Digital Marketing (And CMO John White) Were Front and Center at BrandSource Convention

By Alan Wolf

AVB CMO John White briefing members on the coming 5G wave.

For independent retailers, the advent of e-commerce and social and streaming media are both a blessing and a curse. It’s all too easy for dealers’ businesses to get lost in the crowded digital backdrop, but for those who can master the right skillsets and tools – or leverage those provided by AVB Marketing – the Internet can be a cost-efficient way to project your store well beyond its physical boundaries and to grow your share of the marketplace.

To that end, the lion’s share of educational sessions and presentations at this year’s BrandSource Convention were laser-focused on digital marketing, which kept AVB’s Chief Marketing Officer John White front and center. Seemingly appearing at multiple places at once, White led a digital marketing panel of distinguished industry experts including Patrick Tam of Google and Mary Putnam, VP of Marketing & Brand at GE Appliances; presented an enlightening if somewhat frightening look at the impact that blindingly fast 5G mobile technology will have on almost every aspect of our businesses and lives; and provided attendees with a marketing platform update during an afternoon General Session.

Among the takeaways, White stressed that members’ e-commerce sites should offer as many payment options as possible, as consumers want choice and a wider selection will lead to a higher conversion rate. He also noted that “scratch and dent” is the No. 1 or 2 search term in appliance shopping and advised members not to “sit on inventory” but rather put their less-than-perfect pieces up online.

White was happy to report that AVB-supported websites are, at 846 milliseconds, the fastest-loading in the industry, which is critical as “Google favors fast-loading sites.” And speaking of Google, he said members can grow their online presence by adding all of their company’s pertinent information to Google Maps, now part of Google My Business, the tech company’s free online business profile.

White also warned members to be on guard against security breaches, as 50 percent of hacks target small businesses. The good news is that AVB’s websites are more secure than banks, he said, although members should remain vigilant nonetheless. Likewise, while the group’s sites are now 91 percent ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant, he warned of an increase in non-compliance lawsuits.

On the 5G front, the technology, which is potentially 50 times faster than mobile 4G, will allow retailers to change their websites on the fly for a specific customer, White said, and let salespeople conduct complete product demos for shoppers at home using virtual reality (VR) cameras and glasses. Customers will also be able to walk into a store and instantaneously access pricing information and in-stock status on virtually all of a dealer’s inventory, he noted.

During the digital marketing panel, in which the experts fielded a range of member questions, GE Appliances’ Putnam advised dealers to “create disruptive content” to get noticed online, and emphasized that “video content is king.”

Google’s Tam, a Strategic Partner Manager, pointed out that “The path to purchase is quite meandering” for today’s consumer, and that an ultimate furniture sale could begin with a search of design trends and extend to 100 searches before it leads the customer to your store. Tam said Google is presently working on “amazing” machine-learning technology that will streamline the shopping experience by dynamically generating ad copy.

Panelist and Pinterest authority Nathan Engels, creator of WeUseCoupons.com and WannaBite.com, suggested that dealers determine which social media platform to utilize based on the audience they’re trying to reach. Snapchat is the format of choice for a young audience, he said, while Pinterest and Instagram are generally accessed by the 35- to 40-year-old crowd and Facebook skews toward ages 50 and above.

Allison Chaney of Boot Camp Digital leads a two-hour class in Instagram.

Besides the panel, Engels and Instagram expert Allison Chaney, Chief Digital Training Officer at Boot Camp Digital, did double duty by conducting separate two-hour, deep-dive sessions on ways to leverage Pinterest and Instagram for maximum engagement.

In addition, AVB Marketing held a comprehensive series of educational workshops in e-commerce and digital marketing designed to further members’ digital reach, curate the customer’s purchase journey and capture qualified leads. Other interactive presentations covered such topics as ad types and metrics for assessing the success of a campaign; merchandising the online storefront; driving the consumer from online engagement to an offline purchase; and the future of digital in retail.

YSN is published by BrandSource parent company AVB Inc.