Is your furniture store looking for new ways to boost sales? Look no further than your existing furniture customers. Tap into the power of word-of-mouth marketing (WOMM) to get quality referrals, while also marketing to existing customers to attract repeat buyers.
Sam’s Furniture holds special sales throughout the year for current furniture customers. Recently, Sam’s invited its best customers to the store the Sunday before Thanksgiving and offered them Black Friday pricing and a free frozen turkey to say thanks. “It’s always our biggest promotion of the year, and the smile you get from a customer is worth everything,” Weisblatt says. “The gratitude customers feel is very special!”
While it’s common practice for stores to target existing furniture customers with special sales and promos (a great marketing strategy, by the way), is your furniture store also capitalizing on those satisfied customers to attract new furniture customers? Here are five innovative ways furniture stores can generate new sales from existing customers by using the power of word-of-mouth marketing online.
1. Build Relationships with Furniture Customers
The first step in creating brand ambassadors who want to share their experience with family and friends is to make your sales process engaging and really connect with furniture customers.
The first touchpoint for most furniture customers is your store’s website as they conduct research and search around for the best place to buy furniture.
Provide interactive tools on your website that make furniture shopping more fun and memorable, such as a design-style quiz, scratch-and-save coupon or sofa assessment, instead of a boring static contact-us form where customers simply input their contact information and move on to the next furniture store website.
By engaging furniture customers on your website then providing a seamless experience in your furniture showroom, you create loyal furniture customers who are more likely to share their positive shopping experience.
2. Make It Easy for Furniture Customers to Share Online
Having a comprehensive, cohesive online presence makes it much easier to profit from word-of-mouth marketing given today’s digital world. From an optimized website to social media networking, furniture stores can utilize a variety of online platforms to capture consumers’ attention and give existing furniture customers a way to engage and share positive experiences.
Ed Tashjian, principal of Tashjian Marketing, says furniture brands he works with are starting to realize the power of what he calls a softer digital marketing approach. “Get featured on Houzz or industry blogs,” he says. “Build an identity using digital and social media marketing tools.”
“Build an identity using digital and social media marketing tools.”
— Ed Tashjian
Your furniture store website should automatically prompt online visitors to post pictures of their purchases or share the results of the fun, interactive quiz they just took on your website. Encourage online testimonials, likes on Facebook and other ways to gain exposure to their social network. Use your furniture store’s social media accounts to celebrate existing customers, who are likely to share with family and friends.
3. Create Engaging Content for Furniture Customers
To get furniture customers to share your brand’s story, you first must create content worth sharing. Establish a community with your existing customers by curating engaging content they’re likely to share with their social network, whether it be fun furniture facts posted on Facebook and Twitter or a monthly e-newsletter with store events and promos they can forward to friends.
PERQ customer Jeff Giagnocavo, co-owner of Automatic Mattress Profits and Gardner’s Mattress & More, says his sales team uses customer data they capture from the website to create an email list for marketing campaigns. Targeting consumers who are currently furniture shopping and have already shown interest by visiting your website is a great tactic for converting sales.
4. Start a Referral Program for Furniture Customers
Reward your current customers for referring friends and family to your store. To do so, you have to engage with the customers to see why they visited the store. Was it a website visit that prompted them to shop in the showroom or did someone they know tell them about your store and service?
Send your existing furniture customers a gift card to a local restaurant or a discount on their next purchase to say thanks for the referral. Show gratitude and you’ve likely earned a long-time, loyal customer.
5. Target Existing Furniture Customers
While it’s great to attract new business through referrals, don’t forget to cater to those furniture customers you’ve already won over. Repeat shoppers can give your store’s profits a real boost.
Tashjian suggests furniture stores build a database of customers to identify their preferred styles and interests, so you can send them customized promos.
“If the database says they’re a suite-type of person, you can tell them when a suite is going out of stock or discounted,” he says. “You’ll know who is predisposed to buy new collections or add-on pieces.”
Create a targeted, customized marketing approach for existing customers.
Using PERQ’s technology, you can gather detailed demographics about your customers as they browse your website and track sales conversion rates to see what’s working and what’s not.
Utilize that customer data to create a targeted, customized marketing approach for existing customers.
When it comes to winning over online consumers, smaller companies often struggle to compete against large brands that dedicate considerable money and resources to advanced website technology, cloud-based marketing strategies and targeted emails.
Amazon and Etsy deliver personalized shopping recommendations and remember you every time you log in. Leave something in your online shopping cart or bail in the middle of your search for a new sofa, and you’re sure to receive automated marketing emails from Wayfair or Target to remind you of your pending purchase or give you content to persuade you to return to the website.
It’s inside the showroom where small businesses win the sale, by delivering personal attention and a great shopping experience that seems effortless. But how can these businesses continue to compete with large retailers when most customers now do the majority of their research and shopping online? The answer: by investing in integrated, automated technology that mimics the showroom experience with minimal effort and expense.
