5 Inbound Marketing Basics for Construction Pros

5 Inbound Marketing Basics for Construction Pros

5 Inbound Marketing Basics for Construction Pros

Making the transition to inbound marketing is a big undertaking for any construction company. Inbound is a huge methodology, with many moving parts, and the added pressure of continuous improvement. It can be a lot to wrap your head around implementing, but you have to get started somewhere.

We’ve found that breaking inbound marketing down a bit makes it feel more approachable. And, there are a few foundational elements you have to have if you expect your inbound strategy to produce results. 

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With that in mind, we’ve taken the whole inbound marketing methodology and broken it down into just 5 key inbound marketing basics, specifically for construction pros. These 5 basics will help you get started on the key foundational elements of inbound marketing that will deliver the greatest impact for your construction company. 

Let’s dive in:

Inbound Marketing Basic #1: Draw Leads In, Don’t Push Your Message Out 

Drawing in leads is the fundamental premise that inbound marketing methodology is based on. 

Traditional, shout marketing is over. You can extoll your construction company’s greatness from the rooftops, but it’s not going to do a whole lot for you if you’re not offering value to actually draw those leads in. 

Today’s consumer dislikes promotional marketing. 

At best, they’ll ignore your ads about how you’re the best builder or materials supplier in the region. 

At worst, they’ll unsubscribe from your emails, and tell Facebook and Youtube your ads aren’t relevant to them. 

And honestly, traditional promotional marketing is a lot of work. 

  • How much time has your sales or marketing team spent working on leads who really weren’t a fit? 
  • How much lost time was spent on designing print marketing? 
  • How much money was spent on those billboards, newspaper ads, even local radio ads? 
  • And what did you see as far as returns?

Probably not a whole lot. 

Inbound marketing works because it turns the traditional marketing goal of “getting the word out” on its head. Instead, it invites leads to explore and learn more about the things they’re interested in. 

What does drawing leads in look like?

Let’s say that a builder is looking for a new supplier. He wants someone he can trust to refund his credit pickups quickly. He wants someone who’s going to carry the brands his customers want, like Cambria countertops and Trex decking. 

He’s going to do research on suppliers that, a) have a credit pickup policy, and b) carry a certain number of brands he’s familiar with and likes. 

If your construction supply company has information about both of those things, that builder is going to find you, say “well, these guys seem decent”, and then consider reaching out to your sales team. 

Voila. You just got a lead. And it came directly to you — your sales team wasn’t out pounding on that builder’s door. 

If there’s one fundamental you take away from this blog, let it be this one: 

Draw leads in. Don’t push your message out. 

The more value you’re able to produce, the more leads you’re going to pull in.

For your construction company, that means more than just more leads. It also means:

  • More qualified leads
  • Less of your sales team’s time spent on unqualified leads
  • A more streamlined marketing and sales process
  • Significantly improved ROI — a result of leads coming to you, and much more focused, tactical marketing and sales strategy.  

Now, there is a lot that goes into setting up a successful inbound marketing strategy, and I can’t get into it all here. 

If your construction company is new to inbound marketing and I’ve piqued your interest, there are a number of resources to help you get started.  

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Otherwise, let’s keep breaking down these 5 essential inbound marketing basics for construction pros: 

Inbound Marketing Basic #2: Content is Still King (Yes, Even for Construction Companies)

Inbound marketing basic #1 was focused on drawing leads in. 

Inbound marketing basic #2 focuses on how you deliver the value that draws those leads in. 

And that is content. 

When it comes to inbound marketing, no matter whether you’re a commercial builder or a construction supplier, content is still king. 

Content, in every form, from your blog to your social media platforms to your company’s Youtube How-to’s, provides the value that you need to draw in leads. 

While there are a lot of inbound marketing tactics, content development and content marketing are the pillars of any inbound marketing strategy.  

Why? 

Because without content there isn’t much to offer incoming leads. 

From helping your construction company rank well on search engines to providing the valuable information your leads want, content is the workhorse of the inbound marketing strategy. 

Not sure how to develop content for your construction company?

Start by thinking about the questions your sales teams get all of the time. 

Chances are, there are a few they’re sick and tired of answering. 

Work to develop content around those questions. Provide the answers your clients are looking for, whether that’s in a blog or a video. 

Maybe there’s a new product you’re selling that customers are interested in, but aren’t sure how to use. A quick 5-minute how-to video can go a long way to start drawing those qualified leads in for you. 

Picking up business blogging is also a great way to jumpstart your construction company’s ranking potential, while simultaneously drawing in those qualified leads you want.

That brings me to our next inbound marketing basic — how to figure out what content you need to develop to pull in the leads you actually want. 

Inbound Marketing Basic #3: Define Your Target Market with Buyer Personas

 

There are jobs your team likes, and jobs they don’t. 

The profitable jobs you and your team like are your target market. 

Another essential inbound marketing basic for any construction pro is defining your target market. We’ve talked about why contractors should know their target market before, and our reasons still stand. 

There are so many different types of construction jobs out there. You don’t want all of them. 

The key to reducing the number of jobs you don’t like, and increasing the number of jobs you enjoy and bring greater profit to your construction company is defining your target market and then putting a microscope on them to build out buyer personas. 

Target Market

The market your construction company prefers to work in. Maybe that’s custom homes at a certain price point or a specific type of commercial building project. 

Buyer Personas

Semi-fictional representations of your ideal clients within that target market. If you’re a construction supplier, your buyer personas might be custom home builders, commercial builders, and even a small group of DIY homeowners. 

Defining your target market and buyer personas is an inbound marketing basic for your construction company because those personas help you determine and refine what types of content you develop. 

Your buyer personas give you a picture of who you’re talking to, which helps you write content that really speaks to that ideal buyer. 

With defined buyer personas, your marketing team can focus on creating only the content that is relevant to the leads you want most. For your sales team, that means closing on more of those profitable jobs your team wants, rather than jobs you feel you have to do. 

Inbound Marketing Basic #4: Your Website is a Lead Generation Tool, Not a Brochure

When it comes to inbound marketing, it’s essential that you think of your website as a hub.  

It’s a place where leads, salespeople, your marketing team, and even your customer service team can turn for helpful information. 

When you have all of those key players in one space — one hub, if you will — you can use your website as a tool to nurture and convert leads for you. 

For construction companies, it’s easy to fall into the mindset that your website is a virtual brochure. You have a lot of beautiful photos of your previous projects, and it’s not always easy to conceptualize how to bring a marketing cycle to life digitally.

If your website just looks great, then surely people will give your sales team a call, right?

Wrong. 

Your website is a tool. And it’s a tool that your leads are comfortable and familiar with using. 

Consumers in every industry, including construction, are used to doing online research when they’re considering making a purchase. They like to navigate around websites, see who has the best information, and ask questions. 

They just don’t want to have to call anyone to do it. 

If you use your website as a lead generation tool, with calls-to-action, content offers, landing pages, and forms, you’ll start to see results. 

And that’s what inbound marketing is all about. Using your digital marketing tools to draw leads in, offer up the information they need, and build a relationship. 

When that consumer is familiar with your website, has maybe used your chatbot to ask a few questions, and is getting ready to make a purchasing decision, then they’ll call your sales team. 

But they’re only going to take that step if they’ve built a relationship with your construction company through your website. 

That means following inbound marketing website design best practices, implementing lead generation tactics, and implementing tools and updates that help your ideal leads move through their buyer’s journey on your website.  

Not sure if your website is a brochure or a lead generation tool? This website design checklist can help.

Inbound Marketing Basic #5: Work Smarter, Not Harder

This probably isn’t what you’ll see on an official inbound marketing definition from HubSpot, but it is an essential inbound marketing basic that we live by, and that we work hard to implement for our clients. 

At its core, inbound marketing functions to help your team work smarter, not harder. 

