The Key to Unlocking Your Inbound Marketing Strategy

inbound marketing strategyInteresting, informative content is the foundation of any inbound marketing strategy, but to unlock the true power of that content, you need a well- thought-out plan.

Turning Browsers into Buyers

The goal of inbound marketing is to attract people from your target audience, prove your value, and convert your readers into clients. So while your content should be high quality, everything you publish also needs to have a specific function that’s part of a larger plan.

That larger plan is your marketing funnel. Organized in a marketing funnel, your content becomes a clear path that guides your prospect every step of the way toward becoming your client. It takes your prospect from seeing your social media post to joining your email list to eventually signing a contract.

Without a funnel, you’ll end up with a scattershot approach that wastes the power of your content. Your dream data center client might love your video on critical cooling equipment they found while searching YouTube, but if that video doesn’t give them an incentive to visit your website, you might still lose them forever.

Creating a Powerful Inbound Marketing Funnel

Your funnel should be based on how your ideal clients go about researching their building projects and choosing construction firms. Consider what information they’ll be looking for at each step in the process, then create content that answers their questions while leading them closer to becoming your client.

Start by attracting their attention with SEO-ed blog posts as well as photos, videos, tips, and infographics on social media. From there, convert them into leads by encouraging them to pass along their contact information. For example, in a Facebook post about shopping center renovation, you might offer a free in-depth ebook on minimizing disruption to tenants in exchange for an email address. Next, move on to closing the sale. That free ebook might lead your prospect to an email drip campaign that offers more guidance and showcases your shopping center clients’ success stories.

 

4 Crucial Elements for a Robust Marketing Plan

marketing planA clear plan is critical for getting the most out of your marketing efforts, but your plan doesn’t have to be complex to be effective. Master the most important elements and you’ll have a powerful marketing plan that’s easy to follow.

  1. Business identity – You business identity includes you firm’s mission and vision statements, and outlines what makes your firm distinct in terms of services, capabilities, and values. It should also define your target audience and the experience you want to give them. Are you a residential construction company specializing in highly customized homes for eco-conscious young families or one focusing on aging-in-place remodeling for active older adults?
  2. SWOT analysis – Conduct a SWOT analysis to get a better idea of how your business is situated in the market. Determine your firm’s greatest strengths in terms of attracting clients and note what weaknesses could lead you in the wrong direction. Describe the business opportunities in your market and how the market might threaten your current business model.
  3. Marketing strategy – A marketing strategy is a process that helps you reliably meet your sales objectives. Guided by your SWOT analysis, it gives you an overarching vision of how to reach your audience, connect with them, and turn them into paying clients. This can include multiple methods. If one of your strengths is a list of clients who rave to their friends about how much your renovations have improved their lives, referral marketing is a good bet. If your projects are visually striking, you’ll want to use social media, too. Then choose specific tactics. As a tactic to encourage referrals, you might define specific times to ask for referrals, create referral forms, and offer a referral fee.
  4. Metrics – Specify how you’re going to measure the success of your tactics. Go beyond tracking leads and sales revenue, and pay attention to equally important metrics such as percentage of clients by referral, percentage of leads converted, client acquisition costs, and your close rate on bids.

4 Steps to the Perfect Customer Persona

customer personaEven if you understand the value of getting to know your target customers, fleshing out detailed customer personas isn’t always easy. Following a clear-cut process helps you turn your data into insightful customer profiles.

