Just because your showrooms are temporarily closed to the public, doesn’t mean fewer consumers are shopping online. Even if these shoppers can’t make purchases now, your brand can make an impact for future sales. Lean into digital sales and help empower your sales team during COVID-19 by utilizing our Digital Sales Guide.
The new Digital Sales Guide is a resource for your retail teams on how to generate sales opportunities during times of lower store traffic. The guide outlines how to leverage your website to obtain and manage quality leads, along with tips and tricks on how to utilize video consultations, text messaging, email nurture and automation to communicate with shoppers.
Our Digital Sales Guide offers immediate guidance, right away, at no cost. Check it out to learn how to increase your sales during COVID-19, by visiting this link.
In the age of large online retailers, many home furnishing stores are turning their attention toward the website and are feeling the pressure to enter the world of e-commerce. Focusing on your website is an absolute must. E-commerce, on the other hand, is both expensive and can distract from your brick and mortar operations – the main characteristic that sets you apart from large online retailers.
Your website will be key to your success in helping to drive more visitors to your actual doors. Did you know that 80% of transactions that take place in a furniture store also included online research? The key difference here is that the customer shopped online, but didn’t buy online. They searched online for what they wanted and then decided which stores to visit. What if you could use this to your advantage and get more of those online researchers to actually come into your store?
These digital sales help you capitalize on the opportunity to provide a great customer experience starting on the website, all the way up to the time shoppers come into the store and purchase —- producing more revenue for your store and giving the customer a great item for their home.
When considering your digital sales process, here are 5 tips to keep in mind:
1. Have a clear vision for digital sales for your home furniture store
Setting a good vision helps you understand where you are going and what it is you’re trying to achieve. It will help you and your team move in the same direction toward a common goal.
When it comes to setting a vision for digital sales, think about why you are doing this in the first place. It’s likely that you have an opportunity available to improve and grow your revenue. Shoppers want to be online, and you must keep up. But how can you make that actionable? Let’s break down an example.
The Vision: Treat Every Digital Up as the same opportunity as an in-store up.
In this example, the vision is clear because the furniture retailer described it as something the sales team is already familiar with: the in-store experience. Providing this kind of clarity to your team will greatly improve your ability to get buy-in and enable them to be more effective, and even creative. Imagine someone asking you to get on a bus to go out of town, but they’re not sure which direction the bus is traveling. You feel a little bit nervous right? Everyone feels more at ease and is able to do their best work when it’s clear where they’re going.
2. Find a champion to lead your furniture store in digital sales
Now that you have a vision, it’s time to put it to work and find your digital sales champion. Having a champion is almost as important as your vision. Your champion is committed to achieving what you’ve set out to accomplish and will drive your team to see it through.
Your champion probably won’t be the CEO of your company. They may not even have an official leadership role. This person leads through their own actions and attitude, and has the time and willingness to take ownership over this initiative.
Think about that employee who is respected by the team as a leader. Do they adapt to change well? And, are they excited about improving sales?
3. Assemble a furniture digital sales team
In addition to your champion, you’re going to need a supportive team. Whether your team is very large or a few people, it is crucial to select these people carefully. When creating a furniture digital sales team, it is important not to take away processes that are already working well for each individual. Instead, you want to enhance their roles so they’re given more opportunity to close online to in-store sales.
On your digital sales team you’ll have 3 roles to fill, the first of which we already discussed. Your champion. In addition to your champion, you’ll have a team of Lead Specialists and Digital-Ups Specialists who will work together to follow-up, answer questions, and set in-store appointments.
Individuals who will succeed as a specialist are those who are open to change and are willing to try something new. In this case, starting something new involves starting new conversations with shoppers, before they’ve ever stepped foot in your store.
Your digital sales team will rely heavily on technology to facilitate these digital conversations in the CRM with text messaging, so it is essential that you’ve selected a team of people who will be comfortable and enjoy using technology every day.
4. Implement a digital sales process that works for your home furnishings store (and stick to it)
You have your vision, and you have your team. While you’ve done a great job helping align your team to the vision, once leads start to come in and conversations start to get going, it’s easy to get distracted. Providing your team with a specific process will help them stay on-track toward your ultimate vision and better enable them to handle more volume as you continue on this journey.
