Here’s a bit of news that’s not really new: The way we shop has changed. You knew that, right? You probably also know that we’re six months into a global pandemic that has most people working from home, dining in and shopping almost entirely online. The growth of eCommerce is not news. Nor is the fact that more and more people are relying on eCommerce for all of their retail needs. What is news, however, is the fact that those brands that aren’t developing compelling, competitive digital assets will be left behind.
Prior to 2020, a lot of home improvement brands focused a lot of their marketing efforts on the physical retail experience and enjoying the benefits that come with it: optimized shelf presence, limited competition, branded packaging, in-store merchandising and POP, and skilled sales associates. While these things are certainly not going away, they are undoubtedly taking up a lot less space on the growth pie chart.
Online retail has long been a secondary channel for certain retail industries, and home improvement is one of these. Now, as shoppers are staying out of stores and doing more research and buying online, it’s critical for brands to look closely at how they appear online. Consider for a moment that all the benefits of the physical retail experience were non-existent. Shelf presence has been replaced by a search algorithm. Competition is global and growing. Packaging is a thumbnail. In-store merchandising has been replaced by social media ads. And reviews are the new sales associate.
In this new reality, what would you need to communicate your product’s quality and performance? How would you demonstrate its ease of use, size and distinctive features? How would you tell your brand story and communicate your expertise and commitment to customer service?
If you answered “bullet points” to any of the above questions, then you’re lucky but wrong. More likely, you’re among the many who have ordered something online, and upon arrival realized that it’s either a miniature or magnified version of what you anticipated. The correct answer to all the questions above is photography and video. Online shoppers have come to expect it, and brands must invest in it because the new eCommerce landscape demands compelling digital content and an immersive brand experience.
What is compelling digital content and immersive virtual brand experience? Digital assets and brand experiences can take a variety of different directions. The key is to determine what is most authentic to your brand personality, what is most effective for your product and what are the limitations of your online retailer.
Here are five easy ways to boost your online sales and brand recognition using video and photography:
1. Product Demonstrations
A good demo goes a long way, especially if you’re selling a product in the home improvement industry where there’s no guarantee that your consumer is familiar with the product or the larger category. Product demos should communicate what the product does, how easily it operates, and demonstrate its many features and benefits. Product demos have quickly become an essential for most online retailers, including Home Depot, Lowe’s, Walmart and Amazon. Product demos can help cut down on product returns, which is a piece of data very near and dear to your online merchant. REI has streamlined the online demo, taking technical gear and presenting it in a consistent, repeatable and effective way.
2. Product Reviews
Product reviews are best suited for a non-retail channel such as YouTube or Vimeo. Product reviews can be designed to compare your product to the competition. They can also take the form of solicited content from online influencers. Consider this video from popular online car enthusiast ChrisFix, in which he tests and proves the effectiveness of Lucas Deep Clean. This video received 1.5 million views and includes a link to buy the Lucas product at Amazon.com. For what it’s worth, Amazon’s home improvement presence is continuing to grow.
Also, YouTube is the second most popular search engine.
Here’s another type of product review. This video testimonial for Equinox Louvered Roofs is featured on their website and was filmed, in part, in our office.
3. Brand Vignettes
Brand Vignettes can be a great tool for online marketing as shoppers wade through the vastness of the competition and look for something relatable and familiar to grab hold of. Brand vignettes are meant to reveal the who and why behind your products. No matter how impersonal your product may be, it’s personal to the person buying it. They want to know that it’s worth their money and time, and that it’s not simply a soulless transaction. Here’s a great example from Andersen Windows.
4. Product Launch
If you have a new product or a new line of products, you know that you have to sell those products twice: once to the merchant and again to the consumer. A product launch video can help give you traction with both audiences. Likewise, if you sell to the trade, a product launch video can give your audience a powerful tool to persuade their audience. In 2019, Porchlight worked with hansgrohe to produce a series of launch videos for their new Joleena line.
5. Static Imagery
Last, but not least, professional photography should be considered as a price-of-entry cost for online marketing content. A picture is not only worth a thousand words, but it’s the most efficient way to communicate product quality, features and performance. Quality visuals will help with search rankings and cut down on costly returns. Working with a professional photographer is key as these pros can ensure that the product quality is accurately represented, that various products and settings appear consistent, and that you have the right file types for the channel you’re using. Porchlight recently worked with Eco Cork Foam to support its online sales at homedepot.com through photography.
Wherever you are in your online retail transition, we can help. Let’s start with a conversation about where you are and where you want to go.