Blog for Building Materials Manufacturers

A Critique of Siding Brands Online

  |  Posted in Online Copy, Socia Media

A Critique of Siding Brands Online

At my last building materials workshop, I teamed up with two of the guest speakers to audit the online performance of each attendee. We had a lot of fun giving each company a fresh perspective and a suggested list of improvements in our frequently irreverent way of communicating.

Matt Lee from the SEO firm Lead Generation Experts and Zach Williams from the digital marketing agency, Venveo assisted me. Matt has a lot of experience in improving the SEO results of building materials manufacturers, and Zach is an expert in digital marketing for building materials manufacturers.

We decided to continue reviewing companies’ online presence by comparing companies within a category. We are starting with the siding category.  Due to the large number of siding brands,  we selected 11 of them to review.  The siding category is also confusing as there are manufacturers, brands and distributors all showing up online as a siding product that someone could choose. There are also a few different materials competing for the same dollar.

We also included the VSI association due to their dominant role in promoting vinyl siding. We focused our review based on what we consider the basics of online – website, SEO, blog, LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. There are many other programs that companies are using successfully such as Google+, Instagram, Houzz, Pinterest, Vine, and Vimeo that have not been addressed.

For the most part, we’re not concerned with the creativity of the site or the flow. We’re focused on identifying where companies are doing well online and where they are missing opportunities.

Fair Warning: This is a critique of these companies’ online presence, our comments are meant to be constructive but may seem harsh. This is meant to start a conversation about the successes and missed opportunities that siding companies are making.

We hope that this will be good food for thought, not just for siding manufacturers, but for any manufacturer of building materials. We will be reviewing new building product categories in the coming months. Watch out, you may be in our crosshairs in the near future! Contact me if you would like your category or individual company reviewed.

We did cover one area of content that we think is important and that is how companies dealt with being Green. Siding materials can frequently be viewed as not being environmentally friendly.  By not addressing this on their website, in an easy to see location, they are reinforcing the belief that their siding is not Green. As the interest in Green continues to grow, companies who ignore this will lose sales.

The Most Common Areas Where Companies are Missing Online Opportunities:

  1. Failing to recognize the importance of a blog and content marketing as a competitive tool that can be much more effective than paid advertising.
  2. Limiting LinkedIn to a company page or viewing it only as a job posting site and letting HR manage it.  It was surprising to us that even companies with an active Twitter feed did not appear to have that same person acting as the face of the company on LinkedIn and participating in groups. There are over 121,000 Architects, 15,000 Builders and 6,000 Remodelers on LinkedIn groups discussing issues like siding.
  3. A misuse or misunderstanding of how to use SEO for maximum results
  4. Not using Marketing Automation or not using it effectively.  The correct use of Marketing Automation will give the early adopters a huge strategic advantage that will be hard for followers to match.  Everyone will be using Marketing Automation soon, the real question is: will you be a leader or will you be a follower?

The companies are listed in alphabetical order.  We graded each company based on our judgment, of their online activities. Here is the list of the companies that we are critiquing and their respective grades:

  • CertainTeed: C
  • Exteria: B
  • Exterior Portfolio: C-
  • GenTek: C-
  • James Hardie: C+
  • Norandex: D-
  • PlyGem: B-
  • Provia Products: C-
  • Royal Building Products: C
  • The Tapco Group: C-
  • Vinyl Siding Institute: C+

 


“CertainTeed”- Overall Grade: C

http://www.certainteed.com/

CertainTeed Home

SEO: A

CertainTeed utilizes interactive online tools to engage visitors and help support them through the material buying and selection process. Their ColorView, ColorCoach, CurbAppeal, and Trim-It online tools are useful to both homeowners seeking to make improvements and to contractors as a tool to increase sales.

The use of interactive tools improves CertainTeed’s SEO because the tools are designed to be useful to a particular online audience. Combined, the four tools listed above have garnered CertainTeed thousands of social media shares and hundreds of external links, proving the tools’ utility and effectiveness.

Blog: D

They have a blog with fairly frequent updates which is good. The problem is that it has little to do with siding as it is a corporate blog.

They are probably suffering from a problem that is common with the largest building materials companies. There is a need for too much control and approvals in order to be really effective online. The ability to be much more agile online is a competitive advantage that smaller companies can use against slow moving giants like CertainTeed.

