By Jeff Giagnocavo, Co-Owner of Gardner’s Mattress & More and Co-Publisher of Mattress Retailer Weekly
It has been said that your website is the front door to your store. I only wish that were true today. Think about what a front door does. It closes off the building, provides layers of access, a sense of security and privacy. There is no way that a modern website built for success on main street does any of that. In fact, it is the opposite. If we are to equate a website to anything today it would be that of a nanny cam perched in every corner, nook and cranny of your store. A lapel microphone attached to every salesperson and a hidden camera in the back of the delivery truck.
Given the ability of today’s customer to check you out via Google, Facebook and Yelp reviews and social media before even visiting your website, the harsh reality is that your website is truly the first of many points of affirmation in the sales process that ends in a mattress sale.
But how did we get here?
There once was a point in time where retailers could find success with this diagram:
Successful retailers could dominate the competition, depending on their market, with just one media. There was a time where you could be a one-legged stool when it came to advertising and still succeed!
Here in Lancaster, PA there was a point in time where a county of less than 350,000 had the ability to read both a morning and evening newspaper. The key here is that you solely controlled narrative; if you could spend the most on advertising, you were the market leader. And of course, this was long before websites were an integral part of the mattress buying process.
In the late 2000’s and early 2010’s, we experienced a new technology wave: the social boom. The first wave was in the late 70’s with IBM, Gates and Jobs, the second was the Dot-Com boom of the late 90’s early 2000’s. While the first two waves were more about inspiration and access, the latest ushered in tremendous fragmentation in where advertising dollars can be directed.
Today, successful mattress retailers must focus on all the following media:
Obviously, the difference between image one and two is striking. And those retailers who ignore or don’t engage with any one leg in the stool are risking market share to their competitors who succeed with the media.
Where does the website come into play? What can you do to ensure your website is high performing part of your marketing success?
Your website serves as the conduit to your telephone, front door and email inbox for your store. It should connect to all media where you are investing advertising to create an impression, click, like, link or share.
Here are three aspects of high performing and sales converting websites.
1. Less is more.
Did you know the top five online direct-to-consumer sites have less than twenty-five webpages in total on their respective websites? In fact, the top three all have twenty-one. One way these online companies are succeeding is polar opposite to the childhood game of “whisper down the line.” They have the luxury, because of their online-only selling environment, of controlling their own narrative 100% of the time.
Contrast this to how main street retailers display and discuss their mattress options. We visit the manufacturer at an event. We “whisper down the line” for the first time by picking the mattresses that fit our store best. This is the first layer of the brand story that is peeled away. Next, these mattresses are merchandised into the mix on the sales floor and constantly compared to something else. The third layer, and most hazardous, is how you and your staff discuss and present these items.
Now how does this all match up to the story being told on your website about the brand? Further, how does your story compare to the brand’s story? Be sure the brand story told on your site is the same brand story told on your sales floor. If it’s not, your customer is getting confusing and contradicting information.
2. Your Homepage.
Here we can use the front door analogy properly. Think of an inviting front door that is warm and welcoming to a luxury custom home. The same feeling should jump off the homepage of your website. To do so, you must first consider three questions. What is the number one thing you want customers to do? What do you want them to understand about your store? And how you can help them select the right mattress set?
For my business and the clients I work with, the number one thing we want people to do is to get on our respective email lists. You can see an example of how we do this on GardnersMattressAndMore.com.
Secondly, your homepage simply must communicate your unique selling position. Why you out of all others available to the customer? I can confidently tell you the elements of being unique are NOT best price and selection combined with years of experience and stellar service. Why you ask? Because each can be out done with a better adjective to communicate price, selection, tenure and service.
From there, you should provide a clear path for what you want your customers to do once arriving at your website and then how you can best help them make the right purchase.
3. Your “About Us” page
Our “Meet Team” page is a top five page in page views, but it is number one in time on site. Why? Because it’s not about us, it’s about how we help our customers select the right sleep system to best fit their sleep needs. Our time on site numbers skyrocketed once we went hyper personal and added personal bios and pictures to the page. Do the same and you will see your page views and time on your site greatly improve.
Your “About Us” page should be properly focused on WIIFM: What’s In It For Me? Be sure that this page answers everything that is important for the customer and why they should buy from you. Not why you are better than your competitors, because truthfully they think we are all the same until proven otherwise.
Once you grasp and understand that your website must be the conduit that is always connecting every marketing effort to every advertising moment and ultimately finishes at the sale – you will see more customers in your store with greater clarity on why you are the number one choice in your market to invest in a new mattress.
Looking for more retail insight? Read Jeff's "How To Make Your Store Stand Out From The Crowd" now.