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inbound marketing

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!

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.

 

4 Things Google Wants From Your Website In 2017

By Inbound Marketing, Web Design

Google is the most popular search engine on the planet with over 11 billion searches per month and controls over 67.5 percent of the U.S. search market (Source: DMR). Love ’em or hate ’em, Google dictates whether or not your web marketing efforts will be a success or a failure. 

If you’re a business owner or marketer thinking about how to get more out of your website—here are 3 (actually 4) things that Google wants that should be incorporated into your web marketing strategy.

1.Useful content
Google continues to make strides on ridding its Search Engine Results Pages, or SERPs of irrelevant content. 88% of consumers will search and consult on average 10.4 pieces of content before making a decision to buy. (Source: Google, Zero Moment of Truth). It’s no secret that creating content on a consistent basis is a sure-fire way to drive traffic to your website, and for good reason:

  • Companies that blog have 97% more inbound links
  • B2B marketers using blogs generate 67% more leads
  • Websites with blogs have 434% more indexed pages
  • Websites with blogs have 97% more indexed links

(Source: WPVirtuoso).

If you’re feeling a little behind, there is a reason to be concerned, because if you’re not blogging and creating useful content on a regular basis—your competitors (who are blogging)—are generating 54% more leads than you. If you’re not blogging, now may be the time to seriously consider it.

2. Clean design
The web has evolved over the years from cluttered jam-packed home pages to clean pages where less is more. Your website needs to get to the point quickly as you only have 2-3 seconds to get your point across. Eyequant states that websites looking to decrease bounce rates and increase longer visitor times should adhere to these three precepts:

  1. Make your most important information the most attention-grabbing
  2. De-clutter unnecessary elements on your page
  3. Simplify: give users one task, not dozens

By following these guidelines, you’ll be able to maximize your website’s performance for increased visitor lengths. 

TIP: To test your website’s most important information use CrazyEgg: https://www.crazyegg.com

3. Fast load times
The web is a fast, get-in, get-out kind of media. You essentially have 3 seconds to capture the attention of your viewer or they leave (bounce) without saying goodbye. Websites should focus on load times between 2-3 seconds on a broadband connection.

TIP: To test the speed of your website, check out website.grader.com

google ranks for mobile5 things that slow your website down:

  1. Large images
  2. Excess javascript code
  3. Flash and embedded videos
  4. Non-utilized or useless CSS code
  5. Embedded third-party plugins like Twitter and Facebook feeds

By optimizing the above factors, you can increase your website’s load times and potentially increase your ranking on Google.

4. Mobile-friendliness!
Google announced starting April 21st, 2015—your website’s mobile-friendliness will now be a ranking factor. (Source: SEMPOST) This means if your website is not responsive and mobile friendly, you will lose out on potential ranking factors. To find out if your website is mobile-friendly, simply go to your iPhone and search for your company. If your site is mobile-friendly, it will say it under the green URL “Mobile-friendly.” To read more about responsive, mobile-friendly design, check this article out. 

So to sum up, in order to play in Google’s arena, you need to create useful, content consistently, have a clean design, make sure your website loads quickly and is mobile friendly!

 


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.

How to use inbound marketing at SHOT Show

[INFOGRAPHIC] The Inbound Marketing Approach to SHOT Show

By Firearms and Hunting

 

With SHOT Show right around the corner, it’s do or die time for most firearms, ammunition, law enforcement, cutlery, outdoor apparel, optics, and related product manufacturers and service providers.

Buyers, dealers, distributors are all looking for the next big thing and to make profitable deals to stock their shelves and inventory for the coming year. The largest trade show of its kind in the world and the fifth largest trade show in Las Vegas, the SHOT Show features more than 1,600 exhibitors filling booth space covering 630,000 net square feet. The show, which is a trade-only event, attracts more than 62,000 industry professionals from all 50 states and 100 countries. (Source: NSSF)

With so much of your hard earned money going into SHOT (booth design, travel expenses, sponsorships, product and staff)—the question then becomes, is SHOT Show going to pay off? Have you done the work of attracting buyers and prospects before the show that delivers qualified leads? Or is your approach more based on booth babes, free t-shirts and a celebrity selfie station to drive traffic? Isn’t there a more strategic, effective and trackable way that will make the most important trade show of the year pay off?