If you’re doing inbound marketing right:

  • Your sales team is spending less time on unqualified leads. 
  • Your marketing team is developing, publishing, and promoting only content that they know speaks to your ideal buyer, and will help a) build trust b) answer a question c) solve a pain point that buyer persona has. 
  • Your email marketing campaigns essentially run themselves. Inbound marketing automation helps both marketing and sales nurture leads who aren’t quite yet ready into warm and then hot leads. 
  • Chatbots keep new visitors and leads engaged even when your sales and marketing teams are off the clock. 

When you implement inbound marketing for your construction company, you’ll start to see that your team has more time to focus on the actions and connections that provide the biggest return. 

Instead of having sales teams connect with every sales lead that comes in, they can prioritize their time to focus on new, hot leads that have a high chance of converting. 

Marketing automation and other inbound marketing tactics will help take care of those cooler leads until they’re ready to make a decision. 

Inbound marketing helps you define what is important to your construction company’s growth, and enables you to focus your efforts on just the tactics that will produce the greatest results. Plus, when done well, it gives you the inbound marketing metrics you need to see which of your efforts are working, and which aren’t. 

The 5 Essential Inbound Marketing Basics for Construction Pros

So there you have it. The 5 essential inbound marketing basics for construction pros: 

  1. Focus on drawing leads in
  2. Use content marketing to provide value
  3. Define buyer personas to develop the right content
  4. Transform your website into a lead generation tool
  5. Work smarter, not harder

Inbound marketing is a massive machine. It takes some time to understand and implement, and it can be overwhelming to even think about if you’re considering moving your construction company towards a more inbound-focused marketing and sales strategy. 

If you keep these 5 inbound marketing basics in mind and start with buyer personas, content creation, and your website, you’ll soon develop a solid foundation you can build off of to draw in and convert more of the leads that can deliver the growth you want. 

And if you’re looking for a little bit of guidance doing that, we’re here to help. We’ve worked with construction pros and suppliers before, so we’ve got a pretty good understanding of what works and what doesn’t. We’d be happy to answer any questions you might’ve run into

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6 Types of Instagram Ads [With Examples]

6 Types of Instagram Ads [With Examples]

6 Types of Instagram Ads [With Examples]

Though Facebook still takes the cake for the most popular social media advertising platform, Instagram is steadily gaining its own foothold as a successful, lead-converting option.

Social media advertising is an essential component of any outbound marketing or growth strategy, and many companies are starting to find that when done right, Instagram can produce more of the right results than even Facebook ads. 

In the past, Instagram has gotten the snub because it’s so segmented. Many brands find it difficult to generate an organic following on Instagram, but since Instagram was acquired by Facebook, its advertising capabilities have been unleashed. 

It’s a well-known fact that Instagram gets much more engagement than Facebook. (Check out this blog about Instagram’s epic engagement if that’s news to you.) Combine that with Instagram’s exceptional user experience, and the platform has become quite attractive for digital marketing agencies: there’s plenty of opportunity, Instagram users are highly engaged, and there’s also the simple fact that Instagram ads just look better. 

Two Key Benefits of Instagram Advertising

  • Instagram ads are seamlessly integrated into the platform. It’s very difficult to tell immediately which posts on a feed are ads and which are organic posts. This helps boost ad interaction on the platform.
  • The majority of Instagram ads open up links that remain in-app. So, users are clicking over to the advertiser’s site, but they remain in the app. When they’re done interacting with the advertiser’s site, they can easily click out of it, and Instagram will take them back to their feed, without losing their place.

Because Instagram ads offer very little disruption to the user, they have the potential to do very well. Let’s take a look at the different types of Instagram ads:

Types of Instagram Ads

Instagram ads are set up similarly to Facebook ads, primarily because Facebook owns Instagram. That means you can benefit from the same microtargeting qualities of Facebook, while also benefiting from Instagram’s increased engagement and seamless native ads. 

01. Instagram Photo Ads

Instagram is a visual platform. The entire concept of the social media site is to share imagery, so if you want to advertise effectively, you need to have quality creative. Photo ads are the most basic way to do this. 

Like the title suggests, photo ads are comprised of a photo, along with a description, and a call to action button.

You can also optimize Instagram photo ads to include a “view profile” button, that will take viewers to your Instagram profile if they want to see what else you’ve posted lately, or if they want to click a link in your bio. 

02. Instagram Video Ads

Video is the social media content of the future. It only increases in popularity, especially on Instagram, a platform that was designed with visuals in mind. Take your Instagram ads an extra step forward by using video. 

Video does a better job of engaging your audience, catching their eye with Insta’s autoplay feature, and clueing them into your brand at just a glance. 

Instagram video ads have the same capabilities as photo ads but can do a better job of capturing attention if you have the creative capabilities to produce them. 

This ad from Public Goods is cool as it uses video to cleverly swap out the products that are shown on the ad.

Each new product featured is another opportunity to catch a viewer’s attention and convince them to convert. 

While this might not sound earthshaking, a video ad does the talking for you. It’s a great way to pack a big punch in a very short amount of time. 

03. Instagram Collection and Shopping Ads

If you ask me, these ads are the greatest thing since sliced bread. 

Though they’re particularly useful for quick-decision e-commerce companies, like we’ll see in this example, I can see them being just as effective for those in industrial and commercial industries with specific parts to sell. 

Collection ads look like this one from Aerie. At first glance, this looks like a traditional Instagram photo post.

You can see the little shopping back in the bottom left corner, however, which indicates that this is a collection ad.

When you click on the shopping bag, the ad takes you directly to the products featured in the post.

You can click and check out right from here, all within the Instagram app.  

These are pretty powerful ads, and like I said, I could see them working well outside of traditional e-commerce industries. Let’s say you sell aftermarket Corvette parts. An ad with a picture of a recently restored Corvette could easily feature a collection of the parts used in the restoration, showing people exactly what they need to complete a similar renovation. 

Pretty cool, hey?

Shopping ads function pretty similarly to collection ads. When you tap on the image in a shopping ad, a link pops up taking you to the page where you can buy that item. It’s just another great way to offer viewers a seamless experience by removing any barriers between the time they decide they want to purchase something and the actual action of making the purchase. 

04. Instagram Explore Ads

Instagram Explore ads work just like any other Instagram ad, but they show up in the Explore section of the platform. You’ll have to indicate in Ads Manager that you want your ads to show up here, but it’s a good option if you’re great at identifying your target audience or if you’re looking for ways to increase your brand awareness. 

These ads won’t show up in the Explore grid that pops up, but instead, show up after a user has clicked on a post they find interesting. As they scroll down for more similar content, your ad will pop up.

This ad for a ceramics business is a great example of an Explore Ad that’s also a collection. 

If you were interested in ceramics, you might see this ad as you were exploring for new posts or accounts to follow.

The collection aspect of the ad enables you to make an immediate purchase if this is something you really want. 

05. Instagram Carousel Ads

Remember when Instagram introduced multi-image posts and everyone freaked out?

Yeah, us too. 

Well now, Instagram lets advertisers leverage those multi-image posts as carousel ads. 

Everyone does them a little differently, but the positive is that you get to show off more sides of your product, service, or brand in just one ad. This is a great way to boost awareness for your brand, or show off the versatility of your product. 

Check out this carousel Instagram Ad from Blue Apron:

They used each image in their carousel ad to show off a different plan option — showcasing their diverse offerings perfect for any food preference or family size. They topped it off with the final image encouraging viewers to get six meals free, which paired with their caption “Get $60 off!” smartly. 

This is a great example of using Instagram carousel ads to show off multiple sides of your product or service. It’s also good to know that you can now use video on carousel ads for an even greater impact. 

06. Instagram Story Ads

The last two types of ads aren’t found on the typical Instagram feed. Instead, they show up in users’ Stories. 300 million Instagram users view Instagram Stories every day, which means there are plenty of people who will see your Story Ad. Instagram Story Ads can be done in two ways:

Traditional Story Ads

Plain ole Instagram Stories ads look and feel like a normal story.

Check out this one from Hungryroot for an example.

