We live in an age where businesses are not only dependent on technology to attract new customers and remain competitive, but also the companies that provide those technological solutions to the world at large. When you consider both the fact that a full 93% of all online shopping experiences begin with a search engine AND that Google’s marketshare was 63.9% as of October of 2015, it stands to reason that Google could become a pretty significant part of your business plan moving forward.
Unless, of course, you’re in the business of selling firearms.
The problem facing firearms and accessory companies includes a public bias lead by Google, t Facebook, Microsoft and more, with their political agendas that include the opposition of firearms in our society and in their online channels. These companies, and their management teams, have been very public about the fact that they will essentially do whatever they feel they need to in order to hinder firearms retailers, create unnecessary obstacles and even block advertisements on behalf of firearms manufacturers and others in the sector. Google in particular has a “No Firearms and Ammunition” policy in their Google AdWords platform, meaning that if it is determined that your ad falls into that category, it won’t just be suppressed – it will be denied altogether.
Regardless of how you feel about the topic of gun control in the United States, it’s a very scary situation indeed – especially when you consider that Facebook climbed to almost 1.9 billion users in the first quarter of 2016.
Luckily, the situation that firearms retailers around the country don’t have to take laying down any longer. Just because those who rule the tech world have been very open about discussing their agendas whenever various violent gun-related incidents occur nationwide, it doesn’t mean you have to “pack up and go home” as far as your online marketing strategy is concerned. If companies like Google and Facebook can no longer be considered allies, there is STILL a great avenue available to you to help promote your firearms and related accessories to the market as a whole.
You just have to cut out the middle man and go straight to the consumer via email marketing.
Why Email Marketing?
For firearms retailers, the answer to the question “why email marketing?” is one that requires you to look at things from two different perspectives. For starters, firearms enthusiasts in particular are among the most passionate purchasers of ANYTHING in the United States – GunPolicy.org estimates that there are between 270 million and 310 million privately owned firearms in the country as of 2015. More than that, there are an estimated 101 privately owned firearms per 100 people. Let that sink in for a moment – this means that your target audience doesn’t just want to spend money on A gun – they want multiples.
Gun owners also aren’t just enthusiastic – they’re also an incredibly diverse group. In fact, ownership is almost evenly split between men and women. Purchases are plentiful across most age groups, accounting for people from 18-years-old to 65+ and everyone in between. They’re educated (30% of gun owners have a college or post graduate education) AND they’ve got disposable income (47% of gun owners make at least $75,000 a year). They’re incredibly passionate about their purchases, be they as a hobby, hunting or for self-protection, and they’re actively looking for new information they can use to inform their purchases in the future.
They also buy related products whether it be for camping, home improvement projects and other categories.
And yet some of the most powerful technological tools of the 21st Century are actively making it more difficult for these consumers to find what they want. If they were looking for a new car, they might turn to Facebook to find a private seller who has exactly what they’re after. Facebook has already taken steps to ban private gun sales on its social media network. Forbes indicated that roughly 1,000,000 user reports are created each day that report a violation to its content policies, though they won’t disclose exactly how many of them relate to private gun sales. Even with those strict anti-firearm policies in place, Forbes estimated that there were still thousands of private groups for gun sales – all of which are in constant danger of being permanently shut down – on the site right now.
Trust and the Firearms Business
One of the reasons why email marketing is so effective for firearms and related accessories in particular comes down to a single word: trust. Buying a firearm isn’t like buying a stereo – users will do an incredible amount of research before making a purchase to not only guarantee that they’re spending their hard-earned money in the right place, but so that they also know beyond the shadow of a doubt they’re getting a product that will do what they need it to.
People buy firearms for a huge number of different reasons, but chief among them is usually for protection. This purchase is for an item that they’ll put their faith in – that they NEED to know will be there to protect both themselves and those closest to them in the event that something unthinkable were to happen. Because of this, email marketing becomes one of the best ways to both establish that initial connection with your target audience and provide them the reliable, steady stream of information they need to start seeing your business as the honorable, industry leader it really is.
But email marketing is also incredibly effective because it removes political obstacles from the equation. Google or Facebook can take whatever steps they feel are necessary to minimize the number of firearm-related ads that appear on their pages and through email marketing, there is little to nothing they can do that will stop your target audience from receiving hearing about your products and services.
As you begin to experiment with marketing for your firearms and related-accessories online, there will always be a number of important things to keep in mind. The type of testing and optimization required to help make sure your messages are as effective as possible may make email marketing initially appear to be more expensive than something like social media, but this is temporary. Once those steps have been taken, email marketing naturally gets less and less expensive over time – and more reliable, as well. Additionally, that the estimated 3800% return on investment will help ease the burden of that initial spend quite a bit as your campaign matures.
This type of testing and optimization is often necessary to help address many potential issues that most people don’t think about until it’s far too late. The majority of people will decide whether or not to open an email based not only on who sent it, but also on the subject line alone. A/B subject line testing can let you try out variations that will be sent to different groups of people, allowing you to make sure that everything is as perfect as it can be down to the individual word.
Testing and optimization can also help make sure your emails are formatted perfectly on mobile devices. This in and of itself is important, as studies have shown that if an email doesn’t look right on a smartphone, most users will automatically delete it – which will likely harm the effectiveness of any email messages they receive after that point.
As that reliability increases, you also get what is perhaps the most important benefit of all: your entire business gets to move out from under the oppressive thumb of companies like Facebook and Google who seem willing to do anything in their power to hold companies just like yours hostage.
Let Email Marketing Carry You Into a Bold New Future
Our company (and many others like us) have also gone a long way towards making your initial campaigns as straightforward as possible by identifying gun owners, sportsmen, survivalists and other second amendment supporters who actively respond to email marketing. By leveraging the power of your products with this analytical data, you’re creating a perfect storm where success is well within arm’s reach.
Regardless of how you feel about the violent, firearm-related incidents that occur nationwide, one thing is certain: companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter and more, many of whom have been incredibly open about their political agendas in the past, should NOT have the ability to impact your firearm sales. At the end of the day, you’re still a retailer and your livelihood depends on your ability to make a targeted, intimate connection with those who are the most interested in what you have to offer.
Even though certain companies may wish to stop this (or at least impede it as much as possible), this isn’t something you have to worry about any longer. Email marketing is not just the only reliable channel for helping advertisers promote firearms or related accessories, but it’s also one of the most effective ways to get your message in front of the largest set of eyes as possible at all times.
After all, don’t you want to sell your products and services without helping those who oppose you to earn a profit off your hard work?