Bring Back the Physical Dimension to Your Marketing

When electronic communications first burst on the scene in the late 1990s, everyone with access to a computer rushed to try the newest way to send messages. Many of us still remember how novel it was to send and receive email. Hearing, “You’ve Got Mail!” was as exciting as Christmas morning!

As email gained users, the popularity of once ubiquitous direct mail (junk mail) began to wane. Marketers could now send messages for free to their clients and potential clients so why would they spend money on designing, printing and mailing marketing messages? That junk mail just got tossed in the trash anyway, right?

Fast forward to 2016. Ugh, HOW many emails do I have in my inbox?

Email marketing has come a long way, and marketers are using all kinds of new tricks to get you to open their message, click on their links, and fill out their opt-in forms.

Well, for most, the novelty has worn off, and the chore of wading through mountains of emails has become as time-consuming as it used to be to sort through piles of junk mail.

There will always be store circulars, catalogs at holiday time and endless credit card offers in your mail but when you get something personal, it’s almost as exciting as that first email you opened!

OH! A party invite!

OH! A letter from my Aunt Sue in Sheboygan!

These envelopes are important and are being opened. Your marketing message could be just as important to the properly selected potential client and deserves more than a cursory glance. So we come full circle with direct mail for marketing, but with 2016 savvy that helps increase your ROI and target your customers more carefully instead of blanketing full zip codes.

What do the statistics tell us?

The CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) Council Worldwide publishes statistics and studies on marketing strategies and returns and offers the following current information—

  1. “Four-fifths (79 percent) of consumers will act on direct mail immediately compared to only 45 percent who say they deal with email straightaway. October 2013.”
  2. “Targeted directed mail boasts a 4.4% response rate, compared to email’s rate of 0.12% November 2012.”

These two statistics are important to pay attention to. In the first, the speed with which the marketing message is delivered is the key factor. Emails are frequently scanned and then abandoned or delayed then sometimes forgotten altogether.

Mail is physically present which means that it needs to be handled. While obvious junk mail is almost always tossed, mail from unknown sources that appear to be of a personal nature is almost always opened.  The key here is first to make your mail piece seem to be personal.

If possible, hire someone to hand address and stamp the envelope. Use a non-standard, unusual color, or invitation size envelope. The next hurdle is to design an intriguing piece to go inside the envelope so your potential customer will want to read it, keep it, and respond.

The second statistic is also important to your strategy and budgeting concerns. A 4.4% response rate is pretty phenomenal compared to email’s 0.12% and these figures can be used to estimate marketing campaign goals.

In years past, industry standards for direct mail response hovered in the 2% range. One of the reasons that the response rate has roughly doubled is the recent, improved access to highly targeted mailing lists.

Old school direct mail used to be able to target physical areas like zip codes or street boundaries. As data collection has exploded, so has the ability to research and create highly specific lists of people your company would love to have as a customer.

These lists can be generated for B2B, B2C, mail address and/or email. A one-two punch using both direct mail and email has the potential to have an even higher conversion rate.

What about the cost?

Direct mail can be costly. But let’s face it; marketing your message to potential buyers is costly but essential. According to Cathy Crone, SourceLink’s Corporate Marketing Director—

At the end of the day, it’s not the cost of the mailing but the return or ROI you may get. The mailing costs are irrelevant if you sell your product or service to the right number of customers because it then pays for itself and then some!”

Compared to other channels (print, telemarketing, pay-per-click, email), direct mail’s cost per lead is reasonable.

I’m ready, but I have never done direct mail before!

Here are the elements you will need to include when designing a direct mail campaign. Be sure to consult with a specialist who can help you design an effective piece and coordinate all of the steps to get it produced and sent.

  • Determine a real budget. Try to include at least two mailings to each address.
  • Determine exactly who your target market is. The demographic profile of your current clients will give you hints about who to go after.
  • Keep your numbers manageable enough to avoid bulk mail.
  • Hire a good graphic designer or advertising agency to create eye-catching and compelling visual communications.
  • Utilize VDP (variable data processing) to personalize the message to each recipient.
  • Always have a call-to-action as part of the mailer.
  • Hand address and stamp each envelope. Use an unusual envelope shape or color.
  • Follow up each mailing with a second mailing, an email, or both.

