When we last carried out a social media analysis on the top UK construction companies in 2015, we learnt that only 22% of these actually had their own blog area. In fact, since the previous year, a few businesses actually removed their blog section entirely.
Since then, the number of construction companies from this list who have incorporated a blog section onto their site has risen to 40%.
This gradual rise indicates that construction companies are slowly starting to gain an understanding for the effectiveness of blogging, and how it contributes to their overall marketing strategy.
If you too need a little more convincing on why exactly you should own a blog, you can view our post on measuring the value of blog content here.
For this post however, we’ve taken a bunch of the top construction companies and analysed their own blogs’ effectiveness (our opinions only)! in the hope that you’ll gain some inspiration for your own.
Their ‘effectiveness’ has been based around the following points:
– How easy are their blogs to find?
– Is the blog area visually appealing?
– How regularly are they posting?
– Does their blog contain a mixture of relevant information?
– Are there sufficient call-to-actions?
So without further ado…
What is immediately noticeable with BAM Construct UK is that they aren’t afraid of actually showcasing their blog area; whilst it was easy to find under the ‘Media Centre’ tab, what’s more impressive is that their mobile version immediately directs you to their latest blog update, as shown below:
This is particularly refreshing to see within the construction industry, after viewing many company websites who seem to hide their blog area from view entirely.
The blog is also visually pleasing and easy to use, with a clear, spaced font size and a mix of both image and video used throughout. This helps to avoid making the page appear too ‘text heavy.’ The screenshot below shows their incorporation of high-res banner images and clear links onto the full-page article:
The article highlighted above then clicks through to the following post, which again has made the most of visual graphics as opposed to explaining the content in word format. These elements help to keep the reader engaged for as long as possible…
In terms of consistency, BAM Construct UK post to their site roughly 3-4 times a week. This contains a variety of industry-relevant information including upcoming technological changes, as well as apprenticeship information and industry events. The blog posts are often centred around sharing opinions on issues facing the construction industry – advising and educating their audience rather than using their blog as a purely self-promotional tool. A range of authors also helps to give their blog a sense of authenticity.
Below are a few examples of BAM Construct’s recent blog posts that work well from an engagement perspective; they’re both topics that resonate with a construction audience, and show website visitors that BAM Construct are concerned with implementing change and gathering opinions from construction professionals alike:
‘Why Diversity and Inclusion matters to the future of our industry’ – A post aimed to reflect the male-orientated culture of the construction industry, and how we should go about changing this.
Think Outside the box – Risks facing Construction Industry’ – How board members can minimise business risks that threaten the construction industry
Call-to-actions however weren’t indicated very often within each piece, or even internal links, which means that they rely heavily on the reader clicking through to the separate links at the bottom of the page. These are worth having within the article itself in order to prompt them onto the next step.
Always think – what is the purpose of this article and where do I want the reader to go next?
It’s all about keeping them engaged on your site for as long as possible.
Again another easily locatable blog area, which provides you with an option to view case studies and video content, as well as their blog updates. Whilst their blog section looks fairly new, this has cleverly been divided into individual sectors on the left hand side, which saves the visitor scrolling through posts that may not be of much relevance to them.
As you can see from the above screenshots, large, high-res images are used throughout the blog section help to break up the written content and enhance the user’s online experience.
It also appears as though they’re increasing their levels of blog activity month on month, with a handful of posts being posted in May.
However, this content does appear to be heavily led by promoting their own internal values, such as community building and charity events. Whilst this is great for promoting their brand culture, it’s also important to offer advice or voice opinions on the construction industry as a whole, sharing valuable, industry-led information which doesn’t necessarily apply directly to your brand or services.
A mixture of both is required to show you are providing that all-important added value to your construction audience.
Heavy on their ‘internal values’:
We think their post on Sustainability, titled ‘Nice to have versus Must-Have’, is great for a construction audience, and is exactly the type of material that they could do more of. It focuses on how to achieve lasting sustainable changes on your business with the three ‘CB’s: changing behaviours, commercial benefit and challenging balance
Whilst their blog section looks great, they’ve also missed a huge opportunity to encourage their visitors onto the ‘next step’ by providing very few call-to-actions.
Pilkington UK have been slightly more shy when it comes to promoting their blog area; located under the ‘news’ section, it’s relatively easy to find but is located at the bottom of the page.
