Between the unprecedented coronavirus outbreak and election season, spa retailers are learning to ride the wave. “This pandemic has completely turned around the direction of economics,” says Randy Beard, owner of Varx Marketing, a video production company in Orange County, California. “You have to be nimble and change at a moment’s notice.”
Ben Poggemiller, co-owner of Urban Life Pools & Hot Tubs in Steinbach, Manitoba, Canada, and marketing consultant at Hungry Fox Marketing says offering creative shopping solutions may become necessary in the era of social distancing. “Given the current climate, a good product selection on your website is now especially important when people are not out shopping,” he says. “You want to have all your available models and stock on there. If they do ever come in, you’ve let them go through the buying process themselves.”
Poggemiller does his creative marketing with ActiveCampaign and says things like catalogs, video calls and private showings, could emerge as clever ways to show hot tubs to prospective customers in the age of social distancing.
“Email marketing is going to be a big piece of this from now on” he says, suggesting that retailers build their email list by offering a special resource on their website like a hot tub buying guide or consumer pricing guide as a free download. It’s easy to create a resource like this in Canva, a free graphic design tool, he says.
Facebook and Google ads have also been effective means of lead generation for Poggemiller, who offered $500 gift cards toward any new hot tub on the ads. “The ads run to a form they fill out and that’s where the follow-up starts,” he says. “We also include the offer on our business cards.” Poggemiller has tracked $100,000 in revenue from spending $5,000 on ads.
A screenshot of Urban Life Pools & Hot Tubs Facebook ads manager shows the reach of an ad to over 62,000 individuals. The result generated 160 leads thanks to the offer of a $500 gift card to customers. Bottom right: A screenshot of Urban Life Pools & Hot Tubs Google Ads shows how easy it is to track campaigns and revenues from specific ads. Photos: Urban Life Pools & Hot Tubs
Digital Marketing Reigns Supreme
For retailers looking at fast-paced marketing and multiple channels to reach their ideal audience, digital marketing is a fan favorite among top-tier marketers.
Kristan Hart, senior account manager at The Get Smart Group, a digital sales and marketing agency in Angels Camp, California, says with digital marketing, “it’s easy to update a flier or website in an hour if we need to,” versus more traditional styles of marketing.
And while Hart knows hip social media platforms like TikTok and Snapchat are trendy, hot tub retailers are better off spending marketing funds elsewhere.
“The people who use those aren’t in the ideal audience for pool and spa buyers,” she says.
There’s a larger audience on YouTube and Facebook, says Scott Reynolds, CEO of The Get Smart Group. On YouTube, which is video-based, retailers can easily upload content that speaks directly to consumer needs.
Visual storytelling allows the customer to connect emotionally to your business and products. “A picture is worth 1,000 words; a video is worth a million words,” Beard says. “Video is the most powerful [marketing] piece on the planet right now. “
Video can visually communicate with clients about what it takes to own a spa, how to clean it and more. It answers questions without stepping foot into the showroom or calling the store.
In 2020, video is a must-have for spa retailers. When a video is viewed in mobile newsfeeds, square videos are 78% more popular than landscape videos, according to The Get Smart Group. Bottom: Facebook is an easy way to market your company with both a business page and targeted ads. Consistent imagery on your Facebook page/ads helps create brand awareness. Update your Facebook cover image so it sends the same message as your ads. Photos: The Get Smart Group
“Eighty percent of the people who will purchase a retail spa will do a majority of the research online,” Beard says. “They’re going to want to know who the company is, what the product is, what the benefits are, and they’re going to want to see the testimonials. You’re going to have a digital presence. You’re going to have to have multiple channels for them to research you.”
Crystal Lengua, director of sales and marketing for SMP Metal Products, which manufactures cover lifts in Mississauga, Ontario, agrees. “We are seeing videos become ‘shoppable’ with embedded links, more companies are producing expert vlogs (video blogs) for training and education and videos are becoming increasingly searchable,” Lengua says.
Hart believes funding Google ads first is best because customers are closer to buying at that point. But if Google ads is a foreign concept or you’re a one-man show, pouring energy into Facebook is her preferred method.
Hart advises choosing one platform and putting all your energy there if you have a small budget. She recommends Facebook for lead capture and generation ads, but Reynolds says it all depends on the market and would sometimes recommend a more traditional approach.
“If you’ve only got $200 to $300 to spend in a month, I would say go print door hangers,” he says. “Work on some more on-the-ground marketing tactics. The flip side of online marketing is you’ve got to be able to capture the leads. You need somewhere to go and for them to learn about your business.”
Poggemiller says much of marketing comes down to experimenting with what works for your audience. In his opinion, tracking results on any platform used is key.
“Unless we have real numbers and feedback from our market, it doesn’t matter what we think about it,” he says. “To me, I’d rather know which one of those things produced the results. That way you can spend more money on that thing. Track results on what you’re doing and you can see what’s working.”
When dealing with a long period of unknown market response, Poggemiller believes that being intentional with marketing matters, always making it about the customer.
“Home shows and conventions and things like that are going to be out,” Poggemiller says. “If you’ve been relying on those things to make your year in terms of sales, I think it’s more important now to work [with customers] on an individual basis. It’s not about making a lot of sales very quickly, but it’s important to reach out on an individual basis and have very personal conversations with people. Don’t throw out blanket advertising.”
Lengua adds that bringing your team’s best efforts forward for brainstorming sessions is helpful, too. “Figure out what voids need to be filled: What your customers like, what they need, what your competitors can’t deliver during these times,” she says. “Those internal discussions will spark a course of action and create some enthusiasm and momentum within your team.”