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New Data Released: What Building Materials Audiences Want From Manufacturers Online

Learn about the results of a recent survey conducted by The Farnsworth Group with pros in the building materials industry, including how they use online tools to make business decisions.

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

Grant Farnsworth joins the show to discuss survey results of different players in the channel to understand how they use online tools to make business decisions.

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 talk to Grant Farnsworth, Business Development Director of The Farnsworth Group, about fresh data on where your audience is spending time and how this impacts your marketing.


As a building material manufacturer, you need to consistently stay in front of your audience in order to be effective with your marketing. A recent study by The Farnsworth Group surveyed four groups of industry customers: home builders, remodelers, designers/architects and specialty tradespeople (like HVAC installers, painters, and plumbers). The study involved 400 people, a sample size large enough to understand areas in which to dig deeper.

Using Multiple Platforms to Succeed

One of the most revealing pieces of data is that online marketing is not just about your website. It’s about how all your different platforms work together, including search engines, social media, paid ads and more.

Consumers have access to all of these components and you’ll lose the battle if you’re dependent on one medium alone. Not only do you need to use multiple platforms, but you also need to be consistent with your information across each type. Repurposing your content for different channels is an essential part of reiterating your company’s brand and story.

041 How Often Is The Internet Used for Information on Building Materials

The Role of the Manufacturer Website in Purchasing Decisions

The study confirmed just how important the manufacturer’s website is in the research and decision-making processes for all audiences: 31% of respondents use building material manufacturers’ website daily to find the information they’re looking for, while an additional 40% use this source two to three times per week. In fact, only Google beats out the manufacturer as a top source for information.

This trend is on a growth trajectory. Compared to five years ago, 38% of respondents answered that they use the manufacturer’s website “much more” and another 35% use it “slightly more.” Altogether, more than 70% of this sample audience is visiting manufacturers' websites more than they were five years ago.

Out of all the other places someone could go to find out about product and pricing, they still prefer to use you as their primary source of information. The component your website plays is critical. Even if you can’t sell directly, you need to be on point to make the process easier. Otherwise, you’re bound to lose sales.

Meet Your Customers Where They Are: Online

Survey respondents said they regularly use technology for the following tasks:

  • Purchasing materials
  • Tools for pricing and estimating
  • Collaborating with customers
  • Researching new vendors

No matter who your audience is, everybody is going online for these things. If you’re a building products company, you need to realize that your customer is looking to you to provide these things. If you don’t, they’ll go somewhere else.

Over 50% of contractors have a tablet and over 80% have a smartphone, demonstrating that this is a tech-savvy audience. This idea that contractors are old school is false. Additionally, they need help with their business and are looking for partners who help lighten the workload. As a manufacturer, you have the opportunity to step in and be that partner by delivering valuable online content and easy processes.

041 The Tools and Tech That Pros Use Online

Buying Building Materials Online

The survey also revealed that tech is primarily being used for purchasing in the industry, whether that’s by checking on availability, scheduling on-site delivery, or requesting in-store pick-up. Online purchasing is one of the biggest hang-ups for the building material industry and the best way to use digital for this is still taking shape.

The distribution process has to be part of the strategy, making it easier to either make a purchase or at least get closer to the purchase. Even if you can’t show pricing on your website, you can create a journey that makes it easy for a potential customer to get that information.

External consumer behavior continues to demand 24-hour access, online purchasing, reduced friction and a relatable brand. It’s really causing the industry to look inward at how to improve an outdated distribution strategy. In order to win, you need to figure out how to become a front runner in this space.

Manufacturers that are performing well now are those that are agile and willing to take a risk. A great example is a gutter company called LeafFilter. They’ve seen tremendous growth because they’re leveraging multiple awareness and pad traffic channels to drive online purchases.

This strategy is on par with industry research as well. Over the last three years, using social media to learn about new products has increased 250%. In reality, a truly successful digital marketing strategy is composed of 10% production and 90% promotion.

Getting Started

If you’re looking for one thing to tackle, Grant recommends internal and secondary research to get true insights on your customer, brand, channel, product or your overall market. You need to dig deeper into your customer to see where you fit. From there, you can figure out how to best leverage your digital strategy.

Then, you can better deliver content to bring in leads and drive sales by improving the experience for homeowners or contractors.

To contact Grant, you can email him at [email protected].

Have questions about the data we talked about this week? We’d love to answer them! Send us a line at [email protected] with all your data questions.