In recent years, online retail has become somewhat of a phenomenon. The necessity of promotional products such as stress balls and pens comes into question when consumers are so willing to buy goods sight unseen. Social media makes getting a brand noticed in virtual space easy. Should online retailers be concerned with tangible promotional products?
Giants like Amazon.com have had a huge impact on traditional brick-and-mortar stores. Corporate executives for traditional stores became surprised and scared. Some companies adapted, and other traditional stores closed. Today online retail is accepted as a common way to shop. Many people take advantage of the resources provided.
ReferralCandy is a referral marketing company. With the help of the US Census Bureau, they found that online retailers had a $27 billion increase in sales from 2011 to 2012. Over 100,000 online retailers had sales of at least $12,000 that year. The year 2012 saw holiday sales from all sources increase 3.5 percent over the previous year. In that same period, online sales increased 15.7 percent. More people are shopping online.
Traditional retail was declared dead by The Next Web and other media outlets. Methods of advertising, which had once been considered tried-and-true, were dying also. Not only does traditional sales and marketing no longer work as well, it does not make sense. Social media, when used properly, can approximate the buying experience of local, physical communities.
The Next Web points out there are certain advantages for online marketing over established marketing techniques. Statistics are readily available about social network followers and blog share posts. The information makes measuring success easy. Online retailers do not spend money on store fronts, and web marketers save on advertising. Print ads and flyers are not in the budget.
Online marketing is done through a different medium. The average person spends about 12 hours each month on social networks. That provides many advertising opportunities for companies. Even big companies such as General Motors can create free social media accounts.
Christopher Tompkins is CEO of a website, The Go!Agency, that was started in 2009. He is a big online marketing proponent. When asked about dropping promotional products, he indicated, that only providing potential customers with a piece of paper asking to be ‘Liked’ on Facebook, was not enough to make the transition smooth.
Others share his opinion. Smart Traffic is an SEO firm. The company’s digital marketing manager, Jonny Lis, believes that online advertising is important. Without the online presence, potential customers are missed and companies struggle to attain new business.
However, Lis does see the value of promotional products. Anything that draws the public eye to a brand is useful. It does not matter if the business is offline or online. Many online-only companies do not bother with promotional items. That gives online marketing businesses that do an advantage.
Vladimir Gendelman is an online retailer who is a believer in that advantage. He is Company Folder’s founder and CEO. The company prepares business-to-business and presentation materials. Not having a brick-and-mortar store was the reason he sent his clients promotional products. Online customers do not get an in-person presence. The items he sent included mugs, water bottles, and pens. He did it to build rapport with customers.
There is a proper way to use promotional products. Knowing customer preference is the place to start. Feedback from customers told Gendelman the water bottles he sent were slightly more appreciated than the customized coffee mugs. Everyone drinks water, but some people do not drink tea or coffee.
Pens are more effective than a t-shirt, unless the t-shirt is designed particularly well. Having a product printed with instructions to look up the company on the social media site and to give the web address is a smart idea. Tying the two aspects together gives more value to the brand.