Today, there are 240 million people on social media in the United States alone, about 73 percent of the population. Each day, there are approximately 5.6 billion Google searches, while 70 percent of businesses are now active on various social media channels.
It’s never been more clear the world is going digital, and that businesses must adapt and follow suit—or suffer the consequences. No matter where you operate your construction or field service business, marketing your company online has gradually gone from being a “shiny addition” to an absolute necessity. Companies without a website or social media profile are shrugged off as amateurish and outdated. Without a solid online marketing plan with clear goals, your construction business runs the risk of falling far behind competitors.
All that being said, because digital marketing is relatively new and constantly changing, knowing where to start can be unclear for those in construction. Which social media platforms should you invest time and money into? How much advertising budget should you set aside for Google? Is it worth hiring an agency or freelancer to handle your marketing campaigns, or should you pursue in-house specialists?
In this guide, you’ll learn where to start when it comes to digital marketing for construction companies, how to go about promoting your business online channel by channel, how to optimize your online campaigns and more.
First things first: Rethinking ROI (Return on Investment)
The first thing you’ll need to keep in mind when marketing your business online is the traditional calculation for ROI doesn’t apply. Meaning, if every single dollar you put into a Facebook ad doesn’t result in triple the amount in sales, it doesn’t automatically mean your campaign was a failure. And every dollar you put into an agency, freelancer or in-house professional doesn’t have to drive double the number in sales for it to be a successful relationship.
…having an online presence is no longer a competitive advantage or “bonus” when it comes to running your business—it’s a prerequisite.
Instead, you’ll need to approach social media and digital marketing differently. The reason is that having an online presence is no longer a competitive advantage or “bonus” when it comes to running your business—it’s a prerequisite. Being online has transformed from being a nice thing to have into being a base-level requirement in the eyes of the average consumer and client in order for your business to seem relevant and legitimate. Potential customers no longer ask whether or not you have a website but what your web address is. They no longer ask whether you’re on social media but what channels they can find you on.
Today, investing in online marketing is something that will keep you on-pace with your competitors in addition to keeping you top of mind with your clientele. That way, when clients need your services later down the road, you’ll be the first company they call (or look up online). By not continually investing in digital marketing, your business could lose its footing in the marketplace, causing a gradual fade to black.
What content should you create?
This is a common question and concern for businesses across all industries. What makes for shareable content, and how can I produce it? The answer is simple in principle, but not always easy in practice. The 3 components of high-quality online content are:
• It’s valuable and educational to your target audience. Would this piece of content be something you clicked on to read if you saw it in your Facebook news feed? Even if it’s about something your company does, you can still include an educational tidbit to make it informative.
• It’s entertaining. Is your content something your audience would be amused by or excited to consume, or is it dull, bland and forgettable?
• It’s visually appealing. Is your content easy on the eyes? Does it include high quality photography, or a well-crafted video?
If your online content checks off on these three characteristics, then you’re already off to a great start. If not, keep brainstorming and tinkering until you find the right angle to pursue for your marketing efforts.
Developing a style guide
Before you jump fully into digital marketing, you need to make sure all your assets match one another and are consistent in tone and style. Without doing so, your campaigns will come across as haphazardly thrown together, making you look unprofessional.
To make staying consistent easy, work with your team to develop a style guide—sometimes called a brand bible or brand kit. These are documents that set the following items in stone your company, which can then be used as guidelines when creating any and all marketing assets:
• Color pallette
• Brand tone and voice for marketing copy
There’s a lot of room for nuance when it comes to creating a brand kit. Some companies have style guides only 5 to 10 pages in length, while those of iconic brands like Coca-Cola have been known to exceed 300 pages. You probably won’t need anything quite that extensive, but go with the length most suited to your organization’s goals and company culture. If you need some inspiration, you can check out Hubspot’s list of style guides here for templates.
As a general note, you’ll need to activate a mindset shift when it comes to social media marketing for construction companies as an industry professional. Instead of thinking of social media as a sales pitch (as far too many brands do), think of social media as a block party or another networking event.
If you continually try and sell your services on social media, viewers may begin to perceive your company as spammy and just cluttering up their news feeds. Instead, create content your target audience would find valuable—whether that’s an infographic showing viewers how to properly pour cement, a blog post on the latest trends in your industry, or something else entirely. This type of content is shareable, and if you continue to create it over time it’ll increase your influence within your space.
Choose 2-3 primary social platforms.
It’s natural to feel overwhelmed when it comes to social media marketing and advertising. Every article you read online seems to press you to always produce more content—be on every single channel at all times, and have tens of thousands of followers to show for it.
While this of course is the ideal scenario, it’s not necessarily attainable for many construction businesses out there today. Select a few primary social media channels to invest your resources into, make a rough schedule, and stick to it. It’s far better to be active and responsive all while producing quality content on a couple social media networks than be mediocre on all of them.
For starters, choose two or three primary channels you’ll devote the bulk of your time and energy to. Then, be patient once you begin regularly publishing content. Building a dedicated following on social media doesn’t happen overnight for any business.
Don’t skip out on paying for social media advertising.
The days of free social media are long gone. Nearly all the popular social networks are now publicly traded companies with quarterly revenue quotas they need to hit to keep shareholders happy. As a result, these companies have made it more difficult than ever to gain a large following without paying something for it through boosted posts or advertisements. The networks have achieved this shift mostly by decreasing typical “organic reach” (the number of people who see a post through unpaid distribution).
