Eight Trends in AEC Marketing for 2020

Innovations impact how marketers in the AEC industry plan, implement and measure their marketing programs. Keeping abreast of technology changes is a requirement for AEC marketers, and doing so will help AEC firms improve marketing effectiveness in 2020.
By Brian Gallagher
January 11, 2020

Each year, technology continues to advance, and the innovations are impacting how marketers in the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry plan, implement and measure their marketing programs. Keeping abreast of technology changes is a requirement for AEC marketers, and doing so will help AEC firms improve their marketing effectiveness in 2020. Following are key trends to watch.

1. Content Marketing

Content marketing is one of the most effective ways to find and engage an audience. According to the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), 86% of B2B marketers today are using content marketing. Content marketing can achieve top-of-the-funnel goals such as brand awareness and audience education. It can also create opportunities deeper in the funnel, such as nurturing and building loyalty. Investing in ebooks, white papers, infographics, videos, webcasts and more allows AEC firms to tell stories as well as share insights, ideas, expertise, and perspectives with clients, prospective customers and the community. Marketers should go beyond simply informing buyers to emphasize storytelling with visual content that connects on intellectual and emotional levels.

2. Interactive and Experiential Content

Buyers are increasingly engaging with interactive and experiential content, which offers them a compelling level of immersion and enables a company to differentiate itself and stand out. This content includes infotainment, animated graphics, quizzes, polls, augmented reality/virtual reality, 360-degree video and more.

3. Video and Audio Content

Video and audio formats provide story-driven, visual content that connects with users on intellectual and emotional levels. CMI, in conjunction with MarketingProfs, releases annual benchmarking reports that have shown marketers to be increasing their rate of audio and visual content projection in recent years. In the most recent report, “B2B Content Marketing 2020: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends – North America,” 71% of survey respondents said they’ve used video content in the last year. Studies show video content engagement levels are far higher than they are for standard content. Google also ranks video content higher than text-based content. Podcasting will continue to increase in influence. Audio and video can be effectively used at each stage of the buyer’s journey, from lead generation to nurturing. Subject matter that addresses clients' challenges and problems will be the most successful—after all, construction processes are complex, and visual demonstrations can be invaluable.

4. Personalization

Consumers are tired of viewing generic ads that are not relevant to them, so personalized marketing is building momentum. Personalization has become a prominent content marketing strategy, delivering relevant, one-to-one content to current or prospective buyers. According to a study, 72% of business buyers expect vendors to personalize content. Most popular email marketing and marketing automation tools can segment lists and help deliver a personalized message.

5. Digital Marketing

AEC companies are increasingly channeling their marketing dollars to digital marketing. According to CMO, by the year 2022 nearly 87% of marketing budgets will be spent on digital marketing. Search engine marketing, search engine optimization (SEO) and retargeting will continue to be critical to marketing success. Web searches drive most traffic to B2B online content; therefore, higher SEO rankings typically result in higher traffic and more customer conversions. As algorithms change, marketers will have to remain vigilant in their response to those changes.

6. Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC)

Integrated marketing communications continue to be embraced by marketers in the AEC industry. Integration ensures AEC firms consistently deliver positive brand experiences. IMC is an approach designed to harness content marketing, social media, advertising, public relations, digital marketing and other programs to work in coordination as a unified force. And integration refers to more than just the use of multiple platforms; an integrated effort consists of planning, coordinating and controlling the communications process with the result being a synergistic, seamless, customer-focused marketing program.

7. Martech

Marketing technology (martech) refers to the convergence of marketing and technology. Technology platforms enable marketers to efficiently and effectively manage marketing efforts, with tools to support activity management, scheduling, monitoring and analytics. These tools also offer insight into prospect/buyer behavior and buyer personas as well as provide an excellent means of managing engagement with a firm’s digital marketing efforts. Martech can be applied to a range of initiatives, efforts and tools, all of which harness technology to achieve marketing goals and objectives.

8. Email Marketing

This tried-and-true marketing tool will make a comeback in 2020, because studies indicate email marketing remains effective. However, email marketing strategies will continue to evolve as marketers move away from sales pitches to delivering relevant and personalized content focused on building trust.

Traditional and emerging marketing tactics must deliver results. Marketers are focusing on tracking the return on their marketing investments. By quantifying the achievement of specific goals and targets, ROI helps ensure that campaigns are effective—because what can be measured can be managed.

2020 presents interesting opportunities for AEC firms seeking to engage in authentic dialogue and conversation with customers. The buying process in the construction industry can be very complex and there are learning curves for buyers. Marketers are increasingly focused on facilitating information exchange, enhancing relationships, and establishing lines of communication that decrease confusion and increase conversions. These emerging trends present challenges and opportunities for the AEC marketer.

by Brian Gallagher
Brian Gallagher has over 30 years of experience leading strategic planning, organizational development, marketing and sales efforts for design and construction firms. He is author of three books and was named a Top 20 Construction Influencer by Procore.

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