There should be a person online who is empowered to participate online without having to have everything approved as if it is an annual report. This is a recurring theme throughout this blog post; many companies are not giving their employees free reign over their social media accounts and are therefore missing opportunities to stay active and involved online. This is such a basic thing, yet many companies are lacking this key person: you may see this person as a low-level young person who knows their way around social media. However, this person should be selected carefully and nurtured as they will soon be one of the most valuable people on your marketing team. We are not referring to the young person that knows how to navigate social media accounts at the personal level; anyone can do that nowadays. We are referring to the critical person that knows how to represent a company online prudently and uses social media accounts as a smart marketing tool. There is a shortage of these people and other companies will be looking to poach them. Rant over. 

Furthermore, CertainTeed is also missing a real opportunity by not having a siding specific blog that is a source to help contractors, builders, and homeowners make better cladding decisions as well as to take their SEO results to a new level.

The blog is also on a subdomain (blog.certainteed.com) which has a completely different look and more importantly a completely different navigation. The issue with this is that if a visitor happens to stumble upon one of their blog posts it is not very self-explanatory how to navigate to the rest of the site. In essence, CertainTeed is making it more difficult than it should be for their blog traffic to find other valuable content on the rest of their site that is aimed at converting them to actual customers.

LinkedIn: D

Just like with their blog, CertainTeed has a good company LinkedIn page where siding gets lost with all the other products and messages. Ideally they should have both a CertainTeed Siding company page and an individual who is the face of CertainTeed siding who can join and participate in groups by sharing news and blog posts.

CertainTeed Ceilings has their own company page and while it has no content and only 14 followers, I don’t see why CertainTeed Siding can’t have their own page.  This is a big missed opportunity.

Facebook: B-

They have a good Facebook page but it is a corporate site and while it has frequent updates, they only have 4,000 followers.  The roofing division has their own Facebook page with 7,200 followers, why doesn’t siding?

Twitter: D

Just like with their Facebook page, they have a good Twitter program but it is a corporate effort so there is little attention paid to siding. One again there is a CertainTeed Roofing Twitter feed but not one for siding? I get the feeling that there must be someone who thinks like an old white guy running siding who doesn’t believe in social media. This creates a great opportunity for their competitors as they take business from CertainTeed.

Green: A

Their sustainability story is proudly right on the front page giving customers confidence that this is a Green product.

Video: C

CertainTeed has some of the best video I’ve seen on their YouTube page. They have personality, helpful, engaging, and full of personality. They are way ahead of most building materials companies in this area. The reason why they received such a low grade, however, is because for the life of me I can’t find the videos they’ve posted on YouTube on their website. 

Marketing Automation: F

There are no obvious call to actions such as sign up for our newsletter or download a white paper. As mentioned in the SEO section of CertainTeed’s review, they have some incredible interactive tools. The number of leads they generated would skyrocket if they integrated these tools with a marketing automation tool that captured email addresses in exchange for using or sharing the tool.


“Exteria” Overall Grade: B

http://www.exteriabp.com/

Exteria Home

SEO: B

Exteria has done a great job of creating content assets that other websites link to often. For instance, their installation guides are referenced often by dealers. They also have many well-produced installation videos that have been referenced by publishers such as remodelingnews.com.

Exteria has also done a great job of consistently publishing fresh blog content. This helps them take up more real estate space in the search engine results, which helps drive more traffic month after month.

Exeria’s blog is designed in such a way that, users have no way to navigate back to the main website. Exteria should fix this to reduce website bounce rates, and get more exposure to other parts of their website.

Also their site doesn’t have a mobile version. Combining this with their navigation issues can create a very frustrating experience for people trying to use Exteria’s website.

Blog: A-

In the big world of siding, Exteria is a small player with the best blog in the industry. They have good educational content that is frequently updated. Many companies with blogs can’t help themselves and just focus on promoting their products. The best blogs, like Exteria, provide helpful information that draws more traffic, establishes trust, and then sells.

This strategy is probably also helping Exteria to outperform larger siding companies in SEO placement. Those companies use their checkbooks to buy Pay Per Click or pay SEO firms and not their brains like Exteria. Nothing beats good and frequently updated content.

With such a good blog, they should list it on the homepage of the website. The only way I could find it was to search for Exteria Blog. Exteria, do everyone a favor and make your blog easy to find. 

LinkedIn: B+

Exteria also has a very good LinkedIn company page with frequent original updates from their blog. However, they only have 150 followers. If they provided a link to their LinkedIn page from the blog or their homepage they would attract more followers. Exteria should also have an individual who is the face of Exteria on LinkedIn who can join and participate in groups by sharing news and blog posts to extend their reach with builders, contractors, architects and more.

Facebook: B+

My only surprise with the Exteria Facebook page is that they only have 1,500 followers.  Frequent updates with good content are what makes this page work well.