As with any process, it’s important that the process fits for your team. It might feel difficult at first — after all, all change has challenges. After some time, the process you choose should start becoming natural to your team. If it’s not, then it’s ok to re-evaluate and make improvements.
5. Define what it means for your home furnishings store to succeed with digital sales
What does success look like for your team? Digital sales success is not going to look the same for every team, and that’s ok. The important thing is that you can identify if you’re successful or not — just as you would with a brick and mortar location. You wouldn’t open a store with the mindset that it would be nice to make a few sales. You’d set specific goals for your team and incentivize them to achieve. The same is true with digital sales. Setting metrics to measure your team’s progress and success will help you in a number of ways.
First and foremost, you’ll have a way to measure the return of your efforts. Adopting digital sales isn’t easy and we want you to see that the work you’re doing is making an impact.
Second, metrics motivate teams. As I’ve mentioned before, your sales people in-store are measured. If your online team is working towards the same goal of generating more ups, be-backs, and sales, shouldn’t we measure and reward them for doing good work as well?
Finally, metrics tell you when you need to change. Knowing when something is or is not working will enable you to make changes that maximize your opportunity with digital sales. For example, if you notice in PERQ CRM that less than 75% of your leads are being followed up on, that can indicate to you that there’s an inefficiency and your specialists need help. Other key metrics to keep an eye out for are: lead to sale, speed to lead (how quickly leads are followed up on), % of leads turned into digital ups and appointments.
The digital sales process is not a one-size fits all solution. Getting a team together and executing on each of these five tips is the first step. After that comes the improvements to your process. For example, perhaps your team is too small, or the specialist roles need to be more clearly defined. Whatever it is, you’ll find it out just by getting started and then making adjustments over time to make this process better and better. This story was originally published on December 1a, 2019 on Furniture World.
Armed with an array of digital apartment rental leads generation sources, multifamily properties can find themselves inundated in an unmanageable tangle of online leads coming in from all digital directions. Intelligent lead automation simplifies the lead nurture process for a multifamily property management company and frees up the leasing specialists so they can focus on contacting the highest priority prospects first.
“In the current state of online lead management, you have more online leads than ever before,” says Marcella Eppsteiner, Vice President of Marketing at Mission Rock Residential. “How do we know they are really ready to move or make a decision? Currently, our industry follows up with a broad-stroke approach and we really need a laser-focused approach.”
AI-powered technology sharpens a property’s entire lead nurturing process, starting with website software that delivers interactive, personalized content to visitors and collects detailed lead data. You can prioritize leads based on the data analytics, such as when a prospect indicates they plan to move, and the resulting machine learning insights predict the most likely path to lease conversion at that property. AI Leasing Assistants also give the most up to date rental listings and tour availability so the prospect can look at the most accurate listings.
An intelligent automated lead nurture system separates prospects into two distinct groups: hot renter leads ready to rent right now and leads higher up in the sales funnel who are still researching options. To streamline lead volume, onsite leasing specialists only receive qualified leads deemed by the data to be the most likely leads to convert, so they can focus on following up with the highest-priority prospects.
“Let the heavy human capital handle the important follow-up,” says Scott Hill, Co-Founder and CEO at PERQ. “Condense opportunities down to those leads most likely to tour and that most fit the profile.”
A smart lead automation approach helps properties solve the challenge of attracting too many low-quality leads and effectively reduces the lead volume the leasing staff needs to focus on at one time. Use the following tips for adding automation to improve your multifamily property’s lead management process and increase the percentage of online leads that convert to tours and leases.
“You’ll see a higher lead-to-tour and tour-to-lease rate, because you’re following up with the right people,” Hill says.
Collect More Data on Rental Prospects Who Engage on Your Website
Engage your website visitors to help them educate themselves and do research on your multifamily properties, while you get valuable lead data about each prospect who engages with the personalized hub of AI-driven leasing tools, such as a chatbot that can answer questions 24/7, Explore the Area or Find Your Floor Plan assessments.
“Get more data from your website and look for ways to get the consumer to give you more information, because it is valuable,” Hill says.
