Category Archives: Strategy

3 Digital Marketing Trends All Building Product Marketers Must Be Aware of for 2017

2017 is nearly here and it’s time to start planning those objectives right? Hopefully you’re well under way with it anyway.

To help you define your objectives, here are 3 big trends I’m seeing which may or may not impact your digital strategy next year.

  1. Your online stockists/merchants are gobbling up your organic search traffic

Do a broad search for your product. You’ll notice some ads at the top with an image and a price. That’s Google Shopping feed.

You’ve got an image. You’ve got a title/description. You’ve got a price.

And you’re organic listing has been pushed off the page or just pushed down out of view.

google shopping feed building products

What does this mean?

It means, you are no longer getting the traffic you once used to get – now your stockists are diverting some of it away from you to them. Most likely, it’s subbies, homeowners, contractors and the like who once used to come to your website but now go to an online stockist. Seeing a price is a crucial aspect in this.

Specifiers, may still come to your site who are more performance/design led – but may prefer an online stockist also to get a price.

What am I seeing?

I’m seeing a 5-15% drop in organic search traffic YoY (small drops each month) across many building product manufacturer websites to key category pages. It’s to early to say this is the reason, but it certainly is pointing that way.

This drop is the traffic which once came to you – no longer needs to. Not all. Just some. But still enough to take it seriously in 2017.

What can you do about it?

Build closer relationships with these online merchants. Work together.

2. Moving away from “brochure websites” to “task based” websites

A big trend to take note of in 2017 is the rise of “task based tools”.

Many building product manufacturers have been doing this in the form of simple calculators but now many are also re-positioning from ‘information’ led websites to ‘task based’ websites and launching very comprehensive online task based tools with rich user experiences and multi device capability to help one do their job faster and better.


If you can embed your building product website and tools into your audiences workflow – you’re onto a winner baby!

What does this mean?

It means that if you still have a brochure website – it’s time to wake up. Pull your finger out. Go learn and understand your audiences workflow and develop/create something that will help them do their job faster and better – and more accurately. If your competition already has something, then go do it better than them.

What am I seeing?

Brochure sites create one night stands.

Task based websites create longer lasting relationships.

Websites with some form of task based tools continue to see large volumes of repeat visits and re-logins to accounts. This is where loyalty lies. As well as offering a superb technical support service complimented online too – be it through tools, live chat facility or social media channels.

What can you do about it?

If you haven’t already, you need to start thinking about building some sort of tool to help users select the right product for the right application or to carry out a simple specification to help specify your product for a project.

Either way, it’s not just about downloading brochures anymore.

3. Increasing content exposure through SEO

Something I’ve noticed occurring more frequently on Google search results pages is the inclusion of “featured snippets” or “rich answers” for building product related search queries.

Featured snippets are boxes at the top of a results page which appear for question based searches. They usually display an extract and an image from the content on the page which best matches the query.


Where snippets have been shown for content I know of, traffic has spiked massively.

Another benefit is that it helps build brand awareness and establish your company as an expert in the topic.

However, I’ve seen snippets come and go and you can see the spikes in traffic when posts have been picked up by Google and the drop the next. I think if the click through rates (CTR’s) are low for your content – you’ll be swapped for someone else. Google is constantly tweaking and testing different snippets. So one day it might be you, the next it might be your competitor.

Also, on many occasions, the snippet shown is actually from a piece of content which isn’t even ranked in the top 3 positions of Google. An SEO win!!

What does this mean?

So it means, when you’re publishing content in 2017, you’re going to have to pay EVEN MORE attention to writing clearly and to the point, presenting content in a clear way, formatting and structuring it properly – all before hitting the publish button.

There’s no set formula to get your content picked up by Google – but the posts which I know have been included usually contain short paragraphs and answer the topic of the post in the opening section and for list type posts, you will need to format your page so bullet points or numbers are formatted properly.

