Surefire Social photos by Garrett Hubbard. � Garrett Hubbard 2011
Credit: Garrett Hubbard Surefire Social photos by Garrett Hubbard. � Garrett Hubbard 2011

Last year Chris Marentis’ company, Surefire Social, merged with a competitor to create the largest digital marketing company targeting the home improvement industry.

REPLACEMENT CONTRACTOR: If I have a $5 million company, how much should I be spending on digital marketing?

Chris Marentis: You start with revenue, figure how many leads you need and your close rate to get there.

We say, as you plan your marketing strategy, to get those leads you’d be wise to begin with online because 80% of consumers go online before buying anything. Think of it this way: How can I maximize online leads and then add to that? These are going to be among your least-expensive leads: $55 to $65 for SEO; $75 to $85 for pay per click. Most home improvement companies are paying $200 to $240 for an offline lead.

RC: People talk about a “sea change” in the way homeowners evaluate a home improvement company before contact. Do you agree?

CM: Sales cycles have gotten longer in general and consumers want to be more educated about the purchases they make. In the past they were response-driven. Now they want to learn more. They want to know what that company is about; their product versus the products other companies carry. So you have to be good at content marketing and education marketing to get them at the search phase. You also have to have the operation and sales elements right to convert them to a lead and get them to a salesperson quicker.

RC: How can home improvement companies get more content onto their websites?

CM: Blog posts are the best way to add content to your site. Other things include adding new pictures to your gallery and new videos.

There’s a lot of content that exists around the natural things that happen in your business. For instance, say a manufacturer you buy from introduces a new line: that’s a blog post. Say you’re talking with a satisfied customer who is saying you did an awesome job, were on time and on budget, and left the house clean. You say: “Hey, would you mind repeating that into my smartphone?” Follow up with a gift certificate for $25.

RC: Why aren’t more companies in the habit of regularly adding content to their sites?

CM: They get too overwhelmed by it. Most don’t have the personnel or the expertise to keep up. If this was easy, Google would publish a book titled “How to Get on Page One of Google.”

But it isn’t. It’s part art, part science. They think: Oh, I have to do 50 videos a month, or 50 photos, or get 50 reviews?!

In fact, you just need to get one or two reviews a month on Google+ and get one or two pictures a month of a job you completed and post those on Facebook. Over time you’ll build, and in a year you’ll be so far ahead of your competition.