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Building & Construction Insights – SMB Internet Marketing Survey 2013

Building & Construction Insights – SMB Internet Marketing Survey 2013

SMB internet survey 2013

Welcome to the Building & Construction Industry Results of the SMB Internet Marketing Survey 2013.

Following the publication of the full SMB Internet Marketing Survey 2013 results, we started to take a look at specific industries and their individual results, to see how these compare to all industries in the full survey.

We asked our customers & readers which industry sectors they were most interested in seeing research data for. We’ve already published the Healthcare Marketing Insights and now we turn our attentions towards the ‘Building & Construction’ industry. Almost 10% of the SMBs we surveyed classified themselves as working in this sector and are made up of a diverse set of specialisms including general construction, excavations, concrete foundation repair, swimming pool builders, construction supplies, contractors, door repairs, flooring & insulation and much more.

About the SMB Internet Marketing Survey 2013

To recap the original survey, in October 2013 we contacted 20,000 US based businesses and asked them to participate in the survey. We received 668 responses from businesses spread across over 50 Industry Sectors. This research was conducted in partnership with and we thank them and all participating businesses for their time & assistance. Without them this survey & insights would not have been possible.

We asked 13 questions relating to their attitudes & usage of ‘Internet & Mobile’ marketing (aka ‘Digital Marketing’ as we refer to it at points in the findings below)

This survey is divided into two parts:

  1. The first explores the current scale of internet marketing amongst small & medium businesses, what works for them and their opinions on how this might change in the future.
  2. The second part explores how many SMBs use internet marketing consultants and agencies and how effective these working relationships are.

The 2013 survey is the first wave of this survey which we intend to repeat on an annual basis.

Sections & Questions

Engagement & Opinions

Marketing Consultants & Agencies

Engagement & Opinions

Q1. How much money do you allocate to marketing your business each month?

building & construction marketing budgets

Key Findings:

  • The average Building & Construction SMB spends $600 per month on marketing (vs. $400 across all industries)
  • 19% are spending more than 1k per month (vs. 6% across all industries)


Building & Construction SMBs are spending more on their marketing than other similar sized companies (33% more). It could be assumed that the Building & Construction industry relies on new customer acquisition a lot more than some other industries, and that frequent, returning customer numbers may be a lot lower. For that reason it would seem that attracting new business becomes even more important, and therefore marketing takes on more significance for SMBs within this industry.

Q2. What percentage of your marketing money do you spend on internet or mobile marketing?


Budget for internet or mobile marketing


Key Findings:

  • The average Building & Construction SMB allocates 60% of their total marketing budget towards internet or mobile marketing (vs. 46% across all industries)
  • 31% spend more than 81% of their marketing budgets online (vs. 19% across all industries)


As well as spending more on their marketing budgets – Building & Construction SMBs are clearly embracing the digital marketing world by putting more of that budget into online & mobile marketing channels. With nearly 1 in 3 construction SMBs putting more than 80% of their budget into online marketing it is a sure sign that there is high amount of trust in this channel’s ability to attract new customers.

Q3. In the next 12 months do you plan to increase the money you spend on internet marketing?


Increasing budget for internet marketing


Key Findings:

  • 31% say yes (vs. 21% across all industries)
  • 23% say no (vs. 32% across all industries)


There are more Building & Construction SMBs planning to increase their internet marketing budget over the next 12 months than those from other industries. Whether that’s down to industry security, higher profit margins or better ROI, it’s clear that this particular industry is not slowing down – and is only set to increase that 60% online marketing spend (Q2) – further increasing the “digital gap” between Building & Construction SMBs and those from other industries.

