After my review of California-based PJHM Architects blog, Shauna Salazar emailed me with some observations about how the blog and other social media initiatives have contributed to the practice’s success.
Here are some of her thoughts (published here with permission):
Wow, you just made my day. My week, even! PJHM’s website redesign and social integration was something I took on in 2011. We had a website, but it was flash-based and had become stagnant due to the difficulty of updating. As we went through the process of building the new site we started adding social media outlets and a blog. At first, it was a hard sell to some folks in the office. We specialize in educational projects and work mainly with public school districts. We get our clients by going after RFP’s, certainly not by sending out tweets. But there are great AEC and Educational communities online. So, I kept pushing. I wanted to get our whole team on board, so I made a presentation about our online marketing efforts and why it is important for our company. For PJHM, I believe it boils down to these key reasons:
1. ACCESSIBILITY: Every gateway we offer online gives our company a virtual 24-hour showroom. The Internet never sleeps. A potential client can research our company sitting at the airport, waiting in the doctor’s office…laying in bed with an iPad.
2. BRAND BUILDING: We want to build a client’s trust in our company. Last year we gained 7 new clients that probably don’t know too much about us. Providing an online presence allows them to check us out. Our interactions with other clients and our quality of online updates help to form a positive impression of our company.
3. MARKETING + EXPOSURE: How much does it cost to design, print and mail a couple hundred brochures to potential clients as opposed to creating a web page or blog post? Electronic format allows for a more cost-effective (and extremely higher) distribution. And there is no limit to the imagination! Example? This last year we decided against sending out holiday cards and made a fun company Christmas video. We then sent out an email blast directing them to our blog post: http://pjhm.com/blog/index.php/happy-holidays-from-pjhm/
In less than two weeks it generated 1,240 NEW (Unique) people to visit our website. For the month of December we had 8,778 page views, which is incredible for a smaller firm like ourselves. We had email responses from clients, consultants and people we had never even done business with.
But still…sometimes people need to see numbers. Google Analytics showed us that within six months of integrating social media and online marketing our website traffic had increased by 7,000 per cent. That isn’t a typo, that is flat out impressive. By Christmas of 2012 we had a 12,000 per cent increase. As I started going through our metrics I saw that of the 160+ pages we have on our website, two of the top 10 pages were blog posts.
Needless to say, it has turned some heads and started a dialogue in our office. What are good ideas for blog posts? What upcoming conferences or events can we get prepared for? What new practices in architecture or green building could we be discussing? The possibilities are endless!
As we enter into our 50th year in business, PJHM continues its passion for learning, knowledge, building, and creating – both in our buildings and in our brand.
Obviously, these numbers are impressive, though some skeptics will still question how and whether blogging and tweeting and social media activities truly relate to new business development. These observations belie the practical challenges of measuring marketing success in any endeavor where individual “orders” are large and relatively few and far between, and where decisions are made through competitive procurement processes and/or existing relationships. Nevertheless, the skepticism can quickly turn to excitement when you assess the truly limited financial cost of achieving social media leadership — mostly some time and commitment; this stuff doesn’t require expensive advertising budgets, huge conference sponsorship fees or loads of travel (but you can parlay all of your investments in these other activities into social media success, with virtually no additional incremental investment.)