The role of marketing for architecture firms is a relatively new concept. Before the 1970’s, the American Industry of Architects banned any kind of self-promotion for architecture firms making it impossible to create innovative branding. Those newer to the industry have embraced the importance of online portfolios to showcase their work, but the budget for marketing still remains staggeringly low in architecture and engineering firms, despite the potential.
Your architecture website is where your prospects come to get inspired and learn about you. If you’re looking to attract new business, it’s integral to properly utilize your website to get it working for you. With a properly optimized website that’s geared to your target buyers, the sky’s the limit on your sales potential.
Architect Websites Need to Generate Trust
Trust is paramount for architecture brands. When you sign a contract, you’re signing up for a long-term relationship and promising a value return on your services.
A recent survey by the Construction Marketing Association reported that only 29% of A/E/C firms leverage their website for marketing or SEO purposes. The value in using your website to speak to your core values, differentiate your firm from others, and prove your creative and technical ability is that you’re establishing authority in the industry and giving new prospects an avenue to learn more about you. Which is why your site needs to build credibility.
One of the most effective ways to do this is through the design of a website that clearly demonstrates your abilities and educates your potential clients on your process and ability to adhere to industry standards.
Inbound marketing and architecture content marketing ensure that you’re attracting leads before the request for proposal process has even begun. This is accomplished by showing your expertise with every piece of web and article copy on your website. It isn’t enough to just display the services you provide, a prospect needs proof that you are an expert in the field.
By using local SEO best practices to rank highly on search engines, your website can easily be found by people searching for the specific services you offer. Then through the creation of educational architecture content such as blogs, ebooks, case studies, galleries, and examples of past work, you are not only inspiring your visitors, but instilling authority and a feeling of trust in your brand.
Clearly defining a brand has been historically challenging for architecture firms, considering that budgets for marketing still remain less than your firm’s holiday and sick days pay. By thinking about your brand before the RFP process even begins, however, you’re taking your future into your own hands and proving your worth before you’re up in front of a selection committee.
The Sales Cycle is Different
One of the main methods of generating business for architecture and design firms remains through word-of-mouth. However, marketing firms with over 50 employees are often increasing their total marketing spend to approximately 7%, including their website build and inbound marketing efforts in order to generate interest above and beyond their personal networks.
While word-of-mouth and referrals are great, you have to consider the vast amount of research that your prospects do online before reaching out to even inquire about an architecture firm.
The sales cycle for architecture prospects includes an incredibly lengthy information and idea gathering phase (80% of visitors). Those who are searching for specific advice account for approximately 10% of traffic, requiring information such as a needs analysis or feasibility study, and then a further 10% are in the final stage of their vendor selection.
While a visitor of yours may not be a buyer today, they may become one later, such as when their firm is larger, if the individual moves into a more authority position, or as they get further into their project. Your website should provide enough value that your brand is kept top-of-mind for later on down the road.
Your Visitors are Different
Not all traffic is equal, however, your goal is not to get a million viewers and no conversion — it’s to target your website to your specific buyers so that you can build an engaged and qualified following.
One of the most important concepts in marketing for architecture firms is to create buyer personas that answer some important questions about your buyers. Your buyers aren’t looking for a quick solution, they’re making an investment in you and your firm to build them a building.
According to Hubspot, adapting your website to your buyer personas can make it 2-5 times more effective and easier to use, and in one case resulted in a 124% increase in sales leads.
Whether they’re looking for a home, a condo, an office, or a public transportation hub a la Santiago Calatrava, understanding their financial requirements means that you’re one step ahead to prove you’re the firm to contract with.
Also answering questions such as who the decision-maker is and what influences their decisions allows you to target content directly to them by showing that your services answer their challenges.
By providing valuable content such as education on your process or how to convince their board to get creative, you can collect email addresses and start a lead nurturing process that keeps you top of mind. The more you interact with them, and the more valuable content you provide will keep them informed, keep them coming back to your website, and keep your brand top-of-mind as they progress through the sales cycle.
Your Website is Different
Most business to business firms can offer pages upon pages of services and offerings, and while an architect website can include full lists of services, you want to focus on proving that you’re creative and capable.
Your architecture website should be image heavy, proving the value of your brand by showcasing previous work, be designed to replicate your brand image and style, and speak to the type of work that you do, but it needs to be visually appealing, and load immediately.
However, one thing all website visitors have in common is that a judgement has been made of your brand within 50 milliseconds (0.05 seconds!) of being on your website. While judgements are primarily design-related, as reported by 94% of B2B Stanford Web Credibility Survey respondents, the fact is that on top of looking good, your site needs to load before they lose interest.
Architecture websites tend to have a few fatal flaws. Terrible navigation, hidden in the design of the page, Images only, or an overuse of Flash. The problem with all of these things is not only that they make for a terrible user experience, but they’re also terrible for architecture SEO.
A beautifully designed website, like the one below, can still showcase your work but work for you through SEO that’s implemented into your project pages, and through your website content.
Even more importantly, your website must be responsive and work across a wide number of devices. Images and galleries can require incredible bandwidth and resources to load, but making sure that your website is optimized for quick rendering means that you aren’t sacrificing leads.
You have to put a human face on your firm through cultivated brand messaging, applying buyer personas to your website and content, and ensuring that your lead nurturing program is working for you. Inbound marketing can work for architecture firms, but you won’t get a fully working system with one in-house marketing person who also works as an administration assistant.
By informing, educating, and converting your prospects into leads through your website, your firm can experience tremendous growth by attracting new buyers.
Get in touch with us today to discuss how our website designers and SEO team can customize a fully-functional website that attracts and converts your architecture leads into sales.