For all dedicated marketers, both in the construction industry and elsewhere, finding new ways of interacting and engaging with potential leads has always been a top priority.
And within this fast-moving digital world it becomes all the more important to find out which marketing strategies are most popular, and out of these, which will best ensure your brand gets heard.
This post will discuss the importance of QR codes and hashtags to the construction industry, and how they can be applied to your business in order to achieve the best results.
So let’s start by talking about QR codes.
These ‘quick response’ codes have been used frequently across different businesses as a way of connecting the print world to the digital through the simple use of a smartphone.
A smartphone can scan the barcode and be taken to the appropriate online page, whether this is for further product information, contact details, and so on.
They are yet another ‘call to action’ to help measure how offline activity can contribute towards your overall marketing objectives.
Here is a quick summary of our previous post back in 2011, which covered how QR codes can be used for construction marketers:
QR codes can be used to display business information or further product details on billboards and signage; prospects will be able to instantly contact the nearest sales rep if they are interested in the product information displayed.
In a similar way, QR codes can be used at your company’s stand at particular events in order to direct prospects that may be interested in what you do to contact details, which are automatically saved in their phone. It can similarly guide them to a more in-depth description of your business or BIM drawings, etc.
– Engaging content
As part of a marketing campaign, the QR code can link to a specific landing page such as a case study, which demonstrates how the product you are campaigning for has worked within a previous project.
– Print ads in publication magazines
Architects can place QR codes in magazines, next to photos of previous or current projects; readers can then scan the QR code in order to gain access to further product information online.
– Product packaging
Having a QR code on the side of product packaging would allow the builder, contractor or architect to have instant access to information, such as an easy-to-follow installation video, useful technical drawings or an FAQ page.
QR codes can allow the contractors to look at product samples on the shelves, and with a quick scan, gain access to the guide specs or even review how the product looks on site.
QR codes can even offer your customers promotional discounts; this will also encourage your twitter followers to share or retweet a particular discount online, increasing brand awareness and generating instant brand advocacy.
Our previous post indicates that QR codes effectively integrate online and offline marketing, whilst being cheap, quick and easy to use.
So four years on and has this opinion changed?
Have they taken off in the way we thought they would?
For many marketing industries, QR codes are now very few and far between.
And as with most offline measurement tactics, QR codes do come with their own limitations.
To name a few…
– People actually need a smartphone to use this tool, and with this, an app that actually allows their phone to scan the code.
– Good cellular service is needed to follow the link supplied by the QR code; there are far too many underground billboards with QR codes that are clearly not going to work on the tube!
– Several QR codes take so long to scan that they aren’t in fact ‘quick response’ systems at all.
– Far too many aren’t even responsive; a few companies place a QR code on their advertising just for the sake of having it there.
– Or, when they are responsive, they direct their customer to an unhelpful or broken landing page.
Here are some examples of construction companies who have failed to use the QR code effectively…
Guttercrest have used a QR code in the bottom right of their advertisement; not only is there no indication as to what this code will actually take you to, but it directs you to the company’s homepage.
This provides no additional information for the consumer, nor does it provide any benefits over simply typing in the company website yourself on your mobile or at a desktop.
In terms of efficiency, by the time you have scanned the code, it would be just as quick to enter the address into your search bar in order to gain the same information.
Despite this advertisement looking great visually, Actis Insulation’s use of a QR code does not benefit their consumers.
Once you scan the code, which also doesn’t indicate where it will take you, the Youtube video is shown as ‘private’ and cannot be viewed.
We are then left staring at a mixture of Coca-cola adverts and Taylor Swift on our screens, something which we don’t think was intended by Actis Insulation.
However, this isn’t to say that QR codes aren’t good marketing tactics; in fact they can be, and all the useful points we summarised from our previous post are still very much relevant to construction marketing in 2015.
They can still be used for product campaigns or case study promotions, technical guides or installation videos. They can still provide value.
It’s more about knowing how to use them.
Here are some examples of how QR codes have been integrated effectively within advertising campaigns…
‘I’m Alright Jack!’ have kept their design minimal both in colour and text.
The QR code at the bottom left is then clearly labelled with ‘find out more’, which entices the user who has so far gained a little snippet about the company, to read more on a fully optimised mobile-friendly web page.
This page tells the consumer all they need to know about how the company’s products are CE marked, and contains further links to individual products at the bottom of the screen.
‘I’m Alright Jack!” have ensured their advertisement is clear and to the point, leaving the consumer willing to scan the code in order to benefit from more detailed product information.
Pro Builder have used a QR code in order to advertise a multi-function app for builders, site managers and surveyors.
The QR code has been made the focal point here, which directly takes you to the app store where, as promised, you can download it for free and try it out first hand.
Rather than filling a whole page describing the app’s benefits, Pro Builder’s use of a QR code makes the process easy and efficient for the prospect, providing them with instant access to the app Pro Builder are promoting.