BUT, it’s evident to see that the regularity of their blog posts has significantly improved over time, with monthly updates as opposed to every few months. They’re also sharing more of a mixture of content– offering internal news, industry news, product information and informative blog posts, as well as links to important BRE reports.
A range of Pilkington UK’s blog content:
The below posts are examples of what we think work best and what Pilkington UK could do more of to further educate and advise the reader:
‘National Home Security Month’ – draws upon the key differences between safety glass and security glass.
‘Pilkington Specification Tools’ – explains the benefits of their latest tools to support homeowners, specifiers and architects on their next project build.
A few good call-to-actions were also included within the blog area; the below screenshot shows how the reader is directed to their brochure page, in order to encourage downloads and ultimately contribute to their lead generation process.
However what soon became apparent was the amount of call-to-actions taking visitors to an external site, which again creates a missed opportunity. For example, the below screenshot shows how the reader is directed to their Youtube Account after reading a blog post. If they were to embed the video within the page itself, they could keep the visitor on site for longer and direct them to their ‘contact’ page instead, for example.
This is the first construction company we analysed that located their blog section within the main menu itself, hooray! The blog section is also split into key sectors, similarly to Carillion PLC, to refine the user’s search and best serve their requirements. It’s also quite visually appealing, with a range of colours used to define these blog categories.
Easily accessible blog area in main menu:
Colourful blog category section:
However, it’s clear to see that their blog activity has come to a standstill; whilst last year they were posting 3-4 blogs a month, their last post was published in February. This is a shame considering the amount of high-quality value content they do provide.
A lot of their blog categories consist of in-depth, industry-related information, case-study projects and the campaign promotion of ‘Kierheroes’.
The posts below are great examples of educational content that Kier provide:
‘Big data’ for Construction: Building Information Modelling – an explanation of BIM and the power of collaboration to improve projects
‘What’s down the road for street works?’ – the power of data to target industry challenges and how this affects the bigger picture
Whilst this is all great stuff, we couldn’t help but notice that their blogs are extremely text-heavy and lengthy; whilst there is nothing wrong with long-form blog posts (in fact, these are great for search purposes), incorporating more graphics into their posts like BAM Construct may help to refresh their content style. Short, informative ‘FAQ’ style posts may also help to engage their readers even further.
Call to actions are very few and far between – however where they have been used, Kier Group have taken the reader onto the next relevant page in order to continue the user journey.
SSE Engineers’ blog section is accessible via the ‘News and Views’ button on their website homepage, as shown below:
Filter button located on right-hand side:
However once you click onto this page, both ‘news’ and ‘blog’ content are merged within the same list, meaning you need to differentiate the two using the right-hand tickbox (shown above).
It soon becomes evident that there are a few cross-overs between these two options. For example, direct opportunities and recent events at SSE would typically be seen as short news pieces, whilst longer, conversational-type pieces on industry matters should be categorised as blog content.
It’s important to note here that SSE aren’t the only construction company to not clearly define the difference between a ‘blog’ and ‘news’ section. It’s actually very common, and we’ll come onto this later.
Despite not being quite as visually appealing as some other construction websites, SSE can take the crown for being one of the most consistent companies with their on-site content, posting atleast 4 posts per month and even exceeding this at times.
Great examples of SSE’s informative blog content include the following:
‘What did the Carbon Price Floor ever do for us?’ – the energy industry and the impact of the Carbon Price Floor; how this makes a cost effective difference to low carbon energy.
‘Tackling the energy industry gender gap’ –addressing a skills shortage and clear lack of diversity in the construction industry; what construction businesses can do about it.
Although each of these posts do have a ‘related stories’ option at the end to guide the reader onto a similar topic, straightforward call-to-actions to ‘contact us’ or ‘download a brochure’ are not included.
Taking your customer from this initial ‘awareness’ stage through to becoming a potential lead can be done by simply providing them with an obvious sense of direction on what to do next.
Costain’s blog area is located by clicking the small ‘news’ link at the top of their homepage, or by scrolling to the bottom of their page. Within their blog area, you can then explore content by date, or topic, as demonstrated in the below screenshot. The layout is refreshing and pleasing to the eye, with a range of authors positioned across the right hand side.
It’s great to see that they’re regularly blogging too.
In terms of the quality of their blog content, Costain are regularly posting on upcoming legislations or changes to building regulations, Government implementations on the construction industry and educational-type posts. Although a few posts are self-promotional, they have a great mix of engaging and informative content to share.
