Digitally speaking

Karen Clough, marketing director at Conservatory Outlet, explains why digital marketing continues to be a powerful business tool for its network of retailers.

We like to do things differently at Conservatory Outlet. It’s one of the reasons we have successfully built up a 27-strong network of home improvement specialists from across the UK, with more set to join over the next 12 months.

The pandemic has brought with it a lot of unprecedented challenges, but it has also underlined how important digital marketing is when it comes to generating leads – especially with showrooms being closed for months on end.

We found ourselves in a unique position where consumers were channelling their disposable incomes into their properties as they couldn’t go on holiday, yet a lot of our clients were contending with different Covid restrictions.

There was no question the approach we were going to take; it’s in our nature to try to maximise new opportunities so we embarked on a very strong marketing campaign, with a unique slant for each of our retailers that really encapsulated their individual brand values.

Tapping into our partnership with marketing experts DigitalKOG, we generated over 46,500 enquiries in 2021, a 7% rise on 2020 and a massive 150% increase on 2019.

Website hits also registered 1.8million across the Network for the first time in our history, 73,035 potential sales calls were received, and showroom visits were also significantly up. The latter proving that human interaction was still as important as ever to the consumer.

Our campaigns combined seasonal offers with specific advantages unique to our clients, such as new products, showrooms, finance and real-life consumer case studies.

Social media has been a particular area for growth for us, and a channel we’ve really experimented with over the past few months to drive leads. We’ve grown our Network presence on Instagram and tested different Facebook approaches, including lifestyle animations and real-life video case studies.

We firmly believe that leads are best generated directly and exclusively for our individual customers, as opposed to being passed on from a central source. It’s all about building strong brands that make an impact in their own right.

Several of our clients are also using our dedicated telemarketing service to convert their leads to appointments, closing the loop between enquiries and real sales opportunities.

The past two years have taught people that their homes are more important than ever, and for that reason they’re willing to spend on improving them.

We believe this trend will continue. Although the industry has been hit with multiple significant price increases and extended lead times, people are still very willing to purchase… it’s all about buying from the right company, so trust and service are more important than ever.

Further investment

You can’t stand still in our sector, so we are looking to build on the recent upturn in enquiries by pressing the button on a £100,000 digital marketing drive.

The majority of this will be focused on developing the latest lead generation focused websites that will be tailored to all 27 of our network retailers – exclusively showcasing our conservatories, extensions, doors, windows, and orangeries.

These sites will feature enhanced product collections, improved navigation to support the customer journey and a clearer insight into the company values of our clients, including what makes them different, quality standards, manufacturing processes and helpful guides.

Each website will also have a dedicated ‘careers’ section that will help the sector overcome the significant recruitment issues it is facing.

When digital marketing accounts for nearly a third of our £28m annual sales, you must take it seriously and continue to invest in it. The proof is in the return on investment, which is there for everyone to see.