eTail 2012 - 10 Things Building Products Marketers Need to Know

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What’s a nice girl from the building products industry doing at an e-commerce conference?

Simply put: any phenom that brings together everyone from big boxes to independents in a collective shudder is something I need to better understand.   I’ll be sharing what I learned discovered at eTail 2012 in posts over the next few weeks, but here are the 10 most amazing things I learned:

1. Conversion measurement is getting harder to track.  How do you know if someone scanned your email headline and then went back to your website later to take action?  Or if someone has been a quiet fan of your Facebook page, enjoying conversations from afar enough that when it came time to buy, she went to a showroom and chose your brand?

2. By 2017, CMOs will spend more on tech than CIOs.  (Gartner Group data via a Bain Ventures presenter). Which means marketers better get over their fear of tech PDQ.

3. E-commerce is by no means an easy, low-cost venture compared to traditional retailing. Spending on search and keyword advertising is easily five figures a month for considered purchases such as building products. It’s also at least as labor-intensive as a storefront. A presenter from noted that 58% of their sales are by phone.

4. Low engagement on emails—low rates on opens and click thrus—can reduce your email deliverability. If no one ever responds to your emails, Internet service providers (ISPs) are increasingly seeing that as a sign of spam.  Email service providers such as Constant Contact, Mail Chimp and Bronto will reject your lists.  Make sure your emails have the right message targeting the right people.  Even unsubscribes are better than apathy.

5. Our industry is not only way behind the curve on managing and converting leads, but also behind the curve in valuing leads. How many brands follow up with trade show leads with any more than a letter and a brochure mailing?  A solid CRM system is the necessary starting point, but even then, what’s the comeback to “our sales reps and/or showrooms never really follow up on the leads?”

6. Email is getting people to Facebook, but Facebook isn’t getting people to opt in for email. And virtually no one is experiencing direct sales from Facebook. Over and over at eTail, presenters said it was a waste to put your product catalog on Facebook.

7. Friends, fans and likes on social media are not great metrics, but they are they are the best we have right now. (See #1)  Still nearly impossible to plot a direct causal link, other than what we’ve known since commerce first began: we buy from people we like.

8. Related: happy people sell product.  The most overlooked sales people are your own employees. “No one ever bought anything from an un-enchanted employee,” said day-three keynoter Guy Kawasaki.

9. Everyone underestimates the time it takes to get things done for online engineering.  Getting two to three major initiatives done per year on your website and customer relationship management is actually a pretty reasonable pace.

10. The slickest CRM and retargeting technology can’t overcome bad copy, cheap images and boring videos. Content rules.

My favorite quote from eTail?  “WTF stands for website, Twitter and Facebook.”

A near perfect metaphor for today’s marketer, IMHO.  Want to learn more? eTail Boston is scheduled for Boston in August.

Building Industry Insights | The OR-DP POV

5 comments… add one

  • robert robillard March 4, 2012 — 6:55 pm edit


    Great article. Are you attending the eTail Bosrton? If so let me know.

  • Nora DePalma March 4, 2012 — 7:10 pm edit

    I recommend it, Rob! Enlightening for our industry. E-commerce isn’t going away, so better to learn what’s going down!

  • Timothy March 5, 2012 — 5:32 pm edit

    WTF! I like it. Well done Nora.

  • Nora DePalma March 6, 2012 — 8:42 am edit

    Thanks, Timothy! Wish I could take credit for WTF.

  • AlexandraFunFit March 30, 2012 — 10:44 am edit

    1. We went to hear Guy Kawasaki give his “Enchanted” talk at our fitness event - IHRSA, just 2 weeks ago.
    2. I like #10 about bad copy. As a writer & editor, I am always put off by poorly written copy. My mind goes like this, “Hmm, if they aren’t paying attention to their words, does that mean they aren’t paying attention to their product/ service quality either?”
    3. Thanks for sharing. This is very interesting, especially the bit about FB.

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