Digital Marketing is a Giant Black Hole
You want to grow your interior design business. You want more leads, a pipeline that is consistently full, more customers and maybe even better projects. The problem is you are spending a ton of time trying to learn what you should be doing to market your business online and not focusing on running your business. As an interior designer passionate about your craft, this can feel defeating.
You feel like you’re spinning your wheels because there is so much information with tons of experts urging you to focus on this method or that method and new information coming out daily. You are paralyzed and don’t know what to do. Or worse, the information is so overwhelming you’ve opted to do nothing about marketing online!
The digital marketing world is a giant black hole and can be scary if you don’t know where to focus.
In this article, you will learn the 6 essential elements you need to understand how to market your interior design business online effectively and efficiently.
You could spend weeks and months researching what you should know, but why? I already did the work for you.
I feel your pain
I completely understand how you feel. When I started my custom window valance business many moons ago, I felt the same way. I knew I needed a website so I set out to build one. After all, everything I read said I could do it myself. It’s easy. Well, that was a lie. It’s not easy – unless you’re already an expert.
And, the time it took for me to learn everything I needed to know pulled me away from designing and making any valances. The more I learned about the world of websites, the more I discovered I didn’t know.
Since it was such a huge time suck, I found myself spending less time doing the things I love like spending time with family, gardening, reading and hanging with friends.
Eventually, I finished building the website, but “they did not come”. Where were all the new customers?
Once I learned “if you build it they will come” was a big fat lie, I had to figure out how to drive traffic to my website. Down the rabbit hole, I went learning about SEO (search engine optimization), Google Adwords (paid ads) and Facebook Ads. Pretty interesting stuff, but complicated as hell.
Then I discovered that I need to build an email list to be successful. I wasn’t sure why, but “they” said I need to. So I put a form on my website to join my email list, but no one signed up. Down another rabbit hole to figure this one out.
Things came to a head when I was told I needed to be on social media. All of them? Holy cow, just learning the ins and outs of Facebook was enough to send me into a frenzy! And what the hell is a tweet?
I was overwhelmed. I spent my days researching what I needed to be doing to get traffic, attract leads, convert the leads to customers, and THEN design and make the valances.
Long story short, my valance business never did get off the ground. I fell in love with digital marketing so I switched gears and decided to become an expert in that instead.
On top of all of the digital marketing things you don’t know, there’s more. The digital world is changing at the speed of light. So, not only do you “not know what you don’t know”, you also don’t know what just changed.
Changes occur each and every day that may impact your business. Here are just a few examples:
- Google’s algorithm changes regularly so the tactics you have in place may need to be changed or updated.
- Facebook policies get updated periodically which may affect how you post, place ads or interact with your fans.
- New regulations are introduced that can put you in the hot seat if not adhered to such as accessibility laws, the disclosure of cookies on your website, and more.
DIY digital marketing expert is an illusion
After my experience trying to build a custom valance business, I call bullshit on business owners becoming a DIY digital marketing “expert”. One person cannot do it all. (Sorry for the harsh language. No other word would do!).
Even digital marketing professionals know there is so much to know they’ve gradually become specialized. We now have SEO experts, web design experts, conversion experts, email marketing experts, etc.
Yes, you could spend the time learning to become an expert, but then you’re left with:
- Amateur results. Actually, if you’re lucky, you have results to analyze. Many businesses implement what seems like the right strategy but don’t know how to measure the result to determine if it’s working or not.
- An abandoned, ignored business. That’s right, while you’re in the hamster wheel spinning out of control in the digital marketing frenzy, your business has become abandoned. There are only so many hours in the day and other priorities such as running your business, take the back burner. Utter insanity.
- A life so off-balance you start wondering why you started the business in the first place. Did you start a business for independence? To select the projects and clients you really want to work with, that energize you? Did you start it for the flexible schedule that would allow you to spend more time with family & friends or to be available to watch your child’s soccer games? Maybe you just wanted the freedom to earn a living on your terms. Regardless of your reasons for starting your business, they’re dashed by the digital marketing demands required to become and remain a competitor.