Q4. Which of the following marketing channels are most effective at bringing you new leads & customers? (select up to 3)

 Effective channels bring leads and customers

Online Vs Offline

Online vs offline marketing

Key Findings:

  • 26% considered SEO the most effective channel (vs. 19% across all-industries)
  • Word of mouth (24%) was the 2nd most effective marketing channel (vs. 26% across all-industries)
  • 62% favoured online channels (vs. 54% across all-industries)


Building & Construction SMBs have more faith in SEO as an effective marketing channel than other SMBs. Whilst word of mouth was considered just as important to the construction industry – online channels are ultimately favoured higher overall, with the 3 most popular channels clearly rated as SEO, word of mouth and online local directories.

Q5. How effective is internet marketing at attracting customers to your business?

 Effectiveness of online marketing

Key Findings:

  • 88.5% of those surveyed would say that internet marketing is either quite or very effective (vs 68% across all industries)


This is an enormous vote of confidence for internet marketing by the Building and Construction industry. SMBs from this sector are clearly embracing the digital world more than others – which is ultimately great news for marketing agencies and consultants with ‘construction marketing’ experience who wish to target the industry for prospective clients.

Q6. Do you have a mobile ready / mobile optimized website?

 Mobile ready or optimized website

Key Findings:

  • 58% of those surveyed currently have mobile ready optimized site (vs 59% across all industries)
  • 19% not sure (vs 11% across all industries)


The presence of mobile ready or mobile optimized sites appears to be the only slight drawback in the endorsement of the Building and Construction industry as a stronghold of internet marketing. Whilst the amount of SMBs that have mobile sites is on par with the average from all industries, there are slightly more construction industry SMBs who are unsure about the status of their site.

Q7. Do you think mobile & mobile marketing is important for the future of your business?

 Importance of mobile marketing

Key Findings:

  • 67% of SMBs said that mobile & mobile marketing will be an important channel/use it already (vs 77% across all industries)
  • 9.5% don’t think mobile marketing is relevant to their business (vs 6% across all industries)


There is slightly less confidence in mobile and mobile marketing from SMBs within the Building and Construction industry. It does seem strange that within an industry with so much faith in internet marketing, this doesn’t transfer to mobile marketing also. Alternatively, perhaps it is indicative of the industry that the majority of leads & sales are generally made in person (or by phone) – following a web search to find the right company. This of course would somewhat marginalise the need for mobile as a marketing channel.

Q8. How effective is Google AdWords advertising for generating new customers?

 Effectiveness of Google Adwords for leads

Key Findings:

  • 19% say it is ok but too expensive (vs 25% across all industries)
  • 27% say it is very effective (vs 21% across all industries)


Less Building & Construction SMBs are concerned about the perceived high costs associated with PPC marketing, and there is generally more confidence towards the paid advertising channel. The reason for this might of course be the higher budgets that these SMBs have at their disposal.

Marketing Consultants & Agencies

The second part explores how many SMBs currently use internet marketing consultants and / or SEO agencies and how effective these working relationships are.

Q9. Do you handle internet marketing yourself or use a freelance marketing consultant/agency?


Handling internet marketing


Key Findings:

  • 69% of SMBs handle their internet marketing in-house (vs 68% across all industries)
  • 23% use a consultant/agency (vs 15% across all industries)
  • 4% do not do any internet marketing (vs 6% across all industries)


The amount of Building & Construction SMBs undertaking their internet marketing in-house is relatively on par with the average across all industries. However, there is a slight increase in the amount that currently use an agency – which does go hand in hand with the fact that they are more open to internet marketing as a channel in the first place.

Q10. How many times per week are you emailed/called by an internet marketing or SEO company wanting to sell you their services?

 Contact from SEO companies for services

Key Findings:

  • 46% are contacted on a daily basis (vs. 32% across all industries)
  • 88% are contacted at least 1 time per week (vs. 75% across all industries)
  • 4% say they are rarely contacted (vs. 12% across all industries)


Overall, SMBs from the Building & Construction industry are contacted more frequently than those from other industries. This of course makes sense considering they have bigger budgets to play with – and of course their willingness to put more towards online marketing channels.