In the infographic below, we help you think through how an inbound marketing approach to SHOT Show can increase your sales opportunities by 20%. (Source: Demand Gen) And that continues to build sales and that creates a foundation for an effective and powerful marketing strategy all year long.

SHOT Show preparation begins right after the show is over. By taking this approach, your 2018 SHOT Show will be more successful. 

inbound-marketing-increase-sales-shot-show-infographic

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Free Ebook: The Inbound Marketing Trade Show Planning Guide

In this planning guide, you will learn how to use inbound marketing to make your trade show more successful and profitable.

  • Picking the right tools
  • Defining clear, measurable goals
  • Tracking and measurement
  • What to do before, during and after the show
  • Tips and tricks to drive booth traffic
[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.

Shot Show Trade Show Marketing

Steal My SHOT Show Strategy

By Firearms and Hunting

 

SHOT Show 2019 is right around the corner. If you’ve done an adequate job of promoting your SHOT Show presence and built a booth that rivals the Taj Mahal (or not)—the next and sometimes most difficult step is how to organize all those booth visitors you are going to attract into qualified leads. After all, that’s why you’re at SHOT right?

Before you hand over that koozie, T-shirt or iPad—have you determined the right questions to ask that qualifies your booths’ visitors—with the goal of turning them into promoters, leads or customers?

Trade shows, for the most part, are huge lead generators. According to the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR), exhibitors identify lead generation at 80-85% as the reason that companies exhibit at trade shows. This is closely followed by branding and customer engagement.

If you’re a wholesaler, distributor or manufacturer in the hunting, outdoor or firearms industry, here are 6 points from my B2B strategy for SHOT Show that you can steal to make the most of your leads and build better relationships with buyers and dealers. 

 

1. Set Goals

It’s crazy how many companies go to SHOT without some sense of what they hope to accomplish. If it’s a certain number of handshakes, booth visits, clicks, leads, sales, contacts, P.O.s—whatever, set a goal and make a plan to achieve it. It will give you some sense of measurement of how successful your show was. 

Steal my strategy: Take your overall  SMART goals for the year and decide what a good show ROI looks like. Begin setting up meetings two-three weeks out via email and personal messaging via LinkedIn and then broadcast your attendance on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Make sure to use the shows hashtags: #shotshow or #shotshow2019 so your posts show up in the SHOT Show App.  Track engagement through a good analytics tool. 

 

2. Identify the difference between a prospect and a lead

With over 65,000 attendees and 1,600 exhibitors do you know what your ideal customer/buyer looks like? It’s amazing how many marketers and salespeople don’t understand what the difference is between a prospect and a lead—let alone how to qualify them. A whopping 68% of B2B organizations have not identified their sales funnel. (Source: MarketingSherpa)  When someone strolls up to your booth without an appointment, they most likely are in the awareness/information gathering stage. They found you online, heard about your product/service or saw what you offer as they were walking by. 

Make sure that you have a list of questions to initiate a conversation that helps you identify where they are in the buying process and how you can best help them. I want to emphasize the word HELP. How can you help their business? 70% of people make purchasing decisions to solve problems. 30% make decisions to gain something. (Source: Impact Communications) Focus on that aspect and not pitching your product/services first. In the back of your mind, you need to be always thinking about uncovering what their problem is and how your product or service helps. 

Here’re a few examples:

  1. What brings you to SHOT Show? (identifies their intent)
  2. How did you hear about us? (identifies understanding)
  3. What kind of business are you in? (identifies who the prospect is)
  4. What are you looking for in this type of_____?
    (identifies if they are serious or are just browsing)
  5. What are your goals/challenges for the show/or 2017?
  6. What are some things you’ve been working on lately?

For more questions, see this post: 16 Sales Qualification Questions to Identify Prospects Worth Pursuing

By taking the time to focus and talk about their business—not yours—you are saying “you are important to me” which builds trust with the prospect. This brings down the hard-sell barrier and allows for a more engaging conversation.

Steal my strategy: If you’ve been executing an inbound marketing strategy throughout the past year, meetings at SHOT Show may be just a formality at this point. The sales cycle is 95% complete, and a face-to-face meeting is just icing on the cake on what will be a long and successful business relationship. The meetings I have at SHOT, are with qualified leads I’ve nurtured over the past 5-6 months. 