  1. Gather existing data – Start learning about your ideal clients by collecting data on your existing clients and leads. Look for trends in demographics, behavior, and interests. Maybe your home remodeling clients are typically older suburbanites with grown children or your industrial plant clients are often middle-aged men who are into fitness. For macro trends affecting your client base, construction market research reports are a good place to look.
  2. Ask around – Develop a survey for your current and former clients, but don’t limit your questions to their construction-related concerns. Questions about their family status, life goals, hobbies, and media preferences can give you valuable insight. Just try to keep the survey length under 10 minutes. With your best clients, conduct more in-depth surveys individually, either by phone or email. Then survey your employees to find out if they’ve noticed any trends.
  3. Spot the trends – Review your data for overarching trends you can use to segment your clients into broad groups. These will form the basis of your customer personas. Between three to five is enough. If you offer several types of services, such as home renovation, manufacturing facility construction, and retail construction, create a generalized customer profile for each. If you’re highly specialized, create more narrowly defined customer personas, such as one for your textile manufacturing facilities clients and another for printing facilities clients.
  4. Build your personas – Give each customer persona a name and create a profile that includes their demographic data, such as age, sex, occupation, and income level. Then add information about their motivations and interests, such as their job responsibilities, and their career and personal goals and challenges. Finally, fill in details about their personal habits and beliefs. It’s these details that bring your customer personas to life, giving you a clearer picture of how to connect with your ideal clients.

Using Twitter Cards the RIGHT Way for Lead Generation

attract leadsTwitter might not be the most popular social media platform, but with more than 300 million users, it still holds a lot of potential for connecting you with new construction clients. By enabling Twitter Cards, you’ll have more space to show your followers you have what they’re looking for.

Make Your Tweets Intriguing

While Twitter Cards let you include a lot more information than the standard 280-character tweet, the default Twitter Card shows only a “View summary” link at the bottom. Because that might be all that shows when your blog readers post or re-tweet your content, your tweets should offer strong motivation to click that link. Just announcing the services you offer won’t cut it.

If your goal is to bring in leads, enabling Twitter Cards on your free lead generation content is a good way to do it. When you share the link, include a compelling comment in the tweet text section.

It might be a clear benefit such as “Save $5000 on your home renovation” or something more curiosity-piquing such as “We were surprised to discover this.” Then use the card’s description section to outline the main benefits your lead magnet offers.

Choose Eye-Catching Images

Images grab attention and express ideas quickly, so they’re great for attracting readers back to your website. The clickable images on Twitter Cards are even more effective.

To get the most out of your images and videos, skip the ordinary pictures of completed buildings and try close-ups of striking architectural elements, quick video tours, highlights compilations, timelapse videos of projects or visually powerful graphics. If you do renovations, use dramatic before and after pictures.

Choose images with a 2:1 ratio and a size of at least 300 to 157 pixels. Use the Twitter Card Validator to make sure your card isn’t grabbing your logo or headshot instead of the image you want. Finally, include a text description both for the search engines and for the visually impaired.

Using Emotional Advertising to Attract New Business

emotional advertisingWhen your potential clients are looking for a construction company, facts and data aren’t the only things they consider. How they feel about your company also matters. By appealing to emotion, you can create an immediate connection with new prospects that makes them easier to convert to clients.

Build Positive Associations

Shock and anger might grab our attention in the short term, but ultimately we’re more drawn to things that make us feel good. Showing your prospects the benefits of doing business with you is more likely to win them over than trying to scare them with horror stories about your competition.

If you build hospitals, you can associate your work with feelings of vitality, serenity, and hope. In your advertising, show how your family-friendly public areas evoke a sense of calm or how your flexible design approach allows for future technological advances that give new hope to both patients and staff.

If you specialize in commercial office buildings, aim to inspire feelings of satisfaction and excitement. Talk about how companies love to rent your buildings because their employees are happier and more efficient there.

Reflect Your Audience’s Values

To really connect with your prospects on an emotional level, you need a clear understanding of their values and beliefs. The emotions you evoke in your ads and how you choose to evoke them tell your prospects whether you really “get” them or not.

If you’re targeting start-up owners in need of their first office building and you know they want to be seen as bold and visionary, you might focus your ads on the pride they’ll feel bringing clients to the innovative office your firm built. If you work with property developers primarily interested in financial independence, it makes sense to talk about the satisfaction they’ll get owning an office building high-paying, long-term tenants love.