Twitter: B+

With everything else Exteria is doing right, you’d expect them to have a Twitter feed this well done.  Just like with Facebook I am surprised they only have 800 followers.

Video: B

Although Exteria doesn’t have a large library of videos the videos that they do have are well done. They have a video gallery on their site showcasing everything from installation videos to their tradeshow efforts. If they posted videos on a more regular basis and sprinkled these videos to other areas of their site they would get even more traction out of them.

Green: D+

If you look real hard you can find a link that says Stewardship. And then if you go way down the page you will finally find a couple paragraphs under the heading Recycling. Are their products worse for the environment than PVC or fiber cement? By not telling their Green story, the implication is that they are not Green.

Marketing Automation: C

Exteria is doing so many things well that it is surprising that they aren’t also a leader in marketing automation. At least they have a call out to sign up for updates. It’s also surprising that the call to action is so self-serving: “Promotional offers, new product information & the latest company news… straight to your inbox”, when the rest of their messages have much more value to the reader.  

If I were a contractor or builder, I would expect to learn about promotional offers and new product information without having to sign up for a newsletter. No one really cares about Company News except employees.


 “Exterior Portfolio” Overall Grade: C-

http://www.exteriorportfolio.com/

Building Materials Online

SEO: C

Similar to CertainTeed, Exterior Portfolio, created an online interactive tool called, “Dream Designer.” The internal page that hosts the tool has become one of the Exterior Portfolio’s top link-to pages, the bulk of the website fails to implement SEO strategies effectively.

Maybe Exterior Portfolio isn’t trying to be a real siding brand but one of those companies that sees their website as an expense that they have to have rather than a marketing tool to grow their sales.

In order to improve, Exterior Portfolio would have to redesign its website to be more mobile-friendly. Using Google’s Mobile Friendly Tool, you can see that Exterior Portfolio doesn’t pass the mobile-friendly test. According to searchengineland.com, mobile traffic accounts for about 1/3 of all internet activity. Google modified its search algorithms in April 2015 to reflect this shift in user interaction on the internet, and increased the weight assigned to mobile friendly designs. In its current state, Exterior Portfolio will be assigned a lower ranking than competitors that have adjusted their sites for mobile utility.

Further complicating Exterior Portfolio’s issues is that the site content is not written with targeted keywords in mind. For example, the blog post, “Make Your Home Bloom” doesn’t seed the title with keywords relevant to the content of the article.

Plus, check out how their meta meta-description displays in a search result:

Building Materials Meta Description

Notice how the description of the blog post isn’t fully visible. Plus, the message overall isn’t very compelling either. Meta descriptions should be no greater than 155 characters. They should also be written in a compelling manner that inspires searchers to click through to your article.

BlogC

They do have a blog but it was hard to find. I like the inspirational/educational content but it needs to be updated more than once a month. They should also use photos next to the headlines to draw more readers.

LinkedIn: F

They have two Exterior Portfolio LinkedIn company pages which is confusing. They also only have a few hundred followers which is no wonder because they have no content.

Facebook: B+

Well, hello! Is this the same company? They have very good Facebook page with 2,000 likes.  Someone is doing a pretty nice job here, they should extend it into a blog and get on LinkedIn. They could also generate more likes.

Twitter: B+

Another surprise, someone is doing a nice job on Twitter with regular updates.  They only have 500 followers and could build this up. I wonder if the boss knows that they are actually doing a good job on Twitter and Facebook or if this is some “guerilla marketing” that someone has undertaken on their own.  If it is, they should get a raise!

Video: C

Again, Exterior Portfolio has some nice videos but most have not been watched very much because they don’t list them on their site and are not used often on social media. The videos that are used on the site have thousands of views. This should be an encouragement to Exterior Portfolio to add more videos to their site, especially on their product pages.

Green: F

No green message that we could find.

Marketing Automation: F

No attempt to gather contact information from site visitors and they don’t have a marketing automation tool installed on their site. The only places they attempt to gather information from a website visitor is on the contact form and warranty registration page.


“GenTek” Overall Grade: C-

http://www.gentekinc.com/

Building Materials Online

SEO: C

Like Exterior Portfolio, GenTek’s website lacks a mobile-friendly design. Over time this will certainly hurt their mobile search traffic numbers.

Gentek’s website suffers from a lack of content. Creating useful content would improve the site’s SEO rankings, because it would give industry publishers and contractors more reasons to link to their website. More content would also help GenTek maximize its real estate in the search engine results.

