[vc_row css_animation=”” row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” angled_section=”no” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern”][vc_column][vc_column_text]For e-commerce companies, it’s much simpler to track and analyze consumer sales data and ROI on digital marketing because the entire transaction happens online.
Brick-and-mortar retailers in the home furnishings industry struggle to get the same level of visibility because they lack the capability to gather and accurately process consumer data across every online platform and unite it with sales data inside the store.
Store owners may know they spent X overall on digital advertising and made X amount at the store register last month, but they can’t break down exactly which digital ad campaigns inspired a customer’s purchase or what the shopper viewed online to prompt a visit to the furniture showroom. Linking digital advertising dollars to in-store transactions remains one of the biggest challenges for home furnishing retailers.
“That’s something that’s been very difficult to do in the furniture industry,” says Barb Davids, Digital Marketing Manager at Walker Furniture in Las Vegas and owner of a digital marketing agency.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space][vc_single_image image=”29445″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” qode_css_animation=””][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text]
Track Website Visitors Across Digital Advertising Channels
Many stores can’t capture lead information from anonymous website visitors who spend big chunks of time doing research online before visiting in person. Even if local furnishing websites do feature the necessary technology to collect leads, their data reporting fails to identify duplicate website leads that also show up in their Google Analytics reports (counting one lead multiple times) or track one consumer as they log in from different devices over the course of several web-browsing sessions.
Those stores end up with fragmented consumer profiles, with no way to tell if that person who used their smartphone and laptop to visit the website several times before clicking on a paid search ad is the same person who walked in the door the next week to buy a sofa. Every touchpoint is treated separately, which makes it impossible to calculate the true return on investment for each digital marketing traffic source and tie in-store revenue directly to an online lead source.
“PERQ overcomes that challenge with their customer shopping experience,” Davids says. “Collecting customer information and matching back to in-store sales helps get more visibility into the amount of traffic each of our online efforts are driving to the store.”
Centralize Online Data to Tie Revenue to Advertising
To track online leads, we assign a PERQ lead ID to each registered website visitor who interacts with a client’s website. That allows us to marry up and centralize all of that consumer data into an AI-powered marketing cloud, delivering detailed consumer journey profiles a retailer’s sales team can use to nurture leads as well as see which digital experiences drive the most sales.
Connected to a CRM database, the cloud also logs in-store transactions and all lead nurturing efforts across the company to give retailers a holistic view of how to successfully convert online leads to sales. Home furnishing stores learn just how much each advertising channel influenced showroom revenue, the cost to acquire leads for each traffic source, and return on investment per advertising spend.
“It enables you to prioritize your investments based on what’s most efficient,” says Russ Chandler, PERQ Marketing Product Manager. “Therefore, it allows you to make smart decisions based on market intelligence and actionable insights.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation=”” row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” angled_section=”no” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern”][vc_column][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text]
Additional Home Furnishings Resources
[vc_row css_animation=”” row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” angled_section=”no” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern”][vc_column][vc_column_text]The concepts of AI technology and digital marketing don’t typically make the priority list when companies contemplate new ways to elevate their customer service experience. Let a computer automatically nurture leads?
For those who don’t fully understand how artificial intelligence works and the best way to utilize new business technology tools like a marketing cloud, the concept of online customer service seems counterintuitive. Yet, it’s the very key to successful consumer engagement in an online world that offers too many choices and endless access to internet research, resulting in shortened attention spans and higher demands for instant information.
Marketing clouds powered by AI aren’t designed to steal jobs, but rather make your employees more efficient and effective at their jobs by using a data-based approach that can adjust in real time as new data flows in from your website, digital advertising campaigns and in-person transactions. With everything connected, adjusted automatically and tracked in great detail, the online leads generated from an AI-powered solution guarantee your customers and your team enjoy a tailored customer service experience that makes buying (and selling) easier.
Instead of using your online website as an e-commerce platform or as a digital brochure, technology makes your strongest asset available online: your people, physical inventory and services like in-house designers or taking a tour of a rental property. It’s that customer service element that sets your company apart from giant corporations competing online for a share of your local market.
“Your job is to create a memorable website experience that’s both convenient and helpful as online shoppers research and narrow down choices from the comfort of their homes, while also highlighting the value of your in-store resources,” says Scott Hill, PERQ Co-Founder and Executive Chairman.
