In the modern era of digital transformation, businesses in every sector, including building supplies, are progressively moving to e-commerce.
The concept of building supply e-commerce refers to the selling of construction materials and products online through a B2B e-commerce platform. In recent years there has been a steady rise in expectations among professional contractors. Pro contractors now have a greater expectation of their supplier to provide them with the convenience of online services so they can effectively manage their business anytime, anywhere.
Many dealers in the building supply industry have begun investing in their digital strategy, which includes e-commerce as a key component. However, investing in and deploying an e-commerce solution for your business is only the beginning.
To see a significant return on investment, it's vital to continue supporting your e-commerce strategy after the initial launch. One of the key aspects of a successful e-commerce strategy is marketing your new online store to drive adoption among existing and new customers.
This article offers a complete guide on promoting your newly launched building supply e-commerce store.
Understanding your target audience
When it comes to building supplies, you may want to determine whether your store will primarily cater to do-it-yourself (DIY) customers or professional contractors (Pros). Each segment has distinct needs, preferences, and buying behaviors.
For DIY Customers:
- Offer a wide range of products suitable for various DIY projects.
- Provide educational resources, tutorials, and project ideas to inspire and assist customers.
- Focus on consumer-friendly messaging and user-friendly shopping experiences.
- Make sure delivery and stock information is prominent as DIY customers are more likely to choose your store because of local availability and fast delivery.
For Pro Contractors:
- Offer bulk quoting options and access to contractor pricing.
- Enable contractors to easily download invoices.
- Provide detailed product specifications, technical information, and compatibility with industry standards.
- Streamline the ordering process and offer expedited shipping options to meet project deadlines.
- Clearly communicate expected delivery times and stock updates.
Depending on whether you primarily target DIY customers or Pro contractors, your metrics for success may differ.
For DIY Customers:
- DIY customers tend to order and spend less compared to professional contractors. They are light and infrequent buyers, so capturing a large number of them is necessary to increase revenue. This means that increasing overall website traffic should be your primary goal, as the more people you have browsing your store, the more conversions you will be able to generate.
- DIY customers often use search engines to find what they need. Therefore, having a comprehensive search engine optimization (SEO) strategy is crucial. Consider setting a success metric to track your progress in improving your on-page SEO and search engine rankings.
For Pro Contractors:
- Your Pro customers expect to be able to perform tasks such as paying bills, viewing order history, and ordering online. They also want to have access to pricing and stock availability information and the ability to submit quotes online.
- If your main goal is to provide convenient online services to your existing Pro customers, then focus on metrics like the number of active Pro customers using the platform and the number of payments submitted online, instead of website traffic. This will give you a clearer picture of whether your launch has been a success.
Understanding your target audience and tailoring your promotional strategies accordingly will significantly enhance your marketing effectiveness. In the next section, we will explore how to develop your marketing strategy.
Developing an e-commerce marketing strategy
To effectively promote your newly launched building supply e-commerce store, it's essential to develop a comprehensive marketing strategy. This strategy will serve as a roadmap for your promotional activities and help you achieve your goals. Here are some key steps to consider.
Set clear goals and objectives
Start by defining your e-commerce marketing goals and objectives. These should align with your overall business objectives and provide a clear direction for your promotional efforts. Examples of goals may include increasing website traffic, expanding customer base, or growing online order penetration.
Ensure that your goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). This will allow you to track progress and make data-driven decisions throughout your promotional campaigns.
Identify key marketing channels
Next, you need to determine the most effective marketing channels to reach your target audience. Consider a mix of both online and offline channels based on your audience's preferences and behavior. Some potential channels to explore include:
Search engines: Optimize your website for search engines (SEO) to improve their visibility so you rank higher in searches and drive more organic traffic.
Email marketing: Build an email list and leverage it to engage with customers, promote products, and drive repeat business.
Social media: Establish active profiles on relevant social media platforms and engage with your audience through regular posts, content sharing, and community building.
Paid advertising: Run pay-per-click (PPC) advertising on search engines or social media platforms to increase visibility and drive targeted traffic.
Content marketing: Develop high-quality, informative content such as blog posts, articles, and guides on the products you sell to attract and educate your target audience.
Print marketing: Print marketing involves using physical printed materials, such as flyers, posters, and business cards, to promote your e-commerce store.
