How Furniture Retailers Are Doing Next-Level Digital Marketing

How Furniture Retailers Are Doing Next-Level Digital Marketing

[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” css=”.vc_custom_1521224734716{padding-bottom: 25px !important;}” z_index=””][vc_column][vc_column_text]As online shopping becomes more ubiquitous, every industry is working to find out how they can use digital marketing to their advantage. While items like electronics or books can be purchased without a customer ever seeing it in person, the furniture retail space is one based around in-person interaction. Learn how two furniture retailers created a furniture digital strategy and marketing plan.

 

[/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” css=”.vc_custom_1521224734716{padding-bottom: 25px !important;}” z_index=””][vc_column][vc_column_text]So, the question that remains is this: How does a furniture store use online marketing tools to drive traffic into their store? What kinds of online tools are most effective? But more importantly, what exactly does online success look like from the perspective of a brick-and-mortar retail space?

 

We recently had a chance to chat with two heads of digital marketing for two different furniture retail chains: Joey Gunn, the Vice President of Knight Furniture and Mattress; and Jordan Barrick, the Vice President of Quality Furniture.

 

During our conversation, we learned more about each store’s overall furniture digital strategy, the tools and services they utilized to translate online visits into in-store traffic. We also discussed what the horizon looks like for the furniture retail industry.[/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” css=”.vc_custom_1521237414253{padding-top: 15px !important;padding-bottom: 15px !important;}” z_index=””][vc_column][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1531453983757{padding-bottom: 25px !important;}”]

What Is Your Furniture Store’s Digital Strategy And Tools Used?

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]When a potential buyer plugs in “furniture sales” into a search engine, they’re likely to be provided dozens, if not hundreds, of options. It’s the job of digital marketers to stand out in the field, and both Gunn and Barrick began with similar approaches.

 

Barrick has helped establish Quality Furniture as a household name in the Mesquite and Canton, Texas areas. He explained that he adopted a three-tier marketing approach. “I use search text ads for prospecting, display ads for retention, and video advertising for those not in the buy cycle. That’s our branding strategy,” he said.

 

As opposed to partnering with a marketing firm, Barrick found success using self-service tools online. Outside of work, Barrick has been pursuing his business degree, and has invested a ton of personal time learning to deftly pursue leads in the online realm.

 

“The main thing is sticking with cost effective solutions,” Barrick said. “It’s challenging to understand those analytics. I try to utilize as many free programs as I can. I took classes just to understand stuff; your average retailer is not going to know web design, but I’m a bit of a different story.”

 

At Knight Furniture, Gunn initially took a similarly self-educated approach, working to increase their online stock by conventional means.

 

“We do the normal stuff that retailers do, like Google Adwords and Facebook advertising,” said Gunn. “Another thing that we spent years trying to perfect was making the website copy organically relevant to search content.”

 

Gunn later explained that Knight Furniture actually changed their name to stay up with the times. After 105 years of business, they added “Mattress” to their end of the name in order to stay relevant in keyword searches. “Even though we sold mattresses, and it said mattress on our website, the Google algorithm didn’t put two and two together often enough,” he said.[/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]furniture_pricing_graphic[/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” css=”.vc_custom_1521237414253{padding-top: 15px !important;padding-bottom: 15px !important;}” z_index=””][vc_column][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1531453994119{padding-bottom: 25px !important;}”]

What Does Digital Marketing Success Look Like For Furniture Retail?

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]The success of any and every marketing campaign, be it digital or physical, is measured by the amount of new business it brings to the retailer. Online, there are many ways to capture leads, each with their own benefits.

 

“When I need leads,” said Barrick, “I go search-based. When I have a decent amount of leads, I can use video. But search-based is often the cheapest option for us. That’s where I’m pulling in most of my new leads.”

 

Many customers begin shopping online when they realize that they want to make a purchase at some point. This means they’ll be highly motivated and open to sales persuasion, especially based on what they see when they do a web search for their ideal sofa or bed frame. When asking about the buying cycle, Barrick was enthusiastic about the results of a furniture digital strategy and marketing plan. “We’re getting customers way down in the buy cycle. They’re ready to make a decision, all across the board,” Barrick said.

 

Gunn’s team managed to find success through a design style quiz that helped consumers hone in on their aesthetic. He points out that success in digital marketing doesn’t necessarily mean that sales through the website will go up.

