It’s never been harder to run a successful home improvements business in the UK. Not only have wages stagnated for the last ten years, but there is also more competition than ever and some of the ways we’ve gone out and found new business successfully for years don’t quite work as well as they used to.
Being in business requires you to constantly keep an eye on how the market is changing, what your competitors are doing, and how new technology is changing the way that would-be customers interact with us from a marketing and sales point of view.
In this article, We will look at the prospects for six techniques that companies in our sectors usually use to gather leads and how they might fare in 2019. Those approaches are:
- B2B telemarketing,
- B2B SMS marketing,
- B2B email marketing,
- B2B pay per click,
- B2B website search optimisation, and
- specialist B2B lead generation websites
Many home improvements companies grew very big very quickly using this method, but since the launch of the Telephone Preference Service back in 1999, it’s been on a steady downward decline. It’s still a very popular contact tool and if you can get the top professionals on your team together with a manager who understands the importance of lead qualification, you should be able to keep yourself and your reps very busy indeed.
There is a high start-up cost though and staff turnover is, quite frankly, astonishing. You and your telesales manager will feel like life is one long round of recruitment. It is worth it but making money from it requires great judgement and quite a big dollop of luck in securing the services of telesales staff who know what they’re doing.
TELEMARKETING FACT SHEET
|Start-up costs||£1,000-£10,000 (depending on the number of staff you employ and the telephone system you put in)|
|Running costs||£200 per person per week (based upon 20 hours calling between 5pm and 9pm Mon-Fri)|
|Cost per appointment||A good rep should get one to two appointments per night meaning a cost per lead (excluding set-up costs) of £20-£40|
|Management requirements||On top of your running costs, expect to pay £400 a week for an experienced B2B telesales manager whose main input involves training and qualifying each lead to ensure it is worth progressing further|
|Trend for 2019||Continued decline because of people’s increasing irritation with cold calling and the ever-growing number of people on the Telephone Preference Service|
As with telephone marketing, the availability of SMS numbers has been severely constrained by the Telephone Preference Service. The introduction of GDPR in 2018 compounded the difficulty for the companies which compiled the lists to sell on to companies like yours because of stringent new definitions on the meaning of “permission” and how long a number can be kept for.
There are some great SMS companies out there, but we don’t feel it’s a viable proposition for most home improvement companies unless you’re trying to encourage sales from your own customer database.
SMS MARKETING FACT SHEET
|Start-up costs||£100-£200 (sometimes zero depending on your supplier)|
|Running costs||Assuming 10,000 recipients, around £200 for delivery and £1,500 for the numbers (based on £150 per thousand records). Approximately, £1,700 per send to 10,000 homeowners|
|Cost per appointment||It can vary so much between campaigns that it is impossible to tell – even when SMS was popular, no-one was quite sure how many leads an SMS campaign marketing home improvement would produce|
|Management requirements||Minimal but PLEASE check that the list you buy in is GDPR compliant|
|Trend for 2019||SMS is slowly being overshadowed by WhatsApp and other communications apps so effectiveness will continue to go down.|
Many of the same restrictions covering consumer SMS list generation also affect the consumer email marketing database generation too. That has made it more expensive because the data has become a lot harder to generate and then make ready for the new GDPR regulations.
Whilst we would strongly recommend keeping in touch with your customers by email, your team need to be convinced that cold emailing is viable anymore for home improvements companies.
EMAIL MARKETING FACT SHEET
|Start-up costs||You will have to buy a list of prospects in even though it’s unlikely that the data company will release the details to you. A GDPR compliant database from a Direct Marketing Association member of 10,000 opted-in consumers will probably cost around £3,000.|
|Running costs||There will be transmission and reporting fees each month of around £300-£500.|
|Cost per appointment||Over the course of a year, a response rate of 1-2% is achievable. Assuming a £500 a month send, your annual cost will be £8,000 and this should produce 100-200 leads. If they all convert to appointments, the cost per appointment is £40-£80.|
|Management requirements||Minimal but PLEASE check that the list you buy in is GDPR compliant|
|Trend for 2019||GDPR has put a lot of legitimate consumer email database list owners and brokers out of business because of the new requirements of what constitutes permission.|
Pay-per-click advertising buys you the advertising you see when someone searches for a particular product or service on a search engine. For example, if you Google for “double glazing”, they are the links that you see with the little “Ad” logo next to them.
According to Keywordtool.io, there are 14,800 searches made every week in the UK for double glazing. That’s very encouraging – that’s a lot of people and they would not be searching for “double glazing” if they weren’t interested in it.
However, if you wanted to be listed as number one for “double glazing”, you have to pay for each click through to your website and each one of those clicks would cost you £15.60. Pay-per-click, if you get it right, can be lucrative, however the only companies really using it to any great degree for themselves have to spend a lot of money on getting their adverts and their landing pages (the page you go to after you have clicked ad advert) right.
Verdict – if you can get it right, you can make a fantastic return however you have to be prepared to spend a small fortune to get it right.
PAY PER CLICK FACTSHEET (for double-glazing)
|Running costs||£1,560 per month for 100 clickthroughs generating 3-4 leads|
|Cost per appointment||£390-£520 (assuming that every lead turns into an appointment)|
|Management requirements||Daily management required in the early days, less intensive management as you start to get it right|
|Trend for 2019||PPC is likely to be dominated by the big national players in 2019 as it is today.|
Google sends out spiders to review the content (text and images) of every website on the internet. Depending on what it finds, it will assign you a place in the search engine rankings. If you can get near the top of the “natural” search results and stay there, you can generate a stream of incoming leads for your company.
According to Google, 47% of searches have “local intent” – that means that nearly half of all searches involve people looking for information on products, services, companies, and organisations near them. Although Google is global, people use it for local purposes, and it tailors the results it returns to suit.
Search engine optimisation is a slow burn process – it often requires a new website that is worked on from scratch with new, Google-friendly content being added every month. Social media is a big part of what helps Google decide where to list your company so you’ll probably need to work with a company versed in that too. If you regularly add new relevant content and keep an active social media profile then Google will eventually notice you and add your website to the list of pages it returns in a search.
SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMISATION FACT SHEET
|Start-up costs||£2,000-£10,000 (new website and potentially an app)|
|Running costs||£500-£1,500 (production and posting of new content)|
|Cost per appointment||When fully operational, your website should generate one or two enquiries a day from local customers. Ignoring start-up costs, each lead may cost you between £16 and £25 (monthly costs divided by number of leads)|
|Management requirements||Most of the management will be done by your website and social media companies although they will want content from you every now and again|
|Trend for 2019||As in 2018, likely to be dominated by larger regional companies and national companies.|
First appearing in the early 2000s, lead generation sites have become dominant in many B2B and B2C sectors in recent years. Normally staffed by professionals from a particular industry, lead generation companies exist to inform consumers looking for information on a particular product or service. They then offer those consumers the ability to connect with local companies to receive free quotes.
There was an explosion of lead generation sites in the early 2010s although a lot of them stopped trading in the last few years because they couldn’t get enough leads and the leads they got were not qualified well enough for them to be of any use to their customers.
Just as lots of people now order their takeaway food or book a table at a restaurant using an intermediary like Just Eat or Open Table, the number of people connecting with local trades professionals like Leads2Trade continues to grow.
LEAD GENERATION WEBSITE FACT SHEET
|Management requirements||Minimal – tell us how many leads you want. Stop and start the service as you please.|
|Trend for 2019||Lead generation sites level the playing field between the smallest and the largest companies. As for the last few years, we expect the number of clients to increase, particularly those clients with yearly turnover less than £500,000.|