Architects and architectural practices, like any service-based business, need a steady flow of new projects coming in to ensure the business can survive and thrive.
Many architects worth their salt have repeat business from existing clients such as property developers, however they can’t always be relied on – and if the goal is to grow the business, you’ll likely need to keep winning new clients.
Each new client can be very valuable over time, but how do you land them? Marketing and sales.
In 2023, digital marketing is pretty much king, and just doing a few things well can make all the difference. So, how do you do digital marketing for architects?
In this guide, we’re laying out the tools, systems and processes you should be looking at if you’re running an architectural practice in 2023 or beyond.
Your website is your digital home. It’s your chance to provide your potential clients with everything they want or need to decide to give you, their business. There are a range of marketing considerations you should be thinking about when it comes to your website.
At the bare minimum, your website verifies you’re a legitimate business. If people hear about you but can’t find you online, that’s an instant red flag.
Similarly, most people know your website needs to work on mobile these days. If it doesn’t, it screams ‘old fashioned’ or ‘unprofessional’ – but it needs to also be compatible across a range of browsers (e.g. Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Edge) and devices (e.g. wide desktops, laptops, tablets, phones and everything in between). A commonly overlooked compatibility pitfall of websites with portfolios such as architect websites is poor performance on weak internet connections.
User experience (UX) is also critical on your website. Its design should be consistent, choices on font colour, size, background colours and images should be made to ensure that content is legible and accessible. Interactive elements such as buttons should be clear and attention-grabbing. Images should be good quality and engaging – not stretched or poor quality. If you haven’t already – you should be regularly looking at your analytics data to establish any poor performing pages where engagement is poor and reviewing the offending pages to identify possible fixes.
In architecture, focus on getting great portfolio pieces on your site with great visuals (images, videos), look at adding case studies and testimonials to build trust, and make sure it’s easy for people to express their interest and subscribe to your email list or get in touch – more on emails later.
Content freshness is also key. Don’t have a blog if you’re only going to update it every couple of years. Certainly, don’t have out of date information on your site – whether that’s contact information or team member profiles. If you do great architectural work, show it off – add your latest projects to your site to keep your portfolio fresh.
Not got a website or need a new one? You could build one yourself on one of the popular self-serve platforms such as Webflow, Squarespace or WiX. Of course, we’re biased, but we rarely see great websites done on these DIY platforms, and often clients come to us to fix or rebuild the sites they’ve built themselves.
If you take your digital marketing and online presence seriously, get your website designed and built professionally – incorporating your brand and showing the world why you’re a great business to work with.
Great SEO results in a healthy stream of your target client base finding and visiting your website.
Years ago, people used to be able to game the system; stuffing keywords into every possible location and get great results. These days, you have to be authentic and think about where your company is most relevant.
To do this, your website should be optimised in a variety of ways. There are a lot of boxes to tick, but it’s more than a box-ticking exercise. You need to think about which searches (keywords) your potential client base use to find companies like yours.
Choose keywords with intent over generic ones. You’ll be better off getting traffic from people searching ‘best architecture practices in Kent’ than just ‘architects’ which will be popular but very generic, and its intent is ambiguous – it could be people looking for jobs, looking to sell you something or people trying to learn about architecture. You might go further and find keywords such as ‘public sector architects’ company’ or ‘architect practice for residential schemes. The more relevant to the sort of work you do, the better.
Once you’ve done the necessary keyword research – using tools like Google’s free keyword planner or paid tools such as SEMRush or Ahrefs – you can then look to tailor your website and its content towards those searches.
On-page SEO represents how your website text and other content is relevant to searches and keywords. You’ll want to optimise your existing pages to be well-structured with headings, subheadings, and plenty of text on the important pages, and you’ll want to make sure your pages mention your keywords in prominent places such as headings, titles and meta descriptions. You may also want to create blog content to allow for longer-form text content which is tailored towards more specific topics.
Off-site SEO is all about the quality and quantity of other websites that link to yours. Directories are a good start, as are social media profiles, but you’ll want to get links from reputable websites that are also relevant to your topic area. For example, think architectural blogs or magazine sites, other construction/built-environment company sites (think partners such as developers or builders) and perhaps local and national news sites. There’s an element of PR here, which when done right, can yield huge gains. You can also look to create great valuable assets which others will naturally want to share – infographics, tools such as calculators, ultimate guides, checklists, downloadable PDFs and lots more.
If you can nail these three areas, especially when comparing your site with competitors for the same search terms, you’ll be on your way. It’s no small undertaking, but the results are evergreen traffic, and providing your website converts traffic into leads, you’ll get a consistent stream of leads as a result.