We recommend focusing on one or two channels that you think will have the highest impact to begin with. Managing multiple channels is time-consuming, especially if you are just starting out and have limited resources. Most e-commerce businesses will usually have one marketing channel that significantly outperforms the rest. Once you have successfully grown a channel so that it’s delivering consistent results, only then should you consider testing out additional channels.
Based on our experience, search engines and email marketing are two of the best-performing channels for driving conversions in building supply e-commerce stores. However, what works effectively for your business and your audience may vary. Conduct research, analyze competitor strategies, and test different channels to identify the ones that yield the best results for your building supply e-commerce store.
Allocate a budget for marketing activities
Determine a budget for your marketing activities, taking into account both online and offline channels. Consider factors such as advertising costs, content creation, graphic design, and any additional resources required. Be realistic with your budget and allocate funds strategically to maximize the impact of your promotional efforts.
Additionally, continuously monitor and evaluate the performance of your marketing campaigns to optimize your budget allocation over time. Adjustments may be needed as you gather data and insights on what strategies yield the best return on investment (ROI).
By setting clear goals, identifying key marketing channels, and allocating a budget, you lay a strong foundation for promoting your building supply e-commerce store effectively. In the next section, we will explore some key B2B customer touch points that you should utilize to aid e-commerce adoption.
Understanding customer touch points in B2B e-commerce
Customer touch points are any interactions that your customers have with your brand before, during, or after they make a purchase. In the context of B2B e-commerce, touch points can range from a customer visiting your website, receiving an email, or interacting with your customer service.
Properly managing these touch points is critical in e-commerce for distributors, as it builds trust and improves customer experience, leading to increased sales and customer retention. Collect customer feedback regularly and use it to improve your customer touch points.
When it comes to launching your e-commerce store, it's important to understand how each of these touch points can be used to inform customers about your online services.
Train your staff
Training your staff is an integral part of launching your building supply e-commerce store. Your team should understand how to use your B2B ordering platform and be familiar with your product catalogue.
Offer training programs that include product knowledge, customer service, and operation of the e-commerce platform. An adequately trained staff can provide better customer service, handle customer inquiries effectively, and contribute to the overall growth of your e-commerce store.
Update your email signatures
Enhancing your online presence starts with little changes such as updating your email signatures to include your e-commerce store URL. This simple change can increase visibility among existing clients and potential leads.
Direct customers online with IVR and voicemail
Incorporating your online store in your company's Interactive Voice Response (IVR) and voicemail messages is another way to promote your e-commerce business. Customers calling your business can be informed about your online store, prompting them to check it out.
Leverage your Accounts Receivable team
Don't forget about the accounts receivable team. They regularly interact with clients and can help promote your e-commerce platform during these interactions. They can also explain the benefits of online ordering and payments to clients.
Engage your Sales team
Inform your top customers about your new e-commerce platform. Ask your sales team to reach out to their top 20 customers and inform them of the services they can now access online. Getting your top customers onboard and using your online services can help drive adoption among your staff.
Understanding how each touchpoint can inform customers about your online services can significantly increase e-commerce adoption across your business. Crucially, it is important to empower your staff to become knowledgeable promoters of your online services. They are key in increasing adoption among existing customers.
In the next section, we will explore how to promote your e-commerce store using various marketing channels along with our quick-start checklist of actions.
Marketing your building supply e-commerce store
A strong online presence is crucial for promoting your newly launched building supply e-commerce store. It establishes credibility, enhances brand visibility, and helps attract your target audience. While assuming you have already created a professional website and e-commerce store, let's explore key strategies to further strengthen your online presence:
Email marketing is a highly effective way to connect with your customers. You can regularly send out emails to your customer base informing them about new products, offering special promotions, and providing valuable content related to the products you sell. This channel can help drive customer engagement, build loyalty, and increase sales.
Consider these points for effective email marketing:
- Create an account with an email marketing platform: Mailchimp, Brevo and Klaviyo are popular choices among e-commerce businesses because of their relative low-cost and easy-to-use interface.
- Build your customer email list: Use existing customer data from your ERP, POS or CRM system to create your customer list. Naturally grow your email list by collecting email opt-ins during account registration or through an email subscribe form on your website. For instance, the Toolbx platform includes a feature that collects marketing opt-ins during account registration and stores them in a CRM so you can market to them in the future.
- Create engaging campaigns: Develop campaigns with enticing messages on new products, seasonal products, discounts and special offers. Remind customers of exclusive brands you stock.