By appealing to emotions your prospects want to feel, your ads seem less like ads and more like messages from a like-minded group your prospects will be happy to connect with.

Why Marketing in the Off-Season is Critical to Building Your Brand

top of mind awarenessBuilding a brand isn’t something you can do overnight. If you want to give your target prospects a clear idea of what your construction company stands for, you’ll need to keep your brand in front of them year-round.

Earn Top of Mind Awareness

Memorability is one of the most valuable benefits a strong brand identity brings your company. Your brand sets you apart from generic general contractors and draws your ideal clients to you. Maybe you’re known as the eco-friendly company that publishes funny yet practical green home renovation tips on social media or the medical facilities specialist that sponsors training seminars for clinic staff.

Creating this kind of memorability requires consistency. Drop off the map over the winter and your would-be clients might not remember you exist, much less what your brand promise is. Stay in touch, though, and you’ll be the first company they think of when they’re ready to start a new project in spring. The work you do to build your brand over the off-season, whether it’s getting your logo seen at events or publishing a series of infographics, keeps your company’s name at the forefront of your prospects’ memories.

Stay Ahead of the Competition

Building your brand’s image in the minds of your potential clients takes time. To really understand what your company is all about, your prospects need to see your marketing repeatedly. By marketing during the off-season, you’re giving yourself more time to educate your prospects about what your company offers, prove your skills, and develop a rapport.

When the construction season comes around again, you’ll have an established relationship with people who really understand the benefits of working with you and who like your team on a personal level. The emotional connections you’ve built through long-term branding fosters a loyalty that isn’t easily undone. That puts you miles ahead of any competitors who wait until spring to start battling for attention along with everyone else.

How to Successfully Use Video in Your Content Strategy

video marketingVideo lets you show off your completed projects, reach a wider audience, and build a more personal connection with your potential clients. For your videos to successfully turn viewers into clients, though, they need to work with the rest of your content.

Choose Compelling Topics

Chances are, when your would-be clients are searching for videos, they’re looking to solve a problem or learn something where the visual aspect is important. Keeping that in mind when you choose video topics helps you create videos that get attention.

Your popular blog and social media posts are a good place to start looking for ideas, but also consider topics that are particularly well suited to video. Videos on how little-understood building features work or the benefits of modern building materials can enhance your existing content. Then try video tours of your completed projects or current job sites, interviews with satisfied clients, key company members, and owners of complementary businesses or a weekly Q&A with questions from your audience.

Integrate your videos with the rest of your content to bring in leads. If you create a video about eco-friendly boutique hotel construction, post your insights on green building methods on social media to attract your followers to the video. In the video itself, you might direct viewers to a related free download at your website.

Reach Out to Your Audience

To get your videos in front of your target audience, start with your website. Include an introductory video on your homepage and About page, add video tours to your online portfolio, and create a page of video testimonials. To boost blog conversions, add relevant videos to your existing blog posts. If you do weekly short videos, include them in your email newsletter.

Then share your videos on Youtube and Vimeo with complete, SEO-ed titles and description to help your potential clients find them. Make short clips for Facebook, Instagram, and Houzz, and tell your followers where they can watch the rest.

 

Planning Your Content Strategy Blueprint is Cruicial

content strategyThe content you publish online helps you attract new construction clients by showcasing your skills and positioning your company as a source of expert guidance. To get the full benefit of content marketing, though, you need a strategy to ensure all your content works together to turn casual browsers into clients.

Content that Gets Results

Without a plan in place, it’s all too easy to whip up whatever content you think might interest your target audience. This haphazard approach often leads to a random collection of blog posts that does little to convert clients. With a clear content strategy, you’ll be able to create the exact types of content you need to guide your readers from one stage of the buying cycle to the next. You’ll develop an organized body of content with each piece working together toward a goal.