Here are 5 tips on how to create an influential customer service experience online that’s sure to capture and convert more leads, while giving your brand a big boost at the same time. [/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text]
1. Give Consumers Information They Want Online
Don’t hold back on pricing and other details consumers seek when shopping online, thinking it will push them to visit in person. Our research shows they’ll likely bounce to a competitor’s website or click around Google and social media until they find what they want, because someone in your market — a competitor, manufacturer or industry group — surely offers the details or planning tools they’re searching for online. Help the customer help themselves.
“It gives transparency,” says Sandra Dellolio, internet manager at Atlantic Auto Mall in New York, of the leasing calculator and other interactive online tools available on the dealership’s website. “Especially in the car business, people go online because they absolutely want to have the knowledge before they go into a dealership. This is a way to show them what they want before they know what they want.”[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text]
2. Deliver a Connected Consumer Experience
Adding interactive tools on your website personalizes the shopping experience as it gathers lead data from each visitor who engages with them. You’re moving them closer to a decision by helping them along the consumer journey and narrowing down what they want to buy, while also delivering a customer service experience that mirrors the service your staff offers in person.
“The beauty of [the website experience] is that they’re designed to engage our guests in natural, small steps,” says Dave Weiss, Marketing Manager at Sherman’s furniture and appliance retail stores in central Illinois. “We can’t jump straight from awareness to asking for the sale. It’s much easier for the guest to make those micro-commitments, leading them further down the path to purchase without feeling like they’re being ‘sold to.’”
By connecting all of your online platforms through AI and cloud technology, the customer gets an online shopping experience that feels personal, like you know exactly what they’re looking for online.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space][vc_single_image image=”29351″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” qode_css_animation=””][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text]
3. Show Online Customers the Exact Product They Want
Embed helpful planning tools in your automated emails and digital advertising to drive traffic back to the website and keep consumers engaged throughout the lead nurturing process. AI and cloud technology tracks where each lead is at in the process, which touchpoints they’ve encountered along the way and what they’ve looked at online, then automatically serves the consumer with customized incentives, emails and website prompts every time they return.
With machine learning, a type of AI programming, cloud software can learn and adapt its content based on a company’s own lead data compared alongside millions of other aggregated data points gathered across markets and similar industries. It can predict the type of person most likely to buy from a particular company, show where those people are most likely to be reached, and deliver the best experience proven to convert that lead type. Gathering all of that data helps AI-driven software deliver the most relevant results for each individual website visitor, making their online shopping experience easy and intuitive — a sure win in the customer service department.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text]
4. Capture Lead Data to Better Nurture Online Leads
AI technology gives companies the power to collect detailed online lead data far beyond what the standard static contact form offers the sales staff. It can then use that intel to automatically nurture consumers via personalized emails pertinent to their search and customized digital ads with calls to action.
Your sales or leasing staff get a detailed consumer journey that accounts for every device a lead used to look you up online and every visit, something most analytic programs can’t do. That allows salespeople to see the big picture and not just the last thing the consumer searched before coming in to visit.
“That personal touch is a nice way to develop instant rapport with a prospect,” says Cindy Scanlan, Director of Operations at Thalhimer, a property management company with apartment communities in Virginia and North Carolina.
Capitalize on that lead information to give the consumer a personal customer service experience that will make an impression, and save the shopper valuable time by starting the sales pitch right where they left off online.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text]
5. Automate the Process to Focus on Live Interactions
Automating the lead capturing and nurturing process frees up your staff’s resources, so they can spend more quality time taking care of the customers who walk in the door ready to buy right now. It’s more efficient and effective than doing everything manually, and sure to be more consistent than any human.
Home Inspirations Thomasville in New Jersey automated its email nurturing campaign in late 2018, sending emails to website registrants that are personal, geared toward their interests, and scheduled and designed around the buying timeline the customer submits on the website.
“Our goal is to let the customer know we are there to assist them in any way, whether that be with design and we invite them into the store to work with our design team for a complimentary consultation or whatever else they require,” says Ed Massood, owner of Home Inspirations Thomasville.
With the right technological solutions, implementing an online customer service experience that converts online leads can be both affordable and easy. It also makes marketing decisions more effective, saving businesses additional time and resources.