Story ads are a full-screen sized image or video of your choosing, with a swipe up call-to-action that can take users to your profile, your website, or anywhere else you’d like them to go.

Canvas Story Ads – AKA Instant Experiences

If a story image or video doesn’t seem like quite enough of a punch, you can upgrade to Instant Experience story ads. Previously known as Canvas ads, these ads are known for their exceptional ability to immerse the viewer in the ad. 

You can use the Facebook Instant Experiences ad developing tool and templates to design an ad that’s totally immersive — either an image or a video — and the ad will be deployed through Instagram Stories. Instant Experiences Ads offer an expanded range of ad design options, as you can see in this example from Hint. 

Hint does a great job of telling their story with an immersive video that shows a woman ordering their water, and then having it immediately delivered to her home.

Instant Experience Ads’ expanded functions allow them to include cute text tags that call out specific benefits, as well as the swipe-up option that takes the visitor directly to their website. 

You can also use Instant Experience ads for your Facebook account, or in Instagram feed placement, but many marketers have seen the best results in Instagram stories. 

To create a truly effective ad, your digital marketing agency will develop immersive content that is customized to fit Instagram, and optimized for a seamless, quick-loading experience that’s sure to drive traffic and conversions.

Is My Product Right for Instagram?

It’s true that all products might not be perfect for Instagram. That said — if any aspect of your company or product is visually appealing, and if your ideal buyer skews below the age of 45-50, you’re likely to do well on Instagram. 

If you’re struggling to understand what your target market might be on Instagram, or how you can frame your product or service for the youthful platform, you might consider talking to a digital marketing agency. 

Digital marketing agencies live to identify target audiences across platforms and will be able to help you determine if Instagram is right for your marketing strategy. 

Optimizing Instagram Ads to Work For You

While there are certainly products that aren’t well suited to Instagram, if you think your brand will do well on Instagram, incorporate the following best practices to see quality engagement: 

Make It Visual

We’ve said it before, but quality visuals are kind of Instagram’s schtick. 

If your ad is going to do well on the platform, it has to look good. And really, it’s not as hard as you think. Most images just need to be clear and incorporate a lot of natural light. 

Engage Your Viewer’s Attention

This is where video typically comes in. 

If you have images that are intriguing or invite followers to engage with them, that’s great. If not, video is usually your best bet. It’s engaging without trying to be. 

When most social media audiences see a video, they’ll at least stop to watch the first few seconds. And if your company name is in the first few seconds, you’re golden. 

Your Message Must Be Authentic

Above all, Instagram ads have to be authentic. The platform is dominated by millennials and younger generations who are proven to respond most positively to brands with purpose and authenticity. 

Any quality digital marketing agency knows that advertisements do a lot more than just show off your product — they make a statement about your brand, and can make or break new relationships with potential clients. 

That’s one of the absolute best ways to make certain that your ads will do well. 

Instagram Ads and Strategic Growth

After deploying a few different types of Instagram ads —  image, video, and story ads — you will be able to identify which are working best for your target audience. From there, you can optimize and improve future Instagram campaigns to generate more leads, create greater awareness for your brand in target demographics, and ultimately help contribute to overall company growth. 

Continuous improvement is the key to getting the most out of your Instagram ad campaigns. As you optimize and refine over time, you’re likely to start seeing better results and more engagement. 

Instagram advertising is a lot. There are a ton of types of Instagram ads, and even deciding which is best for your brand can take some work. If you’re new to social media advertising, we’re here to help.

The Evenbound team can answer any questions, and help get you going in the right direction with your next social media advertising campaign. Just let us know what you need.

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Building a Real Estate Advertising Strategy that Sells Homes

Building a Real Estate Advertising Strategy that Sells Homes

Building a Real Estate Advertising Strategy that Sells Homes

Whether you’re a home builder or a real estate developer, when it comes to selling homes, a tactical real estate advertising strategy is necessary. The Evenbound team is a big proponent of a balanced digital marketing strategy (Inbound + Outbound = Evenbound, after all 😉), and nowhere is it more important than for real estate developers and home builders. 

You already know this, but when it comes to real estate, competition is fierce. The more you can do to: 

  • Get your name out there
  • Get found ahead of the competition
  • Remind potential customers you’re ready and available to build their next home


The better results you’re going to see. 

And inbound marketing is a big part of that — it helps build your reputation and authority in the market, and it’s the best way to draw in qualified leads in a cost-effective way. 

But, if you want to expand your reach, and get in front of the leads you want, now, it’s time to build a real estate advertising strategy that can sell homes. 

What do we mean when we say “Real Estate Advertising Strategy”?

A real estate advertising strategy is a collection of advertising and marketing tactics that work together to get your brand name and message out to the leads you want, and then nurtures those leads until they’re ready to chat with your sales team. 

A real estate advertising strategy is not just a Facebook or Instagram ad campaign. Those will get leads to your website, but they won’t convert leads or sell homes for you. That’s where the rest of the strategy comes in. 

It’s good to know that you don’t have to employ every single tactic I’m going to lay out in this real estate advertising strategy. 

Start small — take a few of the tactics, put them to work for you, and see what happens. When you get comfortable with those, branch out and add in a few more strategies. 

Start with what you have available, and keep building and optimizing based on the data you return. No real estate advertising strategy is going to be perfect at the start. Begin with the tactics you’re comfortable with, and build on your strategy as you go. 

With all of that in mind, let’s start building a real estate advertising strategy that puts your home building or real estate company on the map, pulls in the leads you want, and closes them, too. 

Building a Real Estate Advertising Strategy That Sells Homes

We’re going to work step-by-step through the full process of a real estate advertising strategy, from start to finish. If you’re just here to learn about ad campaigns (which we’d only slightly judge you for) you can jump down to the step you’re most interested in by using this menu. 

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01. What are Your Real Estate Advertising Goals?

The Evenbound team firmly believes in goal-setting. It’s really hard to measure progress if you don’t know what you’re working towards in the first place. The first step of building your real estate advertising strategy is setting your goals for the strategy. 

  • Do you want to build brand awareness?
  • Are you looking to convert more qualified leads?
  • Do you just want more eyeballs on your website?
  • Maybe you’re looking for more remodel clients.
  • Maybe you want more custom home clients.
  • Or maybe you want leads to commit to a lot in your new development. 

Whatever your goals are for your outbound marketing strategy, define them.

We use HubSpot’s SMART goal guidelines to set goals for our real estate clients. 

That might look like: 

  • We want to increase our Facebook following by 100 followers in three months. (This would be relevant if you were just getting started on social media and were looking to build brand awareness on social media.)
  • We want to convert 3% of leads from paid ads into sales in Q2. (This would be relevant and attainable if you were converting about 2-2.5% of leads from paid ads into sales in Q1.)

Your goals should be specific to your real estate company’s current position and based on the data you have.

If this is your first time running ads on Facebook, for example, your goal should be attainable — say getting a certain amount of visitors to your site from that first campaign. If you’ve been running paid search ads for a while, and have a decent understanding of your market and your budget, then you can set a more challenging goal. 

Whatever it is — your goals matter. They outline the aim of your overall advertising strategy and will help you align the rest of your advertising and outbound marketing tactics to what your real estate company is truly looking for, whether that’s a better position in the market, or more qualified leads coming directly to your website. 

02. Where Are Your Leads Going to Go?

Before we even get to setting up social media or paid search ad campaigns, you have to know where you’re going to direct those leads. 

We’ve talked a lot about landing pages for housing developers and home builders, and they’re never more important than they are for real estate advertising tactics.

For example, if you’re planning an ad campaign that highlights your dedication to green building, you should be planning to send those leads to a webpage that talks more about your green building capabilities. 

Maybe it’s a case study of an ENERGY STAR certified home you’ve recently completed, or a before-and-after showcase of a remodel you completed that made a home considerably more efficient. 

