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Marketing Automation for Building Materials Companies: Getting Started

Get started with this in-depth guide on marketing automation specifically for building materials manufacturers.


A marketing automation strategy helps building materials manufacturers create laser-focused campaigns that increase leads, drive sales and foster loyalty among existing customers. Additionally, the idea behind automated campaigns is that it takes less work for both the marketing and the sales teams. There are a number of reasons why marketing automation is so important for manufacturers. Not only can you easily cater to specific audiences, you can also seamlessly move leads through the sales funnel.

Get started with this in-depth guide on marketing automation specifically for building materials manufacturers.

Define Your Goals

Before you invest your time, money and manpower into creating a marketing automation strategy, it’s important to define your mission so you can more effectively manage your resources and achieve your goals. Take some time right now to answer the following questions so you and your team can build a marketing automation (MA) strategy that does what you need it to.

What problems do we think marketing automation will solve?

Look beyond just your marketing team to include sales, customer service and leadership teams in this conversation. What are their expectations for marketing automation? Are those expectations realistic or not? Many people assume that marketing automation is a “set it and forget it” type of system, but it isn’t. You may need to educate other departments about what MA can and cannot do so that you can work together to create realistic goals.

What resources do we need to solve these problems?

This should be more than just the amount of money you’ve budgeted for software. You’ll need writers, designers, developers and other team members to implement and maintain your MA campaigns, usually an in-house team, agency or a combination of both.

You’ll also need content such as photographs, videos, infographics, downloadables and more. There are many possibilities, but you need to define the capabilities of your current team so you can more effectively prioritize and plan for the kinds of MA campaigns you’ll begin with. As you identify the needs, also keep track of the tools and team members you already have on hand. If you already have a CRM in place, you may not need an all-in-one software solution. If your sales team is overwhelmed by new leads at the moment, you can prioritize qualifying leads over lead-generation campaigns.

How will marketing automation help us better serve our customers?

At its core, any public-facing MA strategy should help your customers feel understood and valued. You’re creating ways to start new conversations, build relationships and deliver stellar products and services. If it takes a week for a lead to be contacted by a salesperson, can an MA campaign start the ball rolling sooner? If your customer service team gets the same five questions over and over, can you create an automated email campaign to help educate your customers instead?

How can we use MA to empower our team? Marketing automation can make things easier on your internal team by streamlining processes, but there are additional ways you can use MA to support and help your team succeed. Are there any specific things you can identify for your organization?

Pick Your Platform

Now that you have a better understanding of what your marketing team will need to accomplish and what your existing resources are, you can begin to look at the MA platform options with those priorities in mind. There are a lot of options out there, so here are a few things important to note while you’re comparing them:

Try to compare apples to apples as much as you can.

Email marketing platforms have different pricing tiers, so while their lower-level plans may have similar pricing, you may find that one platform will force you to upgrade to a higher tier sooner based on the number of contacts. Get quotes on your current number of contacts as well as a larger goal number to see how the different platforms will grow with you.

Ask for live demonstrations.

While you’re in the live demo, check out what the tech support interface is like. Double-check that the level of support you require will be included in your subscription.

Test real-world scenarios.

This is where goal-setting comes in handy. If you already know what problems you’re looking to solve or the capabilities you will need, then you can build out test campaigns based on the goals you’re hoping to accomplish. This will give you a better idea of whether or not a platform is a good fit.

Research their reporting capabilities.

Can you easily export reports to share with other departments? Can you customize the data that’s included in reports?

How well does it integrate with other apps/platforms?

If your existing CRM doesn’t easily sync with an email platform, cross it off the list. If you need a third-party app to connect to an essential marketing app, you might want to consider another option.

Does this platform only do email marketing or can we use it for other parts of our MA strategy?

If you’re using separate apps for things like landing pages, pop-up forms and surveys, paying extra for a platform that offers multiple features might actually save money in the long run.

Gather Your Contacts

If you’re brand new to email marketing, it’s important to start off on the right foot. Start building a list as soon as possible, but make sure you’re building it in a way that is easy to use and complies with data protection laws in your country/state.

If you already have a CRM, you probably still have some work to do! Here are four steps to make sure you’re getting the most out of your CRM. Plus, getting your contacts in order is a foundational part of the building materials marketing automation process.

