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RETAILERS’ GUIDE TO DIGITAL MARKETING

fcnews

July 20/27, 2015 I 3

How flooring dealers can take advantage of online revolution By Ken Ryan igital marketing has changed the way D flooring retailers operate their businesses, and how well they continue to adapt

keting choices to be intimidating, usually meaning they don’t know where to begin. According to some research studies, one of the biggest mistakes businesses make, particularly small ones, is trying to do it all. Among YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and other digital tools, the choices are overwhelming. But they don’t have to be. A.J. Boyajian, co-owner of A.J. Rose Car-

things like how long someone was on our website and which pages they went to. If they are on for 15 seconds that wasn’t a good lead; if it is for a minute or two it is generally a good sign.” The good news for flooring retailers is that digital marketing can offer detailed data and analysis of consumer behavior, as well as specifics about a marketing program’s effec-

to this rapidly evolving medium may very well determine their ongoing and future success. When we think about digital marketing and social media, we tend to immediately focus on web ads, Facebook and online reviews. Top 3 factors holding Retailers’ top 3 While these platforms retailers back from business goals for have been around for more than a decade, increasing their digital social media their own evolution is a marketing spend mirror of the wider changes in the marketing landscape, according to experts. If anyone needs a reminder of just how powerful social media is as a tool for business/customer relations, just think back to 2014’s ALS Ice Bucket Challenge; the social media campaign raised over $100 million for the organization and reached half a trillion people. Budget – 67% Increasing brand awareness – 70% Floor covering dealConfusion about options/digital marketing landscape – 36% Reaching a new generation of customers – 41% ers won’t need to reach Uncertain ROI – 32% Driving conversions – 40% as many people with Source: Redshift Research Source: Redshift Research their digital marketing strategies, but they do need to get on board and ride the web wave pets & Flooring, with three Massachusetts lo- tiveness. for the long haul. The good news, according to cations, may be one of the more progressive Boyajian’s advice for retailers first getting flooring executives who create digital cam- flooring dealers when it comes to digital mar- involved in an SEO/PPC program is to make paigns, is there is already increasing accept- keting. His business has been actively in- sure campaigns are customized to fit a specific ance among retailers about the importance of volved in all areas of the online arena for business and marketplace because “no one digital. several years, and for the last six-plus he has knows your business like you do.” “These dealers know the world has used an outside firm to run his search engine Another key ingredient for a digital stratchanged and they really want to be effective in optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC) egy is to have plenty of patience. “You have to this arena,” said Todd Callaway, director of programs. “Our SEO and PPC campaigns are spend a lot of money up front to do it right,” digital content at Shaw Industries. “Originally by far what works best for us,” he said. “Our he explained. “It is a long-term process and there were questions of, ‘Do I need a website?’ website is optimized to hit on keywords in our you have to be patient with it and trust it. You with the obvious answer being, ‘Of course you area and that has proven very successful, as can’t expect an immediate ROI. It is a condo.’ Then there is social media—Facebook, has our PPC campaign. You need to have a stant thing you have to keep up with and to Twitter, Pinterest—and then there is mobile. good PPC campaign to supplement any SEO do it right certainly isn’t cheap.” We continue to see these waves of the digital you are doing. I think in order to be successNick Freadreacea, president of The Floorrevolution and we are trying to help dealers ful with digital marketing you need to do both ing Gallery, with six locations in the navigate those waters.” Louisville, Ky., market, said he is by no means well.” Many businesses—flooring and otherStill, Boyajian said it is not easy to quan- a savvy digital marketer, but that hasn’t kept Continued on page 4 wise—find the sheer number of digital mar- tify the ROI on digital marketing. “We track

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4 I July 20/27, 2015

We b r o o m i n g o n t h e r i s e Interactions, a branding and sourcing partner for retailers, released its second Retail Perceptions trend report, which found that while showrooming—the process of researching in-store before buying online—remains popular among 76% of consumers, the emerging trend of webrooming, or researching online before buying in-store, is even more common, representing 88% of shoppers.

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news michael blick president/ceo [email protected]

steven feldman publisher/editorial director [email protected]

dustin aaronson associate publisher/advertising director [email protected]

editorial jenna lippin managing editor social media strategist [email protected]

ken ryan senior editor [email protected]

nadia ramlakhan assistant editor [email protected]

Revolution Continued from page 3

him from exploring his options. “We do all the basics—Facebook, Twitter, Houzz and Pinterest. We have done direct email blasts. We have utilized Angie’s List in two markets as a paid service but had virtually no return on the investment. All of these things give us exposure, but it seems like there is more interest in Houzz and Pinterest at this point. Most social media gives you name recognition in the market and may make you one of the companies consumers consider, but it does not have an immediate impact. For us the only direct result is we see more traffic to our website, and that is good. At least if they make it to our website they are probably going to get our address and phone number and set up a store visit.” For those frustrated with initial results, the message from experts is to stay the course. If a retailer doesn’t keep his digital presence

up to date, potential customers will notice and make assumptions about the business. Consumers use social media all day, every day, so there’s really no choice—you have to be there. To effectively leverage a digital marketing strategy, experts say social media, regular media and a retailer’s overall business should carry the same message across all channels. Kent Clauson, vice president, brand and digital, Mohawk Industries, said integration across all platforms is crucial. “You need to make sure everything fits together in a cohesive way; everything needs to be consistent. People forget that digital is not a separate [entity], but just another way of reaching customers. It all needs to tie into the business.” FCNews’ Retailer’s Guide to Digital Marketing explores in depth topics including social media, lead generation, web, mobile, training, search engine optimization vs. search engine marketing, and offers flooring dealers tips and advice on leveraging this powerful medium.

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Engaging, effective websites require optimized in a way that it can be programs for retailers. “You only should make sure their websites found when people in their local have a few seconds to make an truly depict the unique qualities hile other industries have markets are searching for floor- impression.” that make their businesses sucquickly adapted to digital ing stores,” said Kent Clauson, Move Digital serves as the cessful. “Most retailers look at a marketing, the flooring world vice president, brand and digital, marketing arm for Kemp’s Floor- website as a business card and still has much to learn, accord- Mohawk Industries. ing in Huntsville, Ala. Stewart believe with it they are handing ing to some experts. When it He recommends having a explained how Kemp’s website is out their phone numbers and adcomes to having a professional strong social media dresses,” said John online presence, it is important presence because Weller, vice president that a floor covering business be Google rewards webof FloorForce. “Today’s represented with an inspiring, sites that connect to consumer has far concise and informational web- other digital platmore expectations.” site. forms. Use of everyWeller explained “If you don’t have a digital day language (used in if a company was built presence at all, that immediately testimonials, for exon values of quality knocks you out of the competi- ample) is another customer service or tion,” said Misty Hodge, director way to be found on installation, it should of digital platforms for Shaw In- Google as shoppers build that message dustries. “[Your website] is an tend to search using A.J. Rose Carpets & Flooring’s website features a live-chat box into the website. “A opportunity for consumers to basic terms like “car- to help create a user-friendly experience in which consumers ‘cookie cutter’ website have access to a customer service representative 24/7. find you 24/7 even when your pet for dogs.” Dealers without any personaldoors are closed; it’s an opportu- should also register ization will not do nity to speak to who you are as a their websites with primary broken down into categories anything to help grow your busibusiness and what you offer.” search engines and be sure to people typically search for like ness.” Consumers today are trained only include unique, original hardwood, carpet, services, proWhether it is through a projto qualify a product or business content. motions, etc. Simple and easy- ect gallery or customer service online before ever going into a to-understand headers help awards, retailers should demonstore, so it is vital that a retailer’s User friendliness is key users navigate the website with- strate they have competence and website is an extension of his Once potential customers have out running into aggressive, a value proposition. “When a brand put together in a clear, found the website, the next step overly creative text that can customer finds the website, she easy-to-navigate, visusometimes be confusing. should see what the company ally appealing and edu- Any promotions, sales or events going A.J. Rose Carpets & Flooring, has done in the community and cational format. with three Massachusetts loca- know it has been in business for on in-store should be replicated on FCNews gathered some tions, has a the business’ website to maintain a tips from industry exlive-chat box Education is important but should be secondary consistent experience. ecutives for creating an on its website to product visuals. Informational content attractive yet engaging retail should focus equally on appear- that greets the should be readily available in an organized way without overwhelming customers. website. ance and functionality. When a user, engaging consumer goes to a website, she potential cusIt’s all about SEO needs to be able to quickly and tomers while also serving as a many years,” Clauson said. “That With Google as the leading easily find exactly what she is lead-generation tool. “It’s 24 will help create confidence for search engine, SEO (search en- looking for. “Consumers don’t hours, so if someone is browsing her.” gine optimization) practices are spend a lot of time on your web- when she gets home from work critical to creating an effective site,” said Charity Stewart, ac- or after putting the kids to bed, What you see is what you get website. Any retailer can design count manager for Move Digital, she can get the information she Visuals are a paramount compoan appealing, interesting and in- a company that specializes in so- needs and get live feedback at nent of an effective website. spiring site, but it’s no use if con- cial media and digital marketing her convenience,” said A.J. Boya- Shopping for flooring can be sumers can’t find it on jian, co-owner. daunting, so dealers must reGoogle. member that imagery typically Websites should act as extensions of “The first thing re- brands. Talking about a store’s staff Give it a personal touch resonates best with consumers, tailers have to do is and the in-store experience lets users Rather than simply providing especially when they are able to know what to expect. make sure the site is contact information, retailers play around with colors and viBy Nadia Ramlakhan

