E-Store Search


Education Calendar

 

STEPS

 

Online Learning

 

Webinars

 

Specifier Seminars

 

CDP Driver Cert.

 

Register Now

 


 

Industry Links

Update Profile

Link to Us

 

 

 

 

Promoting Concrete on the Internet

 


 

 

By providing near-instant access to a world of information, the Internet has become the tool of choice for professionals seeking information. Now that “to Google” has found common usage as a verb, it is time for the concrete industry to take increased advantage of the Internet as a low-cost, high-visibility engine for concrete information, promotion and customer creation.

No organization is too small to deliver an effective Web presence, nor too large to entrust effectiveness to outsiders that do not fully understand the evolving goals of the organization.

In representing the ready mixed concrete industry, NRMCA has been active in developing Internet marketing strategies and practices—we have made our share of mistakes in finding what works and are glad to share what we have learned with members and partners interested in expanding Internet marketing effectiveness.

Deliver a well-organized site or series of sites.

Every organization can and should have a credible Web site, and the good news is that sites can be affordable AND effective for every size organization. The starting point is to select a motivated employee with good knowledge of the organization to take responsibility for learning enough about Web marketing and presentation to see the job through. If you are a one-person operation—that would be you! Although much work can be outsourced, no organization can afford to totally entrust this key marketing function to outsiders.

Fortunately, low-cost tools are available to enable the creation of effective sites without the requirement for personnel with a graphics design or IT degree. By utilizing Web-authoring programs, templates, stock photos and other useful aids, a dedicated employee willing to spend time educating him or herself can put together a competent site with a reasonable amount of content within a few dozen hours. The Web itself is a great place to get that education and there are many books on the subject. The key is to keep it simple, not just initially, but in the long run. Good organization enables visitor’s to have a useful experience—flashy sites are frequently distracting and counter-productive.

As long as the project is overseen internally by a competent employee with an understanding of Web design and marketing basics, outsourcing is a good choice for many organizations, especially as talented designers and programmers can be brought into the project at reasonable cost to enhance the site. The key to cost effectiveness is to use professional help as needed to ensure a professional look, which can be captured in a template that requires little additional tweaking over time. Then the content of the site can be “built out” without the need for such specialized talents. Although NRMCA is fortunate to have professionals with those skills on staff, much of the effort in implementing our sites has been provided by student interns. We have built our sites with Microsoft’s FrontPage Web design program which is relatively easy for new users to work with, and we keep our sites simple and easy to add on to and update.

Be sure to think through who the information on your site is targeted to and adopt a tone that is appropriate for that audience. A site often has information intended for various audiences which requires careful organization. NRMCA has taken the approach of creating dedicated sites for specific audiences.

One final recommendation—no matter what stage of development, think of your site as a work in progress. Don’t make the mistake of investing a lot of time and effort with the expectation that the site will be done upon project completion. Regardless of assurances from even the most expensive consultants, it is only upon “completion” that you are likely to understand what you really need, and the beauty of the Web is that it is easy to make adjustments. Better to think of your site as always evolving over time, becoming more and more effective.

Take steps to ensure an increasing number of visitors to the site.

Publishing a high quality site is not an end in itself. No matter how well you build it, without additional effort, they won’t necessarily come. The key to increasing site visitors is to gain links to your site from other sites and from search engines.

Search engines determine the position of your site in their search results through complicated and proprietary algorithms that consider many factors, but one stands above all the others—how many sites, and which ones, link to your site. Google and other search engines maintain a record of which sites link to your site by “crawling” the entire Web recording not just the content of pages but also the links they provide.

This was the conceptual breakthrough originally adopted by Google that has enabled them to gain a greater market value than GM and Ford combined: based on the assumption that sites provide links to other sites that they consider of value to their visitors, the Web can be used as a “voting platform” to point to the best sites for categories of information. Therefore, the key to gaining site visitors is to be linked to by other sites—both because visitors on those sites can click on those links directly and because the links elevate your site value in the eyes of search engines, raising your position in search results. 

