Coming from a public company in the digital space that invested a lot in marketing, to now working for a local and privately owned flooring company that had not done much online marketing, it took a little getting used to. When I started talking to consultants, speakers and experts about relating best practices to the floor covering industry and the different steps that must be taken to be successful, I got a lot of carefully vague generalizations about the online experience as "lead generation."
Understanding the online world, and the role it has to helping local companies grow sales, is more important than most people think in the floor covering industry. So understanding the RIGHT online metrics is critical to making better marketing decisions and evaluations.
I'd like to discuss 5 common online metrics and explain why you should pay attention to one and not really bother with the other. Each industry has their own definition of some of the terms below, but I'd like to offer my interpretation of these terms, relate them to the floor covering industry, and hope that it can help you sift through the massive world of online marketing.
1. Visits and Visits to your website from within your target market
Do most of your customers live in a specific geographic area? Like us, I bet most of you will answer yes. Floor covering involves someone showing up in person to take measurements, giving them a quote, and ultimately installing their selected flooring product.
The point is that you can't sell a floor covering installation to a property management company or a homeowner on the other side of the country. If we operate in the Pacific Northwest such as Oregon, Washington, and Idaho, why would we want visitors from Florida to matter to us? It's doubtful these Floridians will ever turn into a sale for our business.
If you hire a company to boost your web site rankings, commonly known as SEO companies, I suggest that you incentivize that company to not only drive traffic to your website but to drive traffic from your specific service area. This type of traffic will have a better chance of converting into prospects and closed sales.
Google Analytics offers a free mapping tool that shows you where your web traffic is coming from, even down to individual cities and towns. This way you can ignore overall visitors outside of your service area. This provides a much clearer view of your website performance and allows you to maintain a stronger focus on prospects that are most important to you.
2. Leads and Issued Leads
Ever think about what is a lead? Depending on who you talk to you'll get different answers what a lead means to them. A lead could be any name, address, phone number or combination of them. There are some companies that sell leads and uses the broad definition of a "lead" when promising to "deliver leads" to you.
But this is not really what needed, especially when it comes to obtaining online leads from a company. What you want is to measure "issued leads", which is a lead that is given to a salesperson to follow up on after your team has either spoken to an interested person, received a request via email, web form, or a text message. These are the type of leads that results in sales.
Lead quality matters, and it is important to understand the difference between a lead and what is considered a good sales opportunity. For example, in our office branches, we can have a flooring lead to be a luxury $40,000 home project, a $400 carpet repair or chipped floor tile, or slight water damage on a wood floor. There are big differences between these opportunities, even though many people refer to these the same way. To me, if the opportunity is not significant enough to become an issued lead that is passed to a salesperson, then it is not what you are looking for. Don't let huge volumes and low prices per lead fool you. The reality reveals itself in issued leads.
3. Clicks and Conversions
Clicks has been around since the emergence of the web. These are easy to track, and people can understand what they mean. More clicks mean your website is performing better, right? Not exactly. Clicks for their own sake should not matter to you either.
For example, clicks from India are not only outside of your service market area, but they are probably not even real. This type of click is an automated "click-bot" that is not a real person and probably stays on your website for only a few seconds. This still is registered as a click on most analytics programs unless the program filters out these types of clicks.
So, these random clicks are meaningless. Stay clear of online marketing companies that use this practice to deliberately increase their volume and tell you that you have a lot of visitors going to your site. It's easy to send unqualified clicks to your site from social media promotions.
What you need to focus on are "clicks that matter" vs. "clicks in general." So, which click matter? The ones that lead to conversions. Google Analytics can help you pull back the curtain so you can view where the clicks are coming from and see if the clicks are from a real person interested in floor covering or a "click-bot".
4. Phone calls and Qualified phone calls
Online pay-per-call generates leads in the form of phone calls to you. You pay based on the number of phone calls that you get. Similar to clicks, inbound calls are easily tracked. If you do go this route, it is important that you track and monitor the length of the call. Listen to some recordings and understand which calls are "billable" and which calls are not good.
5. Social followers and Reviews
"Followers", "likes", and "fans" on social channels have been hot topics for a while now. Not only are these social metrics "cool", but also easy to measure.
The problem is that only few have found a significant correlation between this type of activity and leads for a floor covering installation business. In the overall marketing strategy, social media does have a supporting and relationship role for a business brand. But, does it drive any leads? In its simplest form, "follows", "likes", and "fans" don't drive any volume of leads.
Social reviews, on the other hand, are extremely valuable. Why? Because reviews are the new kind of "online currency". The more a company has, the more likely Google, Bing, and Yahoo will rank your website near the top of local flooring contractor listing.
What about negative reviews? A few negative reviews should not hurt a company. A ton of bad reviews can hurt, especially if you don't have a good response to the negative review. As long you have good reviews to balance out the bad ones, and you respond in a timely manner to address the negative reviews, and provide a viable option, you should be fine.
The important thing to remember is to make sure you actively ask customers to go to Yelp, Google, or Facebook, and review your company. It will take someone a few minutes for a customer to write a review, but it can pay huge dividends in search engine rankings.
Bottom line... activity, even precisely measured activity, can easily be confused with results. The key metrics will always be the most closely tied to activities that drive real sales into your company. Don't be tricked by numbers that may look good but do not lead to sales. If the focus is kept on metrics that matter, you'll drive more sales.
Good luck with your online success!
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PG Long has 7 branch offices across the Pacific Northwest, including in Oregon: Portland, Medford, Eugene/Springfield, Salem, and Bend. Other branch offices include Boise, ID, and Kennewick, WA. When you’re ready to get started on your flooring project, we’re here to help you.
We proudly serve residents from Portland, OR; Boise, ID; Bend, OR; Eugene/Springfield, OR; Medford, OR; Salem, OR; Kennewick, WA; Eugene, OR; and Vancouver, WA, and invite you to stop in when you need great flooring service. We will work hard to find the right floor covering that you’ll love for years to come.