Traditional marketing strategies remain relevant in today’s retail landscape, but radio, billboard and TV ads are not the collective arsenal they once were. Digital marketing has taken the reins and become a key aspect of success. A major component of digital marketing is lead generation.
“Today, digital marketing is a must and is the major source of lead generation,” explained Chad Ogden, president, QFloors. “If ignored by a dealer, it could lead to their demise.”
Indeed, industry experts agree, leads are the linchpin in a retailer’s market strategy. “The more effective a retailer’s lead generation, the better they are able to control their own destiny,” noted Stephen Caldow, director of marketing, Roomvo.
FCNews tapped leading technology experts in the industry to identify the best strategies for successful lead generation at the retail level.
Evolve. “The single-most powerful thing a retailer can do is to be willing to change. Change how you generate leads by embracing digital marketing. Change how you follow up and convert leads by utilizing software tools. Make sure your policies and procedures support your goals. And then do it.” —Ogden, QFloors
Improve the customer experience. “The best lead is a repeat customer. The second-best lead is a referred customer. In both cases, these opportunities arise from providing a great experience from start to finish. Refine your customer experience to be the best it can be and watch your repeat and referral leads grow.” —Jason Goldberg, CEO, Retail Lead Management
Leverage suppliers. “Many manufacturers and distributors have great websites and generate lots of traffic. Since they can’t close the sale themselves, they generate leads for aligned dealers on their websites. Getting free, qualified leads from great brands is invaluable.” —Caldow, Roomvo
Amplify your web presence. “[Retailers] absolutely must have a web presence. They also need to have high SEO results for their locality, which means when a prospect types in ‘floor stores near me’ (or something like it), their business comes up. Social media marketing is also becoming a big factor for some businesses, especially those targeting residential.” —Ogden, QFloors
Focus on digital communication. “Your google rating, online reviews and personal messaging drive a significant number of leads for your company. By sending post-service review requests, you develop a stellar online reputation that attracts new leads and keeps customers coming back. By using automated messaging to follow up, you increase customer loyalty and maintain crucial customer relationships.” —Maddie Sacco, marketing manager, Podium
Be patient and build a budget. “Give lead generation the time, budget and resources needed to succeed. Most successful companies allocate between 4% and 7% of gross revenue to marketing/lead generation. Put yourself in the consumer’s mindset when thinking about new ideas to generate leads. What would sell you flooring if you weren’t familiar with the process?” —John Weller, chief innovation officer, Broadlume
Once quality leads are generated, the next step—and perhaps the most important—is to manage those leads. This is where many retail owners find themselves falling short. As QFloors’ Ogden put it, “Traditionally, dealers have not always done very well at following up on leads. In many cases, unless the person walked in the store and purchased then and there, little follow up occurred and at times the lead was lost. Changing this pattern means changing operational procedures.”
Follow through. “Following up with [leads] must be a top priority to help introduce yourself to the customer and make yourself available to help guide them through their decision process. Customers expect a response that is timely through the channel of their choice—email, phone, social or text message.” —Carole Cross, founder and CEO, Mobile Marketing
Use the tools. “As leads come from many different sources, it’s important to capture them in a system of record and, where possible, in an automated fashion. This is where a customer relationship manager (CRM) system comes into the picture. Your CRM system should have mobile capability and accept leads from external sources like your website. Once a lead is captured in a CRM system, you’ll gain visibility and will know the state of the lead as it moves toward becoming a sale.” —Fred Kotynski, chief information officer, RFMS
No, really. Use the tools. “Generating leads that are not managed correctly is like throwing money away. If you are going to spend money to generate leads, you should have a system in place to manage those leads and turn those leads into customers. Great lead management systems allow you to work a lead through the entire sales process. It gives full visibility to everyone in the organization and makes sure things don’t slip through the cracks.” —Goldberg, Retail Lead Management
Put your money where your mouth is. “Because lead generation is the lifeblood of a dealer’s business, it can be extremely time consuming and complex. I’d recommend either hiring an internal team, which can be costly and unproven, or finding a trusted partner to help your advertising and marketing efforts for your store.” —Weller, Broadlume
When a store has successfully generated and managed their leads, it’s time to close. Converting a lead into a sale can be a complicated process, but several industry-specific solutions are at your disposal.
Broadlume’s team of flooring and digital experts help users understand their market and develop a unique digital strategy to create and capture demand.
Mobile Marketing developed a customized digital marketing solution through a platform that supports multiple lead generation and lead management activities.
Podium is a suite of messaging tools that empowers local businesses to gather and convert leads through the power of messaging.
QFloors’ new QLeads allows leads generated by websites, social media accounts or other external sources to be automatically entered into the company’s CRM in QFloors and tracked. “Not only does this result in fewer dropped balls and better follow through, but it also enables helpful tracking and reports,” Ogden said.
Retail Lead Management
Retail Lead Management can support lead generation by allowing users to use the data to better target prospects, as well as more efficiently convert them into customers and raving fans.
The RFMS CRM is built for the flooring industry and specifically for a business running on RFMS software. “We make it simple to connect your website and social accounts to automatically capture leads,” Kotynski said. “From there the lead is managed with the built-in pipeline, allowing you…to close more sales.”
Roomvo Assistant is free for flooring retailers and has access to 100-plus brands. This removes uncertainty by enabling consumers to easily see available products in their own home in seconds.