Lead-generation tools drive business for aligned dealers
March 27/April 3, 2017: Volume 31, Issue 21
By K.J. Quinn
Just call it the gift that keeps on giving. “What we have been doing the last three years is providing several independent programs that help our retailers in digital [marketing],” said Seth Arnold, vice president of residential marketing, Mohawk Industries. “What we’ve learned is if we’re really going to win in the future of retail, we have to provide a comprehensive assortment of digital programs all tied together.”
The crown jewel of these lead booster programs is Platinum, introduced in 2015 by Mohawk in collaboration with its aligned retailers to specifically address the need to improve store traffic. According to Arnold, the lead-generation program leverages Mohawk’s digital platforms and its search engine marketing (SEM) strategy to deliver highly qualified, in-market leads to aligned dealers with a lower cost and higher value than open market alternatives.
“When we became a Platinum Karastan dealer, our sales improved dramatically,” said Darren Groteboer, president, Minnesota-based Carpet One of Rochester. “We decided to join to gain more access to the quality brand name and an exclusive product line that customers know and trust.”
The program includes digital tools that help drive consumers onto the Mohawk site and to its retailers, particularly aligned partners. These marketing efforts are critical, as most consumers conduct online research before visiting a store. “Mohawk has a huge advantage in the marketplace because of our brand recognition,” Arnold pointed out. “We tend to be an early source during their shopping process to begin learning about flooring. That’s why we’re able to do more leads per dollar by helping retailers with their SEM and using our websites—karastan.com and mohawk.com—as other channels to drive traffic.”
Aligned dealers can leverage the Mohawk site as it enables a store’s information to show up more prominently on search engine result pages. “When we set up retailers, we not only give them enhanced landing pages and a presence on our website, but we also help enhance their Google business listing,” Arnold said.
The Platinum program complements online strategies deployed by retailers to boost foot traffic and sales. For example, dealers utilize social media to promote their products and store brands while rewarding followers with exclusive deals and offers for sharing a post within their own networks. “We advertise Karastan on our website and pay-for-click site,” noted Bill Sonntag, owner, Suburban Floor Covering-Abbey Carpet, White Bear Lake, Minn. “Karastan has skyrocketed to the top of our carpet sales.”
A fundamental requirement of any online marketing program is providing an offer that links back to a specific product or brand. Platinum retailers are supported with promotions targeting Karastan lines. “The offers will change at times, but the retailer understands the costs of the offer and builds it into [his or her] selling strategy,” Arnold said. “We build a series of landing pages that deliver the offer. And those landing pages help us capture leads to deliver to the retailer.”
These electronic referrals often lead to additional customers visiting aligned stores looking for Karastan products. “Potential clients have indicated their interest in being contacted, and when we follow up they almost always come in to our store to look at Karastan products,” said Elisabeth Stubbs, co-owner, Enhance Floors & More, Marietta, Ga. “These clients are responding to the Karastan name, so they are almost pre-sold on the products.”
While capturing leads is important, response time is critical for dealers to capitalize while the proverbial iron is still hot. “We’re working with retailers to make sure when the leads are coming in, they’re following up within 24 hours,” Arnold said. Retailers are advised to assign a staff member to add local, personal content to their store’s online marketing campaign.
Once customers are inside the stores, retail salespeople can direct them to Karastan products. “We receive promotional support from Karastan’s marketing department in the way of pre-made advertising materials, both in print and digital formats,” Carpet One’s Groteboer said. “We also receive support from our local Karastan representative to train our staff on the newest fibers, styling and promotions.”
Floor space and merchandising requirements for the Platinum program are negotiable and customized to meet each store’s needs. “We have committed over 600 square feet on our show floor for Karastan displays,” Sonntag said. “We get tremendous support from our salesman and the whole Karastan team.”
Johnson Carpet One, Duluth, Minn., displays its Karastan selection at the front of the store, so it’s easily noticed by consumers. “Karastan has helped bring a higher quality of carpet and pad into our store, which allows us to sell a more reliable floor, lowering claims and raising the value,” noted Thor Kurtz, sales associate.
Carpet One of Rochester devotes approximately 1,200 square feet to merchandise more than 100 SKUs of the Karastan line. “We display the products using Karastan’s new and innovative Studio display system along with flip card and vertical sample displays,” Groteboer said. “The Karastan line is set apart from other brands in our store by the amount of large sample sets we display.”
Mohawk reports delivering more than 100,000 leads to Platinum and Five Star aligned dealers over the past two years. Additional leads are driven back to Platinum retailers as a result of the Realtor Connect program, which connects members with realtors who offer home buyers promotions or discounts for new flooring purchases.
The gold standard for determining the effectiveness of any marketing campaign, dealers concur, is based on how many people walk through the door and purchase product. “The Platinum program has definitely been effective,” Stubbs reports. “We get good, qualified leads for a nominal cost.”