1. Start segmenting ASAP.

It’s common for building materials manufacturers to have multiple audiences. And that means you should have different messaging for each group. Tag different audiences in your CRM, such as architects, builders and homeowners. By tracking this information, you’ll be primed and ready to create a targeted email campaign for each group to lead them through individual customer journeys. Instead of everyone getting the same generic email, they’ll get information that’s tailored to their challenges and the solutions they’re looking for.

2. Create a contact list growth plan.

Next, it’s time to create a plan for growing your sales pipeline. There are a number of ways to do this, like creating gated content or downloadables that require an email address to access. You can also offer giveaways that require an email signup to enter. The sooner you start incorporating these types of forms and pop-ups on your website, the sooner you’ll be able to collect new contacts.

This is also a great way to get buy-in from your sales team. Involve them in the growth plan process by asking them what kind of leads they’re looking for and how these new leads can be qualified. Also address any fears or concerns they may have about the marketing automation process. Be open about how it will affect their sales process and any other ways of doing business.

3. Clean your existing data.

It’s important to maintain a healthy CRM with information that’s accurate — and your sales team should be part of the process. Here are a few tips on how to clean up customer data:

  • Fix the formatting: Consistent formatting and proper capitalization make it easy to automatically personalize email templates.

  • Merge repeats: It’s possible you have duplicate records. Merge the doubles so everyone can keep track of each lead’s proper status.

  • Get rid of bounced emails: Delete old contacts that keep bouncing.

  • Sync your data: Connect your CRM database with any marketing apps you use. That way your information is always up to date.

  • Verify contacts: Use a service like NeverBounce to clean out your email lists in bulk and verify new leads as they come in.

Cleaning your database isn’t a one-time event. Consider this maintenance a part of your building materials marketing automation basics!

4. Review anti-spam laws.

Most countries have implemented anti-spam laws to protect individuals from receiving unwanted email solicitations. Currently, in the U.S., business emails are regulated by the CAN-SPAM Act. One of the big takeaways is that you must include instructions on how recipients can opt-out of receiving future emails, and you must honor those requests that you receive. That’s why keeping up with your database is so important. Otherwise, you could incur costly fines if you’re not compliant. If you have customers across the country, note that California has its own set of laws related to email marketing in the California Consumer Privacy Act.

And if you work with customers and companies outside of the U.S., both Canada and the European Union have their own laws you must abide by, known as Canada’s Anti-Spam Law (CASL) and the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Setting Up Your Email Templates

A person is highlighting a piece of paper with writing on it.

When you’re first fleshing out your building materials marketing plan, you may be tempted to try every new strategy at once. But it’s best to start short and sweet and make sure it’s manageable. That way, you have the bandwidth to be flexible as any hiccups arise.

As you set up your templates, each message should be triggered either by an action or by time. An action trigger could be when a new lead fills in a form to get a downloadable document. A time trigger could be a sale or other promotion.

But before you send any email out to your actual leads, do a test run. Programs like Email on Acid and Litmus allow you to preview your emails in a wide variety of inboxes before you hit the real send button. This allows you to identify any readability issues or code problems that may cause your emails to not render properly in different email clients.

Nail Down Messaging for Your First Automated Campaign

Your email campaigns don’t need to be fancy. The main goal is to provide a solution to the problems each segmented audience is facing — whether that’s directly through your product or through other value-driven content your company has expertise in.

That’s the secret sauce to a truly effective email marketing campaign: focus on the audience’s needs rather than keeping the spotlight on your product. Also, think about your own attention span in your personal inbox. Be respectful of the recipient’s time and attention.

Your email should include an actionable, easy-to-understand CTA to help lead them to the next stage of their customer journey. Also, make sure your voice and messaging are the same across channels. Emails, website content and product pages on third-party sites (like Amazon, Lowe’s, or Home Depot) should all support each other.

Measure Your Results and Make Adjustments

Tracking the results of your email marketing campaign is a helpful tool for reporting to the rest of the organization, as well as for identifying trends within your audience segments. You don’t have to go overboard with your metrics. Here are some ideas for high-level reporting that help you track your success without digging too far into the weeds.

