Lately, we’ve been talking about micro-moments and what they mean for digital marketing. To get you up to speed, micro-moments are deemed by Think with Google as “when people reflexively turn to a device- increasingly a smartphone- to act on a need to learn something, watch something, or buy something. They are intent-rich moments when decisions are made and preferences are shaped.”
On Friday, December 2nd, the PERQ Marketing Team took a break from their usual routine and celebrated 100 Weeks of Agile Marketing. In a style true PERQ company culture, they headed to downtown Indianapolis’s Fountain Square neighborhood to eat lunch at La Margarita, then went to play games and hang out at New Day Craft. It was an opportunity for the team to strategize how to continue to make the most of Agile Scrum Methodology.
Believe it or not, the hugely popular online quiz phenomena may actually be the “secret sauce” for online furniture retailers to increase sales! Taking a quiz on an online furniture retailer’s website has been proven to engage the customer to learn more about their own design style, while simultaneously, giving the furniture retailer personal insight into that buyer’s journey.
“People want to tell you about themselves. We want to give them the opportunity to do that,” says Eric Sears, account executive at PERQ, which offers furniture retailers online quizzes to assess a customer’s design preferences, mattress fit or sofa style. By serving up furniture that matches a customer’s tastes, hobbies and current stage of life, a retailer can help narrow down the search funnel and guide the online shopping experience for them.
Research also shows the longer a shopper engages with a store’s website, the more likely they are to buy from that store. PERQ research shows interactive experiences increase engagement time from an average of 3 minutes per session to 12 minutes or higher.
“Ultimately, what we’re finding is if they have a high level of service on a website, these consumers are more apt to come into your showroom to experience a high level of service there, as well,” Sears says.
Improve Customer Engagement, Increase Sales
Customers at Rod Kush’s 7-Day Furniture and Mattress Store in Nebraska really seem to engage with the “What’s Your Design Style?” assessment on the store’s website, says co-owner Troy Kush. After using the PERQ Web Engagement software for 210 days, the store’s web registrations skyrocketed 2,671%, resulting in a 17-percent increase in lead-to-sale conversion.
“Surprisingly, people are taking those assessments. I didn’t know if they would or not,” Kush says. “It is really about engagement. If you take the assessment, you are going to start browsing. If they browse our website for five to 10 minutes, we are in their head.” By answering a few quiz questions, such as how you spend your free time and the types of gatherings you prefer to host, the customer gains insight into their own personal style. Is your home artistic or innovative? Is it more comfortable and laid-back where everyone gathers for game day? Or do you host sophisticated dinner parties and wine and cheese nights?
The customer uses the quiz as a research tool to learn more about their own style and what furniture works best in their particular household. Online furniture retailers use the information gleaned through the customer’s answers to prepare an effective sales strategy to meet them where they are in life and when they’re ready to buy.
“Without our technology, there are anonymous people who are coming onto your website that are potential customers of your business that bounce out without ever giving you their information,” Eric Sears says. “We want to provide more of those leads, as well as insight into that person through that interactive one-on-one style and approach.”
Give Customers Research Tools Online, Increase Showroom Visits
Need to buy a new mattress, and don’t even know where to start? Is your mattress just old, or do you want to improve your sleep? How about those nagging back pains you wake up with every morning? Is an innerspring mattress better for a back sleeper than a hybrid or memory foam?
How about a new sofa? Will it be mainly used for entertaining guests? Do you prefer a certain sofa style in your man cave versus the family room? Do your hobbies and lifestyle affect what style of sofa works in your home?
Smart shoppers ask many, MANY questions and conduct extensive research before they ever step into a furniture showroom. Does your website help them answer those questions and narrow down their choices so they can reach a buying decision? If it doesn’t, your furniture store is likely missing out on potential customers.
“We want to be able to narrow down that funnel for them,” Sears says, by giving website visitors research tools that provide a starting point on what to look for and where to find it, which ultimately inspires more trust for your store’s brand and higher inclination to visit your showroom.
Research shows that 70 percent of furniture shoppers visit a furniture store’s website before going to a physical showroom, and they now visit only 1.8 showrooms, instead of five or six, before buying.
Sears says that most online furniture retailers don’t offer a research tool and fail to give customers what they want when they want it during the online research phase of their buying journey. “We want to deliver that to them there, communicate on the website, and get value in real time,” he says.