All of the above work well and give the prospect a clear reason as to why they should scan the code in the first place.
Remember that for your customers, the desire to stop and actually scan the code has to outweigh the effort behind doing this.
As a result, they serve as great examples of QR code integration, but are they being measured to determine their effectiveness?
YouScan.me is a website that allows you to track your codes; it measures how many people scan the code and from which locations. It also has inbuilt analytics in order to help measure your marketing success.
Or, you can simply use UTM tags just as you would with any other marketing campaigns. Just add the campaign tracking variables to the URL that you have in your QR code, such as ‘source’, medium’, and ‘campaign’.
[URL in QR code]/?utm_source=qrcode&utm_medium=blog&utm_campaign=qrcodecasestudy
Both techniques enable you to report on the traffic QR codes are bringing in and how valuable that traffic is.
For more information on how to use UTM tags, read our post: ‘How to use UTM tags to measure construction marketing’.
QR codes need to directly fit into your business objectives, and measuring their effectiveness is the only way of ensuring this.
Therefore, when used effectively, there is no doubt that QR codes will improve your customer service; just don’t expect immediate results.
It is simply about applying them in the right way and ensuring they are implemented as part of a carefully considered marketing campaign.
And always remember to measure, just as you would with any online marketing activity!
The ever-growing hashtag
We all know that hashtags crop up anywhere and everywhere.
No longer restricted to the fans of Twitter, hashtags now appear across other social platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest, as well as through print advertising and billboards.
When used effectively, they can expand your content reach, increase brand awareness, improve SEO and encourage conversations within your target market.
The symbol provides immediate interaction with your target audience, and easily identifies the conversations that matter to your construction business across social media.
And being that the ever-growing social sphere now absorbs most consumers, some may argue that hashtags are starting to replace the QR code, encouraging immediate engagement and participation.
Here are just a few of the ways that hashtags can be used as part of an effective marketing campaign, or to simply promote a construction brand:
– Brand hashtag
This is a tagline that defines the key message behind your business. To make this as effective as possible do a search for the hashtag you’re thinking of beforehand and see where it has been previously used; make it different, short and easy to spell.
– Campaign hashtag
A unique hashtag can also be created in order to promote a particular campaign; further extend the campaign’s reach by encouraging engagement through the duration of your special offer. Integrate online and offline marketing by including this hashtag on particular billboards or in printed magazines.
A campaign may take the form of a competition; in this instance, people may need to use a particular hashtag as a requirement to enter your contest. This once again encourages engagement and conversations around a particular product. For example, this may involve encouraging your audience to take photos of how your product has been used in their home in order to be entitled to an online discount.
– Trending hashtags
These can be used when you see a trend that relates to your business. Your construction business can then engage with it by using the tag and taking part in conversations. This technique enables your personal message to be seen by a larger audience.
– Content hashtags
These can improve the SEO of your posts; common tags related to your post, whether this is a product, event or location means that when people search for particular hashtags, your post will appear in their search results. Ensure you connect with your audience by always thinking like the consumer. What might they search for?
Here are a few examples of how construction companies have implemented the use of hashtags within their marketing campaigns…
This is just one of many examples where construction marketers have used trending hashtags to enable their tweet to reach a larger audience.
Redland have incorporated ‘roofers’ into their tweet in order to increase the chance of their products being shared across the platform, instantly promoting their Redland tiles to other prospects within the roofing industry.
When an architect or contractor is searching for conversations surrounding the keyword ‘BIM’, Twitter will post a news feed surrounding this topic, including the most recent blog posts and articles.
Those who have incorporated ‘BIM’ into their tweet as a content hashtag to promote their blog post, will automatically increase their chances of their post being read and shared.
Just like QR codes, hashtags can also be measured for efficiency; ‘Hashtracking’ provides data and visuals on how well a particular campaign is doing across social networks.
However, hashtags are also similar to QR codes in the sense that they can easily be misused, and hashtag campaigns are often difficult to execute in a way that returns high consumer engagement.
Simply promoting a hashtag may not instantly increase engagement; in fact they can often encourage complaints.
Complaints can happen when the hashtag you have created relates directly and solely to your brand; this could encourage users to jump in on the hashtag and turn your marketing campaign into a disaster.
It may provoke conversations across social media that focus on negative experiences they may have had with your company, and encourage others to join in.
Before you know it, the hashtag you have created has taken on a life of its own, catapulting your original intentions out of the window.
Therefore, if you are thinking of creating a unique hashtag for your company, try to use a phrase that is relatable to your audience and not just your business, or incorporate a catchy, lighthearted phrase to create brand personality.
It’s all about encouraging positive interactions by thinking outside of your company name.
Ultimately, when approached with caution, both QR codes and hashtags can enlighten any construction business, as long as you think strategically and carefully about how to implement either or both into your chosen marketing campaign.
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