Today, on Smarter Building Materials Marketing, we’re going to take a step back from your site to discuss what your audience wants, how you can satisfy that, and where to introduce forms so you’re capturing contact information at the right time and in the right way.
More About This Show
The Smarter Building Materials Marketing podcast helps industry professionals find better ways to grow leads, sales, and outperform the competition. It’s designed to give insights on how to create results-driven digital marketing strategy for companies of any size.
In this episode, Zach and Beth discuss practical, easy-to-implement methods for growing your website’s lead generation capabilities.
Prefer a text version of the podcast? We’ve got you covered, just keep scrolling to read the main highlights.
Every building material manufacturer we talk to wants to get more out of their website and specifically wants to drive more leads from their online presence.
The role your website plays when driving leads is huge.
And while many manufacturers judge the success of their online marketing based on their web traffic, traffic doesn't necessarily correlate to sales or even leads.
The process from bringing people to your site and then helping them to take action is very different.
There are three steps to accomplish this and we’ve outlined them below …
Step 1: Identify Your Audience’s Intent
Most manufacturers think that all they need to do is build a website and the leads should come rolling in. But you really need to think about what’s truly bringing visitors to your building materials website.
What is their intent when they’ve come to your website?
Are they looking for inspiration? Did they stumble upon it from a blog article? Or are they farther down in the funnel and looking for a sample request or even a quote?
When you can identify your audience’s intent, it gives you the ability to isolate where they are in the buyer journey. From there you can deliver the right content to them and figure out opportunities for conversions or leads.
Intent can include any number of things, like searching for answers to questions your audience has or finding a comparison between products or categories. Alternatively, they could be looking for inspiration, specs, Revit files, or pricing information.
Intent is what information, resource, or product your audience is trying to find online.
This desire or need that your audience has should be driving what decisions you make on your site and what content you create.
Not only do you want to do this to help improve the buyer journey but it helps you as a marketer isolate where your visitor is in the sales funnel: top, middle, or bottom.
Of course, as a building materials manufacturer, you can break those down into much more complex phases but for this article, we’ll keep it separated into these three distinct phases.
What do you do next? That’s where your web content comes in.
Step 2: Satisfy Intent with Content
The type of content your audience wants access to depends on where they are in your sales funnel.
Here’s a quick breakdown of each major level of the funnel and how you can satisfy the intent of those individuals in each group.
Intent at the Top of the Funnel
Leads at the top of the sales funnel are the furthest from becoming customers, but that doesn’t mean you can’t move them closer to a conversion point. At this stage, they’re either unaware of their problem or unaware of how your brand can help with their problem.
Typically, they’re just doing research even if they don’t have an immediate end goal. Your website should provide inspiration and interesting information to educate about both your product and your product category.
This is especially important for architects and designers because they’re looking for inspiring content all the time, even when they’re working on something completely unrelated. They’re constantly looking for what’s next.
What kind of content can you create for leads who are at the top of the funnel? Think blog posts, social media updates, infographics, inspiration galleries, short videos, and product pages.
Here’s a terrific example from Kirei. They’re a company that sells high-end acoustic paneling products and are great at creating killer content. One of our favorite pieces is for visitors who visit their website at the top of the funnel. It’s called 7 Alternative Solutions to Ugly Cubicles.
The blog post provides inspiration and education while solving a problem, even if the reader doesn’t necessarily have an end goal in mind.
An architect or designer knows that eventually they’ll work on an open office space. It’s unavoidable, even if they don’t currently have that type of project in the queue. Kirei’s piece introduces readers to the product category while answering questions.
It also makes their audience feel like they’re getting value from the brand without actually being sold to, which is very important. So Kirei is positioning their brand as someone who understands the true needs of their audience while delivering value in a way that their competitors do not.
When your company does something similar, you’re taking your audience to the next stage of the funnel. You’re not being passive but everything is done in a gentle, value-driven manner which is a key differentiator.
Intent at the Middle of the Funnel
Leads in the middle of the funnel are further along in the buyer journey, so they’re visiting your website with different intent. These people are working on a specific project and are likely beginning to compare products, look at case studies, and gather technical information.
If your product category is something they don’t know about, they might sign up for webinars, attend trade shows, and start to collect samples from you and your competitors—not to mention look at pricing to check on their budget.
So the leads in the middle of the funnel have the intent to purchase but aren’t actually making the decision yet. In fact, they probably don’t even want to talk to a sales person at this point and are instead learning enough about your product on their own so that they can come back with specific questions to ask.
The intent at this stage boils down to evaluation: they’re comparing either products or categories.
