How we helped Romex Permeable Hardscapes become an online leader in North America
From working with Romex Canada since 2018 and building their new website
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The Big Interview
Between Richard Kirk, Digital Marketing Manager, at Romex Canada and Andrew Jackson, CEO, at North Shore Digital.
Please introduce yourself
I’m Richard Kirk, I’m the digital marketing manager for Romex Canada. We are the world leader and supplier of permeable hardscape materials. We do anything from permeable paver bedding, to permeable jointing, to all sorts of aggregate binding technologies as well.
Going for over 30 years, we’re in 27 countries across the world and we’ve been in Canada for the last five years. We have a base in Vancouver. We have a base over in Ontario as well, and we now have a representation down in the United States as well.
How did you find North Shore Digital?
A really simple connection made down at a local brewery after a few pints, on a Friday night. It was my older brother who started the business here in Canada that used to frequent the local watering hole with yourself. And after a few pints, I think you guys got chatting and never realized what you actually did for work. And obviously with the business just starting and needing some help in the digital space to initially create a website and get something going, which was a very simple task in the first place.
That’s obviously grown and developed over the last four and a half years but initially it was just a local connection. It was essentially local people helping each other out to start and grow their own businesses.
Why did you start working with an agency?
We didn’t have the expertise in-house nor the time to take all those things on along with the usual challenges of getting a business up and running and off the ground.
So, initially it was to get help with the things that we weren’t experts in and to do our website really well and get help with launching our social media platforms. We then started to look into all the different avenues and ways that all the different parts of digital marketing kind of interlink and affect each other.
Over the last 12 months as we’ve been on the online growth plan, we’ve really developed some areas like our Google SEO, YouTube ads and putting some money behind Google Ads. We’re seeing how that affects and generates more traffic to our website, which has in turn led to more inquiries and more calls for our sales team, which has been awesome.
It’s really just been piece by piece working with you guys on a monthly basis, which has been awesome to keep adding things and always reviewing what works and and keep the momentum that we’ve seen over the last four or five years, to keep it growing.
How’s business going?
Our goal year-on-year is about 10% growth, and we’ve been there, or thereabouts. Everybody got a big impact from COVID and we had to switch our strategy quite significantly to a bigger focus on homeowner, DIY and landscape contractors, which then fed into our marketing and our website and how we were going after those people.
There’s definitely been steady growth throughout the last three or four years. It’s not quite been in the areas that we were anticipating, but the growth has been there.
As a whole, we’ve managed to piece by piece, build things up at a fairly steady rate.
One way we’ve done that is to expand our reach and our geographic locations. We obviously started up in the west coast of Canada here in Vancouver and right before COVID we opened up with two guys on the ground in Ontario. Our digital marketing had to match and start supporting the guys out in Ontario to try and drive, interest and engagement and traffic and leads out there.
Within the last 12 months we’ve also taken the United States under our wing at the headquarters here in Vancouver.
Our marketing has expanded and shifted to to play to some of those guys as well.
Revenues have still increased but so to have our geographic locations and the parts of North America that we’re putting our time and focus into as well.
It’s really been a shifting model over the past few years, which has been interesting.
How have we helped Romex?
How long have you got?
There are so many different ways.
There are so many nuances in the digital marketing world from the website to Google, to having an assessment of our social media platforms from Carly to entering into new things like YouTube ads and revisiting Google ads.
North Shore Digital have helped us with anything and everything within the digital marketing space that we’ve discussed or brought to your attention.
Also, we take the recommendations that we get back from you on a monthly basis, and then put them into action.
We’ve seen, especially with going on the growth plan, the power of putting those recommendations into practice and then seeing the results come back through the analytics.
We’ve touched on so many things; email marketing’s another one I’ve talked to Kaan about.
There’s so much that we can do on our side even though marketing-wise, we’re still a one man band.
If we had, more people to help out with some of this stuff, then I’d be very confident that, there’s nothing from your side that you don’t have a good handle on that we couldn’t get really solid advice and recommendations on. Whether that’s to do something or maybe it’s to not do something for whatever reason. I think that’s equally important.
I think everything that we’ve tried and put into practice and even put money behind in terms of advertising has always had really, really good returns for us.
What role does your website play?
Our website’s main function is to be educational.
We don’t have eCommerce, we don’t try and sell through the website, but we do try and give people a certain level of information to help them understand what is potentially the right product or solution for them, whether they’re a homeowner, a contractor or a landscape architect because all those groups are typically looking for something a bit different.
Some of the key metrics that we find important and we track are our users.
We’re currently seeing on a monthly basis between 4,000 and 5,000 users and new users per month, which is great.
I think only two and a half years ago, our users were anywhere between 500 and a thousand per month.
In the last two years and specifically in the last 12 months, we’re four to five times the users per month, what we were previously seeing.
Our sessions have gone right up, we’re often in excess of 20,000 sessions in page views per month as well, which again, they were in that 3,000 to 5,000 range previously.
In the last one to two years we’ve seen growth between three and five times.
One thing that we started to pay attention to was where people were actually going on the site, tracking downloads so it gives us feedback on documentation, e.g. which is the most popular. This gives us insights into the type of consumers or users that are visiting our site because there are DIY products or there are technical specs for landscape architects.
Our connection through the dealer network that we’ve got now is also front and centre in the website. We not only have our dealers visible and present on the site, but we track how many people are clicking on our ‘find the store’ button, where people go and they find the location that’s closest to them, where they can buy Romex products.
We see analytics on a monthly basis and the amount of calls that we’ve received has increased a lot. This has been great to see.
Over the time I’ve been involved the last of two and a half years it’s grown, as much as, five times and that’s across the board.
On a personal level I had a little bit of marketing experience prior to joining Romex, but not a ton so learning on the job with this one, for sure.
On my side of things, there’s been huge personal growth with working with you.
I don’t have an internal marketing team here with specialists that I can, bounce ideas off.
I say to Ashley (the COO of Romex) that often I treat you guys as my team because you’re the ones that I work with all the time on this stuff.
Between yourself, Ira and Kaan you are specialists in what you do: to learn your strategies and tactics and techniques for online growth is priceless.
Brand awareness has been huge for me as well. I think that real world on the job experience is, often as good as if not better than taking some, formal education, which I’ve done on the side as well, and found that, useful.
You’ve pushed me to keep expanding and get formal education on digital, as well as learning on the job.
The reports have helped me relay messages internally to our leadership and sales teams.
The report takes what could be really complicated and makes it really easy for us to see internally. When I have to present on certain things I can show our team where the money’s being spent, why it’s been spent and the results are easy for us to see as well.
It’s helped us all understand the digital world quite a bit more than any of us did before.
You don’t have to have super specialized knowledge to read the information and understand it.
What advice would you give?
Go on the growth plan early.
We noticed a huge difference in what happened when we went on the growth plan.
You pay extra for it but since we’ve gone on the growth plan, we get much more value for our time and money because of the work that you do in the background.
It also validates the work – there’s not that much point in me doing a ton of work and creating new material and making all these updates on my end if nobody’s seeing it on the other end.
What the growth plan does or has done a fantastic job of is pushing us out into places that we weren’t as visible before, increasing our rankings on the Google pages, making keywords rank higher for people searching for some of our products.
And our engagement and traffic through the website has increased exponentially just from being on that growth plan.
I would say anybody that’s serious about their digital presence and gaining new business through their website, I would commit to the growth plan and essentially get the most out of the services that you pay for.
“North Shore Digital have elevated our company’s online presence enormously since we hired them, through not only SEO but a modern website design and layout. Their constant support and timely service is something I would recommend to any business or website owner.”