As a membership organisation for the construction industry, the success of your business will strongly depend upon how you choose to build key relationships with your members. Relationship-building should be paired with face-to-face industry events, courses and seminars, alongside measurable website activity to build a strong online community. After all, while offline engagement is important, a website will act as your primary identity online, where members will search for information and insights, register for industry events, participate in forums, and sign up for specification tools or publications.
As a result, you need to ensure that every click and website visit you receive results in a measurable action, which can then be followed through with more effective discussions offline.
Construction website assets for your members area
As a reputable organisation, you should provide your members with exclusivity in order to make them feel valued; ‘content gateways’, which can only be accessed by members only, should enable them to receive a range of high-quality content and guidance, which in turn will lead to building strong brand loyalty.
So, in order to ensure you’re providing that all-important ‘added value’ to your members, what should your members area include?
1) Online Training Courses
Training courses are crucial to ensuring your members are receiving the support and guidance they need in order to progress in their sector. These courses, covering a range of niche topics, should provide your audience with the opportunity to track their progress and work through the material at their own pace. Training courses for the construction industry, whether you’re targeting merchants, distributors or suppliers, should be accredited as appropriate to national standards. Why not go that additional mile and offer Apprenticeship training, Diploma’s or NVQ’s?
2) Exclusive Forums
Forums are a great way to encourage engagement between members and get them talking about the content you provide, or even better – contributing to it. Not only do forums help your members to find common ground with others by discussing industry-related issues, forums also offer you as a business the opportunity to find out what your members want answering. While members can collaborate between themselves — you can then use these conversations to further improve and re-shape the content you’re providing. Consider making your forums sector specific – perhaps one on plumbing and heating and the other on timber, for example.
3) Networking opportunities
Aside from specialist or sector-specific forums, your construction business should provide members with a whole range of networking opportunities and events that are available throughout the year; these should typically include regional meetings, exclusive ‘Members’ days, awards dinners and overseas conferences.
4) Blog section
From the monthly information provided through your analytics account, as well as conversations held face-to-face, online via social media or through specialist forums, your blog section should aid members by providing answers to common industry-related issues, whilst also offering advice and support on a range of topics. Once you’ve collated enough blog posts, these can then help to start shaping those ‘premium downloads’. Always ensure your content forms part of a structured marketing strategy to avoid random acts of marketing, as discussed in the next section.
For more advice on creating effective blog posts in line with your content strategy, download our Content Marketing eBook here.
5) Premium Downloads
Members who pay a monthly or annual subscription fee for access to your construction website should expect quality downloadable articles, videos or podcasts that will support their job role and enhance their existing knowledge within the construction sector. For example, builders merchants may wish for the latest industry specific data on merchants, monthly sales indicators or quality eBooks to guide them in certain aspects of their business. Consider providing larger downloads quarterly and build a campaign around it so that they can anticipate as to when they’ll receive the latest content.
6) Construction Publications
Members should be able to download key industry publications or gain access to archived content. You could create your own publication, which provides an authoritative, collective voice for your audience, and offer visitors the opportunity to read 10 articles for free each month, for example. Going forward, this could work on a subscription basis. Review which publications best resonate with your target audience and what online portals will provide the most valuable content.
7) Online tools
Giving your construction audience specific tools to further support them in their everyday role and decision-making will further enhance the credibility of your organisation, while giving your members a reason to continue using and recommending your platform to others. An example of this may be a U-Value Calculator for a specification audience, or a training portal that allows members to build or record their own workflow.
8) Live webinars and specialist chatrooms
Using the information and research you’ve collated from your specialist forum, consider holding webinars where you can interact one-on-one with your members, or even set up a special chatroom with live hours where they can get in touch with you for immediate feedback. These can be based around the most common frustrations or queries discussed in your forums, and will ensure that your target audience continues to perceive your construction business as trusted thought leaders.
9) Start-up Guides
Whilst existing members may be familiar with the structure of your website, for those who have just signed up or are recommending your service to others, it’s worth providing a simple start-up guide. This can be offered post sign-up within a simple email campaign, or even on the members sign-up homepage itself. After all, why not use it as effective marketing material for displaying the benefits of your members area to those considering signing up too?
Considerations for keeping your existing members engaged
1) Listen, review and implement
To reiterate what has already been mentioned, listening to your members’ needs and discussions online is the only way to incentivise existing and potential members to regularly use your platform. After all, if you don’t know what they’re after, how can you continue to provide the right material and informative content, and why should they keep coming back if what you’re providing is no longer relevant? To prevent seeing your website visitors fall off a cliff, listen to what they’re discussing, ask your members regularly what they’d like to see more of, and put their advice into practice.
2) Create new and engaging content
In terms of how to approach content development, always have a structured calendar detailing how often new material needs to be uploaded, what topics are required and the purpose behind each piece. This will ensure you’re consistent with content creation and will also stop you creating those ‘random acts of marketing’. What content do you have on hand and what do you need to develop more of? View our post on how to create an effective content strategy here, and to ensure everything written is focused towards your key target personas, you may want to read this presentation given at our last DECONSTRUCT event.
3) Notify existing customers of new material
It’s all well and good creating that new seminar video or uploading more data research, but sometimes your members who have their own busy lifestyle will need subtle prompters to revisit your website. Provide regular updates in your email newsletter, add the information into your distributed publication or even send out tweets or LinkedIn updates to keep them informed.
4) Incentivise online courses
While many members may want to complete training courses at their own pace, they may also be looking for you as industry leaders to give them a nudge in the right direction. Why not start a challenge each month or give them an incentive to complete a certain amount of lessons or tasks each day – perhaps incentivise them with a new members discount or first access to an exclusive guide. This will both raise further awareness of your services while also driving engagement between members online.
5) Focus on communication
Business support shouldn’t just be a one-way approach where you submit or upload publications, industry data or new workshops. Members should always be given the opportunity to talk directly to you as a construction organisation, whether this is a simple comment on a blog post, via social media, or through a customer helpline. Addressing members individually and on a personal level will provide that added value to keep them coming back for more.
Struggling with how to communicate over social media, and which platforms to focus on? Download our Social Media eBook here.
While your construction organisation will have different ideas as to how you’d like to support members and provide insightful content, this post should serve as a starting point for brainstorming ways to maximise the success of your business. Are you doing enough online activity to achieve your business goals?
For more information on how to drive further engagement through effective content marketing, download our eBook here, or for direct advice, give us a call on 01908 671707.