Getting other sites to link to yours takes effort and perseverance. One way to do it is to offer a link from your site in return for a link to your site.

 
In addition to getting all the direct links you can, there are other specific steps and strategies you can follow to raise the ranking of your site in search results—this endeavor is known as “search engine optimization.” Practices include determining which search words are most important for your site and including those terms liberally in your content and in certain positions in the Web programming code.


Gaining links to your site and optimizing your site for good search engine placement is as important as building a good site. That is why this responsibility is also too important to outsource—someone who really cares needs to understand the key methods and practices to ensure you have a steady stream of visitors. Good results take time—fortunately there are simple tools available to track visitors and your position in search engine results for given search terms.

Turn visitors into customers.

Congratulations, you now have a good Web site and are bringing in more visitors every day. Think the job is done?


Unfortunately, too many organizations leave out a critical piece—using the Web site to develop a relationship with visitors that leads to new or happier customers and an increase in business. One way to think of the opportunity is to remember that the Web is a two-way device and comments and responses from your visitors can help gauge the impact of the site.

Some sites have no facility at all for feedback, and others offer only emails to the Webmaster. You need much more. Think of your site as a device for generating highly targeted prospects that can be converted to customers. This can be done by offering sign-ups for free printed or electronic newsletters or just by making it clear that visitors are invited to ask questions. Be creative. On NRMCA’s Web sites, we offer free “project assistance” to commercial specifiers. This approach is producing many leads that we pass along to our promotion partners around the country. So go ahead and ask the visitor for a response which provides an opening for developing a customer relationship.

Consider search engine ads.

The ideal place to appear on a search engine page is near the top of the search results list for a given search, or at least on the first page of results. But gaining that position takes time. You might also want to pursue marketing opportunities presented by searches that your site will never be returned for, such as “asphalt.” At a cost, search engine advertising can get your site link on prime search result pages regardless of your search engine optimization practices.

The first thing to understand about search engine advertising is you are not charged for an ad that is placed unless the end user clicks on it. This means when you pay for an ad it is for someone to visit your site that is likely well targeted to your message and service, if you constructed your ad properly—why else would they click? Through Google’s Adwords program, you are bidding against other advertisers to appear on the page of an end user who has submitted a specific search term. You specify the search terms you want to appear with and the maximum amount you will pay for a “click” on your ad, as well as the maximum amount you will pay for clicks in a day for all your ads, thereby controlling your advertising expenditure. The challenge is figure out what search terms potential customers will use. Experimenting with all the program variables is easy and essential for establishing a successful as campaign.

Ad clicks are only useful if they come from prospects in your trading area—Google and other search engines offer regional and local advertising options that limit add placements to users in specified geographic areas.

Google provides comprehensive information about advertising results, including the number of times it is displayed and clicked on and the average position of your ad when it is placed. It is advisable to bid high enough to get you ad in the top eight positions, the number of ads that normally appear on the first search results page.


In selecting the ads to place on a given page, Google is not simply placing those with the highest bid—they are selecting ads that will generate the highest revenue for them. A ten cent ad that gets clicked on often will be placed above a twenty cent ad that is rarely clicked on. The key to getting clicked on is having an ad that is relevant to the search term connected with that ad. At NRMCA we are currently paying from five to sixty-five cents per click for different ads. Sixty-five cents is not a lot to reach a prospect that is building a parking garage and wants to learn more about cast-in-place concrete.

One of our most successful five cent ads is for pervious concrete, linking to PerviousPavement.org, that frequently appears for Google users who enter “porous asphalt.”

Tweak and measure, then tweak and measure again…

One of the satisfactions in developing an effective Web strategy is that many success factors can be measured. Successful programs evolve over time and are documented by Web measures such as site visits and visitor responses and marketing parameters such as prospects created and converted.