 

trade-show-booth-strategy3. Take advantage of the “Lookie Lous”

While no definite industry statistics are available on this, likely only 10-20% of booth visitors are potentially qualified leads, if that many. So the question becomes how to sort out the best potential leads from the rest before initiating an expensive and time-consuming lead qualification process? (Source: Biznology)

If you’ve come to the realization that the person you’re talking to is not a qualified lead or what I like to call a “lookie lou,” (someone who is strictly there out of curiosity and who may just want to grab some schwag)—what can you do to make the most out of this touch point while not wasting valuable time? For example, you may pass him/her off to your booths’ official “lookie lou” ambassador. Someone who is solely responsible for handling unqualified leads that free up your front-line sales person. That person might ask them to tweet about your brand with your company’s #hashtag in exchange for a booth chachkie. Most people will be willing to do this in exchange for some schwag.

The more activity you can create over social media the better. You may want to add a label or sticker to your giveaways instructing them what to post. When you see the person’s post, thank them and follow them back to close the loop.

Steal my strategy: Don’t let any touch point go to waste. You never know who the person you are talking to may be; they may be an influencer with thousands of followers on Twitter, LinkedIn, Gun District or Instagram. Make sure to gather their info and connect on social media and remain in contact with them to build your network.  

 

4. Enter leads into your CRM and follow-up fast!

Whether you’re scanning badges or entering leads into a CRM—send them a follow-up email within 24 hours or less. Thank them for stopping by and mention what you talked about to jog their memory. Depending on your conversation, make sure you find them and connect with them via LinkedIn if possible. Most prospects will be impressed on how fast you followed up. If you’re getting hundreds of leads per day—it will become difficult to follow up the night after the show because you’ll be exhausted. This is were using a CRM can come in handy.

Steal my strategy: Create your follow up email in advance with MailChimp, Constant Contact or your marketing automation tool and then import their names and email addresses, a note on the nature of the conversation and next steps. Send and track for engagement within 24 hours. Make sure to let them know that you will follow up by phone next week to discuss your sales conversation further or appointment details.

 

5. Qualify prospects through an automated workflow

Depending on how many contacts you gather over the week of SHOT Show, you may not have had time to qualify every single person you talked to. Or you may have experienced some push-back. Using your contact list, begin to nurture your leads through a series of emails based around a workflow that addresses the specific problems that your product or service solves. Link to your company’s blog and downloadable offers to educate your leads. Get your emails sent within 5 days. 

Steal my strategy: Nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads. (The Annuitas Group) By educating your leads through automation, you speed up the sales process, save time, build trust, brand awareness and rapport. 

 

6. Standout through social media

Do you have a social media strategy? How are you going to use social media to draw and attract leads to your SHOT Show booth? A simple strategy starts first with automation. Using HubSpot’s social inbox, Hootsuite or Buffer, you can schedule all your promotional tweets and posts (Facebook and Instagram) in advance. Start with a schedule then create eye-catching graphics based on your promotions, product releases or giveaways. Make sure to include the hashtag #shotshow2107 and #shotshow along with your own specialty hashtag.  Then create a mobile-friendly designated landing page that specifically showcases your promotions and a meeting signup form. Make sure to use your hashtag in your printed materials like an ad or sponsorship. 

Steal my strategy: During SHOT Show 2016, I was amazed on how few brands utilized social media. This gives savvy companies an opportunity to stand out and attract leads. Schedule anywhere from 6-10 tweets, 3-5 Facebook and Instagram posts per day and perhaps one a day on LinkedIn (Personal and Company Page). 

So to sum up, identify the difference of what a prospect and lead look like, make the most of every touch point, follow up within 24 hours, utilize automated workflows to nurture leads along your sales funnel and get busy on social media. 

Have a great show! 

 

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inbound-marketing-hunting-outdoor-firearms-trade-show

Free Ebook: The Inbound Marketing Trade Show Planning Guide

In this planning guide, you will learn how to use inbound marketing to make your trade show more successful and profitable.

  • Picking the right tools
  • Defining clear, measurable goals
  • Tracking and measurement
  • What to do before, during and after the show
  • Tips and tricks to drive booth traffic
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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.

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.

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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.

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.

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.

