Is Email Marketing For Architects A Total Waste Of Time?

Marketing For Architects / Blog / Is Email Marketing For Architects A Total Waste Of Time?

An architect can find many websites teaching and promoting different email marketing plans, techniques, and strategies. They all suggest that architecture firms should consistently use email marketing.

Email marketing for architects is an outbound marketing strategy that doesn't help architects and architecture firms too much.

Email marketing for architects is a marketing strategy that has only a limited chance of success due to the specific nature of our clients. Although, in some cases, it can bring new leads, other marketing solutions are more effective and cost less. As usual, I will give you the proper arguments. But first, a bit of history.

A Small History Of Mail And Email Marketing

Email campaigns were so effective during the ’90s (yeah, last century!) and early 2000s! Perhaps up to 90% of emails were opened and read. But no longer before, mail campaigns were effective. Actually, for a period, a marketer had a hard time choosing between email and mail marketing. They both worked pretty well. Considering email and mail marketing campaigns had kinda different audiences, in many cases, it was better to go for both of them.

In 1993-1994, I met a guy who had a substantial business. He used to print cards with contacts for plumbers, dentists, electricians, etc., and with a few guys, he was putting them into the mailboxes of targeted neighborhoods. People kept them. After all, you never know when you need a plumber. Or a dentist at 3:00 am, right?

The advertising company that I used to work for contacted him to buy a full side of this card to promote toothpaste. Again, good idea. I bet many of these cards stayed for years on many fridges’ doors.

Mail Marketing Still Works

Some supermarkets still send brochures. Maybe with some coupons, right? I bet I have a 2021 or 2022 IKEA catalog. I used to keep them in the bathroom.

All over the world, I am sure many decisions to buy Billy bookcases or Klipan sofas were made on the toilet.

But Email Marketing? Not quite…

You should watch Gary V’s speech when he tells the story of his marketing career. He was working for his father’s liquor store. As he noticed the wine customers acted like collectors, he asked them for their email addresses to send them info about new wines in the store. Outstanding success!

The cost of emailing also dropped. Seth Godin wrote in one of his bestselling books he had a million-dollar budget for such campaigns a few decades ago. Now you can execute such operations for a few hundred dollars a year.

Email Open Rates And The Spam

Open rates of email marketing campaigns are too low for all business, architects and architecture firms included.

But, as years went by, the open rate of emails kept dropping. It’s less than 1%. Gmail is extremely efficient in filtering these emails. All email accounts with unusually high activity are marked as spam.

I noticed once that all emails I sent from one account ended in spam folders. I am not a spammer! But this anti-spam plugin has sent me 36.000 emails to report 36.000 spamming comments that were stopped.

All email marketing campaigns are so close to spam. Have you ever gotten too many emails from a website you subscribed to? Did you use the unsubscribe option all the time? Or you’ve been rather lazy, and you hit the spam button? If 10% of the unsubscribing followers did the same, don’t you think that Google has a special list of these honest sites?

Let’s face it! Google doesn’t want businesses to email marketing. What Google wants is quality content to serve as answers to users’ queries.

Where did marketers find the email addresses?

There are four methods to get valuable email addresses:

  1. You can buy them. Of course, you have no guarantee; that the emails are still in use.
  2. You can buy contact lists. Most likely, the building materials producers and salespeople call you; they got your contact from such sources.
  3. Make your lists. Just search on the Internet.
  4. Gather these emails through your website in exchange for e-books or e-guides, or simply use a subscription form (very slowly).

Architects’ email marketing cons

The number one problem is that our clients are not always repeating clients. They are not constant but one-time contracts.

When IKEA prints its yearly catalogs, the bet is you can always buy a new piece of furniture. It’s also not important if you are or not their client. Maybe you broke a lamp or want to change the drapes or redecorate the kitchen. It’s quite probable that you will buy something.

While writing, I remember that each year for at least ten years, I bought some IKEA products.

But if someone is thinking of building a house, they are not doing this for ten years. If they are determined, most likely, they have specific questions to ask. They are preparing for some time, true. But they are not ready to start all that time.