I have great news for you! I already spent a ton of time down numerous rabbit holes learning, comparing, analyzing the best methods and approaches to grow your interior design business, so you don’t have to.
Without further adieu, I give you…
The 6 Digital Marketing Essentials Every Interior Design Business Must Know
There are a bazillion things to know about digital marketing but only 6 essential areas that are crucial for interior design to grow their business. They are:
- Search Engine Optimization
- Email Marketing
- Social Media
A professionally designed, modern, mobile-friendly website is a basic requirement in order to complete nowadays. Why? Because your prospective customers expect it. And, your competition has one.
Prospects want to know about you, your business, your previous work, your services, your location & hours, and they expect to find this information on your website. If you don’t have a website, they’ll find your competitor’s and learn about them instead!
You’re being judged
Like it or not, you are being judged by your website. 75% of users admit to making judgments about a company’s credibility based on their website’s design.
In the interior design industry, it’s of particular importance because your site is a direct reflection of your work. Prospects also expect to be inspired by your website design and contents. You’re a designer after all. If your website is outdated, aesthetically ugly or looks like garbage on a mobile device, your prospect will think the same of you.
One of the key functions of your website is to capture emails from your prospects so you can control communication with them. Customers choose businesses they know, like and trust. You build the like and trust relationship by providing prospects with helpful, valuable information via email. We’ll get to this in more detail later, but for now, know that your website is where you capture the email.
Unlike social media, which we’ll get to later, your website is yours. Mark Zuckerberg can’t take it away from you or in any way affect how you interact with your prospects like he can on FaceBook. The point is, there are a variety of ways to reach prospects online such as Facebook, Thumbtack, Houzz and more, but you can only control your website.
Blogging produces content and content is essential if you want to attract leads. Blogging is so important it really deserves its only article. For now, we’ll discuss the basics.
So what’s the big deal about blogging?
1. Blogging gives you a platform to share what you know which establishes you as an authority in the eyes of your prospects.
2. With a steady stream of interior design related articles Google considers you the authority and considers your website worthy of more traffic.
3. Prospects that are searching for information that you’ve written about will find you on Google.
Don’t’ be afraid. Blogging is way easier than you think!
It’s perfectly normal to be apprehensive about blogging or writing in general. For some of us, it comes easy and words just flow out. For others, we become paralyzed and can’t even get word on paper or are overly critical of what we have written.
We fear we’re not good enough at writing or don’t know enough about the subject. Baloney! You know more than the audience you are trying to reach and that’s all that matters.
We have a simple, yet effective template you can use to get your thoughts out of your head and on the screen with ease. Get your free Simple & Effective Blog Post Template here.
What to Blog About
“But I have no idea what to blog about”. Poppycock! Below is a short list of ideas to get your creative juices flowing.
Frequently asked questions are an excellent starting point for blogging. Think about the most common questions you get from prospects and existing customers. Here are some examples:
- How long does a kitchen redesign take?
- What are my options for building out a master suite?
- Why should I choose granite over laminate?
Brainstorm other possible blog topics by thinking about what you know that may be of interest to your prospects.
- What is Feng Shui and how can I benefit from it?
- 5 Rules of Traditional Style Design Style
- How to select the perfect area rug
- The worst design trends of the 70s
- Tiny house designs you will not believe
- This year’s top 10 paint colors
More blog topic ideas
- New design trends
- Your recent projects
I assure you, once you start thinking about possible blog topics the ideas will just keep coming and you’ll have a long list of ideas.
How often to blog
Regularly. If you can publish an article weekly, great! If it’s biweekly, super! If it’s monthly, that’s ok too. Any less frequently than monthly will not generate the results you need to establish yourself as an authority, get the Google traffic and attract more leads. It’s that simple.
Your website must be Easy to Update
Your website is a living piece of your marketing puzzle. Therefore, it needs to be easy for you to update. You will be writing articles and adding photos of your work. Unless you know HTML, CSS, PHP, and other fun code languages, you need an easy way to add your information to the site. CMS (Content Management Systems) were designed for that very reason. CMS’s like WordPress and Squarespace allow users to easily create blog posts, add photos and video, update and create pages and more.
I need a website. What now?