 

firearm-native-advertising-marketing

Native Advertising And What It Means For Firearm Marketing

By Firearms and Hunting

According to the latest data from NSSF and Forbes, the number of gun manufacturers has surged by 25.8% since 2012. Standing out and getting the attention of your prospective customers has steadily gotten more difficult over the past four years, especially for companies just starting out.

As I discussed in my last article, 7 Ways to Deepen Your Firearms Digital Marketing Footprint—more and more content is being created in the hunting and firearms industry, and we are eventually reaching a state called “content shock,” —if we haven’t already. As we get closer to content shock, brands will need to create 10x better content than their competitors or risk losing out on cost-effective content marketing opportunities to build their audiences through SEO and social media channels.

Early adopters of content and inbound marketing have benefitted immensely. Just look at Beretta. Or how Stag Arms used their inbound marketing efforts to rank for the keyword “AR15,” which gets over 110,000 visits per month. Although many segments of the industry still exist to take advantage of content, others will become more saturated and harder to leverage. 

If you’ve found yourself in a highly competitive category (e.g. MSRs, Optics, Self-Defense or Hunting)—I want to discuss a new marketing tactic taking shape called “native advertising” and how this emerging trend can help you build your brand and tap into audiences more efficiently.

gunsandammo1. What is native advertising?

First, let’s unpack the word “native,” so it’s not so confusing. Native means to belong to. It means being a part of something as if it’s supposed to be there. So let’s say a gun company wanted to place a native ad on Guns&Ammo.com (G&A). G&A has over 115K followers on Twitter and 786K on Facebook and gets over 1,129,000 visits per month. (Source: Outdoor Sportsman Group

The gun company would first write in the style that G&A readers are accustomed to. They would make it look the same as well. Think fonts, colors, style, branding etc. So, in the end, you have an entertaining, helpful and relevant piece of content (video, blog or infographic) that looks like it came from G&A but is really from the gun manufacturer.

But wait, isn’t this sponsored content or what is called an advertorial? Not really, here’s why.

Almost half of consumers have no idea what native advertising is and of those consumers who do, 50% are skeptical. (Source: Wordstream) It also allows the gun company to tap into G&A’s audience with the goal of looking like a trusted piece of content from G&A rather than an untrusted advertorial or sponsored piece.

The key difference is that the native ad looks like it came from the publisher, not the advertiser. This breaks through peoples’ B.S. detectors and garners brand trust to a group of prospective customers the gun company otherwise would not have gotten access to.

2. Benefits of native advertising

Today’s businesses are seeing a shift in how consumers prefer to learn about brands. Click-through rates for banner ads were at 9 percent in 2000; today, they’re less than 1 percent. (Source: Forbes) Which is why content has become so effective. As a result, companies have turned to native advertising to promote their brands. So far, it’s proving more successful than traditional online advertising:

  • People view native ads 53 percent more frequently than traditional ads.
  • Native advertising can increase brand lift by as much as 82 percent.
  • Purchase intent is 53 percent higher when consumers click on native ads instead of traditional ads.
  • Native ads containing rich media can boost conversion by as much as 60 percent.
  • The native advertising industry will reach $4.6 billion in revenue by 2017.
  • 57% of publishers have a dedicated editorial team to create content readers will care about, leaving publishers in full control, not brands, which ultimately benefits readers.
  • People view native ads 53% more than banner ads.

3. Best practices for native advertising

According to Gemini, Yahoo’s native advertising platform—there are eight best practices marketers should be aware of when composing native ads. These are imperative, as the FCC is cracking down on native advertising because some can be seen as deceptive.

  1. Use people-based images
  2. Showcase your logo
  3. Add a “Sponsored” label to video ads
  4. Place the “$” symbol and a CTA on native mobile ads
  5. Trim native video ads to 15 seconds
  6. Add a brand mention
  7. Opt for auto-play, making sound an option
  8. Provide an option for “more”

And for an extra boost, try native video.

In a case study by Nielsen and Sharethrough, native video advertising outperformed pre-roll ads for five advertisers, regardless of the campaign’s category or marketing objective. For instance, the findings from the test campaign, whose primary marketing objective was to drive brand favorability, showed that:

  • Native ads generated 82% brand lift among users exposed to the ads.
  • Pre-roll units generated 2.1% brand lift among users exposed to the ads.

