Michael Schechter

April 26, 2023

Digitally Neutral

As digital grows out of “emerging” and into “everyday,” it’s essential to take a step back and reassess the role it plays in our businesses. For many, e-commerce, social media, and email marketing have been framed as something you must do. There’s some truth to this, but all too often, this leads to failed attempts to do it all. 

Every jeweler should have a website and some measure of a digital presence. But if you’re still holding out hope that any minute now, e-commerce sales or social media fame are just around the corner… it might be time to reassess. Especially if you’re in a more traditional legacy business.

What’s Working?

Working can mean a lot of things. It can mean e-commerce sales leads from your website or social, improved rankings on sites like Google, positive ROI on digital campaigns, email open and click-through rates, or even just enhancing reputation in your community. What are your KPIs (your Key Performance Indicators)? What do you and your team keep an eye on to gauge effectiveness? If you don’t have these, start by talking to your team and asking them to give you an honest (and, wherever possible, data-based) assessment of where things stand. Then work with them to identify and set realistic goals. Regularly meet to review and discuss how digital efforts impact your bottom line, directly or indirectly (and don’t entirely discount the indirect). If they’re struggling to meet these expectations, reassess if there’s a real plan to succeed or if you’re just going through the motions because you feel you must. 

What’s Necessary?

I want to be clear that there is no part of me that is saying avoid digital. Digitally Negative is just as real a possibility, and you don’t want to hurt your business. Customers expect you to have some measure of a digital presence, and it should always be easy to find things like accurate store locations and hours online. But if you’re still lighting your team on fire without the desired results, consider the best ways to put up a sound presence that is far less costly and labor-intensive. What’s “right” changes from business to business and will often be impacted by costly requirements from brand partners. Start by determining what you have to do, then consider the rest. Do you need a massive SEO strategy? Or do you need to ensure you’re sound locally? Do you need to post seven days a week on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok? Or would you be better just choosing the one platform that shows the most promise, reducing frequency, and improving the quality of your posts? Are you selling online? Or is all that time and effort going into optimizing your Add to Cart and Checkout experiences just making it harder for customers to meet with you at the store where you actually convert? 

What’s Possible?

A few things usually drive this. First, how many resources do you have? If you have a one-person marketing team or limited development resources, you will need to reduce your expectations and focus. What is your team good at creating? How strong are they at copywriting, content creation, graphic design, and video creation? How much are you willing to spend on advertising and development? Without unique content, you’re only going to get so far. Are you ready to pull more of your budget away from traditional tactics, or are you focused on organic efforts? If you’re under-resourced or under-investing, become merciless about scaling down the scope of work and (more importantly) your expectations of the impact of your digital efforts. Consider what you’re willing to do, and then work with your team to be realistic about what you can achieve. How are you telling your story online? Do people who land on your website or see your posts understand why they should choose you over a local or internet competitor? Are you willing to put yourself and your best salespeople out there online to better connect with current and potential customers? Building efforts around individuals is often easier and more impactful than a faceless business. 

What’s Right?

As digital matures and becomes a pervasive part of our lives, it’s essential to take a step back to reassess the role it plays in our more traditional businesses. Early on, e-commerce was niche, and social media was considered something likely to pass. More recently, they were something you had to do, or your business would find itself shut down by internet-savvy competitors. But now, as aspects of digital have become almost dull and everyday, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Work with your team, your partners, and (if you’re still lost) a professional who can help you craft a realistic plan. If you continue to see more traditional sales and marketing efforts paying off, carefully becoming digitally neutral may not only be more manageable, it might just be what’s right.

About Michael Schechter

Hi there! I’m Michael Schechter, a third-generation, lifelong jeweler. I’ve spent most of my life and career at the crossroads of fine jewelry and emerging technology. Subscribe to receive weekly advice for jewelers struggling with new possibilities online and in store.