Skip to content

7 Digital Trends in 2020 That Can Make or Break Building Materials Sales

["We\u2019re under a hundred days from the turn of the year","2020 is right around the corner and we want to help. It\u2019s time to start planning and thinking about different tactics and strategies that may not be on your horizon or peripheral \u2014 but need to be."]

Photo of Zach Williams
Photo of Beth PopNikolov
by Zach Williams and Beth PopNikolov

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 insight on how to create a results-driven digital marketing strategy for companies of any size.

In this episode, Zach and Beth talks about the trends and tactics we’re expecting will help grow your digital marketing presence in 2020, if you can take advantage of them.

Omnichannel Marketing Is More Than a Buzzword

057 Omnichannel Marketing Is More Than a Buzzword

Omnichannel marketing feels like such a buzzword, but we promise it’s very, very important to building materials manufacturers. It’s not just about having advertising or investing in tactics on multiple channels, but having and ensuring that each of the channels is driving the same message and is interdependent.

This approach ensures customer prospects have a seamless experience as they move down the funnel. As people spend more time online and switch back and forth more frequently between devices throughout the day, you want them to be encountering you, your ads, your message and your products, wherever they're spending time.

We know omnichannel marketing can sound overwhelming, like you need to be doing everything digitally and be everywhere your customers are at all times. But what you’re actually striving for is a way to drive all of your messaging in the same singular experience.

A great example of someone doing this well is cabinet manufacturer, Click Studios. If you go to their site or see their ads, they're trying to drive you towards having a call or conversation with one of their design experts to get their cabinets in your house. Every email, every ad, every piece of literature all points toward the same exact end goal.

We understand this can be difficult: Building materials companies often have divided priorities. But if your sales team is stressed about focusing strongly on each of the different products and customer categories, your customer is probably feeling stressed about the different actions they’re being asked to take. And if you make them stressed enough, they're going to stop the conversation.

SEO Is Moving Beyond Text

057 SEO Is Moving Beyond Text

We’re expecting the emergence of voice search and speech-based content to continue through 2020. Over 50% of all searches are going to be voice in 2020, compared to 30% in 2019.

Building manufacturers and distributors are asking us how they can rank in voice search. How do they get their products to come up when people ask Siri or ask Alexa a question? And it’s not all that complicated (yet) because Siri and Alexa are pulling from Google results. So to rank invoice search, you want your products to be ranking for natural speech terms.

For example, let's say you manufacture fire-rated installation. Four years ago, the focus would have been around those search terms, like “fire-rated insulation” or “insulation that withstands fires.” Now you want something that's going to be closer to how a human would ask a question. “What type of insulation is the best to withstand house fires?”

For the building product space, this is really uncharted territory. But gaining visibility through text-based searches like ranking organically on Google is becoming harder and harder. Google is introducing more ads for different types of search content on the ranking page. Prioritizing some of your SEO and content around voice-based searches will open up new doors.

Prioritize Speech-Based Content

057 Prioritize Speech Based Content

The second part of this trend is the prevalence of speech-based content. Recent changes to Google mean podcasts actually now rank in search results and you can play them within search.

Non-text content is being searched for and shown within search results.

And the same goes for video. Video is now one of the top search results on Google, with YouTube the number two searched channel online, and social media platforms show preference to video content as that's what people engage with and watch the most.

Those two mediums, podcasts and video, have nothing to do with text and are exponentially growing in popularity as people search for and engage with those types of content. This means it’s important for companies in the building materials space to leverage these types of media.

What’s Driving Your Traffic?

057 Whats Driving Your Traffic

Let’s talk about the changes we're seeing in traffic drivers. Along with the voice, video and audio channels we’ve discussed, there’s also social. But unlike those other drivers, we’re actually seeing a decrease in website traffic from social.

Why? This decrease is intentional on the part of social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram: They don’t want people to leave their site. This is why social is becoming more pay-to-play. So now, you have to find new places to rank organically in order to drive traffic.