Now that you know a website is essential how do you move forward? You could hire a professional to build your website or DIY (do it yourself). Let’s explore the options.
Hire a professional
There are numerous options for getting a professional and modern website built today. I strongly suggest you hire a professional and have it built on a CMS (Content Management System) such as WordPress so you can easily make updates to the site.
Professional web designers are experts in their field. They design with purpose and are trained to know how users consume information online and design accordingly. For example, they know users consume information by scanning a page top to bottom in an F pattern. If the user determines they’d like more detail they’ll scroll back up and read the content. If the user can’t easily scan they are likely to leave that page.
Did you know when a visitor lands on your homepage you have 3 seconds to make a first impression, get their attention and give them a reason to stay? Professional designers know this. Hint: Your homepage is not a dumping ground of every piece of information about you and your business. Instead, it’s where your prospect formulates their first impression about you. Engaging your visitor on the homepage is done through gorgeous imagery, a clear and prominently displayed UVP (Unique Value Proposition) and carefully defined content that pulls your visitor in for more.
Web design experts also know what causes users to abandon your website and go to your competitor’s. There are a variety of triggers but primarily an unprofessional, unfocused, outdated, non-mobile friendly, haphazard website will do it. Prospects are looking for a professional interior design business and if your website isn’t professional, you probably aren’t either (at least that’s the conclusion they draw).
Users are accustomed to certain web standards such as menu at the top, an About page describing who you are and why you’re in this business, a Content page that offers a variety of ways they can contact you depending in their preferred way to communicate.
A professional designer knows the best practices and latest trends that effectively keep the prospect engaged. Hint: Lots of animation, flashing text and (outdated) sliding images do not help to convert the user to a customer. These elements only distract them from your objective which is to begin a trusting relationship and get email signup.
These examples are just a tip of the iceberg. Bottom line. “You don’t know what you don’t know”, but the experts know!
There’s no sugar coating it. Avoid getting sucked into doing your own website. There are two primary reasons for this:
- You don’t have time, you have a business to run and a life to live.
- You lack the knowledge and expertise to build a quality website that meets the user needs, shows up in Google results, isn’t bloated with code, has appropriately sized image files, doesn’t take forever to load, etc.
I’m not suggesting you couldn’t build a website that looks great. In fact, there are tutorials out there that walk you through it step-by-step. I’m just suggesting your time could be better spent on other areas of your business rather than learning how to build a website properly.
You wouldn’t spend time learning the tax code instead of hiring a good Accountant, would you? The same principle applies here. Leave the website to the professionals.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
Have you heard of Google? Thought so. Google is the leading search engine used by everyone on the planet, followed by BING and other lesser known search engines.
According to MOZ, a leading authority on SEO, “Search engine optimization (SEO) is the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results.” Organic = FREE.
Without traffic, your website is just another pretty face out in the digital stratosphere. And I’m here to tell you, there are A LOT of pretty faces out there. Many businesses throw a website out there and expect people to come in droves. It doesn’t work that way. There is actual effort involved in driving traffic to your website.
SEO is the organic, or “free” way to get traffic. The alternative is to pay for traffic through Google Ads, Facebook Ads, and other paid means. Since I’m a big fan of “free”, that will be our focus today.
SEO begins with your website. A professional web designer ensures the technical structure of your website is set up to attract your ideal customer by defining site tags (titles, descriptions, h1), schema code, working with you to understand and use the appropriate keywords, etc.
Local businesses need to understand and implement “local SEO”.
Local SEO is crucial for interior designers. Why? Local businesses are interested in local customers and local SEO is how you optimize for those local customers. Done right, Google will know that you are a local business, in what local area (city name) and ideally, point local prospects to your website. From now on we’ll focus on local SEO.
How does Local SEO work?
These days we rely on Google to provide answers and information to everything from What’s the score of the Packers game? to Who’s the best interior designer?
It’s important to understand that Google’s top priority is its customer – the person searching for information. Google doesn’t give a damn if the best answer to the searcher’s question comes from your website or your competitor’s. They just care that it’s relevant, trustworthy and high-quality content that answers the searcher’s question.