More data and analysis mean more insights and better tracking of leads, ROI and results. That empowers your company to make smarter, data-driven decisions on what exactly your customers are looking for and how to best give them that shopping experience online.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]
[vc_row css_animation=”” row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” angled_section=”no” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern”][vc_column][vc_column_text]Analysis from PERQ reveals that rental prospects who are welcomed to a website and asked online questions about their lifestyle needs, and offered interactive tools, engage more deeply and are more likely to schedule property tours.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text]Indianapolis, IN – March 18, 2019– The majority of consumers visiting property management websites are engaged in extensive research and are 90 days from being ready to rent, according to new data from tens of thousands of consumers on multifamily websites. The data, which was gathered and analyzed by PERQ, has significant implications for the many multifamily websites that offer a single point of interaction on their websites and aren’t engaging valuable potential prospects by showing off the property’s unique amenities, surrounding community, or giving them tools to help them in their search online.
PERQ, who are experts in online consumer engagement and behavior, found that while 45% of these consumers are deep in the research phase, and 31% want to sign a lease in 30 days, only 25% are ready to make a decision within two weeks. So, websites that are not distinguishing where a visitor is in his/her research journey, and are failing to gather data on visitors’ specific needs, run the risk of losing those rental prospects. While most multifamily websites offer a basic ‘contact us’ lead form as the only direct interface with website visitors, this research demonstrates that increasing those points of contact — by enabling visitors to choose the right floor plan, explore the local community and calculate average monthly costs — increases the likelihood of scheduling a property tour and, ultimately, signing a lease.
“Today’s average renters are not only more tech-savvy, which means they demand much more of the websites they spend time on, but they are also more likely to be ‘lifestyle renters’ who are renting out of preference versus necessity — factors that indicate that the more a multifamily website can showcase its property and engage with each individual consumer, the more comfortable that consumer will be about scheduling a tour,” said Andy Medley, CEO and co-founder of PERQ.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space][vc_single_image image=”30712″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” qode_css_animation=””][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text]PERQ’s data also reveals that, of rental prospects who scheduled tours on multifamily websites, 72% also interacted with the site in another way, increasing the length of engagement on the site to an average of 12 minutes and 41 seconds.
Nolan Real Estate, a management company with properties in Illinois, Kansas, Missouri and Texas, is experiencing improvement as a result of amping up engagement on their websites. “If a prospect engages with multiple experiences, we are winning the hardest part of the digital battle,” says Caleb Bartlett, Digital Sales and Media Manager with Nolan. “We have increased the likelihood of them taking that next step in the sales cycle.”
Key Multifamily Online Consumer Data
- 45% are in research mode – 90 days before they are ready to rent
- 31% are ready to move in a month
- 25% want to make a decision within two weeks
- Websites offering multiple consumer interactions report a 3X lift in the time consumers spend on site
- 72% of consumers that scheduled tours, also used other tools and assessments online
- Websites that interact with consumers are 6X more likely to convert traffic into a tour
Until now, property management companies have had few options to engage these research-driven consumers on their websites beyond a costly re-architecture of their website. But new tools like PERQ’s AI-driven, interactive experiences – which can be activated in 45 days or less with a single line of code – are enabling them to create a more engaging, personalized and interactive Amazon-like shopping experience that lets consumers view floorplans, check out community amenities, calculate average rental costs and more – all while asking key questions that guide them with relevance along their rental journey and into the leasing office. At the same time, it enables property managers to gather important data to fuel a more effective engagement when prospects come into the leasing office. The software is also able to identify consumers wherever they access the website so, if they used a desktop for their initial search and then switched to a smartphone and back again, multifamily websites powered by PERQ can continue a personalized dialog, never repeating experiences or asking questions twice.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation=”” row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” angled_section=”no” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern”][vc_column][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text]About PERQ
Founded in 2001, PERQ (www.perq.com) solutions are used by more than 1,000 businesses in the home furnishing, auto retail and multifamily industries. PERQ’s artificial intelligence-powered digital marketing software helps clients better engage with consumers, capturing unique user data that is leveraged in personalized marketing campaigns to increase conversion and sales. PERQ’s brands have been named to the Inc. 500 Fastest Growing Companies in America list on three separate occasions. PERQ won the Gold Stevie® Award for lead generation software and Product of the Year in the Big Business Awards (2017). In 2018, the company won the Gold Stevie® Award for Entrepreneur: Founding Team of the Year and a Best in Biz Silver Award for Fastest-Growing Company of the Year – Medium. PERQ has also been named on the Indy Star Top Workplaces three years in a row (2016, 2017, 2018).
