Be warned. This article is not another “how to use Houzz.” You can find endless content online that covers that base for you—directly from Houzz itself or digital marketing pros like me. The information I’m sharing here is intended to be a little different—unbiased, practical, and, hopefully, actionable as you determine how to make the most of Houzz in your marketing mix.
A Quick Look at the Houzz Foundation & What It Means for Your Biz:
We all know Houzz is successful and has grown exponentially in recent years. It has upwards of 35 million users, according to recent reports. Biz leaders like you can benefit from understanding why the site’s become so popular.
The Houzz Formula Works & You Can Learn from It
Houzz is a social network that was born to connect homeowners in targeted geographic areas with professionals nearby who provide interior design and home improvement services. In my estimation, Houzz’s four-pronged emphasis on interior design, the sharing of beautiful photography, free access to information, and collection of reviews is the core of its success. From the get-go, homeowners have gladly created profiles (and in the process, shared lots of info about themselves) as they clamor for no-cost access to professionals and loads of pretty pictures. Service providers have signed on to be front in line when these homeowners were ready to hire.
The lessons we can all take away from what’s worked from Houzz’s initial success? People love to view aspirational photos, they read and heed online reviews, they are seeking local professionals for their home projects, and they’re willing to sign up for the chance to do all of the above.
Today, the site is a behemoth—a multi-layered, far reaching social platform that still offers local connectivity to service providers but is also an e-commerce hub of nearly every category imaginable in the home design and improvement realm. Because of fairly strict standards for photo uploads and the collection and sharing of inspiring design content, Houzz remains a beloved go-to for homeowners who are dreaming, scheming, and—according to the official stats—actively planning their next home projects.
The good news for retailers like you?
- Houzz was born to connect homeowners with local solutions, so it still does this very well—in spite of its growth and expansion into other areas.
- A healthy percentage of Houzz users are in the process of home improvement projects and will be making purchasing decisions. That puts you closer to the qualified leads you’re looking for for your business.
- You have access to Houzz’s wealth of market research and data. You can even access geo-targeted insights about trends in spending, demographics of those engaged in projects, etc. It’s good, useful stuff that can help you better understand your residential market.
- Houzz is a great way to compel you to finally capture reviews from your customers and photography of completed projects. The kind words and pretty images you collect can be useful across all your marketing efforts.
The not-so-good news for retailers like you?
- Houzz has become more of a pay-for-placement environment. If you already have a professional profile, you’ve likely been called upon by a Houzz rep (or two!) selling packages for improved search rankings and more potential photo views. The days of earning a high ranking in local search only through good reviews and photos are mostly long gone.
- The competition within the site is fierce—and I’m not talking only about increased local listings. I’m talking about the abundant e-commerce within the site. Houzz introduced e-commerce for retailers a few years ago, and it’s proven to be a big revenue generator. Sellers far and wide now are ‘there’, so you’re up against them, too.
- Maintaining an effective Houzz profile is rather time intensive. A little will not go a long way on Houzz. You need to commit to regular nurturing of your profile to see notable gains from the effort. That means you’ll need to make common practice of collecting great photos, tagging those photos properly when posting, and soliciting reviews from your customers.
Building Your Houzz Strategy
As you look to polish…or perhaps start…your Houzz strategy, it’s imperative to define your goals. Do you want to connect with more specifying interior designers, builders, and remodeling professionals? Are you hoping for more qualified consumer leads or showroom traffic? Are you interested in testing the e-commerce waters?
Here are some thought-starters for you. These insights are offered in broad brushstrokes in order to be relevant to as many readers as possible. Your specific circumstances and business goals will be your guide in determining how to best incorporate Houzz into the marketing mix.
Go Ahead; Take the “Houzz Call”
None of us need or want aggressive sales people calling on us. However—for Houzz, you need an inside connection. Whether you ever decide to spend a dime with the site or not, it’s very helpful to have a point person (or at least a person who can point you to the point person!). Go ahead and open up communication with your Houzz rep. It may help you…
- get very specific tips about updating your profile
Reps can be sources of good advice that comes at no cost.
- create an “in” when you see things that need to change
A good example: I know a biz owner who was upset by Houzz’s autogenerated “shopping tags” and “related products” that appeared on/by her photos. She was able to go through her Houzz rep to eventually get these removed.
- be privy to latest news about updates, research, etc.
It’s always nice to be first in line for the latest offerings, especially if you can use the news to your advantage in fluffing your profile or better understanding customers.
Ready to Spend? Proceed Intelligently.
I’ve had clients who’ve been successful on Houzz without spending a dime. In contrast, I worked with one client for whom we eventually diverted nearly 70% of his marketing dollars to Houzz because the site generated such high-quality leads for him.
If you want to see what a paid presence on Houzz can do, I recommend you test the waters first before taking a deep dive. Lock into as small a spend and as abbreviated a timeframe as possible. If you sell products for major brands offering Pro+ programs, take advantage of those to benefit from coop dollars.
It’s not a wrong answer to not spend on Houzz. That’s your call, based on your goals and the nature of your biz. Regardless, commit to keeping your profile updated and optimized so it represents you well when the local customers among those 35+ million site users are looking for you.
E-commerce: What are You Doing About It?
While the topic of online selling deserves its own article entirely, I must mention it in context of your Houzz strategy, as sellers on the site are active and growing.
If you’re in the “can’t beat ‘em, so join ‘em” camp, I’d recommend becoming knowledgeable on Houzz’s e-commerce platform, whether you opt to sell there or not. You may determine the requirements and hits you’d take as a Houzz online retailer simply don’t balance with the potential earnings, regardless of how vast the Houzz shopper base is. Or it may be the one and only place you find online selling to be a worthwhile endeavor. If you need specific advisement, contact me to discuss specific ideas for your biz. If you’re going to sell online, approach it as a new business or, at minimum, a separate division of your existing company, as it will require much time, custom structuring, and specific expertise to run.
If you’re committed to only brick and mortar sales, use your Houzz profile to differentiate your business and persuade consumers that some decisions are best made in person. When collecting customer reviews, ask contributors to address this aspect of their experiences. Use all your online profiles from Houzz and beyond to convince potentials that walking through the door—connecting face to face—is essential to find the best solutions and get the level of service desired.
Bring Houzz to Your ‘Hood
I recommend you make use of all those handy dandy badges and buttons that Houzz doles out to its pro users. Add those to your website. Promote them on your other social profiles. Generally speaking, consumers appreciate what Houzz has to offer, so those Houzz-made accolades hold merit, serve as affirmation for your biz, and inspire clicks.
At minimum, use Houzz as one more opportunity to be discovered by people who need the solutions and service you provide. Create a profile that positively represents your business, and keep it fresh. Pay attention to how many people find you through Houzz to determine if its prominence in your marketing plans.
Still needing more ‘on the Houzz’? I’d love to talk specifics for your biz. You can find me through my website—msg2mkt.com.