An Online Brand and Website Marketing Strategy For Architects

With magazines generating about half the revenue and subscriptions of 2003, why would anyone pay more to be in them?

With magazines generating about half the revenue and subscriptions of 2003, why would anyone pay more to be in them?

Here's a hard truth. When it comes to accepted online marketing practices, most architects have lousy websites and a terrible understanding of getting found online. Architectural firms have websites with too many images and too few words, difficult navigation, minimal social media connections and often make the firm look smaller than they actually are. When architects market they often rely solely upon traditional marketing and advertising methods like print advertising in magazines which is often overly expensive, ineffective and untrackable. It's time to take a look at what you think you know when it comes to marketing and consider a properly executed online marketing plan. It's no longer 2005. A successfully implemented content marketing and internet branding strategy will give you a competitive edge.

A sound website design that includes an online marketing strategy is an eight step process. The steps are:

1. Establish an initial set of keywords you want to be found for

Keywords are a word or phrase that prospective clients submit when using online search tools to attain information on a particular subject. To have a search engine feature your website in the search results provided, a page on your site should have keywords that match the ones used by the prospective client. Building a list of keywords you want to be known for is the first step in online marketing. Use keywords relevant to your business like "Sustainable Landscape Design" or feature products that your ideal client may look for online such as "Waterworks bath fixtures" to optimize your website. This helps your clients to find you easily online. You should conduct comprehensive keyword research to ensure that the right people find your business. Furthermore, it is a source of essential insight on product demand and industry trends.

Content marketing generates 3 times as many leads as traditional outbound marketing but costs 62% less.
— Demand Metric

2. Embed keywords from your list within content on your website

Search Engine Optimization will increase the chances of your website ranking in search engine results pages (SERP's). Review the current pages on your site and find pages that could be improved. If you're a certified LEED architect, embed a keyword phrase like "Residential LEED Architect" and "USGBC" on your about page with a maximum 1.5% keyword density or 9 times in a 600-word page. Use the phrase within the page title and change the 301 redirect for that page to ensure it's found if bookmarked by others. Lastly, use the keyword phrase as an image description. 

SEO leads have a 14.6% close rate while outbound leads (such as direct mail or print advertising) have a 1.7% close rate.
— Search Engine Journal

3. Write keyword based blog articles and provide marketing offers people want

Blogging is a numbers game. The more blog articles you write and published, the greater your chances of being found online when people are searching for your services.  According to research done by Hubspot, firms who have prioritized blogging are 13x more likely to enjoy positive ROI. Keyword rich content on the web will attract more clients to your website and provide you an opportunity to capture their contact information.  Such content includes blogs, webinars and eBooks. Blogs inject new content into your website each time a new article is published. You should use catchy titles to attract readers. It also reveals your areas of expertise. This makes your website more dynamic and helps increase your ranking, which translates to more clients visiting your site.

Companies with 51 to 100 web pages generate 48% more traffic than companies with 1-50 web pages
— Hubspot Marketing Benchmarks from 7000+ Businesses

4. Promote content through Houzz and other social media channels

If project descriptions, image descriptions, keywords, and competent architectural images are uploaded to Houzz, it will drive leads towards your website.  Leveraging social media accomplishes a couple key things. It helps promote your business by creating advocates that share your blogs and images with third party prospects. It's a multiplying effect in many ways like Heather Locklear and the famous Faberge advertisements in the early 1980's. Google has stated publicly that social media plays a role in website visibility in search.  Consequently, distribution of your business blogs and images on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn has importance beyond the share. Social media networks enable you to communicate directly to clients and prospective customers on a regular basis and remain top-of-mind. Platforms like Hootsuite and Hubspot allow you to preload posts to most social media networks so that you don't have to manage them daily, and they come with analytics software that enables you to measure your success.

43% of all marketers have found a customer via LinkedIn in 2013.
— HubSpot State of Inbound, 2013

5. Landing pages are required to convert website visitors into leads

Landing pages are website pages that are linked from phrases or call-to-action buttons within the content of a page or on a blog. Landing pages contain an offer of further information such as a guide, video, slide presentation or e-book.  A compelling, educational offer, clearly described, is key to conversion success. Landing pages contain a required form.  Once the contact information is provided, an email is sent, or a link is provided that enables a download of the content offering. 

By 2020, customers will manage 85% of their relationship without talking to a human.
— Gartner Research

6. Nurturing leads with automated email marketing

This involves the development of relationships with your potential customers by sending them timely, relevant, valuable and targeted messages on your designs and offers. This helps you to turn successfully leads into customers.

Nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads.
— The Annuitas Group

7. Optimization of your website for mobile viewing

The use of mobile devices for search has significantly increased over time. Research firm ComScore states that 28% of all searches on Google come from mobile devices like tablets and smart phones. Thus, there is a need for the creation of quality content that can be consumed on mobile devices. You can use two methods to optimize your website for mobile viewing. These are: Creating a new version of your website on a website platform like Squarespace or setting up a mobile redirect and using a duplicate mobile CSS version of your website.  Though rapidly becoming dated, a duplicate Mobile CSS version of your site changes the look so that a mobile friendly version is displayed and organized for easy viewing on mobile devices.

27% of consumers will leave a site if it is not mobile-optimized.
— ExactTarget, 2014 Mobile Behavior Report

8. Analyze and refine website and online marketing strategies

Using analytics software like Hatchbuck to review the performance of the above activities, identifying the promising tactics and eliminating or modifying those that were ineffective. Squarespace websites come complete with monitoring software and third party marketing automation software that makes visitor tracking and behavioral marketing easy. Monitoring a visitor's website actions results allows you to discover what visitors are attracted to and replicate the success. It's one of the most powerful ways to use online marketing and branding strategies and attain new clients.

About Michael Conway and Means-of-Production

My firm builds Squarespace websites, Houzz profiles, and content marketing and advertising solutions for architects, interior designers, design-build contractors and landscape design firms. Our all-in-one tactics attract the right clients with exceptional architectural photography and brand messaging that sets you apart from the competition. Contact me for a free-of-charge consultation and marketing review. It takes about 40 minutes and you'll be provided a list of actionable improvements designed to solve your specific marketing problems.

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