 

He also shared that any furniture retailers interested in creating a digital strategy should make sure their sales process is equipped to follow up on and capitalize on those leads. “It’s awesome to be sitting there with an inbox full of prospects who were on your website, but if you don’t have a way to follow up on it, it’s wasted effort,” he said.[/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 css=”.vc_custom_1531454001800{padding-bottom: 25px !important;}”]

What’s The Future Look Like?

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]While both Gunn and Barrick are excited for the lead generation opportunities found online, they both are confident that the sales and customer experiences will likely stay physical, as opposed to heading to the web.

 

“Furniture is one of the biggest and emotional purchases you’re going to made,” said Barrick. “Younger generations may enjoy shopping online, but you’re going to get burned by a bad mattress and end up going back to the same furniture store your parents did, to find the same mattress your parents had bought you.”

 

They also explained that in many cases, online retailers may only have one or two options for each piece, meaning less customization. An online user may be saving time initially, but will have to sacrifice the personal touch and more immediate inventory found in a store. Still, Gunn was equally optimistic regarding the model of a brick and mortar furniture space.

 

“I do think the landscape is changing and that people are more comfortable buying online than previous generations. Before now, it wasn’t as trustworthy. Logic tells me ‘yes, of course, we may see an increase in online sales,’ but people want to touch and feel and see the pieces. As long as they continue to want that, we’ll continue to see the majority of sales done in-store.”

 

“A furniture digital strategy needs to support the consumer’s perception of the store — a place that’s worth visiting.”

 

Gunn added, “When you’re younger, you take bigger risks — but when you’re older, you want to lay on the mattress before you take it home.”

 

For home retailers, a furniture digital strategy needs to support the consumer’s perception of the store — a place that’s worth visiting. Until online furniture buying becomes more common, a retailer’s website isn’t about convincing the customer to buy right then and have the product shipped.

 

Instead, your furniture digital strategy as a retailer should be centered on being seen as a knowledgeable resource with a wide inventory — a place people can come to find the things that will make their house feel like home.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_column][/vc_column][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

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Top 5 Tips for Furniture Retailers to Win the Online to In-Store Sales Battle

Top 5 Tips for Furniture Retailers to Win the Online to In-Store Sales Battle

[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]Home Furniture retailers trying to fight Wayfair or Amazon at their game is poor business strategy. Good strategy: look at your advantages and try to bring those weapons into the battle.  For the brick and mortar retailers, those weapons are local stores and helpful salespeople designed to win the fight for the larger and more complex furniture purchase.

 

Let’s agree that brick and mortar stores shouldn’t be looking at their website and trying to compete against the giant players in e-commerce. If the consumer is looking to spend less than $200 for a table lamp to throw into the guest room before company arrives the following day, the battle to win this definite e-commerce purchase is a losing game.

 

Wayfair’s average ticket price is $250, and we know the normal brick and mortar PERQ client averages $1,500+. Why? Because the consumer WANTS to take advantage of the built-in advantages of a local store and salespeople when they’re making a larger purchase.

 

The key is to bring your “weapons” into the process when a consumer is still at home researching a purchase online. Every brick and mortar retailer should look at their website and ask: “What can I do to leverage my website to help the consumer decide to purchase from me in-store?”

 

Below are my top 5 tips for how to bridge the website to in-store shopping process and have your website lead to more revenue: 

 

1. Generate sales opportunities for your staff through your home furnishings website

 

The pictures of your products, details and price are just initial steps in the digital to in-person transaction process. These are the normal website tips. But, you must have a way to turn anonymous website visitors into actionable customers with real information about them. These are “Digital Ups”. With tools and quizzes you can learn a lot of information about each visitor: what they’re interested in, when they’re in the market to buy and much more.

 

Your sales team can now reach out during down times and build actual relationships with “Digital Ups” leveraging that unique shopper data. This is what you do in your store when you greet each in-person — you greet each person and ask them questions to get to know what they’re looking for. You must do this on your website as well. It works and it is a way to let salespeople produce more sales versus complaining there isn’t anyone in the store on a 10 a.m. on a Thursday.

 

2. Use your website to facilitate an easy conversation between the consumer and your home furnishings sales team

 

E-mail and Live Chat used to be the way to communicate with consumers online, but that is no longer the case. We highly recommend to our clients that they have text communication in place.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”16px”][blockquote text=”Texting a consumer is a much more natural way to communicate now.

