Marketing is one the key pillars of your business, the problem is: it may also be one of the most time consuming and complicated. JOSH LOH investigates.
There is a deep rabbit hole of behavioural economics, neuromarketing and consumer trends analysis for the average developer or builder to get lost down; however, you are more likely to emerge with more questions than answers.
Better Building speaks to Ellie Cashman, marketing and communications director at Crown Group, to figure out a basic guide to getting your digital marketing game off the ground.
“If you've got minimal marketing spend, digital is the way to go,” Cashman asserts. “A hundred times over I would spend the money on digital before I wasted money on business cards, brochures or press advertising in the local paper.”
Cashman’s time with Crown Group totals more than four years. Prior to that she worked as an associate director for Coronation Property and as project marketing manager at Ausin Group before that – she knows her stuff.
Investing in an easy-to-use and well-maintained website enables your audience to learn about your great services in the most seamless and painless fashion possible. Earlier this year, a report from Hosting Facts found that every one-second delay in loading a website results in a seven percent loss in conversion; and if your website takes more than three seconds to load, you can expect to lose approximately 40 percent of your prospective viewers.
“Having a website that is user-friendly on mobile and tablet is so important too,” Cashman continues. “So many people are interacting with your website through mobile now, barely anyone is using desktop to surf these days.
“I know website design and hosting can be a big cost, but there are quite a number of great websites out there... that allow the average punter to play web designer with beautiful, easy to use drag-and-drop templates.”
Of course, a professional website developer who can create custom designs and troubleshoot problems for you is ideal, but if the budget for this area is on the leaner side, trying playing with website design services such as WIX, Squarespace or WordPress.
Cashman continues, “Having social media is a great start, but I would recommend creating a website. Even if you don’t have the time to update it regularly, it should be kept up-to-date with company information, images of recent construction or project work and any special offers.”
Another key part of having a website is making sure your customers can find it and pushing it up on the list of Google’s suggested websites. For example, if someone Googles ‘new apartments Sydney’ or ‘construction company Melbourne’, you want to appear as close to the top of those results as possible – this is a practice known as Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).
SEO expert and founder of StewArt Media Jim Stewart advises the use of Google’s free website tool ‘Google Search Console’, which he says “every website owner should have set up”. In Search Console, you can look for the phrases that people most commonly use to arrive at your website.
“From there you can narrow down on those phrases and look for those including ‘why’, ‘what’ and ‘how’, and see what kinds of questions are being asked,” says Stewart.
“If you have enough traffic you’ll find that there’s a trend that emerges from those questions. Then you can start producing content, packaging, marketing or whatever it may be, that actually targets and answers these questions.”
Finally, the best way to ensure that the information about your business on the internet is accurate is to verify that information yourself.
“Get your company listed on Google My Business ASAP if you’re not,” urges Cashman. “You have the option of sharing your website, Facebook page, phone number, office address and more crucial information for people to get in touch with you.
“To have your location verified by Google, it’ll send you a postcard, which usually arrives within a month – all you need to do is verify you are where you say you are and voila! You’re online.
“Now, if someone searches ‘CROWN GROUP’ on Google, we would appear at the top of the search results and on Google Maps.”
Let’s get social
Social media is perhaps the most powerful of your tools; it allows you not only to communicate with your audience in real time, but see what people are saying about you.
One important part of getting your word out online is omnichannel marketing – which is a fancy way of saying you need to use multiple social media channels in order to spread your news effectively.
In an interview with Marketing magazine, Facebook Australia’s head of brand and group industry director Naomi Shepherd explains that businesses need to engage with at least four channels if they want to maximise awareness. “It is no longer just the job of one or two channels to bring your brand to life, or to be able to invest in some pretty healthy long-
term brand building – it’s always going to take more than that,” says Shepherd.
Taking this into account, Cashman warns that new businesses should be wary of “smashing four channels straightaway”.
“Facebook is still the tried-and-true channel for small business, as it allows you to open up a conversation with potential clients, to post photos of recent builds, market updates or products for sale.”
Regular engagement on social media, particularly Facebook, is essential. As with your individual accounts, it's a fine line between posting too much and not enough – you want your audience to be thinking about your business regularly, but you don’t want to oversaturate them with messaging either.
Cashman advises that above all, social media content must be kept relevant to the business. “Whether it be a new restaurant opening a couple of hundred metres from a project of ours, a brand new library that has just opened next door to one of our projects or maybe we’ve reached one of our construction milestones.
“Just keep the content relevant, keep things interesting. Most important would be product shots, construction updates, that sort of thing. People love behind the scenes stuff, content of your staff and your team working hard on-site, that kind of thing.”
It’s also a great idea to credit and hashtag all and any suppliers, partners and even product names, especially on social media. As you share the love around, you’ll find it comes right back, with your business’ name receiving tags in return and a profile that is amplified exponentially.
Another option on Facebook (and other social media outlets) is to pay to promote your online content. Prior to this step though, it’s definitely helpful to have an idea of what your target audience looks like.
Whether it be through Facebook Forms, a survey you conduct yourself or a newsletter subscription on your website – collecting data on your audience helps you narrow down the people who are more likely to respond to your messaging, and avoid wasting precious marketing spend.
“You could pay a small amount – say $50 – to boost your post on Facebook,” Cashman continues. “That allows you to promote your business to myriad different people based on things like demographics, interests, geography – the filters are endless and you can reach hundreds of thousands of people that way.”
After you’ve tackled Facebook, Cashman says Instagram is the logical next step. If you haven’t used Instagram before, it’s predominantly a visual medium that allows users to share augmented images and videos with captions (that do not allow URLs).
One of the primary ways users navigate platforms such as Instagram is hashtags. “Hashtags are a big part of Instagram, you definitely need the right hashtags,” says Cashman.
“Using the right hashtags like #SydneyConstruction and #ApartmentsWaterloo rather than #Apartments or #Property, which are generic, will ensure you get followers organically.”
Next on the list is LinkedIn. “It’s great for B2B communication and developing a following of like-minded people in similar industries,” says Cashman. LinkedIn allows you to foster relationships with potential clients and prospective customers in an environment geared toward professionalism. Similar to Facebook, LinkedIn also offers an easy way to pay to promote your posts or marketing collateral.
Ellie Cashman’s top social media marketing tips:
If you’re a Chinese company (or aiming at a Chinese audience) you could use WeChat and Weibo; Crown Group certainly uses those a lot in the property space.
Make sure your contact details are up-to-date and you respond to messages quickly on Facebook, because if you don’t your rating goes down quite quickly.
Don’t be a sucker and buy followers – they’ll end up being fake profiles and random people from Kazakhstan, and that isn’t your target market. Paying to promote is the best way to organically grow your following on Instagram and Facebook.
So many builders and developers get social media wrong – posting pixelated images, uploading a dodgy low-res looking logo as their cover photo. Take the time and keep a high standard of content.
Image: 123RF's Chalermsuk Bootvises © 123RF