Follow Up on Leads at Right Time with Right Strategy
Static contact forms on a furniture store’s website provide a name, phone number and email address. However, they give salespeople little insight into which items the customer may have been looking for on the website or whether they’re ready to buy now or in six months. With PERQ’s interactive software, the leads become relevant data with specific information to act upon now or at a later date.
For instance, a customer shares their interest in a comfortable sofa for the living room in earth tones; but they don’t want to buy for six months. Using the assessment data, the store can target that customer with specialized incentives, sales or discounts for that comfy couch as part of a longtail marketing strategy or email drip campaign.
Maybe your furniture store wants to focus only on customers who are ready to buy now? The PERQ assessment strategies work for that purpose as well, extracting only bottom, end-of-the-funnel leads that your sales team can immediately focus on and convert to sales.
Establishing a clear strategy for how to follow up on the influx of leads generated by the assessments also makes a difference, says Joey Gunn, Vice President of Knight Furniture & Mattress in Sherman and Gainesville, Texas. “If you mishandle, it can really hurt your brand,” he says. “We drowned the first month, but we took that and learned from it.”
Knight Furniture & Mattress personalized its email templates to respond to each kind of customer, no matter where they are in the sales funnel. “If someone identifies themselves as just looking, and you send an email meant for an end-of-funnel customer, it can seem aggressive,” Gunn says, adding that his sales team wanted to keep the personalized approach because they know it works.
Another approach that works for some retailers involves offering something extra to the customer who takes an assessment on your website. Gallery Furniture in Houston takes the “What’s My Design Style?” information one step further by allowing customers to sign up for a design consultation in their homes.
The two-pronged approach has generated phenomenal sales, says Gallery Furniture’s Analytics Director Dan Marchione, pointing to the store’s average monthly increase of 2,091% in web registrations and 380% increase in web visitor session duration.
Start Online to Close the Deal in the Showroom
Engaging with furniture customers through online quizzes entices them to stay on your site longer, share more information about their buying journey, and gain trust to visit your store’s showroom. The longer they stay and the more you know about them gives your furniture sales staff the best tools to close the deal.
“The personalized, guided shopping experience that we’re providing to consumers is ultimately driving more showroom traffic, and we know the most likely people to buy furniture are the ones who are in the showroom,” Sears says. “Giving them a high level of service on the website is driving more showroom traffic that leads to more sales.”
Micro-moments are influencing buyer behaviors and expectations. But what exactly are “micro-moments” and in what ways are they shaping the consumer journey? Let me take you through some of the most important car sales tips.
Getting started, it’s important to understand how very “new” the idea of micro-moments are in the digital marketing world – even though they’ve existed for quite a while now. Think with Google leads the charge on research into the ways in which smartphone technology is revolutionizing the digital marketing space.
Here’s how “Think with Google” describes themselves: “Think of us as your resource for everything from high-level insights to deck-ready stats to useful tools. Here you will find the data we’re exploring and the trends we’re tracking along with forward-looking perspectives and behind-the-scenes looks at digital campaigns —across industries, platforms and audiences.”
Do a Google search for the phrase “micro-moments” and you’ll find this definition: Micro-moments are “when people reflexively turn to a device – increasingly a smartphone – to act on a need to learn something, watch something, or buy something. They are intent-rich moments when decisions are made and preferences are shaped.”
Micro-moments present dealerships with the chance to distinguish themselves from their competition through personalized experiences that present relevant information.
Here are four things every business needs to know in order to understand how to use micro-moments to their advantage!
Four Things You Need to Know About Micro-Moments
1. Micro-Moments Require That Consumers Find Information Quickly And Accurately
Consumers have all the information they could ever want right at their fingertips – well, at least they should. When they turn to their devices to learn, watch, or buy, they don’t want to take the time to dig around to find what they are looking for, or worse, have to question the validity of the source.
Here’s an example scenario to help provide more clarity: Let’s say you’re a DJ/Party Planner who regularly hauls around a lot of professional stereos and heavy lighting equipment.
You want to get more equipment to add to your inventory, but it seems your current vehicle can’t really carry much more — weight wise or space wise. That being said, you’ve determined that the best course of action would be to upgrade to a new vehicle. The primary question is: which one?
