How Mattress Mack Uses AI To Power His Furniture Empire

If you’re from Houston, then you’ve probably heard of Jim McIngvale — better known as “Mattress Mack.” The outgoing founder of Gallery Furniture has been a community figure since he set up shop over 30 years ago with only a dream and $5,000 in his pocket. 

His ambitious nature and acts of generosity have made headlines countless times. Last year, the Texan gave away nearly $10 million in rebates after running a promotion promising customers a refund if the Houston Astros won the World Series. And when Hurricane Harvey ripped through the city in August 2017, Mack turned his storefront into a refuge center for those who needed a place to weather out the storm. 
Mack channels this same blend of ambition and humanity into how he runs his business. As the company has grown, so has its marketing strategy. And as retail trends shifted into the digital age, Gallery Furniture was investing in innovative ways to keep up — and ahead — of the curve. 

Identifying a need
If you take a look at the Gallery Furniture website, the investment in innovation is clear. The search bar at the top of the screen types out a welcome message that echoes the use of a chatbot. A banner on the side of the site invites users to take an interactive quiz to help them identify which mattress would best suit their needs. And when a viewer clicks on one of their advertised promotions, a pop-up accompanies it, showcasing exclusive offers to sweeten the deal. 
“In order to drive in-store traffic in the past, Mack invested heavily in print and television advertisements, but as customers went online we were adamant to find ways to reach them wherever they would visit our seek us out,” James McIngvale, Mack’s son and digital marketing manager of Gallery Furniture, said. 
These new tactics meant more work for the brand’s digital marketing team. As data collection became more sophisticated, Mack needed a way to better analyze, track and execute campaigns at scale and with precision. 
“Our aim really is to interact with our customer and our community wherever they’re doing their interacting,” McIngvale said. “Our early social media efforts introduced us to the potential of technology in communicating with our audience and improving our customer service/experience to make it as personalized as possible.”
To do this, Mack turned to AI. In July 2017, the brand decided to partner with Albert, an AI marketing platform to help automate, test and manage their customer data and digital campaigns. 
“When we then wanted to ensure that these efforts and our investment in them were driving sales, it was the technology that we turned to in order to measure attribution,” McIngvale said. “At the end of the day if we are going to be able to offer a personalized shopping experience to every Gallery Furniture customer, which is the goal, we need accurate interpretation of the performance data and technology is how we measure the efficient use of our time and manpower.”
“Mack dared to be an early AI adopter because he knew it would get him better access to his valued customers,” McIngvale added. 

Implementing AI 
Gallery Furniture put Albert to the test for the first time ahead of their July 4th campaigns — one of the busiest times of the year for the bustling retail brand. 
“I think this was the moment for them to put our value proposition to the test and see if we could help them leverage this moment and take it to levels they haven’t been able to do before,” Eric Berkowitz, VP of customer success at Albert, said. 
Gallery Furniture’s focus was to drive more users to designated landing pages that corresponded with ongoing promotions. The company also wanted to create a more cohesive customer journey that better connected digital and in-store experiences. 
“Albert works across channels to drive customers either directly into stores or to one of six highly-optimized and incentivized landing pages, segmented by campaign or product category, on Gallery Furniture’s website,” Mack said.
To do this effectively, the brand uses Albert to test creative campaigns at scale and pinpoint specific performance variables that were closely tied to their core KPIs. 

“What it [Albert] enables you to do is provide more input, “Berkowitz said. “Albert can create every possible combination to package the various materials you have, whether it’s text, image, or video and deploy them, and see how they were resonating with different audiences” 
“Albert was able to drive users to fill out a form to get more information to to be contacted by the company,” Berkowitz added. “And ultimately when people would go into the store and purchase and put in additional information there, we were able to connect that data and cross-reference it.” 
The team then worked with Albert’s learning to optimize and produce new creative material, building from what Mack described as “a more educated place.” 
“While Albert maintained the data management and analysis, enabling our marketing efforts scalability, our team of marketers were freed to focus on what they do best — creative, high level strategy and personalized, one-on-one interactions with each and every customer,” Mack said. 
The results
After only two months of working with Albert, Gallery Furniture began to see results from their AI-powered strategy. By adding Albert alongside their pre-existing lead generation tactics, the brand saw a 22 percent increase in revenue for July 2017. 

“Within two months Albert increased our leads by 6,879%; to accommodate for this increase we had to expand our on the floor team and we now have six full-time employees responding to leads, seven days/week,” Mack said. Albert efforts also resulted in a 4710% increase in conversions and 96% decrease in cost per lead.” 
On social media, the brand was earning $23.75 in revenue for every dollar spent on Facebook (up from only about $4.80 in revenue-per-dollar prior) and $11.36 per dollar spent through their Facebook and Google digital marketing campaigns overall. 
“One of the biggest limitations that digital marketers commonly face is not being able to tie digital achievement to your bottom line to the business,” Berkowitz said. “In this case, we were able to do that.” 

Continuing the AI-powered journey
After seeing initial success, Mack and the Gallery Furniture team have to plans of slowing down. The brand has since implemented similar strategies for their Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales — all while sticking to the brand’s holistic community mission. 
“At the end of the day we are human and that’s what matters most. We can ensure that our core values are in place, because they are human values, but now we must adjust and optimize for this whole new ecosystem of data, Mack said. “So we push forward the Gallery Furniture way, with a slight addition to the family, whether that is in the form of building up our in house digital team, or partnering with other creative outlets or AI partners like Albert to enhance what we do in-house.”
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