Your firm survived Covid, supply chain disruptions, changes to the workplace and the great resignation. Now is your time to thrive. This guide for AEC Marketers has everything you need to grow your firm, build your brand and win more business in 2023. Contents hide 1 The Ultimate Guide to AEC Marketing: Digital Marketing Strategies for Architecture, Engineering and Construction Firms 1.1 What is an AEC Marketing Strategy 1.2 Why is AEC Marketing Important in 2023 1.3 AEC Marketing 101: Everything You Need to Market Your AEC Firm in 2023 1.4 Best Digital Marketing Tools for AEC Firms 2023 1.5 Start Your Free Demo of OpenAsset The Ultimate Guide to AEC Marketing: Digital Marketing Strategies for Architecture, Engineering and Construction Firms Marketing is tough, especially for AEC firms who, in many cases, assign the task of marketing to the youngest administrative assistant. To say this process is detrimental to your team and your marketing efforts is an understatement. Whether you handle marketing in-house or pay a marketing agency to do it for you, this AEC marketing guide has everything you need to build your digital presence, win more business, and hold your marketing agency accountable in 2023. What is an AEC Marketing Strategy The term “AEC Marketing” refers to the development and implementation of a marketing strategy designed to achieve a specific marketing-related goal (or goals) in a focused and achievable way. “AEC” is the simple initialism for architecture, engineering, and construction. Why is AEC Marketing Important in 2023 AEC marketing is important because it enables you to grow your brand, outpace your competitors and complete your digital transformation. Most importantly, AEC marketing provides the tools you need to sever your reliance on traditional marketing activities, like radio, billboards, and magazine advertisements. Though traditional marketing efforts do serve a purpose, their potential as lead-generation tools is mediocre at best. That’s why any AEC firm looking to capitalize on lead generation in 2023 needs to prioritize their digital presence. Looking to prioritize your digital presence? Start with OpenAsset, the only project-based digital asset management (DAM) platform designed for AEC companies like yours. Follow the link for a free demo. AEC Marketing 101: Everything You Need to Market Your AEC Firm in 2023 So, how do you market your AEC firm in 2023? You start by identifying your goals and your target market. Ask yourself what you want to achieve and which customers you would like to work with. That’s where buyer personas come in. Buyer Personas Every marketing strategy starts with the development of buyer personas, a fictional representation of your ideal client(s) or target audience. The more accurate your buyer personas, the easier it will be to develop effective, targeted content that speaks to this buyer’s goals and challenges. As such, the information you use to build your buyer personas should be based upon real data whenever possible. Lacking real data, your team will be forced to make assumptions about your audience, which can cause your marketing strategy to move in the wrong direction. How to Build a Detailed Buyer Persona To get the most rounded picture of your buyer persona, your research pool must include a mixture of customers, prospects, and people outside your contacts database who align with your target audience. Here are some starting points to get you started. Don’t forget to tailor these metrics to your particular business. Location Age Income Professional (Job) Title Goals Challenges Pain Points Interests Priorities Technology/Social Media Real Quotes Identifiers Common Objections What Can We Do? As you might expect, the number of buyer personas in your drive is going to increase as you identify new members of your target audience. You need a safe and secure place to store all of those valuable digital assets. Specifically designed for AEC companies like yours, OpenAsset is the only project-based digital asset management (DAM) platform that is purpose-built to win you more business. Follow the link to start your free demo. Content Marketing With your buyer personas in hand, it’s time to provide those buyers with valuable content. For that content to be effective, it needs to reach your target audience in a way that is natural and organic. The best way to do this is to create credible content that is engaging, detailed, and written in a way that delights the reader. Content Marketing Strategies for AEC Marketers The idea behind content marketing is simple: publish written and visual material online with the purpose of attracting more leads to your business. Material includes: Online Content – Online content marketing refers to any material you publish to your website, such as landing pages, testimonials, and pillar pages. A strong online content marketing strategy can help your firm rank higher in the search engine results pages (SERPs) and get your services in front of the right people at the right time. OpenAsset’s home page is a great example. Note how the landing page immediately engages visitors with specific content about our products. Blog Posts – Blog posts are a powerful form of inbound marketing that enables your firm to build the expertise, authority, and trust (EAT) you need to rank in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) and build rapport with your audience. Ebooks and White Papers – An ebook (electronic book) is a digital form of printed media designed to be read as shareable PDFs on devices like computers, tablets, and smartphones. Like white papers, Ebooks are vital marketing assets with multiple digital ‘pages’ that deliver useful, relevant information to its reader. Podcasts – With 177 million podcast listeners worldwide, it’s easy to see why podcasting is one of the fastest-growing trends for AEC firms. Podcasts are a great creative outlet for your firm and enable your thought leaders to drive conversation and engagement in your industry. Videos – 88% of users say that they’ve been convinced to purchase a product or service by watching a brand’s video. When compared to the 11% of users who’d rather read a text-based article, it’s clear to see why AEC marketers are flocking to video marketing to boost conversions, improve ROI, and help you build relationships with your audience. Social Media Content – With 5.85 billion social media users projected by 2027, social media content is an investment you can’t afford to ignore. Fortunately, there are a number of platforms (e.g. