When it comes to marketing your Architecture, Engineering, or Construction (AEC) business, many companies are behind the curve. And while word-of-mouth advertising is still a valuable way of generating business in the construction and engineering industries, we know that more than 85% of searches for these services are conducted online. If your website isn’t your best salesperson, you’re probably losing business to your competitors.
Luckily, there are several ways you can increase your digital presence and begin generating leads for your AEC business.
What Is AEC Marketing?
AEC marketing is the strategy Architecture, Engineering, and Construction firms use to market their businesses, both in-person and online. AEC marketing can be a combination of inbound and outbound marketing activities. However, the long-held belief that AEC companies still rely on traditional or “old school” marketing activities is alive and well.
Although the AEC industry is often on the cutting edge of new technology and infrastructure developments, there is much to be desired when it comes to (some of) its companies’ online presence. Such a statement is due to various factors- namely a longstanding reliance on traditional marketing activities like radio and magazine advertisements and a reluctance to invest in an adequate marketing budget. While traditional marketing efforts have a place in the lexicon, if AEC companies genuinely want to capitalize on lead generation, marketing managers must prioritize a digital presence.
Why AEC Marketing Is Important
So why is it so important to market your AEC business online? Because that’s where your prospects are researching your company’s services. Your website must be positioned to attract visitors and turn those visitors into viable leads. In an age where information is available at the touch of a button, it’s more important than ever that AEC firms position themselves online as competent, trustworthy, and capable. Here is a list of four “marketing essentials" that all AEC companies cannot afford to overlook.
The Top 4 AEC Marketing Essentials for 2021
1. Content, content, content
Consumers and decision-makers have more agency than ever before when it comes to researching products or services. The power in the buyer’s journey used to lie with the sales representative. Now it rests with the buyer. Decision-makers in the AEC fields don’t want to be sold to. They want to be educated, supported, and guided through their buying process (the marketing buzzword for this is 'buyer enablement.') This is where content creation comes into play. By creating valuable, educational content, you not only educate your potential customers, but you become a trusted thought leader in your industry. Educational content can come in many forms:
Creating a blog is one of the most popular ways to attract visitors to your website. Blogs allow your team to educate your audience on various topics related to your product or service. Blog topics can range from novice, “101” type articles to more in-depth pieces explaining your industry’s intricacies. As long as your audience is searching for that topic, it’s worth writing about. And how do you know what topics your audience is searching for? This is where keyword research comes into play. Read our blog, How to Do Keyword Research for Content Marketing.
eBooks and guides are a great way to educate your audience by providing long-form content in the form of a PDF or brochure. eBooks and other premium content offers can be created for prospects at all stages of the buyer’s journey. Still, gated eBooks are typically associated with the middle and bottom of the funnel prospects, looking for additional information to help them solve their problem.
Worksheets and Templates
Worksheets and templates are fantastic resources for your audience. By providing something tangible that readers can customize to their specific scenario, you are providing an invaluable resource to help solve their problem. In turn, providing useful tools builds trust with your audience and potential prospects. They’ll receive a helpful piece of information, and your company will receive the user information generated on the submission form.
Architecture firms, engineering companies, and construction companies are, by trade, a visual industry. Professional photography and aerial drone footage are essential for showcasing your work on your website, social media profiles, and sales collateral. High-quality visuals exude quality and foster a sense of professionalism without saying a word.
Regardless of your company's size or scale in the marketplace, providing your audience with valuable information will always pay dividends. As long as your website houses useful content that your buyer personas are searching for, it will generate leads.
2. Your AEC Website is Optimized for Search Engines (SEO)
For your business to be found on the internet, and more specifically, by Google, your audience needs to find you with minimal effort. This is done by optimizing your AEC website. Optimizing your website lets the user (and Google’s robots) know what each page is about.
Do your website’s primary pages accurately describe your business? What your company does, and how? Free tools like Go to Web or SEO Browser are a quick way to determine what the search engines see when they scan your website. Does each page have a title, a meta description? An h1 (header) tag that accurately describes what that page is about?
While the machinations of SEO are vast and ever-changing, there are certain best practices that every marketer should be aware of. Take advantage of resources like Moz’s Beginners Guide to SEO to get started. Or take a look at our expert tips for outsourcing your marketing to an agency.
3. Your AEC Business Has an Email Marketing Strategy
Despite the advances in technology and marketing strategy over the last decade or so, email marketing remains more useful than ever when it comes to engagement and communication with your audience. If your AEC business isn’t utilizing email, then now is the time to start. By emailing your audience consistently, your business stays top of mind, regardless of where the prospect is in their buyer’s journey. For companies with large databases, consider segmenting your contacts into targeted lists for maximum engagement and open rates. Take a look at the list below for types of emails AEC can send to their database:
While it may seem self-serving, highlighting recent awards to those in your marketing and sales pipelines keeps you top of mind and instills trust in your brand.
Webinars have always been a popular offering for B2B companies, but with more and more employees working remotely, webinars have begun replacing summits and conferences en masse.
Read more: Email Marketing for Construction Companies: A Quick-Start Guide
Newsletters are a great way to share new content offers, product launches, blogs, and company information. Newsletters also provide an opportunity to showcase your team’s achievements, culture, or even philanthropic efforts.
Are you looking for new reviews on Google? Houzz? Asking via email is one way to request reviews from your past customers. By creating a friendly email that makes leaving a review as simple as clicking a button, you can generate the reviews you need while also touching base with former customers.
4. Your Team Utilizes Website Analytics
The AEC industry can be considered unique in that the cost per transaction is often $100,000+. The higher the transaction, the longer the sales cycle. Every business needs to manage its bottom line. If not, the bottom will fall out. The same principle applies to your marketing efforts.
Analytics allow a company to accurately and proficiently measure their marketing performance, often for free. With analytical tools and advanced data, you can accurately track the marketing activities that provide the most substantial ROI. After you implement a robust marketing plan, analytics help you track the marketing and sales endeavors that significantly impact lead generation. Understanding how long users spend on your site, what pages they visit, and where they convert is invaluable information to both your marketing and sales teams.
While these four strategies are a great place to get started with your AEC marketing strategy, there is always room for improvement. If you’re ready to get started on your AEC marketing strategy, our team of experts is ready to help.