However, with nearly half of all SMB Building companies contacted by agencies on a daily basis, is there a danger of over-selling going on in the industry? Agencies are certainly preaching to the converted – but at what point does the frequent contact become just ‘annoying’.

Q11. Which of these statements best applies to your attitude towards internet marketing?

 Attitude towards internet marketing

Key Findings:

  • 59% understand it and do it all themselves (vs. 40% across all industries)
  • 18% are learning about it and want to do it all themselves (vs. 22% across all industries)
  • 14% would prefer to pay an expert (vs. 9% across all industries)


There is clearly more understanding towards internet marketing coming from SMBs within the Building & Construction industry. Whilst more of them would prefer to pay an expert, there is also a considerable amount that already possess the skills to do it themselves. Additionally, none of those surveyed said they didn’t understand online marketing – or that they were not interested and didn’t think it worked for their business.

With a high proportion of these SMBs already equipped with a good understanding of the industry, it may make the job of any ‘pitching’ marketing agency somewhat easier in respect that they are selling to a more knowledgeable audience – and not having to explain the smallest intricacies involved. Likewise, more ‘clued-up’ clients can ‘pull-to-task’ any less-thorough agencies or consultants who may produce sub-par work or poor results – which can only be good for the industry as a whole.

Q12. If you use/were to use an internet marketing consultant which of these factors are most important to you?


Factors in using marketing consultant

Key Findings:

  • 40% say that low cost is the most important factor (vs. 19% across all industries)
  • 17% say friendly and personable (vs. 6% across all industries)
  • 11% say recommended by a contact (vs. 6% across all industries)
  • 11% say website appears high in Google (vs. 9% across all industries)
  • 11% say they are located in my town (vs. 4% across all industries)


None of those surveyed thought that a good reputation, performance guarantees, relevant industry experience, agencies who were prepared to listen and learn, or those that offered a free audit upfront were very important factors.

Low cost was twice as important a factor for Building & Construction SMBs than other industries. And from an agency perspective, it does appear that a relatively different approach is needed to win businesses in the construction sector.

The most important factors across all industries suggested that agencies would have to not only present low costs but also demonstrate that they have a solid reputation, relative industry experience and offer some guarantees of success. Of those 4 factors, 3 of them are seemingly inconsequential when approaching a Building & Construction SMB.

Instead, agencies must of course present low costs but also preferably come recommended by a contact, and appear to be friendly and personable. Time to work on those networking / presentation skills!

 Q13. Which of these statements best applies to your feelings about Google Places/Google Local?


Feelings about Google Places or Local

Key Findings:

  • 57% find Google places clear and easy to use (vs. 40% across all industries)
  • 11.5% don’t think it’s important and are not interested in it (vs. 7% across all industries)


Overall, SMBs from the Building & Construction industry are more favourable towards Google Places / Local. There is quite a considerable amount that consider it clear and easy to use compared to the industry average – does this have something to do with the ease of managing a Google+ account for a Building or Construction company?

Certainly there has been some confusion about how to handle internet Google+ for Service Area Businesses (SABs). These often struggle to gain prominence in local search due to a lack of a physical location, or a reluctance to promote their location. Google+ has often been accused of coming up short when catering to the needs of SABs – which makes the results of this poll even more surprising.


  • Building & Construction SMBs spend 33% more on marketing
  • 60% of their marketing spend is directed online
  • 31% plan to increase their spend in 2014
  • SEO considered the most effective marketing channel
  • Building & Construction SMBs lacking behind with mobile & mobile marketing
  • 88% contacted at least once a week by a marketing agency
  • Low cost is the number 1 factor for prospective agencies
Ross Marchant
About the author
Ross is the former Marketing Manager for BrightLocal. With 9+ years SEO and content experience, Ross spearheaded the marketing and CRM initiatives which focus heavily on creating useful and informative content. Ross coordinated the research program at BrightLocal which delivers unique insights into both the SEO industry and local consumer behaviours.