PERQ Media Contacts
Melanie Webber, mWEBB Communications, email@example.com 424-603-4340
Cassandra Cavanah, mWEBB Communications, Cassandra@mwebbcom.comor 818-397-4630[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space][/vc_column][/vc_row]
[vc_row css_animation=”” row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” angled_section=”no” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern”][/vc_row][vc_column][/vc_column][vc_column_text]Lead management system delivering, on average,50% higher lead-to-sale lift for home furnishing retailer clients, now fully integrated into PERQ’s Marketing Cloud.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text]Indianapolis, IN – March 7, 2019 – PERQ, experts in online consumer engagement and behavior, has acquired Who’s Up, a full featured retail ‘up system’ and CRM (customer relationship management) tool for managing leads and in-store customers. PERQ, which has been working in partnership with Who’s Up since April, has now fully integrated the new CRM system into its Marketing Cloud, empowering home furnishing retailers with the tools they need to convert their increasing volume of web leads into showroom sales. PERQ is the only solution in the home furnishings industry to offer a custom-designed user-friendly CRM system.
“The extraordinary results for clients from our partnership with Who’s Up have led to its full integration into our company and into the solution we offer our home furnishings customers,” said PERQ Executive Chairman & Co-Founder Scott Hill. According to Hill, clients who have been using the Who’s Up CRM system have experienced, on average, an estimated 50% higher lead-to-sale lift.
Both mobile and web-based, Who’s Up was specifically designed to help home furnishing retailers easily manage their in-store sales flow. The software includes rich performance reporting tools for a great customer experience and increased sales conversions, and it offers an unprecedented opportunity to organize critical digital prospect and customer data. Completely user-friendly and with turnkey installation, the system focuses on not only helping the sales team manage their sales leads, but also on providing visibility into the specific website behavior of those leads so that sales personnel can build relevant relationships with prospects before they come into the store.
“We are also very pleased that Who’s Up founder Brad Eaton has joined PERQ, adding his deep expertise to our innovation team, which is laser-focused on building out a complete solution to engage, convert, and manage relationships with consumers before they come into the store,” said Hill.
Said PERQ client Bryan Scott, President of Big Sandy Superstores: “PERQ is on the forefront of the digital revolution within the home furnishings industry and their acquisition of Who’s Up just strengthens their ability to provide a complete digital solution to the brick and mortar home furnishings retailers.”
“Our mission, since we entered this market, has been to help home furnishing retailers bridge the divide between digital and in-person retailing,” continued Hill. “Our tools have increasingly helped convert their anonymous digital visitors into known leads and in-store prospects which has meant many more leads to manage, many more opportunities to sell. With the new CRM, our clients can better manage and organize that increased volume of leads with new visibility for better engagement and conversion before prospects come in store — and a more informed interaction when they arrive.”
Home furnishing retailers are already benefiting: for example, according to Zachary Angarano, General Manager of Markson’s Furniture, PERQ’s lead creation and lead management is the most innovative system he’s seen so far. “PERQ’s new CRM has lifted the veil from our traffic counts and actually given meaning to formerly ‘anonymous’ visitors. It has created a tangible smoothness from home to store: customers come in asking for the salesperson that followed up with them and are armed with the information that led to their visit. It often feels like a shorter visit, and definitely an easier one,” said Angarano. “The trust has already been built and creates a meaningful relationship between our company, our people and our customers. The impact on sales goes without saying.”
And Bryan Scott of Big Sandy Superstore added: “In order to remain relevant and continue to grow in today’s retail environment, we have to embrace technology and focus on building the digital relationship first. The relationship between the consumer and the retailer has to be seamless between digital and in-person. PERQ and Who’s Up now gives us the ability to leverage that relationship across all channels.”
Among the key features of PERQ’s CRM are:
Centralized Lead Data:
- All lead data is stored in one place, with detailed consumer history
- Retailers can access leads from any device
Filter In-market Leads
- Filter leads based on intent to purchase or product of interest
- Color-coding helps easily identify and segment types of leads
Build relationships Before In-store Visits
- Log all communication with consumers
- Easily identify consumers for follow up
[/vc_column_text][vc_row_inner row_type=”row” type=”full_width” text_align=”left” css_animation=””][vc_column_inner][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text]The new CRM system is part of the PERQ Marketing Cloud, a first-ever integrated suite of AI-driven technology products specifically designed to power the consumer experience and help home furnishing retailers increase online engagement, improve conversion rates and increase in-store sales. The Marketing Cloud extends the power of PERQ’s data-rich, AI-driven shopping tools with the addition of comprehensive, personalized digital marketing solutions, targeting shoppers across the entire research phase. PERQ’s Marketing Cloud helps furniture retailers optimize their digital advertising strategy and get 100% transparency into their online spend, including overall revenue from consumers that engaged with online advertising and the store’s website before buying.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner][/vc_column_inner]
[vc_row css_animation=”” row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” angled_section=”no” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern”][vc_column][vc_column_text]Leasing consultants at The Bainbridge Companies spend much of each workday painstakingly typing out original emails to prospects, just as the majority of leasing offices do despite quantum leaps in the quality and cost of email automation technology.
