Skip to content

How Building Materials Manufacturers Can Drive ROI Using Email Marketing

There’s a good chance you’re already doing email marketing, but are your emails actually helping you increase sales and drive demand?

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

In today’s podcast, Zach and Beth breakdown the three most effective email marketing strategies that every building materials manufacturer should use.

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 talk about how to execute e-newsletters, automated follow-up campaigns and outbound email campaigns to target every level of the sales funnel.

You can listen to their conversation in the podcast, or read about it in the article below.

Email is one of the most effective tools to drive awareness, sales and build relationships. The problem is that too many manufacturers make the mistake of sending emails without a purpose, meaning they’re either sending emails and not obtaining any measurable results, or they’re doing it without an end goal in mind.

For a more effective email marketing campaign, you need to figure out what emails you need to create so that you can start getting better results from your efforts.



Most manufacturers have some sort of newsletter, but the usual problem is that they tend to only talk about themselves. They focus too much on their own product releases, featured updates or featured projects. Plus, they’re usually sporadic to the point of being ineffective.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Here are some tips to have a successful building materials newsletter.

#1: Include information that is helpful to your audience

While your newsletter is a great place to talk about new product launches or new projects that you're working on, you do need to have a balance. To do this, the scales need to be tipped more towards value rather than solely promoting your company and your products.

#2: Send your newsletter on a regular basis

A lot of building material manufacturer newsletters are inconsistent. You might get one every two weeks for a few months, but then four months will go by without anything. Consistency is key, because it tells your audience that your company has it together. You’re reliable in bringing predictable, valuable information.

Think of a newsletter as your constant point of contact with your customers and leads. When done well, it’ll become something your audience actually looks forward to reading.

#3: Provide unbiased, educational content

This can be how-to content, such as standards or regulations in the industry, or how your product category is changing or expected to change in the near future. Also consider bringing in industry experts for interviews. People love to hear from experts in their channel.

Architects, for example, will always listen to and read about other seasoned architects to learn how they're innovating and solving problems. Interviews capture your audience’s attention and show that you’re a collaborative company.

Another great way to feature educational content in your newsletter is to provide case studies. Just make sure that they’re always solution focused.

Here’s a good example title: How One Building Owner Saved $5 Million in Her New York Highrise. A solution-focused case study grabs a reader’s attention better than How Our Product was Used in a New York Building.

Your audience wants to see other people doing things successfully. If done right, your product will be seen as a solution to a problem your audience has. Yes, you’re still giving a soft sales pitch, but you’re doing it in a way that is more engaging and convincing.

#4: Use the 3-1 rule

The 3-1 rule can be used as the ratio of value-driven content versus company or product information. You obviously want to include product launches, new features, trade shows or any type of cobranding you’re doing with another company.

However, always strive to provide more content than self promotion. People want to know what you’re up to, but if you just talk about yourself, you’re going to lose their attention.

How do you know if you’re getting it right?

Pay attention to your open rate, your click-through rate and your unsubscribe rate. Those are the three big metrics for email marketing. A quick benchmark for the building materials industry: Open rate should be between 15% to 25% and click-through rate should be between 10% to 15%. If you're within these ranges, you should feel good about your content.

Need inspiration? A good example is the newsletter from a company called Nydree, which sells high performance real wood flooring. Rather than focusing on their product, Nydree’s newsletter talks about high-traffic maintenance, design trends, what experts are saying about design and how it relates to flooring. The best part about their newsletter is that they do it on a weekly basis, which shows their customers that they are committed.

Automated Follow-Up Campaigns


Automated follow-up campaigns are a triggered series of emails for people who have engaged with your content or website in some way. This includes things like downloading a white paper, requesting a sample or clicking a Request a Quote button.

The goal of an automated follow-up campaign is to get the lead to take the next step in the buyer journey or the sales funnel. If they download something like a how-to guide, you can them take them to the middle of the funnel by offering a comparison guide download or sample request. You can then get them to the bottom of the funnel where they're ready to ask for a quote or set up a lunch.

The ultimate goal is to have your marketing automation get people to the point where they’re ready to buy on their own.

