The construction industry -- both residential and commercial -- is changing fast; and the South Florida regional market is no exception.
And across the board, there’s a general shortage of skilled workers to fill available job openings -- a trend only expected to become more pronounced as baby boomers continue to retire in record numbers.
But it’s not just the construction industry itself going through all this -- for the most part -- good change.
Although many might assume that this tells a big part of the story of the South Florida construction market, it overlooks just how much buyer preferences have changed in recent years -- regardless of whether we’re talking about influencers or decision makers.
Starting with the release of the original iPhone in 2007, the way people research and make purchase decisions has changed drastically.
Word of mouth. Cold calls. Cold emails. Interrupting people with obnoxious, self-serving advertising. Direct mail. Print advertising. All of these marketing channels that were mainstays of business development playbooks, literally for decades (1980s, 1990s, and early 2000s), have been called onto the mat. In nearly all cases, these channels have become far less effective and have gotten far more expensive.
Why? People grew tired of interruptions and proved they were willing to pay to get what they wanted (no more, no less), exactly when they wanted it, 100% on their own terms.
The empowerment rooted in search engines, social media, mobile devices, and cloud computing has fueled entirely new business models based on selective consumption of information.
People subscribe to streaming video services like Netflix and Hulu -- and use DVRs -- to avoid watching commercials. People subscribe to satellite radio providers like SiriusXM to avoid annoying radio advertising.
Yet many of those in leadership roles at construction companies have failed to appreciate how these changes impact demand generation, desired customer experience, differentiation, competitive positioning, and their ability to stave off market disruption.
Technologies like Gmail’s Priority Inbox make it tougher for any commercial email to make it to the Inbox.
And do people answer their phones anymore without checking caller ID?
The rules have changed for businesses of all sizes and shapes -- including residential and commercial construction companies in South Florida.
Their clients and potential clients have become accustomed to -- in many cases, addicted would be the more accurate term -- using search engines, social media, and mobile devices to find answers to questions and seek out solutions to problems.
Regardless of project size or industry, this behavior change has completely upended the buyer’s journey -- the active research process someone goes through in between when that person begins searching for answers and when that person becomes a paying client.
In the pre-iPhone era, potential clients reached out to construction companies for information when they were 10% to 20% of the way through their decision-making process. Those days are long, long gone.
Today, as much as 70% (or more) of their decision may be over before a potential client even reaches out to a construction firm.
This change in the decision-making process presents enormous challenges to most construction companies in South Florida that are stuck in the past, using the same business development playbook that they’ve used since the 1980s and 1990s.
But digital transformation also presents enormous market opportunities for digitally-savvy construction companies that can get found by the right influencers and decision makers, in the right places, at the right time, and most of all: in the right context -- to be seen as trusted advisors and educators, rather than just vendors.
In the South Florida Construction Market Opportunity Report, we’ll explore which construction companies in South Florida are the most digitally-savvy -- and doing the best job keeping up.
We’ll unpack this challenge by looking at 48 metrics with regards to how each fares with:
To develop the shortlist of who to research, each construction firm had to
We ended up with 87 construction firms located anywhere from Jupiter down to Homestead. While we don’t believe that these 87 firms represent all of the construction companies in South Florida that meet the criteria, we do believe that the firms included are representative of how digitally-savvy construction companies in South Florida are:
On some metrics, we offer a median or average for that metric immediately before the table that presents how each company fares relative to its competitors.
In many cases, the median number is presented to avoid skewing data due to very large company size differences between some of the smallest and largest construction firms in the region. In other cases, where a massive company size disparity shouldn’t impact more accurate comparisons, a simple average is used.
And in a few cases, the data is normalized relative to the number of employees and presented in both absolute form and on a percentage basis.
Just as a balance sheet is a snapshot in time, the data in this report was gathered during a one week period in November 2017. It’s fully expected that the construction firms within this report, and others that read this report, will make changes to their websites.
However given that several of the construction companies in this report had let their websites sit stagnant for literally years, there will be some resistors who believe that their clients are different -- and don’t use search engines, social media, or smartphones.