The world has changed tremendously in the past decade and so have the advertising techniques.
We have so much information at our fingertips, and your potential clients are using search engines to find companies like yours. Paid search is advertising in search results, ensuring visibility, and generating clicks and traffic from your target audience. This can be a very powerful tool and can guarantee you show up in search results whilst you wait for SEO efforts to take effect.
This highly targeted advertising option yields measurable results which clearly shows where your budget is going.
Providing your website is optimised for engagement and conversion, paid search plugs right in to your digital marketing, generating traffic, which then should turn into new leads.
Digital advertising trumps traditional advertising methods, because targeting is so much more precise, and you know exactly how it performed.
When it comes to paid search advertising, you (usually) only pay when someone clicks your adverts, which is why it is often called pay per click (PPC) advertising.
Paid search allows you to create a simple text-based advert which shows on search results pages you choose. For example, you may choose to advertise on the search term I used earlier ‘best architecture practices in Kent’.
Some search terms will have more competition from other advertisers, and as there are a limited number of spots, a bidding system is in place. This means you decide how much you are willing to pay per click on your advert, and Google will show your advert if you win the bid against competitors.
LinkedIn has cemented itself as the professional network, where business talks.
LinkedIn Advertising allows you to precisely target your audience by location, job title, company name, industry, education, professional interests, past work experience, skills, and more.
The variety of LinkedIn advert types are:
- Sponsored content
- Text ads
- Video ads
- Form ads
- Sponsored InMail
Different types of ads are for different goals – we recommend speaking to an digital marketing agency with experience in architectural/construction companies to guide or help you here, but make sure your ads are engaging as you have to tempt people to stop scrolling through their feed and engage with your ad, landing page or form.
Questions about LinkedIn Advertising for Architects? Ask us!
Email is ubiquitous, and it’s something all of your clients and potential clients’ employees have, but also something they check every working day, probably all day long.
A great list of engaged email subscribers is extremely valuable to any company, and so you should certainly consider building one if you haven’t already.
We’ve all been subject to spammy and irritating marketing emails, so it’s important it’s done in a valuable, engaging way if you’re going to start using this platform for marketing your architecture practice.
Consent is important – make sure you have people explicitly opt in (especially under GDPR), otherwise you could get into trouble.
What can you do with email marketing? Your business can send newsletters, details of upcoming events, new/recently completed projects, new hires, departments or services, tips for your clients, essentially, anything of interest or use to your base. These are all good for your existing clients and audience, but what about potential new clients?
You can encourage people to subscribe to your email marketing via ‘lead magnets’ or ‘carrots’ – for example, people can download a handy resource like a checklist or worksheet in exchange for opting in.
Once opted in, you should have a series of emails (called a nurture campaign) which automatically send at set intervals since they subscribed. These emails should look to be useful, relevant, and engaging to this potential client. Avoid generic company information – give them something that helps solve their problems, and also show them how your practice can help them, always making it easy for them to get in touch and enquire via call to actions.
Emails can take a bit of work to get the design and content right, but as an ongoing marketing tool, it’s affordable and powerful, and certainly something to consider in your arsenal.
Most of us are familiar with some social media platforms and know they have not solely remained as platforms for posting text, pictures, and videos, they have evolved to become a medium for businesses to showcase their expertise, talent and value.
As most social media platforms are free of cost, you can reach a wide variety of people via a well-planned, engaging, and valuable content strategy.
Features like hashtags can be used to reach more than just your followers, and focussing on quality content can potentially allow for the ‘viral’ element to take effect, when others share your content with their follower audience.
There is a plethora of different things you can post, of course, and like email marketing, getting the content and design together can be tough, but it can be very valuable.
The important aspects are to post regularly, lead with value, be relevant, use carefully selected hashtags (and not too many), engage with your audience (respond to comments, ask questions), and keep an eye on what works and look to repeat that. The result is an engaged audience, which, like an email marketing audience, can be encouraged to employ your practice on their next project.
Digital marketing is a wide field with many different aspects to consider. Before you commit to multiple channels or methodologies, make sure you have the resources to follow through and get it done rather than over committing yourselves.
For architecture firms, you want to make sure your website showcases your value through your great work and team. You can optimise your site for engagement, conversion and search visibility, and for most, this is the core which can make all the difference. If you’re looking to be more aggressive, invest in advertising and longer-term efforts such as email and social media marketing, alongside regular SEO work and updates to ensure you keep making your way up the search result ranks.
If digital marketing sounds overwhelming, or you need a little help, feel free to get in touch with us and we’re happy to point you in the right direction!