Visitors to Windowworld.com may not know it but their every move — from where they click to how far they scroll to how long they spend on each page — is being tracked, analyzed and mined for sales.
“It’s important to know exactly what customers are doing,” says Chris Cubbage, digital strategy director for Window World, the Remodeling 550’s top seller. “It’s all about getting leads. That’s what drives every business. Basically everything we do is to get leads.”
The web tracking process Cubbage uses is called heat mapping. As the name suggests, heat mapping creates a map of web pages that show where sites are hottest similar to a weather map. The more users click or spend time, the hotter the area. The service is available from a number of vendors, Cubbage says.
But it’s just one way remodelers and contractors can leverage the latest web technology to make sales. Here are 5 other strategies and how to harness them:
1. Online design centers. One of the most popular areas of windowworld.com is the design centers. The latest technology allows customers to upload photos of their home and actually try out different looks and products. Cubbage says the fairly new system is already showing great sales promise. In one month alone, he says 2,000 people went to the design center and spent an average of 13 minutes working on a project. Ideally, these systems gather leads that are put into nurturing campaigns that turn into future sales. But just giving customers the ability to see what products look like can lead to a sale on its own. “We’ve had plenty of sales hinge on this, where the customer would not pull the trigger until they could see it on their home,” Cubbage says.
2. Facebook advertising. Dave Wilslef has tried a lot of ads in his 26 years as Marketing Director for Home Town Restyling. But few have been more effective — or inexpensive — as Facebook advertising. Using Facebook’s ad interface, Wilslef, can specify exactly what demographic to target. For example, he chooses women 30 and above who own single-family homes worth $100,000 or more. He then offers a contest that doubles as a lead generator that gets participants to self-select which product they’re interested in and even whether they’re willing to receive an estimate. “It was awesome,” Wilslef says. “We had a ton of leads we converted into sales.” How much? This year he generated $120,000 in sales and spent just $300 for a 3-week campaign. All that meant his lead costs were below 5 percent.
3. Analytics. The great thing about the web is that everything can be tracked, says Michelle Shook, C&L Ward’s marketing and communication vice president. But taking advantage of that fact means knowing your analytics. That requires staying on top of Google Analytics, Google Ad Words and any other analytics available to track how customers convert to sales. With that information Shook says, you can double down on what’s working and drop what’s not. “Web tech is so easy to track,” she says. “Google is your friend.”
4. SEO and SEM. These two tools are respectively back- and front-end web tech every site needs in place. Search engine optimization uses backend key words and other techniques to make sure your site shows up high on an organic search. “You need to be at the top of the page when people are putting products in the search engine,” Shook says. Search engine marketing, also called pay per click, meanwhile, is a paid frontend approach to make sure that happens. “Organic searches are great, but pay per click is now drowning them out,” Wilslef says. As a bonus with SEM, you can designate a specific phone number so you know where leads are coming from.
5. Geo-location. Thanks to the proliferation of mobile devices, it’s now possible to accurately geo-locate customers down to zip code. That means online campaigns can use mapping software to direct customers to the nearest showroom. For companies with multiple stores, it also means customers can be routed directly to a local franchisee’s web site. Window World only recently started using the technology and it has already resulted in huge sales increases, Cubbage says. “It’s hard to fathom how well it works,” he says. “We have more than three times the click through rate and way more conversions. It’s going really well.”