Gentek should also consider re-optimizing the titles of their service pages. For instance, the Vinyl Siding page’s SEO title is “Gentek Building Products | Vinyl Siding.” Google considers the keywords displayed in the beginning of the title tag as most important. Therefore, if “Vinyl Siding” is something Gentek wants to rank in Google for, then they should change the title tag to: “Vinyl Siding | Gentek Building Products.”

This is another siding brand that may exist only to prevent channel conflict. The audience seems confusing. There are parts that attractively appeal to consumers but then the home page navigation has questionable terms like “Employment Opportunities”, “Professionals”, “AMI” and “Distributor Locator”.  

Blog Grade: F  

They don’t have a blog which may be part of their plan but they have good educational content on the site that could be the basis for a blog.

LinkedIn: F

No presence on LinkedIn but several employees who are all from Canada so this must be a brand sold in Canada.  Why do they hide the fact that they are a Canadian brand?

Facebook: B

Surprise!  They have a good Facebook page with frequent updates and over 13,000 likes.  How did that happen?  But it is listed under My Design Home Studio. Why is that?

Twitter: A-

Surprise again!  They also have a good Twitter page with frequent activity but it is listed under “My Design Home Studio”.  

Video: D

I couldn’t find a link to their YouTube page anywhere on their site and had to Google a couple different variations of their company name to find it on YouTube. With this in mind, I wasn’t surprised to see that most of their videos only had a handful of views. GenTek doesn’t seem to have much of a strategy when it comes to their video marketing efforts. This is kind of sad considering how much video could help their sales process.

Green Grade: A

They have a good green story. They also have some downloadable PDFs from VSI about how their siding is green. You’d think the other vinyl siding companies with no green story could at least have these same PDFs, after all, they paid for them.

Marketing Automation Grade: F

They are doing nothing to capture information from visitors to the website.


“James Hardie” Overall Grade: C+

https://www.jameshardie.com/

Screen Shot 2015-08-28 at 10.54.22 AM

SEO: A-

User experience metrics are starting to play a greater role in SEO as Google’s algorithm becomes more sophisticated. These metrics involve how visitors interact with your website. If visitors interact with your website positively, you may be rewarded with higher rankings.

Two user experience metrics you should be paying attention to are “Average Time on Site” and “Bounce Rate.”

Average Time on Site – Measures how long a user stays on your website.

Bounce Rate – Measures the percentage of visits that go only one page before exiting a site.

One On-Page: SEO strategy that James Hardie uses to increase average time on site, and reduce bounce rate is with their sticky header that appears when users scroll up on individual pages. This sticky scroll up header not only looks great, but helps users navigate more efficiently to other pages. “Average Time on Site” metrics go up, and “Bounce Rates” go down naturally, the easier you make it for users to navigate through your website.

When designing a website you have to decide who to target, the James Hardie site is targeted to the homeowner and does a very good job communicating to them. In building materials, the pro usually decides what products get used. A builder, architect or contractor can easily talk a homeowner out of fiber cement or James Hardie. This made us wonder if they were ignoring the Pro.

Almost by mistake we noticed a small grayed out button in the top right corner with a cool looking, but meaningless P in a circle, with the word PROS underneath. We clicked on this and went, “WOW” look at all this great support for the Pros.  We wondered, “why are they making it so hard for the contractor, builder or architect to find when they are such an important audience?”

Blog: C

Great content on website and on the news feed that could be the basis for a better blog to drive even more traffic to the website. The biggest issue I see with their blog is that it doesn’t have a direction. For such a focused and driven company, this surprised us.

For a company who is such a successful marketer, it’s hard to believe that they don’t have a blog that is the best in the siding category.  Instead a little company, Exteria, blows them away.

In fairness, their blog appears to be new.  It is very attractive but why does James Hardie need a “Martha Stewart” type article on Building the Ideal Outdoor Firepit?

LinkedIn: D

James Hardie has a company page with almost 16,000 followers that is randomly filled with internal material like photos that say “Here we are at the company picnic” and self-obsessive  “Look at this award we won” type of stuff. It looks like someone in HR has this responsibility when it should be someone in the marketing department.  There is great content on the website and in the news feed that belongs on here. They should also have an individual who is the face of James Hardie who can join and participate in groups of builders, contractors, architects and more.

FacebookA

A good active Facebook page with frequent updates and 20,000 likes. To take it to the next level they should learn from GAF who has built over 270,000 likes with roofing which may be less interesting than siding.