Whatever you’re advertising — whether it’s your floorplans, your green building capabilities, your amazing development community, or your unique building process — you need to direct leads and visitors coming from those ads to a landing page that is relevant to your offer. 

That brings me to the next point:

03. Setting Up Content That Converts

This goes right along with where you plan to send your leads. 

It’s unlikely that a lead coming from Facebook or Google is going to make it to your site and call your sales team to build their home.

Sure, it happens, but it’s kind of a unicorn situation. 

Most leads are going to need another soft conversion before they even consider talking to your sales team. 

The best way to make that soft conversion is to offer content that they really, really want. 

(Here’s a guide on how home builders can create content that reaches their ideal buyer if you’re looking for a little help here.)

We call these content offers, and you need to have them set up before you launch the rest of your real estate advertising strategy. 

They do a couple of things for you:  

  1. Give that visitor a reason to stay on your site
  2. Provide an opportunity to convert that visitor into a lead
  3. Nurture that lead for you, warming them up for your sale team
  4. Help visitors self-qualify — see if they’re a good fit for your development or home building team. 

Let’s go back to the example of the green builder. Let’s say you’re running ads about your amazing green homes. A visitor clicks on your ad, and lands on a page that shows them images of some of the beautiful green homes you’ve designed and built. 

A great content offer to pair with that landing page might be, “Green Builder’s Guide to Designing an Energy Efficient Custom Home”. 

If that visitor is interested in an energy-efficient or reduced-footprint custom home, that’s an offer they’re genuinely going to want. Anyone who downloads that content offer is likely to be a highly qualified lead. 

Now, if you’re running more of an awareness campaign on green building, you might need a softer conversion. You’re targeting leads who are considering building a home but haven’t made a decision yet. A softer conversion option might be, “The Green Builder’s 2020 Lookbook”. 

The benefit of either of these offers is that you get a lead out of the deal, who you know is in some way interested in green building. By providing gated content offers, you deliver your leads content that helps them through their buyer’s journey, and in return, you get their email address. 

This is key to later stages of your strategy, where you can implement email marketing to nurture those leads. 

04. Adding in Real Estate Advertising Tactics

Okay, so that was a lot of prework, but trust me, it’ll be worth it. 

Planning and um, strategy, are essential to a real estate advertising strategy that actually delivers results. Yes, you can set up and launch paid ads today, but if you haven’t done the footwork of defining goals, setting up landing pages, and developing the content that will convert your leads, you’re not going to see the lead generation you want. 

And let’s not forget — the kicker about real estate advertising is that you’re paying for it. 

The more planning and strategy you do ahead of your ad campaign, the better results you’re going to see, for less money. 

Let me say it another way: the more planning you put into your outbound marketing strategy, the better your ROI. 

If you plan and prep now, you’re going to see a significantly improved return on investment than if you just launch ads that direct visitors to your home page. 

With planning and goal setting complete, you can move into the outbound marketing tactics everyone thinks of when you say outbound marketing: paid advertising. 

05. Paid Search Advertising For Home Builders and Real Estate Developers

There’s no getting around it, digital ads sell homes.

Paid search advertising is one of the fastest ways to get your home building or real estate development company in front of the leads you want. 

And, it’s ideal for you, because you spend only what you want when you want. 

Paid search and paid social media ad campaigns can be paused or extended, you can add to your budget, limit it, and more. The options are endless, which makes it such a great option. 

When you pair paid search with the rest of a killer real estate advertising strategy (*ahem*, that pre-work you did in steps 1-3) it can deliver serious ROI, exactly when you need it. 

Let’s talk about paid search or PPC first. 

These are the ads you see on search engines like Google and Bing. 

They’re great for real estate companies because you can target just the keywords you know your ideal buyers are searching for.

Kick-off real estate advertising campaigns with keyword research

Developing a paid search advertising campaign starts with a bit of keyword research. 

Keyword research for home builders typically looks like identifying the keywords that are relevant to your services, whether that’s green or energy-efficient building, custom home building, sustainable housing developments, or even senior or retirement condo communities. 

Look for keywords that have a high search volume (a lot of people are searching for them), and a lower bid price. Long-tail keywords that signal buyer intent like, “custom home builder in Kalamazoo, MI”, might have a lower search volume, but they’re also going to drive really qualified leads. 

Remember that you only pay for these ads when someone clicks on them. This makes for great ROI if you’re strategic about your keywords.

Another thing to keep in mind when you’re building out paid search ads for your real estate company is local search results. You can optimize your PPC strategy to draw in local leads to ensure that the leads you get are only qualified leads in your service area. 

06. Social Media Advertising for Home Builders and Real Estate Developers

PPC is a great real estate advertising tactic, and it can deliver a ton of qualified leads when you do it right. But, PPC lacks one thing that social media platforms can deliver in spades: beautiful imagery. 

As a real estate developer or home builder, you know that pictures and photography sell homes. Beautiful quartz countertops, subway tile walk-in showers, stunning vistas, patios, and decks are what sell homes. 

Social media advertising allows you to combine the power of your company’s beautiful visuals, with the keyword and audience targeting that puts you in front of the leads you want. 

Facebook and Instagram are the best places to start. Then, we’ll talk a little bit about Houzz, too. 

Facebook and Instagram

Facebook and Instagram are ideal real estate advertising platforms because they are highly visual. What’s more, both platforms offer a diverse range of advertising options. 

Take a look at all the different types of Facebook Ads to start. 

With everything from local awareness ads to website conversion, traffic, event, and offer claim ads, there’s nothing you can’t do on Facebook Advertising. 

Since Facebook owns Instagram, it extends its powerful targeting abilities and breadth of real estate advertising capabilities to the photo-sharing platform as well. 

This is great for you, the home builder or real estate developer, as these ads allow you to show off your workmanship and communities in their best possible light, directly to the leads you know are qualified for your real estate company. 

Implementing Facebook and Instagram Ad Campaigns

How to get started?

We’ve got a guide: How to Get Your Social Media Ad Campaign Off The Ground. That’s a good place to begin. 

Figure out who your target audience is and what your goals are for your social media ad campaign. Then start building out your campaign. 

This guide: 6 Steps to a Facebook Ad Campaign That Delivers should help you decide what you want to do with your real estate advertising campaign. 

Remember that creative — the images and content you choose — are a key component of your ad campaign. That’s what will stop someone from scrolling, and convince them to click over to your website, so be sure to spend time there. 

And finally, when you’re implementing your social media ad campaigns, don’t forget inbound marketing best practices. Yes, this is real estate advertising, but as we talked about at the very beginning of this blog, minimizing your user’s disruption is essential to producing results. 

Applying inbound marketing tactics to your Facebook ad campaigns can help you convert more of the right leads, boosting your ROI, and ensuring you’re only spending money on ads that help you achieve your goals. 

Is Houzz Pro+ worth it for home builders and developers?

This is a question we get a lot for our home building and real estate development clients. 

Houzz is a powerful marketing tool for real estate companies, but its success as a real estate advertising platform is a little murky. Some home builders and remodelers swear by it, and others don’t see much in the way of results. 

It’s a relatively new platform, so that could be partially to blame. The general consensus, however, is that if you have a decent following on Houzz already, Houzz Pro+ could be useful to you. 

Many mention that if you have a number of testimonials and reviews, these can help to boost the conversion rates and effectiveness of your Houzz advertising campaigns. 

If I had to give you an answer? I’d say build your campaigns on trusted, proven platforms first. 

Once you have a firm handle on real estate advertising through Facebook, Instagram, and paid search, then there’s nothing wrong with testing Houzz advertising out for a bit if you’ve got the money.

Houzz has a huge pool of highly-qualified leads just sitting there, so if their advertising platform is at all effective, it’s likely to produce great results. You’ll just have to try it for yourself. 

07. Leveraging Remarketing Ads

One final component of the ad campaign segment of your real estate advertising strategy should be remarketing. 

If you had to pick just one type of real estate advertising campaign to set up, we would definitely recommend remarketing ads. These are the ads that follow people who have already come to your website. 

