Beating the Boxes - July 2006
By Patrick Molyneaux
For the past few years, I've known that I needed to update my website and jumpstart my Internet marketing strategy. At the same time, I was hesitant to invest the time or money to get it done properly. Then one day I checked my site traffic report and discovered I had 700 unique visitors each week visiting my prehistoric site. That’s significantly more visitors than we get weekly in all five of our stores combined!
After my discovery, I met with an Internet marketing consultant and found out that “Pittsburgh flooring” was being searched over 5,000 times a month. That’s when I realized I was thinking like a dinosaur and I really needed to retire my existing site to the Smithsonian Institute.
Beginning early this year, our marketing team conducted some full blown research and rolled out an awesome website and Internet marketing plan.
Here’s what we found to be noteworthy. I hope you find this useful in your own battle against the big boxes:
1) Determine your strategy: Do you want to sell through the Internet or do you want to make a good impression on people who surf your website before they come into the store? For our business, Molyneaux, we think of our website as the “first impression.” Research shows many customers will determine if they should shop your stores solely on how professional and progressive your website is.
2) Less clutter and easy navigation: Some experts believe that one reason why Google has dominated the Search Industry is because the landing page is not too busy. We agree and designed our new site to be customer-friendly, so they can quickly find what they’re looking for.
3) Special offers: Our goal is to use the site to get customers to visit one of our stores. The best way to do this is to give them an incentive. At Molyneaux, we change the offer monthly, so it’s important to find a web provider who’s willing and able to make changes at a minimal cost.
4) Idea Gallery: Many customers surf the web simply looking for ideas. We’ve created an “idea gallery” with a wide variety of room settings. This helps consumers realize how many selections are available and gives them a strong visual sense of how you can help make their room look beautiful.
5) Buying Tips: This is a very important section, because if done correctly, Mr. or Mrs. Consumer will view your company as the professional expert. The question/answer mix is critical, so rather than post too many questions and overwhelm the consumer, we’ve selected the most relevant and provided detailed answers that help them make decisions.
6) Lead Generation Form: Offer a Shop-At-Home or pre-measurement form to identify potential customers.
7) Care, maintenance, and warranty: Our site is also a valuable post-sale resource for our customers. After the purchase, we’re able to direct consumers back to our website for additional information on these issues. While they’re there, they often get ideas for future flooring projects.
8) Customer satisfaction survey: Molyneaux customers are now able to register for their warranty online and are also required to complete a survey on our website. Our survey application calculates the results and allows us to run a variety of reports. In return for completing the survey, the application automatically sends the customer a coupon for a free gift. The customer is then required to redeem the coupon in person at a store. Our hope is that when they come back in, they’ll buy something else.
9) Search Engine Optimization: The Internet is a very competitive place to advertise. For example, if you search Google for “Pittsburgh Flooring,” it will identify 828,000 results! It pays to be on the first page of the search results, which means search engine optimization is essential. Find an Internet marketing consultant who can get the job done. It’s certainly worth the extra money.
10) Pay-per-click advertising: Unlike other forms of advertising, pay-per-click allows us to measure return-on-investment. We not only track clicks, but can also track phone calls and emails from customers that respond to our pay-per-click ads. We even get a report listing phone numbers or email addresses of the people who responded to our Internet advertising! This can be a very cost effective way to bring more customers to your website and then into your store.
The Internet is truly a strong force in successful sales, even for brick-and-mortar locations like Molyneaux. Executing our web strategy was so much fun that we decided to start selling templates of our website and offering our expertise to other dealers. If you want to take advantage of what it can offer your business, go to www.dealertransformations.com.
Copyright 2006 Floor Focus Inc