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July 20/27, 2015 I 7

testimonials

more than good looks

How do you differentiate your website? With so many tips and tricks to creating an effective website, retailers may find it difficult to stand out amongst the crowd. FCNews asked retailers which features of their websites give them an advantage over the competition.

What really stands out are our customer reviews and awards—Best of Boston Home, Angie’s List, etc. When people come to our website we want them to think ‘Wow, this company excels at customer service.’ That’s what we try to do, and that’s the message we want to get across to customers.

—A.J. Boyajian, A.J. Rose Carpets & Flooring Burlington, Mass.

Because Google is the leading search engine with 66% market share of search queries conducted in Q4 of 2014, search engine optimization techniques are crucial to improving a website’s Google ranking.

sualization tools. consumers who are “Major retailers Set a clear objective serious about purand big boxes have before beginning to chasing flooring. build a website. tools that allow the Studies show that Trying to be everyconsumer to visualtoday’s web-savvy thing to everyone ize products in her shopper is more inoften results in home,” said Jay very little progress. fluenced by what Flynn, vice presiher peers say about dent of sales and a business vs. any marketing, Creating ads a company disSeek help from a Your Space. “Car tributes, so dealers professional with proven design dealer sites allow should use the opexpertise. Having you to design your portunity to shine. a partner in the own car—it’s what “The key thing process is key. the customer is used consumers want to to.” know is what other He noted that customers have to Avoid having a photos of room say about you,” ‘busy’ website. scenes are essential Hodge said. “Some Great content is to simplifying the useless if the design retailers are conshopping expericerned these platand layout are ence. Hodge added confusing to the user. forms are opening that before-and-after up an avenue for photos also inspire customers consumers to write negative reand attest to the expertise and views; they’re going to talk about craftsmanship of the dealer. you regardless but how you react, how you make it right, Customers value transparency how you turn that unhappy cusOnline testimonials, ratings and tomer into a happy one, speaks reviews are major qualifiers for volumes of your business.”

We have quality, high-resolution images that stand out compared to other websites. These days it’s really important to be visually interesting; people are looking more than they’re reading, and photographs really do make all the difference between a professional and non-professional website.

—Charity Stewart, Move Digital/Kemp’s Flooring Huntsville, Ala.

My blog feed, which shows up on a page of my website, has been greatly beneficial in bringing clients to us in the form of phone calls and email inquiries. I get good visibility and [attract] clients who need my expertise.

—Rebecca Dumas, Gregory’s Paint & Flooring Johns Creek, Ga.

Customer testimonials are the best by far. If I tell you something, I could be trying to make myself look good, but if a customer tells you something about me—and when people see pictures of couples next to their statements— it’s more believable.”

—John Kopas, Abbey Carpet of Mounds View Mounds View, Minn.

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8 I July 20/27, 2015

Marketing Mastery

How to boost responses with digital marketing By Jim Augustus Armstrong nce you have strategies in place for marketing to repeat and referral customers (your biggest source of revenue), you should turn your attention to boosting responses from your social media and website marketing. You will have to decide, however, if digital marketing is worth the investment. I worked with a dealer who had a staff member dedicated to handling his Facebook marketing efforts. He managed to boost his revenue from that source to about 5%, more than double the average for social media, but it took a lot of time and effort. He decided these results were worth the expenditure of time, energy and money required, but you will have to make that determination for your own company. Keep in mind that digital marketing is most likely never going to generate a huge portion of your revenue, so make sure you don’t spend more time on these strategies than the ROI warrants. With that in mind, your first task is to make sure your website can be found. This is done through search engine optimization (SEO). I have a book about SEO strategies that is about 2-inches thick and became obsolete by the time I finished reading it. The challenge with SEO for flooring dealers is there’s a lot to know and the rules constantly change. Therefore, unless you really enjoy the topic of SEO, I recommend hiring a reputable company to do it for you. Once people can find your site, your next tasks are to: 1. Create differentiation 2. Position yourself as a trusted advisor 3. Compel an immediate response from the visitor to buy or take some other action 4. Capture the visitor’s contact information for follow-up There are many strategies for accomplishing these tasks, but one relatively quick and simple option is offering a free report. Let’s say when a consumer lands on your site, she will see a message on the top of the page that reads, “WARNING: Don’t call or visit any flooring dealer until you read this free flooring guide. You will learn six costly misconceptions about flooring, three common mistakes to avoid and five critical questions to ask before

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“Help us congratulate Peter and Petunia Pendergastman on their new wood floors!” followed by a testimonial from them with a brief description of the floor and why they selected it. Don’t say, “Click ‘like’ to congratulate Peter and Petunia.” Tag your customer in the photo and it will appear on her timeline, thus giving all of her friends a chance to see it and like your page. People love to be recognized and congratulated. At the same time it’s a major endorsement for your business that hundreds or even thousands of people will see. What others say about you is 100 times more effective than what you say about yourself, even if you’re 100 times more eloquent. Consistency is important, so post these types of testimonials weekly (at a minimum) or no more than once a day. If you post weekly, do it the same day and time every week so people know when to look for it. Facebook business pages enable you to This Spooktacular Ugly schedule as many posts as you like ahead Carpet Contest encouraged of time so they appear automatically, even users to post photos of their ugliest carpets to win one free during evenings and weekends. room of replacement product. Will you make direct sales this way? Some, but that’s not the main purpose of Facebook marketing; its real purpose is to supplement and enhance your other proven strategies. After several months of consistently recognizing your customers via Facebook posts, you might consider hosting a contest to enmediate response from the visitor to take action. gage with potential buyers. If you’ve got an item you’re overstocked on or a remnant, give it Fourth, you’ll receive her contact information. The report also acts as a filter to identify away as a prize. Post a photo with a caption that those consumers who are serious about buying reads, “Like this post to win this beautiful area flooring. Out of 100 visitors, only five may opt rug! Share this post to be entered twice!” Inin for your report, but those five have made it clude a photo of you holding the rug you’re giving away as well as a deadline. clear they are interested in flooring. After you select the winner, take a photo of Facebook strategies you standing with her in your showroom with There are a number of viable social media net- the prize. Post the photo with a message sayworks retailers can utilize, but Facebook re- ing, “Help us congratulate Wilmalina Worcesmains the 800-pound gorilla; I recommend tershire on being our big winner!” Tag starting there. Wilmalina in the photo so it appears on her This gets beaten to death but it also gets ig- timeline and is shared with her friends. nored, so I must reiterate it here: People are on social media to socialize, not to read advertise- Jim Augustus Armstrong specializes in providing ments. An effective way to use Facebook is to turnkey marketing strategies for flooring dealers. post photos of happy customers standing on To watch Jim’s FREE marketing course video for their new floors. Begin the post by saying, floor covering dealers, go to freefloorvideo2.com. purchasing.” In order to download the report, the visitor must provide her name, email address and phone number. This will accomplish those aforementioned tasks. First, few flooring sites have an offer like this, so it creates differentiation. Second, it positions you as a trusted advisor. When consumers read your report they will see you as an authority on flooring. Third, it compels an im-