For example, let’s say you’ve been looking at a specific pair of shoes. You added them to your cart but didn’t have your credit card, so you figured you’d come back to buy them later. 

When you go to check the weather or head to Facebook, an ad pops up for the exact shoes you were planning to buy. That’s remarketing. 

It’s a remarkable advertising tool that calls visitors back to your website and to the pages and services they’ve already visited. 

Remarketing is well-known for having an exceptional conversion rate that actually increases over time. Since you’re targeting people who already have an interest in your homes or real estate development, you’re working with a pool of people who are very likely to convert. 

There are a number of ways to build out a remarketing campaign, so I’ll let Neil Patel give you the play-by-play. His guide to 4 Remarketing Campaigns You Can’t Afford to NOT be Running is a great step-by-step that will run you through some basic remarketing ads, and how to set them up. 

08. Nurturing Leads with Real Estate Email Marketing

Remember steps 2 and 3? Wow that was a long time ago. 

Steps 2 and 3 talked about creating landing pages and content offers that would keep visitors coming from your ads on your site, and even convert them further down the buyer’s journey. 

Man am I glad we already set those up. 

Now that you have real estate advertising campaigns running, those pages will automatically start working for you — gathering the email addresses of qualified leads who have shown a genuine interest in your real estate development or home building company. 

What do you do with all of those brand new, qualified leads? 

Email marketing of course!

No real estate advertising strategy is complete by just launching an ad campaign. 

You have to have a strategy for those ad campaigns, as well as what to do with the leads your ad campaign generates. 

And email marketing is one of the best ways to connect with those brand new leads. 

Workflows and newsletters help keep those new leads engaged with your real estate company, until they’re ready to make a purchasing decision, or until your marketing team is ready to hand them over to the sales team. 

Newsletters

Newsletters are a great place to put that lead who downloaded the “The Green Builder’s 2020 Lookbook”. They’re not ready to make a purchasing decision yet, but they’ll appreciate the information you offer in your newsletter. 

Email Workflows

Email workflows are perfect for the highly-qualified lead who downloaded the “Green Builder’s Guide to Designing an Energy Efficient Custom Home”.

You know they’re actively interested in designing and probably building a new, green home. Entering that lead into a workflow offering more information that’s helpful to their buyer’s journey, like how to set a budget, what sort of timeline to expect, and more will help move them closer to making a purchasing decision. 

Email marketing for real estate developers is one of the easiest ways to deliver new leads the right message, at the right time, without adding extra work onto your marketing or sales teams. 

09. Boost Close Rate by Streamlining the Marketing to Sales Handoff

Let’s recap your real estate advertising strategy: 

  • You’re pulling in leads with great ads. 
  • Those leads are sticking on your website because you’ve developed great landing pages that solve their pain points, and you’re offering content they’re interested in. 
  • Once you’ve got their email addresses, you’re nurturing those leads with great content from your email workflows and newsletters.

What do you do when they’re ready to go to sales?

Nailing the marketing to sales handoff is so important. 

The more seamless the transition, the faster your sales team will be able to close those leads. That means you sell more homes. 

There are a lot of ways to streamline that handoff. It starts with marketing and sales alignment

Get your marketing and sales teams on the same page, and talk together about how to gently hand leads from marketing to the sales team, and when to do it. 

The more you optimize this process, the better the close rate your sales team will have. 

So many leads tend to fall out of the funnel or flywheel during this handoff. If you can make it seamless, and a pleasant experience for your leads, your sales team will have a much easier job of selling that home. 

10. Optimize, Optimize, Optimize

The more ad campaigns you run, the more data you’ll collect. You’ll start to see which platforms deliver the best leads, whether that’s Facebook, Instagram, search engines, or even Houzz. 

You’ll also start to see which of your landing pages and content offers are the most valuable to your real estate clients. 

Take all of that data and put it to work for you. 

Adjust ad campaigns to improve performance. Write new content offers and tweak landing pages to better funnel those conversions. Optimize your email marketing workflows to keep those leads excited about their potential new home with you. 

In our years of partnering with real estate developers and home builders, we’ve learned that the best real estate advertising strategies are the ones that are monitored and optimized regularly. 

Consumer habits change constantly, as does the internet. You should be adjusting your real estate advertising strategy accordingly. 

Building a Complete Real Estate Advertising Strategy

WHEW. That took a minute, but it was worth it. 

A quality real estate advertising strategy takes goal setting, planning, ad creation, lead nurturing, and a smooth marketing to sales handoff to actually sell homes. 

While ads can get leads to your site, it’s everything else that sells the home. 

Keep that in mind when you’re developing your next ad campaign, and you’re sure to start seeing the results you’re looking for. 

There’s a lot that goes into a full-scale real estate advertising strategy that sells homes. It can be a lot of work, and your team might not have the capacity to handle everything. If you’re looking for a bit of support, the Evenbound team would be happy to help.

We’ve worked with home builders and real estate developers since our company’s founding, and we’re proud to say we’ve delivered some significant results. Let us know if we can answer any questions about your real estate advertising strategy. 

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Social Media Marketing for Construction Companies

Social Media Marketing for Construction Companies

Social Media Marketing for Construction Companies

When it comes to social media marketing, companies that function in commercial industries tend to shy away. 

There’s a misconception out there that no one cares about seeing something like a construction project on Facebook. But for many construction companies, social media marketing can be another useful tool in your arsenal of inbound marketing tactics. 

When used properly, you can harness social media marketing to grow your brand and even deliver qualified leads. 

But it is a brave new world. For construction companies especially, it seems that social media isn’t always a natural fit. If you’re looking for ways to market your construction company, get the word out, and build up a bit of brand awareness and industry authority, social media marketing is a useful tool. I’m here to tell you why, and how. 

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Let’s start with the basics: what social media marketing is, and why you need it. 

When we’ve got that all figured out, we’ll move on to some quick steps that will help you successfully implement social media marketing for your construction company. 

What is Social Media Marketing?

Social media marketing is any kind of unpaid activity you do on your social media channels. If you post your blogs to LinkedIn or Facebook, or if you share regular business updates on Twitter, that’s all considered social media marketing.  

Social media marketing is often confused with social media advertising. They’re actually two very different things, though they’re both useful marketing tactics. 

Social media advertising is any paid social media activity. So while posting your blog post to Facebook would be social media marketing, boosting that post and putting a bit of money behind it would be considered social media or Facebook advertising

Yeah, it’s confusing. If you want a bit more background check this out for everything you need to know about the social media marketing vs social media advertising breakdown. 

Is Social Media Marketing Actually Useful for Construction Companies?

Most construction companies we talk to tend to be a little reluctant about jumping into social media marketing. If you primarily do construction work on commercial buildings and for other companies, it’s hard to see how social media could add anything to your bottom line. 

Even if your construction company does interact directly with consumers or homeowners, social media might not feel like a natural fit. 

So why invest in social media marketing for your construction company?

Let’s think about it. 

Do you have a social media account? Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram?

Do any of your coworkers have social media accounts?

What about some of your favorite clients? 

It’s important to remember that even if you’re strictly a B2B construction company, every company you work with is made up of people. 

Most people these days have at least one social media account, if not multiple. 

In the United States alone, there were an estimated 243.6 million social network users in 2018. That’s about 75% of the nation’s population. 

Realistically, that number has only gone up in the past couple of years. 

If you think about it, somewhere in those 243 million people, there are construction project managers, facilities managers, homeowners, business owners, entrepreneurs, and more. To put it plainly — your target audience and ideal buyer is on social media. 

You should be too. 

Your Ideal Buyer is on Social Media, But Can Social Media Marketing Actually Drive Results?

We know your ideal buyer is on social media. 

How does that drive results for your construction company and potentially contribute to your bottom line?

Great question!

The answer is, it depends on the quality of your social media marketing strategy, and your goals for your social media accounts. 

