If you’re marketing to architects, getting into the head of your architect and specifier audience and understanding their motivations can seem like a daunting task. Ask an architect about “context,” and you’re likely to hear things like site layout, style, building material selection, orientation, topography, geographical location, natural features, adjoining buildings, and access.
But what is “context” in online marketing? In the digital world, providing context means providing relevant marketing content, including blogs, emails, offers, online ads and videos, to prospects and customers at definitive stages in their journey with your website.
In other words, when you market to architects, you should serve up content that is increasingly meaningful to customers each time they interact with your site.
How Is Marketing to Architects and Specifiers Online Unique?
- It all starts with your online presence — your website! Whether you market to architects, specifiers, or nut and bolt manufacturers, your online presence is critical.We all know the first place someone goes to check out your company is your website. It’s like your building’s lobby. If it’s cold, damp, and outdated, your potential customers will leave as soon as possible. However, unlike a visit to your lobby, where you’ll at least have a chance to woo visitors in your conference room or plant tour, when visiting your outdated website, users will click off in less than a second. And you’ll never know they were there.
- Architects carry a lot of responsibility. They have to answer to property managers, contractors, building owners, and often various regulatory organizations or zoning boards. In turn, architects expect value, quality and reasonable pricing in the products they buy for their projects. And perhaps more than many other industries, architects are ultimately responsible for making sure the products in the structures they design are safe. Yet they also need to stay on budget and find the best products for the best value.
- Your proof is not only what you can do for customers today, but what you’ve done for them in the past. Architects and specifiers want to learn how successful your products have been in similar projects. Understandably, an architect might consider it a liability to use an unfamiliar product. That’s why covering every application with case studies on your website is so vital to establishing credibility.
- Would you buy a car without test-driving it? The same applies to specifiers. Specifiers need samples. It’s rare for any specifier to spec a product without getting samples they can touch, feel and test. Your website serves as a user-friendly way for specifiers to request samples, and providing samples is a great tool for you to get leads. Online marketing to architects and specifiers begins with getting them to your website. Next, it’s giving them what they’re looking for. Then it’s all about converting them to a lead by guiding them through your sales funnel.However, before you begin building out your sales funnel, you need to establish how you’ll drive more of the right kind of traffic to your site.
Successful manufacturers leverage a combination of online paid advertising, SEO, social media marketing, and relevant content. Paid advertising is a good place to start because it increases your chances of becoming visible on the first page of search engines. Then the SEO, social media, and relevant content will help bring organic traffic, which is the most valuable.
Showing up on the first page of organic search is a game changer. It’s like print or online industry media; Anyone can buy an ad, but when you have a feature article, it indicates the media editors felt your company was worthy of talking about. It’s the same with organic search. People are more apt to click on the first few organic listings than they are to click on what’s clearly a paid ad.
How To Begin Online Marketing to Architects: Don’t Reinvent the Wheel
It’s best to begin online marketing to architects by comparing your website to your competitors. Analytic and SEO tools like Google Analytics, SEMrush, or MOZ can give you insight into your traffic, what keywords are driving people to your site, and what keywords your competitors are using. This will help you identify what interests your audience and will help you build out content that’s relevant to them.
Relevant content establishes your company as a thought leader in your market and builds trust with your prospects. It’s imperative to provide valuable industry information without pushing your products. Yet, it’s not as easy as it sounds. You first need to understand the buyer’s journey of your audience, i.e., the process they use to research, select and specify products.
As with any product or service, it starts with understanding the sales funnel. According to HubSpot, the steps to a basic sales funnel are:
- Define the problem you want to solve for your customers. Before you can define the problem, you need to understand your audience. What keeps them awake at night? What are their pain points, expectations and interests? You must have a clear understanding of how your product or service will help them to do their job more easily.
- Define your goals, strategies, and tactics. Of course, your ultimate goal is to sell more product to more people. But getting there, aka your strategies and tactics, is the true art. Your goals should focus on the overarching aim of “selling more products to more people,” while your strategies and tactics should focus on what steps you’ll take to get there: getting qualified leads, conducting product demos, getting signups for newsletters or other content, and ultimately accelerating your products into getting specified.Your goals are like the bill of materials for each stage in your sales funnel, and the specific content inside that bill of materials is your strategies and tactics.