The most important lesson from our experience is that the Internet matters more all the time but most organizations are not giving it the “mindshare” and creative attention it deserves—rewarding opportunities are wide open for those willing to make these very reasonable investments.

NRMCA Web Programs Can Boost Your Traffic 

An upcoming article in Concrete InFocus will provide details of NRMCA’s Internet marketing strategy and how members and partners can participate for mutual benefit.


Here is a summary of the strategy, including opportunities for immediate collaboration:

Websites for the Industry

NRMCA has launched five “Websites for Industry” that each focus on a leading ready-mixed concrete application. These sites are targeted to commercial specifiers:

These sites are intended to serve as comprehensive information sources so that our members and partners can simply link to them to educate their site visitors about these applications. Linking to the sites also elevates them in search engine rankings helping ensure that Web searchers get access to sites that offer complete and well-presented information on these topics. Three of the NRMCA sites are already the #1 site returned by Google for their topic (the other two newer sites are climbing fast).

NRMCA also returns the favor of a link to our sites with a link back to referring sites. These links generate traffic back to referring sites, often specifiers looking for regional or local information. Such links boost search engine results of our participating members and partners—a link from a top-rated site for a given topic is particularly valuable in Google’s site-value algorithm.

Specifier Project and Planning Assistance

All these sites prominently offer free project and planning assistance to specifiers. We list on each our non-profit promotion partners in North America that have joined our project assistance network for that application. Many of the specifier assistance requests represent significant promotion and sales opportunities. On the Concrete Parking site email links are also provided (on request) for concrete promoters that have been trained to conduct presentations using Concrete Parking Analyst software.


State affiliates and non-profit concrete promotion organizations that want to participate in our mutual link program or join our project assistance network should contact Kimberly Pittmon at kpittmon@nrmca.org or 240-485-1146. Kimberly also fields requests for listings of CPA-trained pavement promoters.

NRMCA producer and associate members interested in mutual links can contact Jacques Jenkins at 240-485-1165, email jjenkins@nrmca.org.


Information on mutual linking with NRMCA sites is available
HERE.

Web Outreach to Specifiers: The Centerpiece

NRMCA’s most recent Web project is ConcreteAnswers.org. This is the capstone of our efforts to provide value and gain interest from specifiers.

The new site serves as the central hub that we direct specifiers to that need assistance on any ready-mixed concrete topic. Comprehensive information is provided on concrete benefits in general and links are provided to all our application-specific sites. Specifiers can learn about NRMCA national account services as well as the “green” characteristics of concrete, among many other topics. The idea is this one URL will provide easy access to most everything a specifier may want to know about concrete, no matter how general or specific. We expect to build out this site considerably over time and welcome suggestions for content and services that might be valuable to specifiers.

 


 

Image 1: Our ad for pervious concrete, which links to PerviousPavement.org, frequently appears for Google users who enter “porous asphalt.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

NRMCA Home
News & Features  |  E-Store  |  Membership  |  Conferences & Industry Events
Education  |  Certifications  |  Operations  |  Research & Engineering  |  Codes & Standards
Advocacy  |  Promotion  |  Sustainability  |  Ready Mixed Concrete Business

 

About NRMCA  |  Privacy Statement

© National Ready Mixed Concrete Association

 

 

MEMBER LOG-IN


 

Build with Strength Member Resources
 

Free Pavement
Design Assistance

 

CDP Driver Cert.

 

Concrete In Practice

 

Technology In Practice

 

Green-Star Program

 

InFocus Magazine

 

Online Buyer's Guide

 

P2P Initiative

 

Pervious Contractor Certification

 

Plant Certification

 

Production Statistics

 

Promotion Resources

 

Surveys and Benchmarking

 

 

For Architects,

Engineers & Developers

 

Concrete-Answers
Central Help Site

 

Concrete Buildings

 

Concrete Parking

 

Concrete Streets

 

Pervious Pavement

 

Green Concrete

 

Self-Consolidating
Concrete

 

Flowable Fill

 

Green Rooftops

 

Decorative Concrete