Pop-up ads? That’s so 5 years ago. Time to get smart(phones): To market to today’s bride, jewelers need to catch her while she’s on the go.
In just the past few years, reaching brides and grooms via websites and ads displayed on desktop computers has become as dated as dial-up Internet access.
Jewelry companies and technology experts say that to connect with today’s wedding and engagement jewelry customers, you need to be in the palm of their hand. “Mobile and online are really getting to be the same and your marketing needs to reflect that,” says Ryan Blumenthal, president of Corinne Jewelers in Toms River, N.J.
The statistics are compelling: According to TheKnot.com, 90 percent of brides today have a smartphone and 63 percent use their mobile devices to research rings and other wedding details.
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“Over the past six months or so, we’ve seen an increase in mobile devices accessing email marketing,” says Shane O’Neill, vice president at Toledo, Ohio–based Fruchtman Marketing. “Sixty to 80 percent of people opening emails are coming from a mobile device. It highlights the importance of mobile and how the younger generation is using it for bridal research.”
When the iPhone came on the scene more than five years ago, it ushered in a class of tech-savvy and affluent, yet demanding, customers who were willing to spend freely—if only they could access information in the format they wanted and on their schedule.
Today, experts say the best way to deliver information to iPhones and iPads as well as to a plethora of devices running Google’s Android mobile operating system is via a “responsive” website.
A snapshot of Hearts On Fire’s colorful Instagram feed
Unlike mobile websites, which require entirely separate code from their desktop counterparts, responsive sites are smart enough to figure out what kind of device is being used and then adjust themselves accordingly.
“You’re building one website that can reach users on any device,” says Rick Johnson, president and CEO of Raleigh, N.C.–based tech company Kadro, which has built responsive websites for jewelers such as Wilmington, N.C.–based Reeds Jewelers. “It renders the content in a way that’s viewable and suitable for the size of the screen the user is using.”
Most arguments for going with a responsive site begin and end with efficiency. “The responsive site provided us with a single site to manage, using our primary domain that responds to the device,” says Mark Vieregg, owner and president of Boulder, Colo.–based Walters & Hogsett Fine Jewelers, which recently launched its new site with the help of Fruchtman Marketing. “Also, a single site provides a better level of search engine optimization because all traffic is directed to a single source, which is better for search,” he adds.
Blumenthal says Corinne Jewelers is debuting a new responsive website this year. “A responsive website seems to be the trend for the best way to go,” he says.
The evolution of online marketing
Even jewelers who have mastered SEO and Google AdWords might want to brush up on advertising to a mobile bridal customer on their phone or tablet. Potential customers using a mobile device to perform their research—unlike those who arrive at a store’s website from a desktop computer—can be tracked to a precise geographical location, which means retailers can wait until prospective buyers are in the area before pushing a targeted ad.
Paid search advertising on mobile devices using location-based geo-targeting has become “really important,” Blumenthal says. “We place a lot of emphasis on that because when we’re able to come up in the local area for someone who’s typing in engagement rings, that’s an active lead,” he explains.
Aside from location, mobile advertising is better equipped to respond to customers in real time. “We know a large percentage of mobile search traffic has a reaction within one hour of their search by either calling, visiting the site, or coming into the store,” Vieregg says. “Because of that, we can set our paid search to display mobile ads only during certain times of the day when the store is open and a little before and after.” Vieregg, who launched his digital bridal marketing campaign at the beginning of 2013, says his store has seen per-click costs drop by 20 to 30 percent for mobile paid search.
One drawback of mobile ads in general, says Christina Padis, director of marketing with Los Angeles–based designer Michael M., is a phenomenon dubbed “fat fingers”: when a person mistakenly clicks on an ad because they tapped their screen a fraction of an inch in the wrong direction.
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For this reason, Padis says she works a lot on Facebook for her mobile marketing. “On mobile, I found Facebook to be very useful because you know they’re not mistakenly clicking on the ad, and you have a very strong community of people and you’re able to target on everything,” she says.
“They’re more likely to click from a Facebook mobile link. They’re more likely to know what they’re doing when they have a clean interface,” Padis adds. “You can get highly, highly targeted on something as small as their interests.”
Image-based social networks’ growing clout
Experts say Facebook is still a valuable place for leads, but image-focused social networks like Pinterest and Instagram are gaining a following among women and young adults and show enormous promise.
“We have social icons everywhere,” says Christina Yee, e-marketing director at Boston-based Hearts On Fire. She says the company is testing a “share immediately” floating icon.
“One of the really good places for new acquisitions is the Pinterest website or mobile app,” says Matthew A. Perosi, an online marketing consultant for jewelry stores. “It’s the only social network that was designed for jewelry stores. It’s so wedding-centric.”
Hearts On Fire, for one, has taken notice. “We’re going to make Pinterest really prominent,” Yee says. “We’re getting really good traffic from Pinterest.”
Perosi says that to properly target wedding shoppers on Pinterest, retailers should create pinboards with images of their rings and other jewelry. And since people searching for additional wedding-related pictures also are likely to be in the market for rings, Perosi suggests creating pinboards on other wedding-related topics like dresses, florals, or table settings. “They have to do some cross-industry promotion just to be able to sneak their rings into the mix,” he says.
O’Neill says photo-sharing app Instagram, which was purchased by Facebook in 2012, is another hotbed of potential leads. “Instagram is a picture-based platform that allows you to connect to Facebook—it’s a great way to target the bridal market,” he says, adding that the majority of Instagram users are between the ages of 18 and 28.
“We look at Instagram as our bridal social channel,” O’Neill says, explaining that the app is perfectly designed to help a successful retailer’s exposure snowball. “They comment, like, share, et cetera, and all that helps build traffic to your website again.”
Yee says Hearts On Fire also has plans to build the brand on Instagram. “We’re going to put together a page that picks up on the feed from Instagram so when they use the hashtag #heartsonfire, it will pull into our site,” she says.
Beyond the obvious benefits
Mobile devices have some other features that a jewelry company can take advantage of to catch today’s increasingly on-the-move bridal customer.
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“What’s really important is your primary navigation and your contact info, things that make it easy for them to contact you via click to call or Google Maps,” O’Neill says. “Paid search can identify when someone is on a mobile device and that ad can show a call button, where they can click the ad and call the store as opposed to visiting your website.”
At Hearts On Fire, Yee says the site has a geo-detector that prompts users to ask if they would like to share their location.
“As of the beginning of September, Google has a new underlying technology designed to help you use voice commands,” Perosi says. “There’s a lot of stuff that gets pulled in there.” Retailers with a Google+ Local (the new name for Google Places) presence are at an advantage for showing up in voice-directed search results, he says.
Another function unique to mobile devices that jewelers can leverage is pinch-to-zoom, which lets users see an item in great detail. “Having the pinch-to-zoom on each individual ring allows the customer to have an experience with the ring even if the retailer doesn’t have it in stock,” Padis says. “It’s ideal for somebody who can’t carry all the rings.”