We live in a click to brick economy. Even in places like Sheboygan and Manitowoc, Wisconsin, which are good ol' midwestern towns," explains Jackie Stenson, "people are starting their searches online first, and then coming into our store to touch and feel the products and buy."

A few weeks ago I traveled to Wisconsin to meet with Jackie, learn more about her pair of Bitter Neumann stores, and how she's turning clicks into customers for furniture, mattresses, and appliances.

Bitter Neumann

When did Bitter Neumann first open for business?

We started as a general store in Millersville, Wisconsin in 1922. It's grown now into two stores in Sheboygan and Manitowoc, right along the lake shore. We'll be celebrating 100 years in business very soon, and we're very excited!

How does Bitter Neumann stand out from competitors?

What make us unique, and how we stand out from the big box stores and our competition, is our customer experience. We really work for a 5-star experience that starts when a customer walks through our doors, throughout the purchasing process, delivery and installation, and afterwards should they need service.

How did you attract customers to your stores in the past?

We used a lot of traditional media in our advertising budget years ago, everything from newspapers to TV and radio. Even the yellow pages, which basically doesn't exist anymore.

It was important for us to reach a large audience. But over the years we found the results weren't as good, and it was hard to track the response. We had people coming in to tell us that they saw us or heard about us somewhere, but they couldn't tell us where or when. So we couldn't tell which channel was working. We knew we had to change direction.

Tell us when you started to use the Internet to reach new customers?

We transitioned into digital marketing several years ago. Our first campaigns were very basic, mostly display banner campaigns, a lot like our newspaper ads. We did it because we were hearing about other stores taking a digital-first approach.

The Internet was growing in usage by our customers, they were spending much more time online. So we transitioned over with display [banner] advertising at first. We weren't targeting anyone specifically, but knowing that we were online where people could find us was a start.

Now we've changed our approach and we have a multi-channel campaign, and it's very trackable. The data tells us that it's working. This is how we get new customers in the store every month.

When you were looking for a digital marketing partner, what led you to us?

We first talked to Netsertive during our buy group show several years ago. We were in MEGA at the time, now it's Nationwide Marketing Group. After we spoke, we knew that our campaign needed to have multiple digital channels to reach new customers, not just one like search marketing for instance.

Our goal with the campaign is to reach the right people at the right time online, an audience of people who are interested in our products and services. So we're running search engine marketing to capture clicks, with display banners, retargeting, and one of my favorites - Facebook ads - keeping us top of mind with our customers.

Facebook is a great way to reach customers on their smartphones, they're constantly carrying them around and Facebook is the #1 mobile app.

So we've done branding campaigns about Bitter Neumann and our long history. We've also done digital promotions with Netsertive. What's great about that is that we can test it to see if it's working, are people responding on our website or calling us? If they aren't working, Netsertive changes them.

We receive thousands of website visitors that are tracked back to the campaign, with about 200 conversions each month. Far better than other digital vendors. And we always know exactly which channel is sending them our way.

Netsertive also tracks and records anywhere from 100 to 200 phone calls every month, which are great to listen to and be sure we're responding quickly and effectively. So even if someone sees our Internet ads and never clicks, if they pick up the phone and call a special number you put in our ads, we can track and record them.

If you work with Netsertive, they'll make up to 2,000 changes to your campaign every month. The value of these changes is knowing that [a digital expert] is in there and they're optimizing the campaign to make sure that ads are running, we're not overspending, and if something isn't working, they change it.

What advice would you give to local retailers who are not yet advertising online?

Digital is at the forefront of many consumer's minds, which means your local business should strongly consider being digital first in their marketing and business approach. We're to the point now where our customers are spending so much time on their digital devices, they live with them all day long, we know we have to be where they are and if we're not there, we're not even an option.

If you're looking for a digital partner to work with that's going to bring you the success that we've seen, Netsertive is a great choice. Things you need to look for that I love about Netsertive is that they've got the digital expertise and the technology that makes it easy for me, from a day-to-day standpoint, to get customers in our stores.

They also have the success managers who are super-easy to work with, and they're at your disposal. They're willing to listen to your ideas and make the best recommendations to help us meet our goals. I have access to their reporting dashboard any time so I can see what's working and listen to incoming phone calls. That's why I trust and recommend Netsertive.

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