- Article by Rachael Bernstone
The coronavirus pandemic has sharply focused architects’ attention on bringing in new clients and projects. But before you kick off a new marketing blitz, it’s worth tracking a few key metrics, to make sure your efforts are targeted and effective.
When things are going well, marketing and business development tend to slide towards the bottom of your practice’s long to-do list.
However, the current operating environment – caused by the coronavirus pandemic and its subsequent shutdown – has seen many projects put on hold or cancelled, leaving architects with a strong desire to generate new business to bolster dwindling pipelines.
So how should you go about refining your marketing, and what are the most useful activities you should undertake right now?
Before you start madly posting to Instagram, or writing new blog articles for your website, its useful to consider three key marketing questions:
- Who do you want to speak to?
- What do you want to tell them?
- How and where should you deliver that message?
Once you are clear on those objectives, take some time to audit and analyse your current marketing activities, to see what’s actually working. Are your paid Google Ads bringing clients through the door? Is your Instagram feed admired by other architects, but failing to connect with potential customers?
This process of taking a snapshot of your current marketing metrics may not be the most creative part of your marketing strategy, but if you don’t have a clear sense of where – or even whether – your current efforts are generating results, you may be wasting your time.
To simplify this process, the Marketing Metrics Tracker for architects incorporates the six key delivery channels that generate the best results, and the key metrics you should monitor to track your performance. These channels are:
- email newsletters
- social media
- publishing, and
And these should lead future clients back to the sixth channel: your website.
There are two key metrics for referrals. If you already collect testimonials from past and current clients – and use them in future marketing campaigns – track the volume of new feedback and potential clients you reach each month, and any new projects that arise from that activity.
If you don’t have a formal referral system, LinkedIn is a great platform to generate word of mouth, because your consultants and collaborators probably already use it. Also, if you’re working across education, health, commercial, community, sport and recreation or civic projects, your future clients are likely active on LinkedIn too.
So aim to grow your LinkedIn network and create original posts and articles that other people will share and engage with. LinkedIn is one of the best social media platforms for organic reach, making it easier for your profile and posts to be seen by people outside your existing network.
Next up is email newsletters; you should be continually growing your distribution list and sending regular updates. The best way to collect new email addresses is via a ‘lead magnet’ on your website – a piece of original, valuable, free content that you offer for download in exchange for an email address.
So, track the size of your email list. How many people open your newsletters, click on the links therein and how many of those subscribers convert into clients?
It’s worth pointing out that your referral system, email list and website are the only delivery channels that you own and control, so they are the most important channels in your arsenal to nurture and grow. Social media, publishing and awards play a key supporting role, but they are third-party channels, and as such are subject to changing terms and conditions that may see you lose your connection with your audience in a heartbeat.
The third channel is social media: the main platforms are Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube (if you use it). Track your followers, likes and views, and consider checking your Instagram engagement rate (using a free calculator included in the spreadsheet available via the web link below) to compare with your competitors. Then you can take inspiration from their social media activities, to promote higher levels of engagement on yours.
Publishing is the fourth channel, and you should record in the spreadsheet when articles appear in print publications or online, and notice any corresponding bumps in traffic to your website and/or socials.
The fifth channel is awards and, again, you should record when you receive awards or associated media coverage, and associated traffic increases or new enquiries.
These five channels should all drive traffic to your website – the sixth channel – where visitors can learn more about your services and unique offering. As a way of fine-tuning your website during this period, ask yourself:
- Is it easy for first-time visitors to understand what our practice does, and our fees?
- Do we offer a range of price points – including a low-cost, toe-dipping service, such as a feasibility study, site check or audit?
- Does our website invite visitors to make contact and start a conversation with us (this may be via a lead magnet or a tailored ‘enquiry’ form)?
- Or is it designed to appeal to – and impress! – our architectural peers and colleagues?
Taking this holistic snapshot of your current marketing activities – and recording your metrics in one central location, and then revisiting and updating them regularly – will help you observe patterns and trends over time. You’ll start to discern which activities bring in new clients and projects.
And – when you have a few months’ data – you can reframe and refocus your marketing activities around your findings. If you discover that most of your new enquiries – and clients – come from Facebook or LinkedIn, you could spend more effort on those channels than on Instagram, for example. Or if you find that publishing in a certain magazine consistently helps deliver a steady stream of new clients, you can focus your efforts on that activity.
Obviously, you can’t refine and improve your marketing activities unless you have a good understanding of what’s generating results. So if you don’t yet have a system for tracking and observing what’s happening, the Marketing Metrics Tracker is an excellent place to start.
A little bit of insider knowledge – about what’s working and delivering consistent results – goes a long way to making sure your marketing efforts are targeted and transformative.
You can download the Marketing Metrics Tracker spreadsheet at www.soundslikedesign.com.au/welcome and record your benchmark figures this week. Then make a regular date – weekly, fortnightly or monthly – to update them.
This article originally ran in Architectural Review 164. If you would like to read the latest full magazine, click here to receive a complimentary copy of our first digital issue.