As 2021 comes through its halfway point, it’s a good time to take pause to see what marketing trends are emerging for A/E/C firms. One thing that 2020 did for A/E/C marketing was accelerate the strategies marketers have wanted to bring from other industries. Highlighted here are six marketing trends A/E/C firms shouldn’t ignore in 2021.
1. Increased Leads from Online Sources
High growth A/E/C firms generate half their leads from online sources according to a Hinge Research study. They looked across the entire industry and found that 50% of new business leads were generated from digital sources including website, email, social media, and digital advertising.
The report goes on to say that a third of high growth A/E/C firms report having mature marketing and sales software automation strategies in place, which make their digital lead generation more efficient.
This can’t be ignored. Marketers should be leading these marketing efforts and making sure the backend systems are in place to track and attribute the leads appropriately.
2. Hybrid Asynchronous Events Will Flourish
2020 was the year of Zoom meetings and virtual events. While there will continue to be a place for these types of events, they will become more hybrid. An example of this was the SMPS Southeastern Regional Conference. About 150 people attended the in-person live event in Nashville, TN while another 100 attended the virtual event during the same time.
Marketers will be tasked with finding ways to engage with their prospects with this type of event through multiple means. Often times, this is showing up in the chats of the video replays during the virtual portion while someone else attends the in-person event. Or, savvy marketers will create their own virtual experience dovetailing the organized hybrid events. Think about how private, in-person client dinners the night before a traditional conference can be transformed into a virtual experience.
3. The Emergence of Community Marketing
Speaking of hybrid events…the large industry event where all firm clients are in one place might be gone for a long time, if not for good. Most, if not all, annual conferences went virtual in 2020. But these large annual conference hosts are finding other ways to support their industries. Rather, the organizers are developing smaller, intimate, and more topical gatherings – both online and in-person.
Take for example, CXps. This once annual conference has transformed into a multi-day online experience with six, smaller regional events.
Marketers can help their subject matter experts by preparing them to be active contributors and bring practical value to the more intimate gatherings.
4. What’s Old is New Again – Email Marketing
While we might be tired of getting emails, the data doesn’t lie. Email marketing isn’t dead and isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. According to Full Sail Partners’ own research, 20% of respondents increased their email marketing efforts and another 8% started email marketing during the past year. And, a HubSpot study found that roughly 80% of marketers have reported an increase in email engagement over the past 12 months.
This is probably the easiest marketing strategy to begin for A/E/C marketers. Many firms have a database full of contacts and prospects through the normal course of doing project work and regular sales and marketing interactions. And, many A/E/C firms already send out a holiday card or other types of email promotions. Email marketing is a no-brainer then for distributing the content the firm is already creating and publishing to blogs and social media.
5. Content Repurposing
One of the biggest challenges marketers face is to get good content from their technical staff, and many of these strategies rely on value-packed content. Quality content is essential to drive traffic to a firm’s website, to engage on social media, and to send in email marketing. Repurposing content is the proactive process of reusing all or a part of an old piece of content to expand its reach. It’s really about doing more with less content. And, target audiences have different learning methods. Some like to listen or watch while others like to read. Repurposing the same piece of content ensures that all preferences are being met while needing less original content from technical staff.
For example, take one long blog article and repurpose it into a few short YouTube videos, an audio file, several social media graphics, or a slide deck that can be shared on LinkedIn. A series of blog articles can be packaged into a whitepaper that visitors to a firm’s website can download after entering their email address.
6. Increased Investment in Martech
All of the previous trends have one thing in common – the need for integrated, marketing technology (martech) solutions. This new technology is not only critical for the deployment of these strategies, but for the tracking and proper attribution to the appropriate strategy. And, it’s not just the purchase of the software but adequate training for both the marketers and the end users to understand the importance of using the software correctly. When marketers get the software and the usage correct, then they can start tracking and reporting. This step is critical for both marketers and firm leadership. Marketers can quickly determine what’s working and what’s not and adjust, and firm leadership can see what their return is on the marketing investment.
Stay Abreast of Marketing Trends
While 2020 was a year no one wants to revisit, it did accelerate many trends that A/E/C marketers have been trying to implement for years as noted in the 42nd Deltek Clarity report. This tipping point will change marketing in the A/E/C industry like nothing else. While only six marketing trends have been presented here, it’s not exhaustive. Though every A/E/C firm is unique, all should stay abreast of these current marketing trends for 2021 and those moving forward.