Local SEO is based on a mind-numbingly complicated algorithm Google created to determine which websites it will display to searchers in the search results. Since we’re interested in local SEO specifically, let’s take a look at how it works.
Here’s a typical scenario:
A couple decided they’d like to update their master bedroom and are wondering what interior designers there are in the area.
From their home in Richfield, Wisconsin the couple goes to their computer, pulls up Google, types in “interior designer” and hits enter. They see the results below.
The couple in our example unknowingly relied on Google’s “local search” algorithm to find an interior designer in their area. From Google’s perspective, it went something like this:
- The search keywords “interior designer” are noted.
- The couple’s current location is noted (obtained from the computer’s information).
- It’s assumed the search is for an interior designer in the local area. This seems obvious because why would you want someone in San Francisco, CA to remodel your master bedroom if you’re sitting in Richfield, WI?
- More information is gathered (signals) and plugged into the algorithm. The data output includes the ranking of webpages that match the search criteria and are in the local area.
- The results are transformed into human-readable form and displayed on the SERP (search engine results page).
In a nutshell, Google considers the search keywords “interior designer” then gathers data from a variety of signals and plugs them into its algorithm to determine what will be included in the SERP (search engine results page). This is an oversimplified description of what really happens, but you get the picture.
If you want more traffic to your website, you need to show up as high as possible in the SERP.
Local SEO Signals
In addition to keywords, Google looks at a lot of other factors to determine whether your website displays on page 1 or page 10 of the search results. The key factors we’ll discuss are:
- Google My Business
- Business Listings
- Social Media
- Links & Backlinks
Google My Business
GMB (Google My Business) is a free tool that allows you to manage your online presence across Google, including Google Search, Google Maps and Reviews. Claim and optimize your GMB account. It’s free.
Business Listings are often referred to as “citations”. Business listings are online sites where your business has essentially set up an account or is included in a listing. Some accounts are free, some are not.
There are many different categories of business listings including:
- Review and recommendation sites like Yelp!, Angie’s List, Houzz, and Better Business Bureau
- Industry-specific sites like Houzz, ASID and NARI
- Local sites like your chamber of commerce and Yellow Pages
- Social Media like Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Pinterest
The key is to be present on the listings that Google considers the highest domain authority as well as the listings your competitors are on. An easy way to determine the sites you should use is to Google “interior designer”. Ignoring the ads, colleague & competitor websites you will be left with the key business listings for your area.
In most cases, Houzz, Angie’s List, Yelp! will be on that list. You may also see regional websites unique to your area.
Be aware, you don’t have to use the services provided by the listing company in order to get the SEO benefits. For now, just create your free business listings making sure the business name, address, phone and website URL are consistent across sites.
We made it super easy for you! You can download our free cheat sheet that provides direct links to the sign-up pages to the key accounts you should be listed on. You can even document your account information right on the sheet for safekeeping.
According to BrightLocal, 84% of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. This isn’t lost on Google. If you want a better local search ranking Google needs to know your interior design business is worthy based on the feedback of other customers.
Google looks at how many reviews you have, the quality of the review sites (Hint: Google My Business reviews are #1), how many are positive vs. negative and the velocity of the reviews.
A word about velocity: You don’t want 50 reviews in one week because it’s suspect, rightfully so. Google finds it much more believable when you acquire the reviews organically. i.e. After a project is complete, you get a new review. It doesn’t seem reasonable to complete 50 projects in one week. We’ll discuss reviews in more detail later in this article.
Google wants to know you care about your customers. Presumably, if you have social media presence and activity, you are engaging with your customers and care about them. Google looks at whether you are on social platforms and if so, are you engaging. Do you post? Do you reply to comments on your post? It’s all important in the eyes of Google.
Links & Backlinks
Your website should be linking to other pages on your website. This helps Google determine your site’s structure which helps provide information to the searcher.
When another website links to your website it’s called a backlink. Backlinks can provide immense benefit to your search rankings, but they must be trustworthy and related to your industry,, not spammy random links that you collected to try and fool Google (Google cannot be fooled).
Personalization refers to the location and previous search & click habits of the person requesting information from Google. It’s super important. However, you have no control over it so just be aware of it.