According to Chad Pollitt, in his ebook Native Advertising Manifesto, which I highly suggest you check out, says:

Sponsored content and native advertising does for B2B marketers what display advertising can do for B2C brands – drive ROI-producing traffic at scale. Cost per clicks or cost per thousand impressions are generally much less for native advertising.

David Ogilvy, the “father of advertising,” once said, “It has been found that the less an advertisement looks like an advertisement and the more it looks like an editorial, the more readers stop, look and read.”

This is precisely what native advertising and sponsored content does for top funnel content marketers. It’s ideal, too, because it’s exactly what these marketers want from their content – to be read.

Tradeshow, email, print, and video/television advertising continue to be the mainstay of how firearm and hunting manufacturers create demand in the marketplace. But with the influx of new companies and increased competition—native advertising will become a valuable option for savvier marketers in the coming years.

firearms-digital-marketing-footprint

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

By Firearms and Hunting

 

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

According to the latest Google algorithm, brands that:

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

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

firearms-digital-footprint

Digital Marketing Footprint

What is a digital footprint?

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

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

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

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

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

1. 10x content

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

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

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

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

2. Display advertising

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

firearm-banner-advertising

3. Social media

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

4. SEO

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

firearms-app5. Apps

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

6. Product reviews

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

7. Audience

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

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

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

Native-Advertising

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

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

hunting-outdoor-firearm-inbound-marketing

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

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

[easyembed field=”CTA”]
firearms-hunting-content-marketing

Where To Source Content For Your Inbound Marketing Program

By Firearms and Hunting

Because content is the lifeblood of all your content and inbound marketing efforts it will be important to figure out how and where you will source it. 

Studies shows business blogging and content creation leads to 55% more website visitors (Source: Hubspot). This one standalone fact is what makes creating content and writing blog posts so crucial when conducting content or inbound marketing. It’s nearly impossible to generate a steady flow of organic traffic and leads without content. By expanding your digital footprint with keyword rich blog posts, videos and downloadable offers, you create more ways for your prospective customers to find you.

In this post, if you’re a marketer or business owner starting an inbound marketing program in the hunting or firearms industry—I’ll give you five places to find ideas for your content (blogs, videos and offers).

1. FAQs

The first step after you’ve identified your buyer persona(s) is to create a list of all the questions your customers ask about your product. This should give you a good list of about 10-20 topics to start. Answer every question you can think of that’s been asked by your customers—then write those answers into 500-2000 word blog posts on your website.

2. Insource

Your company or network is full of experts who know a thing or two about your products and how it works in context. Interview them on topics your customers are most interested about. For some firearm or hunting companies, your sponsored shooting team or pro staff can provide valuable insight and information on current trends; what’s happening at the range or in the field where hunters and shooters tend to talk about the latest and hottest products.

3. Crowdsource

Crowdsourcing allows you to obtain (information or input into a particular task or project) by enlisting the services of a number of people, either paid or unpaid, typically via your social media channels, forums, or on your website directly. Start by asking your audience questions and allow them to answer it themselves. Then take their input and compose them into posts.

4. Outsource

When all else fails, you can outsource your content creation to an inbound marketing agency or hire writers from websites like Writer’s Access, BlogMutt and Content Writers. All have gun and hunting friendly writers available. Another great industry resource you may not have heard about is the Professional Outdoor Media Association. You can post project needs on their website that will enable you to get in contact with some of the industry’s best writers and photographers. 

 

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5. Repurpose

If you already have content, you can reuse it. Have your outsourced writers transcript your videos into blogs. Create videos from your blog posts. Take a collection of blog posts and create an ebook out of them. Use some of your content as product promotions. The great thing about content creation is you can always recycle it. Don’t let any of your past content go to waste.

firearms-hunting-sales-marketing-funnelBring it all together

Now that you have a good collection of content, begin thinking through how your content will pull your visitor through your sales funnel. The goal in inbound marketing is to provide relevant content that educates your prospect through the buying process and gives them the information they need to make an informed decision. Top of the funnel topics consist of how-to’s, and tips and tricks. Middle of the funnel content consists of in-depth whitepapers and product demos. Bottom of the funnel offers consist of pricing and case studies. Create these offers and send them to your leads via email using a program like MailChimp. 