Scott Hill, PERQ co-founder” show_quote_icon=”yes” width=”100%”][vc_empty_space height=”16px”][vc_column_text]Texting a consumer is a much more natural way to communicate now, and you want to communicate with consumers the same way you would a friend. When is the last time you were e-mailing or in a “live chat” box with one of your friends?

 

Make it easy for shoppers to engage in a deeper and more prolonged conversation with your staff that can help them make decisions prior to coming into the store. Texting makes it easier on the consumer and your staff to get the help needed and build a relationship that can lead to an in-store visit.

 

3. Leverage lead scoring and personalized automation

 

Your sales team will not be able to have an actual conversation with every “Digital Up” you generate from your website. You need to have a way to prioritize Digital Ups into which ones will receive follow up from your staff and which ones will receive automated email messaging personalized to the consumer.

 

With today’s technology, there is no excuse to just be sending blast e-mails once a month.  When someone has engaged on your website, you now should have everything you need to set up the right personalized automated email messaging designed to nurture them into being ready for a conversation with a member of your sales team.

 

4. Create a “VIP Appointment” process

 

With all of these conversations your sales team is having with prospects before they come into the store, you need to have a way to make it easy for them to take the next step and visit.

 

Allow shoppers to set a “VIP Appointment” where they receive special treatment and a faster experience. Let them know you will be waiting for them, have some recommendations ready, drink of their choice, financing approval already done, etc.

 

5. Take advantage of a CRM to handle the organization/ communication of all the sales opportunities from your website

 

Everything mentioned above will require a quality CRM. For pure in-store customers, you might have been able to handle the potential buyers, but to efficiently handle a high volume of “Digital Ups” and help shoppers come into the store, you need a better way to organize and keep track of leads.

 

A CRM platform helps you determine which prospects to reach out to first, gives messaging recommendations, enables text messaging, gives performance reporting, etc. It becomes your Digital Sales Manager, making it easier for you and your sales team to follow up with shoppers.

 

The process of how to take your website to be a great tool to get consumers to come into the store was solved by the automotive industry first (and where these 5 tips originally came from)! They created the technology and process to help their staff connect to consumers on the website looking for help when making a purchasing decision. Take advantage of tips to make your website the best it can be for consumers so you can win the online to in-store battle.

 

See How Much the PERQ CRM Costs Home Furnishings Retailers to Manage Leads: SEE PRICING[/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

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Keeping Your Multifamily Community Ahead of the Local Competition

Keeping Your Multifamily Community Ahead of the Local Competition

[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]Every market varies slightly when it comes to the type of renter seeking an apartment, how much they’re willing to pay, and what amenities mean the most to them. How well do you know the prospective renters for each multifamily property you manage or oversee at a regional level?

 

Properties in your portfolio can leverage these market variables to edge out the local competition by analyzing all of the online data prospects provide during their search for an apartment community to call home.

 

More than 80% of rental prospects start their apartment search online, according to the newly published PERQ Multifamily Field Guide, which analyzes 193,000 consumer responses from nearly 320 multifamily property websites.

 

With so many renters starting their research of apartment communities online, staying a step ahead of the local competition means constantly improving the property’s website experience, and successfully using the lead information you gather online to nurture prospects until they’re ready to sign a lease.

 

“We use both the individual data and aggregate data to help us make sound decisions during the leasing process, but also to be sure we’re catering to our current resident base as well,” says Katrina Greene, Senior Regional Manager at Sheehan Property Management, which utilizes PERQ’s web technology to collect leads and their personal preferences, while guiding prospects in the rental process.

 

Add AI Technology to Property Website to Gather More, Detailed Leads

 

It’s a challenge to capture the attention of prospective renters with so many other property websites vying for it. Busy consumers want websites to be responsive, intuitive, informative and helpful — or they move on to the next site in a quick click.

 

By adding AI-driven technology to a property website, visitors enjoy an interactive and personalized shopping experience similar to what giant e-commerce retailers like Amazon deliver, and what savvy consumers say they’ve come to expect from brands competing for their money and attention. Provide that experience on a local level to make your property stand out in a crowded multifamily market.

 

“At one property, we know as many as 40% of our current residents engaged in a PERQ experience,” Greene says of how well the interactive software converts online leads. The information gathered on those now-residents comes in handy when planning new community perks that appeal to current renters, and when it’s time to encourage those residents to renew their leases.

