This is one in a series of articles from the Baublitz Briefs, quick-study guides to LBM marketing and communications. Click here to see a list of other articles.

The Web is the single most preferred source of information for those working in the construction and building materials industry. In fact, a 2005 Hanley Wood survey found that 90% of all builders, contractors, architects and others in the industry used the Internet to research building products and services--a figure that has risen virtually 100% in the years since.

Still, many companies in our industry have yet to create a Web presence that takes full advantage of the marketing potential of the Internet. Those that neglect their Web site face significant consequences. A poorly developed Web site stifles growth opportunities, creates problems for a company's brand, and makes acquiring new business more expensive than it needs to be.

Conversely, a company that executes a well-planned Web strategy gains some key competitive advantages: cost-effective marketing and prospecting, better customer service, and a stronger brand, among many others.

If it is time to visit your company's Web strategy so you can enjoy these benefits, consider these building blocks.

Site Development

Effective site deployment must go beyond design. The best sites begin with critical strategic questions: What do we want visitors to our site to do? What are the steps prospects make during the buying process? How can our site aid them? How can the site influence their attitudes and behavior?

Craft a strategic framework that guides development of a site's structure, copy, and design. When creating content, the goal isn't to fill up the site. Rather, every word, image, and feature should contribute to your overarching goals. Other critical aspects of site development: how a Web presence enhances a company's brand, whether it can improve customer service or operations, and how functionality and navigation drive desired behavior.

Search Engine Optimization

The world's best Web site won't help a company achieve results unless prospects can easily find it online. The best place to start: a properly executed search engine optimization (SEO) program that results in higher rankings in search results on Google, Yahoo, MSN, and other search engines.

These search engines use Web crawlers that rank results according to relevance by keyword, links, freshness of content, and other variables. Be sure your Web firm is capable of developing an SEO plan that maximizes these and other elements that boost the ranking of a site in results from a natural search.

Search Engine Marketing

For some companies, paid links (such as Google Adwords) may be a valuable supplement to an SEO program. These results are listings that require a fee for the search engine to list its link for specific search terms. The price rises with the popularity of a particular keyword. For example, "kitchens" is more expensive than "structural precast concrete panels."

An effective search engine marketing program makes use of proper keywords and phrases, allocating budgets to various search engines and monitoring activity and costs. Just as important, make sure you have guidance on what not to do; avoid approaches and tools that simply don't make financial sense.

Tracking and Analysis

One of the major marketing benefits of the Web is measurability. A Web marketing program should let you determine the number of distinct visitors, the average length of a site visit, the most frequently viewed pages, the number of visitors who become leads and, sometimes, the number of leads that turn into sales.

The problem? Without focused front-end planning and guidance, it can be difficult for a company to capture and use the robust data the Web can provide. The Web team at Baublitz typically builds in a process for measuring results and engaging in continuous site improvement, a key step to maximizing site effectiveness.

Coordination with Offline Marketing

The Web works incredibly well with more traditional marketing efforts, like advertising, direct mail, collateral materials, and public relations. However, success requires an integrated approach to planning. Baublitz uses a proprietary process to help a company ensure its Web presence enhances the other elements of its marketing effort, and vice versa. Whatever process you use, be sure that your online and marketing efforts are in synch. The result: a marketing program that's both cost effective and successful.

Case in Point: Doubletree Structures

Doubletree Structures offers its customers a complete turnkey solution that simplifies the process of building a commercial, industrial, agricultural, government, or residential structure. The company created a valuable service that streamlined the design/build process, but needed to redevelop its own Web presence to reflect that value.

Working with Baublitz, Doubletree created a re-imagined site that offered three major upgrades:

  • Revision of content. All site content was refined so that it focuses on customer needs, explains key benefits, and supports the Doubletree brand. In addition, greater focus was placed on imagery that shows completed projects, adding support to the company's brand claims.
  • Simplicity of navigation. The site was reconfigured so that visitors could quickly and easily locate information relevant to their needs.
  • Interactivity. Developing an interactive "color visualizer" was a natural fit for the company's offering. The feature enables visitors to quickly and easily view the appearance of a new building with a variety of different colors, an interactive tool that dovetails with the company's message of ease and simplicity.

Since the site's launch, Doubletree has received positive feedback from customers, prospects, and vendors. In addition, usage statistics show site visits have increased, along with the time visitors spend at the site.
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Case Study: DoubleTree Structures

Put the Customer in Control
Doubletree Structures offers its customers a complete turnkey solution that simplifies the process of building a commercial, industrial, agricultural, governmental or residential structure. The company had created a valuable service that streamlined the design/build process, but needed to redevelop its own Web presence to reflect that value.

Working with Baublitz, Doubletree created a re-imagined site that offered three major upgrades:

  • Revision of content. All site content was refined so that it focuses on customer needs, explains key benefits, and supports the Doubletree brand. In addition, greater focus was placed on imagery that shows completed projects--adding support to the company's brand claims.
  • Simplicity of navigation. The site was reconfigured so that visitors could quickly and easily locate information relevant to their needs.
  • Interactivity. Developing an interactive "color visualizer" was a natural fit for the company's offering. The feature enables visitors to quickly and easily view the appearance of a new building with a variety of different colors--an interactive tool that dovetails with the company's message of ease and simplicity.

Since the site's launch, Doubletree has received positive feedback from customers, prospects and vendors. In addition, usage statistics show site visits have increased, along with the time visitors spend at the site.