Collecting detailed lead data allows your property to identify which leads are ready to rent now, and which prospects should be nurtured using intelligent lead automation until they’re closer to signing a lease. Your marketing department can adjust the digital marketing strategy and messaging to specifically target the different segments of leads.
Prioritize Your Online Leads
By capturing lead data from all of the website visitors who engage with the site’s content and dynamic incentives, you’re building a pipeline of potential leads not quite ready to rent. Treat these as your property’s “Waiting List.”
“Capturing more consumers earlier in the process enables you to have a tremendous amount of data. There are ways to do it where the consumer wants to share information because they get information in return,” Hill says. “Once you have the data, you can qualify the leads. Send the most important leads to your leasing team while you nurture other leads until they are worth your team’s time.”
You can score potential leads based on their answers to your interactive content, individual website behavior and their willingness to talk to a leasing agent or schedule a property tour. Leverage your CRM if it comes with this advanced functionality, or create best practices for your leasing teams so they know how to prioritize online leads.
“Any sales staff is going to be strapped for time to some extent, and there’s only going to be so much manual follow-up they can do. So, it’s important to take some of that load off their shoulders and automate where you can,” says Michael Norris, Chief Marketing Officer at Youtech, a full-service marketing and advertising agency that recently partnered with PERQ to assist clients using the AI technology or are interested in trying the cloud-based marketing software. “There are just certain things that machines can do better than humans.”
Train Your Onsite Leasing Team
Leasing specialists should be the forefront of your brand, and possess the experience and strong sales skills to close the deal when a prospect is ready to sign a lease on the spot. Invest in sales training for your onsite leasing team, and make sure they know which conversations you want them to have with potential renters.
For leads ready to rent now, leasing specialists should contact those right away to avoid losing them to a competing property. Prospects expect prompt responses to digital requests and require a personalized response that shows your leasing team wants to help.
“The leasing agent becomes a concierge to help prospects along and make an easier facilitation of the leasing process when they are ready to engage,” Hill says.
Norris agrees it’s of the utmost importance to respond to inquiries quickly and in a personalized way since consumers are accustomed to the world catering to them “with social media algorithms and dopamine hits.”
“It’s important to follow up in a personalized manner, too, and this is something I think PERQ does well,” Norris says. “Not only is it automated to an extent, but it’s also personalized to the individual.”
Use Lead Automation to Keep Rental Prospects Engaged
Automated email nurture campaigns can tie into how you score leads and follow a pre-set schedule based on where they’re at in the leasing journey. The timely messages keep your multifamily brand top of mind while they continue researching, no matter how long their apartment search takes.
“With automated prospect emails, our lead management system generates an introduction to engage the prospect prior to involving the onsite team,” says Meagan Struve, Marketing Manager at Mission Rock. “This automated engagement essentially gauges the prospect’s interest before a person steps in to further the conversation towards leasing the apartment.”
With AI technology, automated emails are personalized and curated to only include content relevant to their search on the property website. Say a prospect plans to move from another state, your leasing team could email a video highlighting their favorite floor plan, according to their responses on the website.
Entice them to take the next step like schedule a tour through an automated scheduling tool online, driving them back to the website to re-engage, or encourage the prospect with a personalized incentive. If they own pets, send them an email showing off your pet-friendly amenities and fun “yappy hour” events or include “welcome” offers from neighborhood dog groomers, dog walkers or vets.
Since implementing PERQ’s AI-driven technology to automate lead nurturing and engage online prospects on the Mission Rock property websites, Eppsteiner says the company sees a 50% tour-to-lease conversion rate compared to the average industry closing ratio of 35%.
“Our sales teams are rockstars, and it’s also because the people coming in are ready to lease,” she says. “Where I anticipate automation going, we’ll actually convert more and should anticipate the conversion ratio going up to 60%. The people your team are reaching out to have already been nurtured. These leads are ready, true prospective residents.”
Trust the Automated Lead Nurture Process
Despite your instinct to try and follow up with every lead that comes in the digital door, it’s more efficient and effective to trust the automation process and listen to what the data tells your team about a lead’s readiness to commit to a lease.