Twitter: B-

An active Twitter feed with over 9,000 followers and 4,000 tweets.  Too many of the Tweets are chest pounding such as; “James Hardie is Number 1”, “Did You Know That James Hardie is Number 1”, “James Hardie is Number 1 Again”, and who could forget “Research Shows – “James Hardie is Number 1.”

There must be something else to say.  A blog with good content that helps homeowners and Pros solve problems would help this Twitter feed a lot. It’s almost obnoxious and little annoying.

Video: C

James Hardie is putting out a ton of great video content on YouTube but they are not showcasing it on their site. Their blog would be a great place to use it or even their product pages. I don’t understand why they don’t use some of their video assets on their product pages since it would help their search rankings and sell their product. Their product pages feature a ton of imagery and detailed product shots. Why not support the imagery with a satisfied homeowner, contractor or builder showcasing their product as well?

Green: D

Why do you have to go to the Australian investors site to find that they are a sustainable company?

Marketing Automation: C-

Good “Request a Quote” and “Brochure” Tools.  However it could be more obvious. Other good downloadable content such as “How to Choose a Contractor” has no request for email.

James Hardie is ahead of most building materials manufacturers in that they are using a Marketing Automation Platform (Marketo). Although they are ahead of the game I’m disappointed with their approach. They have what I like to call the “all or nothing” marketing automation strategy.

You see, most of their downloadable resources require you to fill out a form but they are asking for every piece of personal information I have besides my social security number! Why would I want to give James Hardie my phone number, email, and address just to get a product catalog?!

Not only does this defeat the purpose of marketing automation in that you can progressively profile your audience but it is hurting their conversion rates. If they just asked for a name and email address for most of their resources their conversion rates would skyrocket.

Marketing automation has a steep learning curve and few qualified experts who know how to use it in building materials.  It looks like they are just getting started and have made an investment in a very powerful tool but they are using incorrectly.  

They could get the same results with a program that is FREE.


“Norandex” Overall Grade: D-

http://www.norandex.com/

Screen Shot 2015-08-28 at 10.45.27 AM

SEO: F

Norandex has created a handful of online content pieces and tools in order to make their website useful. This helps give other websites a reason to potentially reference them.

Using Google’s Mobile-Friendly Tool, Norandex doesn’t pass Google’s standards for a mobile friendly website. Also,  Norandex’s “HomeVisions online tool”, has the same problem as Provia. The “HomeVision” online tool has been linked to by over 78 websites. Unfortunately, since the tool is hosted on a subdomain of renoworks.com: http://norandex.renoworks.com, Norandex doesn’t get any SEO benefit. It’s extremely important for companies to keep their linkable assets on their own domains.

Finally, Norandex’s website has very limited content. Perhaps the easiest way for Norandex to improve their SEO results would be to create a blog.

Their navigation is also a bit overwhelming and I have no idea where they want me to go on their site. There doesn’t seem to be any clear paths on their site and content and elements are not organized in a way that is conducive to easy browsing or finding information easily and quickly.

Perhaps this is a case of having their website designed by the lowest cost firm as opposed to the most qualified.

Blog: F

They don’t have a blog.  They are losing ground to other siding companies who have a blog.

LinkedIn: C

They have a good LinkedIn page with over 3500 followers. The updates are good but they only add an update about once a month.  They show icons for other social media on their home page but not LinkedIn.

They should also have an individual who is the face of Norandex on LinkedIn who can join and participate in groups by sharing news and blog posts.  There are a number of good contractor, builder and architect groups that I assume Norandex would like to reach.

Facebook: B

Based on their other efforts, we were surprised to find that Norandex has a pretty good Facebook page.  The posts are too sporadic.  There were a number of posts recently but then you look back and they can go weeks without an update.  They also only have 1,000 likes that should be easy to grow.

Twitter: F

I can’t find them on Twitter but they’re on Pinterest and Google Plus for some reason that’s beyond me.  Twitter should be the priority.

Video: D

Norandex has some good videos but unfortunately they don’t have any highlighting their siding. Most all of their videos focus on their windows. This is a huge opportunity that has been lost. People often go to YouTube to compare and view products before buying them but Norandex doesn’t have any materials talking about their siding. This makes me wonder if they really care about this product line or if it’s an afterthought.  

Green: F

I can’t find a green message anywhere.  I get the feeling that marketing just isn’t a priority for Norandex.

Marketing Automation: F

Not surprised here. They are doing nothing to capture contact information from visitors


“Ply Gem” Overall Grade: B-

http://www.plygem.com

Screen Shot 2015-08-28 at 10.46.40 AM

There is a lot to like about Ply Gem’s website as it is a great example of successful digital marketing and SEO strategy utilization. First, they do a great job of consistently generating relevant and useful content on their blog. Ply Gem also uses more advanced content marketing strategies with their Design Center, which is full of create useful industry-specific resources.

