Creating the right digital strategy to outperform your competition can be challenging.
You invest time, money, resources, and often times are not sure if you’ve got the right tactics to really move the needle.
I’ve evaluated and consulted on hundreds of building materials websites in my career, so I’m always on the lookout for ones that really bring impact. In this post, I’m going to peel back the curtain. I’ll show you 5 examples of build materials manufacturers who are using their online presences to improve their marketing and exactly how they are doing it.
These manufacturers’ online efforts are some of the best I’ve seen, so I want to show you the criteria I’m using to evaluate…
1. Value & Trust
Before you can start selling, you need to start serving. What I mean by serving is that you must show your audiences what value you’re going to bring them (besides your great product) and continue to build trust around that value.
This value needs to come through on your website, social media, emails, and literally everything you do. Your online presence needs to be about your audience and not about you. Remember to show them you care, and then they will care about you.
The #1 complaint I hear from contractors, architects, designers, builders, and any other audience in the channel is that building manufacturer websites are hard to use. If you’re making it too difficult for your audience to find what they are looking for on your website, then you are sunk.
3. Content & Traffic
If you’re not producing great content and driving traffic to it, then it’s like owning a high-end sports car but never putting gas in the tank. Content and traffic are the lifeblood of a successful building manufacturer’s online presence. I’m always looking for creative ways that manufacturers improve SEO, Social Media traffic, and overall engagement.
4. Engagement & Conversion
What is your audience doing once they find you online? Viewing your website or content is one thing. Getting them to interact with you and become a lead is a different ball game. Manufacturers that continually improve in this area are the ones that will continue outgrow their competition online.
5. Nurture & Retain
Once you’ve built your base of visitors and leads, your goal should be to continue to help nurture these people to the point of sale using marketing automation and retain them by providing even more resources that they might find valuable post sale.
Now that I’ve laid out the criteria, let me show you some building material manufacturers you should pay attention to…
Schluter Systems clearly understands their customer's journey to the sale. Their site definitely helps them create loyalty with their customers. These guys do a bunch of things really well, but the big two to pay attention to is their product pages and training.
#1 - Product pages
What makes these product pages work is that they answer just about every question their audience might have about their products in a really easy and simple way. They’ve got pictures, videos, pricing, dimensions, related products, and even training on how to use the product. The best part is that you’re not overwhelmed when viewing this content either.
Not only do their product pages have all of this great content but they have multiple lead-gen opportunities. This is critical. Offering value is the first step but they take it further by offering multiple ways for people to become leads that they can then nurture.
#2 - Online Training:
A lot of manufacturers focus their website on selling but forget that their audience needs to understand how your product is installed and functions but they will purchase. Schluter Systems goes to great lengths to train and teach their customers. Not only do they have training videos throughout their whole site but they have actual training courses!
GAF’s website is “okay” but their social media presence is what you should pay attention to. In particular Facebook. A lot of manufacturers don’t know what to do on social media or they don’t see the value. With over 60% of Americans on Facebook, there is a tremendous opportunity to connect with your audience on a daily basis instead of just when they come to your website. GAF gets it. They have over 200,000 people that have liked them on facebook! GAF can now target and reach these people.
Here’s what you learn from GAF’s approach to social media:
#1 - Social Media Isn’t All About Selling:
GAF posts all kinds of content that is aimed solely at creating relationships with their audience. Delivering value and creating relationships on social media will help people to actually listen when you do introduce opportunities to sell.
#2 - Social Media Isn’t All About You:
If you look at the content that GAF’s promotes on Facebook, you’ll see that very few pieces of content actually have to do GAF. Sure, they might link to an article where their product is mentioned, but the focus of the article is not GAF. They are posting content on home renovations and designer tips. Focusing on yourself too much on social media can be seen as self serving and definitely won’t help you grow a following like GAF has grown.
Countertops and high end surfaces might seem like a bit of a commodity but Cambria Quartz absolutely elevates the conversation with the way they position their products through imagery and content.
If you go to their site, you should take away two things that will help your online efforts:
#1 - Value Driven Content:
Cambria Quartz’s content focuses on the lifestyle aspects that surround their products in a way that is not just aspirational but also helpful to potential customer. Their content is focused on their audiences (homeowners, architects, designers, pros, etc.). It helps answer the questions that brought them to their site and in the process inspires them. A great example of this is their design courses and style magazine/blog content you can access at the bottom of each page.
#2 - Emotional Imagery:
Imagery is an incredibly understated factor for your online marketing efforts. I see so many manufacturers who have poor visuals and then they wonder why their audience doesn’t view them as “better” than their competitors.
Cambria gets it though. They do an excellent job of not only showcasing their products but using well thought out imagery to position their brand above any other players in their category. It’s high-end and just looks expensive. The imagery and content work together to elevate their brand very well.
So if you go to Clique Studios website and request a sample of their product, you’ll receive a great product sample packet in the mail. What is really smart is how they begin to send you additional content via email after you’ve received their product samples.
These emails focus on helping potential customers answer the questions they might have about their product before purchase. This also includes helping potential buyers with free design assistance.
You should pay attention to two things that they are doing in this process…
#1 - Continuing the Conversation: Clique Studios sees that they must continue to conversation with potential customers after they’ve contacted them by nurturing them with valuable content.
#2 - Deliver Content, Not A Sales Pitch
This valuable content they are delivering is not focused on selling but instead on educating and inspiring their audience in their research process. They are playing to their audiences’ emotional and information needs, which gets people to the purchase decision more quickly while developing trust in the process.
Moen does a lot of things really well but there are two tactics that are helping them continue to drive value through their online presence:
#1 - Online Tools & Guides
What I love about Moen’s site is that they have a TON of products, but they make it really easy for people to find exactly what they’re looking for through advanced filtering and online tools aimed at guiding visitors through the customer journey.
#2 - Product Reviews & Social Proof
Moen does a great job at helping ease a potential buyer’s concerns through well positioned online reviews. This isn’t rocket science, but they make a concerted effort at leveraging reviews to help the sell their products. They also take a page from Amazon’s online review strategy and allow people who have purchased their product to post pictures of their product on their website. This helps to defuse any concerns that a visitor might have before pulling the trigger on purchasing their products.