“With automation, we have ways to sort and use data which has given me time back to focus on the bigger picture,” Struve says. “I’m not in the day-to-day manual management of data. Yet, I am leveraging the data more usefully while gathering pertinent information for a smoother process.”
Follow up first with prospects the lead management system identifies as a top priority, flagged for being more likely to rent based on gathered data. Trust that it’s better to use automated lead nurture to target lower-priority leads instead of taking away from a leasing agent’s precious time.
Follow the Data to See Results in Lead Automation
By implementing all of the above, you’ll capture better data to help improve operational efficiencies and give better insights into property performance to make better decisions. Richer lead data makes personalized lead follow-up possible.
Your property can tap into online data to track multi-touch attribution for every tour, lead and lease. Easy-to-digest Google Analytics reports show how visitors interact on the website and which platforms convert the most leads into leases, along with ROI of all lead generation sources and digital ad campaigns that target keywords like “apartments for lease near me” for higher visibility.
“We have properties that compete against each other, so we are constantly using automation data and watching to ensure that we have a smart spend in those markets,” says Desiree White, Marketing Manager with NE Property Management. “My team does a lot behind the scenes, getting reports and analytics to make sure we’re staying at the top of our market and our onsite teams are seeing success.”
Continuously study the results to spot ways to adjust and improve, and be sure to share reports across all teams in your property management company to keep the big picture in focus.
“This takes collaboration. Marketers are basically data analysts. That analysis is shared with your operations team, your leasing team, and your training team,” Eppsteiner advises. “With these engagement pieces, we are able to get insights into properties. We can share this with our training team to incorporate that information. Data has to be shared with your leasing team.”
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.
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.
What Is Your Furniture Store’s Digital Strategy And Tools Used?
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.
What Does Digital Marketing Success Look Like For Furniture Retail?
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.
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.
There was a time when multifamily communities could still rely on a simple “Contact Us” website lead form, or force prospects to pick up the phone or send an email if they’re interested in touring the property. That approach often results in a lot of back-and-forth communication on what kind of floor plan the renter wants, any special needs or amenity requirements, and available dates and times that work for both the prospect and leasing specialist.
More than 80% of prospects start their apartment search online by typing something similar to apartments for lease near me into Google, according to data analyzed for PERQ’s new Multifamily Field Guide. They’ll go to apartments.com or zillow before the property website. They spend up to three months narrowing down what one or two properties they will visit in person before signing a lease.
Capitalize on that vast amount of time prospects spend researching communities online, and make it simple for those prospects to take the next step in the leasing process. Follow these five tips to collect higher quality leads and book more property tours:
1. Turn Your Website Into a Leasing Consultant
Meet apartment rental leads where they’re shopping and serve them the information they seek in one convenient place, such as how much money they should budget for utilities and rent and the quality of restaurants in the neighborhood.
In return, your property gathers quality personal data on each lead that can make converting them into a lease much easier when it comes time for a tour. You’ll already know what they’re looking for, and they’ll already have a good idea of what they want. It’s much more detailed lead information than the name, phone number and email address properties receive from standard static forms or internet listings.
“I consider our website a leasing consultant,” says Mary Herrold, Senior Director of Marketing at Redwood Residential, which uses PERQ on all of its multifamily community websites to collect, analyze and convert online leads. “Just like a live human leasing consultant, it needs to do its job. It needs to convert.”
PERQ’s AI Leasing Assistant delivers prospects with interactive online experiences to help them narrow down the perfect apartment to call home, offers 24/7 support with an AI chatbot, and an online scheduling tool for booking tours.
Herrold says she uses PERQ to train new apartment rental agent or when onboarding a new property, telling them to pay attention to the questions the AI software asks and in what order, then mimic that lead nurturing process when talking to a prospect on the phone or in person.
2. Bridge the Gap Between Renter Leads and Tours
“Since the beginning of time in the multifamily industry, there’s been a gap between lead and tour,” Herrold says. “The lead-to-tour cavern has always presented a challenge.”
Herrold credits the online scheduler tool with building a bridge to successfully traverse that costly cavern. “PERQ increases the momentum,” she says. “The commitments that are made along the experiences, they’re small commitments, but they lead up to an ultimate commitment. So, little yeses mean a big yes, and that’s the main goal.”
