November 7/14, 2016: Volume 31, Number 11
By Ken Ryan
Attend any flooring buying group convention these days and be prepared for an onslaught of digital dialogue covering the full spectrum of online and mobile marketing, as well as a plethora of social media strategies to help independent dealers compete in this rapidly changing mobile landscape.
Here are what some of the buying groups are up to:
Abbey Carpet & Floor
Abbey’s digital marketing program is designed to guide its flooring dealers through their social media efforts on all platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Houzz, Google+ and more. Email marketing is another major component, helping send store messages, news and promotions via Constant Contact. Perhaps the most critical component of Abbey’s digital marketing program is Customer Connect, the group’s customized pay-per-click (PPC) advertising program. Members say it is an ideal service for small businesses looking for ways to cost effectively reach customers. Retailers only pay when a consumer clicks on the text ad and is brought to the dealer’s Abbey website. PPC connects to online shoppers the moment they start looking for flooring.
The Customer Connect dashboard lets Abbey dealers gauge how successful their PPC campaigns have been, showing statistics like clicks, views, click-through rate and costs per click, in addition to seeing from where traffic is actually coming. Members can decide how much they want to spend per month on PPC. The Customer Connect team helps determine what programming is best for each budget and monitors results to see what is working and what is not.
Carpet One Floor & Home
In 2016, Carpet One Floor & Home unveiled a revamped carpetone.com designed to engage consumers at every step of the purchase process, along with more enhancements to the One Stop Digital (OSD) marketing initiative.
Janice Jacobs, vice president of marketing, said the Carpet One website relaunch is in response to changing consumer shopping and buying habits. “The way they consume media has changed,” she said. “Eighty percent of purchase decisions are made online.” She added that customers today are making 12-plus online visits over the course of many weeks and generally four websites but are only visiting 2.4 stores on average (where most sales occur). “But the impact of digital is what’s driving customer expectations to new levels. They expect a seamless experience between an online visit and the physical store. It is so important today to have the best customer experience online. We have to provide education. It is more important than ever to earn their trust.”
Carpet One said the new website opens up opportunities to add more content and make Carpet One the best site in the industry to get ideas, learn and shop. Jacobs said the objective is to attract customers earlier. “We have to get on their long list before we get on their short list. We have to convert them into buyers by connecting with our members’ stores in new ways.”
Other features include:
- The ability to now search the entire website. The new site allows the consumer to search products, videos, photos, articles, etc., on the site. In the past, only the product catalog could be searched.
- New product selection tools where customers can compare various products and categories.
- Results display pros and cons so customers can easily compare across different categories. Reviews will show up on each member’s microsite. This helps with their Google ranking and is one of the key factors customers use in their final purchasing decisions.
- If the customer chooses to shop, there are two options: a quick pick filter to narrow down choices, or the SelectAFloor finder option, which asks the customer a couple of engaging questions to determine her wants and needs. The customer is then presented choices that best align with her answers.
- An updated room visualizer, where the customer can use stock photos or upload her own photos and change wall colors and countertops. She can then share her room visualizer choices via social media or with friends and family.
The group recently introduced Web Pro 3.0, which is billed as more than just a user-friendly, mobile responsive, fully optimized website—it’s a complete digital and print marketing strategy. “We help the dealer tell their story online, over the air and in print,” said David Ellis, advertising and public relations manager. “Besides a robust website and analytics reports, they also receive complete ad campaigns with point of purchase materials, customizable magazine and newspaper advertising, direct mail, videos and other downloadable content for any of their social media channels.”
CarpetsPlus Colortile was founded to provide independent retailers with a menu of professional tools to grow a successful flooring business, and Ellis said the new Web Pro 3.0 is one of those tools that can help businesses thrive.
Flooring America/Flooring Canada
Frank Chiera, senior vice president-marketing and advertising, CCA Global Partners, said every year the group invests in the latest technology to create digital marketing programs that will work hard for its members. “We recognize that our members can get overwhelmed when it comes to executing a digital marketing strategy so we try to provide programs that can be easily implemented in these key areas: search marketing, social media marketing and online reviews,” Chiera said. “Through our G1 program, our members gain access to a best-in-class search marketing program that ensures they have a strong online presence so when a consumer is searching for flooring, our members will have a prominent presence on the first page in a Google search, which most definitely helps to drive a potential customer to a member’s showroom.”
F.A.S.T. (Flooring America Social Tools) is an automated social media program that syndicates content across social media platforms, ensuring Flooring America/Flooring Canada members have access to a powerful and robust operating tool that provides enhanced reporting and tracking as well as improved flexibility and control over publishing content.
“We’ve developed apps for our members to leverage as well,” Chiera said. “My Floor Story allows members to easily obtain reviews and recommendations from customers and My Floor Style lets customers visualize what a floor or paint color will look like in their home.”
Chiera said successful digital marketing campaigns are ones that translate well online and in-store, making for a holistic customer experience. “The programs we provide our members aim to make it easy for them to execute well-rounded digital marketing campaigns designed to build brand awareness and generate sales.”
Floors & More
At its inaugural conference in Minneapolis in July, Floors & More members were offered lead-generation software packages and custom websites. RFMS is the business-to-business software provider for the group.
To further help its dealers, Floors & More is providing customized websites for each of its members at a price they cannot refuse. “A professional customized website can cost $10,000 to $20,000,” Vinnie Virga, CEO, told members during the convention. “Your price? Free. Why are we doing this? Because we have to own this space. We can’t wait any longer.” The Floors & More Buying Group also includes the Floor To Ceiling and Big Bob’s Flooring Outlet divisions. Virga said in order to thrive in today’s fast-paced world, retailers need a sound digital strategy that starts with web and social media, and they need assistance like that provided by a buying group.