A lot of clients come to Porchlight looking for help with digital marketing for their home improvement brand or product. And a big chunk of those clients have tight budgets. So, there comes a point – early in the relationship – where we have to prioritize. We have to eliminate some digital marketing channels in favor of others that are a better fit. It’s easy to blame this channel culling on budgets, but honestly, it’s a conversation we’d choose to have with clients no matter the budget. When it comes to digital marketing for home improvement brands, more isn’t better.
Our Advice: Prioritize Channels to Optimize Your Reach
The difference between digital marketing for large and small budgets is one of quantity, but not in the way you might think. It’s less about coverage and more about experimentation and testing. The bigger the budget, the more we can test ideas, formats and messaging. We can learn more about your audience and improve your digital marketing content. Our channel advice is the same, regardless of the budget. Prioritize the channels where your audience lives, and where they will be inclined to interact with your content.
The Top 10 Digital Marketing Channels for Home Improvement Retail
To understand what we mean by those two simple ideas, we’ve compiled a list of the top 10 digital marketing channels for home improvement retail and qualified them. We ranked each channel for audience targeting (the ability to reach your target audience), engagement (the ability to answer a need your audience has and to engage them with your brand), cost (the price of entry and use for the channel) and the strategic benefits (the specific stages in the buyer journey that can be advanced using the channel). These measurements should help you to prioritize your time and your budget.
1. Branded Website
A lot of brands think that a branded website is a must-have. But that’s not always the case, especially if you have only so much budget to work with. Of course, a website is a necessity for direct-to-consumer brands. A website also gives you control and access to search traffic and analytics. But getting your audience to visit your website takes resources. Building and maintaining a website takes even more resources.
If your website isn’t an ecommerce site, does it have a defined purpose? Is it helping your audience or simply diverting traffic away from ecommerce? If you aren’t helping your audience in some way, you might be making their journey more complicated. Product websites are great for brands that can afford to support them. But for brands that need to drive retail sales first and foremost, a website isn’t automatically a priority.
2. Retail Media
Retail media is essentially putting your money where your product is. Remember in our blog Who’s Driving the Future of eCommerce? Surprise…it’s Not the Retailer. where we broke down the amount of traffic HomeDepot.com receives every day? Spoiler alert: It’s about eight million views a day, making The Home Depot the fifth largest online retailer in the world.
Retail media gives you the ability to target home improvement shoppers and advertise directly to the people searching in your category. The only downside to retail media is the steep price of entry. But if your product is in retail, and you can afford it, this is our top recommendation for driving sales and brand awareness.
3. Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
With SEM, you pay to rank your website or other content in search engine results pages (SERPs). The beauty of SEM is that it allows you to capitalize on searches for or around your product.
There are two ways to approach SEM. The first is direct. You purchase the ads to increase search rankings for your content. The second approach is through retail media SEM, where you pay the retailer to purchase search ads targeting your product on their website. With direct SEM, you set a budget, create your own ads and drive traffic to your owned pages. Direct SEM can be a good approach if you link directly to ecommerce pages or offer some other consumer benefit. It’s certainly less expensive than Retail Media SEM, which has a minimum spend associated with it. But Retail Media SEM offers the most direct buyer journey, capturing interest and funneling it straight into ecommerce PIP pages.
4. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Similar to SEM, SEO is an approach to increasing your search rankings. The key difference is that SEO works organically. As a digital marketing channel, an SEO strategy can be small. For example, you may choose to optimize your ecommerce pages or existing website for targeted keywords.
Or an SEO strategy can be comprehensive, including creating optimized content – i.e., blog articles, white papers or other online resources – in support of brand awareness and engagement goals. We recommend that all clients have a basic SEO strategy. When it comes to original content on the other hand, we don’t often prioritize it for clients that have limited budgets simply because it is resource-intensive.
For brands that have an established online presence, email is a great tool to connect with your audience. Email is an easy way to share all of the great content that you are creating. While email engages an opted-in audience, it is less effective at growing an audience without acquiring lists. Otherwise, email is flexible and low-cost, allowing brands to communicate less frequently than they might through social channels.
6. Social Media: YouTube
Video content is changing the way we consume information, and YouTube is at the epicenter of that transformation. While it’s not the only platform for video, it’s the most widely accepted platform and the leading search engine for video content. YouTube is ideal for educational content if you have a product that involves any kind of learning curve. Most of the cost associated with video content is wrapped up in the video production itself. Of course, before you put any videos on YouTube, make sure you’ve considered them for point-of-sale assets.
7. Social Media: Facebook
Over the years, the role of Facebook has evolved. While its social popularity has peaked, its influence as a B2C platform continues to expand, with paid advertising as a primary tool for business. The power of Facebook lies in its access to millions of users, its sophisticated algorithms and the intelligence that goes along with those assets. For example, if you know a few details about your audience, Facebook makes it easy to find people who look like them and spend time on the app. And Facebook supports a variety of goals, from awareness to customer experience.
8. Social Media: Instagram
Because Facebook owns it, Instagram shares a lot of the sophistication and evolution of the Facebook platform. Likewise, Instagram allows for paid promotional content. It’s a great way to grow brand awareness and engagement for brands that are naturally visual and have the personality to support visual storytelling and content.
9. Social Media: LinkedIn
B2B digital marketing is a big part of the home improvement industry, which is why LinkedIn is one of our go-to social media platforms. Like the B2C digital channels, LinkedIn provides access to millions of users with easy targeting algorithms. For brands that sell to the pro market or brands that sell services, LinkedIn is a great tool for paid social media content.
10. Social Media: Pinterest
When it comes to the home improvement industry, Pinterest is one of the most popular platforms for B2C engagement. It’s one of the first places homeowners go for inspiration and, like other social media apps, Pinterest provides access to millions of users who spend dedicated time viewing content. However, because it’s somewhat underrated as a paid social media channel, Pinterest is more accessible for brands with limited budgets.
You may have noticed that a few channels aren’t on our list. But as we stated in the beginning, most of our clients don’t come to Porchlight with the resources to invest in trying out new platforms. As with any strategy, a lot depends on the brand, the product and the message we’re trying to communicate. If you’re interested in pursuing a digital marketing strategy or plan that’s right for your brand, get in touch.