For more info on featured snippets then have a read of this: Google Featured Snippets.


So there you have it. A few things there to be looking out for and considering for 2017 and will be something added to your list of objectives when it comes to traffic growth and building loyalty.


Sourcing Blog Content Ideas for Your Construction Website

In this video I give construction marketers ideas on where to source content ideas from. They include using reports and filters in Google Analytics, old and new enquiries submitted into the business, social media research and listening tools, industry forums and….your own business employees (all departments except for Marketing).

Remember to also check out all my other whiteboard videos over in the videos section.

Construction Product Marketers: Enable & Get the F**k Out The Way

Over the past 18 months I have met many construction product marketers and businesses alike. They all have the same goals and same marketing problems.

Marketing is no longer just about marketing products for construction product businesses.

Think about it. All products conform to some sort of standard or criteria making them all the same on paper – so what’s a businesses USP? Continue reading

Problem with Marketing to Many Audiences in Construction

I’ve been thinking about us marketers in construction and the problems we face when it comes to marketing & improving results. Marketing in construction is perceived to be difficult because of the number of parties involved in a specific project and businesses want to market to everyone.

See, I’ve had business owners say “We need to focus on the specification market”.

8 months go by and then “We need to focus on the merchant market”.

Another 4 months and “We need to market to the self builders”.

Always be chasing.

Yet, most marketers don’t know which audience is the most rewarding or profitable.

Continue reading

5 Online Value Propositions for Building Product Manufacturers

Online value propositions is an interesting yet difficult area in the building products

space because online itself is still an unchartered territory for many Marketing Managers and the meaning of value is commoditised in a sense by marketers (everyone offers some sort of value in a confusing way) and the definition of proposition is unknown or difficult to communicate for some.

It’s just too hard for businesses to nail one that is easy to understand and is specific. One of the many reasons why it’s so difficult is because of the lack of SWOT analysis done by marketers on periodical basis to understand the changing landscape, customer and competitors.

So what is an Online Value Proposition?

Similar to your business USP(s) really. It’s your one, single differentiator to your competitors – something you can offer your customers/audience online that your competitors cannot. It defines the relevancy, value and unique differentiation that tells your audience why they should choose you over your competitors.

Your OVP should be the first thing any visitor should see when they visit your website.

Tip: Not all of your visitors enter your website via the homepage. Think about internal, deeper pages too.

What’s your one unique offering that allows your customers (Specifiers, Interior Designers, Engineers, Branch Managers etc) to do something that your competitors cannot do online? Think about that for a second.

Do you offer anything remotely unique online for your Specifier or distributor audience?

Tip: If you don’t offer anything unique then I’d advise you to re-think how you spend your marketing budget.

If you do then great – this is what you, marketing person, should be focusing on improving and ensuring you stay ahead of your competition. Take your eye off the ball and you could soon find you no longer have an online value proposition.

5 online value propositions to build your online marketing around:

1) Allowing specifiers to do a task online faster than a competitor

This is probably the most common online value proposition for many building product manufacturers. Providing Specifiers with easy to use calculators, sizing guides, coverage calculators and online pricing guides to allows Specifiers to do find out prices, stock quantities, lead times faster, quicker and easier regardless the time of the day.

2) Making it easier to identify the right product for the right application

Offering some sort of comprehensive online product selector which asks a series of questions before getting to the end results which would present the user with a single product or a range of products with slight variants specific for their requirements. This saves the user time and also eliminates or reduces the margin of error when specifying products for a specific job.

Tip: Product selector usage should also be measured using Google Analytics and can help you understand what products are most popular, least popular and what Specifiers are requesting/demanding. Your goal is to ensure that users successfully complete and do what they need to do 100% of the time. Fix any steps where users drop out of the process.

3) Making it easier to compare your products

If any marketer knew their Specifier audience then they’d know that an Architect doesn’t get paid for the time spent on researching new products.

