The Next Big Trend for Building Products Marketing

25 Mar

…And How It Can Boost Your Sales

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Having worked in building products marketing for close to 30 years, I’ve seen firsthand how changes in the economy and homeowner mentality can affect trends in the building industry, design, and more. As the economy bounces back and a new generation of homeowners enters the market (and others find new ways to turn their current home into their dream home), one of the biggest trends in building will be exciting, beautiful outdoor living spaces that bring the inside out. A recent article from Hardware and Building Supply all but confirmed the impact this trend will have on the industry.

So as building products marketers, how does this trend affect us? It means we need to adapt. According to the article, “today’s homeowners are coming into the deck planning and building process more informed than ever before.” In other words, thanks to Pinterest, Houzz, and the rise of good content marketing, they’re able to travel incredibly far down the sales funnel before ever making contact with dealers. This heightens the need for more content and an increased push to social—despite the argument I often hear from those in the building industry, which is that social doesn’t apply to their audience.

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But it also means we will need to change the way we market these products. It will no longer be enough to show pictures of a nice pergola with some clever copy and expect to make a sale. It’s important to depict what that pergola can do for a buyer—that it can be wired for speakers, that it is a great place for a fire pit where homeowners can gather for late night drinks with friends, or a table for outdoor dining. And the copy needs to match the image, highlighting all the ways that these products contribute to an overall lifestyle that frees homeowners from the confines of their living or dining room. It’s a fundamental messaging shift that can’t be ignored.

Another standout fact is that regardless of their size and budget, homeowners want more than the traditional square space for decks and patios. That means that even if we are marketing a decking product, for example, the images we use should feature not only multi-level decks, curves, and cantilevers, but also accessories (chairs, grills, fire pits, dining sets) that define different functions and align with consumer interest. Ask yourself: how will they use this product in day-to-day life?

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Homeowners are now looking at their outdoor living space as an extension of their indoor living space, and have proven they’re more than willing to invest in high-quality building products to make that extension a reality. Homeowners want to spend money on these kinds of building products. So what are you doing as a marketer to capitalize on this trend?

To get all the insights from the article, click here. (Note: You will have to register to read it in full.)

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Email Marketing Must Be Mobile

11 Mar

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Email is not dead, but it might be if you don’t utilize responsive design (email that isn’t coded and optimized for mobile viewing across multiple screens and devices). The Content Marketing Institute (CMI) recently published an article about email and responsive design: ‘Delete This Email!’ Why Mobile Email Matters to Your Business.

Before any of you building materials marketers tell me how this is not applicable for ‘your’ audience, you better start preparing now, because it will be soon.

According to a recent McKinsey & Company study, email is still 40 times more effective at acquiring customers than Facebook and Twitter combined.

  • 91% of all U.S. consumers still use email daily
  • Emails lead to purchases at least three times more than through social media
  • The average order value is 17% higher

This means it is important to increase the scope of how recipients are viewing your emails, especially since people are increasingly on the go. According to U.S. Consumer Device Preference Report: Q4 2013, 65% of all emails are now opened on a mobile device.

Probably the most important fact of all: 42% of mobile users delete emails* that don’t display on their devices correctly.

That means, of the emails you send, four of every 10 recipients might as well have the subject line (you guessed it): “Delete This Email!”.

Froont Blog’s 9 Basic Principles of Responsive Web Design is a comprehensive explanation, complete with animated examples, about what responsive design is. Click the image below to view how breakpoints are utilized in emails for mobile responsiveness:

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Another great way to understand responsive design is to pay attention to the emails you receive and how you interact with them on your devices.

The CMI suggests looking into responsive templates offered by email providers, but be sure to test and preview the templates on a few different devices.

Now is the time to stop thinking of emails as a straight to desktop touch point, because they are on-the-go and you better be able to keep up.

*GetResponse Study, 2013

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The Customer Journey: The Future of B2B Marketing?

5 Mar

It’s Not Just a Buzzword—It’s a Requirement

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When examining the future of B2B marketing, it’s impossible not to think about the impact of the customer journey on marketing strategy. It’s not just B2C companies that are making it a priority; it’s a frequent discussion with B2B clients I deal with every day. A recent whitepaper by LinkedIn® and Salesforce, “The State of Marketing Leadership: How Senior-Level Marketers are Redefining Succcess and Integrating the Customer Journey,” addresses this issue with details about the current state of the customer journey and where companies and marketing agencies should focus their efforts to be successful.

What I’ve seen with my clients is the same as what the whitepaper says—that the customer journey isn’t just a buzzword, it’s actually a requirement for companies who want to succeed. It’s more important than ever to deliver very personalized brand experiences to customers if you want to get true engagement out of them. But when push comes to shove, it’s easier for many B2B marketers to maintain the status quo than to meet this new challenge. My favorite part of the whitepaper that proves that—and this is a classic marketing mistake—is that despite the widespread agreement among B2B marketers that the concept of the customer journey is important, only 37% of B2B marketers surveyed have adopted the term into their business strategy. Huh?

So why is that? Because it’s a challenge and clear roadmaps aren’t necessarily laid out for adopters of the customer journey. The whitepaper goes on to say that marketers who integrated the customer journey into their strategy found the most effective tactics for success were tools like marketing analytics, CRM tools, and content management. Nonetheless, one of the largest obstacles expressed by them was that these tools and data systems were not always integrated with each other.

