February 18, 2004, 12:00 AM

The right marketing strategy starts, but doesn’t stop, with customer needs

Restoration Hardware sees a 90% lift in online sales by choosing solutions that balance what helps customers with what meets revenue goals.

Putting together a successful marketing strategy starts with finding the needs of the customer, but it doesn’t end there, Restoration Hardware’s e-commerce director Stephanie Garcia will tell attendees at next week’s eTail 2004 conference – the rest of a good strategy balances solutions to those needs with what will help the marketer’s sales.

Restoration Hardware’s online sales rose 90% last year over the previous year because it pursued a strategy that addressed both issues, says Garcia, who will be on an eTail conference panel, “Best Practices for successfully communicating with your customers: Evaluating the right marketing mix.”

The staring point on Restoration Hardware’s strategy was figuring out where customers were having difficulty finding the site, and then, once they found it, determining if they were able to transact, says Garcia. “Number one was helping people find us online. That meant using search engine placements and natural search optimization. We weren’t coming up in search results before. People misspell our name a lot, so we had to help them find us,” says Garcia. “Part two was helping customers find what they want in the store with new search and navigation software.”

While the first reason for Restoration Hardware’s big sales lift was a focus on customers` needs, the second part was in addressing those needs in a way that would favorably impact revenue goals. “Last year’s strategy intertwined both of these things,” adds Garcia. “While we were helping the customer, we of course were really driving sales. So we weren`t making choices at the expense of the customers’ experience, and we weren`t trying to help the customer at the expense of sales. The two dovetailed nicely.”

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