- Regularly promote online services: Periodically remind customers of the convenient online services you provide with a link to your store, for example—how to make a payment online, how to download your invoices, view your order history online, and submit a digital quote 24/7.
- Include clear calls to action (CTAs) in each email: Remember, a single, focused call-to-action simplifies your message, making it more likely for customers to engage. Overwhelming customers with too much information can lead to distraction and reduce engagement.
- Analyze results: Measure the performance of your emails to improve future campaigns.
Search engine optimization (SEO)
Having a strong online presence is crucial, and SEO plays a vital role in achieving this. By optimizing your website and product listings with relevant keywords, you can improve your site's visibility on search engines. Use popular product terms that your potential customers are likely to search for. In addition to keywords, consider other aspects of SEO, like improving site speed, ensuring mobile-friendliness, and securing quality backlinks.
Keep these tips in mind for SEO:
- Update your Google Business Page: Ensure that your Google Business Page includes a link to your new e-commerce store and highlights your online ordering and delivery services. Double-check that your store information, such as holiday opening hours, is up-to-date.
- Expand your catalog: Regularly add products to your online store. This not only helps customers find what they need but also boosts your SEO as you increase the number of organic pages on your store that can rank for that product keyword.
- Optimize product descriptions: Elaborate product descriptions to provide more information to customers and improve your on-page content.
- Secure backlinks from reputable sites: A backlink is when another website links to your e-commerce store. Securing backlinks from relevant and reputable sites is a good indicator of the authority of your website, which will increase your ranking. Ask brands you stock ( to list you as a distributor on their site with a link to your e-commerce store where they can purchase the brand.
- Make sure your website is mobile-friendly: Ensure your website is optimized for mobile devices by implementing responsive design and designing the website with mobile users in mind.
- Speed up your website for a better user experience: Optimizing your website's speed is crucial for a better user experience and can lead to higher engagement and conversions.
Social media marketing
Social media platforms are an effective way to reach a broad audience. LinkedIn, for instance, is excellent for B2B commerce, as it allows you to connect with industry professionals and potential clients. Similarly, platforms like Facebook and Instagram allow you to showcase your products visually and engage directly with your audience, particularly if you are targeting DIY customers. Regular posts, engaging content, and targeted ads on these platforms can significantly increase your brand's exposure and direct traffic to your e-commerce store.
Here are key factors to consider for social media marketing:
- Identify relevant Social Media platforms: Not all social media platforms may be suitable for your building supply e-commerce store. Identify the platforms that align with your target audience and where they actively engage. In our experience, Instagram is a great channel to begin with as it has a significant contractor community that engage with content every day.
- Be consistent: Posting consistently, whether it's daily or weekly, will improve your engagement. Develop a posting schedule that aligns with your audience's preferences and the platform's algorithms. Regularly share valuable content, promotions, and industry news to keep your audience engaged.
- Stay authentic: Ensure your posts align with your brand and its values.
- Humanize your brand: Introduce your team members to your audience. Actively engage with your followers by responding to comments, messages, and inquiries in a timely manner. Encourage discussions, ask questions, and show genuine interest in your audience's needs and opinions. Building a community around your brand will foster loyalty and word-of-mouth referrals.
- Provide value: Share content that educates your audience about your products and services.
- Collaborate with influencers: Partner with industry influencers, builders, interior designers and architects to promote your products and e-commerce store. They can review your products, provide testimonials, or feature your store in their content.
While digital marketing is essential in today's online landscape, it is important not to overlook the power of print marketing for promoting your newly launched building supply e-commerce store. Print materials provide a tangible and targeted way to engage with your audience, especially customers who often visit your store in person. Leverage traditional print marketing to direct customers to your online store:
- Print collateral: When attending trade shows, industry conferences, or networking events, bring print collateral such as business cards, brochures, or branded merchandise with your website. These materials serve as tangible reminders of your brand and can be shared during in-person interactions to establish connections and drive potential customers to your e-commerce store.
- Local publications and advertising: Target local audiences by placing advertisements in local newspapers, magazines, or community newsletters. These publications are often read by homeowners, contractors, and DIY enthusiasts in your area. Tailor your messaging to address their needs and provide contact information to drive them to your e-commerce store.