She says before the online option, even if a lead to agreed to an appointment, prospects often didn’t take the next step to actually schedule the tour or failed to keep their scheduled appointment with a leasing specialist.
When prospects engage with the AI-driven interactive experiences on a property website, they invest their valuable time and personal data. According to PERQ data, that makes them statistically more likely to pick that community as the one or two apartments they’ll visit in person.
Because they’ve already dedicated so much of their focus to the brand, made the no-pressure appointment on their own, and volunteered their name and information, they’re also more likely to honor an appointment they make to tour the property.
3. Prompt More Prospects to Book Tours
If a prospective renter searches for their new apartment home at 10 p.m. on a Wednesday night, you want to give them the option to schedule a tour without picking up the phone or waiting for an email response the next day. By adding an interactive calendar tool on the website that allows consumers to schedule a tour at their convenience, a community can compel more prospects to book an appointment at the property.
For PERQ multifamily clients, 15% of online leads captured by our Web Conversion Technology schedule a tour on the property website after engaging with the interactive experiences to learn more about the community.
It’s the convenience and instant gratification of booking right then that drives prospects to take the next step in the leasing process, whenever they’re ready to move forward and tour the community in person.
4. Focus on Quality Leads for Best Lead Nurture
In our experience working with PERQ clients and studying industry data, high-quality traffic gives properties a higher probability of conversion. Collecting more detailed and robust lead information increases the likelihood those online leads will convert into signed leases.
From an efficiency standpoint, leasing agents should spend their time engaging and following up with quality leads that can convert, as opposed to chasing unqualified leads that take up more time.
Properties can use a CRM to sort and prioritize leads based on when they say they’re ready to buy.
5. Measure Online Traffic & Lead Conversions
A multifamily community can increase the quality of their online traffic by measuring the sources they utilize to drive traffic. Google Analytics is a helpful tool for analyzing your traffic to see which channels drive the most online leads and the most conversions.
When paired with PERQ’s own tracking software, anonymous leads in Google Analytics transform into identifiable leads who can be followed across devices, multiple viewing sessions and different touchpoints on their leasing journey.
It’s important when tracking online traffic to set benchmarks and goals at the beginning, and regularly check the data to ensure things are headed in the right direction. Be prepared to tweak your online approach as you review the results, compare them to the conversion goals you set and measure which traffic source is performing the best.
By investing in AI-driven technology, properties can collect higher quality leads, entice more online prospects to book tours, and convert more leads.
There are no hard-and-fast rules for digital marketing. It’s an aspect of business that’s ever-changing and there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Internet platforms and social media channels popular today didn’t even exist just a few short years ago when everyone (and, yes, even their mother) began shopping around online prior to making big purchases, such as buying home appliances, a vehicle, or leasing an apartment.
Every company must take a custom approach to their digital marketing strategy based on their own target audience, marketplace, team members and business goals — then adjust accordingly after analyzing the results to see which marketing endeavors increase leads and revenue, which is everyone’s ultimate goal.
That may be the single aspect of digital marketing we all share as business owners and leaders: we want to attract more people (leads, customers, partners, influencers, advertisers, media, and other industry thought leaders) and we want to increase our profit, or at least reduce inefficiencies for a better margin.
A couple of weeks ago, we kicked off a three-part blog series on digital marketing to help you navigate the new as well as the tried-and-true digital marketing methods that work for an experienced group of business professionals I recently interviewed.
Some sell furniture and some lease apartments. Some specialize in digital marketing consulting and some specialize in technology so businesses can better manage digital marketing. For Part 2 of our blog series, I’ve compiled the top three proven tips my sources say helped them improve digital marketing performance.
How these tips apply to your business depends on your particular industry and existing marketing plan, but the overarching principle pertains to every kind of business that invests in any online advertising and marketing — which really should include every kind of company at this stage of the digital revolution.
Do These 3 Things to Improve Your Digital Marketing
1. Invest in digital marketing avenues that deliver trackable ROI data tied to revenue. When evaluating new digital marketing technology, always pay attention to the analytics side of the tool. What data does it deliver, and more importantly, does it calculate ROI results or track the number of leads to sales?
