A November 2021 survey conducted by Lowe’s found a growing need for home improvement professionals among 80% of the respondents. Home Depot says that while home improvement (HI) professionals account for only 4% of its customer base, they generate 46% of its overall sales. To keep up with the increasing demands of home improvement contractors and professionals, home improvement companies are investing more into distribution centers to manage larger orders. For instance, looking at the importance of handling larger orders, Jeff Gooding of Ace Hardware says his company “will open a 1 million-square-foot retail support center in Visalia, California.”
Looking at these recent trends, the home improvement industry has no option but to stay focused on the business value offered by HI professionals. Why should HI brands look to build customer loyalty with professionals and what are the right digital strategies that can work?
Importance of B2B Customer loyalty in HI
As the above statistics reveal, HI professionals and experts must be an integral part of any HI brand’s growth strategy. Unlike B2C (or direct) customers, HI professionals in the B2B space are more loyal and offer better customer lifetime value (or CLV) to the brand. Additionally, their average order value (AOV) is significantly higher due to their involvement in larger and high-scale home restoration projects.
Largely, the business potential of B2B customer loyalty initiatives has remained untapped, with more efforts being directed to the B2C customer base. A recent B2B customer survey by PwC reported that nearly 60% of customers have never had a brand experience that made them feel special or appreciated.
Be it the B2B or B2C segment, gaining customer loyalty is crucial for most customer-centric companies including in the HI space. Here is why:
- In general, customer acquisition is 5 times more expensive than customer retention.
- Loyal customers account for more repeated sales and up to 80% of any company’s revenues.
- Customers who are part of any brand’s loyalty program spend 12-18% more every year.
Which digital strategies can HI brands devise to explore this untapped B2B segment? Let us discuss that next.
5 digital strategies for HI professionals
The best digital strategies in the B2B HI revolve around helping them know more about your brand and how you can help them grow and succeed. Here are 5 tried-and-testing strategies that are most effective in that quest:
1. Well-designed website
A well-designed and user-friendly website is the first step towards attracting customers, including HI professionals. Most home improvement websites focus on selling their services, without relevant content that can help guide the professional consumer in complex buying journeys. Considering the market dynamics of this segment, HI brands need a well-designed website and informative content in the form of product guides, informative blogs, and high-resolution videos.
An effective HI website must enable professionals to:
- Easily navigate the website to help them find the most relevant information
- Post questions about HI services on the site and get timely answers
- Easily enroll as a partner for promoting your HI brand and offerings
- Find information on applicable discounts and offers in case of bulk orders, delivery schedules and timelines, and suggestions for alternative options if products are out-of-stock
2. Efficient fulfillment
B2B sales in the HI space typically involve larger orders that need to be tracked through complex fulfillment methods from centralized warehouses to distributed retail stores. HI brands need to develop multiple fulfillment options including:
- Free pickups for multiple items
- Same-day store pickups in under 2 hours
- Express shipping for larger renovation projects
- Direct shipping to project sites
- Aggregating SKUs across multiple orders to streamline delivery and collection
At the same time, HI professionals also need to work directly with HI brand managers on the price quote that is right for any large customer project. For instance, to build long-term partnerships with small HI companies, some are implementing specific loyalty programs and processes to improve B2B customer engagement. For instance, the Wayfair Professional membership program is designed to offer exclusive products in furniture and home décor to HI professionals.
3. Localized SEO strategy
Recent statistics from Google reveal that 57% of B2B marketers say that SEO generates more sales leads than other marketing strategies, while 72% of digital marketers rank content marketing as their leading SEO strategy.
While there are multiple factors impacting search engine optimization (SEO), the easiest part is, to begin with the right keywords relevant to local home improvement professionals. For instance, ensure that your associated HI partners and stores are ranked high on Google search pages for location-specific keywords like “home remodeling Chicago” or “home improvement companies near me.”
Along with enabling local searches, local business listings and local paid ads can boost the digital marketing strategy of any HI brand focusing on store-centric commerce.
4. Email marketing
The emergence of other forms of digital marketing like SEO and social media marketing has not dampened the effectiveness of business email marketing. This marketing method continues to be effective at approaching or staying in touch with HI retailers and professionals. Here are some supporting statistics:
- The average ROI for email marketing is $42 for every spent dollar.
- 99% of email users check their email account daily.
Emails can highlight the brand’s breadth of offerings and provide a variety of information including new service offerings, company news, or online newsletters covering the latest trends in home renovation. Besides that, AI-based personalized emails have a better open-and-click rate, thus leading to more conversions and revenues.
5. Brand loyalty programs
Among the best forms of ensuring customer loyalty, 90% of companies offer loyalty programs to their customers. At the same time, 54% of customers do not continue to participate in loyalty programs if they are not engaging.
HI B2B brands need to design loyalty programs that are different from their competitors. To create loyal customers among HI professionals, brands need to engage with them in more innovative ways than simply offering loyalty points and rewards. For instance, a Microsoft survey found that efficient customer service is important for 95% of B2B consumers. Home décor company, At Home, offers priority customer service for its premium customers in addition to other benefits.
In summary, the HI professional segment in the home improvement industry will continue to drive more sales and brand engagement. To stay ahead, every HI brand needs to design and implement the right digital strategy to tap into the growing pool of HI professionals and experts.
With its focus on digitally transforming customer experience, Ignitiv has worked with the best of companies in the home improvement industry. Download our free whitepaper on why every home improvement brand requires an efficient digital roadmap.
Looking to tap the vast potential of digital transformation in the home improvement space? Contact us today.