New Trends in Construction Technology

It can be challenging to differentiate in the wide ecosystem of the construction industry. Within each subset of engineering, design-build firms, or specified products – there are tremendous similarities in each category. One of the most effective ways of overcoming this “sea of sameness” is to consider the problems of tomorrow that you will be solving. Your ability to demonstrate your capacity to solve new problems and incorporate new technologies can set you apart as a potential partner with the capacity for innovative thinking and experience to bring new ideas to any project.

According to Research and Markets, the global construction industry is expected to reach an estimated $10.5 trillion by 2023, and it is forecasted to grow at a CAGR of 4.2% from 2018 to 2023, at this pace pen, paper, and traditional spreadsheets are quickly becoming less common as they tend to be less cost-effective and efficient. We speak to construction companies often and the need for innovation and thought leadership in this space is paramount. Increasing urbanization and a growing population both ensure that the outlook for global construction industries is good and these six technology trends for construction companies are on the rise!

Use of Drones in Construction

One of the latest innovations in construction is the use of drones for aerial inspections and data collection. 26 percent of SMB construction professionals are either using them already or plan to use them by 2020.

Additionally, surveying can take up to a month to complete a detailed survey of the construction site. Self-flying drones can ensure that the same work gets done in minutes, saving time and physical labor costs.

Virtual Augmented Reality

Virtual and augmented reality have been going strong across a variety of industries. It makes sense that they are showing up as future trends in construction. It allows for improved collaboration, 3-D modeling, and even increasing worker safety. However, the cost is still considerably high, making it prohibitive for many construction companies. Surveys have shown that many construction companies are interested in using it in the next several years once the cost comes down a bit.

Wearable Technology

One exciting new construction technology is wearable technology. For 2018, we feel this is an experiment well worth trying out! Even some professional football teams are utilizing wearables as the most advanced and efficient form of communication with the coach. Various forms of wearable technology are being used in the construction industry, primarily for safety. This includes being able to detect a fall as well as balance issues. It can also help to improve communication between workers who are on site with the managers who may be in a corporate building somewhere else.

Robotics

There is a lot going on in the world of robotics happening, making it one of the 2018 trends to be looking for. While the robotics industry has a long way to go, they’re capable of introducing a cheaper, faster, and safer way to work on a construction site. There are already quite a few examples of robotics in the construction field, including masonry construction robots and self-driven vehicles. By using these, it boosts productivity across the construction site because you can use skilled labor for what they are good at as opposed to the menial tasks that they may have to deal with throughout the day.

3D Printers and Scanners

3D printers are one of the trends that more and more construction professionals are taking advantage of. The cost of implementation is considerably lower than it has been in the past. Only approximately 4% of contractors are using the technology, showing that there still is a significant amount of room to grow. 3-D printers can be used to create models for selling a home or building before the construction is done. It can also be used for creating templates on site for workers to use for consistency.

Cloud-Based Construction and Management Software

Construction and management software are future trends in construction. Located in the cloud they offer a number of benefits as well. It is entirely accessible in the field, eliminating the need to be sitting at a desk. The software can provide real-time data and provide detailed data to help with decision-making. It offers construction professionals with a higher level of accountability, efficiency, and transparency. If there are problems, such as low-efficiency rates or budget overruns, using some level of project management software can be the best possible solution.

The software can be used in the field on smartphones and tablets as well as at the office. It’s the beauty of having the software found in the cloud. Plus, the data will be spread across multiple departments, giving you insight into the entire workings of the construction project at hand.

Construction technology trends for 2018 will continue to grow as the need for modern technology in the construction industry continues to grow. With so much technology available, it’s important to know how it can benefit your construction company. Don’t assume that the technology is for another industry. You may be able to create a safer workplace and improve efficiencies on many levels. It simply a matter of knowing how it will help you with growth.

It’s a good idea to calculate your growth building score before you begin investing in a strategy. You can identify and prioritize the profit opportunities that exist for your business.

How does Your AEC Firm Measure Up?

If you’re interested in how to improve AEC Marketing and grow revenues, one of the best ways to start is with a Calculation of Your Growth Score. Your Score! is a measure of your ability to grow your firm. The diagnostic assessment measures 65 points across 10 essential Growth “Cores”.

How to use CTAs for Engineering Firm Marketing

Don’t make prospects call you. They might not. Instead, look to challenge a few traditional A/E/C Marketing conventions with strategy, new site functions, and useful content that will motivate them to become your prospect, instead of a lurker.