Blog content by Costain:
Their post titled ‘A Spotlight on Hazards, Risk and Process Safety‘, is a perfect example of how to provide added value to your audience by supplying them with information that will directly benefit them and improve their knowledge as an individual.
It covers the importance of safety management within the construction industry to reduce hazards and risks, ending with ‘Seven magnificent principles to remember’. This helps to condense the main points of the article in a memorable way for the reader.
In fact, this ‘numbered approach’ often performs well in search, such as the ‘top 10 things to consider’, or ‘5 key facts about….’, which many other construction companies could easily implement into their own content strategy.
‘Numbered approach’ to content:
In comparison to other businesses, Costain are also particularly consistent with their call-to-actions; the below screenshot demonstrates how the same post supplies the visitor with further reading, as well as those all important links to direct them towards the relevant people to speak to.
Unlike other construction companies who typically locate their blog under a ‘news and media’ or ‘news’ section, Interserve Construction have labelled their blog as the ‘Knowledge Centre’ and positioned it within the main menu.
This is a fresh take on the conventional ‘Blog’ label, and their ‘Knowledge Centre’ serves as a platform to discuss the continuous changes and developments within the construction industry.
Each section is also filtered by type for easy viewing, and topics are colour-coded into five key areas (shown below).
Knowledge centre location:
Colour filters on ‘Knowledge Centre’ homepage:
Topics discussed include sustainability, climate change, waste management and biodiversity – all subjects that would resonate with a range of construction professionals. As well as this, a ‘skills and training’ section covers apprenticeship and career opportunities. They’re also fairly consistent with providing new content for the platform.
However, their blog section also contains a lot of ‘case-study style’, self-promotional content, which needs to be balanced with more of the above.
Below is an example of a great blog by Interserve Construction which they should do more of:
‘Climate Change – a good thing?’ discusses their opinions on the effect of climate change, including a useful infographic to break down the stats to support their argument.
Whilst this post points the visitor through to other similar topics, there are no clear cut call-to-actions provided.
But this is not always the case – the following screenshot taken from their ‘Skills and Opportunities‘ post is a great example of how to add that personable touch to an article:
This demonstrates Interserve’s willingness to support their readers in a direct and approachable manner; whilst this is clearly the call-to-action they want their reader to take, a ‘contact us’ would help to further guide the user towards making an enquiry.
What stands out almost immediately is that despite being easily located on the main homepage, Mitie’s blog section is extremely text heavy, with very few images at all on the main page:
However it is clear that they are regular bloggers, who have taken a slightly different approach compared to other companies when it comes to their choice of topics.
Their blog sections are segmented into the following topics:
- Mitie Debates – this is heavily led by project research and interviews within the workplace, to demonstrate Mitie’s understanding of different working patterns across business sectors
- One Guest at a Time – this is located on Mitie’s Client Services, and uses employee interviews to give an in-depth insight into different roles to enhance recruitment opportunities
- Wholesome Seduction – this contains healthy recipes to further accentuate their goal to inspire change within working communities and improve employee satisfaction
Example of a ‘Mitie Debates’ post:
Example of a ‘Guest at a time’ post:
Example of a ‘Wholesome Seduction’ post:
For the majority of these posts, the call-to-action (as shown below) is to follow them on Twitter, which suggests that Mitie’s main priority is to grow their social following in order to circulate their company values amongst potential clients.
Whilst their approach to blogging helps to enhance their personable nature and willingness to engage with like-minded people in the workplace, there is definitely a gap for demonstrating their technical expertise and knowledge on improving energy performance.
This could include posts such as ‘6 effective ways to understand your current energy usage’, or ‘How to effectively manage your energy consumption’. These educational posts would help to encourage prospects to enquire about Mitie’s services, giving them that additional reassurance that Mitie are the go-to people for outsourcing their services.
Mace Group, similarly to Interserve Construction, have labelled their blog section differently. Located under ‘Media Centre’, their blog section ‘Thinking’ could be easily missed if not promoted sufficiently online.
A great introduction is provided to explain how the posts will discuss issues within the construction industry; this allows the visitor to immediately understand the purpose behind ‘Thinking’, whilst encouraging them to provide their own feedback and opinions on each topic discussed. Scrolling through Mace Group’s blog topics indicates that they’re providing the right type of information to their audience.