The proliferation of non-text-based SEO means the site traffic is being driven to is changing, too. As Google's search results page changes over time, it's harder to rank organically. Your efforts aren’t bringing as much return as it once did because there are so many different types of content that are being indexed and shown. This is why omnichannel marketing is so critical.

Why Zero-Click Searches Aren’t a Bad Thing

057 Why Zero Click Searches Arent a Bad Thing

Another new trend we’re seeing is what's being called zero-click search results. You’ve already done this. You type a question into Google, get the answer on the page and leave. This is decreasing not only website traffic but also the value that Google can charge for some specific ad words because those ad words no longer return the same kind of traffic volume.

The good news is zero-click searches are still a wide-open market for the building materials space. If you have a complex product or an alternative material, targeting zero-click searches is an excellent place to provide really simple answers for the questions.

If you can answer the question of “How does your product X compare to standard product material?” you're more likely to get pulled in for those zero-click snippets. Look at the related auto-complete questions on Google and seek out opportunities to answer those types of questions as well.

How Are Your Local Searches Working?

This is really important for anybody in the building materials space, and particularly for those serving local markets. Google is making it harder and harder to do local lead generation organically. If you search for something like “Dallas contractors,” you'll see ads, the local three-pack or call-only ads on mobile.

If you're a contractor who lives and breathes and dies by these ads, you've got to make sure you rank well. And if you’re a manufacturer or someone that interfaces with those contractors, it's important for you to communicate these changes to them, because it's going to have a direct impact on your bottom line if contractor business slumps.

Leverage LinkedIn

057 Leverage Linked In

What's happening on LinkedIn is very similar to what Facebook was eight years ago. The opportunity for organic reach to get people to discover you is very high. That's not always going to be the case, but right now, it’s easy to interface with decision-makers.

It's important to note that LinkedIn isn't just a content promotion platform. You should be doing more than posting blog articles that have been written recently. Think of it more as an amplified CRM. Your audience is active on this platform and looking for these B2B thought leadership type conversations.

LinkedIn is multi-functional. It has content promotion, sales outreach, sales enablement and an ad platform. While we know you might worry about the cost, there's no other platform out there where you can say, "Hey, I want to target these types of decision-makers only" and get in front of them in a B2B context, making it worth the price.

Make Your Content Interactive

Basco shower door finder

We’re seeing a higher demand for very interactive, personalized tools and content on websites. There's so much information out there that if you're not creating a very tailored, customized experience for a user, it's becoming harder to interact and engage with them and get them to that point of sale.

While, in the past, the plan was to drive traffic and hope for conversions, what we're seeing now is that if you've got to have tools and additional dynamic, personalized elements like a visualizer or a calculator to help the end-user solve problems in a way that is unique to your brand.

The key to interactive content is to make it actionable. It’s more than entertaining customer prospects; it’s about educating them. People have questions that they need to have answered, whether it’s the quantity of product they need to purchase or the cost. Building tools that answer these questions create an experience completely distinct from your competitors.

Find More Time in the Day With Chatbots

057 Find More Time With Chatbots

Chatbots have really emerged over the last year or two. What we’re expecting in 2020 are cross-platform capabilities. If a customer starts a conversation on Facebook messenger, you might be able to take the conversation into Instagram as well.

If you don't have some sort of chat strategy, it's something to be thinking about because, more and more, it's becoming a tool people are used to and comfortable with.

One of the things chatbots do really well is answering all of those questions that might be backing up your customer service line. Chatbots answer questions in a way that feels very timely, and it keeps people from having to dig for an FAQ page or having to call your customer service line.

Using a chatbot to guide somebody through basic product and fit questions minimizes friction, decreases the volume of unnecessary conversations with your customer service or sales representatives, and gets customers to the sale quicker.

Got a Question?

If you have questions about how to build your digital marketing strategy in 2020, let us know! Shoot us an email at [email protected] with all of your questions.