And just to be clear: None of the construction companies in this report paid for inclusion or sponsorship and none, at the time of publication, have a financial relationship with the report’s publisher: SP Home Run Inc.
In a world where potential clients are increasingly very far along in their buyer’s journey before construction companies are even looped into the conversation, what influencers and decision makers learn online about construction companies makes an enormous impact.
One of the best ways to stand out from the pack and differentiate is by being regarded as the definitive subject matter expert on anything and everything having to do with your future clients’ questions and problems.
Nearly all of the construction firms in South Florida researched for this report spend the majority of their digital presence talking about themselves, rather than their prospects’ and clients’ biggest problems, questions, and concerns.
Given how short the attention span is of people when visiting websites, these construction companies that fail to provide fast, immediate value to their visitors will find most visitors leaving within a few seconds, which poses two of its own problems:
To truly differentiate and be relevant in today’s modern buyer’s journey, a construction firm’s website must evoke a two-pronged emotional reaction when a stranger visits for the first time:
And when this type of value-exchange occurs, a website visitor trading their contact information for free access to premium content with high-perceived value, the construction firm earns the right to begin a relationship with that individual -- to continue educating that person and building up more trust.
So how are South Florida construction firms doing when it comes to their thought leadership strategy and website authority -- both of which are critical parts of website optimization? (Website optimization is a much more comprehensive, buyer-centric approach to what many refer to as search engine optimization or SEO.)
For anyone that’s ever observed the finite amount of real estate available on page one of a search engine results page, it’s no big secret that only ten organic, or earned, slots are available.
And if a construction company's website isn’t deemed worthy of the “top 10” list, very few people will ever venture beyond page one -- at least for that particular keyword phrase or topic.
So visibility is truly a zero-sum game. If a construction company suddenly earns a desired page one ranking, by very definition another entry on that search results page is being bumped or demoted off of page one.
Aside from all of these factors analyzed earlier, with regard to differentiated thought leadership and website authority, what else does a construction firm in South Florida need to worry about for digital readiness?
In this section on Competitive Positioning, we examine which construction companies in South Florida are currently best positioned to digitally-elbow other entities out of their way in the race to get found by the right people, in the right places, at the right time, and most of all in the right context.
In a world that’s undergoing such massive digital disruption, where software, artificial intelligence, and machine learning are devouring entire industries, people have completely changed how they research and make purchase decisions.
For anyone that doubts how much mobile computing, the consumerization of IT, search engines, and social media permeate our lives, think about how many stores and restaurants have free WiFi, active social media profiles, mobile apps with exclusive discounts and loyalty rewards, and heavily promoted website URLs.
The big search engines have taken notice as well. As a result, a construction company can no longer win the battle for search engine visibility without also competing on social media.
All those little numbers at the top of blog posts, quantifying the volume of social media activity across Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn for example, aren’t just vanity numbers -- like the number of millions or billions served on the iconic McDonald’s Golden Arches signs.
Those social media activity metrics are also factors that determine a construction company’s level of visibility -- or conversely, invisibility.
Earlier in this market opportunity report, we looked at several individual metrics that impact thought leadership strategy and visibility --- including LinkedIn participation of the company’s CEO, sales director, sales and business development employees, marketing director, and marketing employees.
Even as few as a dozen employees that are active on LinkedIn can really begin to move the needle in aggregate. But what about social media visibility at the company level?
How are construction companies in South Florida doing with growing their company footprint on social media?
Across LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Houzz, we examined both the number of followers and number of updates posted during the past 30 days. Both factors matter a lot.
In much the same way that a stale website footer copyright year infers that a company either isn’t staying current -- or worse yet, may be out of business, a stale social media profile sends a similar negative brand impression to visitors, search engines, and the social media platforms.
Next, in the quest to determine which construction firms in South Florida are the most digitally-savvy, we looked at how each company’s website is positioned to generate leads.
After all, why would a construction company invest in differentiation and thought leadership if those initiatives weren’t focused on generating leads, sales opportunities, and new clients?
Why would a construction company bother trying to improve its competitive positioning or social media presence if not for improving its ability to attract more of the right influencers and decision makers, in the right places, at the right time, and most of all in the right context?