This might sound like a simple premise, but the answer to one question can make a tremendous difference in your firm’s ability to transform your website from just another branding resource into a lead-generating, business development platform. That question is, “What actions do I want a person who visits my website to take?” The reason that this question is so important is because of the implications it provides for clarifying your content strategy and improving your lead-generation process:

1) Who do I want visiting my website?
2) What kind of content should I create for them? and
3) What do I want them to do, once they get to my website?

What actions do we want visitors to take?

We regularly discuss how to determine who you should target and how to go about conducting the buyer persona research necessary to build out an effective inbound marketing program, but what’s most often missed is a clear plan for the critical calls-to-actions that your website needs in order to transform a prospective developer, marketer or consultant, into a lead. Furthermore, when an active lead revisits your website, how can you help nurture or advance them to a stage where they are reaching out to you to discuss a new project? If you’re not providing the functional components for them to take any action and engage, your lead-generation will suffer.

What are Calls-to-Actions and what are they good for?

A call-to-action (CTA) is literally an “invitation” (a link) for a user to take an action on your website with the expectation that the user will get something valuable in exchange. An action could be to subscribe, click, download, follow, or share your content. A CTA drives any user-driven step that brings them closer into your sales funnel. CTA’s take the form of banners that are static or slide in; anchor text links, forms, icons or buttons that tell the user what to do.

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BLT Architecture uses simple share icons to expand user engagement.

CTA’s help the user accomplish some goal as part of their research or buying process. A user may have found your website via a highly-ranked blog article and CTA’s in the form of anchor text might link to more information about your services or a click-through banner to download an educational eBook about a related topic. The marketing benefit is that when a user exchanges information with you, in exchange for your relevant content, you have a lead. Based on the qualification processes in your firm, you can take strategic actions to automate the process of engaging your lead, a step at a time, until they are ready to request more information about your services.

Research conducted by WordStream found that a more than 300% increase in clicks and 1,000% increase in sales by including a single, strong CTA in nurturing emails. HubSpot determined that the majority of their leads were accounted by from anchor text links in the body of blog articles (between 47% and 93%) and large banner CTAs at the end of a blog post only accounted for 6%. What works for you and your audience will be different. What’s important to note is that having zero CTAs means that your lead-generation efforts are much closer to, well zero.

Takeaways from an audit of 50 AEC websites

In an informal audit of 50 A/E consulting firm websites (architecture, engineering and construction consulting firms), a few important trends stand out regarding the kinds of content they provide and how they are leveraging their websites to connect with their audiences and drive leads. Our sample included a mix of design-build, architecture, and MEP engineering firms with fewer than 3 regional offices and less than 100 employees (36% 11-50 employees and 65% 51-100 employees).

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Simple dataset from the 50 firms in our study

Conventional AEC websites are focused on communications, not conversions

All the firms in our sample (100%) provided useful descriptions of their services and a contact form (95%); and the majority provide references to their key team-members. Less than half offer content that’s targeted to the needs of their customers: (46%) identify the construction segments they focus on and even fewer provide project references (35%), or educational content on the 25% of sites that include a blog. Based on the websites in Group A (below) which are representative of the majority of websites in our study, visitors are encouraged to take NO action unless it is to discuss a project. This is simply a symptom of a convention in AEC websites – firms are focused on positioning, rather than educating and inviting prospects to engage with them as they are researching, vetting, and otherwise learning about their firm.

There’s no such thing as “Word-of-Mouth” marketing, not anymore

When I ask a business leader, “Where do most of your leads come from?” I am never surprised to hear the overwhelming majority of business owners respond that the majority of their clients are acquired by “word of mouth.” I need to rethink the question, because I recognize the importance of social networking, LinkedIn, direct sales, and other professional referral mechanisms; these are the facts: though AdWeek (in a 2014 study) claims that more than 80% of customers visit a website, before they contact you. That % increases as the complexity and cost of the solution increase. Construction projects come with some of the highest stakes imagineable, and the highest risk. For the purpose of our discussion, let’s use 100% as the number of customers who have visited your website at least once before contacting you.

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Isn’t it Illegal for my firm to advertise? Um, no.

One of the barriers to adopting this approach is a belief that promotion of any kind is improper or at least in poor taste. This assumption isn’t uncommon for professional services firms. There are long standing traditions and beliefs that promotion, in any form, is in violation of laws and acceptable business practices. There are ethical guidelines and in some cases legal restrictions regarding advertising and promotion. In most cases, the limits on advertising are focus on misrepresenting that you have a license to practice architecture or engineering, when you don’t.

