If you’re in the construction industry and new to digital marketing, that’s OK. There’s no better time than 2017 for some new strategies.
Since the construction industry has yet to adopt digital marketing on the scale of other businesses, there’s a lot of room to pull ahead with some creativity. This is especially true for small and mid-sized companies.
While small margins for error in construction mean word-of-mouth and reputation will always play a large role, data shows business owners are increasingly looking for companies online.
Here are ten resolutions you can prepare for New Year’s.
1| Start writing content
One ad agency interviewed 76 leading marketers this year to find out the most important industry trends. About a quarter of them emphasized the importance of content, with a handful reiterating a phrase that’s become digital marketing’s de facto motto: Content is King.
With more and more companies fighting for the throne, writing exceptional content often requires a specialist. Luckily, construction is an industry with many niches.
There are things you know that others want to find out about.
My niche, for example, is prefab building materials from China. My content can help those researching what’s a relatively out-of-the-way market despite the fact I’m far from the world’s best writer.
Let’s say you’re in construction rigging, a service which my company often deals with, and you’re in Florida.
I would love to know what problems foreign-based materials vendors might face transporting large freight at a local site. This is just one possible article which you could write using your knowledge of local regulations, the local labor market, and personal industry experience.
Start a blog on your website.
Create a two-month schedule based on objectives and SEO keywords. Distribution is a whole other matter, but publishing and boosting on Facebook is a barebones plan. Here are some resources to learn more:
The Content Marketing Institute has resources on everything content-related.
Understand how online content is not the same as print.
Read this beginner’s guide.
2| Publish your content on LinkedIn
One platform people highly underrate for building leads is LinkedIn. The environment encourages professional engagement and thoughtful comments, while the site allows you to target the audience you want.
LinkedIn complements your website and Facebook page, but remember that articles longer than three paragraphs are best for their publishing platform. For shorter content use the status update — and make it digestible.
Join active industry groups and contribute to conversations on those pages.
Readers won’t come overnight, but members will welcome insightful content that’s not just self-promotion. Don’t neglect the power of commenting on other people’s work, and ask questions too.
3| Get ready for Building Information Modelling
The UK mandates BIM for all government construction projects. Australia, Germany, and the UAE are likewise planning similar requirements, while the process is growing rapidly around the word. The question is not if the majority of projects will be made with it eventually.
Companies need to prepare for the time when BIM will be the industry standard.
Right now, developers still see BIM as a B2B differentiator. In the future, expect companies to incorporate their BIM working experience, or the process itself, in their marketing.
4| Create a social media group
In China, we have WeChat, which is ideal for work and social groups. It fosters a golden ratio of purpose (you can only join a group by invite) and casualness (the groups look like chat rooms). For business, they tend to be professional, friendly, and active.
Wanted: More construction industry groups that are professional, friendly and active.
From discussions I’ve had with other professionals, I know I’m not alone in hoping for these. Whoever can start filling the demand using Western platforms will get prime opportunities to network and advertise.
5| Develop micro-partnerships with other businesses
According to a recent study, 82% of consumers said they’d follow a micro-influencer’s suggestion. This info has huge implications for digital marketing, but what does it mean?
Influencer marketing is selling your product via an industry or community leader. It’s today’s version of getting Michael Jordan in your commercial, with a number of key differences. Two unique things about influencer marketing are especially relevant for construction professionals.
a) Working with micro-influencers can have a better ROI than seeking out the biggest names.
The widely-accepted definition of a micro-influencer is an individual with 10,000-150,000 followers on Instagram. In the construction industry — as opposed to film or fashion — few people can be considered mega-influencers. That’s not a bad thing because marketers are just starting to discover how people are more likely to trust niche leaders. You can begin using tools like Buzzsumo to find and contact accounts your consumers follow.
b) Partnerships can lead to long-term earned media relationships.
The largest construction accounts are still associations and publications. By definition, they want to work with individuals and companies. If you’ve already built your online influence through networking or content, you’re in a good position to help outlets and industry groups with their goals.
One idea: Approach them about issues both of you care about, whether that’s social housing costs or building sustainability. Of course, this applies to individual influencers too.
6| Catalog on platforms for builders, developers, and architects
7| Use virtual reality
Filming you own 360-degree content is possible, but you’ll need to do some research first.
People are always surprised when they see that most VR rigs are soccer ball-shaped apparatuses with GoPro cameras attached. While they’re expensive, rental companies make filming on your own possible.
Hiring production might be worth the cost for many businesses.
Digi-Capital predicts the VR market will reach $30 billion by 2020, and products like Google Cardboard mean VR content is on the verge of mass availability.
For some inspiration, check out these projects.
8| Find the right specialists
Sometimes you have to know when to call the professionals. For example, you can do the basics of SEO on your own with a plugin like Yoast. But if you want a unique web presence, it’ll be the specialists and firms that create leading SEO & content strategies.
Before you hire: Know want you want to accomplish and what questions to ask.
The essentials are portfolio, capabilities, and measuring ROI. Familiarity with construction is also a big bonus, and luckily construction marketing is a growing field with its own pool of consultants and agencies.
Here’s one list that explains the process of hiring well.
9| Track your campaigns
All the digital marketing strategies mentioned above take time. Some of them, like content writing, can take a lot of time.
Tracking your digital marketing campaigns is so important.
Hubspot is one popular platform for marketing — one that I use for my companies. Google Analytics has it’s own courses for users. At the end of the day, you’re going to have to figure out which software is best for your business. It might take some trial-and-error, but this one’s the most important digital marketing resolution.