Dave Sharp advises architecture firms on social media, communication and marketing strategy. More.
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There's a couple of reasons you shouldn't focus on getting a brief from your website visitors.
What do I mean by that? Your contact page! It doesn't have to ask "where's your project? What type of building is it? What's your budget? How soon are you ready to start?".
Why? Because asking bottom of the funnel questions to those at the top just doesn't make sense.
The only reason to introduce those kinds of questions is if you're having a lead quality problem, or the sheer volume of contacts you're getting through your website is too overwhelming to process.
If you don't have a lead quality problem and you're not getting enough quantity, you need to think about who is actually on your website, and how you can play the long game to turn more of them into well-behaved client leads over the long-term.
If we look at a five year period, only 1.7% of the people that are going to build an architect designed home over the next five years are looking for an architect this month. Patience is totally underrated.
The goal of your website should align with the traffic that you actually have right now, which is overwhelmingly people who are not currently looking to build - but maybe they will six months from now. Maybe they will 12 months from now, or even 2 or 3 years from now.
They've come across you because they care about architecture, they like what you do, and you've given them value through your content. They like your photos, they like what you've written, they like a story they read about you - and they've come to your website to find out more and dig a little deeper.
When they come to your website your goal is actually to retain them because you've got them as a first time visitor, but there's no guarantee you're going to be able to get them to come back the next time you have a project or blog post.
The primary goal is retention and relationship building.
The best way to retain an audience is getting their email. However you should have realistic expectations about email signup, it doesn't convert very well these days. Another alternative is using a tool like Subscribers to push notifications to their browser when you have something new to share. This type of remarketing is experimental, but appears to perform quite well, both in terms of opt-in rate and the percentage of people who click those notifications you send (20-30%).
Those are really the two best options in addition to pushing them to follow you on social media. The downside of a social media follow goal is that you don't truly own the platform, and will be vulnerable if your fans stop using a given platform in the future.
If your time horizon for nurturing leads is measured in years, you really need to think about what platform you're bullish on over the long-term. Email isn't going anywhere soon, Instagram might.
When it comes to nudging visitors towards the goal, FOMO is key. People recognise that there's a lot of noise, and they have a hard time keeping up with quality content. They want to make sure that they won't miss your next post.
Offer your visitors an exciting glimpse of what's ahead if they subscribe to your tribe. Stuff that's going to bring them value. That way, you'll have their permission to keep building trust, authority and value over time.
Down the road when they're ready to start a project, or they've reached a point in life where circumstances allow them to work with you - you will still be the person they like, and is giving them the most value. You'll have their trust, and a relationship built organically over time.
It's not that important to push for a brief. Your website still needs contact information so that people can get in touch if they are ready to start a project, but the majority of visitors are just starting that long journey: so you need to focus on retaining them over time and building a relationship.
Trust that they'll come to you when the time is right.