FTD partners with Yext to provide best-in-class technology solution for its florists
‘Although the ecosystem is evolving constantly and the future is not always clear, what we can do now is partner with the most innovative vendors who are anticipating those changes for and with us. I'm confident we have made the right bet with Yext.’
FTD has been disrupting the flower industry since its inception in 1910, when a group of thirteen florists joined together to send floral orders across the U.S. by telegraph. Now over 100 years later, FTD has transformed into one of the largest and most trusted online floral and gift retailers in the world. It focuses on innovation, quality, and artistry as key drivers for success.
FTD’s florist business provides a comprehensive suite of products and services to members of its FTD floral network, including services that enable FTD members to send, receive, and deliver floral orders. Floral network members include traditional retail florists — as well as other retail locations offering floral and related products – that are located primarily in the U.S. and Canada. FTD’s large network provides an order fulfillment vehicle for FTD.com and allows FTD to offer same-day delivery throughout the U.S. and Canada.
Innovative, best-in-class technology is key to digital customer engagement
FTD sees itself as a marketing platform for its member florists and this is why the leadership team has focused critically on providing its members with the best products and services. In an increasingly digitally dominated search ecosystem and a rapidly expanding florist network, FTD’s ecommerce team in 2011 realised the need to find an innovative technology solution that would help provide its member network with the best digital marketing services so that they could keep up with today’s uber-connected customers and compete in an increasingly competitive space. "When I took responsibility for the online segment of our business, a big part of my mission was to innovate and renovate," explains Dan Boron, Vice President of eCommerce, Florist Division. "I looked at our service offering and paired that up against technology limitations as well as what was working internally," notes Boron. "Our florists don’t have the time to research innovative digital marketing technology solutions, so we make it our mission to do it for them."
"Our focus is providing our florists with best-in-class technology and support to drive more customers to their doorstep and that’s exactly what Yext provides," says Boron. During an extensive search, Boron spoke to over 50 vendors (including data aggregators) offering mobile, advertising, pay-per-click and directory services. Then he came across Yext. "Yext’s digital knowledge management platform offering immediately stood out and I realised this was going to be an extremely important differentiator for our business. At the time, no one in our space had recognised or prioritised listings management as a key source for organic search impressions."
The Yext Knowledge Engine enables brands like FTD to manage the digital knowledge about their people, places, and products across their websites, mobile apps, internal systems, and the entire PowerListings® Network — over 100 maps, apps, search engines, GPS systems, and social networks including Google, Apple, Facebook, Bing, and Yahoo.
FTD signed on with Yext Listings and launched locations across the U.S. FTD worked with the Yext team to package Yext Listings into its existing member florist offering, which FTD calls eBiz Marketing. FTD segmented Yext Listings’ capabilities into the Gold and Silver tiers of its programme that member florists can sign up for or cancel on a monthly basis. "It is important to us that we provide our customers, the member florists, with tiered options and flexible sign-up options so that they pay only for the services they really want and need. Yext helped us create a customised solution to make our customers happy," explains Boron.
Because FTD’s business relies heavily on prompt and efficient fulfilment and delivery service, online review tracking and engagement is key to its local customer service focus. "Reviews are a critical component of our online strategy, which is why we love leveraging the robust review monitoring component of Yext Listings," says Boron. "The most important part of our review tracking is awareness. We want to make sure our member florists know what people are saying about them — that’s the first step to improvement."
The numbers do the talking
Soon after launching with Yext, FTD’s digital presence showed a dramatic improvement; the brand experienced a 43% increase in total listings and 100% increase for its participating locations. FTD updated 67,000+ names, 63,000+ addresses, 92,000+ phone numbers and 419,000+ website URLs and it added 266,000 business descriptions, 447,000 photos and 425,000 special offers. Impressed with the immediate effect Yext was able to have on enhancing FTD’s digital presence, Boron decided to explore the Pages product to revamp its online directory system. "Part of the rationale for Pages is simply that I needed to enhance what we had been using as a directory program," recalls Boron. "Yext’s Pages team was able to replace our FTDFlorists.com directory with the Pages program. With Pages, we have a modern offering and we also have a great support system from Yext."
FTD’s big investment in Yext paid off. "The biggest thing we look for in our KPIs is the strength of the data before and after Yext, that the data is cleaner and is really having an effect on driving more traffic to our site," explains Boron. "The analytics clearly show that the more involved we became with Yext’s digital knowledge management platform, the more we move the needle in securing increased traffic to our site." Within a discrete timeframe, Yext-powered listings secured FTD 15 million search impressions, 750,000 profile views and an impressive 5.42% engagement rate. FTD’s Yext Pages, in particular, have achieved an extremely high engagement rate— Store Pages and Directory Pages have 56% and 21% click-through rates, respectively.
Bright future ahead with Yext Partnership
"While it was clear from day one that Yext’s technology was superior to any other vendor’s, what pleasantly surprised me the most was the calibre of its people," praises Boron. "Across the board, I have found no one whom I wouldn’t value to be on my team— they always find a way to get it done and put in the extra hours. They are intelligent, positive, solutions-orientated people. I believe this has been a huge driving factor in the success of our partnership."
"We’re always going to be focused on providing our member florists with innovative, best-in class technology to support their businesses. Although the ecosystem is evolving constantly and the future is not always clear, what we can do now is partner with the most innovative vendors who are anticipating those changes for and with us. I’m confident we have made the right bet with Yext," concludes Boron.