These techniques, when skillfully used to create and deploy a quality campaign, can bring good results.  For professionals in the remodeling business, getting the word out about your service and providing a lasting reminder to each potential client on your list will pay off handsomely.

What Does the Perfect Internet Marketing System Look Like for Remodelers?

Woah. That’s a big question. But it’s an important one. (and getting more important)

In this post, I’m going to do my best to lay out the “perfect” internet marketing system, knowing that there isn’t a “perfect” system out there. My goal for this post is to show you what a REALLY, REALLY good system looks like based on the last 5 years helping remodelers like yourself navigate the complicated waters of websites, search engine optimization, social media, local search and pay per click.

I’m going to share what has worked for our clients, what hasn’t worked for our clients and also share what tools and skills are necessary to succeed in marketing your business online. We’ve got a lot to cover, so let’s get started!

The Tools Needed

Just like a good remodeler, a good marketer needs his tools. I wouldn’t dare try remodeling my kitchen without the proper tools (hammer, saw, measuring tape, pry bar, safety goggles, screwdrivers, work gloves, boots, power drill, etc.). In marketing, our tools sound a little different, but you still need them.

And it’s important that you select the right tools because these tools need to be able to work together and talk to each other. A good example would be having the wrong screwdriver for the screws you purchased. If they don’t talk to each other, it might still be possible, but it’s going to make it MUCH, MUCH harder.

So, what do you need in terms of tools? Here’s a list of everything you’ll need.

  1. Content Management System
  2. Blogging Platform
  3. Search Engine Optimization Tools
  4. Social Media Monitoring and Publishing Tools
  5. Email Marketing Tool
  6. Landing Page Tool
  7. Analytics Tool
  8. CRM

Now, you probably have some of these tools already. I’m assuming you’ve got a content management system, an email tool and an analytics tool at the very least, but below I’m going to describe each tool, it’s purpose and some examples.

Content Management System (CMS)

A content management system is a platform that allows an individual that doesn’t know coding to make changes and updates to a website. These content management systems have become extremely common over the last half decade and use a WISIWYG editor (what you see is what you get). Typically, when you make changes, it feels like you’re working within a word document.

content-management-system

The purpose of a content management system is to allow you and your team to make the majority of your own website changes without having to pay a webmaster high hourly fees. It also allows you to make changes on the fly without having to wait for anyone.

Some example content management systems are:

  • WordPress
  • Joomla
  • HubSpot
  • Drupal
  • Concrete5

Most likely, you’re using WordPress, but you might have a priopriatery CMS that was custom built by your website design firm. Typically, these are not ideal, but that’s not always the case. As a general rule, we recommend using something that is Open Source, such as WordPress. This gives you much more flexibility in terms of web designers and marketing companies that can assist you.

Blogging Platform

A blogging platform is similar to a content management system, but has a slightly different functionlity and purpose. A good platform allows you to create individual articles and organize them into topics. These platforms also use WISIWYG editors to make it easy for anyone to write articles and add photos.

The purpose of your business blog is to create content that your audience is looking for so that you can attract them to your website, establish credibility, and build trust between your prospect and your brand.

Some blogging platform examples are:

  • WordPress
  • Joomla
  • Blogger
  • HubSpot
  • Tumblr

Note: A good blogging platform will actually be the same system as your content management system. Ideally, you’re not dealing with 2 separate platforms.

Search Engine Optimization Tools

Search engine optimization tools allow you to do several important things for your business. First, they allow you to brainstorm various keywords and keyword phrases that your prospects may be searching for on Google or other search engines. Second, they give you the estimated search volume for those keywords. In other words, they tell you about how many people are searching for “home remodeling services” or “kitchen remodeling contractors”. In addition to search volume, these tools should also give you a competition estimate, meaning they should tell you approximately how difficult it will be to rank for those keywords. In general, the more businesses attempting to rank for a keyword, the tougher it will be for you to rank for that same keyword.

Sample SEO Tool

SEO tools allow you to make better decisions around where to spend your money, time and effort in terms of ranking for various keywords and keyword phrases in your content and blogging efforts.

