Harnessing the power of online marketing communications

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This article first appeared in ECA Today – March 2012 which can be found here.

The new media landscape offers huge opportunities for contractors to reach their marketplace,  says CIMCIG’s Kirstie Colledge, Director of Online PR Agency SMPR – So why are so few of us doing it?  

It has never been so easy or cost-effective to communicate with existing clients, reach out to target audiences and engage with prospects.  Cost effective digital communications can be used to create leads and increase sales.  They can help raise a company profile and allow the sharing of project and contract successes via news networks and across the trade media. By leveraging online communications, it is easy to manage a business reputation and control marketing messages.  Many major contracts are awarded following a process of online due diligence and this is often how companies are found to invite to tender.  So what can this industry do to bring our communications to life in the digital space?

 “Contractors can integrate relatively simple measures into the marketing mix and see real, measurable and often instant results”

Become an authority on industry issues – Update your clients and your prospects with industry changes and opportunities.  For example, you can tell them why the Green Deal will be important for them, how they can access funding and educate them on new services such as energy efficient measures and installations.  If you can demonstrate that implementation of certain measures will impact their bottom line, they will want to hear more.  You might explain the changes to Part L or give them a timeline for legislative changes that they haven’t found from anyone else.

Create remarkable communications – every communication coming from your organisation should contain well written copy that appeals to your clientbase – Make sure that it appeals to existing customers by reminding them who you are, what a great service you provide, but also has a strong call-to-action for those prospects that will read it and want to find out more.

Optimise & publish your communications– Ensure that your copy is optimised with content specific keywords with links to specific landing pages on the website.  Ensure that the Title Tags, Meta Description and tags all follow the main search engines guidelines.  All PR and marketing communications pieces like articles and press releases through to videoclips, podcasts and case studies should be created, optimised and shared online.

Share your marketing content – You need to be in the online space where your customers are, in order to respond, participate, share and engage with them.   Join electrical industry LinkedIn Groups, and Social Networks and Forums.  Also join groups related to your target sectors.  If you specialise in fit-outs within the retail sector then join retail property groups and start conversations in these spaces.

As you grow your online presence, you will find there is more and more to keep track of.  You should monitor what your customers and your target audience are saying on Social Networks, Blogs and Twitter.  You can set up alerts for your company name and your products or services.  You can also use RSS Feeds and feed services to monitor the ‘buzz’ and join in the conversation by sharing your marketing content.

Get all over Google – Advances in search technology now mean that more frequent content and different forms of content are more likely to appear in that much coveted page 1 of the search results.   It is now possible to dominate page 1 of Google with several different types of PR content and more so by publishing more often.  Google’s ‘Freshness Update’ allows more recent content feature higher in the search rankings.  This will have a greater impact over coming months.  Also don’t forget that many of your existing clients will quite often use Google to find your website just to pick up the phone you!

Integrate with other marketing activity – Whether it’s your blog, your Linkedin Company page, your Twitter biography, or your press release footer, all your online communications should mirror your other communications including offline and traditional forms of marcomms.    Remember that online communications should not be a standalone activity and consistency across other marketing channels is fundamental.  Digital communications should form a central part of any communications plan and should be integrated into any modern-day marketing strategy.

 

About the Author:

Kirstie Colledge is a committee member for CIMCIG (www.cimcig.org) and Managing Director of SMPR (Simply Marcomms PR) online PR agency for the construction industry. 

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