“If you’re not sure where to spend your marketing money, go with something that can be tracked,” says Justin Bowen, Web Content Manager for The Great American Home Store, one of the many success stories of PERQ’s Marketing Cloud. “Tracking is critical. If you’re not tracking results, you don’t know what to change or what to do better.”
Bowen says knowing precise ROI for each digital platform makes it easier to make educated digital marketing budget decisions, such as investing in a new technology solution or cutting a campaign that isn’t working out as planned.
“Last year, we had a budget issue and were told we had to cut back because certain efforts weren’t providing the right amount of return on investment,” Bowen says. “Anything we spend on digital has to be trackable. The opportunity to do so is there if you choose the right platform. Demand that from any vendor; make them prove it delivers actual sales.”
2. Set analytic metrics and goals for each digital marketing platform. Simply collecting data isn’t enough. Before launching any marketing campaign, you need to set metrics and expectations so you can measure effectiveness over time.
By setting a benchmark, your digital marketing department can decide which investments are worth the cost and easily justify increasing or decreasing the budget for an online marketing tool or ad campaign.
Not all leads can be compared by the same standards. An in-depth lead profile from someone who’s already engaged with your website and volunteered their personal data delivers more value than a cheaper lead generation source that merely gives you a name and email address but no information on what the consumer is looking for, when they plan to buy or lease, how they prefer to communicate or any other personal buying preferences.
“The data we receive from our website allows us to make better decisions,” says Jenny Richard, Director of Marketing at Gene B. Glick Company, a multifamily property management company. “Collecting what amenities are important from one property to another, where they like to spend their time outside the community, understanding our customers’ journey and how far in advance of their move-in date they are looking are some examples that we focus on.”
Richards says they focus on metrics like appointment conversion and lead attribution, regularly meeting with their property managers to review the online analytics and collaborate ways to achieve benchmarks they set.
“With the wealth of data available to us, our strategy includes setting benchmarks and monitoring the results of our efforts on a bi-weekly basis to pivot as needed,” Richards says.
Additionally, Glick put into place a benchmark for response time on e-leads and SMS inquiries of 4 business hours. “We have a goal to significantly improve this response time as we know the importance of responding more promptly — it’s imperative to reduce the risk of losing a potential renter,” Richards says. “We look forward to more robust technology to provide us additional visibility into this.”
3. Add AI automation technology to increase efficiencies and conversion rates. Within 150 days of adding AI-driven software to its existing store website, The Great American Home Store saw a 3,740.41% return on investment and 2.38% conversion rate on unique leads captured through the interactive website experiences.
The explosion of AI technology means smaller businesses can now provide an online experience that rivals giant e-commerce and national brand websites, while also managing internal lead processes and analytics the same way big corporations do.
An AI-powered digital marketing cloud offers companies a powerful tool to increase staff and investment efficiencies and better manage all of their data in one place. Companies use cloud technology to automatically store lead data and internal notes, track consumers across multiple touchpoints, tie sales data to online leads, assign leads to sales staff, and add marketing automation like email and texting to nurture online leads long-term. When built to serve your specific industry, a digital marketing cloud can deliver a huge boost in efficiency, actionable insights and consumer satisfaction.
Above all else, a marketing cloud that features machine learning capabilities can analyze millions of consumer data points collected from online shoppers across hundreds of B2C websites alongside your own company data to better predict customer conversion and narrow down a target audience for specific platforms, as well as automatically adjust your various digital marketing campaigns in real time.
Start with Solid Digital Marketing Data and Analytics
When it comes to digital marketing, everyone I’ve talked to all agree: start with the fundamentals. Make sure your entire team is on the same page about what success looks like for any given marketing campaign and you have the tools in place to properly measure the results.
Be willing to switch directions if something doesn’t pan out, but also give it some time to ramp up and grow. If you change too much at once or switch things around too quickly, you won’t get a clear idea of its true potential. The wait is worth the reward when you find a winning digital marketing strategy.
Check back next month for the final piece of our 2019 digital marketing series to see what three common mistakes sources say they either learned the hard way or often see other businesses make when managing a digital marketing strategy.