Many home improvement brands spend great sums of money buying national media to generate leads for their dealers. A great strategy…or a big waste? Read on.
As we’ve worked with home improvement brands and manufacturers, we’ve learned a lot about their challenges of running national media campaigns. Turns out that brands that run campaigns on behalf of their dealers take on key challenges…not just to develop programs that work, but to also track the results.
That’s uncomfortable for many brands. They have varying levels of staff and abilities to run sophisticated geo-targeted campaigns that deliver leads to the local level. They have limited budgets as far as handling responses from national TV spots, radio or print campaigns. Moreover, they’re often able to do only minimal follow-up with the dealers to gauge the results.
We’ve also seen national campaigns draw on automated telephone technology to direct homeowners to their local dealers. This is certainly the least expensive way to handle the responses from lead generation campaigns, but it leads to very different outcomes.
Brands find that their best dealers follow-up on sales leads like hawks—quickly and efficiently. Trained, scripted telephone pros squeeze every last appointment out of a day’s leads. These are the dealers that fully capitalize on the media investments made by the brands that serve them.
Most dealers, unfortunately, follow a different path. They may or may not answer the telephone when interested homeowners call. They may or may not call back homeowners who leave voice mails. They may or may not pursue every homeowner contact because they don’t have the manpower, motivation or both. And they nearly certainly fail to track the results and ultimate outcomes of leads from the national media campaign.
Where does that leave brands that buy national media to generate leads for their dealers? Deeply in the dark. They don’t know the effectiveness of their ad buys. They don’t know which media performed well, and which did not. They don’t know if their ads were more effective in certain geographic areas than others.
And when brands ask dealers for feedback on campaign effectiveness, what they get it will be wildly uneven. Examples:
“We received 75 calls from the campaign, and booked 45 appointments. We had 37 sits, 6 no-shows and 2 cancellations. Of the 37 sits, we have 18 sales at an average price of $3,000.”
“We got a bunch of calls in the middle of the week, and we set I think about two dozen appointments. One of my sales reps told me that he had two good sits, but a couple that were tire-kickers who just wanted to see what it was going to cost. But I think, overall, the program was pretty good.”
“Yeah, we got the calls, but they weren’t really qualified. We ran a couple of them, but they were all focused on price and we only closed one, maybe two. We’ve still got a couple left to run, but I don’t know…”
This drives brands, their managers and the media they use crazy. And rightfully so. With technology available that enables campaigns to be 100% measurable, this “soft” feedback on campaign performance is just not acceptable.
At Keyword Connects, we use a universally popular term (we didn’t invent it, we just use it obsessively) called “closed-loop marketing.” This is an approach to lead generation through which leads across media channel and campaign are tagged and measured all the way through to their final outcomes. By “ measurable”, I mean appointment set rates, no-shows, sits and closes. As well as close rate by rep and territory, marketing % by media channel, etc. etc.
Effective tracking offers significant benefits:
- Capability to optimize investments in media channels, to quickly identify winners and losers
- Identify problem areas. For example, if dealers in most districts are closing at 40%, but one is closing at half that rate…
- Offers a clear view into opportunities for improvement of sales and marketing operations
- Ready-made justification for future campaigns, drawing on solid understanding of which media work in which territories, and which should be mothballed
While this degree of reporting and accountability intimidates some, others see it as an essential to their continuing success. In short, smart players understand it’s the only way to stay ahead in an increasingly competitive industry.
In future installments, I’ll talk more about the nuts and bolts of closed-loop marketing. In the meantime, what can YOU start measuring today?