- Create a preliminary offer to generate leads. Establish what offers will generate the most interest and conversions. Are they demos, samples, white papers, or something more unique to your company? Narrow it down to two or three, and begin to test them. For instance, put a different offer on your home page each month. Or if your digital marketing platform allows A/B testing on your website, utilize it to serve up different offers and see what performs best.
- Qualify leads to confirm the right interest from the right prospects. Just because someone downloads a white paper or requests a product demo doesn’t mean they’re a fit for that product category. If your system allows for nurturing, send them a brief questionnaire after the download. If they’re a returning visitor, use your digital platform to see what interests they have based on their history, and ensure sales has the proper procedures to qualify them.
- Nurture your marketing qualified leads. A Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) is when someone has a measurable interaction with your website, such as downloading gated content like a white paper, interacting on social media, clicking a call-to-action (CTA), registering for an event, or having any other interaction that can be tracked.MQLs occur at the top of your funnel. The middle of your funnel is where you nurture MQLs to turn them into Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs), or prospective customers who are ready to talk to your sales team. Engage your audience on a personal level with educational content that can help solve their challenges. This will establish you as a thought leader in the market and build greater trust. Then nurture them with emails to thank them for downloading your content, and offer similar content with a CTA in the same thank you email.At this point, the prospects should enter a workflow to receive content that is specifically relevant to them, either at predetermined intervals or when they take additional actions on your site.
- Track the results, analyze the data, and close the deal. All of the activities above should be continually fed into your CRM, with data points like user intent, buyer persona, product categories of interest, and anything in the prospect’s digital footprint. When prospects become SQLs, the sales team should use the BANT framework (identify the Budget, Authority, Need, and Timing) to determine if the SQL is a good fit for the company. Then they should attempt to close the deal.But it doesn’t stop with a new sale. You should continue to nurture existing customers to upsell and cross-sell. This will keep them engaged in buying your product.
What Marketing Content Should You Have On Your Website, and Do You Use It for Leads?
Content is still king. The right kind of traffic relies heavily on your marketing content, both static and new content. Static content is what’s displayed on your home page, individual pages, product pages, etc. New content is what search engines and your audience like to see.
With new content, you should be frequently posting educational industry blogs, case studies, or how-to videos, not material about your brand-new CNC machine, your company party, or generic holiday material.
Good informational content plays a big role in your company’s online success when marketing to architects. For instance, if you manufacture commercial windows and doors, write and post frequent information or videos about the “5 Things To Consider in Selecting High R-Value Windows,” or “How To Determine if a Building Needs Two Sets of Doors.”
In addition to blogs, develop white papers that provide more in-depth information and data. You can also derive a couple of blogs from the content of a white paper so as to not be repetitive. Offer the white papers behind CTA buttons (i.e., Get Your Free White Paper) that are above the fold on your site and at the bottom of related blogs.
The CTA buttons should take visitors to a gated form, where they’ll fill out some basic information (i.e., company name and email address). As they move down your sales funnel, you can begin asking for more information such as name and phone number. If you keep it less obtrusive at first, prospects are more likely to provide more of their data later on in order to get your materials.
Another reason to provide informational blogs or any new content regularly is to satisfy search engines like Google and Bing. A search engine’s job is to serve up the most robust, information-packed websites to the searcher. And because search engines can see how frequently a topic appears on a website, how often a website is updated, and the tone and content of your website, your website will have a much better chance to rank higher in organic search if you post content regularly.
When marketing to architects, remember that your website is a living, breathing salesperson. In fact, it should be the most important sales tool in your arsenal. It’s your prospects’ first impression, and if it’s not doing its job, it will be their last impression.
You need to draw the right visitors to your website and keep them coming back. You can do this by providing new and unique marketing content regularly to keep your audience engaged and by nurturing them with “how-to” email offers to make them feel special. This will set you apart as the vendor of choice.
Specifying a product is a big decision, and when architect prospects specify yours, you want them to feel confident that they are making not just the right choice, but the only choice.
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