4. Website Design for Specification
Before you start on anything else, get your website right. It doesn’t have to be the most beautiful (although that helps) but it does have to have all the right information and be easy to navigate and make an enquiry through. It needs to be a functional tool.
You may as well stop reading now if your website is a mess. It should be your top priority.
6 Quick Ways to make your website work harder:
- FAQs - Architects have told us they are interested in learning more products. Even essential, functional products like access ladders. Don’t hold back on detail. Good for SEO & your audience.
- Up-to-Date Content - Recently published articles, material, and case studies, which show that your website is up to date build trust with specifiers who rely on your websites as their first port-of-call.
- Sales Team Bios - Include bios of your technical sales reps on your contact page so architects know who is going to pick up the other end of the phone and their level of experience.
- Descriptive Names - While names like TK499 & C200021 may be fine for organising your product catalogue in a database, they don’t communicate much to specifiers. Consider using descriptive names.
- Incorporate Social Proof - Use case studies, feedback, and customer-generated content to showcase real experiences and testimonials. Make sure your product is highlighted in situ in all case studies.
- Price Range - While most companies avoid discussions of price until absolutely necessary, specifiers would like to have a general figure to know whether it’s worth making an enquiry or not.
These are quick wins that you can easily action which will already put you ahead of the competition.
Want more tips directly from architects?
Download the full report of our architect round table research.
5. Integrated Marketing Systems
You’re busy. You can’t follow up on every prospect. To really crack the problem of marketing to architects, you need to make the best use of your limited resources.
What if you had something sitting in the background giving you crystal-ball-like powers to know who was interested in your company?
That’s what an integrated CRM can do. This is where you can start personalising your outreach at scale and get deep insights into your website visitors.
A CRM, like HubSpot or Salesforce, allows you to identify who is looking at which website pages. This enables your sales reps to open up a view of contacts who have visited your website in the past 24 hours and start making phone calls and having productive conversations with live visitors.
Automate emails to go out at key trigger points along the specification journey. Perhaps you want a series of informative emails to be triggered by an eBook download or send an email to set up a meeting if someone downloads a data sheet.
Get all your data from every digital marketing channel in one place: SEO, Email, Social, and PPC. Then link these reports to new contacts, deals, and revenue. Start opening up more marketing budget with better reporting.
Marketing isn’t just about results this month, it’s about building awareness over the long term to generate a consistent flow of new, repeat, and referral business. A CRM helps you nurture leads throughout their entire lifecycle to support this.
CRM systems are at the heart of an inbound strategy, because they keep a record of all previous customer interactions.
This allows sales and marketing to align around the customer.
There is no guesswork.
This is the power of data and technology to create better experiences for customers and specifiers.
Companies who embrace the inbound methodology, which prioritises the customer, and the technology that enables them to keep a record of all past interactions and outcomes, will be streets ahead of the competition
6. Join the conversation
What type of content do architects like? What would they forward to a colleague or chat to their friends about?
Step away from your product and think about your audience. What are they interested in?
- Sustainability and green design
- Digital technology
- Adapting to new regulations
- Modular and prefabricated construction
- Inclusive and accessible design
- Residential trends
- Heritage preservation
- Mental health and well-being in design
- Community engagement
Do you have any expertise in these areas? Consider creating content that intersects with architects interests and your expertise.
Daniel Priestly recommends creating at least 8 hours of content a prospect could really dig into if they wanted to learn more. Here are three different types to consider:
- Topical Articles and Videos - This could be in the form of articles posted to your blog, videos on your website and/or YouTube channel, a podcast series that is captured on video and republished across platforms, etc...
- Photo Galleries & Case Studies - Much of architecture is design. If you want to influence specification the quality of your photographs is important. Consider a 3D render if photography is not an option. Architects will find these images through Google Image Search and Pinterest if appropriately tagged.
- Technical Content - BIM Objects, Technical Specifications, Case Studies hosted in the right places. Make sure your tech specs are on your product pages so they don’t have to navigate through your menu to a separate section
7. The Potential of Digital CPD
CPD presentations are a valuable marketing tool for building product companies seeking to engage effectively with architects. They provide direct engagement with architects, an opportunity to demonstrate expertise, a venue to talk about the applications of your product to current projects.
Typically, CPD presentations are done in person. But do they need to be done face-to-face? As architects seek out more information online, building product manufacturers should prioritise their preferences. This will result in better results in the long run.
Of course, it not one or the other. The best companies do both. They offer a general CPD online, but offer a more advanced in-person session. This helps qualify the meeting so the sales team isn’t spread across the country delivering CPDs to architects who have no intention of specificying their product.
A combination of digital and in-person sessions allows businesses to benefit from the strengths of both approaches.
Specification marketers would do well to think long-term, and start creating a holistic virtual CPD academy, where architects could login and watch videos related to regulations, sustainability, your product category, and even your products specifically, tailored to different levels of experience (junior, senior, and director levels).
8. The Importance of Technical Content
In the built environment, technical content serves as the backbone of every project, so understanding the sources architects turn to for this information is crucial for your marketing strategy.