Well, your next step would obviously be to visit a dealership website and explore the body types available. More importantly, however, you’ll be filtering through your results to look for a vehicle that has the capacity to handle all of your equipment.
If this type of information is on a dealership’s website, then that dealership has officially won that micro-moment. If it isn’t, you’re obviously going to go to the next dealership down the road.
“If this type of information is on a dealership’s website, then that dealership has officially won that micro-moment.”
Consumers want accurate information immediately. Your website’s content is going to be the deciding factor of whether or not consumers will maintain prolonged engagement. That’s why it’s always important to make sure the information you’re giving is accurate
2. Micro-Moments Mean That Businesses Need To Be Present For Consumers
The consumer journey is being reshaped by new behaviors and expectations. This culminates in the need for new micro-optimized touch points and for digital marketing to connect with people on their terms.
Past facts and figures are out the window when it comes to micro-moments. Consumer behavior in these moments is unpredictable and solely driven by their needs at that given point in time.
For a business to capitalize on these unique needs, website experiences must be engaging, intuitive, and easily found.
Things like Static Forms and live chat must have the ability for consumers to ask specific questions and receive timely answers — and even then, static forms rarely provide the ability for consumers to have a 2-way conversation with brands.
In a nutshell, brands need to be able to fully engage with consumers in order to provide consumers with everything they need to make an informed purchasing decision.
3. Micro-Moments Allow For Businesses And Brands To Tell Their Story
Micro-moments don’t always mean that the consumer wants to buy something. More often than not, consumers are simply looking for information. Sometimes it’s regarding a purchase and sometimes it isn’t.
When this is the case, businesses and brands must recognize this as an opportunity to provide information while simultaneously showcasing who they are and what their business stands for.
By infusing their personality into the consumer’s experience with them, regardless of whether or not the consumer is looking to buy anything, businesses and brands can make themselves stand out in the consumer’s mind.
Making a good impression could ultimately lead the consumer back to their dealership’s site when the time comes to make a purchase.
I talk a little bit more about this idea of transparency and openness and how it affects goodwill in my previous blog post: “Consumers will have more goodwill towards dealers because more information and pieces of the buying process will be easily found and understood from the very start.”
4. Micro-Moments Are Actionable
They have the potential to skip past different stages in the buying journey like “researching options” and “evaluating vendors.” If you give consumers a really good experience (during the moment they’re researching) , they may be swayed to immediately make a purchase because you’re pushing them to make important decisions.
Micro-moments happen billions of times per day, and businesses and brands need to stay relevant in order to capitalize on them. Because they are action driven, micro-moments provide businesses the opportunity to use different experiences to indicate where consumers are in their journey and allow the possibility for experiences that custom path and tailor specifically to each individual consumer’s needs.
See how micro-moments are shaping the traditional “consumer’s journey?” They demand that businesses (dealerships included) fully assess their digital footprint at all stages of the buying process so that they can respond to the consumer’s needs in real-time.
“If you give consumers a really good experience , they may be swayed to immediately make a purchase.”
Micro-moments are necessitating that businesses be agile and proactive about the types of content and experiences that they put on their website, and that these content and experiences are able to forge meaningful connections between businesses and consumers.
Every day, more of the car buying process is occurring on dealership websites. As the automotive industry comes to terms with this, it becomes imperative for them to learn about what drives engagement with their consumers. What can more dealerships do to create experiences that cater specifically to their consumers’ needs?
THE SHIFTING FACE OF AUTOMOTIVE: WHAT DRIVES ENGAGEMENT ON DEALERSHIP WEBSITES?
What this means for the automotive industry is that some exciting possibilities for engagement are opening up; everything ranging from the seemingly fantastical (ex: cars delivered to your doorstep for a test drive) to fast-emerging industry standards (ex: completing financing paperwork all online). In fact, more and more pieces of the process are going mobile.
Max Zanan, co-founder, and CEO of IDDS Group says in an interview with Boston.com, “Uber teaches the consumer that instant gratification is out there because they can get a car within two minutes. This shift is going to carry over into automotive retail.’’
