More and more architects have websites. Nevertheless, they fail to attract clients online. Why? They don’t transmit a good and coherent message to visitors. Hence they get no relevant traffic that converts into important customers.
The visitors to our websites fall into one of the three categories:
Other architects either study their competition or they just want to see what you designed lately. I do that; you do that; everybody does it.
One has to be aware of the competition’s new projects. Besides that, our market position depends not only on our skills but also on the success of our competitors.
Other professionals, most of the salespersons, try to identify new opportunities for their products and services. They crawl architects’ websites looking for leads.
Despite the fact they might become at some point our clients, the traffic they provide is of little importance to us.
Prospective clients try to educate themselves about their future projects. They are looking for information to solve problems during the investment process but are unsuccessful. So they actively search for valuable, quality, informative content.
For Whom Do We Design Our Websites?
From the three above categories, the design of our websites only fits the first one. In contrast to our best interests, we built our online presence mostly for them. We put great effort into having nice websites, but we ignore its main function, which is to attract new clients.
Are you pleasing the architects?
Nevertheless, our websites are built just for the first category. We design and imagine our online presence just to impress our peers. It is in our nature. We are the product of other architects, and basically, we are architects as others see us as architects.
So we stress out whatever we were taught in architecture schools.
Architects take pride in fancy CGI images. We grow our self-esteem by presenting sophisticated concepts. We know how what impresses them, and we do it. On the one hand, if we are noticed by competition, it is a good thing. On the other hand, we don’t gain anything.
Welcoming the salespersons
The second category is just happy. They are more interested in our contact details. Of course, they also look at what type of buildings we design. Nevertheless, they are more concerned about the area we are active in.
On the other hand, the sales crawlers might want to span our attention, share our pages, or become active followers.
Ignoring prospective clients
But the 3rd and the most important category! Oh, dear!
We just ignore them. The websites of the big architecture firms sometimes publish a list of important clients, big companies.
But if you take a deep look, even those lists of impressive clients are not about them. Those lists are also about us, the architects. Look how cool we are; Apple works with us!
At a glance, this is not that bad, as we show concern for our clients’ intimacy. But this is not true, right?
What our portfolio has to say about us?
For us, it is obvious. We show great skills and completed work. We show we are dependable. But our visitors might understand something else.
Our websites show some series of works, both finished and unfinished. Most of the time, we show unusual buildings. We display a fair portion of avant-garde architecture.
But this most likely will develop unrest for our visitors that intend to build soon. They might perceive our design as unrealistic unless we also provide good arguments for it.
The prospective clients see different things browsing our websites
Prospective clients see different things browsing our websites.
For them, it is not clear if the architecture we do is practical or not. Most of the time, they will find it hard to imagine the costs of the buildings they see. They will also have a hard time finding the right building materials and the constructors to make that great architecture.
A breakthrough product should be innovative but also have the right amount of common features, said Rory Sutherland in a public speech:
People love new things, but they are also scared of novelty.
Focus on prospective clients
We all know that good design makes people’s lives better, but this is not self-evident.
Despite a comprehensive enumeration of services, how do you convince them you will solve problems for them?
The big secret of all sales consists of telling your clients how they will benefit from buying your product or services. It is as simple as that. But how will your architecture services make their lives or their business better? The way you transmit this message is by marketing for architects and architecture firms.
The case of energy-efficient design
Let’s take a look at the environmentally-conscious design. More and more architects promote themselves as LEED or BREEAM-certified designers, despite this might send a mixed message. On the contrary, the message might reject some type of client.
But let’s think about it! However, not all clients have sleepless nights worrying about their carbon footprint, the Arctic icecaps, or the future of polar bears.
It is sad but true.
But no one will refuse to think of an energy-efficient building knowing it will improve their life. The owners of office buildings realized how useful it is to reduce energy consumption, both during the winter and the summer.
Such a concept will attract a family to build a new home. After all, who likes to pay huge bills for gas, water, and electricity?
But I must confess I saw only just a few architects’ websites stressing the importance of energy-efficient design.
Energy efficiency versus cost-effectiveness
People worry not only about the energy bills they are going to pay. But they are also concerned about how much they will have to invest in benefits from your design. Is it going to be feasible or not?
After all, are they going to cover the extra expenses from the savings on the energy bills?
The website should address these concerns. Otherwise, they will become hard objections if they will decide to hire you after all.
When the decision to build becomes a pack of unresting problems
Usually, the decision to build should be the answer to a set of problems. Nevertheless, it generates more questions.
Let’s play with the semantics for a little bit. One of the synonyms of the question is “query.” But this is exactly the verb Google uses for searches.
Both Google and Bing serve lists of web pages that might answer the queries. On the one hand, they let the user freely decide what they are going to click. On the other hand, the quality of the visited page is their goal, as it will constitute a good user experience.
Consequently, they are going to reward the web pages that will offer value to their visitors. This reward is a good position in the SERP.
The SERP is the acronym for the Search Engine Results Page. If a page ranks well on the specific search, then it will attract more traffic.
Both Google and Bing live for a great user experience. Unless the users will find value in it, they will not rank well on your page. Otherwise, nobody will use their search engines anymore.
It is a symbiotic relationship between search engines and good-quality websites. That is, not even the architects’ websites make no exception. In the first place, they should address these concerns through a crystal-clear marketing strategy.
Your marketing strategy should attract search engines generated traffic
If you provide value for our visitors, then Google will send traffic to your websites. Nor Google nor Bing can’t serve nice pictures to queries that are not related to beautiful pictures.
However, their algorithms favor great answers to usual concerns.
Furthermore, people search less and less about “office buildings” and more and more about “how to reduce energy consumption in office buildings.”
Do you feel the difference? Despite Google’s better and better understanding of language, there is little chance of serving a LEED certification page to such a query. Most likely, they will favor “10 tips for reducing energy consumption in office buildings”, but your beautiful portfolio has few chances.
If this particular page is not part of your webpage, the chances are you will not get valuable traffic. Consequently, that will not lead to traffic, conversions, or new projects for your company.
The architect’s websites should focus on the needs, queries, and benefits of prospective clients.
If you want leads and a constant flux of new clients, then you should focus on their problems.
You are either looking for young families who want to build themselves a beautiful and comfy home, or you might hunt for a specific type of investor with another range of needs. Nevertheless, you must show you understand them.
We have to stop designing websites for us and other architects, but websites for our customers.
For this purpose, you might have to just make small corrections. Indeed, you might be already on the right track. But you might have to rethink everything from scratch. In either case, forgetting what your audience is will be a fatal mistake.
Nevertheless, the business environment is changing all the time. More and more competitors decide to address the right audience. Meanwhile, you will have fewer and fewer clients.
However, turning your website into a sales funnel is not an easy task. The changes will not give results overnight unless you start right now.
On the one hand, as you will transform your web presence to be a proper magnet for traffic, leads, and new clients, you will face slow organic growth. On the other hand, you will be able to accelerate the results through online ads.
The traffic you attract through advertising will not convert. Unless you produce content for your target audience, you will not get enough clients.
Take the opportunities you deserve!
You might be an amazing architect. But only a constantly new and exciting flux of new clients can give you the opportunities you deserve. For this purpose, you must rebuild your website and make it sell your great services.
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