As consumers increasingly rely on online research to inform their purchases, digital marketing continues to grow as the go-to method for promoting your business and expanding your client base. This holds true across industries, and architecture is no exception. If you’re looking to grow or struggling to attract clients through traditional channels, a digital marketing effort is the next step to achieving your firm’s strategic goals.
Many architecture firms have built their businesses on strong relationships with clients and word-of-mouth recommendations from satisfied customers. Today, this still forms an important component of a strong marketing strategy, but it’s no longer the primary channel to rely on if you want to grow your business.
If you’re looking for growth, having a strong digital presence is key for lead generation. A solid website with lots of quality content positions your firm as a thought leader in the AEC industry. That cache will boost your visibility and attract clients looking for competent, knowledgeable architects who align with their design goals and aesthetics.
There is an exception to this: If your architecture firm is landing enough projects to support you and your employees, and you don’t have the capacity to scale right now, you may not need to dive further into digital marketing. With that said, implementing some elements of a digital strategy might help you provide a better experience to your clients, and laying some foundations now may help you kickstart a growth cycle when you’re ready for it.
Many digital strategies work well across industries, and some of the tactics that work in AEC marketing will naturally work well for you. But what strategies are especially suited for architecture? Let’s dive into the best tactics for your firm.
Your firm’s website will often be the first piece of your business that clients see, so you want to ensure that their experience is good. Great site design is always important, but especially so in an industry like architecture. A sleek website with plenty of information on your business and examples of your work will make you look a lot more trustworthy and reputable to clients than a website with outdated graphics and thin content.
Here are a few things to think about when working on your website:
A full website optimization will include many more factors, but this short list should provide some perspective on the types of features that will help you stand out as a reliable brand to turn to for design support and, in turn, generate leads for your business.
Email marketing involves periodically mailing prospective clients helpful content and updates to remind them of your firm’s presence and value. Again there are many components to a successful email marketing campaign, but the most important factors to remember are these:
Users tend to unsubscribe from companies that send too many emails, but even if you get the cadence right, you still have to make sure you’re providing something that will truly interest your clients. This might be a thought-provoking infographic about building statistics or a how-to guide on resourcing a particular type of project. You know your client base best—prioritize them and their needs rather than your own to get the best results from email marketing.
Content marketing is all about providing helpful information that answers the questions your clients are asking. At the initial stage, it can help prospects find you online, and, if done correctly with the buyer’s journey in mind, it can prepare your prospects to make an inquiry or request your services. To make this work, you’ll need to create content that targets your clients at all stages between those two points.
While this can be a complicated process, there are enormous benefits to content marketing for AEC businesses. Having great content boosts both your visibility and your authority, setting you up as a go-to resource for architectural services.
Social media strategies can look drastically different from company to company and across industries, so ensure you have a clear idea of what’s appropriate for your business and engaging for your audience before diving in. For many B2B architecture firms, LinkedIn will be a great channel to connect with the industry professionals who are in a position to purchase your services.
Other social channels like Instagram and Twitter that are less associated with business and professional relationships will likely net fewer leads for your business, but they’re often still an important part of ensuring your online visibility and demonstrating yourself as an active and authoritative presence in your industry.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is at the root of many digital marketing strategies, especially content marketing. Google is the primary way your potential clients will research questions about their architecture-based pain points and related services. If you want to appear in those search results, your content strategy needs to have a strong SEO foundation involving keyword research, search intent, and on-page optimization. Beyond the content, you’ll need to ensure your website is accessible to Google, checks the boxes on some crucial technical points like site speed and structure, and targets local markets, if appropriate.
Pay-per-click, or PPC, is an ad-based tactic. Rather than creating content that ranks in Google Search, you can purchase an ad spot on the results page. If a user clicks on your link, you’ll have to pay, so it’s crucial to ensure your website is optimized for conversion if you want to get a good return on your investment.
This tactic can be beneficial if you’re looking for fast results, but it might not get you the long-term, sustained growth you’ll ultimately want. While many search engine results pages now highlight ads before organic results, many users are reluctant to click them and may even ignore them. Carefully research PPC and whether or not it makes sense for you as an investment, and be ready to pivot if you aren’t getting the clients that best fit your business model.
A successful digital marketing strategy for your architecture firm should have many components, spanning several fields of expertise from writing and design to technical web development. Depending on your firm’s needs and resources, it might make sense to outsource those efforts. Here’s how to decide if outsourcing is right for you.
When you built your architecture firm, chances are you filled your office with the brightest and most savvy design and build professionals in your field. So when it comes to the different areas of marketing, from social media and website optimization, to lead nurturing, email campaigns, and paid advertising, you also want to hire the best experts. And you can find them all under one roof: at a digital marketing agency.
When you hire a knowledgeable marketing agency (and you’ll want to pick one with plenty of experience in the AEC field), that agency can get under the hood of your target demographics and make sure your online presence is attracting the right prospective clients. Doing so can take your business further by netting you the online leads you’ve been looking for.
Many of the most successful strategies involve back-and-forth between the marketer and you, the subject matter expert. That’s because so much of digital marketing relies on great content, and to create truly helpful, meaningful content, experienced marketers know they need to get inside perspective from industry experts. Even if you choose to work with an agency experienced with AEC clients, you’ll still be a main contributor to your own campaigns. Every company has a different story to tell, and an agency can help yours reach more people.
There is never enough time in the day, but there are even fewer hours for good design work when you’re an architect who wears the marketing hat at your firm. Or, digital marketing may be handled by one of your principals, an administrator, or the employee who has a knack for the web.
Outsourcing your digital marketing means your employees can stay focused on the job they are best at. If you’re a small to mid-sized AEC firm, the benefits of outsourcing are huge if you currently have no in-house marketing staff, have a dual role vice president of marketing and sales, or you’re the business owner who’s taken the lead on marketing. Outsourcing is also something to strongly consider if you have an in-house marketing manager who is swamped with the job.
If you’ve been resisting outsourcing your digital marketing for architecture firms because of the cost, look at it as an investment in your business that you’ll recoup when you’re able to start attracting and retaining new clients who share your design vision. Your marketing strategy’s return on investment could surprise you. And your marketing firm will provide you with the analytics to prove it. You’ll learn which marketing and sales efforts are working, and how prospective clients are interacting with your website.
By outsourcing your digital marketing, you’re harnessing the power of experts in the field. And by hiring an agency with demonstrated success in the AEC industry, you’re hiring a full team of experts with the background and skills to efficiently create and implement your strategy.
At PMG, we help our B2B clients increase their online visibility and turn prospects into leads. Looking for an agency to help boost your client base? Connect with us to learn more about our experience in the AEC field and how we can help your business grow.
Abby Kaufman is a senior writer with years of experience in newspaper, magazine, and content writing. She can also recite the alphabet backwards, a skill she's hoping will come in handy sometime.
Tags: AEC Marketing