Your goal with this group is to satisfy their intent without pushing your product too hard. It requires a delicate balance of educating them about your product while not sounding too biased.
A great example of this is Fiberon Decking, who has some very well positioned middle of the funnel content.
There are a lot of questions being asked by end users related to composite decking versus wood decking. While many people see the value of composite because it stands the test of time, they often go back to wood because of the cost savings.
To address this issue, we created a complete piece of content on how wood stacks up against composite, not just on price, but on all facets. And we did this using a great visual infographic, which has really satisfied the intent of Fiberon’s audience in that phase. Plus, it ranks well so it brings in organic brand awareness as well.
The middle of the funnel is where you can generate strong leads because your audience is looking for answers to specific questions. To really maximize your lead generation, you can also put some of this content behind a form and ask for an email address in order for them to access it.
Another type of content that works well for the middle of the funnel is testimonials, but you shouldn’t place testimonials behind a form. People just want to read these on your website rather than having it as a downloadable piece.
If you do want to use a form for this kind of piece, consider creating an in-depth case study that focuses on specific outcomes. Your audience will be much more likely to give you an email if they can expect some results-driven statistics.
Regardless of the content you’re producing, always consider what your audience is giving you versus what they’re receiving from you. Building materials manufacturers are far too often guilty of asking for too much information, so be careful.
For example, if someone is signing up for a webinar, you can just ask for his or her name, email address, and company. Don’t ask for anything more, like a telephone number, because you don’t need it and you increase the risk of losing people.
Plus, you can always develop a strategy to collect more in-depth information at a later time.
Intent at the Bottom of the Funnel
When it comes time to cater to your leads at the bottom of the funnel, you’ll want to use the most granular, in-depth content. At this point, it’s finally all about your product.
Hopefully you’ve been moving your audience through various lead capture opportunities through nurturing campaigns and marketing automation. And if you’ve done this, they’re already 85% to 90% of the way to making a purchase decision. This is where your bottom of the funnel content is most effective.
What kind of intent does the bottom of your sales funnel have? They’re already reaching out for a demo or consultation and have probably already downloaded spec sheets and price quotes.
During this phase, most building materials manufacturers rely on the user to make the leap. They expect him or her to answer his or her own questions and face any remaining hurdles alone.
Don’t do this.
Instead, look for opportunities to create conversions that don’t rely on sales-heavy website tactics. These are things like a CTA button to set up a consultation or an online chat box. Both are great ways to compete in the bottom of the funnel because you can walk the person through the purchasing decision.
We actually really love the use of an online chat feature for building materials manufacturers. It’s so easy and inexpensive to get up and running. There’s virtually no reason not to try it. And while it’s not expert-level digital marketing, it really feels like it, especially from your audience’s point of view.
The great thing about a chat function is that most questions come from leads at the bottom of the funnel asking super specific questions. We’ve actually heard many times from building materials manufacturers that they set up chat and the sales that happen in the first 48 to 72 hours pay for the chat service for the full year and then some. You essentially get an immediate ROI.
And because it’s so inexpensive, you can set up the service just as an experiment. If you don’t like it or get inundated with questions (which is really your biggest concern), it’s a simple switch off.
Let’s look at another great example of converting bottom funnel leads. This one comes from Nydree, a luxury commercial hardwood flooring company we work with regularly. They have traditional contact forms and online chat opportunities, but their truly successful conversion point is the ability for leads to set up video calls with an in-house design team.
Note that this isn’t as pushed as a sales call but is instead a place where the lead can get expert advice on any lingering questions or concerns they may have. It’s an incredibly smart tactic that works extremely well in closing in on those leads at the bottom of the funnel.
Step 3: Transition Your Audience to the Next Step in the Buyer Journey
You’ve made it: it’s finally conversion time. The great thing is you don’t have to start creating a ton of new content from scratch. There’s a much easier way to begin generating leads through your website.
Get started by looking at your existing web pages and identify the purpose of each of those pages. What Calls to Action (CTAs) can you create on each page to generate leads?
For example, look at one of your blog posts. What would someone need on that page that adds more value to their experience that would help transition them to the next step?
It could entail adding a newsletter opt-in, some type of industry-insights guide or links to relevant downloadable content—whatever logically moves them down the funnel by answering questions for their intent.
If your building materials company is looking to understand how you can monetize digital marketing without e-commerce then this is it. You have to let your website be proactive just like your salespeople.
In order to do that successfully, you need to:
- Identify your audience’s intent
- Satisfy that intent with relevant content
- Transition your audience through the entire buyer journey
You can absolutely start bringing in leads through your building materials website. If you need help in growing leads and getting more out of your online presence, send us a note at [email protected].