Last week Pritesh and I attended the 2010 CIMCIG conference held in London. The event was full of marketing professionals and construction industry experts. It offered a great networking opportunity and the chance to meet influential people with whom we had been talking to on social media sites such as Twitter and LinkedIn.
A major sign that the industry has come a long way is the fact that the #cimcig10 hashtag on Twitter was more popular that day than news about Gillian McKeith in the jungle. On average there were about 10 individuals tweeting live throughout the event (including us), thereby giving professionals, who were not able to attend the event, exclusive up-to-date insight into the topics being discussed. The overall reach accomplished by the #cimcig10 hashtag was over 54 000 people which is phenomenal and would have been very difficult to achieve without social media.
The first speaker, Jonathan de Souza from Construction Excellence, gave an interesting overview of our digital future. He mentioned the importance of integrating all marketing efforts –both on and offline- and how websites need to be an active part of the marketing mix not simply a static tool. Technology is increasingly used in a mobile way (eg e-procurement) and construction companies need to realise and embrace this trend. A move towards new digital tools such as BIM (building information modelling) where buildings can be viewed in 3D before they are actually constructed was also identified. Overall a quote that I particularly liked was that the web is “all about better conversations and putting things together.”
Next up was David Bentley from NetConstruct who spoke about the importance of having a good website and how to go about building one. We particularly enjoyed his presentation because building user and SEO friendly websites is also a service that we offer to our clients. Networking needs a firm base and your website can provide this for your prospects, however it needs to be tooled up for this purpose. Social media and blog links should also be present on the website so that visitors are able to connect with you in a social way. Bentley looked at how things have changed over the past few years and aptly stated that websites are now a tool that affect the whole business, not just the marketing department.
- 2007 = websites were a platform for the successful delivery of services
- 2011= websites are now the platform for any successful business
Kelvin Newman from Sitevisibility then gave an inspiring talk about SEO and especially the impact of Google instant on search. He advised marketers to optimise their pages, especially product pages, and update keyword research to ensure businesses rank highly in search results. Ian Lovatt, Bluesheep followed with his presentation on the importance of data collection and analytics. His main point was to collect, collect and collect more data because you never know when you might need it – it’s better to have too much than not enough. More importantly, however, be aware that you need employees that can mine the data if needed. Another point that I thought was very appropriate was that “customers are not equal”. Ian pointed out that many construction companies have too many customers and many of them drain your resources. Instead, segment your customers and focus time, money and effort on those that are making a positive and profitable contribution to your business.
Kirstie Colledge of Simply Marcomms discussed the importance of online reputation management. She illustrated that it was important to research and find out what people are saying about you and your company and ensure that you are doing something about it. Monitoring brand mentions is crucial and you should create a social media policy which ensures employees know what they can and cannot say/do online. A point to take home was “if you can’t delete, compete”. Negative comments and experiences can be turned around if dealt with properly and professionally. Dominate search results for your company name by publishing videos, blog content, press releases etc. Margaret Fitzsimons followed this speech and illustrated how her company, Voltimum, used email and newsletters to grow the business and provide customers with a useful and valuable information resource. Important point about email marketing is that it is instantly measurable and trackable but you should always test your message in various browsers to ensure that your links work and click through.
Gemma Went, Red Cube Marketing was supposed to present after lunch however she was too ill to attend the event. However, digital communication technology saved the day and she recorded her presentation in order for us to listen to at the end. She looked at the benefits of blogging and how it can be used to establish yourself as a thought leader in the industry and grow your professional network. Blogs show readers what you know, instead of simply telling them that you are an expert, they can now see it for themselves. Final points, as mentioned before, integrate your blog with all the other marketing activities that you do to increase reach and drive quality traffic to your website.
Liam Bateman from The Think Tank was next and discussed whether paying for online ads was necessary or not. He showed that PPC campaigns were a short term tactic that should be combined with a long term strategic marketing plan. Implementing a solid SEO strategy and ensuring you have appropriate landing pages for specific products and services was also mentioned as an essential task. Liam highlighted that there are different elements that measure digital marketing success, and simply looking at how many people clicked on your website is not the most important one. The real gem is knowing WHO is clicking through, what pages are they looking at, how quickly do they leave and even better- do they ever come back?
Paul Wilkinson, pwcom 2.0 stepped into the shoes of Su Butcher (who sadly couldn’t make it) and gave a stimulating speech on ‘getting social’. He demonstrated how the web had changed from 1.0 to 2.0 and that the main advancement is, “people are now having conversations online”. Therefore construction companies need to make sure they have an online social presence so that they can participate in these conversations and establish what their customers and clients are looking for.
The final speaker of the day was Craig Duxbury from IASB2B who did a great job of bringing together a lot of the topics and strategies that were mentioned throughout the day by illustrating (through a case study) how the integration of all marketing messages and activities was key to brand building. Craig discussed how brands are now in the hands of customers because they decide who to trust and do business with. Companies therefore need to ensure they have the right content and strategies to drive prospects further down the decision making process.
On the whole, the CIMCIG event was a great success and I think everyone that attended (or read the tweets and links) has taken something back with them and will hopefully use this knowledge to improve or embark on some digital marketing strategies and tactics. Here is a summary of the main points we found useful:
- Websites are a marketing tool, not merely a shop window into your business. Therefore make the user’s experience as friendly and rewarding as possible. Remember your website should not only be about YOU but instead about how your products and services can help your target audience.
- Content is king! Give your target audience the content they need to make the right purchase decision and keep them coming back to your website by starting a blog discussing relevant issues affecting your industry.
- Integrate everything because if you don’t you are wasting time and money sending out inconsistent and confusing messages. Combine your offline and online marketing strategies to create a powerful brand that is unique, instantly recognisable and most importantly, adds and provides value to your clients and customers.
- Marketing is not just for the marketing department. Involve all departments because internal marketing is just as important as external marketing. It is the happy, satisfied and inspired employees that make your company great and provide a valuable service to your clients and customers.
At Pauley Creative we can provide your construction company with straightforward, measurable digital marketing strategies and tactics so give us a call on 01908 671 707.