I started working with Optimum Health in 2008. One of my main objective was to start building our customer and lead e-mail lists. I literally started with 50 e-mails. We have grown our e-mail lead list to 20,000 plus as of October 15, 2015. We have used in store point of sale initiatives along side online marketing CTA placements. I’m very pleased with the results. Our combined monthly e-mail distribution with Kolya Naturals, our natural skincare section, is 40,000+. We will be launching our e-commerce web store in late 2015 or early 2016. We have a solid list of leads in which to market our house brand and third-party lines of nutritional supplements and natural skincare to when we launch.
1st & 3rd Tuesday Sale Days:
It quickly became apparent to me when I joined Optimum Health that the staff were highly dedicated, many were educated in natural medicine and that many had been with the company for 5 plus years. In my minds eye, due to being a prior sales rep in this industry, it was clear to me that Optimum’s competitive advantage was their staff. So, with that in mind, I went about creating one “sale day” each month that if marketing well, would bring new customers into the store. The objective was to get them into the store, meet the staff and learn that we were “not like other health food stores” and would become long-term customers. It worked! In fact, so much so that we added a second “sale day” in each month. We currently run these two sale days each month with great success. Year over year sales for those two days increase double digit percentages. Note: When I was in business school we were taught about the “4P’s” of marketing. The “5th P”, people, wasn’t in the mix at the time. I have learned that a companies people are truly their greatest assets. Treat them with respect and allow them to participate at all levels, and truly remarkable things will happen.
When I started with Optimum Health, I utilized “traditional” types of advertising like newspaper and the Yellow Pages. It didn’t take me very long to learn that these type of marketing efforts were expensive and relatively non-measurable. I started to research online initiatives and came across an online marketing platform called Hubspot. I did a lot of research on this platform and read through their website, which is chalk full of extremely useful and free information. One common theme that made a lot of sense to me was having a blog. A blog would allow us to post information that we felt would help our customers and it would help with SEO initiatives. We regularly publish content on our blog and marketing directly to our customers and leads. Many of our posts rank in Google’s top 10 organically.
In addition to having an informative blog that allows us to capture leads via CTA’s, landing pages and e-book downloads, we have an information based website. The website allows us to promote in-store product specials, locations and other important business information. At the time of this writing, we are set to launch our e-commerce web-store that will allow people to purchase online. Our main objective will be to market and sell our in-house brand. We will also offer national top-selling 3rd party products.
Typically I am not a marketing person that relies too much on mass types of marketing such as television, radio and newspaper. In today’s world, consumers are bombarded with messages and most of the messaging gets lost. In fact, many are looking at ways to block these messages such as being able to DVR television, or use ad-blockers on their PC’s. This type of advertising is sometimes referred to as “intrusive marketing”. I believe the most effective ways to convey your brand messaging is to target leads in ways that encourage them to contact us, or get involved in our marketing platforms and becoming brand ambassadors. That said, we were able to negotiate running a brand building television commercial during the Dr. Oz show and during the news on CTV Television in Edmonton and the Northern Alberta region. Being that our customers and potential customers tend to watch this show, we feel that this placement was logical and less intrusive. The commercial has been running for 3 months now and will into 2016. One disadvantage of mass types of adverting is that it tends to be hard to measure effectiveness, however, since the commercial has been running, our year over year Tuesday Sale Day sales have increased significantly. My hunch is that the commercial, combined with our inbound efforts is working.
We have two structured 6 week campaigns each year. One in the summer and one during the Christmas season. I started these campaigns shortly after we opened our natural apothecary. In the apothecary you can purchase essential oils, bulk herbs, everyday natural household items and other small consumer goods. I observed that the Christmas season was busy for us, so it seemed like a logical place to start. The campaign are structured around a weekly series of themed blog posts that are marketed directly to our customers via e-mail, online platforms and in-store initiatives. All online pieces have a CTA to a “Holiday Gift Guide”, which features the items on sale as well as useful holiday recipes and other useful information. We capture lead information and market to them after the campaign has concluded. Our opt-out rate and spam notification is low. Our median open rate for e-mails is 30% and our median click through rate is 12%.
