HOME FURNISHINGS STORE HAD TO CLOSE DOORS IN SPRING
Debra Holden, Owner of Regal House Outlet, worked hard all spring to continue to process orders and deliver furniture to her customers in Fairhaven, MA. Despite needing to close her physical location due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Holden and her team have done everything they can to keep bringing furniture to the home’s of their customers.
One of the new ways Holden learned to help customers while the location was closed, was by offering consultations on their website using PERQ.
Regal House Outlet has been able to open up to in-store shopping yet, Holden and Wendy continue to see customers scheduling consultations and moving forward with purchases online and over the phone.
CONSULTATIONS AND SALES THROUGH ONLINE SCHEDULER
Over the last 4 months, Regal House Outlet has achieved over 54% Lead to Sale conversion of their Shop Live with a Consultant leads, resulting in over $22,000 in sales for their store.
Based on the typical monthly investment in PERQ and industry margins, that’s a return of just under 7X for consultation leads alone!
We have the information and we are able to use it to follow through with our customers over the phone, and it works!
Debra Holden, Owner
As the option for customers to shop in-store opened up, Regal House has seen both higher and lower traffic through the online scheduler. “I saw it drop off a little bit as far as inquiries but now they’ve picked up again.” Despite the infrequent patterns of customers ordering online and shopping in-store Holden plans to keep up their efforts in helping customers online, noting that many customers “like it that way instead of coming in.”
Watch: See How PERQ’s Solution Improves Digital Sales
FURNITURE STORE USES CUSTOMER JOURNEY DATA FOR QUICK FOLLOW-UP
Wendy, a for Regal House Outlet, starts every day by emailing all of her consultation leads. “I do it every morning. I check all the leads.” For each lead, Wendy looks at the contact history in PERQ CRM, and starts her email to the customer. “I check the stock to see if [the product of interest] is available to order. I let them know. I give them the dollar amount and I put it in there.”
Using the information the customer provided, Wendy is able to quickly follow-up with her leads and provide relevant information to close sales. For leads who indicate they’re ready to buy, Wendy calls right away.
“Yesterday, somebody wanted to make an appointment.” She didn’t have the item available on the floor so she called the customer. “I checked the stock, I checked the item and she actually bought the bedroom set right over the phone.”
Home Furnishings Store Builds Relationships Online
Located at the same spot in rural Alabama for nearly 100 years, Akins Furniture does whatever it takes to limit overhead costs so they can offer customers who make the winding journey along County Road 81 the lowest prices possible.
Despite efforts to keep costs down, the Akins family members currently at the helm of the fourth-generation home furnishings company know they must impress online furniture shoppers to attract new customers to the showroom, but wanted to ensure their investment in new technology would pay off.
They decided to try PERQ’s Marketing Cloud to help capture and convert more website leads using AI technology, after being offered a 90-day free trial available to retailers that sell Ashley Furniture.
“We all do most of our research online before any major purchase,” says President Scott Akins. “PERQ has helped to establish a relationship during that process. That brings even more customers into our store.”
Akins has been able to increase the time online shoppers spend browsing the store’s website, while also collecting detailed lead information on every consumer who engages with the personalized interactive experiences, like a design style quiz and mattress assessment. They like that the AI-driven software helps a shopper narrow down their choices, while remembering their name and personal preferences every time they return to shop. Those consumer profile details are also saved in their CRM for sales associates to reference when following up with a lead.
“The initial 90-day results from PERQ were outstanding,” Akins says. “The ROI absolutely blew our minds!”
Retailer Opts for Online Technology Proven to Drive In-Store Sales
The company also uses detailed analytics that show exactly how many website leads convert to in-store sales and how much profit they produced. With more detailed information on each customer they follow up with or who visits the showroom, along with better qualified shoppers who receive assistance online prior to shopping in person, the Akins Furniture sales team says they’re seeing greater success.
“It is a fantastic tool that helps make the online shopping process more convenient for our customers,” Akins says.