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Fundamentals of search engine optimization By Amanda Haskin earch engines have revolutionized the buying process, giving consumers the ability to get information faster, find local businesses instantly and research extensively before buying. According to Internet Live Stats, Google now processes more than 40,000 search queries every second, which translates to over 3.5 billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide. “Between 70% and 90% of purchase processes start at a search window; your job as a business is to get found,” said Christine Whittemore, chief simplifier at Simple Marketing Now. Every business with a digital presence strives to be found on Google’s elusive first page, but search engine results pages are constantly changing and business owners are often running to keep up. In fact, Google just made some major changes to its search rank algorithm earlier this year. The changes centered on mobile friendliness, with the site boosting the rankings of mobile-friendly pages on mobile search results. “The No. 1 thing is the recognition that [search] changes every week, really every day,” said Jay Flynn, vice president of sales and marketing at Creating Your Space, an online marketing program for flooring retailers that focuses on website presence. “It’s not just that the search engines are changing algorithms, but your competition is also changing what they do every day, so you have to react to everything that’s going on in your marketplace. Search engine optimization, or SEO, is still by far the leading source of consumers

S

Carpet Source in Albuquerque, N.M., offers educational content on its website via FAQ videos.

going to [a business’] website.”

and review site optimization.

SEO vs. SEM Both SEO and SEM (search engine marketing) aim to increase a site’s visibility on search engines. SEO, which can actually be an aspect of SEM, consists of strategies that organically improve the chances of a site being found by a search engine, while SEM goes beyond SEO to include other boosted search methods like paid ads. “Basically, SEO is your free search and SEM is your paid search,” said Katherine Andes, web content developer and owner of betterwebsales.com. “SEO can be part of SEM in the sense you may have to pay someone to do your SEO for you, but you don’t have to pay a search engine.” While paid ads are fairly straightforward, SEO is incredibly complex and requires a keen understanding of the Google algorithm, including the importance of unique content, links, keywords

Content is king According to Brafton, a content marketing agency, a sweeping 99% of buyers say web content affects purchase decisions. While having unique, relevant content is important in all aspects of digital marketing, it can also improve search ranking. In February 2011, Google introduced the Panda Update, which was intended to stop sites with poor quality content from ending up in Google’s top search results. “Many years ago, there were multiple ways websites could essentially beat the system to gain at least short-term results in search engine rankings,” said Todd Callaway, director of digital content, Shaw Industries. “But these days, search engines are too sophisticated for that. They can recognize quality, relevant content, and it’s in their best interest to serve up the most relevant content to their

users. That means the only real way to attract people to your site in the modern digital age is to create the kind of content people need, that they’re wanting to see, and that truly proves helpful.” Many businesses hire companies to create content, but anyone with knowledge of the industry and an understanding of the marketplace can be successful. “When people say they don’t know what valuable content is, they are taking for granted the knowledge we have,” said Don Lovato, president of Carpet Source, Albuquerque, N.M. “The end user doesn’t know what we know. Provide interesting facts that resonate emotionally with that potential customer.” Lovato created a page on his website called “FAQ videos,” detailing topics consumers should know before purchasing flooring. Videos include, “Do I need a special vacuum when I buy my new carpet?” and “I heard carpet is bad for people with allergies and

asthma: Is that true?” For Whittemore, content is also a way to define what sets a business apart from its competition. “Every single page on your website is another opportunity for your business to get found. Your goal for each page is to make it as strong as possible for one individual element of your business. Ask yourself, ‘What’s different about my business?’ You’ll come up with a bucket of terms, and that’s where you get into keywords. Each page needs to be unique.” Andes finds most flooring companies don’t optimize their sites for the various products they sell and geographic territories they serve, causing them to miss out on many opportunities. “I’ve developed a method of creating portfolio pages,” she explained. “Let’s say my client does a job in a nearby city; we’ll create a page de-

Customer-centric, engaging and educational content is included in Mohawk’s blog, Creative Home.

scribing the job and showing off beautiful hardwood flooring in this house in Springville. By doing so you get the keywords, ‘Springville’ and ‘hardwood flooring.’ So when someone in Springville is looking for hardwood flooring, that page will pop up.”

Getting listed on manufacturers’ dealer locator pages is crucial.

For businesses that belong to buying groups and have microsites, it is important to utilize those custom pages in order to build unique content. “You want to make it personal,” said Todd Wright, owner of Flooring America by Carpet Smart, Springdale, Ark. “In these days of big box stores, people want more contact. We can go on there and personalize our page—how long we’ve been in business, the generations involved, charity work and our activities in our local communities.” Showing up on review sites Having a business reviewed on sites like Yelp, Google+ and Angie’s List not only attracts potential customers, it also helps a store’s information show

up more prominently on search engine result pages. Acquiring online reviews can be tricky as consumers are often driven to write negative reviews rather than good ones, and many business owners are hesitant about opening themselves up to feedback. “There is nothing more difficult than being a transparent brand and opening up to millions of people and consumer experiences nationwide,” said Seth Arnold, residential brand director, Mohawk Industries. “You have to have a multifaceted approach; go where they are and work at engaging them.” Wright knows the importance of customer reviews, so for a period of time Carpet Smart sent customers mail-in forms to complete. “We went from that to using a form on the website, and now we’re asking for photos and videos that create more interaction and emotion. To actually see people’s faces and hear the emotion in their voices makes a huge difference.” Continued on page 12

flooring dealer near me

Continued from page 11

FloorForce, a company that specializes in website development and online marketing for flooring retailers, provides its customers with an online reputation management system called Review Force. “Google has put a lot of credence on review sites,” said John Weller, vice president. “We help people get listed in directories and on relevant sites, and also get reviews and then track conversions off those sites.” Inbound links Inbound links, or links coming from one page to connect to another, are not only a way to boost a business’ search ranking; they are also great marketing tools to get visitors onto a site and learn

more about the store. One way to garner inbound links is to make sure the business is listed on manufacturers’ sites as well as directories like Google Places, Yelp, Business Magnet and more. According to Weller, FloorForce has identified 138 directories and sites that are relevant to the flooring consumer, and Review Force gets a business listed correctly on all of them. “The best way to get inbound links is to simply communicate with the webmaster,” Lovato added. “Send out emails that say, ‘Hey, it sounds like we have a common audience and I think we can help each other.’”

have the time or the knowledge to dive into SEO and all its intricacies alone. “I know floors; I don’t know the Internet,” said Jerry Bush, owner of Stroup Flooring America, Frederick, Md. “You need someone to help you.” He added that in addition to getting digital marketing help from an outside source, retailers should also have someone in store who is at least a little digital savvy to add local, personal content to a store’s online marketing campaign. Flooring America offers a program called G1 (or Google first page) to its members. “It’s a service utilized by our members that provides them with local online search marketing presence in No man is an island Most retailers agree they don’t their markets,” said Andrew Vale-

riani, vice president, digital marketing. “Through a combination of organic and paid search initiatives, the customizable member websites that are hosted and managed by Flooring America/Flooring Canada for members are positioned on page one of Google search results.” If a retailer is handling SEO by himself, digital experts advise to beware of scams that sound too good to be true. “If anyone ever calls you up and promises you first place on Google for $99 a month, it’s a scam,” Weller said. “Every business is completely different. Without doing a full analysis and consultation and looking at the market and your website, no one can give you a price over the phone and guarantee anything.”

