How is the internet changing the way consumers buy home improvements?

Sam Threlfall, our Marketing Director spoke to GGP magazine about the changing face of online and how it is shaping the way consumers shop for home improvements.

Can you give our readers a brief overview on Leads 2 Trade and the sectors you operate in?

Leads 2 Trade is the UK’s number one provider of double qualified sales leads. We generate thousands of leads per month for companies operating in the home improvement market. The core sectors include windows, doors and conservatories and conservatory roofs, solar, security and heating and plumbing.

How do you generate leads?

We generate leads online, via a network of channels, through what we call passive forms of marketing. Rather than pushing a message to potential customers, they will go online to find the products and services they are looking for via a search engine, such as Google.

We have a network of websites which rank organically or within the sponsored listings on Google and other search engines for relevant terms like double glazing, conservatory roofs and gas boilers. Consumers find these websites and enquire about the products.

The leads are then double qualified by our in-house call centre and passed onto members of our Trusted Local Supplier network, in postcodes of their choice.

What are the main methods you use to drive traffic to your websites?

We use a mix of pay-per-click (PPC) and organic SEO methods. The recent changes Google has made to how the sponsored listings are positioned has pushed organic rankings further down the page, with more top space dedicated to sponsored content. This has meant there is greater need for competitor analysis on PPC on Google to ensure that our paid positions stay above our competitors.

Consumers will usually click through to one or two of the first few links on the search results, and rarely beyond page one, so we have increased our budget on sponsored content to ensure we still rank highly on Google. It’s a constant battle to remain at the top of the ranking and we have invested heavily to be at the cutting-edge of online and digital marketing. What changes have you noticed regarding consumers and the internet – and how is this impacting on you? The services consumers are using have changed. 10 years ago, a much bigger percentage of people were searching on Bing but now 80% of our leads are coming from Google.

The other biggest change however, is how many consumers are now shopping online using their mobile phone. Over the next few years, we predict 60-70% of traffic to our websites will be from a mobile device.

Five years ago, we’d spend 5% of our paid search budget on mobile. Now, depending on the product, it’s up to 50%. The internet is increasingly accessible, with many people shopping on the go. It’s also important for us to consider blended content – which is a mix of PPC (paid search) and organic – which is written content such as blogs and downloads that provide information for the user.

How are consumer spending habits changing online?

10 years ago, everyone was looking for the cheapest price online. Now, with so much information available online and the presence of luxury lifestyle brands price is less of a top priority. Consumers want quality with a name they can trust.

Today’s consumer is so internet savvy and are so good at searching online to find exactly what they’re looking for. You need to have a well-designed website with relevant and valuable content, or people won’t engage with it.

What are you seeing as the most in demand home improvement products or services?

Boilers have always been a popular product for us but it is a seasonal purchase. Come June, people will start planning for the winter but up until March it is mostly distress purchases.

Our biggest growth product is replacement conservatory roofs. A lot of homeowners want to turn their old conservatory into a room they can use all-year round and a new roof is a way to achieve this.

What we have noticed is people who would usually go into a showroom to look at new products are now doing the research and buying online.

With more competition on the market, what makes Leads 2 Trade stand out from other lead providers?

The way we operate. Consumers like us because we’re offering comparison quotes, not a hard sell. Our installer network like our leads because we are ensuring that the homeowner is actually looking for the product or service and is willing to receive free and no obligation quotes.

With all the regulations surrounding cold calling and the fines that have been imposed on home improvement companies, it has made us a strong proposition.

Companies are not willing to pay a call centre to cold call anymore. They want the consumer to have been interested in and searching for the product themselves, not having it pushed on them.

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