Christopher Parr, Head of Brand Communications and Interactive, Sub-Zero and Wolf, was in charge of websites that provided information about the company’s high-end kitchen appliances -- but did not sell products directly. Instead, customers had to work through dealers and designers to purchase.
But his team noticed a new trend in consumer habits. "I just really saw a shift where consumers, in the privacy of their own homes, were spending hours and hours planning their kitchens and going to their designers and saying ‘Here’s what I want,’" Parr says.
The team wanted their websites to take advantage of this behavior. They needed a way to attract more consumers to the websites, where they could spend time exploring products and register for information in order to generate sales leads. CAMPAIGN
The team created an interactive, online showroom to give visitors what they were looking for: more product information, and interactive tools to plan their kitchens.
Here are seven steps they took to add features to their website:Step #1. Build in-depth product pages
Three main groups regularly visited the Sub-Zero website:
o Potential customers
o Product owners
o Kitchen designers
Each group needed different information about the same products. Previously, the information was placed in separate sections of the website, or wasn’t available online.
Parr’s team pulled all this information together and organized it by product. They gave each product its own page, creating a central location for all of a product’s information.
Product pages included:
o Multiple high-quality, zoom-able product images
o Three videos -- a feature overview, a "quick start" for new owners, and a how-to/tips video
o Text overview of design, features and accessories
o Specifications and measurements in downloadable PDFs
o A "for owners" section with a FAQ guide and videos on product care and usage
o Buttons to save the product to a wish list, print the page, or email it to a friend
The changes approximately doubled the amount of content hosted on the website.Step #2. Apply search engine optimization
Parr knew that in the age of search, almost any page on a website can serve as a landing page. Consumers were no longer guaranteed to navigate from a home page.
But the team added a substantial amount of content to their website, some of which was in Flash. Flash content is notoriously tricky to get indexed by search engines.
To create pages that were both appealing to visitors and search friendly, the team made a compromise:
- The portion of the product pages that loaded the images and videos were in Flash to provide a seamless experience.
- All other content was created in HTML and was easily indexed by search engine spiders. Step #3. Create an appliance selection tool
The team created an interactive tool that helped visitors select every type of kitchen appliance offered by Sub-Zero and Wolf.
- When first opened, the tool displayed an image of a refrigerator and a stove and asked which type of appliance visitors wanted.
- Visitors who moused over the image of a refrigerator saw the following list of products:
o All refrigerators
o All freezers
o Undercounter & drawers
o Wine storage
- Mousing over the stove image revealed the following list:
o Ovens & microwaves
o Cooktops & rangetops
o Integrated modules
- Once a visitor made a selection, the screen transitioned to a scrollable, horizontal, image-based list of all the available products in that category. Visitors could click to view more product images, read more product information, or add a product to their list.
The bottom of the screen displayed an empty pallet of product selections, with an available position for each product category. Once a product was selected, its image filled the corresponding position on the pallet.
- Once a visitor selected all their desired products, they could register for an account to be able to:
o Save the products as a "wish list"
o Send the list to a show room
o Email the list
o Print the listStep #4. Create a kitchen design tool
The team also created an interactive tool to show visitors how the brands’ appliances might look in their own kitchens.
- The "Interactive Kitchen Vignettes" featured nine high-quality images of different styles of kitchens equipped with Sub-Zero and Wolf appliances.
- After visitors selected the style of kitchen from the list of images, they were taken to a page to customize the following features displayed in the image (features varied with the chosen kitchen style):
o Appliance finish
o Cabinet finish
o Island color
o Bartop finish
o Countertop finish
o Wall color
o Floor finish
- The kitchen layouts included Sub-Zero and Wolf products, each with small green buttons placed over them. When clicked, those buttons launched a screen with a short paragraph describing the product, and a link to the product’s page.Step #5. Add more options to generate leads
Previously, brochure requests were the main way to capture visitors’ information for leads. That option was kept, but the team added more ways to generate leads, such as:
- Wish lists
As mentioned previously, visitors were able to create lists of desired products for their homes. They had to register accounts and provide email addresses and contact information to save these lists.
- Starter kits
The team added kits with design guides and product information for people designing a new kitchen. These kits were only available to visitors who registered accounts.
- More calls for brochures
The team also increased the number of places on the site where users could request a free brochure, including a top navigation link and several 300x100 display images. Step #6. Add kitchen-related editorial content
The team also added kitchen-related content to the site to make it more interesting to consumers and search engines. Some of the content came from partnerships with related media outlets, including HGTV and Dwell.
The content included articles, images and videos of:
o Cooking tips and recipes
o Interviews with master chefs and interior designers
o Information on locally grown food, such as top farmer’s markets and restaurants
o Galleries of dream homesStep #7. Multi-channel promotion to drive Web visits
After the new features launched in April 2007, the team used email, print and television to promote the new website features:
After the launch, the team sent monthly emails to its house list to feature new portions of the website and describe how they worked.
- Print and television
The team’s media campaign did not push the message that their website had new features. Rather, they emphasized that it was the destination to "Build your dream kitchen," Parr says.
"All of our print campaigns and TV campaigns are really to drive consumers to our website," Parr says.
"We’re very happy with the levels of engagement that have increased, with the videos being watched, and even the lift in product registrations," Parr says. "So we’re certainly pleased.'
Here are some of the metrics they’ve seen:
o 270% increase in online lead generation since the site’s launch, with little change in lead quality
o 49% increase in website accounts over the last year
o 20% increase in site traffic over the last year
o 22% increase in product registrations over the last year
Parr has also noticed two trends in the time spent on the website:
- Designers are able to come to the site and find the information they want very quickly, resulting in very low time spent metrics.
- However, consumers are spending much more time on the site, he says. For those who do not leave the site within five minutes, they often spend 17 to 25 minutes browsing.
"More than 75% are spending a lot of time on the site, hitting multiple areas."Useful links related to this article:
Creative Samples from Sub-Zero and Wolf online showrooms
Adobe Scene 7: Platform used to create the site’s interactive elements