It’s no secret that architecture is a competitive industry. And it’s expected to see a growth of 2.2% over the next few years (compared to only .5% growth in the past half-decade). Architecture firms using content marketing to reach new audiences will have a much better chance of attracting new clients than those who fail to adapt to this powerful form of marketing.
One of the most effective ways to approach content marketing is through blogging.
Why Should Architecture Firms Blog?
In the architecture industry - as with all other industries - blogging is a proven way for companies to increase their exposure as well as their conversion rate. Among the benefits of blogging are the following:
- B2B companies with blogs receive 67% more leads than those who do not.
- Blogging increases backlinks to your website, resulting in higher SEO rankings.
- Blogging increases your authority and boosts your clients’ trust in your company.
An architecture firm that doesn’t blog is, quite simply, leaving a gap open in its marketing that will ultimately be filled by another company - resulting in a loss of potential business.
In an industry which is becoming more and more competitive, architecture firms need to look for every edge they can possibly get in order to succeed. Blogging can be that “special something” your firm offers that makes you stand out above your competition.
There are two main reasons your architecture firm should start blogging: To increase traffic, or to increase conversions. You’ll need to create different types of content depending on what you want your blog to accomplish.
First, let’s focus on traffic.
Content for Traffic
You want to create content that says: We are experts. We speak with authority. You can trust us.
If you’re looking to gain more exposure for your architecture firm, you’ll want to create the type of content that will help establish your company as an authority within your industry. This type of content sends a clear message about your business: We are experts. We speak with authority. You can trust us.
Fortunately there are several proven types of content that you can create which will enable you to achieve the twin goals of increasing traffic and being perceived as an authority.
1 – Definitive Guides
Definitive (or “Ultimate”) Guides are authoritative pieces of content written for one purpose only - to position your practice as the leading authority on a particular field.
They are lengthy (any where from 3000 - 20,000 words) and leave no stone unturned. Readers who click on your definitive guide know they’ll be diving deep into a specific topic, and will expect to leave your page fully informed to make important decisions.
Creating a definitive guide also shows you have a true passion for your industry, and aren’t simply a run-of-the-mill company that knows enough to get by and not much else.
For example, Modular Home Owners have created a Definitive Guide to Building a Modular Home. All you need to do is to choose a subject of interest to your clients.
Also you need to get the scope right. If you do ‘The Definitive Guide to Modern Architecture’ then that’s just too wide whereas ‘The Definitive Guide to Building the Perfect Ski Chalet’ would be perfect.
2 – List-Based Articles
This type of content is less formal than a Definitive Guide and focuses on the ‘best’, ‘worst’, ‘most important’, ‘most interesting’, or ‘most overlooked’ of a specific topic.
This type of article shows you appreciate the accomplishments of others within your industry, and also gives your readers insight into where your company draws inspiration from.
For example, Dezeen provides an example titled The Top 10 Architecture and Design Trends of 2015, which explores the various aspects of architecture which were focused on most throughout the year. It also offers insight as to where the industry as a whole is headed in the near future.
This type of content is proven to attract links and social shares and should be considered as a key part of your overall strategy.
3 – Expert Roundups
Expert roundups involves getting recognised experts in their fields to contribute to your content rather than you creating it from scratch. It is really a form of crowdsourcing where you ask the for their input on a narrow, focused area where they answer one or two questions.
This approach really works for improving your social visibility and for getting backlinks because your experts are pretty much guaranteed to promote the content on your behalf.
Equally important is that you are developing new relationships or strengthening existing ones with influencers who can continue to help promote your business long into the future.
For example, Inhabit.com offers a “Green Home Expert Roundup,” which offers advice given by various experts within the industry on how to make your home more eco-friendly. Like most roundups, Inhabit’s article offers a variety of perspectives on how to go about completing a single overall task.
4 – Comparisons
Comparison blog posts offer the pros and cons of two opposing products, services, methods and more. Unless the purpose of the article is clearly to persuade the reader toward one of the choices, comparison articles are objective and allow the reader to make up his own mind regarding what choice to make.
