‘Just do as much as you can and see what sticks to the wall’. If that’s your online communication strategy, then this article is written for you! Here at Garden Connect, we work with many garden centres to help them improve their branding online. Here are 5 steps you can use to be sure your online brand is as professional as it is in store.
1. Who are you?
Every once in awhile I ask this question to garden centre owners. Why do you do what you do? Who are you? What are your unique selling points? Depending on the answer I play around with steps to be taken. If a garden centre is focusing on its local area and generating traffic for its garden centre by using the restaurant, a webshop may not be a good step forward. But a Google strategy to get found by local consumers looking for a place for lunch may work.
A proper answer to this question paves the path to a good online marketing strategy so it should be your starting point. We spend a lot of time defining ourselves as well. Garden Connect helps the garden industry to connect to consumers in the North West of Europe. That’s who we are, so we don’t provide ePos, we won’t work for Spanish garden centres, and we’re not doing any B2B marketing.
2. Optimise your website, the right way
So after figuring out who you are, it’s time to decide what you need to do online. As previously mentioned, doing everything isn’t a strategy. It’s about finding something that works. Garden centres who want to grow their market can consider opening a nationwide webshop. Are you a nursery focused on growing your speciality plants? Then a click & collect webshop for that part of your product range may help. Do you have your landscaping division? We could decide to use the website as a way to generate leads. It all depends on your situation, market and ambitions.
Apart from setting up a website – which isn’t that hard – maintaining the website can be costly and time-consuming. At Garden Connect we provide you with news items and gardening tips every week but if you decide to do it your own way you have to bear in mind that keeping a website up to date is way more costly than developing a website. And writing is not something everyone can do. There’s a reason that online marketing agencies, such as ourselves have in-house writers!
3. Be social, interact
A common mistake in social media is that brands use it to shout. And shouting is anything but communicating! So apart from posting on your Facebook timeline, answer questions, give comments and help your followers if they have issues or complaints. Social media is a valuable way of interaction with your customers, don’t underestimate this!
In my own hometown Zwanenburg (close to Amsterdam) we have a Facebook group with about 4,000 followers while only 7,500 people currently live there. Anyone can post in this group as long as it relates to the town, so people are posting pics from the past, events are announced and our local garden centre posts information about their workshops as well. Works great, everyone likes it. But when our dry cleaner moved into town and ignored complaints on their own Facebook page, people in this Facebook group started telling each other the company was rude and expensive. It closed down within 6 months.
This shows you how interaction with your customers is important, so make sure you spend time on it. That also means it’s better to focus on one social network and get it right and leave other networks aside. So focus on Facebook if your time is limited and do not open accounts on every network without paying attention to them.
4. Get on YouTube – today
YouTube is becoming the most powerful website in the world. To give you an idea: a video how to grow roses uploaded 2 months ago reached over 500,000 views. Every day almost 10,000 people – including your customers – are looking at this video. And that’s just 1 video out of the 2,000,000 videos about roses on YouTube.
As a garden centre, videos are very powerful. Back in 2015, we introduced Personal Marketing: a service to automate after sales contacts with loyalty card holders. At a few garden centres, we’re sending out an instructional video how to prune fruit trees. These videos are sent by e-mail to anyone who purchased fruit trees in the last couple of years. The response on these e-mails is very positive since it’s very hard to read an article how to prune these trees. The video is very easy; you can check it on your smartphone while pruning and it helps consumers to do these complicated tasks in an easy way.
Need some inspiration? Go to YouTube and check out what kind of gardening video’s you can find. Everyone with a smartphone can make a video, don’t be shy!
5. Check, tweak & repeat
Everything online can be checked. Are people responding to your Facebook posts? Is your online showroom attracting visitors? Do people ask for a quote online? Are your Google AdWords visitors coming from your local area? Whatever you want to know, Google Analytics and stats in Facebook & YouTube are your friends!
I’m not going to lie: all those figures are not my own hobby neither. But there are some key stats to keep in mind. On your website, the number of pages visited can be a good one to focus on. The longer people are staying on your website, the more interest they show in your business. It also means that your website content is valuable enough to spend time on. At YouTube, you can check how many people are opening your videos and if they keep watching it till the end.
These boring stats are valuable since it allows you to improve your efforts!
Still struggling to use the internet in a proper and effective way? You’re in good company, but we’re happy to help you. Just give us a ring on 0203-4755541 or mail firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have a coffee, I’m happy to pay you a visit!
Have a great week & enjoy the start of the spring.
0203 475 5541