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How Building Materials Manufacturers Can Use Chatbots to Grow Sales

Chatbots can be an effective tool in engaging potential customers online in an interactive experience that answers their questions leading up to a building material purchase.

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

In this episode, Zach and Beth break down what exactly chatbots are and how building material manufacturers can utilize this easy, affordable technology to increase the user experience and their sales.

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.

Get all your questions about chatbots answered by Zach and Beth so you can stand out as one of the early adopters in the building materials industry.


A chatbot is a micro-experience inside of apps like Facebook Messenger, Twitter, SMS and even hardware programs like Alexa or Siri. While it may sound futuristic, most people actually interact with chatbots every day.

Until the last year or two, however, the average marketer hasn’t been able to leverage chatbots, because of the costs and difficulty in getting it set up. Thanks to innovations in today’s social media, it’s now easier than ever to integrate chatbots into your company’s existing applications, such as Facebook Messenger, or even on your existing website.

One of the biggest myths we want to dispel is that chatbots aren’t accessible to building material manufacturers of all sizes. In fact, they are surprisingly easy and affordable to get up and running on your website.

And the benefits are substantial. Chatbots allow you to communicate effectively with your audience through programmed conversations. Audiences today are becoming more and more accustomed to communicating with technology via both conversation and voice, and chatbots allow us to communicate in a way that feels seamless and easy.

Using Chatbots to Influence Purchase Decisions

Zach was recently chatting with an architect and asked how he looks for a new product. The architect replied that he simply types a question into Google and then visits a website.

This behavior is true for so many of us when it comes to any kind of question or purchase decision. We’ve been trained to ask questions on sites like Google or through applications like Siri. But unfortunately, most websites aren’t designed to answer questions that way. The audience has to figure out the answer on their own instead of continuing on a path they’ve already started with a search engine.

With chatbots, the customer gets connected to the company instantly.

You may think that if you have a smaller brand, a chatbot is out of reach. But they actually give you the opportunity to have a direct sales conversation with someone who has a specific question about your product.

That person could be just two to three questions away from making a purchase decision, and the answers they get from the chatbot could be the final push they need to commit to your product.

Chat is focused on reducing friction in the sales channel. It gets people the answers they’re looking for as quickly as possible.

How Do Chatbots Work?

A lot of people say chatbots are like email 2.0. A customer asks a question, either on your company’s website or app, and you have a bot on the backend that communicates with that customer to answer their question.

We’ve found that where most companies go wrong is by pretending a chatbot is an actual person. If you tell people they are communicating with a bot, they’re much more responsive. That’s because people today are comfortable talking to technology as long as they know that’s what they’re doing. And this holds true across generations: Millennials and Baby Boomers have the same level of comfort when it comes to conversing with technology.

How Building Material Manufacturers Should be Using Chatbots

Chatbots are great for FAQs, especially if you’re getting consistent questions through emails or your website contact form. In the building material space, the average open rate of an email is between 16% and 18%. When you use email to follow-up from a chatbot conversation, the open rate is double or triple that.

Clearly, there’s this whole other medium of conversation happening online. You can build a real, ongoing conversation with customers in a way that your competitors aren’t.

It works so well because chat isn’t passive. You can prompt a conversation to start and you’re able to customize it based on the page that’s being visited. For example, if you manufacture rainwear, you can have a chat on your gutter product page and have the chat box pop up with a personalized message, calling out the specific product.

3 Simple Ways to Introduce Chatbots

For building material manufacturers that are considering using chatbots, there are three easy and effective places to incorporate them onto your website.

#1: Product Pages

Introducing a chatbot on your company’s product pages is a great way to quickly answer people’s questions.

#2: Home Page

A chatbot directly on your homepage can start segmenting leads so you can send them to the right place on your website. Alternatively, you could even get enough information to put them in a specific marketing campaign.

#3: Forms

Tie a chatbot into your online forms. For example, if someone fills out a sample request form, you can link the conversation from your website to Facebook Messenger and use the chatbot to follow up with the customer once the order has shipped.

It’s a great way to see if they have any more questions, and you can easily continue that communication with leads. A chatbot makes it so much easier to reduce friction and lower barriers of entry when it comes to striking up sales qualified conversations.

Are Chatbots Right for Your Building Materials Company?

Before we answer this, you must first understand the purpose of a chatbot: to answer questions, schedule appointments, capture leads and deliver triggered, timely information.

If you have too many, repetitive questions coming to your sales team, catalog those questions and create a chatbot. Alternatively, if you want more sales calls, create chatbots on landing pages that are lower in the funnel on your website.

Plus, setting up a chatbot is so easy, you can just try it on your site for 48 hours. If it doesn't work out, just turn it off.

Chatbots have some pretty incredible potential to deliver sales to your company. In fact, 47% of users said they would buy an item through a chatbot this year. Think about it: Chatbots make the buying process exceptionally low pressure and low stress for the consumer.

If you build your chatbot the right way, you can go from your website to Facebook Messenger and continue that conversation seamlessly. You won’t lose the lead after they leave your website.

Plus, you can get invaluable data on individuals and your broader customer base. This information helps you figure out which questions you need to answer better on your website and also find out which people are the best leads.

Best Tools for Chatbots

Here are some of our favorite tools for chatbots.


Beth recommends starting here because they have an excellent examples page, and you can engage with example bots to give you a feel of the customer experience.


This is Zach’s pick for a chatbot that integrates directly with Facebook Messenger.


Drift is another strong option for creating qualified leads through your website.

Show Notes

Don’t forget to join us for our upcoming live webinar on Tuesday, November 13th at 2 p.m. EST, called The Future of Online Marketing: How to Convert Architects, Builders & Pros to Customers. We’ll be showing examples of building material manufacturers who are successfully using chatbots on their websites today. Space is limited, so go here to register:

Medium article on chatbots:

If you have any other specific questions about how to use chatbots for your company, feel free to shoot Beth an email at [email protected].