When you create a comparison post, you show your audience that you have their best interest in mind. You do all the legwork of collecting and presenting data, allowing your reader to make an informed decision based on what you’ve given them. This type of free, impartial content positions you as a trusted expert in the eyes of prospective clients.
This article for DIYNetwork actually compares 26 architectural styles in terms of materials used, regions in which the styles are most used, and the purpose for using each style. There’s no mention about which style is best - just which is most used in specific areas of the world, and for what purpose.
5 – Infographics
Infographics are easily-digestible, graphical representations of data that has most likely been presented in written form previously. They are ideal for people who don’t have the time to read full-length articles or who prefer visual over written content.
Infographics spice up your blog, offering something more than walls and walls of text over and over again. They’re more eye-catching and intriguing, and can convey the necessary information from a blog post in a quick snippet for readers to grab and go with.
This article from ArchDaily provides a variety of infographics focusing on different aspects of architecture, from building size to professional demographics.
6 – Content for Conversions
If you already have a good amount of traffic coming through to your website, there’s still a lot you can do to engage these visitors and increase the chance that they will become paying clients. Your blog should also be full of the following types of content in order to increase your conversion rate.
7 – How-To Guides
How-to blog posts are similar to comparison posts in that, within them, you give away your knowledge of a subject absolutely free of charge.
How-to posts show your readers just how much you know about your industry, but there is a much more important consideration. When readers see the value in the information you’re giving away for free, they’ll be much more willing to use your paid services.
On his blog Life of an Architect, Bob Borson has posted a guide to architectural sketching in which he showcases his talent and imparts wisdom to his readers all at once. In his case he monetises his content by directing his audience to affiliate products. Admittedly, this isn’t an approach that most architectural practices will want to adopt, but the point is valid - the content is an entry point that welcomes new audience members into his blog and that can work for you too.
8 – Video Series
Similar to how-to posts, a video series offers sequential instructions on a given technique or tactic.
Whilst putting together a video series requires dedication in terms of time, effort, and money on your part there is a definite business case to justify the investment.
For example, architect Doug Patt runs a YouTube channel titled “How to Architect,” where he has posted hundreds of architecture-related videos. In addition to these videos, Patt also offers a book (also titled How to Architect) on his website. By giving away a ton of information for free, Patt engages with millions of individuals, turning them all into potential paying customers.
9 – Case Studies
Case studies are one of the most effective means of generating conversions because they provide hard evidence that you can deliver what you say you can deliver.
A case study is a longform article that focuses on a satisfied customer you’ve worked with in the past. It discusses the problems your client faced before he enlisted your help, what spurred him to seek out assistance, and why he chose your firm specifically to help solve his problem. Finally, the case study will discuss the specifics regarding your customer’s level of satisfaction with your work which goes much deeper than a generic statement such as “I highly recommend this firm for all of your architectural needs.”
Jensen Architects has created an incredibly detailed case study discussing their involvement in the creation of a Children’s Day School in San Francisco. The study begins by discussing the concept for the school and the mission the client had in mind when having it built, moving into the structural components of building the school as well as its sustainability over time, and ends with a time-lapse video and statistical data about the project.
The main purpose of a case study is for potential customers to see exactly what they’ll get when they hire you to complete a project. As architectural projects are much more in-depth and long-term, providing case studies for potential clients is one of the best ways to get them to invest in you in for the long haul.
Best of all and most importantly they rely heavily on the voice of your satisfied clients. From a marketing perspective that is pure sold gold.
So in summary, content marketing can provide your architectural practice with a distinct advantage over your competitors if you approach it methodically and base it on proven content formats. It can be used for increasing traffic or for improving conversion rates where you reassure prospective clients that you are a safe pair of hands.
Content for traffic includes formats such as Definitive/Ultimate Guides, List based content, Comparisons, Expert Roundups and Infographics.
Conversion focused content includes How to Guides, Video and Case Studies.
So which of these types of content will you be creating? Or have you created this type of content before? Share your thoughts in the comments below.