Architecture, engineering, and construction firms can use content marketing and other digital strategies to drive new leads.
If you're marketing for a company in the architecture, engineering, or construction (AEC) spaces, your goal isn't based on gaining the biggest audience possible. You just need to get to a handful of the right leads to win millions of dollars in annual sales.
Buyers for AEC services are serious businesspeople who are more likely to focus on vendor booths at trade shows than on the latest influencers on Twitter. They're not the types of leads you're likely to find by simply setting up a Facebook page or publishing photos on Instagram every day. But digital marketing is considerably cheaper than sponsoring an expo booth, and your audience can be found there. You just need to know where to look.
That sets up our challenge: how to you successfully drive qualified leads from digital marketing efforts for AEC industries?
Here are some ways to leverage online resources to boost your niche audience and build trust among current and prospective clients.
Use SEO to Help AEC Prospects Land in the Right Spot
Prospective clients are out there looking for you—but how can you ensure that they land in the right place?
Doing some keyword research to identify the most common search terms and phrases will help you build SEO-optimized landing pages that have the content both robots (in charge of search rankings) and humans are looking for.
You can conduct SEO research using Google's keyword research tool for free to see how people are searching for specific keywords each month, or consider a premium tool like SpyFu or Moz that provides deeper tracking capabilities. You can then build out content—whether blog content or solution-focused landing pages—that is optimized for those keyword phrases.
Here's the catch: it's not only about your keywords. Content engagement is now a key factor in ranking, so your content needs to be solid as well. Strive for landing pages that have concise, helpful content with appropriate keywords organically included in the copy. A/E/C professionals can be particularly tuned in for "fluff" so you'll want to craft SEO-friendly content that also shows your expertise and service benefits. Here are some tips on building out high-quality SEO content at scale.
Opt-in content resources, such as ebooks and white papers, can help you generate new leads. Make sure to include a CTA at the end of your blog content to encourage readers to opt in to a gated resource. That means, even if the reader isn't ready to strike a deal yet, she'll have your company top of mind (and top of inbox) when the time comes.
While building high-quality content is a big part of the process, readers won't always discover your content organically through search, especially if your site hasn't been established for long. That means it's also important to allocate some budget to promote your content on targeted social ads, including LinkedIn and Facebook. (While Facebook isn't an exclusively B2B network, its targeting capabilities also make it possible to advertise to prospects in your industry based on their profile interests.)
Substantiate Your Claims
AEC services are technical in nature and have the price tag to go with it. Trying to convince someone to hire you to build a commercial facility or design a product is a far cry from buying a tube of toothpaste at a grocery store. To support the investment, digital content for AEC industries should substantiate your capabilities and products.
Your website and social media materials should show clear features and benefits for your service or product. Client case studies, demonstrations, and white papers are all great options to use keywords naturally and share compelling information with your prospects. Look to Bechtel, and their detailed case studies, as a model for how to showcase your company's past work experience well.
Provide an Excellent Customer Experience
You might not be aiming to have over 500K followers on Instagram or YouTube, but you should be striving to communicate with both current and future clients in valuable ways. Having a reputation of being accessible and knowledgeable is extremely powerful, especially in technical areas that may feel intimidating to prospects who are less experienced.
AEC industries benefit from discussion boards and help forums where current users can help each other and answer questions for new users as well. You can also craft social media posts to drive helpful discussions and feedback from your users. Professionals in these areas often love to share their expertise; give them a great place to discuss, and they will add to your value proposition as well.
Participate in Industry Discussions
The world is full of architects, engineers, and construction pros. Don't ignore the rest of them! Instead, spend some time in your digital forums, as well as external industry-focused communities, spotlighting products you use in your office, discussing interesting industry developments, or sharing experiences from your clients. Basically, share more and sell less.
The world of AEC developments is constantly in flux. By discussing what's happening in the space around your company, you can become a thought leader and build reader trust in your industry knowledge.
Educate Existing Users
Don't forget about the clients you've already landed. AEC websites are the perfect location for how-to guides, troubleshooting help, and even do it yourself projects or ways to "hack" your product in an innovative way (IKEA, anyone?).
Continuing to educate your existing users preserves and increases your reputation with them. In a services-based industry, referrals are extremely valuable. Keeping current clients happy and invested in your company through digital content will keep you on their mind and give them great information to share with their next colleague or friend looking for a service like the one you provide.
Building a targeted digital marketing strategy is a worthy investment for AEC firms. It means you can shift the focus from constantly responding to government RFPs, and take your pick from the private enterprise opportunities that come in. By using digital marketing to spotlight your firm's unique value, you'll be able to showcase what separates your firm from your competitors and elevate your brand.
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