Just because your retail showroom or leasing office seems slower than usual, it doesn’t mean less consumers are shopping your brand. Foot traffic no longer works as a standalone metric of sales or success, since the vast majority of customers start their research online and only walk through the door when they’re ready to buy.
Data collected for multifamily properties show more than 80% of prospects begin their search for an apartment from a smartphone, tablet or computer, with most looking 30 to 90 days before they plan to move, according to the 2019 PERQ Multifamily Field Guide.
Those insights for a number of shoppers who start their search online hold true for retailers in home furnishings and auto sales as well, with more consumers than ever turning to the internet to help determine which item to purchase and where to buy it. They can take their time browsing options from home, the office or anywhere, really.
Despite more than 80% of home furnishing shoppers beginning their research on the internet, PERQ data finds 90% of furniture purchases still happen inside a store. Consumers prefer to make pricey purchases in person. Wayfair’s average ticket price is $255, while PERQ home furnishing clients sell an average $1,600 per transaction in the showroom.
The biggest challenge for businesses in these competitive consumer industries comes down to tracking online website traffic to in-person visits and sales. If your company still relies on anonymous online analytics, you aren’t taking into account all of the digital touchpoints an online lead makes before buying, and you can’t accurately calculate ROI for each lead source.
Simply put, your team lacks visibility into how many of those online leads take action beyond the browser and what motivates consumers to come in and talk to your staff. Here’s how your business can tackle those digital challenges and drive more revenue from online leads.
Big Brands Train Consumers to Demand Instant Information
We all feel crunched for time, with consumer lives busier than ever. It’s incredibly difficult to find the time for a showroom visit to search for a new couch or car or take a property tour on a busy weekend or after work, especially if the hefty purchase requires more than one person’s approval. That’s why shoppers now only visit on average one or two locations in person when shopping for a big-ticket item, down from five or six visits a few years ago.
Big brands and e-commerce heavyweights have trained consumers to expect information on demand and around the clock. Their websites get to know us as we interact and engage with the content, personalizing the information and giving consumers the power to shop on their own time. These experiences raise the bar of expectation for every website.
With so many shoppers starting their search online, it pays to invest in a marketing cloud solution that can meet those high expectations and help them decide what they want.
“It turns the website into a leasing agent, so they can qualify themselves,” says Mary Herrold, Senior Director of Marketing at the rapidly expanding Redwood Residential based in Chicago. “The whole objective for somebody looking for an apartment is not to look at every apartment. It’s to eliminate. AI technology helps them do that and prompts them to take the next logical step in a very easy, self-guided way.”
Turning your website from a brochure to an interactive sales tool raises the likelihood your showroom or property will be one of the few locations they choose to visit in person. Once they’ve invested significant time and personal information with a website that genuinely helps guides them, a consumer naturally feels partial to the brand.
“The commitments made during the experiences, they’re small commitments, but they lead up to an ultimate commitment,” Herrold says. “So, little yeses mean a big yes, and that’s always the main goal.”
Herrold says the online tour scheduling tool bridges what she calls a “lead-to-tour cavern” the multifamily property industry faces as a major obstacle when trying to get prospects to commit to an in-person tour. Since debuting the online appointment option, Redwood property managers see a much better rate of appointments made and actually kept.
“Since the beginning of time, it’s always been a challenge, the gap between lead and tour,” Herrold says. “This tool increases the momentum.”
View Website Leads Same as In-Store Visitors
Many companies make the mistake of not pursuing website leads with the same vigor as in-store visitors. They should be viewed with the same potential, and with integrated cloud-based technologies those online leads can be nurtured with the same attention to detail.
Adding AI technology to the website enables companies to collect personal details on consumers as they engage with experiences that help them narrow down what they want to buy and pre-qualify them for the purchase. When tied to an AI-driven Marketing Cloud, that website data flows to a lead management CRM tool that can automatically send leads targeted content and help businesses track all of a lead’s online buying journey.
An automated lead nurturing system sends online leads timed emails or text messages based on the information they volunteer on the website, like when they say they’re ready to buy. The value-added content seeks to entice them to make an in-store appointment or purchase, consequently driving more door swings. Until they’re ready to take that next step through the door, the personalized messaging keeps prospects engaged with the brand and drives them back to the website to gather more research.
Organizing online leads from all traffic sources into one CRM system gives companies complex insights into in-store sales performance, lead follow-up success rates, and digital marketing results. Sales or leasing staff can sort leads based on those statistically most likely to convert and who say they’re ready to make a purchase, and focus their energies on those consumers first.
They can also use the detailed lead data to instantly build a relationship when following up, and know exactly what the customer wants when they show up in person. When foot traffic slows down, the sales team can work online leads in the various stages of the sales funnel to stay proactive and productive.
Develop Sales Process and Metrics for Website Leads
One problem that’s common among companies who don’t prioritize online leads is a lack of metrics to track them and no sales process established for nurturing website leads. Without a lead-to-sale metric and benchmark, companies have no way of measuring true results. Revenue from digital visitors can make a big impact on in-store sales when businesses start tracking website leads and focus some serious effort on converting those leads.
Reporting provided by a CRM tool shows just how building a digital relationship with customers directly impacts sales results and breaks down the ROI of each online traffic source. It can connect directly to a company’s existing Google Analytics account and use marketing intelligence to turn anonymous visitors into identified leads. That data enhances the ability to track unique visitors across device, follow the consumer journey from online to offline, and filter traffic by source for a clearer, more accurate view of which channels convert leads.
When starting out, it’s important to set website lead conversion goals, as well as targets for the percentage of revenue you expect website leads and online appointments to drive once everyone embraces the new sales process.
It’s equally important that someone continuously monitor those results and make adjustments based on the data. An AI-driven Marketing Cloud solution linked to your company’s digital advertising campaigns can automatically adjust online ad spending as it delivers real-time reporting. That targeted approach drives even more targeted online traffic to the website and gives businesses real-time perspective on how many online visitors swing the door and convert in-person.
“Turn your website into a better converter. Five percent was my goal at one point, although I know some companies are happy with a 2 to 3% lead-conversion rate,” Herrold says. “Now, I’m aiming for 30% — we’re currently between 16 and 20%.”