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Snapchat) to work with and several ways to create and share content on each of them. Infographics – With simple wording, short statements, and clear images, infographics are a great way to communicate your content effectively. The best infographics distill an educational and/ or complex topic down so all audience members can understand it. Though the idea behind content marketing is simple, the process of regularly creating high-quality, engaging content that ranks online is far from easy. Be it a five-hundred-word blog post or a simple newsletter, the content you produce needs to be substantive, informative, and serve a stated purpose. As stated in this guide on How to Create Content That Actually Converts, the goal of content marketing for AEC firms is to create content that: Educates your leads and prospects about the products and services you offer; Boosts conversions; Moves leads down the sales funnel; Builds relationships between your customers and business that result in increased loyalty; Shows your audience how your products and services solve their challenges, and Creates a sense of community around your brand. Step One: Identify Your Goals Start by identifying your goals — be specific to your business — as they are likely to complement your broader marketing and company goals. Here are some goals to get you started: Improve brand awareness Boost revenue Increase conversions Improve brand loyalty Increase customer engagement Build rapport and trust among prospects and customers Attract strategic partners. Determine Your KPIs The next step in the content marketing process is to set KPIs, quantifiable data points you can use to measure your actual performance against your goal. Here are the goals we use at OpenAsset to deliver high-quality content to our audience on a regular basis. Brand Awareness – Measured via site traffic, social media followers, subscription sign-ups, and mentions (by customers and partners); Revenue – Measured via daily sales and site traffic; Conversions – Measured via conversion rate, shopping cart abandonment rate, associated shipping rate trends, and competitive price trends; Brand Loyalty – Measured via returning customers, promoters, product reviews, and referrals; Customer Engagement – Measured via likes, shares, follows, mentions, and backlinks; Rapport and Trust – Measured via returning customers, promoters, followers, and mentions; Strategic Partners – Measured via new partnerships, mentions, and backlinks. Choose Your Channels The next step in any content marketing strategy for AEC firms is to choose your content distribution channels. Here, again, is where your buyer personas will come in handy, as they should include your buyer’s favorite media channels. The big three channels for AEC firms include: LinkedIn – LinkedIn is the number one platform for AEC firms and the best platform for firms looking to grow and see results. LinkedIn is also rated by B2B content marketers as the most effective social media platform, with 80% of B2B social media leads coming from the channel. Twitter – Twitter is the collective newsroom for the AEC industry. With 305 million active users, Twitter is an immensely helpful channel for connecting with industry influencers, reporters, publications, associations, teaming partners, prospective employees, as well as clients and prospects. Facebook – Facebook currently has nearly 1.6 billion active users and drives the second most social referral traffic for B2B websites, which is why AEC firms choose it as one of their top three platforms for content distribution. Whichever media channels you choose, remember that the goal is to choose the channels that most closely align with your AEC firm’s strategic objectives, target audience, and content strategy. Create and Distribute Content Having decided on your distribution channels, it’s time to create and publish content. The key here is to be consistent. Use an editorial calendar to keep your content team on track, and provide your writers with a roadmap for what they need to work on in the weeks to come. The above screenshot shows a section of the editorial calendar we use at OpenAsset. Note the detail of the calendar and the various formats we use to bring you relevant, helpful content that serves a purpose. AEC Marketing Fact: 60% of marketers create one piece of content each day. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Resources for AEC Firms Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is how AEC firms expand their visibility in organic search results; drive more visitors to their website and increase their chances for more conversions, more customers, and more revenue. In other words, SEO is a strategy to ensure that when someone Googles your service category, they find your website. It works by optimizing a website’s content, conducting keyword research, and earning inbound links to increase that content’s ranking and the website’s visibility. We can’t hope to sum up the complex subject of SEO in a single blog post, but these resources should give you the information you need to get started with your SEO strategy. Search Engine Optimization: A Beginner’s guide from Ahrefs The Ultimate SEO Content Creation Guide The Ultimate Guide to SEO The Beginner’s Guide to SEO: Rankings and Traffic Through Search Engine Optimization AEC Marketing Fact: 75% of marketers feel their SEO tactics are ‘extremely effective’ or ‘very effective’ at helping them achieve their marketing goals Email Marketing Email marketing is the process that AEC firms use to boost conversions, increase revenue and provide subscribers with valuable information that helps them achieve their goals. As an AEC firm, there are multiple ways to utilize email marketing to your advantage — the most common include using the tactic to: Build Connections – Build relationships and expand your network through personalized engagement. Increase Brand Awareness – Ensure that your firm and services are top-of-mind for the moment when your prospects are ready to engage. Promote Content – Send emails to share relevant blog content or useful assets (white papers, Ebooks, etc.) with your prospects. Generate New Leads – Entice subscribers to provide their personal information in exchange for an asset that they’d find valuable. Market Your Services – Promote your products and services. Nurture Leads – Delight your customers with content that can help them succeed in their goals. This guide on How to Build an Effective Email Strategy has everything you need to create and send emails that your prospects actually want to read. As