Today’s merchants generate and use mountains of data each day. From point of sale systems to ecommerce databases, data underpins the success of modern merchants. Marketing data is also important for many builders’ merchants, as it offers an insight into the effectiveness of any investment in sales or marketing, allowing further optimisation of future marketing strategies.


Many smaller merchants might not have the budget for grand marketing campaigns, instead being happy to stick to tried and tested marketing strategies such as direct mail and adverts in local magazines. Digital marketing is unknown territory for plenty of merchants.

In this series of articles, we’ll take a look at digital marketing for merchants in depth. From websites to social media, and email marketing to ecommerce, we’ll examine the opportunities that digital marketing offers your business and explain how to put your knowledge into action.

Today we begin by asking why you should bother with digital marketing, and how you can start assembling your own marketing strategy.


Why digital marketing?


Digital marketing has the potential to achieve incredible results at a very low cost. Increasingly, consumers check business info online before visiting the store and making a purchase. Ecommerce continues to boom, and few of us are ever more than a couple of metres away from at least one internet-enabled device. Like it or not, our world is becoming increasingly digital, and businesses who ignore digital marketing are in danger of being left behind.


Your strategy


If you’ve decided you want to start off with digital marketing, you need to formulate a strategy. The foundation of your strategy should be the answer to the following question: what is your goal? Is it to drive ecommerce sales? Increase seasonal sales? Boost your business in the long term, or the short term? How about expanding to a second town or city?

Next, you need to decide how you’ll measure success and failure against your goal. Choose some metrics – social media followers, revenue, sales of a certain product or over a certain period, or some other measure. You can set a series of intermediate targets as well as an ‘end goal’ – but remember that your strategy should never be set in stone; it may need to change to reflect changing market conditions and technologies.


The other elements


Now you have the bare bones of your marketing strategy, you need to flesh it out with more information. Consider the following:

-          Your budget – not just money, but hours. How much time can a staff member spare each week? Will more staff be required?

-          Your timeline. Think about upcoming seasonal events and how you’d like to plan your marketing strategy around them.

-          Your target market. Hopefully you already have some data on your market. Segment it into groups such as tradesmen, DIY enthusiasts, one off purchasers and so on. Think about how you can target each group.

-          Your competition. What do their current digital marketing efforts resemble? Are they successful?

-          Your brand. We don’t just mean the visual elements of your brand, but also your values and unique selling point. What sets you apart from the competition? Why should people buy from you?

Once you’ve examined each of these elements, you should have a much clearer image of what an effective digital marketing strategy for your company will resemble.

We hope that this article will serve as a useful starting point. Still to come in this series are a look at websites, social media, and how you can use your EPoS software to send marketing emails.