There are several keyword tools out there, some free and some paid. Here are a few of them:

  • MOZ Tools
  • HubSpot
  • SEO Book
  • Wordstream
  • Raven Tools

Social Media Monitoring and Publishing Tools

Social media tools give you the power of efficiency. It can be extremely time consuming to log-in to half a dozen social networks, post something, monitor the latest activity, find relevant people to follow, and respond to your followers and fans. Social media tools let you see all your activity in one place and even schedule posts in advance. This can cut your time spent on social media by more than half.

Social Media Tool

The purpose of these tools is to make it easier to participate in multiple social networks effectively. You can monitor brand mentions, re-tweets and engagements. You can also create social media calendars by scheduling out updates and posts for weeks, even months at a time. Social media is important for your remodeling business today for three main reasons (there are many more reasons, but these are big):

  1. It allows you to engage with your audience and capture reviews.
  2. Social channels can drive traffic to your website.
  3. Social signals improve the overall ranking of your website.

Again, with social media tools, you have some free and paid options. Here are a few:

  • Hootsuite
  • Buffer
  • Social Oomph
  • HubSpot
  • Sprout Social

Email Marketing Tools

Your email tool is one of the most essential tools in your toolbox. This tool gives you the ability to communicate with your prospects and customers directly. A good email tool makes it easy for you to add people to your master list, segment prospects into different groupings, and it should automate the unsubscribe process so that you’re following the CAN-SPAM Act. You should not be using Outlook or Gmail to mass email your list anymore. That’s a big “no-no”! Your email tool will make it easy to design templates for newsletters as well as create engaging material.

Email Marketing Dashboard

The purpose of your email tool and your email marketing is to create a database filled with warm prospects and contacts that know, like and trust you and your company. They may not be ready to buy, but they may be ready in 3 months, 9 months or even 24 months. By keeping in regular contact via email, you’ll keep your pipeline full.

Here are a few email marketing tools:

  • Mail Chimp (free up to 2,000 contacts)
  • Constant Contact
  • iContact
  • Infusionsoft
  • HubSpot

Landing Page Tool

A landing page tool allows you to quickly and easily build pages that are built to do one thing: capture prospect information. Landing pages, also know as conversion pages or squeeze pages, are designed to present something of value to your website visitors in exchange for their contact information. Here’s an example of a landing page: https://www.copperskyrenovations.com/cost-to-remodel-home-atlanta-ga

As you can see, the page offers access to a remodeling e-book in exchange for name, email, phone, etc. The key is having something valuable to give to your prospect. Your landing page tool gives you the ability to build a page that looks like the example above so that you can grow your database of interested prospects. (Hint: and now you can use your email tool to stay in touch with them!)

Here are a few Landing Page Tools:

  • Lead Pages
  • Lander App
  • HubSpot
  • Instapage
  • Unbounce

Analytics Tool

Your analytics tool is critical. If you can’t measure what you’re doing, you can’t improve what you’re doing. And some might argue, it’s not even worth doing if you can’t measure it! Your analytics tool is really just code that sits on the back of your website and tracks information such as website visitors, page views, time spent on your website, bounce rate, and the list goes on. Depending on the tool, you can get access to different information. The purpose of the tool is to give you, the business owner or marketer, the data you need to make informed decisions about your website and online marketing efforts. You want to be able to answer questions such as:

  • Is my website traffic increasing?
  • Are my leads from my website increasing?
  • How are my visitors finding me?

Analytics Tool Example

There are several analytics tools out there, but here are a few:

  • Google Analytics (this should be a requirement for you – it’s free and it’s the “standard”, even if you run another analytics tool with it)
  • Crazy Egg
  • Compete
  • HubSpot
  • KISS Insights

CRM

Your CRM tool, or customer relationship management, is extremely important in terms of managing and keeping track of contacts, prospects, appointments, and sales activity being performed by the sales team. A good CRM will connect to your website and talk to your other tools so that you aren’t exporting leads and importing them into your CRM. Today, it’s just too easy to have these systems aligned to be wasting time manually exporting and importing contact information.

Your CRM will help you track appointments, follow up reminders, and revenue in your pipeline. It will help close the loop on your marketing efforts so that you can see where your best leads and customers come from. In addition to being able to track this kind of information, your CRM also provides accountability. Sales people can now “show their work” by logging phone calls, emails sent and appointments.

