Online presence tips for companies in the construction sector
Let’s face it, the Construction Industry has not quite been on the forefront of many things digital (with a few exceptions of course). It’s a word-of-mouth, quality work, reputation based business - for the most part. Many companies that have been around for a long time, have developed valuable and long-lasting relationships which turned into loyal customer bases - for the most part. It’s still fair to say most of us remain in business based on extensive amounts of account managers, sales reps and ongoing projects - for the most part.
It’s 2015, and while our values and services may not have changed dramatically, the way people plan and research their upcoming construction projects and purchases, certainly has. 42% of the world’s population are now active internet users. Over 2 billion people have active social media accounts. 87% of Americans are online. What do we do online? In 2013, on average, the grown-up American has dedicated 37min a day to social networks and 23min to online search (29min emails, 23min videos, 19min games). If anything, we can expect those activities to take up even more time today. According to mashable, we spend about 11 hours a day with some kind of electronic media (which includes TV & Radio). Today more time is spent on smartphones than internet PCs. You better believe that with all this technology around us, the internet is about to (if it hasn't already) surpass our traditional resources such as print directories like Yellow Pages and other phone books, big time. 90% of a purchase decision in 2015 is made before customers ever talk to suppliers (yes, that includes B2B, ladies and gentlemen). Word-of-mouth is still alive and well, but has shifted from just talking to your friends and neighbors, to online research and consulting your very own digital (social) network. The average US adult has 338 friends on Facebook. We get our referrals, recommendations and product reviews online. We trust recommendations and opinions of our friends more than we trust company ads.
Fact: Over 80% of B2B purchase cycles start with web search. Is your company ready? Fact: 85% of B2B buyers want companies to present information via social networks. Is that a priority for you yet? Looking at some of our partner and competitor’s web presence, I can assure you, great companies are losing out as you are reading this. Websites are outdated and not mobile friendly. Websites are irrelevant to search engines for lack of quality content and keywords. Companies still have zero (or poorly managed) social media presence. Locations and contact details are messed up in directories. How much longer can you count on your existing customers without acquiring new ones? On the internet, your competition is just a click away. Isn’t it time for you to get some quality traffic & leads online?
Here’s what you need to do to stay in the game:
- Evaluate your web presence. Think of your website as every new customer’s first impression of you. How does your page look on mobile devices? Does it represent your organization well? If your website looks unprofessional and cheap, what may that do to your brand perception? 46% of people say website design is their #1 criterion for judging credibility of a company. Show off what your specialties are.
- Are your customers online? Are they on social media? Are they talking about you? If the answer is yes, consider joining/leading/managing the conversation. Like it or not, social media is not going away any time soon. Despite what you heard or how some of your friends use it, it is also becoming a sales channel. But don’t overwhelm your audience with advertisement. Offer them solutions to their problems and establish yourself as an expert in your field through quality content.
- Do research on SEO (Search Engine Optimization), including geo-targeting/marketing. There are a lot of things you can do without spending money on agencies and ‘experts’. Claim/manage local online directories to ensure your contact details, opening hours and categories are correct and complete. Google hates inconsistency and will punish your search rank if details don’t add up across different platforms. Create free listings first. Talk to your customers about what resources they use, and focus on them first. Fix your Google Maps location(s), fix Apple Maps, Yelp, Foursquare etc. Those are the sources Google and other search engines often use to compile and display your organization in their search results.
- Ask for recommendations, testimonials and reviews. Your customers (hopefully) tell you when your team has done a great job. They may tell the world, too. Facebook and Google reviews are quick and easy, some of them are just one click. References from across the World Wide Web help your organization become more 'relevant'. And don't be afraid of negative feedback. They will talk about you anyway, but if you are aware of it, you can fix the issue and address it appropriately, timely and often publicly.
- Include calls-to-action on your web page and keep it functional/intuitive. Our attention span is ever decreasing in this world of information overload. Make it easy for your website visitors to find you, call you, request a quote or order from you. That type of information should never be hidden (as in more than one click away from your landing page). Use Google Analytics to review visitors behavior flow and identify user experience improvement opportunities.
If you want to go the extra mile, here are some additional actions you could take: Have a proper LinkedIn presence and offer free advice | Run a blog that’s adding value to your industry (and your digital footprint) | Publish behind the scenes stories and pictures to make your brand more personal and trustworthy | Use new media as a channel for customer service... The opportunities are endless and the actual cost low, when you can keep it in-house. There are plenty of free tools that can help you manage your social media channels and evaluate your website.
It’s a brave new world out there, decide for yourself if you can afford to ignore it or if you choose to embrace and take advantage of it. Your customers are waiting!
Sources for stats used in this article: Mashable, WeAreSocial, Business Insider, Marketo, Social Media Today, Hootsuite & Facebook Insights. Feedback & questions welcome. martin.hennig[at]ahharris.com