Akins decided to opt-in with PERQ after reviewing results from the three-month trial period. In that first 90 days, the store made 223 sales from PERQ leads, totaling more than $267,500 in sales. Total sales dollars after five months equaled $431,700 — a return on investment worth over 2,900%.
Furniture Store Captures Consumers’ Attention and Lead Information
Before adding the interactive web conversion solution, Akins Furniture collected roughly 50 leads from the website per month, converting 0.56% of website traffic into true leads. The retailer, which operates the original store in “Dogtown” just outside Fort Payne, Alabama, and a second location in Scottsboro, now captures more than 650 leads on average each month.
The engaging, upgraded website converts almost 8% of website traffic into trackable web registrations when shoppers fill out one of the interactive experiences, such as a Scratch-and-Save Coupon and Special Pricing promos, or sign up for a bedding, sofa or design consultation.
“PERQ has helped us improve our communication with our customers who are shopping online and have specific questions or concerns,” Akins says. “As a result, we are able to see many more leads become actual sales.”
PERQ leads stay three times as long on the store website than other visitors, averaging almost 16 minutes per session. PERQ leads also look at more than twice as many pages per session with an average of 19 versus the 8 pages for other visitors. Akins identifies and tracks previously anonymous online shoppers, so they can see every time the same person visits the website or uses a different device to browse the site, giving the store visibility into a consumer’s entire buying journey and they say they get more accurate data on engaged leads.
“PERQ has allowed us to acquire the information needed to properly turn a lead into a sale, as well as all of the data to clearly display the ROI,” Akins says.
Ashley Furniture Retailer Overcomes Barriers to New Technology
For a storefront in operation since the 1920s, change can sometimes prove challenging. Thankfully, Akins says the new technology was easy to implement and use.
“We would have never imagined the ROI could be so substantial.”
Scott Akins, President
Management and sales team members can sort the lead management database to prioritize shoppers ready to buy and assign specific leads that require a staffer’s immediate attention. The CRM shows all of the data collected on a shopper, from their preferred design style and current needs to any previous purchases or showroom visits.
“The process of getting started with PERQ was a breeze,” Akins says. “The ease of use in the [CRM] database is a huge asset, for both our sales staff and communication with the customer.”
Akins says he “absolutely” recommends other Ashley Furniture retailers give the marketing cloud technology a try through the free trial. Without the 90-day test period, Akins says the cost barrier would have prevented the century-old furniture store from trying out the AI technology.
“We would have never imagined the ROI could be so substantial,” Akins concludes. “We would not have agreed to pay the monthly fee without being able to see the supporting data.”
Retailer Makes Shopping for Home Furnishings Online Easy with Text Tool
Giving consumers a more convenient way to interact with the Big Sandy Superstore team helps the retailer build stronger relationships with each website visitor before they come into the store. That means continually leveraging the latest advances in technology. “Getting shoppers to engage with our website is the most powerful piece,” says President Bryan Scott, who views it as their biggest challenge. “Keeping them on the site longer is important so they continue browsing.”
In the last few years, Big Sandy has continued to make website improvements, including recently adding an “Ask a Question” text tool. Within two months, they closed more than 330 in-store sales to shoppers who asked a question online before visiting one of the 18 Big Sandy Superstores in Ohio, Kentucky or West Virginia to make a purchase.
Since offering online shoppers a convenient way to instantly connect with a trained store representative, Big Sandy has increased website visitors’ time on site, keeping them browsing up to five times longer. Shoppers who interact with the various website experiences, such as an appliance assessment, stay on the site for more than 15 minutes and look at nearly 14 pages on average.
Sales teams use the valuable data collected through the website’s style quizzes — like what they’re looking to buy, their preferred style, budget and more — when they follow up with a lead or when the shopper shows up in person.
“With the questions the customers are asking and answering, it helps to narrow down a selection of a few items very quickly,” says Dan Evans, Big Sandy Superstore’s Director of Marketing.