Today, there’s nothing stopping you from calling on a prospective client to introduce yourself and ask for their business, except for the fact that almost no one wants you to call. Therefore, it is important to remember that promoting your firm and generating leads means educating your client. Calls-to-Action are the functional links between your customer and the relevant content that they need to solve their business problems.

Does your A/E firm website passively or actively engage users?

The entire dataset reveals something interesting about the sites in our small sample. For the most-part, the firms in our selection passively engage their audiences, even though we know that calls-to-action are critical in optimizing and improving your conversions. A call-to-action doesn’t have to be a request that’s as intrusive as “by now,” but a website without a subscribe, follow, or click here to learn more information, is missing some of the most valuable opportunities to forge an early connection and speed up the buying cycle. The conclusion brings us back to our initial question, “What actions do you want your website users to take?” By now, you have probably concluded that you’d like your website to be an active participant in your lead-generation strategy.

3 things you can do in 90 days to begin actively converting leads on your website

The following steps will get you started, so that you can actively engage the users who are already visiting your website and start converting them to leads and qualified opportunities, but don’t assume that lead generation is the only area that you should focus on. Also consider the AEC marketing strategies besides lead generation.

Step 1. Spend the first 30 days evaluating your current website and defining the questions that your customers ask as they are conducting their own research to better understand and search for solutions to their problems, evaluate providers, and narrow down their choices to a few firms to speak to. The answers to these questions are key components in defining the most important aspects of your customers. Aside from their demographic and professional characteristics, you need to understand their behavior and the motivations behind their behavior in order to define the content required to engage them. If you need further insights about how to build your buyer personas, download our buyer insights research guide.

Step 2. Identify or develop marketing content. Invest the next 30 days developing content that addresses one persona’s questions at each of the aforementioned phases of their research process. Content at the top-of-the-funnel should not be gated behind a form. This content is designed to be found, thus it needs to be promoted through your owned, bought, or borrowed content channels. Content that is designed to convert a visitor into a subscriber or lead, should be gated behind a form and have an informational landing page that summarizes not only the content of the piece, but the benefits. Your content must include: a blog article to attract users to your site, an eBook or research guide to convert visitors to leads, and a landing page with an invitation to participate in a consultation.

Step 3. Leverage the last 30 days of your program to create a little infrastructure. You’ll need to build banners and call-to-action links that direct the user to your content. These links will take the user to landing pages with the necessary forms and content offers. You’ll want to invest in email marketing system to promote your new content to your existing clients and subscribers. In addition, you might want to invest in platforms that are designed to help you convert subscribers such as Unbounce for landing pages or HubSpot to provide intelligence and automate the process of staying in contact with your prospects.

If your firm is like the majority of the firms in our study, a 90 day tune-up program might be exactly what you need to start actively engaging your audience. If you’d like to learn more about the mechanics involved in building an active lead generation program, download our inbound marketing checklist for AEC companies.

Marketing Automation for AEC Firms – Driving Revenue Growth

Marketing automation will not put your AEC marketing program on auto-pilot, but it can put your business development efforts into overdrive. Automation can accelerate marketing performance by doing more – executing more tasks, nurturing more prospects, more consistently. As prospects interact with your firm, marketing automation and contact personalization technologies help differentiate your brand by delivering more relevant, consistent, and personalized content. 

Insights Before Automation

The logic that drives automation helps streamline your marketing strategy and provide clarity at each phase of your prospects’ journey. However, it is impossible to automate a process that you do not understand very well. Planning out your campaign requires a level of detail and insight into the problems, questions, and perceptions of your target market. For each segment or stakeholder, you may need to solve different problems for them or emphasize unique capabilities. A one size fits all approach is unlikely to earn you the opportunity to get in the door early, as a trusted advisor or partner. An effective AEC marketing solution takes in consideration, the risk that a project owner faces, and the need to position your knowledge and experience, early in the game.

Once you understand the needs and buying stages of your prospects, you can start applying marketing automation and break the mold of conventional thinking. Most firms are focused on securing an opportunity to submit a proposal. To a lesser extent, the emphasis is the same for manufacturers of technologies that architects and engineers use or building products or solutions that they specify.

In an industry with a very long sales cycle and many project stages, the bidding opportunities for each phase exist within a relatively short window in time. Once you’ve heard about a project, you might be too late to build a new relationship and a preferred invitation to submit your proposal.