Social media marketing works in a few ways. It can be:

  • An amplification platform for your brand. A way to get your great news and exceptional content into the hands of the people who want it.
  • A tool to increase your brand awareness. The more recognizable your brand, the more people are likely to remember you, and choose you for their next construction project.
  • A way to connect with your audience. By engaging with your followers on social media, you can invest in some social listening. When you’re able to determine common pain points and questions your audience has, you can develop solutions that address them. 
  • A lead generation machine. If done well, you can use social media to drive leads to your website and construction company. It’s important to understand what that looks like, however, so you’re measuring your results properly. 

All of these methods work. All of these methods are useful. All of these methods will help your construction company grow. 

From gaining a better understanding of what your ideal buyer wants and needs to amplifying your brand awareness, all these benefits of social media marketing can drive results for your construction company. 

With that in mind, let’s take a look at how your construction company can get started with social media marketing. 

How Construction Companies Can Get Started with Social Media Marketing

Getting your social media marketing strategy off the ground can take a bit of work. For construction companies especially, the toughest part seems to be just getting started. Follow these 6 steps to give our construction company’s social media marketing a bit of structure, so you’re sure to stick with it. 

01. Set a Goal

Social media marketing is a powerful tool, but it’s only going to work for you if you understand the platform, your goals for that platform, and how to measure your progress towards those goals. 

For example, let’s say you’re planning to get started on Facebook. You want to get the word out about your construction company and how well the projects you’re building turn out. 

If your goal is getting the word out, you shouldn’t be measuring clicks. 

Yes, getting clicks and visitors to your site from your Facebook page is awesome, but it’s not an accurate measurement of your awareness goal. 

Instead, you’d want to measure impressions and views. How many people are seeing your posts? Are they getting shared? The more visibility you get, the closer you’re coming to reaching that awareness goal. 

And now that I’ve mentioned it, you should have a tangible awareness goal. Maybe it’s to average a certain number of views or impressions per post. 

Maybe it’s to increase the number of followers you have. 

Choose a number and a time frame that’s realistic, and then measure that goal as time goes on. 

The same method applies to any other goal. Maybe you want to drive conversions through LinkedIn. Decide how many conversions you want to see in the next month. Then, measure the clicks from your LinkedIn posts. Track those visitors’ journey. Do they convert on your site once they make it there? If not, why? 

Goal setting and progress tracking are keys to ensuring that your social media marketing strategy is producing the right results for your construction company. 

02. Pick a Platform

This brings us to our next point — choosing a social media platform. 

Not all social media marketing for construction companies will produce the same results. Each social media platform has different advantages and features. You’ll want to choose the platform that’s best suited to your construction company’s social media marketing goals. 

Here’s a brief rundown of some of the best social media platforms for construction companies, and what goals each platform best serves:

  • Facebook. Great for general awareness. If you want to get the word out about your company, and get more eyeballs on your projects and your brand, Facebook is a good place to start. 
  • LinkedIn. A smart choice for commercial construction companies. You’ll find content here is geared to professionals, and you can do a lot to raise brand awareness in a professional setting here, as well as drive some very targeted conversions. 
  • Houzz. Perfect for construction companies that have contact with direct consumers. If you set yourself up as an authority in your industry, Houzz is a great place to start. Houzz provides plenty of opportunities for construction pros to interact directly with consumers to offer advice and build your reputation as an authority in the industry. 
  • Instagram. Another great place to highlight your work and drive brand awareness. Best for sharing before and afters, highlighting new products and beautiful work. Instagram is visually-focused, so this isn’t the place to drive conversions, but Instagram is an effective tool for growing your brand. 

We recommend you start with just one platform. 

The key to successful social media marketing for construction companies is consistent, quality posting. 

Start with just one platform, two at the most, and focus on growing your following there first, before you expand. 

03. Post Consistently

Like I said: 

Post at least twice a week to start. 

And be intentional about what you’re posting. 

I won’t go into all of it, but different types of posts get more attention from different platforms. 

For example, Facebook is likely to limit the reach of a post that it thinks is marketing in preference of what it calls, “meaningful content” or content that brings people together. A post about how great your company is probably won’t get the same reach that highlights a photo of your team or a project you’ve recently complete. 

Do some research into the platform you’ve chosen and come up with a plan that includes:

  • Posting best practices for your platform
  • How often to post
  • What to post

Deciding what to post is often the toughest part of social media marketing for construction companies, so let’s take a look at some best practices there.

04. Vary Your Content

When your construction company is getting started with social media, it’s easy to think of one type of post: say an employee spotlight, or before and after project photos, and stick to those while you get a feel for the platform. 

It’s great that you’re posting consistently, but it’s likely the followers you have will start to grow weary of seeing the same types of posts in their feed all the time. 

Do your best to vary your content so your followers always feel like they’re seeing something new or interesting from you. 

For example: 

  • You might post one employee spotlight post. 
  • Then, a few days later you could post a before and after project post. 
  • A few days after that you could share an article you found helpful from someone in your industry. 
  • Next, you could share one of your own blog posts.

Varying the types of content your construction company put out works for you in a variety of ways. 

  1. It helps ensure you’re putting out content that speaks to more than one of your buyer personas. You’re likely to pull in more followers with varied content. 
  2. It keeps your followers entertained, with new content they can get excited about. 
  3. It’s likely to help you maintain a solid reach with each of your posts. 

Any social media platform is likely to start limiting your post’s reach as they see that fewer and fewer people care about the content you’re putting out. 

When you put out new, different, and exciting or interesting content each time you post, you’re more likely to increase the engagement that the post gets. 

When more people like, comment, and share your posts, you get a larger reach, which eventually turns into a greater following. 

If you ever get stuck, consider incorporating video. 

There is nothing that social media users love more than video. Whether it’s a timelapse of your job site or a quick video how-to, video constantly drives the most engagement regardless of social media platform. 

Not sure how to make sure you’re always posting something new and different?

Consider a content calendar specifically for your social media platform. 

This can help you outline what you’re going to post, and when. This way, you can decide what types of content you’ll put out, and you’ll be able to see at a glance that what you have coming up is new and different from what you’ve already posted. 

05. Get Involved

Once your construction company gets your social media marketing strategy up and running, it’s time to get involved. 

If someone comments on your post, respond. Even if you’re just thanking them for their comment. 

If you’re on a platform like LinkedIn, Houzz, or Facebook, get involved in groups that are relevant to your construction company. LinkedIn is especially great for this, but Facebook and Houzz also have a ton of industry-specific groups you can get involved in. 

Find a few groups that are interesting to you or relevant to your construction company, and start a conversation. Respond back to other group questions, ask questions yourself, and when it’s right, share some helpful information. 

The more involved you get on these social media marketing platforms, the faster your presence is going to grow, and the more authority you’ll build in your industry. 

Even on Instagram, your company can get involved by commenting on the posts of others in your industry, sharing posts you find interesting on your Stories, and just by responding to your followers when they comment on your post. 

If you’re actively involved with followers and other industry pros on your platform, you’re going to see much better results than if you’re just passively posting once a week or so. 

06. Make Social Media Marketing Part of Your Construction Company’s Content Marketing Strategy

Like any other inbound marketing tactic, social media marketing is just one small weapon in your construction company’s arsenal. 

It’s going to provide you the very best results when you use it in conjunction with other marketing tactics. 

Social media marketing can fit seamlessly into your existing content marketing strategy

Here’s how it works: 

You produce content, on your website, for construction magazines, for other industry professionals, etc. 

You share that content, probably via email marketing at the moment. The more eyes you get on your content, the greater your lead generation potential. 

Social media marketing is another amplification tool. In addition to sharing that great content to your email subscribers, you can get it out on Facebook, LinkedIn, Houzz, or whatever social media platform you choose. 

That style of content marketing opens you up to a significantly larger pool of potential leads. And if you stick with social media marketing and put in just a little bit of effort, that pool is just going to keep growing with more and more qualified leads. 

As your following grows, you’re sharing your brand and your message with more of those qualified leads. 