Big Sandy Leverages AI Technology to Build Customer Relationships
Robert Van Hoose, owner of the 65-year-old superstore chain, says they’re always looking for new ways to drive customer engagement on the website but previous marketing efforts lacked any way to measure that engagement. They decided to add PERQ’s Web Conversion Solution to the website in October 2017, adding new appliance assessments the following February.
“We can see exactly where that customer’s been online, what experiences they’ve engaged with, what products they’ve looked at on our website,” Scott says. “It helps build that relationship with the consumer before they’re actually coming in the door. We know all about them, and we’re also able to build trust with them before they come through the door.”
Watch: How the Ask a Question Feature Helps You Better Connect to Shoppers.
Superstore Receives More Qualified Buyers with Texting Tool
Big Sandy discovered by adding the Ask a Question chat-to-text tool online, they doubled the amount of leads ready to talk to a sales person. The online shoppers who used the Ask a Question texting feature almost always engage with multiple other experiences on the website as well, often taking a break from browsing to ask a question that relates to an experience they just completed, such as requesting types of finishes stocked in the showroom for their chosen appliance.
While it increases consumer engagement, Scott says it’s attracting more qualified buyers, too. He says customers of all ages engage with the interactive texting box once they realize how efficient the process is for getting information quickly from a local store — and not some robot auto-response that’s sure to fill your smartphone with spam.
“Everybody wants to text now. … We’re actively closing those deals and taking those customers through the buying process.”
Bryan Scott, Big Sandy President
“Everybody wants to text now. The requests that come in are much more effective. They’re not just asking one question and then disengaging with the chat agent,” Scott says of text leads over live chat. “When they have an interest in something on our website, when they click on it and they’re actually engaging with it, they’re serious. We’re actively closing those deals and taking those customers through the buying process.”
The texting technology responds instantaneously to a consumer’s initial request using artificial intelligence technology, then a real human takes it from there to deliver personalized, timely responses and carry on an online conversation with the potential customer. With this new approach, Big Sandy downsized its online chat team by one person to make it a more focused group of chat sales specialists.
“We are seeing the conversions, and we’ve actually been able to more efficiently staff our chat team because the leads are so highly engaged,” Scott says. “They’re a higher level of chat agent, because these are actually more of a warm-to-hot lead. They’re able to work closely with those customers and close those deals.”
Scott contributes part of that success to the “super powerful” AI-driven analytics reporting and consumer tracking capabilities that drive a high level of execution inside the store, keeping the sales professionals accountable and actively engaged with online leads even when the showroom floor slows down. On average, Big Sandy Superstore sees more than $1.6 million a month in sales influenced by PERQ.
“PERQ gives us a much better way to follow up with the people who come to our website and get them into the store,” says Van Hoose. “It provides better information about the customer and what they’re searching for, and gets that information into the hands of our sales team, who can follow up locally and complete the transaction.”
Redwood Uses Marketing Intelligence to Maximize Digital Investments
Redwood Residential maximizes the data they receive through marketing intelligence to make smarter marketing decisions for their multifamily properties. They see what’s converting in real time on their website, learn valuable consumer insights to gain a better understanding of what rental prospects are looking for, and see what marketing sources are driving the most valuable leads and leases.
Established in mid-2018 as a residential division of the parent company Redwood Capital Group, the business is no stranger to digital marketing and relies heavily on data as they oversee more than a dozen apartment communities in six states, with more plans for expansion.
By being able to measure, report and change up their marketing spend, Redwood drives more website leads, tours and leases when they need it most. “We benchmark everything,” says Mary Herrold, Senior Director of Marketing at Redwood.
At any time, they can also use their data insights to precisely control their pay per click (PPC) digital advertising budget. They have visibility to turn up their spend when they need to fill units or turn down spend when occupancy is full to prevent wasted marketing dollars.
