Image by Stuart Miles, FreeDigitalPhotos.net
For years I’ve listened to a host of consultants, speakers and experts talk to kitchen and bath companies about their online strategies and all of the different steps they must take to be successful. But when it comes to the online metrics that help companies to grow, the so-called experts are carefully vague, generalizing the online experience as “lead generation.”
Understanding the online world – and its role in helping you grow sales – is more important than ever. So understanding online metrics – the right metrics – is critical to making better marketing decisions and evaluations.
Here are five pairs of common online metrics and explanation regarding why one matters and why the other is likely to be misleading to you.
1. Visitors vs. Visitors from within Your Marketing Territory. Do most of your customers live in a specific geographic area? I’m willing to bet the answer is yes. After all, kitchen and bath designs or remodels by their very nature involve showing up, in person, at the homes of your prospects.
The broader point is that you can’t sell a kitchen or bathroom to homeowners on the other side of the country. If you operate in a territory 100 miles around St. Louis, why would visitors from Seattle matter to you?
If you hire a firm to boost your website rankings (commonly known as an SEO firm), we recommend that you incent your provider not just to drive traffic, but to drive traffic from visitors in your particular sales or service area. You can track the location of visitors through a free Google Analytics account.
2. Leads vs. Issued Leads. What’s “a lead” anyway? The truth is, it could be almost any name, address, phone number or combination thereof. And for many lead-generation companies, that broad definition is exactly what they use when promising to “deliver leads.”
But that’s not what you need – particularly when it comes to online lead sellers. Instead, you want to measure “issued leads,” defined as leads given to a salesperson to follow up on after your team has spoken to an interested homeowner. Those are the leads that result in sales.
Lead quality matters, and there are important differences between what one provider considers a lead and what you consider a good sales opportunity. Here’s an example: According to lead sellers, a “bathroom remodeling lead” could be a $60,000 master bath project or a $400 tub re-glaze.
There are huge differences among these opportunities – even though lead sellers typically refer to them the same way. It’s a game so many lead-generation companies play to goose their numbers – and their profits.
3. Clicks vs. Conversions. Clicks have been around as an online metric since the dawn of the Web, but clicks for their own sake don’t matter. Clicks from India, for example, are not only not in your marketing territory, they probably aren’t even real people (e.g. “click-bots”). Traffic that stays on your website for a second (literally) also isn’t coming from a real person, let alone a bath or kitchen prospect, and doesn’t provide any value to you. Yet, these register as clicks.
Online marketing companies will also do things to deliberately increase their volume. It’s incredibly easy to send unqualified traffic from social media promotions or to place links to your site all over the Web – where they know it will get phantom visitors. Or, they can resort to dozens of other methods that appear to generate visitors.
You want flesh-and-blood homeowners visiting your site, so you need to move from “clicks in general” to “clicks that matter.” Which clicks matter? Those that lead to conversions. Google Analytics can help you see where the clicks come from, who spends time on your website and whether they’re interested in your kitchen or bath options.
4. Phone Calls vs. Qualified Phone Calls. Pay-per-call services are growing in popularity; they generate leads in the form of phone calls to you, and you pay based on the number of phone calls you get. When you sign up with a service to generate phone calls, it’s in their best interest to generate as many calls as possible. Shady tactics include putting your name and number out to cold call lists and auto-dialers, as well as having technology to call you at night – after business hours. Then they trumpet their results back to you: “Look at all the calls our program is generating for you!” The solution is to monitor your telephone traffic by checking for length of call, listening to sample recordings and understanding which calls are billable vs. those calls that are no good.
5. Social Followers vs. Reviews. “Followers,” “Likes” and “Fans” on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and elsewhere are all the rage these days. Not only are these social metrics hip, they’re easy to measure.
The problem is that few have found a significant correlation between this type of activity and leads for kitchen and bath businesses. Social media has a supporting relationship for your brand, but it doesn’t drive any volume of leads.
Social reviews by customers, on the other hand, are extremely valuable because reviews are a new type of “online currency.” The more you have, the more likely Google, Yahoo and others will rank your website near the top of your local kitchen and bath listings.
The important thing is to make sure you actively ask customers to go onto Yelp, Google and Angie’s List and review your company. It will take the homeowner five minutes, but it can pay big dividends for you in the search engine rankings.
Activity – even precisely measured activity – can be easily confused with results. Nowhere is this more common than when gauging success online. If you keep your focus on the metrics that matter, you’ll drive more sales via the Web. All the best in online success!
– Todd Bairstow is co-founder and principal of Keyword Connects (keywordconnects.com).