Everyone knows technical content is important, but many building product businesses fail to grasp how important it is and how much it features in a specifiers decision to include your product.
In a recent interview with an architect, the interviewee mentioned that they would often not consider products that didn't have BIM files easily accessible because this would create so much work for him.
The key to technical content is to make sure it exists, and then make sure it is easily accessible. This can be done by making sure it is easy to access on your website product page and popular information portals used by architects.
Technical drawings remain vital for communication and documentation, bridging the gap between concepts and reality. Computer-Aided Design (CAD) software is another indispensable tool, empowering architects with precise digital design capabilities.
To effectively market to architects, understanding their need for technical content is crucial. Integrating BIM models, CAD renderings, and immersive visualisations into marketing materials allows architects to experience products dynamically. Presenting technical specifications and case studies within architectural contexts builds trust and relevance.
9. Getting found by architects
After you’ve created content that is inspirational, educational, and technical, how do you distribute it? How do you get it out to your target audience of top architects?
As surveys shows, online search is the primary research channel for architects in the UK. If you want them to find you, you need to make sure you are doing all the right things to make sure your content is showing up.
MAKE SURE YOUR SITE IS INDEXED
Create a sitemap for your website. This XML file should list all your web pages, making it easier for search engine crawlers to find and index your content.
Use clear and descriptive meta tags, including title tags and meta descriptions for each page and image. This helps search engines understand the content and purpose of your pages.
You don’t need super clever keyword research (although this can help). Making sure you refer to your products the same way your customers and specifiers do is the first step. You need to name your products and your web pages the same thing that your audience calls them to get found online. Then make sure these keywords are in your URL, meta tags, and throughout your content - especially in your H1s.
This one is a bit tricky. The best backlink strategy is to create high-value content that gets linked to organically. But to get off the ground, you may need a backlinking strategy to boost the number of websites which are referring to your website. This gives you credibility and allows you to rank better.
ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (AI)
Many have speculated about how AI will impact organic search. Most experts agree that it will help people get to the right stuff quicker. So using plain language that mirrors the way your audience speaks and writes will help you show up as a source for AI responses.
Google ranks content for Experience, Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness (EEAT). A great way to create content like this is through robust FAQs. When your FAQs provide clear, concise, and well-researched answers to common queries, you build authority in your niche. This delivers value to potential specifiers. Google recognises this authoritative content, signalling that your website can be trusted.
The first thing you should do is talk to professional SEO agency or freelancer and get an audit on your website. This will highlight issues in terms of speed, errors, and data. You could even do a basic version yourself with some free software.
The results might shock you. It may turn up significant issues in terms of SEO performance that explain a lot of the frustrations you’ve had with your website in the past.
Is it worth it? As mentioned earlier, your website is the prime real estate for your business and it is worth investing in if there are significant issues. Like getting your plumbing fixed. Or if you bought a house and the electrics were dangerous you’d get them fixed. These are the types of problems, while unpleasant, that are worth solving.
10. Promoting your content
Inspirational, educational, and technical content that gets found online will drive the majority of your marketing success. How do you amplify this and drive even more awareness of you and your business?
Email is a vital component of inbound marketing, as it allows businesses to nurture leads, build relationships, and deliver personalised content. This is a great opportunity for you to distribute the content that you’ve put so much hard work into.
Social is a fantastic way to raise awarenss of you and your company. Typically, personal profiles perform better than business profiles. Consider building the profile of one of the subject matter experts within your business, and then resharing posts from the company page.
To make these great events even more effective consider utilising a lead capture form linked to your CRM to trigger a series of follow up emails or tasks for your sales team so no opportunities are lost.
Press releases help improve visibility, establish authority, and attract potential clients by showcasing your latest projects and innovations
Digital Advertising (PPC, Social)
Target specific audiences, drive website traffic, and capture leads, all while maintaining control over their budget and clear results.
11. Review Your Current Efforts
So you’ve read the post. What’s the next step? The key to any project is a solid bit of analysis. This section is dedicated to helping you think through your own marketing, so you can start creating a plan.
Voice of the customer
Evaluate if your marketing materials address architects' challenges, resonate with their pain points, and offers valuable solutions that align with their needs and persona. Are you reflecting their voice or your companies perspective?
WEBSITE, SOCIAL, & EMAIL BENCHMARKS
How much traffic are you getting in comparison to your competition? How is your social media presence? Do you have an active list of email subscribers with healthy open and click-through rates?
Content Relevance and Value
Audit your content to ensure it is relevant, informative, and positions your products as reliable solutions. Do you have content that addresses architects frequently asked questions? Consider experience, expertise, authority, and trustworthiness (EEAT).
Website traffic is great, but how many meetings have come inbound from architects in the last year through marketing channels? This analysis of revenue related metrics may uncover deeper issues.
Is your CPD up to date? Is it available in a virtual format? Could you build a virtual CPD academy? Are you providing other valuable educational resources like whitepapers and webinars to build credibility and trust among architects?