Now granted, much still has to happen in between lead generation and revenue generation -- typically segmenting leads by buyer persona and buyer’s journey stage, nurturing those leads to continue educating, building trust, and accelerating leads into sales-ready opportunities, and ultimately closing some of those sales opportunities into new clients.
But for this report, we’re focusing on metrics that can be ascertained without an insider’s perspective.
Earlier on, we introduced the concept of educational content, buyer personas, and the buyer’s journey. Now, we’ll look at five additional factors that determine whether a construction company’s website can generate the kinds of leads that materialize into their ideal clients.
In particular, we’ll look at whether each company’s website grasps the concept of website conversions for lead generation, whether the website has educational content available for lead generation purposes, and whether there are calls to action (CTAs) on educational blog posts that facilitate lead generation in the right context.
Just like businesses in general, construction firms in South Florida are all over the map regarding their digital readiness. That’s one of the reasons why the data in this market opportunity report is so eye-opening.
And when a construction company wants to differentiate in the modern buyer’s journey, use thought leadership to improve its website’s authority, bolster its competitive positioning, benefit from a stronger social media presence, and generate high-quality leads from its website, sometimes that construction company tends to be a little impatient -- expecting results to happen...yesterday.
When unrealistic expectations creep into the strategy conversation, it’s important to temper these expectations with a healthy dose of reality.
“How long have you known that your digital presence wasn’t keeping up?”
“Three or four years you say?”
“Then what makes you think that three or four years of neglect can be solved in three to four weeks -- or even three to four months?”
Fortunately, for the chronically impatient, with unrealistic expectations, there is a solution -- once all the foundational building blocks are in place, such as:
What can a construction company do to speed things up, once it has a solid foundation of digital assets intended to attract the right people, at the right time, in the right places, and in the right context?
Paid search acceleration can be a very effective way to run tests and get results faster, while a construction company is slowly but surely taking the right steps to earn organic search traffic and grow its organic social media reach.
No matter how digitally-savvy a construction company is, when it comes to differentiation, the buyer’s journey, thought leadership, website authority, competitive positioning, social media, lead generation, and paid search acceleration, there are a handful of digital infrastructure issues that must be addressed.
Without addressing infrastructure, the construction company will almost certainly underperform when it comes to full-funnel revenue growth. And it will likely fail to achieve its SMART goal. (Again, a SMART goal is a goal that’s specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time bound.)
The world is changing fast. Across nearly all demographics that would be clients of construction companies in South Florida, use of search engines, social media, cloud computing, and mobile devices have all reached strong levels of mainstream adoption. This changes everything.
It’s no longer a seller-centric research and purchase decision. And software, artificial intelligence, and machine learning are devouring entire industries.
Buyers are now in the driver’s seat. That means potential clients will decide when and if they start a conversation with a construction company that they’re considering.
With as much as 70% or more of potential clients’ minds already made up before a construction company is even aware of potential client needs, how do construction companies stay relevant and compete effectively to win over digitally-savvy clients?
How can these construction companies attract the right influencers and decision makers, in the right places, at the right time, and most of all in the right context?
In this report, we set out to answer the question: Which Construction Firms in South Florida Are the Most Digitally-Savvy?
While pretty much none of these construction firms are firing on all cylinders when it comes to differentiation, thought leadership, competitive positioning, social media, lead generation, paid search acceleration, full-funnel revenue growth, and digital infrastructure, there nevertheless are sharply pronounced differences among the 87 South Florida construction firms analyzed in this report.
Companies appearing in this report, as well as companies that compete with those in this report, should use the sections, categories, and what constitutes the highest rating in each section to focus their efforts on continuous improvements in the coming months.
As mentioned earlier, however, everything starts with and needs to be grounded in setting SMART goals, creating buyer personas, and guiding buyer personas through their buyer’s journey.
We appreciate the interest and support of the South Florida Construction Market Opportunity Report -- and wish construction companies great success in capitalizing on new market opportunities through stronger differentiation, thought leadership, website authority, competitive positioning, social media, lead generation, paid search acceleration, digital infrastructure, and full-funnel revenue growth.