Here are a few CRM options:

  • Salesforce.com
  • improveit! 360
  • MarketSharp
  • HubSpot
  • Infusionsoft

The Skills and Knowledge Needed

Now that we’ve covered the tools you need to put together the perfect internet marketing system, we need to look at the skills and knowledge you need. Just like my example at the beginning: just because I have a hammer and a saw, doesn’t mean I’ll be able to remodel my own home. Simply having all the above tools does not guaruntee your success with internet marketing. Let’s break it down. What are the core skills you’ll need on your team? Regardless of whether you hire these skills via an outsourced model or in-house staff, you’ll need them!

Writing

This may be the single most important skill you’ll need. Writing is involved in almost every aspect of a great internet marketing system. You need quality writing for your blog content, your email marketing and your website content. You also need to be able to write persuasive copy on your landing pages (conversion pages) and CTAs (calls to action). Without a strong writer, you’ll be doomed from the start. I’ll break down the entire process in terms of blogs, landing pages, and CTAs later in this blog post, but for now, just know that writing is critical to your success online.

Design

Aside from needing a website design that appeals to your visitors, you’llalso need a design whiz that can whip up custom graphics for your website, blog and social media channels. Without a designer, your website will look very vanilla, but it also won’t convert the type of leads you want for your business. A website that reflects the quality of work you do is vital because your website is all your prospects have to look at when they first start researching. If they are unimpressed with your website, you may never get a chance to talk to them.

Communication

In this connected world we live in, your need a strong communicator. Often times, this communicator can be the same as your writer. They are crafting social media posts, interacting with your fans and followers as well as establishing your brand messaging and style that is communicated throughout the website content and blog.

Organization/Planning

There are a lot of moving parts in an internet marketing system. If you don’t have someone keeping track of them, it will fall apart in a hurry. You also want this person to be able to look ahead at your events and build them into your internet marketing calendar. It’s easy to get stuck in the now, so you need someone that is keeping things moving forward, while looking ahead several months.

Search Engine Optimization

Search engine optimization (SEO) is evolving more rapidly today than ever before. If you’re going to be effective online, you need someone that lives and breathes internet marketing. With Google Panda and Penguin being two of the bigger updates in the last few years, you don’t want to fall behind. Your SEO person should be a major part of your content strategy, using data and keyword analysis to guide you. SEO is not about keyword stuffing or building shading backlinks. This is one of the most critical skills you need on your internet marketing team.

Technology Use

We already spent some time above reviewing the tools you need, but you also need a technology whiz that can operate them effectively. If I were going to remodel my own home, I would want to make sure I know how to use all the tools. Just having them isn’t going to give me the result I want. If you don’t have someone with the knowledge, you may need to pay for training so that your staff can get up to speed or hire an outside firm to use the tools for you.

Analysis/Data Chops

Data is becoming more and more important in today’s digital world. We have so much data at our fingertips, sometimes it’s hard to decide what to look at. Which metrics actually matter? Which metrics are demonstrating to you that things are improving. A good marketer today can analyze and interpret data and then change course based on what the data is saying. Emotion should be removed from your decision making process more and more as you have more data available to you.

Estimated Costs (Both In-House, Outsourced and Technology)

Now that we’ve covered 1) The Tools Needed and 2) the Skills and Knowledge Needed, what is this all going to cost? As with most things in life, there’s more than one way to accomplish putting together the perfect internet marketing system. Let’s break this down:

In House Investment

Hiring and/or training in-house staff to do all your internet marketing has a few pros and cons to consider:

Pros:

  • You can develop your own processes and systems so that you can train replacements.
  • In-house knowledge travels faster. If something happens with your company, your team can react quickly – you win an award, add a service offering, etc.
  • You can keep a closer eye on the work being done.

Cons:

  • It is really tough to find 1 person that has all the skills and knowledge needed and can operate all the toolsets effectively. Most likely, you’ll need two or three rockstars.
  • Hiring, firing, and training employees is extremely time intensive.