So accepting that you have to pay to play these days on social media is the first step here. Next, begin by creating and running ads on the platforms you’ve found to be most successful for your company. (Don’t bother with the ones where you’ve had no organic success whatsoever.) As you create your ads, begin adding relevant interests to your ad targeting. For instance, if you own a local roofing company in Tulsa, Oklahoma, target homeowners or people interested in yard work and home improvement in your area.
Last, always be testing and refining your ads. Even though there are plenty of best practices you can follow when it comes to what makes effective social media advertisements, every business is different at the end of the day. This means you have to experiment for yourself to see what’s working and what isn’t. If one audience segment doesn’t work the way you expected it to, test another. If something is working, pour gas on it by applying more of your advertising budget to it.
Repurpose, repurpose, repurpose.
Because of how tedious the process can be, there are a fair amount of tools available to help streamline social media publishing. One of the best ways to lower the amount of time you invest in social media is repurposing content. You don’t need to, and shouldn’t, always be creating completely different ideas and content for every social media platform you’re active on. Instead, use a tool like Hootsuite, Buffer or Agorapulse to seamlessly post your content across all channels with a couple clicks. This way, you only need to think of one idea for one post, tweak it slightly for different channels, and then easily publish it across multiple platforms.
Social media is a terrific way to gain exposure and get fresh eyes on your construction business. Yet, one of the biggest downsides to social media is how fast the platforms rise up, become irrelevant or die altogether. Myspace came and went, then Vine, Tumblr, Friendster…and the list goes on and on.
One type of account that’s much less subject to the winds of change is an email address—making it a much more predictable avenue for reaching out. This is why getting someone to subscribe to your email list is such an effective way to hook them into your sales funnel going forward. If you haven’t done so already, add an email subscription form and pop-up to your website, where engaged visitors can opt into your newsletter or other updates.
Some popular email marketing platforms are Mailchimp, Constant Contact and Hubspot. Each have reasonable pricing structures and robust analytics to help you know what’s working when it comes to your email campaigns, who’s opening and what to optimize.
If you’re a smaller company and don’t currently have room in your budget to hire a graphic designer to make your emails stand out, there are alternatives available on the market today. For instance, you can browse and select free, high-quality email design templates using Canva. You can also use the premade templates on Mailchimp if you opt for their service.
Lastly, once you have all the tools in place, be sure to spice up your email newsletter with helpful and entertaining information in a visually appealing format. If you’re an HVAC company, you could have a “Helpful HVAC Tip of the Week” series. If you’re a landscaping company, you could create a “You Ask, We Answer” newsletter theme where you address some common landscaping questions. Never take your subscriber’s time and attention for granted; make every click worth their while.
We could write an entire guide on how to create an effective, great-looking website, but the main things you’ll want to keep in mind is making sure it passes the “eye test”, and ensuring you engage in SEO (search engine optimization).
In the same way we discussed the importance of having consistent, professional grade design on all your outgoing content, you’ll need to apply the same principle to content on your website. If it looks unprofessional or haphazardly thrown together, you risk losing business due to being perceived as low-quality. If you don’t have an eye for design, consider hiring a firm to create your website for you, or a talented freelancer found through a website like Upwork. Be sure the third party has access to your brand kit so they don’t break any rules or create anything that’s off-brand. A website is your construction company’s personal, always-on billboard, so don’t get cheap with it. You’ll get out of it what you put in.
As nuanced and complex as the world of SEO is, there are a few places to start. For one, you’ll want to make sure all your images are properly compressed to decrease loading time, a metric Google’s search algorithm uses to gauge website performance.
You’ll also need a regular blog presence—whether that’s writing one blog per week or one per month. Be sure your posts are informative and include internal links to your other blogs and web pages. This keeps readers on your site longer. Lastly, using a tool like Google Keyword Planner, conduct some research to see which keywords you should include on your home page and other web pages. These will help you develop a roadmap to begin creating well-structured web pages that will drive “longtail search” traffic to your site. A “longtail search” is a search using a long keyword, or even a question, such as “How do I refinish a deck?” or “Top-rated electrical contractors Milwaukee”.
Simply put, all Google wants to know is your website sufficiently answers the questions and addresses the pain points of your web visitors. As long as your site accomplishes this, is visually appealing and consistently publishes high-quality content, you’re bound to climb up in the search rankings as the months and years go by.
Google & Bing Ads
Another major facet of online marketing for construction companies is advertising on Google and Bing. Each day, there are approximately 5.6 billion Google searches and 870 million searches on Bing. Additionally, Google is still the go-to place for consumers seeking local businesses and solutions: “best carpeting company in Santa Clarita, California”, “plumbing company near me”, and more are all common. This makes search engines strategic places for construction and field service businesses to invest in, given nearly all are bound by location.
The first thing to keep in mind is Google and Bing ads are text-only advertisements, so no imagery or videos can be placed in them. To take full advantage of this, list all the benefits your company brings to the table in short, succinct bullet points on a piece of paper or whiteboard. These will be the core pieces of your ad copy. Have you been in business longer than most companies in your city? Do you have the highest rating on Yelp? Is your client list the most noteworthy compared to competitors?
Take all of these angles, and begin to create your ads. An example could be, “Cleveland’s #1 Residential Window Cleaning Company For 10+ Years Straight! Call Now to Get 10% Off Your First Wash”.
Keep in mind that In Google and Bing ads, users are typically scrolling quickly through search engine results to find the exact answer to their problem—so it’s important to get straight to the point in your ad copy.
Marketing your construction company online has an undeniable learning curve. By being intentional with your strategy, educational and informative in your content and following the tips laid out in this guide, you’re bound to be 10 steps ahead of most of your competitors.