For many, not all, research time is un-billable so if you could make it easier to compare your products without having to download every datasheet and then lay them side by side you’d be cutting the time spent researching and massively helping your Specifier audience.

Some brands offer hundreds of products all varying in colour, texture, dimensions, weights, specific metrics. Tying it in with OVP #2 you could put you in a stronger position than your competition.

4) Offering an instant support service

Allowing Specifiers to ask questions online instantly without having to be put on hold or wait for a rep to call back could prove to be good online value proposition. Again this kind of goes back to point #1. I’m talking here about live chats or 10 minute response times for all online queries.

Some companies I know have tried live chat services but failed once they’d found out you needed to have someone at the computer all the time. Doh!

I also found out recently that Schuh offer Skype chats with customer sales advisors – how neat is that? Instead of typing messages you can have an online face to face conversation with a rep to discuss anything you want about latest shoes, designs, trends, orders, deliveries, stock. Anything.

5) Offering a wealth of online educational content anywhere, anytime

“Stop trying to out do your competition, out teach them instead” said Jason Fried, author of Re-Work and founder of Basecamp.

I’ve wrote about producing educational content online before and I think this is the one online value proposition that connects how your brand is perceived offline to how it’s perceived online. All your offline material states “Technical experts in….”. Well online, you have the opportunity to prove it through the content you publish. You want that technical expertise to follow through regardless of where and how the Specifier is accessing your information (think mobile too).

You could be the only building products company that offers online CPD’s, recorded webinars, technical blog content, white papers, Q&A videos, podcasts and mobile apps usable on any device and have it accessible anytime and from anywhere. As long as your content educates, inspires and simplifies things for your audience.

Tip: The volume and diversity of content produced can help with increasing traffic from search engines, increase visibility online, help with social media engagement and improve the quality of conversions via your website.

Next steps:

In order to create or review your existing online value proposition you’ll need to ask yourself some pretty tough questions – ones which need to be reviewed often. I’d also recommend conducting some sort of online competitor audit and SWOT analysis to help you create or find your online value proposition:

1) Have the market conditions changed in the last 3 years? Including your competition and what they offer through the use of new technology?

2) Does your marketing team and sales team communicate the same message as your USP or OVP?

3) Does your Specifier audience still appreciate and recognise your online value proposition?

4) Are the demands of distributors changing with the ever need of real time information?

Hopefully you’ll have found this post useful in helping you to just start thinking about developing a online value proposition and one you can continue to market, improve and build upon.

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The Role of Online Building Product Directories for Marketing

Many marketers often frown when it comes to spending money with online construction and products directories and resources.

Often it’s because of naivity and over managing ones own expectations. I often get asked if budget should be allocated to online product directories and the answer is always the same.

View the presentation below to find out.

Any questions or comments please feel free to leave them below in the comments area! Thank you.

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5 Marketing Challenges for Construction Marketers and How to Overcome Them

 Challenge 1: Connecting the Dots (ROI)

It’s amazing how many businesses I’ve seen without a robust CRM system at the heart of the business. CRM systems allow you to map contact details generated from marketing activity to project details so you can see that the specifier who responded to a marketing activity in 2011 turned in to an order (placed by a distributor) in 2013.

Without a CRM system with project tracking capability, marketers will find extremely difficult to answer the “What did we get from it?” question. Continue reading

Give your B2B website some goals. They don’t have to be difficult.

Giving your B2B website some goals to measure its performance against doesn’t have to be difficult nor do any goals need to be complex.

I had an interesting meeting a few days ago to discuss a new SEO and Analytics brief with a product manufacturer in the building industry. When the question was asked about ‘website goals’ it was followed by a moment of a silence.


Almost a silence that said “Goals? We don’t really have any”.

“So why have you given us a brief about SEO? I thought.

Most marketers I deal with don’t have any goals for their website(s), but its essential to have some goals as early on as possible well before you start thinking about tactics and agency sourcing. Continue reading