In this blog I will post once a week on a specific internet marketing topic.
Blog Post: Big 5 Sporting Goods
In this weeks blog post I will be discussing Big 5 Sporting goods and how they can make their way into the 21st century of internet marketing and sporting goods sales. For years "Big 5" as I will call the company has long been known for its print media newspaper ads which can be seen in most all Sunday papers where a Big 5 store is nearby. In the past this method has proved quite successful for the company but with the new age of technology, the cost of print, and the lack of information conveyed through print advertising I believe that Big 5 must change its marketing strategy quickly and drastically if they want to survive in this very competitive market.
In order to reduce the agony, cost, and time associated with switching costs from such a long run marketing campaign I believe that Big 5 should begin with offering online only sales which will help to increase in store sales. This will minimize the amount of work required to sell each good, and as the campaign grows in strength and popularity the I.T. and marketing departments can grow as well.
Recently the company has expanded and greatly improved their website to the point where it is both usable and valuable to the company, which it previously was not. Previous to its properly functioning website the company was stuck in the 20th century which was quite sad due to the wide range of products and brands which the company offers. Before the website very few knew that Big 5 could order a vast array of products custom from any of their suppliers. To market this I believe that the company should offer 10% off in exchange for customer's emails, or buy email lists from nearby and similar stores whose customers would also be interested in Big 5 products. Also with the new website the company can add numerous new products which they could never find floorspace for in their traditionally small stores.
Blog Post: Sportsman's Warehouse Immediate Success
With the launch of the company's website in October of 2010 Sportsman's Warehouse launched the company, its brand, and sales into the 21st century and into competition with other major online retailers such as Dick's Sporting Goods, Cabela's, and Scheels. Since 2010 the company has expanded enormously including new stores each and every year including six new stores which will be built starting this spring and early summer.
In 2013 the company did a Black Friday campaign and sale like never before and it paid off with a huge spike not only in sales, but also in continued growth on after. With last years overwhelming sales the company has already reported that they are stockpiling ammunition (one of their fastest selling items) as well as other popular assorted items in anticipation for this years big sale. I believe that releasing information and hype through owned and earned media channels for the company's biggest day of the year so early is very smart and should provide for an amazing day and more of sales. The use of what is basically free promotion the company is taking minimal risks yet having already created a bit of buzz they are surely to reap the rewards.
There are numerous ways that Sportsman's Warehouse can promote their store and products but I believe their current strategies are best at targeting previous customers and retaining them rather than gaining new customers. I believe that buy purchasing the email lists of similar companies and growing their Dynamic Remarketing department using Sierra Trading Post as a model then they could grow their customer base quickly and by spending less on each customer per dollar of sales.
Sportsman's Warehouse does have a website on par or even better than those of competitors of the same size, and this will help them grow, as of now with the current size of the company I believe the company's largest problem is with the ever growing concern of out of stock items such as ammunition.
Blog Post: Dick's Sporting Goods Community Program
Dick's Sporting Goods has been using a strategy which for many years has proven successful, but up until recently the company really hasn't invested wholeheartedly into the campaign. Recently Dick's has greatly increased their budget for community programs, in which they sponsor teams, kids, clubs, and even the building of new sports arenas. Dick's supports and sponsors thousands of sports teams in areas near their stores. Not only will Dick's donate their time and money, but also equipment for youth who could otherwise not afford to play said sports. For those who can afford to purchase their own equipment banners, fliers, and coupons are used to attract customers into stores and these are seen as most Dick's Sporting Goods sponsored events.
By sponsoring events, teams, and whole leagues Dick's gains a free medium in which to promote their stores, and they are sure to sponsor communities in which they have stores to ensure a return on investment! These community programs are sure to increase Dick's awareness and better yet from a online marketing standpoint all of their teams, scheduling, rosters, leagues, and the like are managed from their current website! Virtually all of the coordinating is done online, and much of it is transparent, letting parents, players, and volunteers see important information quickly and be able to post pertinent information to others quickly. In a digital age this is a great way to build confidence in your brand and stay true to your mission in the eyes of the consumer.
Dick's also sponsors Community Marketing Managers which are available to help those looking to start new teams and leagues in areas where Dick's can be of service. Blue Sombrero is a company which provides the online services for leagues on the Dick's website, by using Blue Sombrero Dick's was able to avoid hiring new employees with experience in this field, however I do think that this can cause a rift between consumers recognizing the support and sponsorship they are receiving and cognitively linking this to Dick's Sporting Goods rather than Blue Sombrero. The Dick's Community Program website can be found at http://www.dickssportinggoods.com/shop/index.jsp?categoryId=20809696
Blog Post: Sierra Trading Post's Marketing Strategies
In today's blog I will be talking about some marketing techniques that are currently being used by Sierra Trading Post. Sierra Trading Post is a low cost retailer which sells primarily last years products and products they have been sold or commissioned to sell that are in low stock. As someone who would rather have quality outdoor gear rather than the newest model, I am an avid customer of theirs. One thing "The Post" as I call it does it to is use what is called Dynamic Remarketing.
