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

Visual Content Amplifies Your Building Products Marketing Message

Nov 3 Visual content amplifiesWhen it comes to effective building products marketing, the creation and dissemination of relevant and compelling content continues to reign supreme.

What makes content relevant and compelling hinges on the quality of the marketing message. That message can be communicated in any number of ways.

The way most of your industry (heck, most of the business world) is communicating their message is with words. The problem with this is that it creates a literal information traffic jam for your buyers.

The good news is that there is another way, which is to deliver that message or amplify it with visual content.

Visual content could well be the secret sauce you’ve been seeking to juice up your marketing plan. Research has shown that our brains process visual images much faster and more easily than words – written or spoken. And reportedly, most of the information received by our brains (90 percent) actually is visual.

In addition to faster, easier processing (or perhaps because of it) visual content is also more shareable. Visual building products marketing content such as photos, videos, infographics and even visual “memes” may prove effective within a campaign, on your social media platforms, and on your website.

Here’s how to best leverage four types of visual content for building product marketing:

Photos. Pictures stir emotions, and one image can convey an entire story. Photos engage customers right away. They establish a connection, which makes your brand personal and (hopefully) beautifully capture the essence of your offering.

Videos. Videos are generally the most preferred form of visual content. People love them. In fact, according to EyeView Digital, videos that appear on landing pages increase average page conversion rates by 86 percent. Videos quickly tell your story and can offer instruction, a bit of play for viewers or a little of both.

Infographics. A relatively new form of visual content, infographics are among the most shareable. Statistics show that businesses that use infographics in marketing gain an increase of 12 percent on average in the traffic to their sites. To create them you can contract with a freelancer or use use free online resources such as Canva.com, or paid sites such as KISSmetrics.com, both of which allow you to create them fairly easily.

Memes. Those hilarious pictures or images with clever text (some of which immediately go viral) can provide humor along with value to customers. They’re easily shareable, easy to create, generate traffic and visibility, plus they’re highly engaging. (Just make sure your audience will understand the meme and think it’s funny.) Consider trying Memegen.com or Imgflip.com.

Words might dominate building products marketing at present, but now you know another, faster and more powerful way to connect with your buyers. Photos, videos, infographics, memes, or simply adding clarifying visual elements to existing text can amplify the effectiveness of your building products marketing and enable buyers to more quickly and deeply grasp how your offering can enhance the quality of their homes and ultimately, their lives.

Photo credit:  thinkstock.com

Think Your Building Product Content Is Being Read? Think Again

Sept 3 think_your_contentWriting less and styling text so it’s easy to read are two ways to attract and hold the attention of your building product customers and prospects. 

Thanks to Jakob Nielson and his web usability studies, we’ve known for a long time that web users scan content rather than read it. We also know, thanks to real-time analytics, that there’s a pretty good chance you won’t finish this article. As a matter of fact, for every 161 people who landed on this page, 61 of you are already gone. In web traffic jargon, you “bounced” and spent no time engaging with this page.

But that’s okay. Losing 38 percent of you is the nature of the online beast. Good riddance, I say, because now we have a friendly, intimate crowd–just me and those of you who want to be here. I still have to accept the fact though, that you would rather scan web pages than read them in detail.

Therefore, there are some things I learned in English composition class I need to forget in order to keep my building product marketing readers tuned in.  I also like to incorporate some easy design techniques that make my content more reader-friendly.

Break up copy. 

To cover complex topics, I like to break up the subject matter into a series of posts. It’s a good way to keep your readers coming back and they’ll find it easier to digest your content if it’s in smaller, snackable pieces.

Write compelling subheads. 

Strong headlines get readers attention. Solid subheads keep readers engaged and help move them through the rest of your content. Compose subheads that are intriguing and informative.

Use bullets. 

Bullet lists provide an easy, scannable way to present multiple points in your content. I recommend using them as much as possible due to the fact it provides a break for the reader’s eye.

Format strategically. 

Emphasize important concepts in your web copy by bolding them. You want your reader to be able to scan and take away the most important points at a glance. Highlight only the main points so your reader can quickly pick them out.

Use odd numbered lists. 

Numbers are an effective way to capture attention and keep your reader interested. Large chunks of information broken up into odd-numbered facts, as research shows, helps the brain process information in manageable pieces.

While content is important, if it isn’t commanding attention, your building product prospects won’t stick around to hear what you have to say.  Incorporate these tips into your writing to attract and hold attention.

Photo credit: Moyan Brenn via flickr

3 Ways Building Products Marketers Can Turn Customers Into Brand Advocates

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Before making a purchase, you want to be sure you’re making the right decision. The same rings true for your customers. Oftentimes that means seeking out the advice of people who already made the purchase and can offer some perspective and insights. These are individuals who are familiar with a product, can speak about it thoroughly—and champion the company as well. Enter brand advocates.