Schedule your content into monthly chunks and campaigns to stay on track. Post to your social media accounts daily and send to your email subscribers on a consistent basis. Track effectiveness with Google analytics or with your marketing automation tool.

In conclusion, sourcing and writing content doesn’t have to be difficult. Taking the time to plan and schedule can help you create consistent and viable content for your inbound marketing program.

 

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hunting-outdoor-internet-guide

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

[easyembed field=”CTA”]
[/columns]

Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Inbound Marketing & Creative Strategy
Josh helps brands in the hunting, outdoor and firearms industry who are struggling to develop their brand; grow, stabilize or increase profits through their websites; increase revenue through online channels and enter the digital era of marketing.

 

 

firearm-hunting-content-marketing

Are You Losing Your Opportunity To Compete Digitally?

By Firearms and Hunting

There are hundreds or maybe even thousands of product review sites and online magazines that create content (video, blogs, articles, etc.) in one form or the other about hunting or firearms. From how-tos to the best tricks and tips—the SHOT industry has no shortage of content. A quick search on Google for any topic about firearms or hunting brings back millions of results.

With all of this content being created—manufacturers and business service providers looking to begin a content or inbound marketing program might be asking: “Why create content when all of these other publishers are creating it for us?” “Besides, how many times can you write about “How to Skin a Deer” or “What Are The Best Guns for Concealed Carry?” It seems like everyone in the industry has written on these topics at one time or another.

In this post, I want to give you three reasons why you should still consider creating your own branded content in a time of content overload.

In his post, The Big Flaw with “Content Shock” and the Way We See Content Marketing, Marcus Sheridan, President of the Sales Lion, a content marketing and sales consultancy says, you can boil content marketing down into 3 simple words:

  • Listening
  • Communicating
  • Teaching

 

1. Listening

Listening will always be critical in business. Content creation allows you to demonstrate that you are actively listening to your customers. The firearms and hunting industry is hyper-competitive and finding ways to stand out are getting slimmer as more and more noise is being created.

Your brand’s ability to demonstrate that you are listening to your customers is a new and evolving competitive factor you will need to incorporate into your marketing strategy. This also needs to be apparent in the content you create.

2. Communicating

Effective communication will always dramatically impact consumers. Branded content from the manufacturer itself—not content created by industry publishers—is a trend that we are starting to see more and more of as mentioned in my last post: 7 Need To Know Firearm Inbound Marketing Indicators.

Mossberg, for example, continues to create their own content at a fierce pace. Mossberg (a $10-50M company) is actively investing in Mossberg-branded content that is communicating value, insight and expertise that is sure to be attracting new customers and retaining old ones. 

mossberg trafic rank

Public information provided by Alexa

According to the public information traffic ranking service provided by Alexa, Mossberg’s traffic and social networks continue to grow at a rate of 37-47% respectfully (Source: Hubspot and Alexa). Mossberg will continue to grow their online footprint that expands their audience, reach and rank. This will leave little room for other shotgun manufacturers to obtain top keywords in the future. Mossberg ranks 5th for the search word “Shotgun” that receives over 49,500 searches per month. Imagine what 49,500 visits to your website a month could do for your business. (Source: Hubspot)

Additional benefits of creating your branded content:

  • Generates rich organic and return traffic to your website
  • Content lasts longer and can be repurposed
  • Builds your audience over time
  • Improves search engine rankings
  • Grows social media channels
  • Produces a qualified and robust email marketing list

Content also benefits your dealers, distributors and wholesalers. The more you can educate your target market on your products the more likely you will be able to increase sales, which leads me to the next point.

3. Teaching

Powerful teaching will always be the key to generating consumer trust and action. Even though much has been written on just about every topic in the industry—there is still ample opportunity to rise above the noise to carve out your brand’s voice. By teaching your customers about your manufacturing processes, materials, and extensive product testing, you help your customers understand why your prices may be higher, and that backs up your claims. This also provides some transparency along with relevant and helpful content that solves your customer’s most burning questions. You’ll be able to build deeper relationships and garner more trust, which we all know leads to more sales.

This approach bodes well for manufacturers looking to reach the new generation of hunters and shooters who rely more on their digital devices than the old methods of TV, trade show and print.

firearms-hunting-content-inbound-marketing

Content grows with time

There is a lot of content being written in the industry. But, there still is ample opportunities for brands to get in on the digital gold rush by starting now.