- Store and yard signage: Utilize signage to strategically increase brand visibility in high-traffic areas. Place eye-catching signs or billboards near construction sites you’ve serviced, outside your store, or other relevant locations. Use compelling visuals and concise messaging to capture attention and direct potential customers to your online store. Additionally, include a QR code that links to your website to make it easier for customers to scan and access your website.
Paid advertising is a powerful digital marketing tactic that allows you to reach your target audience directly, drive targeted traffic to your newly launched building supply e-commerce store, and maximize your promotional effortsInvest in paid advertising to boost traffic to your online store.
- Paid search advertising: Paid search advertising, also known as pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, allows you to target customers who are searching for relevant keywords. Create ad groups and campaigns for high volume, high-intent keywords that direct users to your product pages. Not every product category will provide a Return on investment (ROI). Pick the best performing products and focus on promoting them. Be mindful that a poorly executed strategy can quickly exhaust your budget. If you are unfamiliar with running paid advertising, it may be best to hire a marketing agency.
- Paid social advertising: Run paid social media campaigns on Instagram, Facebook or TikTok targeting contractors in your local area. Utilize the advanced targeting options provided to define your audience based on demographics, interests, and behaviors. Create custom audiences or lookalike audiences to reach users similar to your existing customers.
Measure and analyze results
Measuring and analyzing the results of your marketing efforts is essential for understanding what's working, identifying areas for improvement, and optimizing your promotional strategies. By tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) and gathering insights, you can make data-driven decisions and achieve better results. Consider the following steps:
Track key performance indicators (KPIs)
Identify and monitor relevant KPIs to evaluate the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns. Some common KPIs for your building supply e-commerce store may include:
- Website traffic: Measure the number of visitors, page views, and unique visitors to assess the reach and visibility of your website.
- Conversion rate: Track the percentage of website visitors who complete desired actions, such as making a purchase, signing up for a newsletter, or requesting a quote.
- Customer acquisition cost (CAC): Calculate the cost required to acquire a new customer. Divide your marketing expenses by the number of new customers acquired within a specific period.
- Return on investment (ROI): Determine the return on your marketing investment by comparing the revenue generated to the cost of your marketing activities.
- Social media engagement: Monitor metrics such as likes, comments, shares, and followers to gauge the engagement and reach of your social media content.
- Email marketing metrics: Track email open rates, click-through rates, and conversion rates to evaluate the effectiveness of your email campaigns.
Choose KPIs that align with your goals and regularly track them to measure progress and identify areas of improvement.
Utilize analytics tools
Implement analytics tools to gather data and insights about your website and marketing campaigns. Consider using:
- Google Analytics: Set up Google Analytics to track website traffic, user behavior, conversion rates, and more. Gain valuable insights into audience demographics, acquisition channels, and popular content.
- Social media analytics: Each social media platform provides analytics tools that offer valuable data on engagement, reach, and audience demographics. Utilize these insights to optimize your social media strategy.
- Email marketing analytics: Email service providers offer analytics features to track email open rates, click-through rates, and conversions. Use this data to refine your email marketing campaigns.
Regularly analyze the data provided by these tools and identify patterns, trends, and areas for improvement.
Make necessary adjustments
Based on the insights gained from tracking and analyzing your marketing results, make necessary adjustments to your promotional strategies. Consider the following actions:
- Optimize underperforming campaigns: Identify campaigns or channels that are not yielding the desired results. Modify targeting, messaging, or creative elements to improve performance.
- Invest in successful campaigns: Identify high-performing campaigns or channels and allocate more resources to amplify their success.
- Refine targeting and segmentation: Adjust your audience targeting and segmentation based on data and customer behavior to improve campaign relevance and effectiveness.
- Experiment and test: Continuously test different approaches, ad variations, or messaging to identify what resonates best with your target audience.
- Learn from customer feedback: Pay attention to customer feedback, reviews, and comments. Identify areas for improvement in your products, website, or customer experience.
By regularly measuring and analyzing your marketing results, you can refine your promotional strategies, optimize your budget allocation, and maximize the impact of your efforts.
Promoting your newly launched building supply e-commerce store requires a comprehensive approach that combines digital marketing strategies, print marketing tactics, and customer relationship management.
Remember, promoting your store is an ongoing process. Stay up-to-date with industry trends, regularly engage with your audience, and adapt your strategies as needed to stay ahead of the competition.
By following these guidelines and implementing a thoughtful and thorough promotional plan, you can establish a strong online presence, attract customers, and drive the success of your building supply e-commerce store.