If you build warehouses, you might attract potential clients with introductory content on how to tell when a business needs a new warehouse or what to consider when planning one. This content then leads your readers into the research stage with more in-depth material, such as tips on prioritizing warehouse features. Here you might invite them to join your email list or download a lead magnet. That content, in turn, encourages your readers to contact you about starting their project.

A Broader Reach

Having a strategy for what to do with newly created content helps you get your work in front of as many potential clients as possible. Your strategy guides you on how and where to share your content to reach your target audience and specific goals.

If your content strategy involves offering home renovation inspiration, you might choose Houzz, Facebook, and Instagram for promotion. Then after you publish a blog post, you’ll know to pick an image and caption from the post to share with your social media followers instead of sitting there wondering what to do with your new content.

Tactical Marketing – Getting Serious About Lead Generation

tactical marketingWhether you’re a generalist or a specialist, understanding your target market is critical to connecting with potential clients and winning more bids. Once you’ve done the groundwork, though, you need specific steps to bring in leads. That’s where tactical marketing comes in.

Tactics Make Your Strategy Happen

The term tactical marketing is used in contrast to strategic marketing. Strategic marketing is your first step in building a marketing plan. It’s about deciding who your ideal clients are, what information to present to them, and how to present that information. When you’re clear on that, it’s time to move on to tactical marketing – executing specific tasks to put your strategy into action. For most construction firms, that means using tactics such as cold calling, placing ads, and building a lead-generating website.

Strengthening Your Tactical Marketing Game

Beyond cold calling, there are a few other highly effective construction lead generation techniques worth adding to your tactical marketing plan.

Ad campaigns – Because construction services have such a long buying cycle, a single ad with only your company’s name and phone number is unlikely to get attention. A complete ad campaign, however, helps you attract leads by zeroing in on their interests. Start by creating an offer tailored to a specific segment of your target market. Publish ads that promote your offer and take prospects to focused landing pages where they can sign up.

Referral program – A structured referral program encourages word of mouth. Create a simple form you can offer your satisfied clients after you’ve helped them solve a problem and when their project is complete. Consider offering rewards for client referrals.

Strategic alliancesPartnering with businesses that offer complementary products or services lets you tap into a whole new audience. So if you specialize in warehouse construction, you might partner with a warehouse equipment company. You can create a useful giveaway, such as a tips sheet or checklist your partner can offer their clients, or even work on a joint project.

 

3 Inbound Marketing Techniques to Try Today!

inbound marketingGet your inbound marketing right and you’ll enjoy a steady stream of warm construction leads coming right to you. It might sound like a big job, but by starting with a few proven techniques, you’ll only need a little well-aimed effort to see results.

  1. Offer High-Value Gated Content – Offering free, genuinely useful guidance is one of the most effective ways to attract high-quality leads. Consider your ideal clients’ greatest challenges and create content that helps them solve it. That could be an email course on choosing features for education facilities, a webinar on budgeting for a luxury home remodel or an office construction cost calculation tool. Make this available in exchange for an email address and promote it on your website, blog, social media accounts, and elsewhere. Creating content takes time, but you can start researching ideas today.
  2. Choose Your Keyphrase Wisely – While keywords and phrases are no longer as critical as they once were, there’s still benefit to be gained by strategically optimizing for the right ones. To maximize your SEO efforts, choose just one or two moderately competitive phrases you know your ideal clients use to search for construction services online. Going after “construction company New York” might be too ambitious, but with “luxury remodel Staten Island” you have a real shot at a top ranking. Tools such as Google’s Keyword Planner and the Moz Keyword Explorer can give you some ideas.
  3. Optimize Your Website – At the foundation of every in-bound marketing strategy is a website that’s well optimized to turn visitors into leads. Make sure your site provides a simple, obvious path that guides visitors toward providing their contact information. On your homepage, use a clear, benefits-driven headline and include a call to action that encourages visitors to learn more. Prominently display your phone number and other contact information. Ditch the bland stock photos and use real images of your projects and team. Even minor improvements can make a noticeable difference, so there’s a lot you can do today.