Anyone in the retail and distribution business knows the value of a good lead. But the value of that lead can quickly diminish when it hits the various hurdles that can get in the way of converting it to a sale.
The Western Red Cedar Lumber Association, the Vancouver, B.C.-based non-profit association that represents premium western red cedar producers in Canada and the U.S., made a commitment to its members last year to focus on connecting leads to sales, and implementing programs that would ultimately improve conversions.
“The association’s mandate has always been to drive the sales and value of our member’s products,” said Brad Kirkbride, WRCLA managing director. “We’ve always done a good job of selling the beauty and unique benefits of the species to mitigate competitive threats and keep Real Cedar top of mind, but until now we’ve never been able to maintain a touchpoint with a potential customer after they’ve finished seeing an ad or left the website. That changed when we shifted our focus to finding ways to convert those leads into making the cash register ring.”
The solution they developed, and are now seeing pay off, is the new Get a Quote feature on WRCLA’s website, realcedar.com.
All advertising and outreach for Real Cedar—the association’s consumer-facing brand for member products—drives traffic to the website to the information they’re looking for, such as building plans, DIY videos, or product or specifying information, among other areas. Through targeted campaigns realcedar.com now sees over a million visitors a year, with that number now almost doubling every year (the site already had over 1.2 million sessions by July this year).
Customers on the site are directed to the Retailer Locator page, which is found under the Where to Buy section. There they can perform a location search, and the top 10 retailers closest to their location who supply member products are shown on the map, along with their listing on the page’s sidebar. Premium (WRCLA member) retailers’ logos also appear—not unlike the first few links in a Google search—and clicking the logo will filter by closest location if there is more than one. Clicking the Directions link for each retailer will then give the user directions via Google maps, or they can click a Get Details button to go directly to the member’s page on the site.
With the new addition of the Get a Quote feature, customers can now request quotes directly from the member retailer in the Retailer Locator tool. The retailer can then reply back with the quote, assist with specifying products, additional materials, arrange delivery or pick up, and provide whatever else the customer requires.
In addition to benefiting the retailer, the feature also improves the user experience by satisfying the customer’s desire to request to purchase cedar directly from the website, as well as improve sales of western red cedar overall.
“It was timely that we added the Get a Quote feature when we did,” said Kirkbride. “The COVID-19 pandemic drove online use up, and being able to connect customers to everything from plans to technical advice to specifying information and ultimately direct retailer contact on realcedar.com has been very beneficial. We’ve had really good feedback on it.”
To improve the customer experience, WRCLA first zeroed-out the retailer list that was previously on the site; all outdated or inaccurate listings were culled. A new, updated list of Real Cedar carrying retailers was then re-added.
Since implementing Get a Quote in the spring, use of the feature has been growing and 250 quotes were requested in May and June alone. According to the association’s reporting, 45% of all requests in June were for WRC siding (up from 31% the month before), followed by decking at 32%, timbers 18% and dimensional lumber at 5%. Tennessee and California generated the most quotes in June (18% and 11%, respectively), followed by Massachusetts, New York, Illinois, Alberta and British Columbia Canada, Colorado, New Jersey, and Texas.
The association monitors all online activity and has said they expect locations for most leads and product requests to change month to month. They also noted that in most cases (but not all) the majority of leads came from markets in which Real Cedar online campaigns were running.
Connecting customers directly to member retailers is one less hurdle in the purchase process. While the individual retailer has the final responsibility to close the deal, the addition of Get a Quote is bringing more qualified leads to them. In a crowded and difficult market, who wouldn’t want that?