Digital lead generation goes beyond traditional efforts

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July 20/27; Retailer’s Guide to Digital Marketing

By Amanda Haskin

Traditional lead generation strategies are becoming obsolete in today’s digitally driven world. According to Demand Metric, content marketing generates approximately three times as many leads as traditional marketing but costs 62% less.

“The industry will change more in the next five years than it has in the last 30 years,” said Mike Zoellner, vice president, marketing services, Mohawk Industries.

What is digital lead generation?

Different people define lead generation in slightly varied ways, but the overwhelming majority agrees that a lead must be quantifiable. While general brand awareness is an aspect of lead generation, it cannot stand on its own.

“Getting your name out there doesn’t work anymore,” said Don Lovato, president of Carpet Source in Albuquerque, N.M. “It has to be done along with an offer, expiration and call to action, while positioning your authority. It’s about getting a measurable response back.”

According to Christine Whittemore, chief simplifier of Simple Marketing Now, “The biggest part of lead generation is capturing contact information of consumers truly in the market to buy. Step one is lead generation; step two is lead nurturing. You want that lead to become marketing qualified, sales qualified, a customer and eventually even an evangelist for you.”

John Weller, vice president of FloorForce, a company that specializes in website development and online marketing, believes a lead is only a true lead if the call to action stage has been completed. “We believe you need a minimum of a phone call, [but more so] someone requesting a store visit or an in-home measurement, showing up at the store or filling out a form for a promotion. At FloorForce, we only look at conversions. The only thing that matters is return on investment.”

Acquiring leads

Whittemore said acquiring convertible leads begins with a dealer’s website. “Your website is your 24/7 digital showroom. If you’re aware of that, you’re going to make sure every page has a means for you to connect to your visitors. Invite them to subscribe to your newsletter, and when you’re promoting your newsletter make sure it’s not just about sales. A relationship based on sales events is short-lived.”

One way to make sure newsletters and other digital marketing tools are not solely promotional is to provide educational and informative content. According to Lovato, educational content should create interest and have a level of urgency. “You can use relevant content to capture leads, as long as the element of curiosity or controversy is there. In other words, say something like, ‘Is the hardwood flooring you’re installing in your home toxic? Find out more in this webinar.’ Consumers need to know you’re going to reveal something to them—that’s how you get leads.”

But promotional lead generation forms still hold an important place in digital marketing. Katherine Andes, web content developer and owner, betterwebsales.com, recommends sending traffic to a hidden landing page so you can track how many people visited it. “On that page you can have a coupon that says, ‘Mention this ad and get $100 off.’”

Jay Flynn, vice president of sales and marketing at Creating Your Space, an online marketing program for flooring retailers that focuses on web presence, added that his company helps dealers integrate their traditional marketing efforts with online methods. For example, the program creates strategies to get a dealer’s traditional marketing tactics to lead traffic to the Internet, where he can collect those consumers’ information. “You’re taking a promotion that may have started as traditional marketing, but getting the customer to execute and maximize it online.”

Flynn recommends engaging with customers using as many different tools as possible. “Utilize tools like ‘Sign up for a free estimate’ ads, shop-at-home forms, newsletters or access to room scenes with your virtual room designer. Every consumer is different so give each one every opportunity to engage with you.”

Unique, relevant content

There is an intrinsic relationship between customer-focused, relevant content and digital marketing in general, and it is a major player in everything from lead generation to SEO to social media.

“Brands must deliver relevant content via their websites based on search terms consumers are using to find valuable information they need to make an informed purchase,” said Andrew Valeriani, vice president of digital marketing, Flooring America. “By providing this information, brands can drive lead conversion.”

Todd Callaway, director of digital content for Shaw Industries, added that content should be easy to understand. “It helps earn trust and makes the purchase process more enjoyable. With so much information readily accessible at our fingertips online, consumers have a low tolerance for wading through information that doesn’t answer their questions or provide helpful advice. They’re more likely to move on to another source that is more helpful and relevant.”

Andes recommends a combination of in-house content writing and outside help. “In my opinion, the best of both worlds is when you can get that outside person or company who has had experience with it and can bring ideas to you, while also having people in the company get involved.”

Available resources

Whether you are part of a buying group, an aligned dealer program, or hire a digital marketing company, there are many systems and services that help facilitate this process.

Mohawk has its own CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system called Mohawk Lead Center—a program for capturing leads and following up with potential customers. One feature in particular, Lead Booster, works with participating retailers to analyze search traffic and purchase most-used search terms in their local markets.

“Digital promotional advertisements begin appearing to targeted consumers and serve up offers, connecting interested consumers to a retailer’s lead platform for follow up and conversion,” Zoellner said.

Flooring America has implemented a program called G1 (Google first page) designed to drive targeted leads while providing members with a local online search marketing presence. Todd Wright, owner of Flooring America by Carpet Smart, Springdale, Ark., has found it to be his best tool for lead generation. “I have a rep who helps me with my keywords so that I can keep current. As we’ve seen laminate fall off and vinyl plank and other composition products start to pick up, I’m able to change those keywords.”

FloorForce will launch a program in the next month that converts existing customers into new leads. “It creates a marketing program geared toward [customers] that provides valuable information through email to keep you in their minds,” Weller explained. “[For example], it tells them how to maintain the products they’ve purchased, leading to a very large increase in referrals and repeat business.”

 

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