In yet another indication of the growing importance of Internet marketing to companies that offer home improvement services, one of the most active providers of services in the field —Surefire Social— announced yesterday the acquisition of Bring Me My Leads, another leading player.

The deal, for an undisclosed sum, adds the email and database marketing expertise of Bring Me My Leads to Surefire Social's raft of online marketing services. These include website building, search engine optimization, a social media package, and development of local search strategies, among others.

The acquisition also enables Surefire Social to combine its list of 100-plus company clients — including roofers, exterior contractors, and some full-service remodeling companies — with the "premium" client list of Bring Me My Leads. That list includes some of the largest U.S. home improvement companies, many of them selling windows.

Dominating Local Search

Indianapolis window contractor George Faerber launched Bring Me My Leads four years ago, building on the online marketing tools he had developed for his own 25-year-old company, Bee Window. Bee Window — where online sales currently make up 35% of revenue — became not just a model for what home improvement companies could achieve in marketing online but a testing ground for the different processes Faerber and Bring Me My Leads developed to help clients dominate local search and build their online marketing capability.

In the last four years, online has evolved into a key marketing component for many contractors, especially larger ones. A handful of vendors — including Three Deep Marketing and Socius — serve that market. So also do any number of local Web designers, search engine optimization and pay-per-click specialists, landing-page builders, social media experts, and others.

Chris Marentis, founder and CEO of Surefire Social, says that what differentiates his company is its ability to integrate different levels of online into a comprehensive strategy for local market domination.

Key Consumer Segment

The rapidly evolving world of online marketing has left some contractors feeling discouraged or altogether left out. As online consolidates, and a handful of players are able to dominate local home improvement search activity, that will only intensify. "A lot of business owners feel that there are too many things going on and that this is all too confusing," Marentis says. "They're looking for the Easy button, but there isn't any Easy button."

At the same time, many home improvement companies sense that without a strong online presence, they will soon be missing out on key customer segments. "Consumers trust the information they get on the Internet," Faerber notes. "When they come to your site, they may be six months to a year from making a purchase. If you don't have an online strategy to find that search customer and give them the information they're looking for, you're not on their list when they decide to move forward with the project. If you don't have a strategic presence online, you're getting left in the dust."