In the same piece, Steve Halloran of CarGurus (like Max Zanan) had much to say regarding the need for instant gratification: “We agree that convenience is the most important thing people are seeking [when car-shopping]. We believe people want to shop for cars the way they shop for most other things. Shortening or lowering hurdles between a user who is looking at an online ad and a car dealership’s salesperson is going to be increasingly important. Transparency is about openness and increasing dialogue between merchants and shoppers. We would love to see more of that if possible.’’
It’s because of this innovation that automotive dealers need to understand what drives engagement and capitalize on moments where consumers turn specifically to them for information. In a conversation our own Felicia Savage had with Aaron Schinke & Eric Giroux (Dealer Socket) at this year’s DrivingSales Executive Summit regarding their car sales tips, both marketers agreed that there’s literally no such thing as too much information. In addition to providing more than enough information, Aaron added “I would make sure everything about your vehicle merchandising is custom, thoughtful, purposeful, meaningful and presented in a way that makes sense to the average consumer. Once you’re doing that, then you can start thinking about working with a technology provider to allow you to purchase cars online.”
Now more than ever, consumers expect information almost immediately. These “micro-moments” give brands the opportunity to provide engaging experiences and content to consumers who will then find the information they need and forge a deeper connection with the brand.
Consumer engagement is being driven by micro-moments, and auto dealers need to understand that consumer behavior (in these moments) is driven by speed and efficiency. If a consumer can’t quickly find the information they need from a brand, they are not going to interact with that brand for very long.
According to Think with Google, “The average car shopper today makes just two dealership visits in the search for the perfect vehicle. That’s because today car shoppers turn to mobile to research models, find deals, and get real-time advice. David Mogensen, Google’s head of YouTube ads marketing and former automotive marketer, shares how to tap into this new auto buying process.”
It’s important for internet managers and web providers to set up their dealership websites in a way that allows them to create engaging experiences that allow consumers to find out what they need to know. “No such thing as too much information” holds true when it comes to complex, high-consideration goods such as cars; however it needs to be found quickly, or else that consumer will look elsewhere.
Creating websites that are intuitive and well organized is a starting point for brands to responding to the changing face of consumer engagement. Clearly labeled pages, easy-to-find deals, special offers, and high-quality pictures of products with in-depth descriptions all help a consumer find what they need on a dealer’s site.
Additionally, other interactive experiences and tools like quizzes, calculators, and assessments allow information to be filtered and personalized to each consumer depending on where they are in their buying journey.
In the past, dealerships would use static forms; which wouldn’t give sales people any indication of what stage of the buying journey consumers were in. Our own Russ Chandler explained the whole static form scenario best: “One of the biggest problems with static lead forms is that they don’t provide direct value to car shoppers. I mean, you can technically say that submitting a form will lead to a follow-up call for more information.. but is a follow-up call they requested really that valuable? Most consumers (or people, rather), like immediate satisfaction. If they’re requesting more information on a vehicle, an offer or a trade-in, they don’t want to wait for answers. They want them right now. Static lead forms don’t do that.”
But now, by utilizing interactive experiences that provide different indicators of where the consumer is in the buying process, leads immediately become higher quality for dealers, and information becomes more relevant for consumers. See how these micro-moments are influencing buying behavior?
“One of the reasons why they’ve been so successful is that they’re giving consumers a legitimate voice. Instead of it being just an exchange of information, consumers feel they’re filling out a buyer profile more than giving dealers contact information in order to be badgered.” Russ Chandler explains. “Almost all the questions asked (‘What kind of car do you want to buy?’ or ‘What is your current budget?’) allow dealers to better assist consumers with their needs. These questions allow dealers to really kickstart the customer relationship.”
Information that provides consumers with the opportunity for prolonged engagement (ex: trade appraisal tools) can give dealers a lift in their consumer’s eyes in regards to their level of transparency and openness.
Consumers will have more goodwill towards dealers because more information and pieces of the buying process will be easily found and understood from the very start.
Nothing will ever replace in-store experiences like test drives and ancillary services like oil changes. By their very nature, micro-moments are quick, real-time interactions. Because they happen so instantly, it’s crucial that auto dealers get them right and capitalize on providing accurate information quickly and efficiently.
Micro-moments are driven by consumer intent at one particular moment, and with the accessibility of information at consumers’ fingertips, they are changing the face of automotive buying behavior and driving engagement.