Skeptics may say email is dead, but they’re dead wrong. According to Statistica, over 85% of adults still send or read email. This means, unlike social media where your customer may scroll right past your post, email marketing is more effective because users are more likely to get and read your message. People stop using social media all the time, they rarely close their email account.
Previously I mentioned that the key function of your website is to capture emails. This is a crucial activity for 2 key reasons:
- To nurture and build trust in prospects so you can get more leads.
- To stay top-of-mind and continue to build trust with existing customers for future projects.
Build trust in Prospects
There is a lot of competition in the interior design space so your ideal customer has many choices. Choosing an interior designer in many cases is a process. Prospects identify their options, compare and contrast them and ultimately choose the design business they feel will deliver the highest quality result with the best experience. To get to this point you need to build trust and instill confidence in the prospect.
Email marketing is a highly effective strategy for building like and trust. It’s simple…trust is built by sending your prospect bits of helpful, useful information. They grow to like you because you are selflessly giving them free information that is useful to them as they explore their interior designer options.
By implementing an email marketing strategy that focuses on helping and not selling, your prospect learns that you are someone they can trust and has their best interest at heart. On a subconscious level, this builds the trust in your prospect that is the precursor to feeling confident that you are the right choice.
Stay Top-of-Mind with Existing Customers
People who hire interior designers often have ongoing needs. Perhaps they are redesigning one room at a time. Or perhaps they are building a new home and have a whole new set of rooms to redesign. Regardless, it’s much more efficient to see to existing customers than finding new ones so it’s essential to stay in touch.
An effective strategy is to create a weekly newsletter that you send to existing customers. Don’t worry, it doesn’t have to suck a lot of your time. Sharing recent projects or new design trends can be sufficient. Who doesn’t get inspired by beautiful photos? The point is to communicate with customers on a regular basis.
Build That Email List
Collecting emails is crucial to getting leads and staying in touch with current customers. In order to implement email marketing, you need emails. Duh, right?
But how do you collect emails from people you haven’t met yet? Simple. You write valuable content and offer it to people you’ve identified as your ideal customer. When they click the link they are presented a form to provide their email address in exchange for access to the valuable content. This strategy goes by many names, we’ll call it a lead magnet”.
Lead magnets are highly effective. We’ll discuss that in more detail a bit later.
Another way to capture emails is to invite website visitors to sign up for free articles from your blog. The key is to craft an enticing message that compels visitors to want to give up their email. “Sign up for our weekly blog” doesn’t cut it. You need to identify their pain points and challenges and tell them your blog articles are the answer to fixing these problems and challenges.
Below are examples of two excellent email opt-in forms to get your creative juices flowing. The examples are intended to appeal to people from a different industry, but you can easily adjust for your ideal interior design client.
Here are more examples brought to you by ActiveCampaign.
OK, I have emails, now what? You choose and implement an email campaign.
An email marketing campaign is a series of emails a business uses to communicate with current and potentials customers. They are used to persuade customers to engage with the company. – Hubspot,
There are a variety of email campaign types and many campaigns include more than one campaign type. Let’s explore key email campaign types that can drive your business forward.
A regular newsletter is the most common type of broadcast email. Essentially you create an email and blast it out to everyone on your email list. Weekly newsletters are an example of this type of campaign.
As discussed earlier, weekly newsletters are highly effective for staying in contact with existing customers so you can continue to build trust until they’re ready for their next interior design project.
Targeted emails are sent to a group of customers or prospects. For example, perhaps you have a form on your website that asks prospect what type of project they’re interested in. Options may include kitchen remodel, master suite redesign, basement redesign, etc. You can create a tag that the email system automatically assigns to the prospect’s information to indicate the type of project(s) they are interested in. Maybe you just completed an awesome kitchen remodel. You could send an overview of the recent remodel (of course include gorgeous before and after photos) to your kitchen remodel prospects to illustrate your quality of work and to get them excited and motivated to begin their project.
Email Autoresponders / Email Funnels
Email autoresponders allow you to create a series of emails for a specific group of people. The emails can be personalized. For example, all recipients get the same message but the greeting is custom such as “Hi [first name],”.