Drive Online Consumers to Visit in Person
Sherman’s, a small family-owned home furnishings chain in Illinois, knows enticing online shoppers to come into the showroom is their best chance at a sale, so they recently teamed up with PERQ to implement an automated email nurture tool. The emails are personalized based on how the recipient interacted on the website and direct online shoppers back to the website. They feature an embedded calendar that allows website visitors to make an in-person appointment via our interactive scheduling tool.
“As an independent retailer without the vast resources of larger competitors, we’ve never been able to create a proper email nurture campaign on our own. This is exactly what we’ve dreamed of, as it keeps the customer engaged with us at critical times,” says Dave Weiss, Sherman’s marketing manager. “While we can always improve our web experience, it still falls behind the in-store experience we offer. We know once we get a guest in the store, there’s a very high likelihood they’ll purchase from us.”
Provide Calls to Action in Marketing Emails
A critical component of the emails are calls to action, propelling consumers to move to the next step in the shopping process. “We see a high level of response and conversions via that scheduling tool embedded in the email,” Weiss says. “The emails are super relevant, providing tips and follow-up on whichever product category they expressed interest in.”
The emails generate automatically based on specific items the shopper shows interest in and other information provided while interacting with the website, like their timeframe for making a purchase.
For those not ready to commit to an appointment, the personalized emails contain other questions and content that all direct shoppers back to the store’s website, driving them to return to the site and engage with other website experiences until they’re closer to converting.
Engage Online Consumers
Our data shows the vast majority of consumers shop around online before visiting a business in person, so businesses should never neglect that segment of potential customers. Instead, lure them in with an engaging, interactive website that makes their shopping experience less of a chore and more like the in-store experience, much like what big e-commerce sites provide.
After they engage with the website, follow up with targeted, actionable emails to help guide the consumer along to conversion — or a least inspire a visit to the store.
“The beauty of it all is that it’s designed to engage our guests in natural, small steps. We can’t jump straight from awareness to asking for the sale, and this helps fill in the gaps,” Weiss says. “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.”
Consumer profile data collected from property websites for Boyd Homes’ rental communities across Virginia reveals an important story about a rental prospect’s online journey to find an apartment and ultimately lease.
“We look to see if there’s any way along the line where we could do something a little differently. For example, we know from our data that people look at the floor plans the most,” says Stephanie Drake, Marketing Manager for Boyd Homes. “In knowing that information, we can decide what we can do to enhance the floor plans that they’re looking at the most.”
Knowing that the floorplan page attracts the most online visitors and the floor plan assessment converts the most online leads, Drake says the company is looking to upgrade the section soon by adding an augmented reality tool that will allow prospects to take a personalized virtual tour of the property.
Repeatedly Engage Rental Prospects During Research Journey
Boyd’s data along with PERQ’s own industry analysis show most prospects conduct several months of online research before leasing an apartment or condo, so property management companies should find innovative ways to re-engage consumers as they repeatedly go online to search rental options.
“Roughly half of our website traffic is 90 days out from renting when you combine our communities’ data, so we look at ways we can keep them in the pipeline,” Drake says. “Our data shows these people need to be contacted up to seven times before they convert.”
Property management companies must regularly engage with prospective renters looking at apartments online and give them all of the information in one place that they need to make a decision, such as reviews on businesses in the surrounding area, a personal expense calculator and pre-qualify assessment.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space][vc_single_image image=”29445″ img_size=”large” alignment=”center” qode_css_animation=””][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text]
Highly Engaged Leads Convert the Best
PERQ research shows the more experiences a prospect interacts with on a website, the more likely they are to convert. Of the prospects who scheduled a tour on a multifamily website, 72% went through at least one other experience and 58% went through at least three total experiences.
“If a prospect engages with multiple experiences, we are winning the hardest part of the digital battle. It means they are not likely going to leave to visit a competitor’s website,” says Caleb Bartlett, digital sales and media manager at Nolan Real Estate. “We have increased the likelihood of them taking that next step in the sales cycle.”
Follow Renter Journey to Get Ahead
Nolan Real Estate leverages the customer timelines they receive for each online lead through their interactive website experiences to nurture prospects and customize their lead follow-up strategy. Leasing specialists can see every time an online prospect returns to re-engage with the website, even if the prospect uses multiple devices. They are able to see exactly how the prospect responded to questions in the online assessments that ask about their moving timeline, budget, priorities and desired amenities.
“We teach each and every member of our team to utilize the consumer information that we are able to gather through our website and PERQ overlay,” Bartlett says. “Prospects tend to be very specific with their needs. If we can properly utilize all of the information they’ve provided, we believe we are already three steps ahead of where we would be without it.”
[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]Enticing online shoppers to volunteer personal information is one of the biggest challenges companies in the automotive, home furnishings and multifamily industries face in today’s evolving ecommerce marketplace. Potential customers click on their websites, browse a little, then bounce off and never return.
Re-engage those online visitors ready to leave your website by giving them a reason to stay. Tap into their competitive spirit by challenging them to enter a contest. Remind them about a special offer they don’t want to miss. Offer an interactive scratch-and-save coupon to keep them engaged on your website, while you gather lead data on a prospect you otherwise wouldn’t even know visited your site.