That will keep building on itself according to your social media marketing goals. 

Implementing Social Media Marketing for Construction Companies

Social media marketing might feel like a big plunge, but when implemented properly, and with a bit of effort, it can be exceptionally successful for your construction company. 

Start small, and stick with it.

The more quality content you post and the more you engage, the larger your following will grow. 

This generates more brand awareness, and will eventually contribute to more qualified leads coming right to your construction company, ready to make a purchasing decision. 

As you become more comfortable with social media marketing, you can work to expand your tactics to another social media platform, and even start investing in social media advertising campaigns. 

Social media marketing for construction companies is a great way to increase brand awareness, grow your following, and help expand your pool of qualified leads. But, it’s not always easy.

If you’re new to social media marketing, or if your construction company wants to start social media marketing, but isn’t sure how the Evenbound team is here to help. We’re here to answer any questions you’ve got, and we’ve got a ton of experience helping construction companies grow. Just let us know what you need

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Conducting A Competitive Analysis: A 10-Step Guide

Conducting A Competitive Analysis: A 10-Step Guide

Conducting A Competitive Analysis: A 10-Step Guide

Ever wonder how you stack up against your competition? It’s a natural question, especially for industrial and manufacturing B2Bs who operate in tight markets, where all of the key players are well-known. Understanding where you stand in your market in relation to the competition is powerful information. It tells you how you’re doing, whether you’re growing, and what portion of the market you’re taking up. It’s also a really powerful way to figure out how to strategically optimize your own business operations to position yourself higher in your own market. 

Whether you’re gearing up for a new digital marketing strategy like inbound marketing, are planning to redesign your website, or are just looking for a way to get a leg up, understanding what your competition is doing is the first step to improving your own growth strategy. 

So how do you figure out where you stand in the market? It’s called a competitive analysis. 

What is a Competitive Analysis?

A competitive analysis is a method of strategically researching your competition, and analyzing their performance and position in the market. But, a competitive analysis does more than show you where you and your competitors stand — it’s also a powerful tool you can use to find and address gaps in the market, identify new market trends, and of course find opportunities for your company to improve marketing and sales efforts to you can perform better than your competitors. 

HubSpot says that by doing a competitive analysis, “you can create solid business strategies that improve upon your competitor’s.”

Why is a B2B Competitive Analysis Important?

Competitive analysis is often talked about in regards to e-commerce and direct-to-consumer applications, but it’s equally important for B2Bs. For most B2B industries, like manufacturing companies and industrial technology providers, the market is small and competitive. Chances are you already know who your top competitors are. A competitive analysis helps you get a better picture of what you’re doing, what your competition is doing, and how you can do better. 

A competitive analysis is key to strategic marketing positioning, which is essential for B2Bs. When there are only a handful of key players, your marketing and sales tactics are put under a microscope. The slightest edge over your competition can win you a huge market share in an industry that is so niche. 

So, now that we know why a competitive analysis is so important, especially for B2Bs, how do you conduct one? Let’s dive in. 

How to Conduct a Strategic B2B Competitive Analysis

When you start a competitive analysis, know that it is a big process. You don’t have to do the whole thing in a day. Take the time to really look into your competitors, and remember this is a learning experience. 

All of the research you gather, from what your competitors are doing really well, to what they’re not doing, is useful to you. With that in mind, here are 10 steps to a successful, strategic B2B competitive analysis: 

01. B2B Market Research

Even if you work in a small, competitive market, it’s worth it to do a bit of market research before you decide which competitors you’re going to analyze. There’s always the possibility that someone has shifted in the market or there’s a new player. The best way to start? 

Type your broadest and most relevant keywords into a search engine. 

If you’re a steel manufacturer, type that in. If you sell air compressors, type that it. Who comes up? Are they a competitor? 

Make sure you’re doing both general and geographically-specific research. 

It’s important to know who you’re in league with in your area, as well as who some of the national or international players might be. 

02. Who’s in Your Market?

Once you’ve completed some solid B2B market research, it’s time to narrow down all of the companies you’ve found into just your top competitors. 

For B2Bs, we’d recommend picking your top 5 competitors. 

I know a lot of other guides recommend picking 10 or more competitors to compare with, but for most niche industries, 5 is probably going to give you what you need. (You can always choose more for extra credit!)

Try to go for at least 3 direct competitors —  companies that sell the same product you do to a very similar market. The other two or three can be indirect or secondary competitors — maybe they sell the same product to a different market, or they have similar solutions, but not quite the same as what you offer. 

A good example here would be pre-fab cleanrooms vs. custom cleanrooms. 

If you sell custom cleanrooms, you can probably learn a lot from a company that sells pre-fab cleanroom kits, but they’re not your direct competitor. They’re selling to a slightly different market that doesn’t need the high level of customizability you offer. 

03. Take a Coffee Break and Gear up for the Work of your Competitive Analysis

Alright, you’ve made it through the first big part of your competitive analysis. Now’s a good time to take a break. The next step is going to be to dive into the actual analysis part of this competitive analysis. Make sure you’ve got your coffee ready to go and somewhere to take notes. 

Before you dive in, decide how you’re going to tackle this competitive analysis. You’ve got two main options:

  1. Run through all of these steps with all of your competitors, all at once. That means you’ll start by analyzing everyone’s marketing strategy. Then you’ll move on to everyone’s website, SEO, sales tactics, etc, all in the same order, at the same time.  
  2. Run through each competitor individually. This means you’ll start with one competitor, move through the entire competitive analysis guide, and then start over with the next competitor. 

There’s no right or wrong way to do this, it just depends on how you think best. And, if you’re working through this competitive analysis as a team, option two might be easier — just assign each team member a different competitor to analyze. 

Okay, we’ve got a plan. Let’s get going:

04. Check Out Their Marketing Strategy

I find it easiest to work through a competitive analysis exactly the way a lead might work through your competitor’s marketing and sales cycle. 

That means looking at them like a visitor, and then diving slowly deeper into their marketing strategy, until the point you’d become a sales lead. Then, you tackle the sales portion of the competitive analysis. 

That’s why we’re starting with marketing strategy first. 

Do a lot of digging into your competitor’s marketing strategy. For B2Bs, this is certain to look a little different from competitor to competitor, so pay special attention to those differences. Be sure to look at everything from their social media pages and engagement to their content strategy. Here are a few questions to get you started:

How Do They Manage Their Content Strategy?

Figure out what their content strategy is. 

  • Are they blogging
  • If they’re not blogging, how do they get the word out?
  • Do they submit to magazines or technical industry websites?
  • Do they put out content, blogs, videos, infographics, ect, regularly?
  • Does their content seem helpful?
  • Is it true?
  • How are they promoting their content?
  • Is that content and content promotion getting engagement?
  • If so, which platforms are most successful?
  • Do they have large followings on social media? 

Then, see if it’s working.  As an industry expert yourself, you know if their content is actually helpful, or if it’s designed with the sole purpose of putting out company news updates and gaining search engine positioning.

Is Their Content Strategy Working?

Ask:

  • What gets a lot of engagement?
  • Who are they speaking to with this content?
  • Is the content successful in reaching that audience? Answering their questions? Solving their pain points?
  • Does their content strategy go together seamlessly?
  • Do they use internal linking and lead nurturing strategies that drive visitors further into their content?
  • What could they be doing better?

Finally, compare that strategy to your own. 

  • What are they doing that’s working?
  • Can you apply that to your content strategy?
  • Are there gaps in their content that you can or already are filling?
  • Is your content speaking to the same audience? Should it be?

The key to a successful competitive analysis is the element of critical thinking. Just because your competitor is doing something doesn’t mean you have to be. 

That strategy you think is really cool is only right for you if it’s effective, and if it speaks to your audience.

05. Check Out Their Website and SEO

If you think about the inbound marketing process, content is what draws a visitor in. Their website is the next step in that visitor’s buyer’s journey. It should be working to keep visitors on the site by offering more quality content, and converting those visitors into leads with content offers, CTAs, and landing pages.

