Most Impactful Digital Marketing Techniques of High-Growth AEC Firms

While many professional services firms have been profoundly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, for AEC firms working in what has been deemed an essential industry, it’s been (more or less) “business as usual.” Or should I say the “new normal”? In an industry where most employees spend their days out in the field, working off one’s phone or tablet has always been important. But now that the rest of the world has adopted a virtual lifestyle, going digital has taken on new meaning.

In this post, I’ll share key insights from Hinge’s 2020 High Growth Study: Architecture, Engineering, & Construction Edition, which describes, among other things, what the industry’s fastest growing firms do differently from their average peers.

At a time when all our routine, everyday lives have been disrupted by Covid-19, it is fitting that one of the key themes in this study is digital disruption.

This is not a new concept. At Hinge, we’ve been studying a select group of professional services firms that got ahead of the curve and jumped on the digital train years ago. These firms generate 66% or more of their new business through digital channels.

Hinge defines high-growth firms as those that reported 20% or more annual growth over a period of at least 3 consecutive years. Hinge’s high-growth study takes a look at what AEC firms are doing to achieve this growth year after year.\

High-growth AEC firms expended nearly twice the effort on techniques such as video, audio, SEO, and promoting thought leadership content in social media. In fact, we found that high-growth AEC firms demonstrated a higher rate of adoption than their no-growth peers on nearly every one of the digital techniques cited by participating firms.

High-growth firms have adopted more digital techniques because they understand their buyers—almost 70 percent of whom say they use digital channels to research their business problems. We call these firms that prefer digital marketing techniques “digital disruptors.”

Overall, high-growth AEC firms experienced 50% more impact from digital and content marketing tactics compared to the no-growth firms. Let’s take a closer look at what techniques our digital disruptors prefer.

Most Impactful Digital Marketing Techniques of High-Growth AEC Firms

  1. Podcasts, radio, and other audio. It’s no secret that the popularity of podcasts in people’s personal and professional lives has grown considerably.
  2. Video. Online video, as a communication tool or to showcase a firm’s people and/or services, has also been increasing in popularity among all AEC firm segments. Since professional services is all about people, it’s an excellent way to achieve face-to-face interactions and demonstrate expertise. Video allows you to create a more personal connection with your audience. Video also equips you to easily share detailed, highly visual tutorials or demonstrations.
  3. Promoting thought leadership on social media. If you spend time creating content, social media gives you a low-cost, high-value way to share and promote it. Social platforms have the added benefits of generating traffic back to your firm’s website and providing a forum to engage directly with your audience. Social media also gives you tools to track the popularity of your content over time.
  4. Keyword research and SEO. You can create all the content you want, but if no one can find it, you’ve wasted a lot of effort. SEO gives firms a tool to help people find their content through online search.
  5. Webinars. Webinars help drive engagement with your target audience, as well as leads for your marketing and business development teams. Experts shares their expertise with an interested audience. And attendees can engage with presenters through chat, by participating in polls or by responding to offers. Webinars should be strategically positioned in your buyer’s journey to target buyers who are researching issues or evaluating solutions.
  6. Publishing blogs on your website. Blogging is an effective way to educate your audience, demonstrate your expertise and generate a loyal following over time. Recent research shows that more than 50% of buyers read blog posts to learn more about a business topic.

Blogs also help increase the authority of your website in the eyes of Google and other search engines. And as you produce more and more fresh content, Google will reward you with a steady flow of high-quality visitors to your blog. And by adding an actionable next step, like the ones you’ll find below, blogs can lead to conversions, too.

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Author: Katy Pultz Katy is an account director at Hinge, where she enjoys working closely with senior leadership to develop marketing programs that engage stakeholders at every level. When she isn’t leading client engagements, she writes about professional services marketing for C-suite executives.

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