 

Engaging visitors with a hub of useful planning tools and assessments designed to help renters find their ideal apartment boosts the time spent on the site, which in turn increases brand awareness and how much information the property managers receive in real-time from interested renters.[/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]

Highlight In-Demand Apartment Amenities: Online & During Property Tour

 

With the assistance of AI technology, leasing teams receive lead information on everything from a prospect’s preferred floor plan and move-in timeframe to how many kids or pets they have, what they like to do in their free time, and types of businesses they want in their new neighborhood. It gives properties both a granular view of a specific renter’s journey and a holistic look at what renters in that market value most.

 

Renters rank in-unit laundry as the most-desired feature in an apartment, followed by modern appliances and walk-in closets, according to the Multifamily Field Guide. It also showed 81% of prospects are a month to 90 days out from wanting to move in — a 13% increase in the number of renters looking at apartments while at least three months away from signing a lease since PERQ’s previous insights report in 2018.

 

Property management can use that online intel to personalize their lead follow-up approach through automated lead nurture email and text messages sent to website leads, keeping the property top of mind as they finalize their decision.

 

During tours, leasing specialists should strive to highlight that particular property’s most popular amenities as well as any must-haves the prospect revealed while researching online. Properties can also prominently feature a property’s top-ranked assets on the website, in digital advertisements and on social media, based on the new data streaming in from the website’s interactive experiences.

 

Target Prospects: Use Marketing Cloud Insights to Meet Local Demand

 

By tracking leads from all of those various online platforms and linking them to individual website visitors in a cloud-based CRM database, properties can finally account for multi-touch attribution and easily view a prospect’s entire online journey.

 

That comprehensive profile data, when stored and analyzed within an AI-driven Marketing Cloud, delivers in-depth insights into which featured amenities drive the most traffic, what online platforms convert the best, and the ROI of all of a property’s digital marketing campaign, including the cost per lead and for each lease converted.

 

When powered by AI technology, a marketing cloud offers machine learning capabilities to identify the ideal prospect and continuously tweak a property’s connected digital marketing accounts automatically. Based on the property’s own data and millions of other data points stored in the cloud, the centralized analytics predict the type of renters most likely to lease there, along with the common attributes and actions taken by those prospects and where to successfully target them.

 

Pouring over the online consumer data helps property managers identify what nearby activities and amenities attract local renters, so they can focus on building relationships with those types of businesses in the area and plan events that best cater to renters’ interests.

 

“The ‘Explore the Area’ assessment provides data regarding their preferences on favorite activities,” Greene says. “Our reporting may show that a prospect, for example, is interested in sporting activities and shopping. We are sure to highlight proximity to these preferred places, and with residents, it helps us to determine what social functions will appeal most to them.

 

“We may organize a viewing party for a big football game at our clubhouse, or post coupons for the outlet mall on social media as a result of the data.”

 

Across the nation, 20% of renters picked “social activities” as their top priority, according to the PERQ multifamily data. Shopping and outdoor activities tied for second place at 17%, and family activities (12%) and pets (11%) rounded out the list of favorite activities prospects enjoy most, giving property managers at those surveyed properties a good idea of their residents’ main priorities and lifestyle.

 

“We have found the questions we ask online helps us tremendously on centering in on the prospects’ likes in reference to social activities,” says Trent Jones, Regional Marketing & Training Director at The Worthing Companies based in Atlanta. “This gives us a great opportunity to cross-market with restaurants, shopping, outdoor activities, etc.”

 

Coupons Convert Leads: Pricing Ranks Top Priority Among Renters

 

Incentives drive impressive lead-to-lease conversion results because two-thirds of renters put pricing above all else when picking an apartment. The PERQ data discovered multifamily properties that presented online prospects with a coupon or offer, such as free month’s rent for signing a 12-month lease, increased lead conversions by 73%.

 

Of the prospective renters surveyed, 67% said pricing was the biggest factor in their decision on where to sign a lease. Play up the community benefits and utilities included in the rent price, and offer creative budget incentives like discounted dog walking services for residents arranged through a local provider.

 

At one apartment community managed by The Worthing Companies, Jones says 60% of the prospects clicked restaurants as a favorite place to visit in the neighborhood. “This gives us the knowledge to do a perks program for discounts with restaurants nearby, and even host events at different restaurants for the residents,” Jones says.

 

The PERQ Multifamily Field Guide contains multifamily insights, regional trends, renter profiles, and self-proclaimed pain points others in the industry face and how to solve those common challenges using AI-driven technology. Click below to request your copy of the full Multifamily Field Guide.[/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 Multifamily Resources

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