Start with knowledgeable customers who are thoroughly satisfied, essentially brand loyalists, and you have brand advocates in the making. Brand advocates can be cultivated—if you know the right way to do it.

Here are three ways to convert your brand loyalists into brand advocates:

Find out where they’re hiding
Monitor your social platforms to find those customers who are truly engaged with your brand and follow them. Look for customers who constantly have good things to say about your brand. Seek out brand enthusiasts who consistently take to social media to mention your name, say positive things about your products, and share content from your social media sites with their network.

Another possible source of brand advocates are self-appointed power users who love to teach others how to best use your products and offer guidance. These are  people who help others with technical challenges or explain how they can maximize the value of your product offerings. Power users tend to congregate in online communities and user meetups where they can have more direct, and lengthier, on-topic conversations.

Reach out to these sources and find out if they’d be willing to take on the role of brand advocate by burnishing your brand via social media or even heading up and moderating brand-sponsored user groups. Start the relationship by asking for a follow on Twitter or participating in blog comments. Once you’ve established a rapport (and assessed their interest) you can expand the conversation and explore additional possibilities.

Give them a platform
The value of brand advocates is that they are out there freely endorsing your brand. Their actions enable you to gain credibility, garner loyalty and grow your customer base. Why not make it even easier for brand advocates to propel your brand forward by giving them a proper forum.

Designate a space for them to share their voice and their experiences with your product. Make them a contributor to your blog, recruit them to answer questions during a Twitter chat, or moderate a Google+ Hangout. Provide them with ways  to deeply engage with your community and gain their acceptance.

Make it worth their while
To properly reward your brand advocates, you’ll need to think beyond a gift card or product discount. A better way to acknowledge their efforts is to offer an exclusive experience or an opportunity that will help them build their profile.

This could be a speaking opportunity at an upcoming conference, a chance for a sneak peak at a soon-to-be-released product, or an invitation to meet with your chief executive officer or product managers and contribute insights and feedback.

Brand advocates want everyone they meet to experience the value your brand has provided to them. The presence of brand advocates means your brand is doing it right. Maximize the benefits of your success by cultivating those customers who can’t wait to tell others just how right you are—for them.

Photo credit:  Flickr

5 Tips for a Successful Social Media Campaign for Building Products Marketers

Sept 1 Five Tips successfull socialThe National Remodeling Foundation reports that “homeowners are becoming more confident, demonstrating pent-up demand for home and building products.”

With homeowner purchase intent and actions on the uptick, smart building products marketers are leveraging social media to meet and engage with these buyers right where they are.

The results of a survey by L.E.K. Consulting, a global management consulting firm, indicates that building products buyers who are highly engaged with brands are active on social media and influenced by the information they acquire through social media channels.

They access their social media accounts several times daily

‘Like’ or are fans of 16 brands on average

Say that a purchase was a direct result of Facebook’s content (25 percent of users)

When properly designed and executed, social media campaigns are a very effective way for building products marketers to engage customers, gain their loyalty and influence their purchase decisions.

Homeowners are already comfortable using the Internet to get more information about products for their homes and they also increasingly expect better brands to enable them to connect and converse via social media.

Social media campaigns enable your brand to meet the needs of prospective buyers by anticipating and delivering what customers already are looking for. Social media campaigns can also increase buyers’ trust and respect for your brand by providing them with answers to questions they never thought to ask.

Use these five key tips to help launch a successful social media campaign:

1. Know your target

To be sure your social media campaign will have high engagement, the first step is to make sure you understand the audience you’re targeting. It can be helpful to segment your target audience into demographics that include region, education and income levels as well as social media usage habits.

Kitchen and bath products maker Kohler, for example, knows that its customers not only like beautiful products but functionality as well so they’ve implemented a #TechTuesdays feature on their Facebook page. Every Tuesday, Kohler highlights one of their products and the technology behind it. Kohler’s Facebook fans love it and share it widely.

2. Find the right platform(s)
There is no one Holy Grail in terms of social media platforms. A social media campaign that does well on Pinterest may have very little success with Instagram, depending on your audience. It’s also not necessary to be present on every single platform. Your best bet is to target social media platforms that have the strongest influence among your most attractive customer segments. Find out where your audience spends the majority of their time and are the most engaged and be there.

If you’re familiar with Google Analytics, setting up Social Analytics is an excellent way to track social interaction on social media and determine where you can get the most bang for your buck. However, the majority of social media platforms offer some sort of analytical tool to help you monitor engagement. Based on this data, you can easily choose a primary platform and then a secondary one as well.

3. Have a plan

Develop a strategy on how to leverage this platform to encourage brand evangelists and help drive sales with key tactics. Strategy here means identifying your overall campaign goal. Is it to generate leads, garner loyalty, raise brand awareness?