What is Marketing Automation and How Can it Help an Architecture or Engineering Firm Win More Business?

A marketing automation solution is a software solution that you can leverage to execute repetitive or complex triggers or sequential marketing tasks in a streamlined and efficient way. As anonymous visitors interact with your website, automation can help you present relevant content based on their behavior, such as their referral source.

When a user exchanges contact information for some of your premium content, automation can help you segment them into the right lists and deliver follow-up emails that promote content that’s relevant to their interests. The process of automating response tasks and personalizing content to your visitor’s interests helps nurture leads through deeper phases of their selection process. Automation can also score your leads and notify your business development team about qualified opportunities to focus on the right prospects at the right time.

As a marketer, you can shift your investment of time from promoting and reacting to developing better insights about your customers, and optimizing your automation process to shorten the sales cycle and close deals more quickly.

Fortunately, marketing automation alleviates all these problems. It captures what your customers do online and offers several readymade solutions that allow you to immediately follow up on the actions prospects and other interested parties take when they peruse your website. So, what portion of your B2B marketing strategy will be leveraged within marketing automation?

Visitor Identification, Tracking and Metrics

You’ll be able to capitalize on each action taken by each individual prospect. You’ll know where visitors came from, what they clicked on, what they read, what they viewed, and the actions they took. You’ll be able to immediately follow up on those

All of this information will be made available to you in an easy to read and just as easy to interpret format. You’ll have all the tracking and metrics you need to define what portion of your website is working and what portion needs to be improved. From this you’ll be able to tweak your design and position high-value subjects, links, content, video and downloads, in optimal locations on your website. While the solution is meant to keep your audience engaged, it’s not hard to see how it can also help you improve your website’s layout.

Automated Email Marketing Campaigns

Email marketing is a critical portion of all automated platforms. It aims to keep your audience engaged by providing them with unique content and special offers. That content is tailored to where your prospect is in their buyer’s journey. However, it’s not just about following up on a given customer’s actions, but also about thanking them for their recent order. This makes automated marketing an ideal solution for up-selling and cross-selling. Customers place orders and they are immediately sent emails and reminders of other ancillary support products available for purchase. It’s about keeping customers engaged throughout the relationship and an automated marketing platform is the tool that makes it possible.

Marketing automation is highly-valued because of the information it provides marketers and how easily it is for them to act upon that information. For instance, has a prospect just asked you to contact them concerning an architectural design? Did a prospect download that recently published engineering whitepaper? Did a prospect spend a considerable amount of time on a specific video only to follow up that action by downloading a customer case study? Has a customer inquired about how your non-recurring engineering charges apply to new designs? In each instance, the automated platform will provide a specific message correlated to the action taken by the prospect. All of this is meant to help you guide your prospect to the next stage in the buying process.

Lead Scoring, Lead Management and Customized Web Forms

Any marketing automation solution worth pursuing must define the quality of the leads visiting your website. A grading system is used to define the value of a given prospect based on the actions they take. You grade the importance and relevance of certain customer actions and the system does the rest.

Lead scoring is a critical portion of the solution. It will help you immediately identify where your prospect is in their decision making process. Customized web forms are also beneficial as they allow you to provide that extra incentive to prospects on free downloads. The web forms capture contact details and add that all-important professional touch.

Don’t assume your AEC marketing team can’t benefit from an automated marketing platform. It’s not just for consumer markets. It has an application industry-wide and is something you should investigate regardless of where you are in the AEC supply chain.

Recap of the Functional Building Blocks of a Marketing Automation Engine?

Marketing Database – A central database of all of your relevant marketing contacts and the ability to update or categorize them into different segments via the rules and logic defined in your automation engine.

Workflow Engine – The sequences, triggers, if/then logic and steps, tasks and notifications that are executed based on both the user’s interactions and the rules that guide the campaign.

Analytics – Data that measures the behavior of every user and the performance of each lead as they advance through the buying process. By measuring each phase of the process, marketers can develop strategies for optimizing improvement.

In the last decade architecture and engineering firms have seen a rise in competition. In many parts of the U.S., the economy is doing just fine, and there are plenty of opportunities. However, as some regions face economic difficulty, firms shift resources to enter new markets. It doesn’t take much effort for a large organization to inject a few talented resources in a growing market. Those few operatives supported by the infrastructure of the mothership, just might be your next biggest competitor. You don’t have to be a big player to leverage inbound marketing and automation technologies. The benefits can help you protect your relationships and get a head start on your competition.