Additionally, Ply Gem has built a strong social media presence via their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/PlyGem?ref=ts. Content promotion is often overlooked when developing a content marketing strategy. Ply Gem’s 18,000 Facebook fans helps them get more eye balls on each blog post they write.

SEO: B-

One area that Ply Gem really needs to improve is how their website works on mobile devices. Currently it doesn’t have a version specifically for mobile. This is a big red flag not only because more people are researching products on their phone but also because Google is putting more emphasis on mobile friendliness into their search rankings. Their blog content is mobile-friendly, but the rest of their website needs to be updated.

Blog: A-

Good content that is regularly updated.  My guess is that they are not reposting it to sites like LinkedIn and Twitter, I wish their blog was easier to find, even with a green button, it’s hard to find on such a colorful home page. I might also add a line of copy about why you should check out the blog. It’s a shame to hide this good content.

LinkedIn: B

Just like with their blog, Ply Gem with over 9,000 followers updates their LinkedIn company page regularly with good content. There should also be an individual who is the face of Ply Gem siding who can join and participate in groups by sharing news and blog posts.  There are a number of good contractor, builder and architect groups who would welcome this content.

Facebook: A

Ply Gem has a good Facebook page with over 18,000 likes. Their page is regularly updated with a combination of promotional and educational content.

Twitter: A

A good active Twitter feed with over 1500 followers.

Video: D

Like many building materials manufacturers Ply Gem has some excellent videos on their YouTube page but for being such a large company most of the video don’t have many views. I can hardly find any videos on their actual website. I went to their installation section on their website expecting to at least see the installation videos they’ve created but I couldn’t find anything.  I couldn’t even find any videos when I searched on their search bar. Their videos are well put together but they’re not utilizing these assets to their fullest extent.

Green: F

We can’t find a green message on anywhere on the site.  They need one.

Marketing Automation: C

Ply Gem is using Eloqua for their marketing automation and they have it set up on their newsletter signup forms and their contact forms which is a good start. It would be smart to start setting up some more advanced lead generation forms on their site aimed at getting leads to opt into email campaigns. For example, I signed up for their newsletter but I didn’t receive any notification that I signed up for the newsletter. Setting up these kinds of automated campaigns can help to build relationship with potential customers and help give them another reason to come back to your site.

They also have no effort to grab contact info of website visitors.


“Provia” Overall Grade: C-

http://www.proviaproducts.com/siding/

Screen Shot 2015-08-28 at 10.50.49 AM

SEO: D

Like many siding manufacturers, Provia has created a design tool called, “ProVia Visualizer.” While this tool helps Provia’s clients through the product section process, it is hosted on a subdomain of the website, renoworks.com: provia.renoworks.com.

Why is this bad for SEO? Nearly all of the external links from publishers and contractors are pointing to provia.renoworks.com. This helps benefit the Renoworks website’s overall SEO efforts tremendously, but it does little good for Provia. For best results, the interactive online tool should be hosted on the Provia website directly, with an address of visualizer.proviaproducts.com or proviaproducts.com/visualizer.

Blog: C

They have a blog but it’s not easy to find.  I had to type Provia Blog into Google to find it. I then found it at the bottom of the listing under Resources.  Many building materials manufacturers websites are nothing more than a brochure that happens to be online.  A blog is one of the best ways to keep updating the site with fresh material that brings more visitors to the site and gives them reasons to return.

ProVia’s content is well written; there just needs to be more of it and more educational information for homeowners, builders, contractors and architects.  The last blog post was two months ago.  There should be a new post at least once a week.

LinkedIn: C

ProVia has a good company page with 1100 followers.  They need to add more frequent updates, including every blog post.  This will help grow their followers. They should also an individual who is the face of ProVia who can join and participate in groups by sharing news and blog posts.  As we have said before, there are a number of good contractor, builder and architect groups who would welcome this content.

Facebook: C+

ProVia does a nice job on Facebook.  The posts seem to be sporadic and could be more frequent.  In addition to the “We Had a Picnic” posts they also should add more educational posts and repurpose interesting media stories about housing or exteriors.

They only have 900 likes and could grow this number.

Twitter: C

The same person who manages Facebook for Provia must manage their Twitter account as the updates are the same and on the same days.  They could do more with Twitter that would build followers.  They only have 148 followers and could easily build this.