Dynamic remarketing is when ads are automatically tailored to customers based on previous but usually recent search behavior. According to a review of the practice on Google Insights, "With Dynamic Remarketing, Sierra Trading Post’s conversions increased 5X compared to regular remarketing campaigns." I believe The Post has been so successful with dynamic remarketing and Google's Display Network because they choose to only show relevant ads, and stop when you have not visited their site or looked at their products for a long period of time (usually a few days, to a few weeks depending on time spent on the sight, or if products were placed in carts.)
As a low cost retailer Sierra Trading Post will make insane offers to those who sign up with their rewards program, these discounts are sent via email for the most part, and discounts are generally a minimum of 20% off but I have seen coupons for 35 and 40%! This type of promotion can be effective because often consumers will purchase more items when they are receiving a large discount. According to Google Insight their campaign has become a major success, boosting site traffic by 35%, and an 88% growth in The Post's brand-related searches! The most astounding metric which was calculated was the fact that the conversion rate of customers to purchasers was increased five fold by the use of these new internet marketing strategies! Yes, you read correctly Five Fold!!! :)
I would definitely recommend using dynamic remarketing to many companies out there, but it is important to know that unethical use of such software can backfire, and too much unwanted advertising may lead to poor brand reviews from consumers who may not have even used any of your products. If you would like to read more about dynamic remarketing and how it has been successful for Sierra Trading Post, more information can be found here by copying and pasting the link into your internet browser: http://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/case-studies/case-study-sierratradingpost.html.
Thank you for reading :)
Evaluative Blog Post: Cabela's vs. Scheels
As someone who loves all things outdoors I thought that a review of the online and social media presence of both Cabela's and Scheels. Now it is no surprise that the two companies are different in many respects, in the customers they serve and the products they sell, but it also comes as no surprise that in the greater Reno/Sparks area the two companies are each others greatest competitors.
As a part of the community I believe that Scheels does a much better part of becoming more a part of the community rather than a national chain. Scheels rallies around the University of Nevada, Reno and the Wolfpack community by stocking a whole section of the store with apparel and gear related to the school. Cabelas does not do anything of the sort, and to me this shows that Cabela's has lost or never gained a community role, rather it has stuck with its' national brands, non-area-specific social media, purchasing, and marketing strategies. In order to become part of the community Scheels has organized and sponsored numerous events which not only attract customers and consumers, but also help to grow their company image. In the month of March alone Scheels has a total of eight community events planned, these events range from Kids Klub: How to Make a Survival Bracelet events to a Home Decor seminar to the Shceels Running Club. The wide variety of events makes sure that those who wish to become involved have the opportunity to do so, and I believe this is a great branding activity for Scheels. All of these events can be found through their official website but their real promotion for these events comes through their facebook page which has over One Million likes!
Although Scheels has a much better online social media marketing plan as well as flawless execution, where they fall flat on their face is with their website. Cabela's has an amazing website set up and Scheels is sub-par in comparison with most any major click and mortar retailer. The current Scheels website is lacking in many areas, but the most prominent is their utter lack of online inventory. The website has a quarter of the merchandise which the store carries at best. This is a major problem, especially for someone like myself who likes to check the prices of similar items before heading off to the actual store to test the possible choices out in person. I believe that if Scheels were able to bring their website up to par with websites of similar companies like Cabela's, Sport's Authority, and Sportsman's Warehouse, then they would become a much greater threat and competitor to Cabela's, especially in the greater Reno/Sparks area.
Lets look at another area where companies can show their online prowess, Google reviews. Yes, I know that people usually write Google and Yelp reviews because of their in-store experiences, but as a retailer, it is important to monitor these reviews and have any reviews which are negative and can be proven untrue removed. Neither of the Reno/Sparks stores have a ton on reviews, Cabela's has 23 and Scheels 22 so no big difference there, instead, where the big difference lies is in the overall ratings in which Cabela's sports a decent 3.6, Scheels on the other hand sports a very respectable 4.5! Since Google is the most used search engine these reviews are important and since in advent of Google reviews Yelp is slowly becoming a thing of the past. This is bad news for Cabela's since in their over 150 yelp reviews their overall score is a 3.7 (not a huge improvement but every little bit helps), where this is really bad news for Cabela's, but good news for Scheels is that the Scheels overall Yelp rating is 4.0. To a consumer an overall score rating difference of 0.3 is not very high, but in the case of the Google reviews and a difference of almost 1 (0.9) this can be a major determining factor in where consumers will choose to shop and spend their hard earned dollars.
After my lengthy review of the online presence of these two major hunting, fishing, camping, and sporting-good retailer I don't think there is a clear cut winner, but because of their sub-par website I do not believe I can let this one go to Scheels with a clear conscience. Scheels is a great company with a more than solid online marketing plan, they get the community involved, and put their brand out there in a very positive light, yet they lose this online marketing review to Cabela's due to their lack of corporate support as shown with the lack of a highly functioning website. Cabela's on the other hand does not have quite the online marketing prowess of Scheels, however it does have one of the best websites complete with a wish list for saving those items you might want others to purchase for you ;), and Cabela's also has a larger market share making them automatically more well known to consumers. As you may have noticed as you read, I never included price as a factor as to why one would be better than the other, and that is because I have found through both research and experience that neither company has an overall edge in this category. Yes of course, a single particular item may be cheaper at one when compared to the other, but the lion's share of the same or similar type items will cost about the same.