Exit intent incentives rank as one of the highest lead-converting tools, especially when combined with interactive website experiences that engage online shoppers. Home furnishing clients who use the Online Guided Shopping Solution on their websites saw an increased exit intent conversion rate of nearly 5%, followed by 3% for multifamily websites and about 2% for auto dealerships.
More shoppers become buyers when they find value in a personalized offer. Here’s how a few of our clients re-engage their online shoppers, reduce bounce rates and get results.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text]
Gain Online Shoppers’ Trust with Engagement
Whether shopping for cars, couches or condos, online shoppers want to trust in your brand before volunteering personal information about themselves.
Before implementing interactive experiences on its website, Sandra Dellolio, BDC Manager at Atlantic Automall in West Islip, N.Y., says online customers preferred to search incognito and remained reluctant to provide personal contact information.
“I think people are weary and stopped filling in lead forms because they felt bombarded by sales folks,” says Dellolio, whereas now they are willing to volunteer personal information in exchange for using the payment calculator or to enter a contest at the auto dealership.
“We are in a huge market for leases, so the payment calculator is the place we get most leads and they close quicker,” she adds. “The other is the exit intent, where those customers have looked at the website but did not submit the lead until the end, so we’re catching them where we would not have previously.”[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space][vc_single_image image=”29445″ img_size=”large” alignment=”center” qode_css_animation=””][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text]
Keep Online Shoppers Engaged Longer on Website
Buyers shopping online tend to stay on websites longer when they find helpful information that’s personalized to their exact search. PERQ’s Consumer Insights shows clients with engaging interactive experiences dramatically increased time on site, with online visitors staying 12 to 14 minutes longer than average across all three industries.
More than two-thirds of those online shoppers say they are still in the research phase when they first land on a client’s website, regardless of what they want to buy. An interactive website entices customers to go through different experiences to determine the next best step in their shopping journey.
Stephanie Drake, Marketing Manager for Boyd Homes in Virginia Beach, Va., says online rental prospects spend much more time on Boyd’s property websites since adding interactive experiences. The exit intent special offer is particularly effective in capturing visitors’ info before they leave the site.
“It tells them, ‘Hey, are you sure you want to leave?’ and then gives them a reminder about the specials we are offering,” Drake says. “Having this as an add-on really brings it to the front. It’s in their face when they go to click off. I view it as nothing but a good thing.”
Tap into Online Customers’ FOMO
Ever kick yourself for missing a great deal? That Fear of Missing Out can be a powerful tool for retailers, especially when it entices online shoppers to check for special offers. Artificial intelligence software can customizes a website based on information a consumer enters while engaging with the site experiences, tracking the shopper’s behavior and remembering what they searched for.
Quality Furniture Vice President Jordan Barrick says the “Check for Specials” button on each online product listing is the most popular interactive part of his store’s website. To access the deals, website visitors must first enter some personal information. In May alone, the feature delivered 169 unique leads to the Mesquite, Texas, retailer.
Give consumers something in return for volunteering personal information about themselves and their shopping preferences, whether it’s one-month free rent, $150 toward a trade-in vehicle or $100 off a new sofa, and you’ll increase your chances of closing the sale.[/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]By collecting data on website visitors, a company can map consumer behavior to spot trends and close deals. “If you’re paying attention, consumer profiles read like a book,” says Joey Gunn, Vice President of Knight Furniture, a home furnishings retailer in Texas. “Follow that consumer journey and see what led them to where they are now.”
To highlight the common steps online shoppers take before making a big buying decision, we recently examined a half dozen consumer profiles pulled from client website data and followed their online shopping journey. Here’s what their story told us.
Multiple Visits Correlates with Lead Conversions
Our data shows the likelihood of an online lead converting into a sale or lease directly correlates with the number of experiences a person interacts with on a company’s website, as well as the overall time spent browsing on the website. When online visitors return to a website on multiple occasions to re-engage with a website’s interactive features, they almost always end up a paying customer.
“It demonstrates a high level of intent,” says Dave Weiss, marketing manager at Sherman’s home furnishings stores in Illinois. “We know the more time spent on the site, the more engaged the guest is and the more likely they are to convert.”
Tracking Online Visitors Across Digital Platforms
Consumers we tracked often logged in from multiple devices, which many analytics programs count as unique users. Working in conjunction with Google Analytics, our software ties those leads back to the same person so clients get the full picture of customers’ shopping behaviors. We can also trace a lead back to GA data to identify an online shopper who made a purchase or signed a lease after interacting with the website.
“If they’ve engaged with us online, we have the storybook on them, and they won’t have to start all over if they set up an appointment or walk into the store,” Gunn says.
Companies gain a competitive edge by gathering a wealth of pertinent information on leads through the various online experiences. “Having all of the responses dramatically improves our salesperson’s chance of finding suitable solutions to meet their needs,” Weiss says. “It allows us to start from a place of being helpful as opposed to questioning and selling.”
Every consumer journey we followed for this analysis converted into a sale after interacting with a client’s website. Don’t you just love a tale with a happy ending?[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]