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Spreading the word for businesses via social or dealers first delving into the world of social media, the first and most important step is to develop a strategy. A social media marketing plan should map out which platforms are best, planned content, frequency— essentially doing what is imperative to develop a strong online presence with a reliable voice.

site/service that helps drive web traffic, increase engagement and save time on social media, about an hour a day should be spent on each social network (at least when first starting out). Consider the audience and demographics—which social networks are used most by your customers? Also develop your voice and tone, with your voice as your mission statement and your tone the implementation of that mission, Kevan Lee of Buffer

Today the possibilities on social media appear endless, with new platforms seemingly launching every month. Houzz, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Google+—they’re all out there and they’re all valuable for one reason or another. So, with all these options, where should today’s flooring dealer begin? Business owners should consider how much time they—or their staffs—can devote to social media. According to Buffer, a

explained. Many experts say Facebook will get you the most bang for your buck, particularly because posts can be boosted for a small fee that will fit into any store’s marketing budget, and because it has the most widespread use across varied demographics. “If you’re brand new to social media, Facebook is a good place to start,” said Mollie Surratt, senior director of public relations, content and social media for Mohawk Indus-

By Jenna Lippin

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tries. “Oftentimes consumers search for a business on Facebook just as much as they are searching for a regular webpage. It gives credibility and qualifies a business to have a Facebook page. But you can’t wake up and slap something on there; if you post something on Facebook, it has to have a purpose, and the purpose is attracting new customers and retaining consumers you’ve already sold.” Retailers who have been particularly successful with Facebook note that unique posts are what set them apart from the competition. “I think that our presence on Facebook is fairly dominant compared to competitors,” said Nick Cinquepalmi, president of Landmark Flooring in Tinley Park, Ill. “We got on Facebook as soon as it started to get popular, and I had a new opportunity to market our company. I knew I had traction with this advertising platform, and [at first] I decided to do about one update a day. Whether it’s a refinish job, a carpet installation, a repair, a promo—I post once a day in the morning and let it go for 24 hours. Or, whatever current project is underway, I’ll take pictures onsite and upload them to our page.” Jamie Jordan, owner of Jordan’s Flooring in Martinsburg, W. Va., puts extra effort into creating Facebook posts that really stand out from the rest, particularly other local flooring stores. “I think way outside the box in comparison to the competitors in my area. I like to market at the change of a season, and I post some goofy stuff—that seems to be where it’s at. We’ll also do what’s hot in flooring and any specials. I post lots of pictures of finished jobs. We’re a visual world; people want to see things.

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networking That’s what we are gearing toward, high quality photos and videos.” While experts recommend dedicating a portion of marketing/advertising dollars to social media, it is important to remember these platforms are not the place for the “hard sale,” Surratt noted. “It’s a place where you want to engage the consumer on her level. It’s a place to unwind, see what’s new, see what’s trending. It is important for retailers to not just promote their stores, but to also talk about lifestyle, home design trends, share stories about staff members, post Business owners should respond to negative reviews within 24 hours and try their best to turn any unhappy photos of projects, etc.” consumer into a satisfied one. Many retailers are also hesitant to get involved with social media because of seemingly inevitable negativity, particularly with customer reviews. Ultimately, presence on the top social netMost dealers know all it takes is one unhappy works is key, particularly visually based platcustomer sounding off on a social network or forms like Instagram and Pinterest. Posting review site to potentially affect other con- original, engaging content on Facebook is sumers. However, business owners should paramount, along with short, attention-grabtake these reviews as opportunities to turn bing blurbs on Twitter. Business listings on negatives into positives. “My recommenda- Google+, Yelp and Angie’s List will help with tion is to respond within 24 hours to con- search rankings and garnering customer resumers who post negative things [about your views. Houzz is another network rising in store],” Surratt said. “Acknowledge that the popularity in recent years. customer is unhappy and take the conversaFor those unfamiliar with Houzz, this nettion offline to a private message or email so work allows users to express their creativity. you can handle it. Once rectified to the best of It works like Pinterest in that it is based on inyour ability, ask the consumer to go back to spirational photos, which are ideal for any coryour page and post about the resolution.” ner of the home design industry. WebTech

Marketing suggests creating a Houzz profile that describes any business specialties, such as natural stone or hardwood. A job portfolio should be included with high-resolution photos, which should then be added to Ideabooks, a feature unqiue to Houzz. Sharing these Ideabooks will help garner user interest and, in turn, new customers. Tips for ongoing engagement on Houzz include: • Using a Houzz badge on your store’s website • Asking clients to review you on the platform • Contacting people you are interested in networking with via Houzz • Answering homeowner questions on the site • Asking questions on Houzz boards to spark conversation • Regularly uploading new content (weekly or monthly) According to WebTech, “All companies need to be utilizing websites like Houzz, Angie’s List, Yelp, etc., to ensure their products and services are visible for targeted customers doing searches both on search engines and these specific sites.” Continued usage of all social networks will help retailers utilize these simple, convenient, affordable marketing tools to their peak potential.

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Flooring America: Fresh thinking matters A

ccording to comScore, more than 90% of consumers are using online search as the first step in a purchasing decision—one of the 24 digital touch points the average consumer has on her way to making a purchase. “Consumers today have unlimited choices when it comes to buying floors, lighting, cabinets or, for that matter, any home improvement product or service, and they have to be constantly reminded that you even exist,” said Frank Chiera, senior vice present of marketing and advertising for Flooring America. “The absolute best way to reach the consumer is where she spends most of her time… which is online.” With that, Flooring America focuses sharply on keeping its members well ahead of the pack, including other independent flooring retailers, by continually expanding its innovative and fresh marketing programs available to its members. And, its efforts prove to be working. “Having been in the shoes of our retailers ourselves, it’s imperative we bring to life marketing and merchandising strategies that not only drive consumers in our doors, but more importantly make it easier for our members to execute,” said Keith Spano, president of Flooring America. It’s clear the management team at Flooring America understands that a typical independently owned store owner is usually wearing many hats to keep his business running, and crafting a world-class marketing strategy is something he may not have the time to do. “Our industry has typically been given a black eye for not being that innovative from a marketing perspective, and it’s our mission to change that perception,” Chiera said. In fact, over the past few years the Flooring America marketing team has developed tools for its mem-

Building Buzz, a digital media summit for Flooring America members, offers insights from social media and design experts as well as major companies like Google.

bers like a turnkey local social media platform, syndicating over 1 million pieces of curated content to consumers across the group’s 500-store network annually. Flooring America has also built tablet-based CRM apps for its stores to not only capture customer data that integrates with a store’s point-ofsale system, but also executes automated marketing campaigns from collected data. Most recently the group announced new websites launching later this year, one for each of its member stores that answers the call to appeal to more consumers than ever, including the evergrowing and important millennial consumer. “Our new websites are not only personalized representations of each of our stores, but they are 100% mobile, built to handle business oppor-

Flooring America’s new mobile app, My Floor Style, allows users to visualize product in their homes and is just one way the group uses digital marketing to drive leads.

tunities beyond flooring and integrate with all our other marketing efforts,” Chiera explained. “This means every consumer touch point is tracked on our sites, and actionable marketing efforts are deployed to drive more leads to our stores.” The list goes on at Flooring America, including the development of its new flooring visualizer app called My Floor Style, which launched summer 2015. The group feels so strongly about the importance of digital marketing and social media that it is launching its own digital media summit geared to help independent retailers called Building Buzz (buildingbuzzcon.com). The summit, which will be held Sept. 20-22 in Tampa, Fla., is an opportunity for independent retailers to hear from world-class speakers from giants like Google, Houzz, Shoutlet and Bazaarvoice, as well as digital experts in the field of social media and interior designers. The focus of the summit will be for store owners, retailers, sales professionals and designers to learn actionable insights they can take back to their businesses to help them better navigate the new digital marketing world in which we live. Chiera’s message to independent retailers is clear: “As you consider how to drive traffic into your store, digital marketing should be without a doubt the biggest footprint of your overall marketing spend. Your digital reputation, from garnering online reviews from customers to amplifying your voice across social media channels will help set you apart from the competition.”