This may be a case where the person who handles this doesn’t have enough time to more actively manage social media with all their other responsibilities.  It may also be that they are trying to have a presence on many types of social media such as Houzz, Pinterest, Google Plus and YouTube.  They may get better results by cutting back and being more active on a few of these.

Video: B-

ProVia doesn’t create videos very often but they do get good traction of the ones they do have. They post them on social media channels and sprinkle them throughout their site in a few places. I’d like to see some more product specific videos where they focus on the benefits of their product lines and then display these on their product pages. They have entirely too much text on most of the pages on their website (which most people won’t read).

Green: F

With sustainability being one of their values you’d think there would be more of a story here.  When you read their values, I think this company actually cares.  They need more a green story than just one of the bullet points in their values.

Marketing Automation: F

They are doing nothing to capture contact information from visitors.


“Royal Building Products” Overall Grade: C 

http://www.royalbuildingproducts.com/

Screen Shot 2015-08-28 at 10.51.13 AM

SEO: B-

Royal Building Products has created some great linkable assets for their website, which has really helped improve their overall SEO efforts. For instance, their content resources for homeowners and professionals has helped generate hundreds of links from contractors and industry publishers. The HomePlay online tool, which helps homeowners envision what their home would look like in another color, also gives website owners a reason to reference Royal.

Their site is easy to navigate and find what you’re looking for. It is clear that they spent time thinking about how their audience thinks about their products based on how their content and elements are structured on their site.

Royal Building Products could improve their search engine rankings with a blog.

Blog: F

Even though they tell their contractor customers about the importance of blogs, they don’t have one themselves.  They also have the beginnings of a lot of good content that be the start of a very good blog.

LinkedIn: D

Royal has a LinkedIn company page with 2,700 followers.  The page must be managed by their HR department as it is full of job postings and none of the good content that they use in other areas.  They also don’t have a LinkedIn icon on their homepage while they have icons for the others.

They should also have an individual who is the face of Norandex on LinkedIn who can join and participate in groups by sharing news and blog posts.  There are a number of good contractor, builder and architect groups that I assume Royal would like to reach.

Royal is missing a real opportunity by not seeing the potential of LinkedIn.  It’s much more than a place to look for a job.

Facebook: B

Royal has a good active Facebook page with 5,000 likes.  If you click on the Facebook icon on their homepage, for some reason, it doesn’t take you to their Facebook page.

Twitter: B

Just like Facebook, Royal has a very good Twitter feed with regular posts and 2,400 followers.  If you click on the Twitter icon on their homepage, for some reason, it asks you to share their Twitter link with your followers rather than asking you to follow them.

Video: C

Royal Building Products has one of the largest libraries of “How-To” and Product Demo videos I’ve seen. They are very well done but they can’t be found on their website. I’d love to see them organized on their website to show how well made and easy to install their products are. Homeowners, Contractors, and Builders alike would find this information helpful.

Green: A

Royal has great green story that they proudly put right on their homepage.  They not only tout the greenness of their products but also the company’s commitment to sustainability.

Marketing Automation: F

They are doing nothing to capture contact information from visitors or give them reasons to return to the site.


“Tapco Foundry” Overall Grade: C-

http://thetapcogroup.com/products/siding

Screen Shot 2015-08-28 at 10.51.26 AM

SEO: B-

For linkable assets, Tapco has their online tool Virtual Remodeler, and detailed installation instructions for contractors. Contractors link out to the virtual remodeler page, because it’s a valuable resource for their clients. Meanwhile, lumber dealers and industry publishers link out to the installation instructions, because it’s a valuable resource to their contractor audience.

To improve Tapco’s SEO, they should create a blog in order to publish more consistent content.

Blog: F

They don’t have a blog.  They are losing ground to other siding companies who have a blog.

LinkedIn: B-

Tapco has a company LinkedIn page that has almost 10,000 followers. There are frequent updates that are selected from other sites. A company like Tapco should also be creating original content on a blog and then sharing it on sites like LinkedIn.

Again, I find that this website lacks an individual that is the face of Tapco on their social media. LinkedIn’s potential is especially going uncapped. By participating in groups in which to share news and blog posts there are a number of good contractor, builder, and architect groups that this company would like to reach.

Facebook: B+

Tapco has a very good Facebook presence with frequent updates and over 32,000 followers. They could do even better with content from a blog.

Twitter: A

With over 11,000 followers for and frequent updates they are Tapco is doing a great job.  You can tell that there is an actual person who is monitoring Twitter by the way they are engaged with their followers.