The team at Redwood has also learned PPC digital advertising, mainly in the form of Google paid search ads, drives the most leads to their property websites. To covert that traffic into more leads, tours and lease, they implemented PERQ’s AI-driven software on each new property’s website and are seeing results.
“Industry average for website conversion is pretty low. It varies, but people tend to say 1.5 to 2.5% is great,” Herrold says. “Five percent was my goal at one point early on, but now it’s 30%. Our website isn’t just a lead source, it’s a conversion tool.”
Redwood Property Websites Turn Online Traffic into Leads, On-Site Tours
With more than 80% of renters starting their apartment search online, looking at all times of day and night on various devices over the course of several months, Redwood Residential decided from the start to turn the property websites into online leasing consultants. They wanted a technology solution that not only generates leads, but actually converts those online leads into tours and leases.
“I absolutely consider our website a leasing consultant. Just like a live human leasing consultant, it needs to do its job. It needs to convert,” Herrold says. “I think of all our ad sources as leasing associates and we need for them to work together to convert leads.”
“PERQ as a standalone boosts website conversion. Then, when you combine it with PPC, it drives an even bigger increase in conversions.”
Mary Herrold, Senior Director of Marketing at Redwood
Redwood integrates AI-driven software with its multifamily property websites to help facilitate a prospect’s research while also capturing high-quality lead information on each consumer who engages with the interactive leasing tools and quizzes. Each time they return, whether from a digital ad on a Google search results page or another online lead source like Zillow, the websites remember the visitor and pick up where they left off.
Redwood’s data also ranks PERQ’s online tour scheduler as the top appointment source, generating 26.3% of tours scheduled. “Since the beginning of time, the gap for properties has always been between the lead and tour,” Herrold says. “The lead-to-tour cavern has always presented a challenge. PERQ basically increases the momentum.”
Redwood can also see exactly which combination of sources drove that lead to the website and which leads turned into an onsite tour appointment or a signed lease.
“PERQ as a standalone boosts website conversion,” Herrold says. “Then, when you combine it with PPC, it drives an even bigger increase in conversions. I wouldn’t do PPC without PERQ, because I’d be sending all of this traffic to the website and you only have a couple of chances to convert. PERQ gives me like nine more chances.”
With their marketing intelligence data, Redwood discovered that without the combination of PPC advertising and PERQ web conversion software, the properties would have converted between zero to 2% of new website visitors into leads if solely relying on the website’s guest card. During that time period, PERQ web conversion software contributed to 60% of web traffic-to-lead conversion with over half of the leads coming from PPC advertising.
“I see PPC and PERQ as a winning combination,” Herrold says. “PPC advertising increases website visits and affords our websites more opportunity to convert ‘lookers’ to leads. One can glean from the data that conversion is greatly enhanced when you use both.”
Property Management Company Uses Marketing Intelligence to Drill Down Into Data Analytics
Google Analytics alone only delivers a slice of the online data Redwood Residential relies on to measure a lead source’s true ROI and performance. Because Google Analytics results don’t account for what happens after a prospect takes an initial inquiry action and only delivers anonymous leads sourced by generic channel groupings, Redwood Residential utilizes PERQ’s Marketing Intelligence reporting to bridge the information gap and show the continuum from lead generation to lease.
Watch: How Marketing Intelligence Data Helps Properties Make Smart Marketing Decisions
The ability to identify individual consumers and track them with multitouch attribution allows Redwood to match offline tours and leases back to online leads so they can measure the effectiveness of their PPC spend performance.
The group optimizes campaigns and adjusts keywords and ad groups for SEO rankings to help them convert more traffic to each of their property websites. It also helps them to eliminate duplicate or non-lead “noise” from the reporting. Herrold says this is valuable because they can identify non-productive sources and adjust the company’s digital marketing spend, while seeing the cost/return on their dollars spent.
Dividing lead sources into more specific listings in the reporting, such as Facebook organic leads versus lumping all “social” together, gives Redwood clearer insight into exactly how well each aspect of its digital marketing performs compared to the cost of that channel.