How flooring retailers can keep By Amanda Haskin t’s no secret the majority of the population is on a mobile device at any given second of any day, so it should come as no surprise that a business’ mobile strategy should be an integral part of its marketing plan. According to eMarketer, mobile ad spending in the U.S. accounts for 49% of total digital ad dollars and is set to overtake desktop by the end of this year. By 2019, it is predicted to rise to 72%. “The key is for dealers to understand the seismic shift in how consumers search

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said Andrew Valeriani, vice president of digital marketing, Flooring America. “It is also important to An example of ensure that Flooring America’s you are giving responsive microsites. customers an engaging experience with your brand.” Mobile readiness was even a key element of Google’s most recent change to its search rank algorithm, much to the dismay of worried marketers and small business owners across the globe who have since nicknamed the update “Mobilegeddon.” According to Christine Whittemore, chief simplifier at Sim- sive website, the mobile deple Marketing Now, vice does the work for you by “Google acknowledged automatically adjusting a that people are using website design for a smaller mobile devices to view screen. sites in different stages “[Responsive sites] are of the buying process. It seamless,” said John Weller, is even more critical vice president of Floornow because mobile- Force, a company that speready and receptive cializes in website sites will be given prior- development and online ity in search results.” marketing for flooring retailers. “Most small busiMobile vs. responsive nesses don’t have enough The process of optimiz- time to manage two webing websites is con- sites. A lot of companies out stantly changing. Most there will take some of the digital experts say that data off their regular webcreating a sepa- sites and pour it over to morate, mobile- bile websites, but that’s a This site’s desktop friendly site that very old school way of havview adapts seamlessly is viewable on a ing a mobile representation. into a mobile view. mobile device is If it’s responsive, the imporold news, with tant information on the new methods cen- front of your regular webtering on responsive site will show up on the modesign. With a respon- bile device perfectly.”

the Internet,” said Jay Flynn, vice president of sales and marketing at Creating Your Space, an online marketing program for flooring retailers that focuses on website presence. “In 2009, less than 1% of consumers accessed the Internet via mobile devices. In 2012, it was at 10%, and as of today it is at 33%. It’s just skyrocketing.” It is now imperative that a business adapt to these trends and make sure its website is compatible on the wide range of mobile devices out there. “Having a mobilefriendly, responsive website is essential to achieving good placement in search results,”

pace with mobile customers Tailored for mobile consumers Mobile visitors to a store’s website have different needs and attitudes than visitors on a desktop site. Understanding that context will help businesses tailor mobile content. A store’s mobile site should provide two major pieces of information with ease and speed: a phone number and directions to the closest location. FloorForce makes certain its dealers’ mobile sites are structured with those two elements at the top of the homepage. “First we take the phone number and turn it into a button so people don’t have to dial while they’re driving,” Weller explained. “Then, directions turn into a button that gives

turn-by-turn instructions [from a location services app].” Mobile users are now spending more time on their devices researching, shopping or simply killing time. For those consumers, dealers should make sure that all relevant content can still be found on their mobile sites. “For [the customer] who might be sitting at the airport waiting for a flight or at her kid’s soccer game searching online for flooring, we don’t take out any content,” Weller added. “It’s not just the customer in the car anymore; in fact, we think that may be the smaller percentage of mobile customers.” Dealers should also simplify the content, making sure images load fast, videos are short and contact information is readily available on every page. “Mobile is about convenience, so give me the bare information,” Whittemore said. “I don’t want fancy stuff that’s going to slow down the experience. But it’s not about having only five words on a Carpet Plus in Charlottesville, Va., has a simple, slick mobile website that displays its ‘Contact Us’ link on every page.

Google allows a business owner to type in his store’s website’s URL to find out if the site is mobile friendly.

page either because content still matters. Content is a sign of quality and Google is looking for high quality pages.” Whittemore uses HubSpot, a content optimization system to simplify information for mobile users. “You set up the rules. For example, it can be hard for people to fill out a lengthy form on a mobile device, so you might have a modified view of that form that only asks for a first name, last name and email address.” Katherine Andes, web content developer and owner, betterwebsales.com, recommends retailers keep an eye on their sites. “Just go on different devices, look at your pages and see how they’re looking. If there’s something that’s not looking good, your web developer might be able to change

that.” And if there is any question as to whether or not a site is mobile-ready, Google has a test site that allows users to simply type in a URL and find out in seconds if the page is mobilefriendly. “Not only are more and more people doing online research on their mobile devices, but [mobile presence] has become an incredibly important factor in search rankings,” said Liz Eure, director of marketing at Carpet Plus, Charlottesville, Va. “If you haven’t tested your website for mobile friendliness on Google, do it now. If it doesn’t pass the test, make any adjustments necessary to make it mobile-friendly.” Continued on page 28

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Digital marketing predictions for 2020 By Ken Ryan t may seem futuristic, but 2020 is only five years from now. If executives are correct, the digital world will have undergone more change in the next five years than in the previous 15. Here are some predictions as to what digital marketing will look like in 2020.

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Cash is no longer king In five years there will be an estimated 2.5 billion smartphones in use. A study from the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project and Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center predicts that by 2020 mobile payment will make all other payment methods obsolete. According to the survey, in which 1,021 Internet users participated, 65% of respondents believe people will have embraced and fully adopted the use of smart device swiping for purchases they make, nearly eliminating the need for cash or credit cards as people will come to trust and rely on mobile phones for handling monetary transactions over the Internet as well as in stores. However, 33% aren’t buying it, citing hacking and other privacy concerns, while 12% were just not sure. Transparency The continued adoption of technology will make the world even more transparent. Consumers will be acutely aware of which companies are doing well and which aren’t, meaning

they will demand better service as a result. Instead of simply comparing companies with the competition, customers will see how these entities stand up to class-leading businesses. This will raise the bar considerably and will require more attention to online feedback. For an increasing number of people, social media is the first place they turn when they experience a problem with a business. According to Nielsen’s social media report, 47% of users engage in social media care and one in three users prefer to contact brands using social media rather than via telephone. Despite this, research by Gleanster shows only 41% of companies actively respond to consumer complaints on social media. What’s more, the average response time for inquiries through social media is more than 24 hours. When considering 92% of consumers have switched businesses to which they are loyal at least once in the last year because of poor customer service, there is still work to be done in this department. Selectivity The Internet will become even more effective at shielding consumers from commercial messages in the years to come, according to

The Kraft website offer tips, ideas and recipes in a format similar to a magazine rather than focusing on just the product.

In 2011, Starbucks launched a mobile payment system in most of its U.S. stores. By 2020, this method of payment could be ubiquitous.

