Building Your Engine (website)
In this issue of the Residential Metal Roofing Executive Report, we will continue our series on marketing and lead generation. We have discussed developing an identity for your business and how to reach your target customer. We will now discuss the component of your marketing plan that must be first priority and, without it, every other marketing effort is rendered worthless – your website.
The internet phenomenon, while still relatively young, has obviously changed our lives and businesses. And, while traditional marketing methods continue to increase in cost, the internet has changed how we reach and interact with potential customers. Many of us have already adjusted but, surprisingly, there are still many companies in our industry who continue to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on traditional methods without investing in their web presence, often driving their marketing expenses above 20% of gross.
Only a few years ago, one could rely on traditional marketing methods to make the phone ring – blanket a neighborhood with postcards and know a decent percentage would pick up the phone and call. But consumer behavior has changed. In today’s day and age, when exposed to marketing messages, consumers do not pick up their phone to call but rather pick up their smartphone or tablet and head to the internet. If you have failed to invest in your web presence, the marketing dollars spent to lead them online are wasted. They will then become a lead for your competitors.
Traditional marketing methods are not a waste necessarily, but we must understand how to leverage them in the context of consumer behavior. Your website is your marketing engine. It must convert inquiries into leads and propel the rest of your business. Traditional marketing methods – direct mail, television, radio, etc – can fuel that engine with web traffic, but if your website is not finely tuned to represent your company and convert the inquiry, your entire business will stall.
Your website is a constant project and must continue to evolve in order to best match consumer behavior in you market. But through our web efforts and those of our customers, we have learned a few critical principles to keep in mind. Our own web developers were generous to include some fantastic tips, as well.
- Find a Partner. Few of us are experts in web design and optimization, so our web developers must become quality partners. There are plenty of “Website for $100/Month” companies available and they might build you an attractive website, but they do not work with you to build an engine. We have consistently seen it pay significant dividends to invest in a developer who understands lead generation and will be an ongoing partner in the evolution of your website. Quality customer service is hard to find from a web developer but, when you do, it is worth every penny. We can make some recommendations if that would be of help.
- Optimize. We all know a website a worthless if it is not properly optimized for search engine performance. If they have heard your radio ad, most consumers will fail to remember your company name is “Ohio Metal Roofing,” and will instead only remember “metal roofing.” If your website is not properly optimized to return no later than page 2 when that consumers later searches Google, your dollars were wasted. Low-level web developers’ idea of optimization is keyword stuffing, where they awkwardly squeeze keywords into your written content in hopes of greater optimization. Not surprisingly, Google is learning to discriminate against this tactic. Yet another reason to find a quality developer to partner with, one who will build your website from the ground up with optimization in mind.
TIP: Get your business listed using Google My Business. Google My Business connects you directly with customers, whether they’re looking for you on Search, Maps or Google+.
- Responsive. Over 40% of traffic to our website and the websites of our customers is coming from mobile devices. It is critical that your website is built to recognize this traffic and properly scale to their device of choice. Google also discriminates against websites that are not responsive.
- Identity. We discussed branding and identity in a previous edition of the Executive Report. This identity, the specific details that make you and your business unique from your competition, must be the prominent message on your website. Consumers want to know your organization before meeting you; they want to know your passions and what that means for them. The minute details of your product offering and a pretty color scheme are not what compels them to convert into a lead.
- Photos and Video. Photos galleries and videos are consistently the top viewed sections of any website. Plenty of beauty shots, of all types and sizes of homes, and 2 – 3 minute videos are the fastest way to engage visitors.
TIP: The Isaiah Dealer Support site is a good resource for photos. You’ll find plenty of beautiful photos available for download, and there are new images added periodically.
- Quality Content. As we have discussed, metal roofing customers are researchers. They are likely researching a year or two before they are ready to schedule an appointment. If your website has quality content to aide in their research, you will entrench yourself as the company they call when they are ready to move forward and establish yourselves as the experts before ever arriving at the home. Without this content, the researching customers will gravitate to a competitor and forget they visited your site.
- Convert. Ultimately, the goal of any website is to convert a visitor into a lead. Every site must have multiple points of conversion with varying levels of invasiveness. On our website, our softest conversion is a free download – exchanging quality information for only their name, email, and state. We then have a “Contact Us” form to engage visitors in conversation. Finally, for visitors ready for an estimate, we have our “Locate a Dealer Form” where we pass their information on to the independent dealer in their area of the country. Again, multiple methods of conversion with varying levels of invasiveness. Our customers have found that sweepstake are another great conversion opportunity and, despite many’s belief, these web sweepstakes leads set, demo, and close at the same rate as other web conversions. Forms on pages outlining your financing opportunities also convert well.
- Measure. As with every other area of your business, measuring your website’s performance and analyzing visitors’ behavior is critical. Through Google Analytics, you can easily know your bounce rate (the percentage of visitors who never navigate away from your home page), conversion rate, average number of page views, average time spent on the site, most popular sections, individual form performance, where traffic is coming from, and more. Analyzing this information will allow you to capitalize on the areas resonating well with visitors and improve the areas that are not. It is a never ending process of expanding and tweaking your site to best meet consumer behavior in your market.
TIP: Be sure and connect Google Analytics to the Google Search Console for additional data, tools, and diagnostics to ensure a healthy, Google-friendly site.
We have learned that a high-performing website must be first priority in all of our marketing and lead generation efforts. Once you have established a quality site, your remaining marketing budget can now be well spent on other traditional marketing efforts. You can also begin exploring Pay-Per-Click or other search engine marketing opportunities to capitalize on the finely-tuned machine you have created.
Thank you once again for being here. We would love to continue this conversation and lending our experience if it ever might be of help. As always, please do not hesitate to reach out via email or either of the phone numbers below.
Todd Miller has spent his entire career in the metal building products manufacturing industry. He is president of Isaiah Industries, an organization recognized as one of the world’s leading metal roofing manufacturers. Todd is currently Vice President of the MRA (Metal Roofing Association) and a Past Chair of MCA (Metal Construction Association). Through his website, he strives to raise the bar on standards and practices to provide property owners with the best possible products for successful roofing projects.
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