If you were to hire some rockstar marketers for your team, this is what you should be looking for:

  • Project Manager. This person is an organizational freak that doesn’t lose track of the moving parts. They are a great communicator and can bridge the gap between ownership and the other marketers. This person has a strong writing ability. Skills covered in this position: Writing, Communication and Organization/Planning.
  • Creative Type. This person can whip up social media graphics in a flash, design banners for your website, creative advertisements, and do website design. Skills covered in this position: Design.
  • Data Person. Your data person needs to have at least a base level of search engine optimization understanding. This person is also your technology whiz and analytical mind. Your data person will enable your team to use their creative and writing abilities effectively through technology and then be able to analyze what’s working and what’s not working. Skills covered in this position: Search Engine Optimization, Technology Use, Analysis/Data Chops.

Now, in order to hire these people you should probably budget between $40,000 and $60,000 per person per year. On the low end, you’re looking at $120,000 + soft costs or $180,000 + soft costs on the high end.

Keep in mind, I’m talking about putting together the best internet marketing system. You can obviously scale into this by hiring 1 or 2 people and building from there. This also doesn’t include technology costs which is covered below.

Outsourced Investment

When you outsource your marketing to an agency, you’re looking at a different “hiring process”, but there are also some pros and cons we should look at:

Pros:

  • You don’t have to train anyone.
  • You often get all the skills you need for a discount because the agency’s employees are working with multiple clients.
  • Your hiring, firing process is much shorter and less time intensive.
  • No soft costs.

Cons:

  • In-house knowledge travels slower. The agency needs you to communicate more because they aren’t in the office absorbing knowledge.
  • You can’t look over the shoulder of your agency’s workers.

Hiring an agency can vary widely in terms of investment and the biggest impract on price is scope of work. However, in order to keep things as comporable as possible, the equivalent of hiring three people is often one third or one half the cost to hire an agency. So on the low end, you’re looking at $40,000 (1/3 of $120,000 from above) and $90,000 on the high end (1/2 of $180,000 above).

There’s no right or wrong answer here as to whether you want to outsource or hire in-house – it just depends on what makes the most sense for your business.

Technology Investment

Let’s review the technology we covered briefly:

  1. Content Management System
  2. Blogging Platform
  3. Search Engine Optimization Tools
  4. Social Media Monitoring and Publishing Tools
  5. Email Marketing Tool
  6. Landing Page Tool
  7. Analytics Tool
  8. CRM

Today, you can get all of these tools individually or you can find tools that include several or all of the pieces. Below, I’ve included some estimated costs for a couple options. I’m going to break down three of the best options out there right now. These three comparisons are based on the following criteria:

  • Ability to get tools to talk to each other (you DON’T want to waste time and effort just trying to get your tech to talk to each other)
  • My last 6 years of working in these tools and evaluating cost effectiveness, tool capabilities, and their ability to talk to each other.
  • Price vs. Value

Option 1: All on HubSpot: $400/month+

  1. Content Management System (HubSpot)
  2. Blogging Platform(HubSpot)
  3. Search Engine Optimization Tools(HubSpot)
  4. Social Media Monitoring and Publishing Tools(HubSpot)
  5. Email Marketing Tool(HubSpot)
  6. Landing Page Tool(HubSpot)
  7. Analytics Tool(HubSpot)
  8. CRM(HubSpot)

Option 2: WordPress with HubSpot Plugged In: $200/month+

  1. Content Management System(WordPress)
  2. Blogging Platform(HubSpot)
  3. Search Engine Optimization Tools(HubSpot)
  4. Social Media Monitoring and Publishing Tools(HubSpot)
  5. Email Marketing Tool(HubSpot)
  6. Landing Page Tool(HubSpot)
  7. Analytics Tool(HubSpot)
  8. CRM(HubSpot)

Option 3: WordPress without HubSpot + Misc. Tools: $337/month

  1. Content Management System(WordPress – requires hosting – est. $40/month)
  2. Blogging Platform(WordPress – free with above)
  3. Search Engine Optimization Tools(Moz Tools – $150/month)
  4. Social Media Monitoring and Publishing Tools(Hootsuite – $10/month)
  5. Email Marketing Tool(Mail Chimp – $20/month)
  6. Landing Page Tool(Lead Pages – $67/month)
  7. Analytics Tool(Google Analytics – free)
  8. CRM(Salesforce – $25/month/user – estimated $50/month)

The Process

So, what does this process look like? Honestly, it depends on the route you take (in-house or outsourced), but here are the main phases you’ll go through.

