E-com for AEC

May 08, 2022

Your firm needs to be where conversations are happening – online.

Stop right there – I already know what you’re thinking: “I’m a prominent civil engineering firm, I don’t have people googling ‘civil engineer + my city’ to find my services – B2B sales don’t work that way. E-commerce doesn’t apply to me or my firm.”

Unfortunately, although you may be right about the googling, your firm’s online presence is probably factoring into a number of processes that greatly affect your firm’s success – if not already, it will be soon! In today’s market, e-commerce for AEC firms is about a lot more than the single click transaction to buy things.

The average adult is now spending more than 16 hours per day consuming digital media, up from an already insanely high 12 hours and 24 minutes a day pre-pandemic (according to a Wall Street Journal article from August 2020).

When thinking about your firm’s online presence, you need to factor in the following:

  1. How potential clients will find out about your firm online for the first time. This is website 101 – but online is now about a lot more than a website and a couple social media profiles. The AEC industry is vast and comprised of quite a few different types of firms. If you do any kind of residential work, you don’t need me to tell you that you do have potential clients absolutely stalking your firm, past projects, and the people who work for your firm online, well before they even pick up the phone or send an email expressing their need for your services.
    For other firm types with different business development processes, it may be less direct, but there’s no doubt at some point someone who is a decision-maker has or will view your firm’s website or be exposed to something or someone related to your firm and its work online. Every one of these touchpoints is an important factor!
    If someone does decide to reach out to your firm, you have to be accessible and responsive via a number of methods. These all have to be easily identified by any potential client.
  2. How your firm is interacting with the world online – potential clients, potential partner firms, organizations, etc. This second point often gets overlooked when firms just focus on the action versus immediate return. Your firm needs to be where conversations are happening (online). Like everything else, community involvement is something that has now gone online in many ways, and participating in discussions and being able to view available opportunities is the bare minimum for successful participation. What your firm and its people do online is the modern-day office lobby experience.
  3. How clients will experience your firm online while they are working on a project with you. Your firm has a responsibility to be responsive, present, and also positively promote the projects and organizations you are working with. If a client wants to mention your firm, can they link to your website or a social media profile easily?
    Other aspects of the client experience involve your firm’s technical capabilities – does your firm have a way to upload and send documents securely and easily online? Do these things reflect your firm’s brand?
    Is your firm aware, awake, and monitoring? If a community member is talking about a project that your firm is involved in online, are you aware of these conversations? Is someone from your firm available to respond if necessary?
  4. How your firm delivers their services online. Almost all AEC firms are now delivering some of their services or communicating with clients via online methods. Are all these touchpoints reflective of your brand? Are you using the platforms your clients find most convenient and efficient? Are you utilizing your website and social media for tactful cross-selling opportunities? All of these factors are important to consider when developing your firm’s e-commerce strategy.

E-commerce does apply to AEC. Although we all are busier than ever, it’s important to devote time and have a solid strategy for everything related to your firm online. Zweig Group performs marketing and social media audits to help AEC firms identify gaps and needed strategies.

We can help you raise your firm’s profile and increase revenue with a strategic marketing plan to achieve your goals and objectives. Click here for more information! 

Christina Zweig Niehues is Zweig Group’s director of research and e-commerce. She can be reached at czweig@zweiggroup.com.

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About Zweig Group

Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.