“The only email that’s automated is our ‘out of office’ notifications,” says Heidi Jehlicka, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Employee Development at Bainbridge, which manages apartment communities in 36 markets across the country. “We don’t currently have the capability to have that sort of automated, personalized communication. [Email automation] is what we’re most interested in adding to our arsenal.”
Renters start their search for a new home earlier than they did in the past, thanks to the wealth of consumer information available online. Automated email nurturing keeps prospects engaged as they take their time to search online for the perfect apartment. It also saves property management offices time and resources, so their leasing staff can focus on taking care of customers when they visit for a tour instead of staring at a computer screen and manually sending prospects generic emails.
Email Automation Nurtures Prospects Not Quite Ready to Rent
Leasing specialists at Boyd Homes contact a rental prospect an average of seven times before they lease an apartment with the property management group, says Marketing Manager Stephanie Drake. The leasing staff manually tracks leads in a basic office tasks program, adding notes for each other and setting reminders that span over several months. They also personally email packets of information to leads.
To eliminate this time-consuming and error-prone lead nurturing process, Drake says Boyd Homes is also planning to add marketing email automation this year. “We’d like to get into direct marketing to capture the people who are looking 90 days out,” Drake says. “If they’re not contacted, of course, the likelihood of these leads converting goes down. We need to contact them on a regular basis, and continue to do so until they either tell us to stop or they fall through the funnel.”
Boyd’s data aligns with other industry data, which shows most renters are still a couple of months away from signing a lease when they begin research online. For the PERQ Multifamily Insights Report, we analyzed lead data collected from more than 18,000 consumers who were searching online for an apartment between May and July 2018. Almost half of the prospects (44.6%) indicated they were at least 90 days away from signing a lease and only 10% were ready to rent right then.
Prospects can do most of their own research without ever talking to a human by visiting apartment websites and perusing social media. Until they’re ready to visit in person, our consumer data shows the vast majority of prospects prefer communicating with leasing specialists by email (67%) instead of phone calls (22%) or text messages (11%).[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space][vc_single_image image=”30682″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” qode_css_animation=””][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text]
Website Lead Data Guides Automated Email Conversation
By deploying an email automation program that’s tied to an apartment website, property management companies can utilize a renter’s information collected from the website to customize the email campaign content and workflow.
An email nurture solution powered with AI technology responds to a new lead instantly and hyper-personalizes the online sales process, sending prospects relevant and timely emails based on the renter’s online behavior and data they submitted while engaging on the property’s website. The scheduled messages offer incentives and interactive tools, directing them back to the website to re-engage with the property until they’re ready to sign a lease.
“Before, we didn’t know what information to feed [prospects] through email,” Jehlicka says. “With the intelligence we’re now gathering on the website with PERQ, it’s going to be a game changer.”
Bainbridge added PERQ’s Web Engagement Solution to two property sites in late November 2018. By personalizing the website using AI-powered interactive software, the property management company witnessed a notable increase in online leads and lease conversions despite conducting the trial during the slow leasing season. In three months, 27% of leases at the featured properties were influenced by PERQ.
Jehlicka says they’d like to expand on that success through email automation now they know the personalized digital approach works so well. “As marketers, we’re often trying to predict what the customer wants,” she says. “With PERQ, now we know what’s important and where to focus.”
Email automation streamlines a multifamily property’s lead management process to make it more efficient and effective. Personal wording and pertinent calls to action convert far more online leads than generic emails that are likely to get lost in the shuffle of a shopper’s overflowing inbox of retail offers. Email marketing has always proved effective, and it’s how consumers prefer to interact with businesses, but customizing and automating the process by tying it to the website elevates the results to a whole new level of successful consumer engagement.
In addition to those benefits, email automation allows property managers to spend more quality time with prospects who are ready to rent and show up in person, especially when they can look up everything the person searched on the website and which emails they clicked on that inspired them to walk through the leasing office door.
“We can focus on a lot of other things, instead of manually nurturing and chasing leads,” Jehlicka says. “Like taking care of the customer and giving better tours.”[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space][/vc_column][/vc_row]