Heal’s; the good, the bad and the very beautiful
So, one of the things I like to do (other than starting paragraphs with ‘so,..’) is to look at lovely things in lovely shops. Since the sad demise of Habitat I’d been on the lookout for a replacement and thought I’d give Heal’s a try. Heal’s is a chain of six shops selling furniture, home things and gifts which I used to browse as a teenager (I was a pretentious teenager with expensive tastes!)
These are some of my favourite Heal’s things (well it’s nearly Christmas and I thought my friends, family and/or loyal readers might be feeling generous…)
After lusting after pretty much everything in their shop I thought I’d check out their website. Their website is beautiful and fairly easy to navigate but then I started social media stalking them and decided they were missing out in a few areas.
Being a social media nerd (and after a good excuse not be writing the 15,000 word report for my MBA) I put together this list of tips for Heal’s;
If people can’t easily talk to you by posting on your Facebook wall then you’re just using Facebook to talk at people rather than with people. Not very social use of social media is it?
I’d recommend allowing people to post on your wall to show you’re happy to hear from your customers and fans.
2. Integrate sales
Why not sell things through your Facebook page? People might not spend £1250 on a bed but they might buy some Christmas gifts. Social Media Today have some other tips for integrating Facebook with online retail such as exclusive offers for your Facebook fans or encouraging customers to share their purchases online.
3. Ask questions, start conversations
At the moment, your wall is pretty much all press releasey promotional stuff and whilst it is good to draw attention to new and exciting things you’re being the Facebook equivalent of someone standing in the corner at a party droning on about themself.
Ask questions and encourage people to respond and interact with your content. Tag your favourite in this collage of products. Which area of your house would you most like to redecorate? Which is your favourite from our new collection? What will you treat yourself to this Christmas? Share your photos of Heal’s products in your home…
Ask people to share your content, like it or comment. This all helps show your fans that you’re interested in what they say and you might gain some useful customer insights and feedback
4. Use Facebook to capture customer data
The problem with Facebook is that its run by Facebook. If they change the rules there isn’t much you can do about it. Use Facebook to capture information about your fans so it is your data and you’re in control.
Heal’s have an email newsletter so why not set up a tab for people to subscribe or regularly post links to your subscription page?
5. Link your offline activities to your online things (and vice versa)
Encourage people to ‘check in’ at your shops, you could reward people with a special discount or offer. Put your Facebook details in your shops, on till receipts and promotional items.
6. Differentiate yourself with some personality
With only six shops and a long history of furniture-making and design you could make your brand stand out by adding some personal touches. Tell us about your staff, show us photos of special occasions, share stories of your staff and customers. This helps fans connect with your brand and builds affinity.
I totally love that you have an email newsletter (I’m a mega fan of newsletters since our Freshers Week success story) but subscribing is a little weird; you add your email address on one page then have to fill it in again on another. I imagine some people might not bother with the second stage so you might be losing subscribers. This is the first impression you’re giving people about your newsletter so you don’t want to confuse them or make them work too hard – they might remember this when considering buying from your website.
The free shipping code once you sign up is a nice little touch but have you experimented with telling people about it before they subscribe to encourage them to sign up? Presumably some free shipping on a few more orders is worth the extra subscribers with whom you can then build up a relationship and generate more orders in future.
Your blog is a bit too salesy and looks a tad like it was just written to squeeze in some good keywords and use some lovely photography rather than to genuinely engage with your customers (and potential customers)
Try dialing down the sales pitch and make your customers and their interests the focal point rather than your latest pretty shiny thing.
You could try inviting guest posts from design bloggers; maybe they could style a room, pick their favourite products or respond to a challenge such as furnishing a bedroom for a particular budget.
Showcase other products and things, not just yours. You don’t need to point out your competitors but why not include complementary products your market might love like handmade stationery (surrounded by Heal’s office bits maybe) or gorgeous recipes (served on Heal’s plates). You can still show off your stuff but it makes your blog sound less like a sales pitch and more like an interesting and inspiring design resource (confession; I am totally addicted to design blogs at the moment, I’ll try to put together a post with some of my favourites).
You could photograph and show off your customers’ homes to demonstrate how beautiful your products look in use and give people ideas for how they could style them and fit them into their homes (by the way you’re more than welcome to give me loads of free stuff to do this with!)
You could offer tutorials that incorporate your products or styling tips; ’5 ways to style this bed’, ‘how to prepare for unexpected guests’
You could use your blog to focus on the areas local to your shops; highlight local events, retailers and people to connect with local customers and get links from other local companies. I’d be happy to recommend some excellent cake and/or ice cream shops in the Brighton area for instance (I might just start on some pre-emptive research on that one…)
For bonus marks…
Experiment with other tools like Pinterest (seriously, it’s an amazing site though terribly easy to lose hours on just staring at all the lovely things). You can use it to curate collections that others can then ‘repin’ (share with their friends) and encourage your customers to add photos of their Heal’s things in use. Pinterest is a very design-focused, visual community so ideal for your market.
Would video be a useful tool? YouTube is apparently the second most used search tool after Google and ‘how do I…’ is their most common search term. Could you provide video demonstrations of products, 360o product views (both of which can be used on your product information pages to help drive sales) or follow some of the blogging principles above. For Christmas how about the best way to lay and decorate a table?