Tactics address short-term goals for each platform you decide to use, what type of content you will use on each and how your brand voice will be used. Tactics also include the best times to post and how to use the individual features of each platform (such as Hangouts on Google+, promoted posts on Facebook, etc.) for the most effective results. Hiring a social media manager or even a team whose sole responsibility is dedicated to managing your platforms, along with your campaigns, may be necessary.

4. Rise above the social clutter

Focus on one product with a value proposition that compels a buyer to buy. Emphasis on one product makes a campaign easier to execute. Plus the value proposition for that one product helps your brand stand out from all the others and makes your campaign memorable, which reinforces awareness.

Remember to also make the experience worth your customers’ time. Include offers and incentives that reward customers for following your campaign. Rewards make key elements of your campaign easily shareable. The easier content is to share, the more likely your customers are to share it.

5. Measure your results

Circle back to the original goal of the campaign to measure how well (or not) it did. If, for example, your goal was to generate leads, then find out how many sales came from your campaign. Or if it was raising brand awareness, measure how many new ‘Likes’ were gained during the campaign or how many mentions through keywords and hashtags were achieved. Determine what data is valuable to glean from your campaign and gather it into quantifiable results.

Social media is a great way for building products marketers to find new fans and strengthen the bond with existing consumers and customers. Effective social media campaigns can help your brand harness the power of these dynamic platforms to raise awareness, generate trust, and drive sales forward resulting in increased #success.

 

Photo credit:  thinkstock.com

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

5 Considerations for Building Product Marketers When Adopting a Housing Cause

JuneBlog2_pic1 thinkstockAdopting a housing cause can begin a partnership that creates a mutually beneficial relationship—if you make smart, strategic choices along the way. Not only will you burnish your image and brand, as well as boost sales, you’ll also do something for the greater good and uplift your community.

Assuming that you’re now convinced of the value of housing cause adoption, here are five (more) things to consider as you begin the adoption process.

  1. Choose carefully. When selecting a cause, make sure it’s both relevant to your business and something internal and external stakeholders will also want to get behind.
  2. Stay humble. As you begin to integrate the cause into your brand, focus on promoting the overall mission rather than on using the cause as a device to talk customers into actions that will benefit your business immediately or directly.
  3. Be inclusive. Provide your customers with opportunities to participate in the cause. Be clear about how their efforts can make a difference, then measure and report back to them on the impact of those efforts.
  4. Embrace Millennials. The Millennial demographic’s defacto expectation is that the building products industry will do their part to make the world a better place. Begin to engage these brand influencers now through social networking, such as Facebook or Instagram campaigns that promote your cause and whose low barrier to entry makes participation effortless, and they will reward you with their business later on.
  5. Go old school. Don’t ignore traditional marketing approaches such as messaging on packaging, media interviews promoting events related to the cause and print advertising, as they can add dimension as well as reach to your housing cause campaign.

Careful consideration and a strategic approach to adopting a housing cause will resonate with your customers and the community at large. This in turn creates a lasting impression and sparks a relationship, which garners loyalty. When done well, it raises your brand’s visibility and can provide the best opportunity for you to connect with your customers.

Photo credit:  thinkstock.com

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

Ten Top Best Email Practices for Building Product Marketing

12196229744_b32db1c881_zEmail marketing continues to be a vital component of the building product marketing mix, but in order to succeed, you need to follow best practices to optimize email deliverability. 

If you are like a majority of business marketers (68%), email marketing is core to your marketing efforts. According to Madison Logic, more than 122 billion emails are sent every hour.

By using the analytics built into most email marketing software, you can thoroughly test and analyze results. The most common metrics you should look at are open, click-through and unsubscribe rates.

The industry standards for B2B email:

  • Open rate: 11-15%
  • Click-through rate: 2.1-5%
  • Unsubscribe: .11-.2%

Given the fact that email marketing is such an important part of your building product marketing effort, follow these top ten best practices to help boost the overall results of your email campaigns.

  1. Use capital letters to lift engagement.
  2. Punctuation is unnecessary.
  3. Increase open rates using personalization: Users are 22% more likely to open when addressed by their first name. 
  4. Keep character count to 50 or less (according to MailChimp).
  5. Don’t use salesy words – be clear.
  6. Focus your messaging on the promise of the subject line.
  7. Pose a question to increase interest and the call-to-action of the viewer and to encourage click-through.
  8. Use color! Orange and red are optimal choices for the color of your call-to-action button.
  9. Test! Test! Test! Improve your campaign’s performance metrics by conducting A/B testing. Test with a sizable audience to ensure statistical significance.
  10. Optimize your site for mobile.

Designing for today’s devices is becoming more important as mobile adoption rates continue to increase at a rapid rate. Be sure to design your message using basic HTML that will adapt easily to a diverse range of email clients.

Also make sure your main messages are in the email text, not just in graphics. The first line of your email should be plain text with a link to a landing page that works well for web and mobile browsers.

PHOTO CREDIT: Per Chris 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