Shea Concrete recently launched a new website, based on past online success. Greg Stratis, Manager of Shea Concrete, finds a great deal of value in the company’s website and social media efforts. NPCA reached out to Stratis to get his thoughts on the power of the web and his advice for fellow precasters.
Q: How much business do you estimate comes from people finding Shea Concrete via your website?
A: As with most marketing it is hard to measure, however I can tell you this: We are constantly getting requests from the website on a daily basis. On a weekly basis, I would say we average about five to 10 homeowners, two to three engineers and one to two contractors. Our database from forms submitted on our website is around 2,500 contacts in the past five years. We market towards all three classes (homeowners, engineers, contractors) and therefore our website attracts all three.
Q: How long has it been since you last updated your site?
A: It has been five years since our last major update. I think it is good to keep the site fresh so we are constantly making slight changes to the site throughout the year, quarterly at a minimum. This also helps with moving up in the ranks on search engines.
Q: Why did you decide having an updated website was important for Shea Concrete?
A: Everyone and anyone uses the website as their first tool when looking for information. Whether it is buying a product or just research.
Q: When did you launch your new site?
A: January 2013
Q: What has the reaction been?
A: I have had very positive feedback. We have listened to users of our site and made changes accordingly. Of course, I already have more ideas for the next go around. We developed it to look good on a smartphone or tablet. Next we are sending out a survey to see if people have a need for us to make a mobile site.
Q: How is your new site different than your old site?
A: More user friendly. We changed the menu structure. Easier to view on small devices. A little more pizzazz. Added a fresh look to our three market areas (engineers, contractors, homeowners).
Q: Do you think others in the industry would benefit from either creating a website or updating their current site? Why?
A: Absolutely. You need to determine the market you want to attract and add things to your site that would interest them. The basics are company history, product literature and drawings, and a way for visitors to request more information or quotes. I would suggest surveying your market and see what they want.
Q: How did you go about updating your site? Did you use an outside vendor? How did you work with them to balance their ideas with your knowledge of Shea Concrete?
A: We used an outside vendor. Our original website was developed in house and five years ago we decided to go to an outside vendor because I felt we needed to be able to communicate professionally with the electronic world we live in now. I was not able to dedicate the time I felt was necessary to accomplish this, so our vendor did a major update in 2008. The first time we redid our site (2008), it was definitely a learning curve for both Shea and our vendor. But now we are at the point where I just send them a little bit of information about a product or project and they are able to run with it. We sit down face to face twice a year to go over our marketing plan. This meeting helps to make sure we are all on the same page. Not only that, but we both learn a lot about each other’s industry at this meeting (what is the latest trend for example). I don’t think it is necessary for your website designer to also be your marketing group, but whenever you have marketing meetings the website designer should also be there.
Q: Was the process easier or harder than you expected?
A: I use the web on a daily basis, so I knew going into it what I wanted. The only thing that is difficult is deciding what will be your budget. I think a lot of it boils down to how easy do you want to show up online, such as information on all products or some of your products. I would recommend putting all your products on the website then each year pick a couple of product lines and focus your budget on them.
Q: How long did it take? How much staff time?
A: It is constantly evolving, but not too much staff time other than the vendor. The cost from the vendor was $7,500 to develop our new website. This number can change depending on how elaborate you want the site and your online presence.
Q: What was most important for you to accomplish during the update?
A: Our previous site had a lot of information but I wanted to optimize it for search engines. Also, it was important to make it more user friendly and to be able to explore it easily on a mobile device and I wanted to increase our presence in social media.
Q: Anything else you’d like to share with fellow precasters that are interested in improving their online presence?
A: I think social media plays an important role depending on your market. Therefore, it may be important to have the same people that design your site be involved with social media. For social media to be worth it you need to keep it fresh.