Also, the responder can be set up to send a series of emails several hours, days or weeks apart. A great example is an autoresponder that delivers a lead magnet and builds trust in a prospect.
A lead magnet is an incentive that marketers offer to potential buyers in exchange for their email address or other contact information. – OptinMonster
Lead magnets usually offer a piece of digital, downloadable content, such as a free checklist, report, eBook, video, etc. Ideally, the lead magnet aligns with a service your business offers. For example, if your niche is kitchen redesigns, the checklist could be “How to Redesign Your Kitchen Checklist”.
A simple email autoresponder campaign goes something like this:
- On your website, you offer prospects a free downloadable checklist in exchange for their email.
- Your prospect completes your website form providing their name and email. The form has been built to assign a flag code to the prospect’s information which identifies the autoresponder campaign you set up on your email platform.
- The email system receives the completed form information including name, email and flag code.
- The email system refers to the autoresponder campaign which is set up to:
- Immediately send “welcome email” with a link to the downloadable checklist
- After 1 day send an email containing really useful information
- After 2 days, send another email containing really useful information
- After 3 days, send another email containing really useful information
- After 4 days, send another email containing really useful information
- After 5 days, send another email containing really useful information
- Perhaps you send another week’s worth of valuable emails.
- After X days, send an email offering a free consultation along with a button that links to your automated scheduling tool.
- If the prospect schedules consultation, no more emails are sent.
- If the prospect does not schedule a consultation, you continue to build trust by sending more valuable information.
Triggered emails allow you to send a specific email at a specific time in which the user is most interested. The lead magnet described above is an example of this. It includes a triggered email campaign that begins with the user downloading your checklist.
Scheduled email campaigns are date driven. You may send your customers Happy Birthday wishes, Merry Christmas or any other type of date-specific event. Of course, this may require obtaining additional information about your prospect such as their birthday.
At its core, the reason you are online is to attract prospects and convert them into customers. In order to understand conversions we first need to understand the buyer journey.
Customers don’t become customers out of the gate. It’s a process we call “the buyer journey”.
The Buyer Journey
- First is awareness. During this stage, someone interested in interior design services becomes aware of your interior design business. Perhaps they Googled “bathroom remodel” looking for information and you were listed in the search results.
- Next, the interested person starts to research bathroom remodels including who in their area could design and implement it. The person is probably researching details about them as well such as “how long does a bathroom remodel take”, “what are the best flooring options in a bathroom”, etc.
- Next is the evaluation. In this phase, the prospect evaluates the information they’ve gathered and are assessing which firm is the best choice for their remodel.
- Finally, your prospect chooses you and becomes your customer. Boom!
Types of Conversions
Same as there are different phases to the buyer journey, there are conversion actions for each. A conversion is a marketing tactic that encourages a person to take a specific action.
Examples of conversions include:
- Someone opens your email
- Someone clicks a link from your Facebook post
- Someone clicks on a link to your website from the Google search results page
- Someone fills out a newsletter subscriber form on your website
- Someone schedules a consultation appointment
- You sign a new client
A conversion strategy is essential for success. Below are key elements you should consider for your conversion strategy:
- Webpage Titles & Descriptions
- Landing Pages
- Website Forms
Webpage Titles & Descriptions
Webpage Titles & DescriptionsConversions actually begin on the SERP (search engine results page). When Google displays your website in the SERP it includes your webpage title and description which is defined within your website. Having an enticing description is instrumental in getting a prospect to click on your listing. Clicking on your listing is a conversion.
Ideally, your description should include a call to action such as “sign up for a free consultation” or “call”. See the example below.
A “landing page” refers to a specific standalone webpage with a single laser-focused objective. The goal is to get someone to complete a form, register for a webinar or some other conversion action.
Paid ads almost always lead to a landing page. For example, the page below is an example of a landing page that I landed on after clicking a Google ad. Notice there’s no navigation menu and the information is focused on completing the form to request more information.
A common conversion type is a form completion. Offering online forms is an efficient way to capture information from prospects without being invasive to them, especially early in the buyer journey when they’re still researching and gathering information. They might be willing to give up their email but not yet ready for a consultation.