In addition to our winter campaign, we run a 6 week summer one as well. Our demographic of shoppers are primarily woman, ages 25 – 55, with high disposable income and have a keen interest in healthy living. Our marketing plan includes publishing weekly blog posts on subjects that our customers relate to and engage with. The blogs are posted on our company health blog and then we use our social tools like Facebook and Twitter to direct leads back to the blog to view and then download an e-book that we produce specifically for the campaign. The e-book is accessible after they provide their name and e-mail address. Which we use, with their permission, to promote our business at a later time. The e-book includes recipes and other health information that helps them in their purchasing decision. In store we merchandise the sale items that were included in the e-book both on the shelves within the stores and on end-caps. The floor staff are provided with hard copies of the e-book and additional information that helps them sell the items.
Facebook – We have learned that Facebook is an effective visual tool for building brand awareness and capturing leads. A new program that we have introduced and will be a paid vendor advertising option in 2016 is called #WinWithOptimum. The advertisement is brand building in nature and is fairly simple to execute. The advertisement highlights products that we sell, and encourages the viewer to “Like”, “Comment” or “Share” our post in order to “enter to win”. Being that Facebook is now a “pay to play” platform, organic posts are more likely to reach their friends by commenting, etc. In addition to attempting to get maximum organic reach, we are targeting our customer e-mail lists and using other Facebook offered targeting marketing options including Lookalike Audiences, which are potential customers that have very similar buying habits and interested as our current customers. These targeting options and are paid for by the vendor participating. On average, #WinWithOptimum advertisements reach 20,000 targeted health food shoppers in the Edmonton & surrounding area and run for 5 days. After the promotion concludes, 3 winners are chosen and receive the items advertised.
Other Social Tools That We Use:
Paid Online Advertising:
Google Ads – Our primary objective is to utilize tools like our company blog to generate online traffic and educate our customers and viewers. Over time, our blog has become very popular and is a resource for many to become more educated about our industry and our business. One additional and very important note about having a company blog is that it is an asset that is owned, operates 365 days a year and has low operational costs. With new technologies like Facebook, it can be easy for a company to neglect their blog and opt to focus all of their efforts with that one medium. I believe this is a mistake, tools come and go, who know what the “next big thing” will be? Having a well managed blog will always remain constant, and if executed correctly, will prove to be a very valuable asset. That said, we support our inbound marketing efforts with strategically placed regional Google AdWords. At this time, our AdWords direct to our store locations and provide basic contact and location information. We have built out and will be using Google Shopping ads also to drive online e-commerce business which will commence in late 2015 or early 2016.
YouTube – We regularly post informative industry videos on our YouTube channel. Recently we had a television commercial produced. We posted the commercial on our YouTube channel and promoted it via our social platforms Facebook and Twitter. In addition to doing this, we are running and testing Google Customer Match YouTube advertising. Google recently offered this targeting option and I believe it will prove to be extremely beneficial for us to strategically market our business via YouTube. Businesses are now able to upload their customer e-mail databases and Google matches their profiles to their YouTube viewing. Our first test with this is having our Television commercial match to our customers on YouTube. Google offers a tremendous about of analytic tools for determining effectiveness. We have been running this advertising for approximately two weeks now and so far the results have been very positive. If we determine this medium helps build our brand awareness, I will be offering this advertising option to our vendors as a paid option. We will run product ads and then direct viewers back to our e-commerce store to purchase.
Staff Culture & In-store Merchandising:
You can have the best marketing program in place, and create the illusion & buzz that you have something special and encourage people to shop with you fairly predicable. However, if when arriving at your business or when communicating with a company representative via other means like the telephone or e-mail, it is imperative that the experience is equally rewarding when they make that contact. At Optimum Health, our staff and company culture is supported and nurtured. We provide interesting staff training on products and encourage them to get involved with promotions. This includes tasks like merchandising or writing articles for our blog. We do not operate by using “top down” management tactics. All of our staff have an equal voice, and can contact anyone in the business including the management team directly. In order to provide the best shopping experience, the sales team needs to be actively participating in the macro process. If they are happy to come to work, they will go that extra mile to provide superior customer service and marketing and sales objectives come to fruition much easier. Our mandate is to provide superior customer service in our segment and an aesthetically pleasing shopping experience. Our store purchasers hand select our product mix by only listing items that are safe, well researched and would be of benefit to our customers. Our stores are merchandised in a logical manner and utilize end-cap displays and point of purchase tools to encourage purchase.