We have compiled a list of 5 digital marketing trends that we think will affect the construction industry this year. Before adapting any of these strategies, look over your company objectives to determine whether it will work for you and your business. Always have your goals in mind and don’t rush into anything without taking a step back and asking ‘what is my target audience looking for and how will this benefit them?’
1. Social Media Marketing
In 2010 social media exploded onto the marketing scene and several savvy construction companies jumped on board. Now in 2011, social media marketing will evolve from experimental campaigns ‘testing the waters’, to becoming an essential part of integrated marketing campaigns. Social media does not simplify a marketer’s job because, like traditional tools, it still requires investment, attention and innovation to keep prospects interested. But its greatest strength is the ability to reinforce and humanise brands by energising advocates to talk about the company. It helps foster meaningful relationships with potential clients through online conversations and sharing of industry knowledge.
The social media marketing process consists of the following elements which all work together to create an effective digital marketing strategy:
There is evidence that the construction industry is slowly embracing digital marketing communications and seeing positive results. 2011 will see the first awards for social media in the build environment, namely the Be2Awards in February. The nominations were crowdsourced through online recommendations with companies being recommended by industry peers for particular categories. The voting has now commenced and can be done via the website. This event gives recognition to the efforts of construction companies and should be a great success.
2. Mobile & Web Applications
Mobile marketing increased in 2010 due to the dramatic uptake of smartphones, especially Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android. Mobile e-mail, websites and applications are going to become even more popular in 2011. Construction companies, especially product manufacturers, need to be aware of this trend so that they can use these viable marketing channels to their advantage.
The construction industry can improve their service offerings by adding simple, but effective, web applications such as mobile calculators for specifiers and design tools for architects. Product manufacturers can install interactive product selectors on their websites to make it easier for specifiers to know which products are best suited for a particular job making the buying decision process quicker and easier. A tool that could save a lot of time and money is BIM (building information modelling). It is a digital representation of the building process which facilitates better collaboration and coordination of projects for all stakeholders in the construction process, including structural engineers, contractors and designers.
There is no point having web or mobile apps just for the heck of it, understand what could be beneficial to your target audience. Here is a list of construction-related mobile apps that could be useful.
3. Maintaining Business Relationships through Online Engagement
Business products and services are rarely purchased without some form of research being done first. Companies and brands that use content to prove industry expertise and humanise their business are already one step above the rest. Content marketing gives prospects an opportunity to read your articles and blogs, download your whitepapers and ebooks, discuss industry topics through LinkedIn and engage with you on Twitter. Competitive advantage is achieved by adding value that other companies cannot or do not provide. Building sustainable business relationships with both existing and future clients is essential in the current economic climate and social media further facilitates this.
LinkedIn is a very important business tool and the recommendation feature is a great way to build trust within the industry. Prospects can see what others think of your work and feel reassured that you deliver on what you promise. The new product and services recommendations feature is going to be launched in the UK soon which is another way for satisfied clients to show how you have helped them and this positive word of mouth will encourage potential clients. Business relationships can also be strengthened through engagement on platforms such as Twitter where you can answer questions, provide advice, share content (both yours and other people’s) and participate in group chats by following hashtags such as #measure, #askthearchitect, #commschat and many others.
***Ultimately those construction companies who build and nurture a brand presence online that others can engage with, relate to and trust will be leading the way in 2011.
4. Website Optimisation and Re-design
Linking to point 2 made above, mobile internet usage is on the rise and this brings up questions about web design. iPads, netbooks and other mobile devices are also growing so your website must be responsive to multiple viewports. Is your site optimised for viewing on a mobile device? If you do have a mobile site, do you give visitors the option to view the original site? 2011 is not necessarily about beauty, but about functionality. Is your design attractive but also user friendly enough where information is easily found and not hidden deep within the site?
Social search is an important part of a solid digital marketing strategy and therefore social integration on websites is an important task. Do you have links to your social media platforms (e.g follow us on twitter, connect on LinkedIn or subscribe to our company blog) on your home page or contact page? Do you have the ‘share this’ button which allows visitors to share or bookmark your site? Optimise your landing pages and include keywords in website content for SEO purposes and your website will rank higher in search engines, making it easier for prospects to find you.
QR (quick response) goes hand in hand with mobile marketing and if you feature a QR on your website it gives visitors a shortcut to your mobile site. The great thing about this is the ability to track visitors through QR by placing a referral code onto your URL.
5. Integration and Consistency
There is so much more data available to us now that integrating online and offline data and activities can be a challenging task. As Google’s CEO, Eric Schmidt, recently said “we create as much information in two days now as we did from the dawn of man through 2003.” However the overall goal is not to collect mountains of data, but to develop insights. Google analytics can make this job easier so that marketers can measure the company ROE (return on engagement) and thereby produce more effective integrated campaigns.
The most important thing to remember when implementing digital marketing strategies is that it is not a separate activity. All online activity must reflect the messages that you are sending out through other offline communication channels. If this is not the case, conflicting messages will be distributed, portraying a confused and incoherent brand identity. Therefore, integration of marketing activity and sending out a consistent brand identity will be even more essential this year.
Are there any other trends that you think will have a big impact on the construction industry this year? What marketing challenges do we face in 2011? Write a comment and let us know your thoughts.