The chances that prospective clients who want to build an nZEB or a passive house to receive an email from an architect who just happens to write relevant material about the topic are very low. I would say zero.

Imagine you are considering buying an EV, and you just get an email from Tesla, right? C’mon!

The repeating clients usually have their own architects. If they are yours, you just have to keep up the good work, better and better each time. I don’t think harassing them with emails will hurry them to start new projects. Perhaps a lunch twice a year? A birthday card or a small gift?

But what about Email Marketing Now?

Many sellers call me to ask permission to send an email with new lines of ceramic tiles. I am an architect, and I might need some info on ceramic tiles for one of the designs I will work on. I bet most of you get these kinds of calls.

Their emails start with: “As we agreed during our conversation,….”. Am I right, or what?

This strategy is not classic email marketing but a mix of cold calls and emails. Marketers buy long lists with leads. They might collect them by themselves. Anyway, they’re doing all that is possible to avoid being listed as spammers.

This is time-consuming, expensive, and somehow efficient. But what works for one business might not work for everyone else.

What can work

One of the best tactics is to build your own email lists and publish a newsletter. It’s kind of easy. It doesn’t cost that much. But, also, it won’t bring too many new clients if you are an architect.

You can offer a PDF guide, or a free consultation, asking prospective clients to subscribe to your newsletter. In time, you can build a nice number of emails. You can see a perfect description of those tactics here.

But, there is a problem.

Why Email Marketing For Architects Won’t Bring New Customers

To have a consistent email marketing campaign, you have to provide constant original, quality, and valuable content. You might send 1000 emails weekly. But considering the opening rate of emails, you will actually work very hard for 10-20 readers. But if you spend exactly the same resources to produce good content – blog posts, YouTube videos, etc. – you will have 10-20 readers daily for a few years.

The difference between subscribers and blog readers is that the last category actually searches for your content. They need that content. The subscribers, although they have a general interest in your content, they are not interested in the topics of your email. They might want the information that they missed last week. Or last year.

The specificity of our industry is that almost nobody is at the same point in the investment cycle. Also, the projects are not the same, and neither are the clients.

Some of the prospective clients’ concerns and problems are the same. I relate them to the investment cycle (process). These concerns and problems have to be addressed by effective marketing for architects.

Imagine you have a problem. What would you do to solve it?

First, you will try to inform yourself about it, right? You will, most likely, google it. Or go to a library. Or ask a professional.

How do you think your potential prospective clients would act?

There is something that nobody does

For sure, you won’t buy all the newspapers to find solutions when you have a problem, right? The chances of finding more information in the newspaper are almost zero. If you wait for tomorrow’s newspapers, it will just aggravate the situation. Email marketing is just like newspapers. They are newsletters.

The probability you will send an email with the proper article to a prospective client who is just looking for the answers you have is almost zero.

Besides that, this improbable client is having a problem. He or she is busy trying to find out what to do, not reading emails.

And Something That We All Do

Searching online will lead you to a website or a series of articles that will go deep into your problem and suggest solutions. But if that article is good, documented, and from an authoritative source, you will trust it. You will also trust the author.

Most likely, you will read more of the same author. You’ll bookmark the website. Maybe you’re going to subscribe. You will read the newly published articles, but you won’t hope to find new solutions.

If your problem’s solution requires professional help, you will contact the author. You trust him. He is the expert you need.

This is what you have to do. You can adapt your marketing based on the process they have to go through to build whatever they want to build.

At Marketing-for-architects.com, we advise you to spend your resources to help your prospective clients by creating quality, informative, original, and helpful content optimized for search engines, letting them come to your website.

This is inbound marketing; it differs from outbound marketing, which includes email campaigns.

But you have to create your marketing strategy. First, stop wasting creative efforts on email campaigns and start creating quality content for an effective content marketing!


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By Octavian Ungureanu

Marketing for Architects helps worldwide architects and architecture firms to better promote their businesses, attract more and better clients, and get new, exciting projects.