Steven van Belleghem, a Belgium-based trainer, speaker and blogger on topical issues in social media and digital marketing. He predicts new media will enable consumers to be particularly selective about to which companies they will be linked. Consequently, gaining access to the 2020 consumer will prove extremely difficult. A score of 7.3 out of 10 will not be enough to win the heart of this shopper; only extreme customer centricity will guarantee success. Selling without actual sales Five years from now snagging consumers will become increasingly difficult. Today, consumers typically seek interaction with no more than five brands, and technology is making it easier for consumers to block out commercial messages and focus on more valuable content. Being exceedingly relevant is the only way of keeping the consumer’s attention. The first dimension of this change includes the rise of inbound marketing. ING Bank recently reported that 95% of customer interactions originate with the shopper herself. In other words, the pull model has already replaced the push model. Content is still king Content tells a story and gives people something of value. It’s less about your own goods and more about what consumers can do with them. The new sites for Kraft and Coca-Cola, for example, already deliver that message. In both cases the product itself has been pushed to the background while the sites look more like a digizine (digital magazine) than a website. Van Belleghem noted that content should be relevant but, more than anything, it should be well designed. “There’s a phenomenal difference in impact between a classic story and an engaging story. Web designers will become increasingly important in the years to come.”

Digital lead generation goes By Amanda Haskin raditional lead generation strategies are becoming obsolete in today’s digitally driven world. According to Demand Metric, content marketing generates approximately three times as many leads as traditional marketing but costs 62% less. “The industry will change more in the next five years than it has in the last 30 years,” said Mike Zoellner, vice president, marketing services, Mohawk Industries.

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What is digital lead generation? Different people define lead generation in slightly varied ways, but the overwhelming majority agrees that a lead must be quantifiable. While general brand awareness is an aspect of lead generation, it cannot stand on its own. “Getting your name out there doesn’t work anymore,” said Don Lovato, president of Carpet Source in Albuquerque, N.M. “It has to be done along with an offer, expiration and call to action, while positioning your authority. It’s about getting a measurable response back.” According to Christine Whittemore, chief simplifier of Simple Marketing Now, “The biggest part of lead generation is capturing contact information of consumers truly in the market to buy. Step one is lead generation; step two is lead nurturing. You want that lead to become marketing qualified, sales qualified, a customer and eventually even an evangelist for you.” John Weller, vice presi-

dent of FloorForce, a company that specializes in website development and online marketing, believes a lead is only a true lead if the call to action stage has been completed. “We believe you need a minimum of a phone call, [but more so] someone requesting a store visit or an inhome measurement, showing up at the store or filling out a form for a promotion. At FloorForce, we

have a level of urgency. “You can use relevant content to capture leads, as long as the element of curiosity or controversy is there. In other words, say something like, ‘Is the hardwood flooring you’re installing in your home toxic? Find out more in this webinar.’ Consumers need to know you’re going to reveal something to them—that’s how you get leads.” But promotional lead

Mullican Flooring uses an e-newsletter sign-up to generate leads.

only look at conversions. The only thing that matters is return on investment.” Acquiring leads Whittemore said acquiring convertible leads begins with a dealer’s website. “Your website is your 24/7 digital showroom. If you’re aware of that, you’re going to make sure every page has a means for you to connect to your visitors. Invite them to subscribe to your newsletter, and when you’re promoting your newsletter make sure it’s not just about sales. A relationship based on sales events is short-lived.” One way to make sure newsletters and other digital marketing tools are not solely promotional is to provide educational and informative content. According to Lovato, educational content should create interest and

generation forms still hold an important place in digital marketing. Katherine Andes, web content developer and owner, betterwebsales.com, recommends sending traffic to a hidden landing page so you can track how many people visited it. “On that page you can have a coupon that says, ‘Mention this ad and get $100 off.’” Jay Flynn, vice president of sales and marketing at Creating Your Space, an online marketing program for flooring retailers that focuses on web presence, added that his company helps dealers integrate their traditional marketing efforts with online methods. For example, the program creates strategies to get a dealer’s traditional marketing tactics to lead traffic to the Internet, where he can collect those consumers’ information. “You’re taking a

beyond traditional efforts promotion that may have started as traditional marketing, but getting the customer to execute and maximize it online.” Flynn recommends engaging with customers using as many different tools as possible. “Utilize tools like ‘Sign up for a free estimate’ ads, shop-at-home forms, newsletters or access to room scenes with your virtual

room designer. Every consumer is different so give each one every opportunity to engage with you.” Unique, relevant content There is an intrinsic relationship between customer-focused, relevant content and digital marketing in general, and it is a major player in everything from lead generation to SEO to social media. “Brands must deliver relevant content via their websites based on search terms consumers are using to find valuable information they need to make an informed purchase,” said Andrew Valeriani, vice president of digital marketing, Flooring America. “By providing this information, brands can drive lead conversion.” Todd Callaway, director of digital content for Shaw

Industries, added that content should be easy to understand. “It helps earn trust and makes the purchase process more enjoyable. With so much information readily accessible at our fingertips online, consumers have a low tolerance for wading through information that doesn’t answer their questions or provide helpful advice. They’re more likely to

ter—a program for capturing leads and following up with potential customers. One feature in particular, Lead Booster, works with participating retailers to analyze search traffic and purchase most-used search terms in their local markets. “Digital promotional advertisements begin appearing to targeted consumers and serve up offers, connecting interested consumers to a retailer’s lead platform for follow up and conFlooring America’s lead generation form offers a free in-home pre-measure version,” Zoellner and collects potential customers’ said. contact information. Flooring America has implemented a program called G1 (Google first page) designed to drive targeted leads while providing members with a local online search marketing presence. move on to another source Todd Wright, owner of that is more helpful and rel- Flooring America by Carpet evant.” Smart, Springdale, Ark., has Andes recommends a found it to be his best tool for combination of in-house con- lead generation. “I have a rep tent writing and outside help. who helps me with my key“In my opinion, the best of words so that I can keep curboth worlds is when you can rent. As we’ve seen laminate get that outside person or fall off and vinyl plank and company who has had expe- other composition products rience with it and can bring start to pick up, I’m able to ideas to you, while also hav- change those keywords.” ing people in the company FloorForce will launch a get involved.” program in the next month that converts existing cusAvailable resources tomers into new leads. “It Whether you are part of a creates a marketing program buying group, an aligned geared toward [customers] dealer program, or hire a dig- that provides valuable inforital marketing company, mation through email to there are many systems and keep you in their minds,” services that help facilitate Weller explained. “[For exthis process. ample], it tells them how to Mohawk has its own maintain the products CRM (Customer Relation- they’ve purchased, leading to ship Management) system a very large increase in refercalled Mohawk Lead Cen- rals and repeat business.”

An abundance of resources help dealers navigate By Ken Ryan looring retail executives wear many hats and fulfill numerous functions during the course of a business day—being a digital marketing guru shouldn’t necessarily be one of their skills sets. Fortunately, there are digital marketing experts representing major mills, retail groups and industry associations with the common goal of providing the necessary training and tools to help retailers succeed in the digital marketing space. For those dealers on the fence about if and how best to proceed, here are some steps and resources available.

