5 Tips to Rehabilitate Your Building Product Social Media and Email Marketing

8684494364_48504dc7f2_oAligning and integrating your building product email and social media marketing efforts will extend the reach of your email by increasing opens, clicks and conversions. 

Social media and email marketing are much more effective when they work together as part of an integrated building product campaign.  The smart way to integrate them is from a business strategy. Since each of these channels is complex in their own right, it’s best to plan their integration from a high level.

Getting started includes going back to your business model and business plan and asking:

What’s your strategy for reaching customers?

What’s your strategy for keeping them?

What’s your strategy for getting them to spend more time with you?

Before you get lost in the weeds of email and social technology and individual campaigns, think long-term and high-level strategy and consider these five pieces of advice:

Create cross channel social media and email marketing campaigns that feed back into each other. Social is perfect for extending the reach of your email campaigns. Likewise, good email campaigns can deepen your relationship with social media contacts, thereby turning those followers into buyers. Think about occasionally pitching your newsletter through your company’s social media channels.

Leverage the power of each channel to map opportunities along your building product customer’s path to purchase. Find opportunities to send behavioral or triggered emails such as welcome emails to new customers by encouraging them to share your content, check out a demo video on your YouTube channel, retweet one of your Tweets, etc. Email gives you ample opportunity to cross promote your building product content.

Let email and social media marketing work together to meet your marketing objectives as well as your building product customer’s needs. Be sure to promote your newsletter signup prominently within your social channels and your social channels in emails. You’ll also want to track new email subscribes and give social the proper attribution when appropriate. Whether it’s a Facebook tab or a Twitter lead generation card, use your social media platforms to build your email list.

Make it easy for your email subscribers to share your content. In addition to including social sharing buttons in your emails, use tools like Click to Tweet to make tweeting key points very simple. This tool allows your readers to click a link within an email and a pre-composed Tweet pops up for them to share. The easier you make it to share, the more people will do it.

Ensure you have clear calls to action when sending emails. You’ll also want to make sure each call to action stands out. Consider mentioning it more than once and don’t just put it at the end of your email. Think about where to position it within the body of your email. And, as I mentioned before, if you’re trying to encourage people to share via social channels, make it as easy as possible for them.

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/33006820@N00/8684494364

6 Steps to Kick Start Your Building Product Content Marketing

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Smart building product marketers understand that rather than using outdated methods of outbound marketing, content marketing builds trust with and attracts buyers. 

Buyers have virtually shut off the traditional world of marketing and chosen messaging that makes them stop, think and behave differently. And with content marketing now a cornerstone of inbound marketing efforts in building product marketing, what do you need to get started? A carefully planned strategy and well-coordinated implementation.

In content efforts we manage for clients, we’ve discovered six steps that will kick your content plan into high gear.

Define your audience. If your plan is to talk to everyone, think again. That net is much too wide. Who is your target audience? Defining it is a key first step to take before one piece of content is created.

Build personas. This task is fairly simple. Identify the attributes needed for someone to be your buyer. The goal is to describe who you will attempt to write for or who might already be reading your content. This exercise will help personalize your writing, identify ways to connect with your buyer and create more practical content with their needs in mind.

Determine digital footprint. How will you distribute your building product content? Even before you create it, decide where it will be hosted and published. A website or microsite is one of the more common platforms because your content can be disseminated through a blog, webinars, photo gallery, videos, podcasts, Tweet Chats, etc. Let social media play the role of distributor, as it can extend the reach of your content and foster authentic conversations with your buyers.

Do your homework on keywords. Knowing what words users type when they are searching for building product information is of the utmost importance. Do the research and choose words with the highest number of monthly searches and the lowest competition.

Think like a building product publisher. Publishers use editorial calendars to monitor dates, track specifics of content ideas and keep content consistent and relevant. These tools also allow you to see connections within your content and identify ways to repurpose it.

Report, analyze and adjust. One of inbound marketing’s biggest benefits is the ability to track and measure the progress you are making to see what is and isn’t working. Then you can adapt to optimize results.

Photo credit: Flickr

Five Steps to Effective Building Product Email Marketing

Fine-tuning your building product email marketing campaigns will increase deliverability and return on investment. 

Aug 4 5_steps Effective emailIt’s the biggest driver of new leads and has the highest return on investment of any marketing medium. If email marketing isn’t one of your marketing team’s top priorities, it should be.

Statistics continue to show that email is the preferred mode of communication for the majority of consumers. How successful are your email marketing efforts compared to your other building product marketing activities? Being able to create, deploy and track email campaigns that work takes a lot of practice. I’ve assembled five steps to help you get the most out of your email marketing efforts.

