Digital marketing panel reveals the secrets of bedding’s changing sales funnel – Furniture Today

Kurt Hawks, left, BridgeTower Media; Bob McCarthy, Resident; Seraj Barwani, AcuityAds; Alan Hirscchorn, GhostBed; and Chris Bradley, Bedinabox.com.

ORLANDO, Fla. — Digital marketing has fundamentally changed traditional advertising and sales paradigms, giving retailers and manufacturers unprecedented data on consumers’ shopping journey while also challenging them to become increasingly sophisticated in how they get access to that data and translate it into a final purchase.

That was one of the key messages shared by panelists at Furniture Today’s Bedding Conference panel, Connecting with Consumers Online. The panel, made up of experts in the direct-to-consumer space was moderated by Kurt Hawks, chief digital officer for BridgeTower Media, parent company of Furniture Today.

One of the other key messages, particularly as the number of DTC brands selling through retail grows, is that tracking consumer activity once they hit retail is both more challenging and more important. Panelists noted that attribution (determining the ROI on various media activity), a critical measure of success and future activity in the digital realm, becomes far more difficult once the consumer makes their first contact with a retail outlet. This is largely because at that point marketers’ access to data on the consumer journey must often come from a data share with partnering retailers, often a sensitive subject.

“There is a lot about the consumer journey that is transparent,” said Seraj Barwani, chief strategy officer at AcuityAds. “Once you bridge it to retail, you have to track as best you can. The majority of retailers don’t share data.”

Bob McCarthy, managing director, retail, at Resident, noted that having access to that type of data, commonly called closing the attribution loop, can significantly improve the effectiveness of digital marketing efforts. “As more data goes into the model, our model gets smarter,” he said. “When it becomes harder to track, it becomes harder to justify that spend.”

As sales and marketing in the digital and physical realms become increasingly intertwined, the importance of turning consumer interest into action becomes both more challenging and more important.  “You pay a lot of money to get that first click,” said Chris Bradley, executive vice president at Bedinabox.com. “What you do after that makes or breaks you.”

It’s also increasingly important, panelists noted, to seamlessly transition consumers between the physical and digital realms as they are likely to move frequently between one and the other. While in the early days of DTC marketing there was speculation that e-commerce would supplant retail, it’s become increasingly apparent that consumers often want to try before they buy, particularly when purchasing a mattress.

“At GhostBed our intent was always to go to retail,” said Alan Hirscchorn, executive vice president. “Half of what we do is drive traffic.” He noted that while at one time the consumer journey may have begun with that first store visit, today it’s often difficult to tell exactly where and when the consumer purchase journey officially begins.

What is clear is that at some point most consumers will enter a retail store, more often to test or confirm an intended purchase than to begin the learning process. This is particularly true as the industry has become less price driven in recent years.

“When price points go up, you’re definitely going to want to try the mattress,” said Barwani. “Where you buy is still up in the air.”

See also: State of the industry: Bedding producers look at second half

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