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Shaw and Mohawk are among a select group of major U.S. companies that use Promoboxx, a brand-to-retail marketing platform that allows large entities to launch co-branded online campaigns with retailers. The best thing about Promoboxx, according to dealers, is that it saves them the time and trouble of creating their own content. “It’s like the easy button—it does all the work for

Step one: Rely on industry partners For those aligned dealers with Shaw or Mohawk, or who are part of a buying group, help and training is readily available. Shaw Industries is on the leading edge of digital marketing and helps its retailers with a variety of programs. Several retailers said a Shaw program called Share It Forward has proven to be particularly successful. Share It Forward is an online Experts recommend using social media to review platform that create a dialogue with customers such as customers can visit to this twitter feed from Carpet Wise Flooring post reviews about their America in Longmont, Colo. purchase experiences. They are asked to give a score from 1 to 5 (1 = poor; 5 = excellent) on different aspects of their expe- you,” said Dani Brock, director of retail marriences including salesperson, installers, value keting for Shaw Industries. and product. Then the customer can post an The company also offers RSAs a program explanation for the reason she gave each called Social Studies through its Shaw Learnscore. “We then have an opportunity to re- ing Academy in which professionals are spond to the review posted,” said Eric Langan, brought in to host webinars on everything president and owner of Carpetland USA, with from website design to best digital practices. nine locations in Iowa and Illinois. “We invite “This program gives dealers an educational our customers to post reviews through gift base to advance their digital strategies,” said bags we hand out at the time of purchase. Cus- Todd Callaway, director of digital content at tomers can also visit our website directly and Shaw Industries. post reviews. We just started this a couple of Mohawk has partnered with best-in-class months ago and are looking to build our num- web services companies to provide its retailers ber of reviews.” with viable options to not only design and

manage websites, but also to keep the sites operating with the latest online developments. “We engage companies with core expertise in digital because they are up to date on all the latest technologies, Google changes, SEO, social connectivity, banner advertising, lead generation and website design,” said Mollie Surratt, senior director of public relations, content and social media, Mohawk Industries. “In addition, Mohawk University offers a full suite of online programs around the subject of digital marketing.” Mohawk University’s digital marketing resources are run by experts in their fields and are offered as part of its monthly webinar series, which is recorded for on-demand viewing or study-at-home, self-paced training programs. Mohawk’s latest digital marketing series is called The Right Click. Dealers who sign up (at the Mohawk University section of mohawktoday.com) can take a closer look at how social media marketing benefits their businesses. “We’ll discuss best practices, [how to] create compelling content, social advertising, building a strategy and using social media to generate leads,” Surratt said. Digital marketing programs also save dealers the expense of having to hire experts. Sam Chesher, owner of Carpet Wise in Longmont, Colo., said he would have to hire a full-time staffer to handle the work that Flooring America does for his store. “They do an excellent job with all of our digital and social marketing. [The group] automatically posts on all social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Houzz on our behalf. We also have access to these accounts as a business so we can post our own information. We receive regular training on the best way to utilize digital media and the current trends. We are given regular updates at our conventions and on Flooring America’s member [website]. This year they are offering a specialized twoday training and conference to train members in depth on how to use digital media.” FloorExpo, a division of CCA Global Part-

the digital landscape ners, helps its dealers stay connected with builder clientele through a system that sends a bi-monthly email newsletter to everyone in a retailer’s builder database. The trick is that the e-newsletter looks as though it came from the individual retailer rather than FloorExpo. Dealers who have taken advantage, such as Nick Freadreacea, owner of The Flooring Gallery in Louisville, Ky., say it is a “great device” to keep clients up to date on new product offerings, styles and color trends. Step two: Take advantage of education One of the greatest benefits of attending The International Surface Event (TISE) is the robust educational programs that are available for attendees. Informa Exhibitions, owner of the show, is revitalizing its education package for TISE 2016. Crafted into the new educational program, Ignite includes sessions aimed at helping retailers and other flooring professionals navigate through digital marketing growth areas. The curriculum will cover social media trends, how to power online marketing with Google Analytics and how to keep up with the rapidly advancing state of social media. One educational module discusses the top social media trends for 2016 and what businesses can do to keep current. It is targeted to the company that may be on the fence about social networking and where to go with it. “How to power your online marketing

with Google Analytics” seeks to teach attendees about using their website traffic stats to better understand their audiences and make their websites more productive. A third seminar discusses how companies can harness the power of positive customer reviews, where to request reviews and how to handle the reality of negative online feedback.

Step three: Advice from pros Digital marketers said one important piece of advice they give dealers is to know their audience. That’s Carpetland USA is one retailer that has praised Share because, unlike It Forward, an online forum that customers can visit many conto post reviews about their store experiences. sumer products, flooring is an infrequent purchase, and therefore a flooring dealer’s social media efforts do not need to continually promote sales events. Callaway said the content should engage the customer in con- is as much an emotional purchase as it is a versation. “If the dealer is only talk- functional one. “People have an emotional tie ing about sales you are not going to to how their homes look and feel but it is also be getting a lot of engagement. You a functional purchase because the flooring has want to invite exploration, conversa- to be soft or has to resist scratches, depending tion—maybe it is a topic about color on the surface; the content needs to strike a baltrends or design trends. What we are ance between social conversation and engagtrying to help our dealers with is cre- ing content.” ate the ongoing relationship so that Through SEO tools, Stainmaster.com dithe next time customers have floor- rects consumers to area dealers that carry ing needs, they have already created Stainmaster product. “If you are in the this [connection] with you.” Phoenix area, Baker Bros. is going to come up Saakait Mathur, director of digi- in your search,” Mathur said. “Digital markettal marketing strategies for the Stain- ing is new enough that a lot of businesses and master brand of Invista, advises brands need to come up to speed as to how to dealers that social media content use the medium. Flooring retailers are startneeds to reflect the fact that flooring ing to pick up on knowing how to track traffic and use keywords that are getting traction. The pace of digital is so rapid, retailers are Major brands including Shaw use Promoboxx to launch forced to react quickly to the changes that are co-branded online campaigns with retailers such as going on.” Crest Flooring in Allentown, Pa.

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Glossary Above the fold The area of the webpage that can be viewed without the user scrolling down. Adsense A contextual ad-serving platform run by Google which allows webmasters to create an income stream by placing ads on their sites. Adwords An advertising network run by Google to allow advertisers to place ads across Google products. Adwords is Google’s No. 1 income stream. AlgorithmA set of criteria or rules used to rank websites in search results; often referred to as the Google Search Algorithm. Analytics The collection and analysis of data. Most people collect data about traffic coming to their websites including number of visitors, pages visited and so forth using Google Analytics. Authorship Google Authorship is used to identify the author of a particular piece of content on the web via a Google+ profile.

Call to action (CTA) Words or buttons that encourage the user to take a certain action. For example, clicking on a link or making a purchase are calls to action.

Funnel Guiding web users through a predefined funnel that usually has multiple calls to action. For example: visit website > buy product > buy upsell > join newsletter.

Click through rate (CTR) The percentage of users that saw an ad compared to how many clicked it. If the ad was seen 100 times and clicked on 40 times, it has a 40% click through rate.

Guest post When someone is invited to publish an article on someone else’s website or blog. This is usually done to create a backlink to a site or to increase traffic, brand awareness or engagement.

Content management system (CMS) A userfriendly system to manage and publish a range of content online including text, images and videos.

Hits The total amount of times a website was accessed. Hypertext markup language (HTML) A programming language used to create websites. Internet marketing (IM) Using the Internet to market product or services either as a business owner or an affiliate.

Search engine results page (SERP)

Inbound link A backlink pointing to another website.

Automation Automating a manual task with a bot such as filling in a web form, signing up to websites, submitting content, etc.

Indexed A webpage included in Google’s index of the web.

Backlink When one website links to another.

Conversion When a user takes the desired action (or makes a purchase).

Below the fold The area of the webpage that cannot be seen until the user has scrolled down the page.

Conversion rate The percentage of people that convert. If four out of 10 visitors buy a product, there is a 40% conversion rate.

Blog An online journal where people can share opinions and discuss various topics.

Cost per click (CPC) How much a retailer pays for each click on his link or ad.

Blog network A collection of blogs usually owned by the same person that are set up anonymously to manipulate search engine rankings through backlinks.

Domain name A unique name made up of letters, numbers, dashes and periods to identify a website, such as www.fcnews.net.

Blogosphere The blogging community.

Impression When a user views an ad or webpage.

Duplicate content Two webpages that feature either duplicate or very similar pieces of content. This is a key cause of the Google Panda penalty.

Bot A computer program that can interact with the Internet, usually to automate tasks or scrape data.

Ecommerce The buying or selling of products or services on the Internet; electronic commerce.