your email marketing strategy takes off, you may find that you need an image management tool to supplement your email creation process. This guide explores the five most common issues related to AEC firms and the technology they use to conduct email marketing, write proposals, collaborate on projects, and improve their project win rate. AEC marketing Fact: 79% of marketers list email marketing in their top 3 most effective marketing channels. Website Analytics Website analytics refers to the process of collecting, reporting, and analyzing the data generated by users visiting and interacting with your website. AEC firms utilize web analytics to measure user behavior, optimize the website’s user experience, and gain insights that help meet business objectives. Web analytics can also shape your content marketing and SEO strategy. By examining your top-viewed posts, for example, you can identify the types of content and topics that perform best with your target audience. As with SEO, Web analytics is a complex subject that deserves its own guide. These resources have everything you need to get started with web analytics. A Beginner’s Guide to Web Analytics Web Analytics Basics What is Web Analytics Social Media Social media marketing for AEC firms is the process of creating content for social media platforms to promote your services, build community with your target audience, discover new leads, and drive traffic to your business. AEC professionals generally utilize the “big three” social media platforms: LinkedIn – LinkedIn is the ideal platform for B2B companies looking to identify key decision-makers and build an industry-specific community. Twitter – Twitter is the collective newsroom for the AEC industry and a terrific way to connect with your audience, manage public relations, improve customer service, and build a community around your brand. Facebook – Facebook is the largest social media platform and the most established. Since its launch in 2004, it has become an invaluable tool for B2C businesses, offering advanced advertising tools as well as organic opportunities. AEC Marketing Fact: 82% of marketers say they repurpose content across social media channels. Regardless of your goals or industry, your social media strategy needs to be data-driven, lest you focus on vanity metrics that don’t really matter, like: Impressions, “likes,” shares, comments, followers, open rates, views, traffic, time on site, and bounce rate. Instead, dig into the data that aligns directly with your goals, like Reach, Organic and Paid Likes, Clicks, Engagement, Hashtag Performance, and Sentiment. Implementing your firm’s social media strategy is a daunting task, but you can make the process easier by using the right tools. Specifically designed for AEC firms like yours, OpenAsset is a project-based digital asset management (DAM) platform that can help you manage the growing library of images you use to promote your firm on social media. Follow the link to start your free demo. Best Digital Marketing Tools for AEC Firms 2023 Though digital marketing tools can only help you execute your marketing strategy, the right marketing technology (MarTech) stack can empower your firm to win more business and blow past the competition. Reporting Dashboard A marketing dashboard is a reporting tool that displays marketing metrics, KPIs, and analytics using data visualizations. The goal of a marketing performance dashboard is to answer the question: “How are we performing right now?” The most popular reporting dashboards for AEC firms include: Domo Monday.com Toucan Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Customer relationship management (CRM) platforms help AEC firms manage their pipelines, capture a complete view of their leads and automate personalized marketing campaigns. The most popular CRMs for AEC firms include: Zoho Zendesk Salesforce Marketing Automation Marketing automation software platforms are designed for marketing departments and organizations to more effectively market on multiple channels online and automate repetitive tasks. The most popular marketing automation software platforms for AEC firms include: HubSpot Marketo ActiveCampaign Lead Generation In AEC marketing, lead generation is the initiation of consumer interest or inquiry into products or services of a business. A lead refers to the contact information and demographic information of a prospective customer who is interested in a specific product or service. The most popular lead generation software platforms for AEC firms include: Unbounce LeadPages Pipedrive Project Management Marketing project management represents the process of planning, overseeing, and delivering marketing-related projects. The most popular project management software platforms for AEC firms include: Trello Basecamp Jira Data Reporting and Analytics Marketing reporting is the process of gathering and analyzing marketing metrics to inform future marketing decisions, strategies, and performance. Marketing reporting tools can uncover meaningful, actionable data that help you draw important conclusions and meet your firm’s business objectives. The most popular marketing reporting tools for AEC firms include: Google Analytics Cyfe Kilpfolio Social Media Tools Every stage of your social media marketing, from content curation to graphic design to analytics, needs some sort of software. Some tools cover multiple areas while others focus on and excel in only one. The most popular social media tools for AEC firms include: Sprout Social Buzzsumo Google Trends Digital Asset Management Digital asset management (DAM) is the process by which organizations store, share, organize, find, and retrieve digital assets from their ever-growing library of content, rich media, and digital materials, things like images, videos, audio files, branding material, presentations, proposals, and more. In other words, digital asset management is how organizations keep and utilize the digital assets they need to grow their brand, empower their sales teams, and disseminate a clear and purposeful message to their audience. As for the best DAM for AEC firms? There is only one DAM that is purpose-built for AEC firms like yours. Start Your Free Demo of OpenAsset Unlike traditional DAM systems, OpenAsset is a project-based digital asset management solution specifically designed for AEC marketers. With dozens of integrations and useful features, OpenAsset is the martech solution you need to create high-converting content, proposals, presentations, and much, much more. Contact OpenAsset to start your free demo today.