Thanks to Marcus Sheridan for providing a much needed perspective on industries facing content overload.

What do you think about this blog post and the points it raise? Please comment below.   

 

 

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hunting-outdoor-internet-guide

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

[easyembed field=”CTA”]
[/columns]

Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Inbound Marketing & Creative Strategy
Josh helps brands in the hunting, outdoor and firearms industry who are struggling to develop their brand; grow, stabilize or increase profits through their websites; increase revenue through online channels and enter the digital era of marketing.

 

 

firearm-inbound-marketing-indicators

7 Need To Know Firearm Inbound Marketing Indicators

By Firearms and Hunting

Inbound marketing in the hunting, firearms, and outdoor industry is starting to grow. More and more brands like Havalon, Beretta, Springfield, Mossberg and others are integrating inbound marketing (sometimes confused with content marketing) into their outbound marketing budgets (print, t.v. and tradeshow). Content marketing is defined as “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience—and ultimately, to drive profitable customer interaction.” (Source: CMI) Inbound marketing earns the attention of customers, makes the company easy to be found, and draws customers to your website by producing interesting content.

Buying firearms and hunting equipment is a long sales process due to cost, and the hundreds of choices buyers have to choose from. Inbound by nature is a highly effective methodology in educating your customers, dealers, distributors, and wholesalers about your products and brand that can speed up the buying process.

In this post, I share seven indicators I’ve seen that will determine the difference between a stellar inbound marketing program or a mediocre one. 

1. Low Saturation Index
A quick search on Google will reveal the amount of content you must contend with when starting an inbound marketing program of your own. Mark Schaefer calls this “content shock”—which means that there is so much content, that we simply don’t have the capacity to consume it all. When creating content, make sure that your brand has unique topics that you can bring to the table that will attract, convert, close and delight your customers. 

2. Product-Market Fit
Does your product or service provide value to your customer? The quicker your customer can understand the value, the more you know your product has achieved product-market fit. Without an understanding of who your customer is and the problem your product or service solves—it will be very difficult to focus your content that will generate traffic, links, shares and the sales you’re looking for. (Source: Entrepreneur

3. Audience
Great content marketers find their niche, and then write the heck out of the content that fits it. (Source: Outbrain) Does your brand own a niche in the industry that no one else serves? Can your content capitalize on creating a community of customers who are loyal to your brand that you can turn in to evangelists? We are fortunate in this industry to have many social media outlets and networks like AR15.com, Gun District, LinkedIn Groups and others that allow manufacturers to reach a captive audience of gun and hunting enthusiasts. Building a community of customers is also important that many top brands lack.

4. Web Domain
Did you just launch your website? The chances are that Google (the leading search engine with 89% of total web search traffic) may not index your domain for an entire year. I’ve seen first hand that when new websites are launched. Google keeps relevant blog posts and pages off the first page of results; keeping your site from gaining rankings. If this is the case, you may need to supplement your inbound marketing efforts with PPC and other outbound methods until your rankings improve.

5. Poor Competitor Content
Great content marketing starts with great content—and lots of it. (Source: Hubspot) A quick look at your competitors will reveal advantages or disadvantages that you can capitalize on or leverage. For example, if their content is poorly written, inconsistent, boring, self-promotional and doesn’t provide any real value—you have the opportunity to capture search engine rankings—which will benefit your efforts and customer preference when people are online looking for your kind of product.

6. Strong References
Another key component of inbound marketing is having strong references to draw from. Utilize others’ blogs and industry resources to back up your claims to ensure the information you are providing is accurate and relevant. This creates trust and credibility.

7. Price
The price of your products will also influence the success of your inbound marketing efforts. As noted above, inbound will work better when goods and services are above the $250 threshold. Products at this price point force consumers to examine products more carefully—opposite of an impulse buy. If you can’t determine what the buyers journey is from awareness to purchase, chances are you have a product that wouldn’t work well with inbound marketing.

By understanding how much content saturation is in your segment, your product/market fit, audience, web domain age, competitor weaknesses, availability of reliable references and a considered price point will help you create a more effective inbound marketing strategy.

 

shooting-firearms-CTA

Free Ebook: The Essential Step-by-Step Guide to Inbound Marketing for the 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

[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.