Hardware retailer cooperative True Value is shifting its marketing focus and dollars to digital.
Within the next year, True Value is moving its marketing budget to be 100% digital, from just 30% to 40% currently, says Dave Elliot, senior vice president of marketing for True Value Co.
“A co-op can be challenging for marketing,” Elliott says. For example, some of the stores don’t even sell under the “True Value” name and some stores have more of a business-to-business focus. The cooperative is a group of retail stores that collectively own its wholesale distributor, True Value Co.
In the past, True Value focused on national TV campaigns, however, the retailer realized these ads may be shown to a consumer who is 200 miles away from the nearest True Value store.
Going forward, True Value will use web-connected smart TVs to advertise so it knows where consumers are located, as over the top televisions allows targeting at the household level. The retailer also plans to advertise via paid search, display and on social media, such as on platforms Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, Elliott says.
Social media is a key part of True Value’s marketing strategy, and it makes up roughly 15% to 20% of its marketing budget. Shoppers who have viewed True Value’s social media content convert in-store at a 30% higher rate than consumers who haven’t viewed the retailer’s social media ads, Elliott says. The retailer uses analytics company Neustar Inc. to determine sales lift from digital media including social media.
“Social media is such an important part of brand communication,” Elliott says.
Previously, True Value’s social media strategy wasn’t that robust, Elliott says. Now, True Value has three employees dedicated to creating social media content and one person dedicated to maintaining the social media communities, he says.
The retailer decided to focus on creating relevant, local content for its social media and display ad content. For example, the retailer has formulas in place tracking the weather in different cities. If it is raining, True Value will surface an ad to people in the area that reads, “Have you seen the weather forecast?” and if the consumer clicks on the ad, she will be taken to search results page with rain-related products, such as umbrellas.
The retailer also encourages consumers to interact with its social media posts, such as asking shoppers to upload a picture of their organized garage tools for a chance to win a gift card, or seeking feedback about a garden.
In May, True Value hired social media marketing platform Socialbakers to help it measure the effectiveness of their social media campaigns and compare them to its hardware competitors, such as Lowe’s Cos. Inc., No. 25 in the Internet Retailer 2017 Top 500, The Home Depot Inc. (No. 8) and Ace Hardware.
As of the end of September, True Value had the smallest number of Facebook fans out of the 8.5 million total fans for the four retailers. True Value has roughly 3.5% of the fans at 303,774, compared with 4.4 million fans for Lowes, 3.2 million for Home Depot, and 579,750 for Ace Hardware.
However, True Value in Q3 (July 1-Sept. 30) leads among its competitors in number of reactions (such as likes), comments and shares of its Facebook posts. True Value’s Facebook posts generated 63% of all the consumer interactions with these retailers in the quarter, Elliott says.
True Value’s engagement on social media platform Instagram is similar. As of the end of September, True Value had only 0.5% of the Instagram followers out of its four competitors. However, in Q3, True Value’s Instagram posts generated the second-most interactions among its competitors at 20.8%, behind Lowe’s at 69.0% of all the consumer interactions with these retailers in the quarter.
Elliott would not reveal what percent of True Value’s sales are online but says smaller hardware retailers, like True Value, typically generate 2%-3% of its sales from e-commerce.