Click rate: The click rate of an email is one of the most common forms of measurement. It reveals how many email recipients clicked one or more of the links in your message. Stay consistent with how you measure click rates for accurate tracking over time. For instance, you can use either total clicks or unique clicks, meaning you either count how many links were clicked (even if one person clicked more than once) or count just the unique individuals. At Venveo, we measure unique clicks, because if someone clicks on a large number of times that can easily inflate the overall click rate. Take that number and divide by the number of emails that were delivered. Then multiply that by 100 to get your click rate percentage.
For example: If you sent out 120 emails but only 100 were delivered due to a high bounce rate, you would use 100 as the basis of your calculation. If 15 people clicked on at least one link in the email, you would divide 15 by 100 which would give you 0.15 or a 15% click rate.

Conversion rate: Tracking your conversion rate helps you track the ROI of a specific campaign. Rather than measuring engagement, you’re measuring how many people actually take your desired action, such as buying a product or signing up for something. The calculation is the same as the one you use for determining your click rate. But instead of including the number of clicks, you use the number of conversions. Using the same example as above, if 5 people clicked on a Buy Now button in your email and completed their purchase you would have a 5% conversion rate.

Conversions are often difficult to track if sales teams are not aligned with marketing efforts, so instead of counting a final sale as a conversion you may want to focus on micro-conversions like clicks on a main CTA or form fills on a landing page that your email drives readers to.

Unsubscribe Rates and Spam Complaints: If you start to see an uptick in unsubscribe rates following an MA campaign launch, pay attention! This is an indicator that you may be sending your audience information that is irrelevant or even annoying. Likewise, if you see spam complaints increasing, act fast to improve your sending reputation or your account may get frozen or shut down. Using purchased lists often result in high bounce rates and spam complaints, so avoid using them. Also look at the amount of emails your contacts are receiving. Too many emails in a short amount of time are a sure-fire way to get spam complaints if your contacts aren’t expecting them.

Level Up!

Once you’ve launched your first campaign, start looking at other areas in your organization that could benefit from marketing automation. Here are some ideas to get you started.

Utilize internal communications.

Email automation doesn’t have to be reserved solely for external marketing campaigns. It’s also ideal for internal communications, which can be a helpful selling point if you need buy-in for new software from your management team.

  • Onboarding new team members: Your HR team likely has a slew of introductory emails and documents to send to new hires. Email automation can reduce their workload and help them concentrate on hiring and retaining the best candidates.

  • Internal team newsletters: An internal newsletter is an effective way to keep different departments up-to-date with each other’s projects, especially if people are working remotely.

Implement sales support.

Your sales team can also warm prospects with the following marketing automation tactics:

  • Outreach campaigns to cold audiences: When done responsibly, a cold email campaign can grow your sales pipeline by introducing your product to more people. Just remember to keep your messaging solutions-oriented based on your audience’s needs rather than only focusing on your building materials product.

  • Meeting follow-up: Increase closings with a strategic follow-up campaign after meetings, whether in-person or virtual. Create a time-based series of emails to increase engagement soon after the meeting.

  • Alert sales teams to new opportunities and leads: Marketing automation can also be integrated to alert the relevant sales team members when new leads enter the CRM.

Gather product reviews and customer service feedback.

Marketing automation can help develop other areas of your marketing strategies as well. Create an email trigger to request a product review or customer service survey after a purchase has been made. This grows your insights into the user experience. Plus, verified reviews are an extremely effective way to authenticate your products from real users.

Educate new contacts and customers.

Your top-of-funnel leads might not be your immediate target audience when starting building materials marketing automation. But as you become more comfortable with the process, you can use automated emails to educate leads about your product category, and eventually your product. When they’re ready to make a purchase decision, your product will be at the forefront of their mind.

Follow up on past purchases.

An automated marketing campaign can also be implemented to navigate the post-sale customer relationship. You can create time-based campaigns to offer upgrades, replacement parts and warranty reminders.

Bottom Line

Marketing automation for building materials manufacturers comes with endless possibilities for the sales team and other departments. But the learning curve can be steep, especially when trying to integrate automated email software with a CRM. If launching an automated campaign seems overwhelming to you, we can help!

Contact Venveo to get started on your project.

Ready to hit your goals?