Bounce rate The percentage of people that leave a site without visiting any other pages.

Email marketing A form of direct marketing delivered directly to email inboxes.

Internal link A link on a webpage that points to another page on the same website or domain name. Keyword An important word or search term used to optimize and rank websites. Landing page The page intended for the user to first arrive on. Landing pages usually have a clear call to action. Made for Adsense (MFA) Websites that are specifically built to make money with Google’s Adsense program. Meta description The description of a webpage that appears in search engine results pages. Off-site SEO Search engine optimization techniques that are applied without making changes to a website. On-site SEO Search engine optimization techContinued on page 28

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Glossary

of rules) or manually applied after a human review of a site.

of results that can be seen after conducting a search in a search engine like Google or Bing.

Plug-in A file or bit of code that can easily be installed to add new functionality to a website or content management system.

Sitemap A page that links to all other pages on a website.

Continued from page 26

niques that are applied by making changes to the website. Opt in When a user joins an email list or opts in to receive communication from a business. Organic link A backlink to a website that is created naturally by another webmaster. Outbound link A link on a webpage that points to a webpage on a different site or domain name. Page rank A Google-based metric that determines how authoritative a site or webpage is based on the incoming backlinks. Page rank ranges from zero to 10. Panda The Google Panda update and penalty that targets low-quality websites and duplicate content. Pay-per-action (PPA) An advertising model in which a site owner only pays for a completed action such as a confirmed sale or email subscription. Pay-per-click (PPC) An advertising model in which a business owner pays a set amount for every click his ad receives. Penalty A search engine penalty that may either be algorithmic (automated based on a set

Mobile Continued from page 19

Mobile marketing Due to the especially long buying period for flooring, engaging potential customers throughout that process is imperative. Because so many more people are on their smartphones on a regular basis, engaging them on these devices is a major part of any customer’s journey. One aspect of mobile marketing is simply advertising on a mobile website. “We do specific promotions for many of our dealers that are just on mobile devices, and they can measure consumer behavior,” Flynn said. “You’re going to see more and more of that as the tech-

Pop-up An ad, banner or webpage that is automatically triggered to appear on top of the current web browser. Reciprocal link Two different websites link to each other and return the favor by linking back. Return on investment (ROI) The percentage of profit made above the initial investment. Redirect When a user is sent from one webpage to another. Really simple syndication (RSS) A standard data feed system used to deliver updates or content from websites. Sales funnel A funnel or series of webpages designed to get the user to buy products or services. Search engine marketing (SEM) Using search engines to market to a target audience through paid methods such as PPC.

Social bookmark A type of backlink that is usually created when a user publicly bookmarks a site with a service. Social share When a user shares a webpage on social media. For example, users can tweet about it, “like” it on Facebook, or post it to Google+. Subscriber When a user subscribes to a site either through email, RSS or by becoming a follower on social media. Target audience A group of people interested in a specific product or service. Traffic How many people visit a website. Traffic driving Marketing activity with the goal of increasing traffic to a website. Usability How usable a webpage is. Sites often improve their designs to make them easier to use and increase conversion rates.

Search engine optimization (SEO) Optimizing a website and strategy to gain higher rankings in the organic search engine results.

User generated content (UGC) When users create content on a business’ website either by submitting a comment, creating a forum topic, uploading a video, etc.

Search engine results page (SERP) The page

Webmaster The owner of a website.

nology evolves—being able to push different platforms and ads to just mobile devices.” Text messages play a large role in mobile marketing when it comes to promotional advertising and lead generation. Weller noted that he uses text message promotions with some larger companies, and he has seen high returns on investment. “When a customer goes onto a website, there will be a pop up that says, ‘This month we’re having a sale— give us your phone number and email here,’ and she will get a text message with a coupon or a code. The coupon business is still alive— it’s just different.” FloorForce also uses text messaging to help its dealers with both conversions and referral and repeat business. The company tracks all phone calls that come into a Floor-

Force customer and, whether the lead comes from a directory, website or social media site, builds a profile based on her behavior. The data collected during online interactions will determine if she is a new customer who will receive a text with a promotion or a returning customer who will receive a message with the store’s customer service phone number if she ever needs it. “The beauty of it is that your mobile device is always with you,” Creating Your Space’s Flynn added. “If it’s a Saturday afternoon and you’re going to pick up your dry cleaning, you might recall that text message you got on Wednesday and decide to run over [to the flooring store]. Because it’s always with you, it makes it a much more viable form of marketing.”

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Floor Covering News 550 W. Old Country Rd. Suite 204 Hicksville, NY 11801

July 20/27

CAREER OPPORTUNITIES

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WE HELP DEALERS

FOR A QUOTE CONTACT KEVIN GOMEZ CLASSIFIED AD MANAGER

[email protected] Call: 516.932.7860 • Fax: 516.932.7639

CAREER OPPORTUNITIES

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Private labels, specialty mills & etc. Call us now at 800-228-4632 www.carpetbroker.com

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Looking to relocate to sunny Florida? We are an national recruiting firm that specializes in the Flooring Industry. We are working on an opportunity with a commercial flooring company located in Florida. They are looking to hire an experienced Commercial Flooring Sales Professional. The ideal candidate will have at least 2--3 years of Ceramic Tile sales experience. They really need to have sales experience working with Resilient, Soft Surface and Ceramic Flooring. They are doing tons of healthcare and education projects so any experience in that arena is ideal. They want someone who can develop business with the A&D, Major End-Users and General Contractors. This person would be responsible for hunting down opportunities, doing light estimating, some project management work, and closing the sale. The Ideal candidate would have experience with RFMS. Strong phone and presentation skills required. Compensation: Base pay plus bonus/commission structure, car allowance Some relocation provided and great benefits!

San Antonio’s most respected floor covering store is currently seeking professional SALES ASSOCIATES to add to our family. San Antonio’s benefits include: • Wonderful climate • Low cost of living • 8th Largest City in U.S. • One of the countries fastest growing cities Our benefits include: • 100 year, fourth generation Family business • National reputation for honesty & integrity • 34,000 sq. ft. state-of-the-art facility • Mid to Upper end residential • $60 - $80,000 earning potential • 401(k) • Health Insurance • On-site employee gym and locker rooms • Vacation Pay • Moving allowance If you have the desire to increase your income and be a part of a winning team, and have at least two years of floor covering experience, send resume to: [email protected]

ENTREPRENEURS!

LVT Factories Searching for Experienced Sales Leaders with Knowledge of LVT Manufacturing Process. You will be Selling OEM/Private Label Programs Large Volume Opportunity with Strong Commissions Email Resume to [email protected]

Contact John Clark at 919.553.0151 or email: [email protected]

CLOSEOUTS////CLOSE OUTS///CLOSEOUTS

Carpet Tile Trailer Loads-- starting at $3.15 sq yd Cheap Roll Carpet Trailers-- $1.53 sq yd Click LVT trailers $0.99 sqft Shaw Contract Carpets and Carpet Tile— Brokering All Styles Call Terry Behr (334)315-7117 (manufacturers reps welcome- up to 15% commissions pd) usacarpetandmattress.com-terrybehrwholesale.com

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TERRITORY SALES MANAGERS

Marquis Industries, Inc. has openings for full time Territory Sales Managers in territories: San Francisco/Northern LA and Florida. Come grow with us as one of the best carpet manufacturers in the industry. Selling our complete line of residential carpets and hard surface products. We represent one of the best employment opportunities in the floorcovering industry today. We offer a strong compensation program with paid medical and group benefits, 401K retirement plan, vacation time and life insurance. We are looking for professionals with a proven track record and strong dealer relationships with a minimum of 3 to 5 years industry experience. References are required. To learn more about joining our professional sales team, email resumes to: To: [email protected] or Contact Victoria Vito at: 800-245-0652 ext. 160

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