Step 1: Have a robust online presence. Sounds like a no-brainer, right? You’d be surprised the number of building product organizations that still have a ho-hum web presence. Make the most out of your website because a great one can do the job of 100 salespeople. While you’re at it, add an email submission form on your home page to help build your list.

Step 2: Maintain a clean and current email list. Create a list based on people who’ve already expressed an interest in hearing about your building products. In order to keep your list clean of bounces and unsubscribes, you need to routinely remove the people on your prospect list who no longer read your emails. The quality of your list is more important than the quantity of prospects on it.

It’s also important to keep lists current. People’s addresses change, as do their interests. If you aren’t sending to your list at least quarterly, then you may be at risk of getting blacklisted or blocked. Once that happens it’s very hard to get your emails delivered. Sites like Barracuda, Spamhaus, Spamcop, Spamcannibal or Lashback can be searched using your domain and IP address to see if you may be blacklisted.

Step 3: Engage your audience with content. To really connect with your building product customers and prospects, provide them with insight that they can turn into action. How do you do this? By publishing research and engaging external experts to validate those ideas are great ways to engage with prospects.

If you’re needing help assembling a content strategy, you may want to check out What’s the One Key Ingredient Your Building Product Content Marketing Needs?

Step 4: Test your campaigns. Divide your lists and test campaign content using A/B or split-test functions to get a better understanding of what works and what doesn’t.

Step 5: Track campaign performance. Use data such as open rates and click-through rates to track growth and success. It will provide insights into the type of content and subject lines that are resonating with your building product audience and can help improve your approach.

Photo credit: Donald Judge via flickr

What’s the One Key Ingredient Your Building Product Content Marketing Needs?

3227380581_de390eedc8_zIn today’s content-driven world, smart building product marketers use search insights to create content that is spot on, engages their audience and is never boring. 

All content is not created equal. 

How are you determining what content is relevant to your audience? If you are basing it on hunches, or what you think your audience wants, then you may be under delivering. The days of just having content on your website to suffice are long gone.

Relevant content placed along your customer’s journey lets you demonstrate your expertise on a topic, drive leads and convert leads into customers. 

To ensure you are developing content that speaks directly to your building product customers, you need to understand the digital consumer. In fact, understanding your audience’s online behavior is the first thing you should do before starting content efforts.

Using free tools such as Google’s AdWords Keyword Planner and Trends, YouTube’s keyword suggestion or premium providers such as Quantcast or comScore will provide data that can tell you:

  • Most used keyword phrases
  • Where users go and what results they click on
  • When and where they search
  • Devices they use to search

In order to make search insights work for your building product content marketing effort, it’s important to understand how you can make them work for your organization.

  1. Know your best keyword phrases, don’t think you know them. Many times building product marketers use corporate jargon instead of using language people actually use. If you want a shot at engaging your audience, then you need to use the search phrases they are actually using. Google AdWords Keyword Planner will help you determine search volumes for particular keyword phrases.
  1. Determine what your audience cares about. Search insights can help you hone your content by revealing the intent of keyword phrases and showing the types of content users are seeking.
  1. Find out what format your audience prefers. Should you create a white paper, an eBook or a video? Base these types of decisions on data, not a hunch, by examining search insights for the types of content users are viewing.
  1. Understand the nuances of regional search behavior. Search behavior can vary depending upon the part of the country from which they are searching. Google Trends can help you determine the differences and the search volume from a regional perspective.

PHOTO CREDIT: Travis Swicegood on flickr

10 Customer Service Commandments for Building Product Marketing

customer-serviceBuilding product manufacturers that keep customers happy are the ones who will prosper and make a positive impact on their community. 

Most businesses today strive to put a customer service plan in place, but few achieve top-notch status for the experience they strive to provide. With customers increasingly turning to social media as a way to communicate with businesses, marketing and customer service need to be closely aligned.

Great customer service is marketing. 

For a majority of businesses, there is clearly a disconnect as to how they believe they are viewed by their customers and how their customers actually view them. According to statistics provided by Bain & Co., 80% of companies surveyed said that they offer a superior customer service experience, but only 8% of their customers agreed with them.

In today’s competitive building product environment, simply having a great product isn’t enough. Customer satisfaction is at the heart of the selling process. Therefore, customer service is about the relationship with your customer more than the individual transaction.

The mail-order giant, L. L. Bean, displays a quote at their headquarters in Freeport, Maine that sums up the value they place on customers. I’ve used it as inspiration to create 10 Customer Commandments for building product marketers.

1. Customers are the most important people in our business.
2. Customers are not dependent on us – we are dependent on them.
3. Customers are not to argue or match wits with.
4. Customers bring us their needs – it is our job to fill those needs.
5. Customers are not an interruption of work – they are the purpose of it.
6. Customers do us a favor when they call – we do not do them a favor by serving them.
7. Customers are part of our business – they are not outsiders.
8. Customers deserve the most courteous and attentive treatment we can give them.
9. Customers are the individuals who make it possible to pay our wages.
10. Customers are the lifeblood of this and every other business.