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There are a few things that B2B marketers will need to do to enhance the customer journey experience:

  • Better integration and analysis of data systems
  • Faster and more thorough adoption of mobile marketing
  • Mapping the customer journey by designating important touchpoints
  • Testing new tools like marketing automation, videos, content marketing, guided selling, and landing pages

For more insights from the whitepaper, click here to download.

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5 Words You Should Include in Your Next Subject Line

27 Feb

…And 5 You’ll Want to “Miss”

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Did you know there are programs out there to help you test your subject lines before you even send them? One of the best ones is Subject Line Gold by the Touchstone Platform, and Marketing Profs recently used it to help determine the five most effective (and ineffective) words in an email subject line.

Subject Line Gold analyzed these subject lines based on the results of 21 billion marketing emails sent by 2,500 brands spanning from sectors like B2B, Financial Services, Consumer Services, Telecom & Tech, and more.

In conducting their survey, they determined that the five words that most increase open rates (on average) are:

    1. Upgrade – open rate = 65.7%
    2. Just – open rate = 64.8%
    3. Content – open rate = 59.1%
    4. Go – open rate = 55.8%
    5. Wonderful – open rate = 55.1%

The most detrimental words to your open rate are:

    1. Miss – open rate = -4.6%
    2. deals! - open rate = -4.4%
    3. Groovy – open rate = -4.3%
    4. conditions – open rate = -4%
    5. Friday! - open rate = -4%

So if you think your email marketing is pretty groovy and you want to tell the world, you might want to think again.

Another insightful part of this study was the consideration of symbols for marketing emails. A lot of marketers might not even be using them, but the industry data suggests that they do have an impact—regardless of mixed consumer reactions. As it turns out, the snowman symbol is the best for subject lines, while the sun symbol is the third worst. So maybe sunshine doesn’t always beat the cold after all.

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To check out more of Marketing Profs’ findings, click here for the full article.

*Disclosure: ER Marketing uses the Touchstone platform for subject line testing.
 

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Using Mobile in the Building Industry and Beyond

23 Feb

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Tablets and smartphones enable people to text, send photos, use mobile apps and communicate faster then before. The key to utilizing mobile technology in the building industry is to make sure we have communication flowing; giving the right information to the right people so they make the best decisions on the job.

Some stats to consider:

  • Global smartphone use will reach 2 billion by 2015 (Bloomberg)
  • Across all industries, mobile traffic is increasing by 3.5 percent per month (Televox)
  • Tablet users access search 73.9 percent of the time, more than any other activity (eMarketer)
  • Local mobile searches (85.9 billion) are projected to exceed desktop searches (84 billion) for the fist time in 2015 (eMarketer)
  • 33% of contractors use a tablet ((The Equipment World 2014 Connectivity Study))
  • 46 percent of mobile users say they are unlikely to return to a website they had trouble accessing from their phone (Gomez)

There are many other components to consider when developing your mobile strategy. Working with a marketing firm with mobile expertise can help you to build the best approach.

Mobile Website:

In the past, we had to develop separate mobile sites for users accessing information via smartphones, but now, we develop these with responsive sites.  54% of contractors have internet enabled smartphones (The Equipment World 2014 Connectivity Study), yet many companies are still slow to develop a mobile experience.  At a minimum, have mobile friendly content and contact information.

Mobile Apps:

Develop an app with purpose, in order to help in achieving a specific goal. For example, apps are often developed for customers to access information when there is no cell signal or access to Wi-Fi.  Consider possible features.  Is this to show information and tips or actual mobile tools to help customers in the building industry? You must understand your audience and have a clear development and launch plan that includes app updates.  In addition, have a clear marketing strategy for getting your app downloaded and utilized. *could link to mobile app development article

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Apps for builders and developers

Hundreds of mobile apps have been developed or are currently being developed with the building industry in mind.

 iTopoMaps and Gaia GPS: Used to evaluate potential properties and puts USGS topgraphic mapping capabilities in your hands at the site.

Construction Estimator: Helps estimate materials and cost of a project.

Planimeter and Geo Measure: Curious about how many square feet or acres are in a potential development parcel or house lot? Use this app to also estimate the amount of material needed for a job. (Such as a driveway or decking, based on area.)

Construction glossary: Construction Glossary provides a comprehensive list of more then 700+ construction and civil engineering terms with a short definition.

iRuler: Turns your iPhone or iPad into a measuring device.

Easy Measure: Use Easy Measure to determine approximate lot lines by measuring from your location to a landmark in the distance. The app can also measure the dimensions of a room or building footprints for existing homes.

Mobile Coupons:

Many companies are starting to offer mobile coupons. These are delivered to mobile devices through an app, mobile website, or text.  This has been B2C driven and more B2B companies are starting to follow suite.  If you’re a dealer or a distributor, consider using mobile coupons to help drive business to your locations.

Location Based Services:

Location based advertising in B2B works well for people attending trade shows. You can also target people working in certain locations with more specific offers and information.  50% of respondents of JiWires’ Mobile Audience Insights report indicated that they wanted to receive location-specific advertising such as mobile coupons.

Social Media and Mobile:

Contractors are using social media sites at an increasing rate. Many businesses use these channels for marketing purposes as well as keeping in touch with their community.

Most visited social media sites per The Equipment World 2014 Connectivity Study.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • YouTube
  • LinkedIn

Recap:

Why consider mobile? The stats do not lie. This industry is growing.  You need to make sure your content is mobile friendly. Companies who take the next step to develop mobile tools such as mobile apps and push out content to social media sites will inevitably beat out their competition.

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