Last week I was presenting at Mobile Apps in the Built Environment and I began to jot some thoughts down. As the event title suggests the subject was Apps. I presented our latest research: Construction Media Index, giving an insight into channels of communication used by the construction sector; covering traditional forms such as print and email, as well as modern forms of communication such as Twitter, LinkedIn, podcasts and of course Apps.

Travelling home on the train I considered the marketing mix and the challenge of combining offline with online, here are my thoughts:

So what is the advantage of an App over other forms of communication?

My own feeling is that although used for work by a relatively small percentage of the construction industry at present, this is set to grow in the same way that Twitter has, with architects leading the way. In many ways it is an evolution of the website, providing users with an easy way to access the information they want on a handheld device. I’m sure we will see many techniques transfer back to website design in the future.

The speed of take-up is likely to be driven by the rate at which architects in particular start to use the iPad and its android alternatives. This allows easy viewing of information, with iPad3 now delivering image quality equal to the printed page! (and consequently requiring very large data transfer rates).

  • Interactive

Apps can include other forms of media besides print and image, such as video, slides, virtual tours… Apps can also be used to gain feedback. As we see the move towards permission marketing this could be an important method of gathering customer feedback.

  • Sustainable

No printing costs, no storage required and no stockpile of literature slowly going out of date. Editable

An App can be updated when required with the latest information.

So an App is a great way of presenting your company information in a fresh and interactive way, but again how can the offline be gelled with the online? One answer is the 2D code, with the most common being the QR code.  It is a method of providing an easy way for people to access information when not in the office, a code that can be scanned by an android phone, providing information to the recipient.

How can you use QR Codes to integrate offline and online marketing?


QR codes, once created can be printed on nearly any surface in any location. But think carefully about what you want to achieve, making sure you are adding value.

Once scanned QR codes can automatically perform specific actions, taking the recipient to a website, showing them a video, sending them a text message… Whichever you chose. Remember the information should be of relevance and have a unique benefit, such as technical data, installation instructions, data on embodied carbon…

There were a number of exhibition stands at this year’s Ecobuild displaying QR codes, but sadly most of these just linked to the company’s standard website and did not give extra information such as products on display. A missed opportunity.

As well as complimenting BIM I can see QR codes being used in conjunction with hardcopy literature – providing a means to link to technical information on a website, or the latest project story. This could extend the life of hardcopy literature extending its life and turning it into an interactive medium.

But it is imperative that the information is delivered in a mobile friendly way!

So what can we take from this?

Apps and more specifically QR Codes are a great way of driving offline traffic online but don’t forget the marketing basics. Which ever channel you choose it is important to have a considered approach and developing a clear strategy is key to this. When implementing the marketing mix you need to make informed decisions, using research such as the Construction Media Index, to understand which communication channels are best for ‘speaking’ with your key audience. Finally but most importantly you need to provide added value to the user.

What examples, good or bad, have you seen when combining offline and online communication channels?


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