View the entire Bain & Company report here.

Photo credit:  Gordon Ednie via Flickr 

The Power of Being a Social Building Product Marketer

The_power_of_beingBuilding product marketers who want to help drive the social media conversation and turn customers into evangelists will need to truly understand the nuances and landscape of this medium. 

Look up a definition for social media and you’ll get a hundred different answers. Ask a group of marketing professionals and you’ll get a range of responses, from it being an advertising and marketing tool and others that tout its ability to position brands.

The one definition that I prefer to use is; social media is an online platform for interaction, relationships and networking. I believe this is social media in its purest and simplest form and, therefore, it’s very important to remember when developing strategies to engage your building product customers.

Effective social media is by, for and about your customer. And it cannot be delved into lightly. It demands a deep understanding of the cultural and social dynamics that drive this media form.

Social media shouldn’t be thought of as another channel to complement traditional media. It should be thought of as a platform for your entire customer experience, and in turn your entire marketing mix. More and more so it is becoming the primary way your customers experience your building product brand.

As a marketer of building products, it’s up to you to lead the organization in creating your brand’s social experience that delivers twofold: value to your customers and helps meet business goals.

Being social can serve a variety of purposes:

  • Distributing content and building reputation (Lowest engagement)
  • Customer service and support (More engagement)
  • Managing influencers who are driving conversation around your brand (High engagement)
  • Turning customers into brand evangelists (Deepest engagement)

In order to get the most out of your social platforms, you first have to understand how your customers will benefit from participating in your social conversations. And in order to understand this, you need to know what the primary drivers are for people to use social media:

  1. Self-expression and sharing (B2B translation: Exchange of information and expertise)
  2. Making and connecting with friends (B2B translation: Professional networking)
  3. Getting attention (B2B translation: Improve standing with management and colleagues)

Your social media program needs one, two or all three of these benefits to truly be successful. The more you are able to connect with your customer emotionally, the more time he or she will spend with your building product company and connect more deeply with your brand. If you are not providing at least one of these, you aren’t harnessing the true power of this medium.

PHOTO CREDIT: photo by Gellscom on flickr

How to Adapt Building Product Marketing in the Age of the Customer

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Why consumers control the sales process and how to engage them.

A new demographic has emerged that is changing the role of marketing in the sales process

Generation C is the demographic that is defined by the Age of the Customer.  Gen C is a psychographic that’s represented by a broad age group. It’s more about behaviors –  creation, curation, connection and community.

Todays consumer is a curator who self-educates

The new Generation C buyer is a researcher.  When a need is defined, he researches and engages in a discovery process before picking a company to work with or a specific product to purchase. By doing so, he pre-qualifies the sale before committing to the sales process. As marketers, we’ve got to be one step ahead and have plenty of relevant content populated in all the right places to reach the new Generation C buyer.  According to Harvard Business Review, buyers move through 60% of the traditional sales process before engaging with a real live person about buying options.  

Provide relevant content

In the technology era, Gen C buyers are looking for relevant content where they want it, on demand.  Anticipating what buyers want, answering their need and personalizing content will engage buyers and accelerate the buying process.  Building Product manufacturers need to access and use high quality, richly populated data (Big Data) to determine what content individual buyers are looking for.

Connecting with buyers

If a buyer purchased a new construction home and was shortly after moving in is targeted by a window manufacturer, flooring provider, door manufacturer, he would immediately feel disconnected.  To him, it’s obvious that the marketing can’t be specific to his needs.  Why would anyone with who just purchased a new construction home need new windows, flooring or doors?  His are brand new.

A better marketing connection might come from a manufacturer of an added-value product that would extend beyond a typical builders grade product. A high-tech security system, a swimming pool, garden structures, additional storage buildings, etc.  Utilizing big data to guide a truly targeted marketing builds strong buyer connections. It’s about marketing the right products at the right time, to the right person and for the right reason.

Foster a sense of community

Gen C wants a sense of belonging, to feel they are a part of something.  They’re motivated by peer-to-peer connections.  When they’re buying building products they look to industry peers, friends and like type buyers for their opinion.  If someone like him, with similar buying needs, bought a product and liked it then the buyer assumes that he too will be happy with that product.

Gen C buyers are creators

If you do a good job of meeting a buyers curation, connection and community needs you may be lucky enough to get the added P.R. benefit of the Gen C creation behavior.  Gen C buyers are tech savvy, they capture moments, share experiences and tell stories through their posts.  They post smart phone pics to Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest.  They shoot, post and share videos to YouTube, Vine, etc.  When this happens you’ve won.  You’re buyer has become your advocate and engages others on your behalf.