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Web Marketing Job Outlook

July 5, 2009 by  
Filed under Web Marketing

web marketing job outlook

What is Internet Marketing and How Does it Affect General Contractors?

What most business owners do is tune it out, focus on the core business and let the “young people” deal with it. However, if you embrace some of the basics of eMarketing, you will find it’s an inexpensive and effective means to promote your business, hire employees, and communicate with clients.

The minimum “must haves” if you are running a business today are a website and email marketing. Ideally, you would also have a blog and at least one page on one of the social networking sites, like MySpace, LinkedIn, or Facebook. First, let’s discuss the website. Recently, I had a client say to me that he had spent thousands of dollars on their firm’s website and he was unsure if it had ever done anything for him. I understand why he would say that. Because the construction business is so collaborative and relationship-oriented, the website can seem like a nice to have. However, that’s just not accurate.

Most people don’t realize how important their website is because they never get their web traffic reports. They don’t realize how many people are going to their website to check them out before they pick up the phone to make the call and inquire about their services. The internet is used to Search or Research. While many people may not search for a commercial contractor online, often if referred, the client is researched online. As a director of marketing for several architecture firms, we often made decisions about which engineers to select for teams based on our knowledge COMBINED with the projects we found on the various engineers’ websites. The developers that contacted us mentioned that they had found us or qualified us based on our website projects. So those firms that have dated websites are doing themselves a disservice.

So what should you do? Take a look at your website (you’d be amazed how many people never look at their sites!) Visit your competitor’s websites. Then, decide your goals for the website. Is it to persuade people to call you for more information? Is it to answer clients’ easy questions? Is it to gather resumes? Is it to proactively or reactively market your firm? Do you want a place to communicate with clients online? Objectively ask yourself if your website meets your goals. Does it have the functionality you want? Is the content compelling, accurate, and current? Does it reflect your company’s culture? Next, ask your IT person or whoever hosts your site to provide web traffic reports. Those reports will provide information like how many people visit your site, where they are visiting from, the pages they viewed and how long they stayed on the site.

If you decide you need a refresh, talk to a professional (not a friend’s kid who just graduated from college) about your goals for the website. Make sure the person you hire understands not only web development or design but also marketing and how the website fits into your overall marketing message and plan. Investigate search engine optimization (the various techniques that are used to ensure your website is found on the web,) key words (words people use to find you on the web, if they don’t already have your web address), and the impact of various decisions on your overall goals. (e.g. if you are interested in search engines finding you, don’t develop your site in flash.)

Consider email marketing. A very inexpensive way to contact a large group of clients and provide them with an electronic newsletter is email marketing. It is increasingly becoming an important emarketing tool. Email marketing is not spam. Permission-based email marketing is a special email tool that allows you to send emails to groups of people with whom you have worked, are associated, or whom have given you permission. The price per month can range from $25-$1500 depending upon how you decide to implement it. If you decide to implement it yourself, it can be very reasonable. If you choose a high-end marketing/advertising firm, you will pay quite a bit more.

Why can’t you use Outlook? There are several reasons. First, outlook email sent in groups is caught and directed to the spam filter. Second, there is no way to track who opens the email and if they “clicked through” to your website. Email marketing provides that functionality. Third, Outlook doesn’t allow for your branding to be used. Email “stationery” is branded with your logo and any other information that you think is important for your image to be visually conveyed. Fourth, email marketing allows you to format your message in a variety of different ways. You can use a newsletter format, a simple one picture/one story, or many other formats. Most importantly, using an email service provider will allow you to stay compliant with the Can Spam Act of 2003 which requires that you offer an “opt out” option. I have never seen a more effective and cost-effective tool. My clients have generated impressive results very quickly.

Social networking. Why should you care? Social networking websites are the sites commonly associated with teenagers. However, things are changing. MySpace was and is all about teenagers and is mostly entertainment oriented. LinkedIn and Facebook, however, are good tools for research, getting connected to past and current clients and friends. Think of them as online networking. LinkedIn has a way to see who is connected with whom and you can see the different companies connected with people in your network. It is an excellent way to use your network to “warm call” your prospects. You can ask people in your network to provide you with introductions or information allowing you to call prospects with someone’s name or a recommendation. Also, it can be a very effective way to recruit. “Twenty-somethings” are more likely to use these tools to find jobs and check out your company. It is also a tool for you to research anyone you are considering hiring. It’s a peek into their personal life that can inform you about problem employees before you hire them.

Blogs. Huh? I used to think blogs were personal journals written about inane events by people that I didn’t know. However, blogging has become more than that. Think of blogging as a combination between journalism, publishing, and gossip. Your blog (short for Web Log) is a way for you to engage in a conversation with your clients and talk about your business in a more familiar way. Think of blogging as a way to write a letter to “Whom It May Concern.” It’s a way for you to provide current information to your clients and engage them in conversation. People can respond to your writing on blogs and respond with comments. And, blogs will help you with search engine optimization.

Pay per click advertising. Right now, pay per click advertising, is more important for the business to consumer market. Companies whose clients are other businesses typically generate less leads than companies who appeal to consumers. However, if you have compelling key words and there is a possibility for your company to be selected by someone searching online, you may want to investigate this advertising medium.

There are a host of technology options for your business. The compelling reason to investigate them is that it is very cost-effective and it’s where most people look for information. Plus, the time is now for getting ahead of the curve. Remember when people were exceptional when they had a website? Now, everyone must have one to have an effective marketing presence. Get on board with email marketing, social networking, and blogging and you will have an advantage over the competition that are too resistant to implement.

ANDREA NORMAN, MBA

Andrea Norman is a seasoned veteran in sales, marketing and business development. Her background includes Director of Marketing and Business

 

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