For B2Bs, this tends to be one of the biggest pain points. 

This step will give you a lot of insight into which of your competitors are really investing in digital growth, and which might still be a bit behind the times. 

Analyzing a Competitor’s Website

The website portion of the competitive analysis falls into two categories — how the website itself is working, in terms of usability and lead generation, and how they’re using their website to talk about their products and solutions, specifically in regards to SEO. 

Let’s start with UX and web design first: 

  • How does their website work? 
  • Is it easy to navigate?
  • Do they use any creative lead capturing tactics?
  • Are CTAs visible and eye-catching?
  • Do they have forms for leads to fill out?
  • Are there great content offers that you know target buyers would find value in?
  • Is it easy to find their contact button?
  • Is their website fast, responsive, and easy to look at?

Website design has a lot more to do with successful lead conversion than you’d think. A slow, non-responsive website that doesn’t look good is sure to turn visitors and leads away. Check out your competitor’s website, and think about how it stacks up against your own.

  • Are there elements you wish could be incorporated onto your site?
  • Are there elements to their site that you know you do better on?
  • Is their website missing anything?

Once you have a solid understanding of how their website performs for the user, you can take a look at how it performs for search engines. 

Analyzing a Competitor’s SEO

SEO isn’t always easy to analyze on your own, so be sure to use tools that can help you. 

We love these three to help give you a clear picture of how that website is performing overall, what keywords your competitor is targeting, and how your website stacks up against them in SERPs. 

SpyFu

SpyFu will give you a comprehensive comparison of your site against your competitors. It offers a clear analysis of what keywords that company is ranking for, what keywords its almost ranking for, and more. SpyFu will also give insight into your competition’s top paid search ads. 

Website Grader

HubSpot’s Website Grader will give you an idea of how well that competitor’s website is performing. HubSpot can tell you how fast the site is, how many keywords it’s ranking for, and if there are any problems it the backend that might be threatening the site’s performance. 

Ubersuggest

Ubersuggest is a great tool for keyword analysis. Typing in your competitor’s URL will pull up a complete list of the keywords they’re ranking for, which of their pages are driving the most traffic, and how many keywords they rank for in general. You can compare this to your own results on Ubersuggest for a clear competitive analysis. 

Now That You Have the Numbers

Do a deep dive. 

  • What keywords does your competitor rank well for?
  • Are they the same keywords you try to rank for?
  • How are they managing to rank well for those keywords?
    • Blogs
    • Service Pages
    • Great on and off-page SEO
  • Are they ranking for any great long-tail keywords?
  • What’s their average site traffic per month?

In addition to looking at straight SEO, take a hard look at how your competitor is talking about their products and services. Are they highlighting the same benefits and solutions that you are? Or have they taken a slightly different angle than your team?

If they’re using a different angle, or marketing differently than you, is it working? Are they ranking for keywords that you’d like to rank for?

Most importantly, look for gaps in their SEO, in their content, and in their marketing strategy. 

Chances are, they haven’t covered every possible angle of any product or service. Maybe they’re not blogging, or maybe they’re not ranking for some keywords that you already know drive a lot of traffic. 

06. Dig Into Their Sales Tactics

This is probably the hardest part of any competitive analysis because there’s likely not a lot of information out there. That said, in a B2B market, you’re likely to have a slight advantage. You already know most of your competitors, and you probably already have an eye on how they’re performing, if they’ve been growing or expanding in the past year, and more. 

A few ways to look into your competitor’s sales tactics include: 

  • Check out your own CRM. Do you have past leads or customers who said they were considering other competitors? Why did they choose you?
  • See if they have a “process” page on their website. That can help you understand how they move prospects from leads to sales. 
  • If they’re a public company, you can find annual reports online. 
  • Are they scaling their company up or down? Have they been doing a lot of hiring?
  • Do they have multiple locations? If so, is that helping them close more sales?

Do a little digging to see why people may have chosen your product over your competitor’s, and vice versa. 

Even more importantly, look to see if their sales process matches up with their marketing process.

  • Do their sales and marketing efforts seem aligned?
  • Does marketing content feed seamlessly into sales content like estimate and quote requests?
  • Does it seem like they’re following up with leads, or is that a pain point for customers who chose your company instead?

You’ll have to do a bit of sleuthing to dig deeply into any company’s sales process, their sales tactics, and their results, but going the extra mile can return helpful information. 

The more you know about how your competitors are selling, and what’s working for them and what isn’t, the better you’ll be able to tailor your sales tactics to outperform them. 

For example, let’s say they’ve been scaling up but are having trouble following up on all the leads coming in. You can optimize your sale process by making timely, helpful contact with leads a priority. The more connected you are to your prospects, the better supported they’ll feel, compared to your competitor’s sales team. 

How you sell is equally important to how you market. If you can make improvements to your sales process as well as your marketing tactics according to the results you find in your competitive analysis, you’ll be able to draw in more of the qualified leads you want, and provide the nurturing sales touches those leads need to convert. 

07. Decide What’s Working for Them, and What’s Not

HubSpot calls this a SWOT analysis — identifying your competition’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. When you’ve figured these out, you can compare them to your own, to see where you’re crushing it in the market, and where you might have some opportunities to improve. A few questions to get you started might be: 

  • What is your competition’s best area? Sales, marketing, content, promotion, online engagement? 
  • Where are they performing better than your brand?
  • What is their weakest area?
  • Where are you performing better than your competitor?
  • Are there any gaps in your competitor’s marketing strategy?
  • Are they missing out on ideal keywords or strategic tactics?
  • In what ways might you consider this competitor a threat?
  • Are there opportunities in the market that your competitor has missed?
  • Are there opportunities they’re capitalizing on that you are not yet? 

When you have the time to sit down and list out answers to all of these questions, you’ll have a better idea of where you go next. If there are areas you’re performing well in, keep up the good work. If there are new strategies that you have yet to try, add that to your list of tactics to implement next. 

08. Implement What You’ve Learned

Chances are, through this whole process, you’ve learned what your competitors do well, and what they don’t. Both of those categories are opportunities for you to improve. 

Take what they do well, and do it better.

Take what you’re already doing really well, and keep on crushing it. 

A competitive analysis works for you in a variety of ways: 

  • It gives you a clear picture of the current market
  • It shows you upcoming market trends you can capitalize on now
  • It highlights your competitors strengths and weaknesses

Use all of that information to optimize your own company’s strengths and weaknesses. If there’s something your company is really missing out on, like an optimized website, take some time to really make that your strength. If you’ve been crushing the content game, don’t stop. Make sure you keep your competitive advantage by continuing to put out excellent content regularly. 

09. Save Your Research

You put a ton of time into your competitive analysis. Make sure you organize that research and save it somewhere your entire team can access it. Going forward, be sure to keep checking back on your competitors and adding to that competitive analysis you’ve put together. 

Just like you, your competitors are always looking for opportunities and areas to grow in the market. The good ones are going to continue optimizing and improving over time. Keep your research handy, and try to update it at least quarterly. This will help you keep an eye on how the market is moving and responding, keeping your brand as current, if not ahead of your competitors in market position. 

10. Always be Optimizing

Your company wants to keep growing. To feed that constant growth, you need a marketing and sales strategy that can keep up. That means you should always be looking critically at your marketing and sales tactics, and optimizing wherever you can. 

It’s not always an easy or straightforward task, but keeping an updated competitive analysis around should help you identify key areas for improvement. Remember to capitalize on the opportunities your competition is missing out on, and work to do the things they’re doing really well, better when it’s possible. 

Conducting a competitive analysis isn’t easy or fast, but it is worthwhile. If you’re struggling to dig up dirt on your competitors, we get it. There are a ton of components to a competitive analysis and it’s tough to know where to start and where to stop.

If you’ve got more questions about conducting a competitive analysis, what competitors to look at, or how to find the right information, we’re happy to help

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