Construction Companies Have 1 of 3 Types of Websites

First published on LinkedIn Pulse.

As a specialist in construction marketing, I’ve looked at hundreds, possibly thousands, of construction company websites. I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the very ugly; and I break them into three categories: money generating websites, credibility-only websites, and the disqualifier website. Take note: company size has little to do with how good, or not so good, they look and function.

The Money Generating Website (aka the ATM) – These websites take full advantage of the web by not only showcasing the company’s capabilities and prowess, but also generating qualified leads that result in real work. Although these websites generally look good, it is what is “under the hood” that really makes the difference. Websites that generate leads are chock full of great content making them search engine friendly while positioning the company as the expert challenge-solver to prospective buyers. Because the company is positioned as an expert, they are not constantly chasing low bid work; instead, they are competing with a select few competitor companies, if any at all, who can perform the work as well as they can.

These websites frequently have integrated tools built-in for collecting visitor-leads info. These data-capture systems categorize and prioritize the information into usable marketing data the business development team’s CRM (Client Relationship Management) can manage. Even better, the website automatically generates messages that nurture leads into qualified prospects, and then into clients. Automating these tasks saves business development team’s time, and prevents leads from slipping through the cracks without some type of contact and follow-up. Strong CRMs also sort leads by who “is ready to buy” and who “needs more nurturing.” In addition to assisting the business development and marketing teams, these websites usually attract the cream-of-the-crop employees. As most HR pros can attest, a website is infinitely valuable for recruiting and retention. For potential employees, a company that invests in their website adds even more differentiation versus their nearest competitors who can’t or won’t make the investment.

“We’re Credible” Website – This category of websites sits in the middle of the Gaussian (bell) curve, where most construction company websites fall. These websites look okay and are easy to navigate, the projects section shows a capable contractor but nothing special, and it’s built professionally but generically. The website may get these companies short-listed with 5-8 other construction companies unless the prospective buyer finds an expert that blows them out of the water (like the ones who utilize the website mentioned above). I like to think of these websites as an online brochure – they show and tell, but they don’t sell.

The Disqualifier – No one in construction should have one of these websites, but many do, including those ranked in ENR‘s Top 400 Contractors list. These websites hurt more than they help business development, recruiting, and, sometimes, even operations. The websites are usually dated looking, not user-friendly, not mobile–friendly, haven’t been updated in years, built using old technology, send the wrong message – it is seen as an afterthought by the company’s prospects. Most likely, this company has a website (and a Facebook page) just because their competitors have them, and they don’t want to feel left behind. This group of websites tells prospective buyers multiple things: we’re too busy to accept new business, so we don’t care about our website; we’re not tech savvy; we’re not business savvy; we’re on our way out of business; or, we just don’t care about our professional image online. These are all things you don’t want your prospective buyers thinking about your company. It would be better to not have a website than to have people see you with one of these and think those negative things about your company.

Just from looking at these disqualifier websites, I can tell that 90% of the companies that have them compete for low-bid work. Having one of these websites often forces you to sell your work as a commodity based upon lowest price. Negotiated-work prospects going to these company websites and disqualifying them from their short-list, and then negotiating contracts with construction companies that invest in websites from the other groups. Most construction executives do not know how to make the jump from low-bid to negotiated work – their brand analysis and resulting website should be the first step. Unfortunately, owners of “Disqualifier” websites do not know what they’re missing, so they do not fix their online marketing because what they’re using doesn’t produce revenue. If I have an old beat up truck that doesn’t run anymore, that doesn’t mean I can’t benefit from getting a new one just because the old one isn’t productive.

Construction companies make money from their website every day, and if you’re not getting leads online, then you’re in the Disqualifier Website group. No, construction companies do not sell products online like Amazon sells products, but they do sell their specialization and value. Every construction company needs a strong web presence to showcase the company’s expertise, talents, and capabilities. Why? 95% of B2B (Business-to-Business) buyers look online for professional services, and 65% of the buying decision is made before the first contact is made – according to the Harvard Business Review. Those are odds I would not bet against by owning a Disqualifier Website.