The regularity of their blogging cannot be known due to the posts not having a date located. Hiding a publication date, whilst removing the pressure to post regularly, may also discourage a user from sharing a post that may not have been recently updated.
Examples of informative and educational posts by Mace Group include the following:
‘A look down the road: how driverless cars will change britain’ – discusses future technological advances on our roads by referring to a recent UK Government report; this content demonstrates their forward thinking and enthusiasm for the subject.
What’s changing and what you need to know’ – discusses upcoming changes to the health and safety industry and what the reader should be aware of.
Mace group also provides a range of interactive papers throughout their blog, with this particular example below relating to national infrastructure and its’ local benefits. This provides a different and engaging way of providing information to the reader.
Our last construction business ISG plc use their blogging strategy for a slightly different purpose. However, it took a while to figure this out due to the near impossibility of actually locating it on their website. As you can see below, the search button had to be used in order to find any signs of blog activity:
Below is a screenshot of one of the links clicked from above, which takes the reader through to a case study. ISG plc then use a blogging method in order to update the reader on each stage of the project.
Project page of Pinnacle House:
Example of one blog update:
Implementing blog posts for each stage of a project build adds a personable touch to the online user experience, and suggests that ISG want their readers to feel included and made to feel part of ISG’s progression. Assigning different project teams to write each blog update also adds another personal dimension to each project.
The screenshot used above also demonstrates their use of a timelapse video in order to announce the final update of a project’s completion. This is a great visual and engaging element to demonstrate the project’s completion and how ISG as a team contributed to the final outcome.
Whilst the blog updates themselves contain no call-to-actions, the case study’s provide a general ‘contact us’ link.
ISG plc by implementing this strategy are trying something different from the conventional construction blog. However, they are still missing out on instigating discussions and demonstrating their technical expertise; posts unrelated to their own work could include ‘how-to’ tips, ‘elements to consider when…’, or the ‘top 5 issues experienced in construction’, for example – all content which could easily be taken from the on-site teams mentioned within each blog update.
The above research demonstrates that there are some great transitions happening within the construction industry, as businesses move towards creating more engaging, relevant and educational content for their target audience.
Evidently, the world of construction is taking positive steps towards understanding the importance of providing added value to clients and prospects.
Whilst all ten of the above companies have demonstrated some unique and impressive ideas for an effective blogging strategy, here at Pauley Creative we are always looking for ways to continuously improve.
Therefore, we’ve come up with 5 key takeaways from this research, all of which should help you to create or improve your own blogging strategy:
• Positioning – whilst incorporating a blog section into your content marketing strategy is priceless, this is no good if the potential prospect or client simply cannot find it on your website. This is a particularly common issue across the construction industry. It’s no good knowing what content to create if your blog is not positioned clearly on your homepage. Make sure your time and resource does not go to waste by guiding the online user experience, and making your website as navigable as possible.
• News v blog content –we think that a ‘news’ section should be a factual timeline about your company: this includes any changes or updates to your services or product offerings. A ‘blog’ section, however, is a space to discuss trending topics around your industry, share opinions, ask for comments and educate your audience with interesting and relevant content. In addition, whereas a ‘news’ section should be more official, a blog area should carry a more informal, light-hearted tone. The two terms often overlap one another, when in fact they are two completely different types of content.
• Self-promoting – whilst you should demonstrate technical expertise and industry leadership, an effective blogging strategy should not solely be focused on the promotion of your own brand. Ideally your blog should provide answers to common industry-related questions including simple ‘how-to’ guides. Providing more general, non-salesy content is what will support the reach of your marketing efforts in the long run.
• Search titles – whilst a lot of the blog titles we came across were particularly engaging, a lot of them would also rank poorly in search. Remember that unlike print, you’ve got to tread carefully with online content in order to gain a healthy balance between search-friendly optimization and ‘catchy’ titles for your audience. Always consider what they’d be typing into search to find the answer to your chosen subject (using Analytics software), in order to increase the chance of your piece being found and clicked upon.
• Personas – it’s all too easy to get carried away with writing content that you think would be particularly engaging, whilst forgetting about what your ideal prospect or customer would want to read (if you need help creating content personas, take a look out our post here). When creating your blogging strategy month on month, ensure each piece is relevant to a particular content persona in order to increase conversions and achieve business goals.
For more information on creating an effective content marketing strategy for your business, download our content marketing eBook here.