How LiftMaster Leverages Digital Solutions to Market Locally at Scale

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If you own or have ever seen ads for garage-door openers, there is a good chance you’ve come into contact with LiftMaster and Chamberlain. These brands, both owned by parent company Chamberlain Group, are the leading providers of garage-door openers in the United States. 

In order to maintain their leading position in the market, Chamberlain Group’s brands deploy marketing automation strategies that help their franchisees think locally and connect with nearby customers. Street Fight recently caught up with Mike Bevan, director of digital marketing and e-commerce at LiftMaster, to discuss the digital marketing tactics his company employs, the technologies making those strategies possible, and the solutions for which LiftMaster and Chamberlain are still on the lookout. 

What are the primary marketing objectives and challenges for LiftMaster and Chamberlain?
Chamberlain group is the company we all work for, and we have a few brands. Two of the brands that I work on are LiftMaster and Chamberlain. LiftMaster is for the professional installation channel. If you want to buy one of those, you have to go through a dealer. The Chamberlain brand is sold in retail. So Home Depot, Lowe’s, Sears, the big-box [retailers].

For LiftMaster, our primary marketing objective is to drive leads to our dealers — to make more phones ring. From the Chamberlain side, it’s to drive leads to our retailers, and that’s either to the brick-and-mortar retailer or to the retailers’ websites.

Secondary objectives are search, trying to occupy as much of the search pages as possible. The rest is channel-specific like social media; we do a lot of work there on the LiftMaster side to drive awareness for the brand and engagement, conversation, shares, things of that nature to get our followers [and] our likes to advocate for us.

Could you talk more about all those digital tools and channels? How do you leverage those different things, what works and what doesn’t, and how do you keep track of that?
We use a company called Balihoo. It’s a local marketing automation play. What they do is publish the microsites for us using a feed from our enterprise customer data base so that [the microsites] always display the right business name, address, phone number, email address, and website. Then we do content management from our end to update those pages en masse. We have the tools through Balihoo to update all 800 at once or to update certain stores’ pages with whatever content we think is necessary at the time, such as a national promotion. Also on that dealer page there’s a lead form, through which the consumer can request an appointment, ask a question, and it automatically emails to the primary email address that we have in our database for that dealer. We do call tracking numbers on the dealer pages as well and call recording so that our dealers can listen to their phone folks and provide training or feedback on how they do.

Off of that Balihoo platform, the other thing we can now do for the dealers is run Google AdWords pay-per-click campaigns that are targeted directly to the dealer page rather than the LiftMaster page. So when [customers] click on the pay-per-click ad, it will take them immediately to the closest dealer. We also just started doing Pandora paid ads with the same concept: Any clicks on the display ads on Pandora take them to the microsite. [Also] with the Balihoo tool, the dealers can log in and create their own local print advertising.

In digital marketing, there are all these companies coming up week after week, and there’s a lot of conversation about which ones work and which ones don’t. After you set up the Balihoo partnership, how have you kept track of whether it’s working?
Within the Balihoo platform, we have a tool called the brand manager. For each of those microsites, we can look at the performance of the individual pages, and we can see inbound traffic to the microsite. We have the pay-per-click programs, and we also have some SEO benefits from these dealer pages. So we’re able to track the source — where these clicks are coming from. We also track actions when people leave the site — the bounce — why they’re exiting. If we see that it leads back to the original dealer, we feel pretty good that that’s going to convert. We also have call-tracking numbers. We have grand plans of doing data analysis by transcribing the phone calls to understand the conversion rate — so that’s the one thing we are missing, is we don’t get our stores’ point-of-sale data. We only know if we’re driving leads to the dealer; we don’t know if they’re converting.

With our retailers, most of our activity there is done through pay-per-click, which leads to the Chamberlain website, which then leads to either the brick-and-mortar retailer or their website. We get point-of-sale data from them, but we don’t have is google cookies; we don’t have any tracking. Once they leave our site to go to [the retailers’ sites], we lose the connection that the phone call or the pay-per-click ad generated a sale. We again have to make assumptions there based on whatever point-of-sale data we get.

You mentioned social earlier. What sort of social strategy do you have? Which platforms are you on?
Our big ones are Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest. Our strategies are pretty similar for the two brands because we’re going after homeowners primarily. There’s slightly different segmentation for the two brands because [Chamberlain] is a do-it-yourselfer. So they may be interested in do-it-yourself kind of posts and content on our sites in relation to cleaning your garage as well as getting your garden ready. For the LiftMaster side, it’s a bit of a higher-end target, so we talk more about safety and security and premium. We talk a lot about connectivity; you can control [our smart garage doors] from your cell phone. We’re trying to move into commerce, selling more directly from the social pages.

One area we’re struggling with is how do we share our content with our dealers so they can use it? We are trying to see if there are any content syndication tools out there where it’s as simple as a dealer plugging into our platform so that any time we post something it automatically posts to their page.

On the note of things that could be done better, are there any up-and-coming technologies or strategies that LiftMaster is starting to use right now or is looking forward to leveraging in the future?
I had my whole team down in Google analytics training this week. From what I understand, Google is changing some of their attribution models. Last click is what’s used right now, and I’ve seen some versions are first click. I don’t think that problem will ever be solved. But that’s an area we do want to get smarter in is attribution models.

I would also [point to] connected platforms where data from websites are easily flowing into our marketing contact database so we’re able to do triggered emails from an automation standpoint. For example, we just installed Marketing Cloud [from SalesForce].

Joseph Zappa is Street Fight’s news editor. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Joe Zappa is the Managing Editor of Street Fight. He has spearheaded the newsroom's editorial operations since 2018. Joe is an ad/martech veteran who has covered the space since 2015. You can contact him at [email protected]