Video: C-

Tapco has a pretty good following on YouTube because they provide a ton of informational content to contractors. This is a great strategy for gaining followers on YouTube. Where they are lacking in terms of their video content in promoting and comparing their different product lines, especially their siding. Most of their video revolves around their trim product. I’d like to see more videos showcasing their siding like the siding case study they have. I just don’t know why I can’t find this case study anywhere on their site! As mentioned above, it would smart to start a blog and this video is prime content to be placed on it.

Green: F

For a company who does an excellent job of describing their quality culture, you’d think they’d have more of a Green story than simply listing the products that are available in the color Green.

Marketing Automation: F

Maybe Tapco is happy with their growth as they are doing nothing to capture contact information from visitors or give them reasons to return to the site with marketing automation.


“Vinyl Siding Institute” Overall Grade: C+

https://www.vinylsiding.org/

Screen Shot 2015-08-28 at 10.51.36 AM

The Vinyl Siding Institute or VSI, is not a manufacturer, but an association.  They play such an important role in the industry that we decided to include them.

SEO: A

VSI provides a lot of good in-depth resources for each audience type (Homeowners, Professionals, Planners/Designers, and Certified Installers). Industry publishers reference Vinyl Siding Institute often because its resources provide excellent utility to publishers’ news articles. These references from other websites typically include a link to VSI. These external links help improve VSI’s search engine rankings for relevant industry keywords.

Vinyl Siding Institute provides clear navigation with strong calls to actions for each audience type. This makes it easy for users to find exactly what they are looking for.

Blog: C

They have a blog, just not a very good one.  The last update was four months ago.  They should be updating the blog at least once a week. They are missing a real opportunity here to grab even more SEO results.  There’s lots of good content on the website, why not on their blog? Not to mention the link to their blog is hidden away in the footer. I would never find it unless I were absolutely looking for it.

LinkedIn: D

They need more frequent updates; the last update was two months ago. LinkedIn should be able to generate more followers.

I cannot stress enough the importance of an individual having the liberty to manage a company’s social media to keep it active, innovative, and updated. Vinyl Siding Institute is another company lacks that individual and by doing so, there are contractors, builders, and architects that the company is not reaching.

FaceBook: A

Very good job on FaceBook with an attractive page and frequent updates with over 50,000 likes.  They also have an inactive Facebook page that should be deleted. The person in charge of this should put similar energy into LinkedIn.

Twitter: B-

Good active page with frequent updates.  I would have more educational content like “Vinyl siding is made to last so you won’t have to worry about replacing your siding again.”   This is a great title but it takes me to a FaceBook page with a pretty picture and no story about “Why Vinyl Siding is Made to Last.”  This is what a blog is for.

They are seeing good return from their twitter page because they are interacting with builders and contractors who are using their siding products. They are promoting the work of these builders/contractors and helping themselves in the process by showcasing what their product looks like on real homes. This is a great example of social media done well.

Video: B

VSI is getting solid traction from their videos because they are repurposing them and using them wherever they can. Their videos are not only YouTube but on their website and sprinkled throughout their social media channels as well. Although their videos are at times bland, which is why some have far few the number of views than others, VSI does have a good range of different types of videos to help them in dealing with their audience’s pain points.

Green: C

Everyone needs Green story today.  The VSI has recognized that to many people the words, PVC and Green do not go together.  They have impressed me with the excellent story they have about why vinyl siding really is Green.  They even go right into the face of the opposition by exhibiting at the Greenbuild show.

With this impressive “We really are Green effort”, why is the Green story hidden on the website?  Maybe the strategy is let’s not bring it up unless we have to. Or maybe it’s just part of the challenge of keeping the association members happy. I think this is a mistake.

Marketing Automation: D

They have a newsletter sign up but it is hard to find.  There are no other download offers such as white papers or infographics.


In Conclusion

I hope you found these observations to be helpful in improving your online performance.  If you would like to discuss our recommendations, please contact any of us. If your company was not covered and you would like a review of your company or product category, contact Mark Mitchell. You don’t have to be a siding company.

SEO – Matt Lee- Lead Generation Experts

Digital Marketing – Zach Williams – Venveo

Sales and Marketing Strategy – Mark Mitchell – Whizard Strategy

Click on the following subjects to read more about them

Videos for Building Materials

Content Marketing

Social Media

Blogs for Building Materials

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About The Author

I am the leading sales growth consultant in the building materials industry, I identify the blind spots that enable building materials companies to grow their sales and retain more customers.  As I am not an ad agency, my recommendations are focused on your sales growth and not my future income.

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