  1. Technology Phase
  2. Set Up Phase
  3. Monthly Activity
  4. Analyze, Modify and Continue

Technology Phase

The first step is to get your technology in place. You can work with your in-house staff and/or an agency to help implement the tools and get them working properly and doing the things you need them to do. This process can take anywhere from one to four months depending on your existing infastructure and the size of your business.

Set Up Phase

The set up phase typically overlaps with the technology phase and will be a similar timeframe: one to four months. The set up phase involves a lot of strategy work, content development (e-books, email nurturing campaigns, content calendars, marketing personas, etc.)

Monthly Activity

Once everything is set up and the technology is in place, it’s time to start working on monthly marketing activity. This activity plan will vary depending on your goals and budget. I’ll also give you a sample monthly activity plan below, but this activity plan will include items such as blogging, search engine optimization, social media, email marketing and offer development.

Analyze, Modify, and Continue

Once you get going with your monthly activity, it’s important to be consistent. In addition, you’ll want to review what’s working and what’s not on a regular basis. This can happen quarterly, twice per year or annually depending on how much you’re investing into your monthly activity plan.

Putting It All Together

We’ve covered a lot up to this point! In this section, I want to show you exactly what this will look like when you put it all together. I’m going to lay out a sample monthly activity plan along with the technology components and how those work together with the plan.

Remodeling Monthly Activity Success Plan (Recipe)

  • 12 Monthly Blog Posts
    • Each blog post is targeting a specific keyword you want to rank for (example: Dallas Kitchen Remodeling)
    • Each blog post should contain at least one optimized photo
    • Each blog post should be at least 400-800 words long
    • Each blog post should contain a “call to action”.
    • Each blog post should have social media promotion schedule to attract more visitors.
  • 4 Content Pages
    • Content pages are static website pages. These can be anything from building out a “Our Team” page to specific service pages such as “Dallas Kitchen Remodeling” or “Dallas Bathroom Remodeling” or “Dallas Basement Remodeling”. Changes are you service multiple cities, so you may need to create a “Dallas Kitchen Remodeling” page as well as an “Austin Kitchen Remodeling” page.
    • Each page should be optimized for a specific keyword you want to rank for.
    • Each page should contain 1 or more optimized photos.
    • Each page should be at least 500+ words of content.
    • Your pages should not contain duplicate information.
  • Social Media Activity
    • You should be posting to social media daily.
    • Utilize the networks that matter most to remodelers: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Houzz, and Pinterest.
      • Add photos
      • Share blog posts
      • Share testimonials
      • Share design ideas
      • Ask questions
      • Run contents
  • Email Marketing (Newsletter + 1 or more email blasts)
    • Send a monthly email newsletter
    • Email blasts
      • Send a monthly email blast promoting new premium content like e-books
      • Send emails prior to open houses
      • Hold events and send emails promoting those events
    • Less than monthly, send emails to customers asking for referrals
  • Pay Per Click (Google/Facebook)
    • This is optional, but can drive extra leads, especially to websites that get very low traffic.
  • Create downloads and e-books (1 every quarter)
    • e-books like a Kitchen Design Guide work for you 24/7 on your website to capture leads.
    • Each e-book should come with the following:
      • Landing Page (conversion page)
      • Thank You Page (sucess page)
      • Follow Up Email
      • Email Lead Nurturing campaign (5-7 emails)
      • Call to Action Buttons
  • Monthly Reporting
    • Each month, you should be measuring the following (at a minimum!)
      • Website Traffic
      • Organic Website Traffic
      • Number of Leads Generated
      • Lead Conversion Rate
      • New Customers
    • After multiple months, you will start to see trends in where your best leads and customers are coming from. Is it Google? Social media? Once you know this, you can double down your investment in those areas providing you the best results.

This is just a sample plan, but if you have the right tools in place and follow this plan using the skills and knowledge needed, you’ll grow your business dramatically and create a true assest out of your website. It will be your top lead generator and top sales person.

Quick Re-Cap

Well, what did you think? Does this process sound like it will work for you? Are you doing some of it already? I know there’s a lot to digest here, so I created a cheat sheet for you. Just click the button below to access the cheat sheet for the Perfect Internet Marketing System for Remodelers. And leave a comment below – I’d love to hear from you.

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