quick to take advantage of the shopping frenzy.

4. Get mobile now
For the first time, online traffic from mobile devices outpaced traditional PCs on Thanksgiving Day. As IBM predicted within one percent of accuracy, Thanksgiving Day reached a new mobile tipping point with smartphones and tablets accounting for 52.1 percent of all online traffic. Overall Thanksgiving online sales were up 14.3 percent compared to 2013. (Source: IBM)

If you haven’t gotten your website converted to a responsive platform—meaning that it renders well on tablet and mobile devices—you’ve limited your brand’s ability to take advantage of almost half of all internet traffic and potential online sales. (Source: Search Engine Land) The best hunting and firearm websites in the industry have converted over and so should you as soon as possible if you haven’t already.

Men say they always use mobile devices to check prices while shopping in stores versus just five percent of women. (Source: Kellogg Shopper Index)

Mobile will play a critical shopping role today, Saturday, and Sunday, with an estimated 60 million consumers planning to use their devices to shop, research purchases, or seek retailer information. (Source: InMobi)

If your site isn’t mobile, a quick fix is to redirect all web queries to a mobile-optimized page using the keywords of your deals during Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday and place your offers directly on that page.

Don’t forget to utilize your social media channels to amplify your sales and drive traffic.

So in conclusion, segment your emails to increase engagement, help your dealers out, put your deals on your home page for fast and easy checkout and make sure your site is mobile-ready to capture those in-store searches. 

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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, focus your marketing and branding effort and segment your email lists.

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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.