Most manufacturers view their marketing automation as just quick, follow-up emails that talk about their product again. It needs to be a lot more than that.

Here are some more ways to beef up your automated follow-up campaigns.

#1: Send the right message at the right time

Your automated email marketing needs to have an organic feel to it. If you try to rush a sale too quickly, you’ll lose your lead.

Imagine you were face to face with a potential buyer at a trade show. She asks you for a sample, and you’re able to give it to her. What would you say next? A good follow-up would be to discuss how you were able to get a building built 25 times faster with your product.

Another good follow-up would be to discuss an architect that uses your product and has nothing but great things to say about it. Think about it: These two talking points would happen naturally in a conversation and can be used as inspiration for your email follow-up.

#2: Make sure your follow-up email is related to what your audience wants

If a website visitor downloads a PDF on office design, don’t send them an email about acoustically balanced worship spaces. Use the information you’ve collected to send them content that is specific to what they need to know.

Your audience will send you signals as they engage with your content. It’s your job to pick up on their signals and follow up with appropriate information. A great example is Cliq Studios.

Cliq Studios

If you go to their site and request a sample, you’ll be placed into an automated campaign after receiving your sample in the mail. From there, Cliq Studios sends out a series of emails that follow the questions they know their audience has after reviewing the sample.

There are about four or five of them, and they start with something like, “Hey, you've ordered a sample. Thank you!” The next one moves on to, “You should read this cabinet guide we developed.” Then, “How can you budget for your kitchen remodel?” Finally, that lead receives an email with this: “Submit your measurements to our design team so we can give you some of our ideas.”

Instead of sending you directly to the Cliq Studios sales team, they find ways to bring more value in a way that is beneficial to you, regardless of where you are on the buyer journey.

Outbound Email Marketing


Outbound email marketing is a set of emails that you send to people who have not signed up for your newsletter or anything else on your site. In some countries this is prohibited, but it’s ok in the U.S. as long as you include your address and an unsubscribe link in the email.

With outbound email marketing, you're sending targeted email communication to people who are either completely unaware that you exist, or have some knowledge of you but, for whatever reason, aren't engaging. These are cold leads, but they fit your audience profile and demographic.

A lot of manufacturers go wrong by talking about themselves too much. Outbound campaigns should be about solving problems and delivering value. You need to give your audience solutions to common pain points and help them grow their business so they can be more successful. The main goal of your outbound marketing is to be a go-to resource for them.

Why should they care?

You have to answer this question very quickly. People are overwhelmed with emails every day, and ironically, we're telling you to send more.

Imagine your company has a display at a trade show and you get handed a couple thousand contacts when it’s over. Most manufacturers get that list and send out a “Thank You” email for visiting their booth.

What they should be doing instead is thinking about why those people came to the show in the first place and what other information they likely need now that they know who you are and what you can offer.

Say the trade show your company attended was a green building trade show. In your email, you could give five trends within the green space or discuss the future of the green building industry.

That type of email is more likely to grab their attention because you're doing something that's very different than most manufacturers — you’re delivering value.

What do you want them to do?

Do you want your audience to simply subscribe to the rest of your content and integrate them into your brand? Or do you want them to take a more serious action, such as request a sample or download a piece of content?

Let’s go back to the green building trade show example. You might consider slowly working them to downloading your company’s Guide to Green Building. If you can get them to do this, you’ll know you've solidified yourself as a partner with them.

They’ll think you’re not just focused on selling, but that you’re also focused on partnering, too. As with everything else we’ve covered, your emails can't be focused on just you, or else you’ll damage your brand.

Build the relationship first, then send the emails. If you do that, you’ll see a greater click-through rate because those very same people will be invested in your company and will see you as a thought leader in your space.

Remember when developing your email marketing campaign, you should integrate three different types of touch points:

  • Newsletters for potential customers across the entire spectrum of the buyer journey.
  • Automated follow-up campaigns to nurture leads who have recently engaged with you.
  • Outbound email campaigns to build relationships with people outside the sales funnel.

Ready to deliver value with a successful email marketing plan? Reach out to us at [email protected].