A couple of months ago, I wrote about how an AEC firm’s new website is one of its most important building projects. Today we’re going to explore exactly how your website is connected to the rest of your marketing initiatives. You can choose to build a great looking website that appeals to your audiences, but wouldn’t it be nice if your website also brought in qualified leads? How is your website connected to the rest of your firm’s marketing efforts? How is it aligned with your firm’s overall strategy? These are important questions to ask from day one when looking at the goals of your online presence.
Why are you building a new website?
- Dated look and feel.
- It’s hard to update and manage.
- Information is out of date. Or we’re missing new services/projects/news.
- It’s hard to use or is confusing for visitors.
- We just had our “X” year anniversary.
Sound familiar? While these are all good reasons for getting to the table, they all consider your firm’s website as a stand-alone asset, when its role is actually much larger than that.
We know from research that a professional services firm’s website is firmly wedged into its business development process. Here’s a scenario that happens way more often than you would think:
Advocate for your firm: “You need to talk to Joe at XYZ firm (your firm).”
Your referred prospect: “Thanks, that sounds like a great fit!”
Your referred prospect then gets back to the office (or pulls out a smartphone) and finds your firm’s website.
Our research shows that an 80% of buyers check out your website at some point in the buying process, but an eye-opening 52% of the time, that referred prospect never reaches out to your firm because your firm’s website did not match what they had heard from their trusted colleague!
Figure 1. How Buyers Check Out AEC Firms
So this bears out the suspicion that understanding what your client’s and prospect’s real issues are, and connecting the dots on your website are important and do have an impact on your bottom line. But what else plays into that validation?
Misconceptions and Expectations for Your Firm’s New Website
Many firms begin their journey to a new website with a “build it and they will come” mentality. Prospects and clients are not going to flock to your shiny new website just because it exists and has compelling content on launch day. Your firm’s website needs to integrate with broader marketing efforts to really have an impact and maximize your online presence. We’ve probably heard everything in the book about what a new website will do for their firm’s growth.
“If we use the right structure, our website traffic and business will increase”
While there’s some truth to this (depending on what kind of website your firm is starting with) – the effect is less important than how the website is supported and promoted through other channels.
“Up-to-date design and innovative navigation will set us apart from our competitors and help tell our story.”
Professional design and structure is important, but understanding what works and addressing your different audiences with relevant content in a clear and understandable way is key. What is trendy and popular today will look dated tomorrow, so it’s important to keep things fresh, but consider functionality and flexibility as a priority. Too-clever navigation and too and over-designed formats often increase a websites bounce rate.
“We’ve got to do a better job telling our story – our prospects/clients don’t know who we really are!”
Our research does show that the “team leadership” pages are one of the most popular sections on professional services sites. But beyond that, each visitor has specific information that they are looking for to validate your firm. Some of that validation can be provided by your firm’s website content, some will be validated by how users find your site and what external online sources have to say about your firm.
From the day you begin mustering support for your firm’s new website project, it is wise to position your website as a hub for your firm’s online presence — meaning, it helps to connect and provide accountability for many other marketing initiatives, whether they are online or in the real world.
Your Firm’s Website is Not an Island
Consider the ways that your firm’s new website can help integrate your firm-wide marketing efforts.
Connecting your social media efforts
Clear connection between your website and your social media presence helps increase online visibility and promotes greater engagement with your audiences. With your new website, make sure that it’s easy to share valuable content that lives on your website. An example is the social sharing tool we use right here on this post.
Consider going beyond “social media icons” in your website’s header or footer by creating and using an editorial calendar that includes posting content on a range of social media platforms and groups. Link back to your website on those platforms and take advantage of embedded media like YouTube to increase opportunities for engagement. With some careful planning in your analytics and CRM setup, then you can connect the dots between social media driven traffic and leads for new business or recruiting.
Connecting offline marketing and business development initiatives
What about all of the things we do in the real world? Networking events, speaking engagements, participation in panels, direct mail, or even more hand-to-hand tactics like lunch-and-learns? All of these initiatives can be augmented and measured by connecting your firm’s website with a smidge of logistics.
For example: your firm is sponsoring an industry event. You have keynote speakers, panel participants and a giant difficult-to-assemble booth. That takes a lot of effort and coordination, so you want to make sure you are getting the most bang for your buck. Any way you can measure success is valuable. If you have the opportunity to distribute collateral or display signage, are you providing a way for the event attendees to connect with your firm through targeted landing pages or social initiatives? Think hashtags or presentation download pages. These can be great ways to introduce content to new audiences and measure engagement beyond relying on your attendees to provide updates. To get even more value from your event participation, plan on capturing video and photography to promote on your website and social channels.
Don’t forget the email
Email is often forgotten or underutilized as a tool to nurture and bring audiences back to your website. It can also help drive your audiences to engage with connected social media initiatives and real-world events (round and round we go).
As part of your firm’s editorial calendar, consider how email is used to remind your audience about your brand and valuable content. Coordinating segmentation with your CRM and content will improve your click through rate and drive more qualified traffic to your website and social media campaigns.
Firm-wide Impact – Connect the Dots
This discussion is just the tip of your colossal website iceberg. Consider all of the ways your firm’s website can connect the dots. Your firm’s online presence is distributed across many platforms and organizations. With the right strategy and implementation your new website can become much more powerful than the sum of its parts.
Turn your firm’s website into a lead generator. Join our free webinar, ‘How to Build the Perfect Professional Services Website’ on February 25th at 12PM.
- Our Lead Generating Website Guide details how your firm can generate qualified leads with its website.
- And our free Lead Nurturing Guide will show you how to nurture those leads through the sales cycle.
How Hinge Can Help:
Your B2B website should be one of your firm’s greatest assets. Our High Performance Website Program helps firms drive online engagement and leads through valuable content. Hinge can create the right website strategy and design to take your firm to the next level.