Conduct a competitive analysis for inspiration, to understand gaps in your own content, and also differentiation. “When everyone else zigs, zag”.
Lead Generation and Conversion
Examine the effectiveness of converting architects into leads and customers. How many new architect contacts have been created in your CRM in the past year? Where did they come from?
The objective of this audit is to understand how well your marketing is supporting your sales teams with setting up meetings with architects and generating specifications. Everything ties back to this. Your marketing needs to be acheiving meaningful results for your sales team, or they will forever be frustrated. The marketplace is making this more and more necessary.
How does your current marketing stack up?
12. How to Create a plan and Get your boss onboard
Many companies never market to architects because they don’t want to miss other opportunities. “We want to speak to distributors, contractors, and clients too.”
But marketing to architects doesn’t mean you exclude everyone else. Architects are the doorway, and once you open the door, it’s time to focus on the rest of the supply chain.
Getting on the specification is increasingly important as the Golden Thread, introduced by Dame Judith Hackitt, swings the balance of power back to specifiers by requiring specifications to be reviewed and approved at the first gateway. Changing the specification later is becoming increasingly difficult. So if you manage to get on the spec, it is more likely to stick as regulation strengthens.
And all of the data below suggests Inbound Marketing is the right way to reach architects.
- +67% of architects usually verify that the product they specified was included in the project (NBS Product Information Report 2023)
- 97% of architects rely on search and manufacturers websites before speaking to sales teams (Construction Media Index 2022)
- 91% of CPD attendees now choose an online format over an in-person presentation (Construct UK)
- 44% of millennials, who now make up much of the workforce, prefer no sales interaction at all (LinkedIn’s B2B Institute)
Now that your boss is on board let’s make a plan...
Three essentials of an inbound marketing plan
- Website - Create a plan for optimising your website and making sure it is set up to seamlessly facilitate turning visitors into specifications and enquiries.
- CRM - Set up your CRM as your single-source-of-truth - all sales, marketing and customer success data should be stored here.
- Goals - Set goals for the campaign such as downloads, meetings, or CPD’s viewed.
Develop a plan and a schedule for:
- What type of content you want to create that will be interesting, helpful, and inspiring for architects and ticks the boxes for Google
- Which subject matter experts you will utilise
- Come up with a workflow and schedule for content creation that can be executed consistently.
Set up a schedule for blog publishing, emails, PR, social posts, etc. to distribute your content.
FOCUSING ON QUICK WINS
So now you have convincing data for why marketing to architects is a winning strategy and the beginning of your marketing plan, from foundations, to content, to publication. Next, identify which improvement in your specification journey would have the biggest impact on revenue.
- If you already have a strong website visitor to enquiry conversion rate, then you should focus on website traffic
- If you have plenty of traffic but few data sheet downloads, then focus on improving your conversion rate from visitor to downloader
- If you have lots of data sheet downloads but few quotes then the issue may be sales follow-up
Often there will be a big opportunity for significant results just by improving one of these areas.
Then you can focus your efforts on this particular challenge.
This improvement should unlock all the budget you need to scale your inbound marketing program.
Implementing inbound will require budget, but this should be considered in the context of return-on-investment.
The key to getting sign-off is not low balling your budget - it’s proving ROI.
Here’s a simple way to calculate this.
- First, calculate the number of downloads or enquiries per order
- How much do you predict this will be improved by your plan?
- How many orders would that generate?
- Identify your profit margin for each order and multiply that by total number of forecasted additional orders
- Subtract the cost of people, platforms, and marketing budget from the total additional profit
There you have it.
By presenting a forecasted ROI figure, you show your commitment to revenue and your willingness to be accountable to the bottom line. This will go a long way in garnering trust and getting sign off.
Architects behaviour has changed. They are doing more and more of their research online before talking to sales. They need inspiration, information, and technical data on demand, online, to facilitate this process. There is no point trying to fight this shift in behaviour. The first company to offer this to them, online, wins.
The first-mover advantage still exists. For now. Most businesses in the construction industry have not adopted an inbound marketing strategy!
This means that there is a potential for you to be the one to capture the lions share of the traffic, specifications, and orders. If you move now, and position yourself as a helpful post and resource online.
Perhaps you don’t have the resources in-house to take advantage of this opportunity. If that is the case we would be happy to help.
Insynth is a construction marketing agency dedicated to helping companies like yours engage architects, increase specifications, and generate revenue.
If you are interested in implementing inbound marketing to reach architects, book a meeting to discuss with Leigh, the founder of Insynth Marketing - the first inbound marketing HubSpot partner in Europe in the construction industry.
At Insynth, we deliver a predictable flow of leads, customers, and specifications for building product brands through our inbound marketing approach, proven to connect with a technically demanding audience.
The latest marketing techniques such as construction inbound marketing, help building product companies to grow sustainability.
As the only HubSpot-certified agYou ency to major in construction marketing. We have a proven formula of bringing a variety of functionalities together including CRM Implementation, Web Design, SEO, and Content Marketing to achieve your ultimate aim: Growing your business and gaining new specifiers and customers.
Book A Free Consultation Today to discover more.