“The quality of leads that we get through PERQ are far superior to the ones that just come from the straight website,” Herrold says. “We’ve done the comparison. It’s never going on my chopping block now that I have it. It would be a foolish thing to undo.”
Properties See Returning Website Traffic with Automated Lead Nurture
In the multifamily industry, regional managers often talk about all of the website leads that get ignored — up to 50% in some instances. Properties and management companies are wasting their digital marketing dollars to generate website traffic to increase leads when leasing specialists aren’t following up.
With an automated and personalized lead nurture solution, properties have stopped wasting their money and actually see the return on their investment. “This is going to be a game changer,” admitted Heidi Jehlicka, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Employee Development at The Bainbridge Companies, when she first heard about it. She jokes that the most common automated email in the multifamily industry has been the “out of office” email.
While marketing teams often write email campaigns, it’s up to a leasing agent to personalize each of those emails before they’re sent. That typically isn’t the option when it comes down to a leasing agent’s time, who is already strapped by daily demands.
Properties who use lead nurture say it drives traffic back to the website, helping them to maximize the return on each of their digital marketing channels and tie those visitors back to tours scheduled and leases.
In fact, 13% of tours are directly tied to PERQ’s lead nurture solution, which is powered by artificial intelligence. Nurtured leads who re-engage with your website, on average, are 7x more likely to schedule tour than visitors from other traffic sources.
“We can focus on a lot of other things instead of manually nurturing and chasing leads, like taking care of the customer, having better tours as well,” Jehlicka says.
Leasing Agents Get Valuable Insights about Each Rental Prospect
As visitors come to a property website, they want to narrow down their choices to decide if a community is right for them. Properties that use website conversion tools, such as assessments and quizzes, do just that while also collecting valuable data about each online visitor. Multifamily trends 2021 are leaning in towards using leasing AI to help create engaging and interactive websites that collect valuable and more insightful prospect data.
Once someone goes through the PERQ experiences on our website, they’re far more qualified and serious than someone who hasn’t.
Mary Herrold, Senior Director of Marketing at Redwood Residential
Leasing specialists learn the best time of day a visitor prefers to be contacted (nationally, 48% say morning, btw!), how they prefer to be contacted, number of bedrooms and bathrooms they want, and what features are most important. They then leverage that data in a call, text or email.
“You’re able to touch on so much more when you know about that prospect,” says Chris Berry, Senior Regional Manager at First Communities Management, adding that it’s much better than just an impersonal email. “It’s a waste of time to send them a cookie cutter response. Really think about it and put those responses into action.”
Mary Herrold, Senior Director of Marketing at Redwood Residential, says no one is nurturing leads that are further out and not quite ready to rent, but it’s a must and what makes a company stand out from the rest. “Once someone goes through the PERQ experiences on our website, they’re far more qualified and serious than someone who hasn’t,” she says.
Still, Herrold admits that a successful way to nurture a lead must absolutely include a phone call. Using those lead details only helps you to personalize your communication to each customer to get them to tour and lease, she says: “Our website gets them all the way to the door, figuratively and physically. Pick up the baton and run with it, get it to the finish line. Speed the lead.”
Properties Use Lead Nurture Emails to Stay Top-of-Mind and Increase Tours
Almost 60% of rental prospects say they are 90 days from when they want to move in, according to the 2019 Multifamily Field Guide, and 23% are still a month out. Those leads who don’t get contacted or don’t feel like they’re connecting with their community find another property that will.
Communities that use the automated lead nurture solution keep their property top of mind for rental prospects. Multifamily industry leads and multifamily research shows for up to 90 days after engaging with their website, rental prospects receive automated emails based on the actions they took online. The emails drive them back to the community website, where they continue to explore the property and pick up where they left off on the site.
“That’s been great,” says a client with 51 properties across the U.S. using PERQ’s solution, who asked us not to use their name. “The messages with offers have converted. I had an instance not too long ago where a person came in to tour within 28 days from the initial lead nurture email. The third email had an offer. They printed it out, came to the office and said, ‘I want a tour and here’s the email I got. We wouldn’t have gotten them otherwise.”
After a visitor schedules a tour, the lead nurture solution automatically sends a confirmation via text message, and one reminder on the day of the tour, to increase show rate and ultimately signed leases.
“Just because you book a tour doesn’t mean they’re actually going to come in for a tour,” Herrold says. “Confirm it and give people the sense that you are going to have the apartment that’s right for them.”
While your team is focused on leads ready to tour and lease now, 2021 multifamily trends show that Lead Nurture drives traffic back to your site — maximizing the investment you made to drive and acquire website visitors in the first place. Teams who use lead nurture say they have more time to be available for their residents, more time to give tours and can personalize their conversations much better with the valuable lead data.
With a loyal customer base, fourth-generation business Steinhafels works to stay current with how customers are shopping for furniture. “Our beautiful showrooms and expert sales staff set us apart from other retailers, so getting online shoppers into our brick-and-mortar stores is a main goal for us,” says Dani Dagenhardt, Digital Marketing Coordinator at Steinhafels.
Founded in 1934, the retailer continues to find new ways to bring consumers to any one of their 18 locations in Wisconsin and Illinois. “This year, we have a lot of digital initiatives. We are getting out of paper – that’s where the majority of our budget has been,” Dagenhardt says. “Digital is where people are now. That’s where their eyes are, and we use the information we are getting to merge that digital arena with our brick and mortar.”
In the first 90 days of utilizing web conversion software and AI-driven Email Nurture Program that re-targets website visitors, Steinhafels averaged over 2,000 website leads per month, with an online lead-to-sale conversion rate of over 13%. “Our managers are happy with the leads we are getting” says Dagenhardt. Ultimately, her investment paid off, bringing in more than $1.9 million in showroom sales attributed to their website.
Leveraging Website data helps build relationships before customers come in-store
Now, drawing customers into an expansive 100,000-square-foot retail space often begins with a phone, computer or tablet. With this digital approach, Steinhafels stores gain important insights, such as the customer’s preferred sofa and design style, and learn exactly where a customer is in their buying journey before the customer ever steps foot into the store.
Showroom photo courtesy of Steinhafels
The data Steinhafels collected on their website revealed 74% of shoppers said they were researching or narrowing their options and 20% were ready to buy right away.
This data shows that Steinhafel’s is successful with digital engagement for shoppers at all stages of the buying process. Steinhafels was able to use this insight into their website traffic to prioritize their sales team’s time personalizing follow up communication for “ready to buy” leads and applying personalized marketing nurturing to others.
Staying top of mind by re-engaging customers online
For leads that have gone quiet, Steinhafel’s investment in digital has enabled them to re-engage. “Being able to contact the people who visit our website has been incredible,” says Dagenhardt. “Reminder emails keep Steinhafels top of mind and are a great way to get a prospective customer back into the buying funnel.”
“During slower times, it is really helpful for our salespeople to reach customers pre-shopping online. Any chance to get a potential customer in the store to talk to our sales team is a greater chance for a sale.”
When people come in for their in-store meeting, our sales team already knows significant information about the customer’s furniture interests and needs, making it easier for the sales associate to find the customer their perfect product.
Dani Dagenhardt, Digital Marketing Coordinator
Dagenhardt says. In-store sales associates now know exactly what type of home furnishings the customer searched for online and personal information extracted during the interactive assessments on the store’s website, like their preferred design style or ideal type of recliner.
“When people come in for their in-store meeting, our sales team already knows significant information about the customer’s furniture interests and needs, making it easier for the sales associate to find the customer their perfect product,” Dagenhardt says.
By combining PERQ into their digital initiatives, Steinhafels has been able to see actionable sales opportunities coming from the website, proving that the transition to digital is both better for the sales team, and profitable.