Later in the buyer journey, you may offer a project request form or a form to schedule that consultation appointment.
Social media can be an effective way to create brand awareness, build trust, learn about your prospects, stay current on trends, network with other designers and let’s not forget, a social media presence is great for SEO!
Social media is not where you sell your services. I repeat – DO NOT SELL ON SOCIAL MEDIA. Otherwise, all of your efforts will fall flat and you will not get any engagement. Your primary goal on social is to build awareness of your business, demonstrate your expertise, help your prospects, build trust and provide inspiration so when they’re ready to buy, they are more likely to reach out to you.
Define & Commit to a strategy
Social media can be a huge drag on your time. It’s crucial to define and commit to a strategy before you start willy-nilly posting here, there, and everywhere only to find you’ve spent your entire day on Facebook! Keep it simple, choose one platform to start, schedule time to be on social and just get social!
Choose one social media platform to start
Your prospective clients are using social media, but which one(s)? Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn or Twitter? The answer depends on your ideal customer for your business.
As a business owner, you should have clearly defined your market. Not just demographics like gender, age, and income bracket, but also what motivates them (to need your services), what are their pain points (that you can solve) and ultimately, where do they spend time online?
You can’t go wrong selecting Facebook as a starting point. With the exception of the 65 and older crowd, Facebook is still THE place most people spend time. According to the Pew Research Center, 68% of U.S. adults use Facebook. And, 3/4 of them are daily users.
Interior designer businesses can also benefit from visually oriented platforms such as Pinterest and Instagram. Humans are naturally drawn to imagery to inspire and motivate us. What’s more visual and inspirational than a gorgeous new kitchen or master bedroom suite?
Just be aware that from a gender perspective, Pinterest remains most popular with women (41%) than men (16%). And, Instagram caters more toward younger adults.
Still not sure which social to start with? Check out the PEW Research Center study for more detail on the breakdown of social media usage.
So what do I do on social?
Time spent on social media should be 30% posting your own content, 30% sharing content of others, 20% engaging with your audience, 20% comment on others’ posts.
Post new Content
The easiest post is one you’ve written on your blog. Two simple steps:
- Go to your website and copy the blog post URL.
- Go to your business page on the social media platform you want to use, start a post and paste the URL. In most cases, the headline and primary photo are pulled into the post. Easy peasy.
Other post ideas include:
- Local Events – Call attention to events in your area related to interior design such as local Home & Remodeling Show.
- Brag – Highlight a recently completed project describing the objectives and before/after photos.
- Holidays – are a great reason to post. “Happy Valentine’s Day from Suzie’s Interiors”
Anniversary – Today Suzie’s Interiors is celebrating its 20th anniversary!
- Trends! Post an inspirational photo of an award-winning kitchen redesign or man-cave. Nothing speaks louder than an eye-catching photo.
- Tips & Tricks – Write a short blurb on how to treat your granite counters.
- Be fun – You’re gushing over a cute puppy photo. “I couldn’t resist this adorable puppy. Hope it puts a smile on your face”. It shows you’re not all work and are human like the rest of us.
Share Content of Others
There is no shortage of content authors out there. Follow other thought leaders in your industry and fellow colleagues you admire. When they post something interesting that your audience would like, share it along with a comment that demonstrates iterates why you found it share-worthy.
Schedule Time Each Week
Determine what day/times you will dedicate to social media and schedule it on your calendar.
Keep it simple by correlating with your blogging schedule. For example, if you committed to publishing a blog post each Wednesday, set aside Thursdays 8am-9am for social media.
When to post
Ask 10 people when is the best time to post on social media and you’ll get 10 different answers and each answer will vary based on the social platform. I say forget the minutiae and just do it! Just get out there and post something. Don’t get too hung up on when’s the best time to catch your audience’s newsfeed.
Seriously, there are an array of beliefs around the best time to post and scientific ways to figure it out. When to post is not nearly as important as actually posting the post. The point is to not put limitations or constraints on yourself that could result in you doing nothing. “It’s Friday at 3 pm but the best time to post is Wednesday at 10 am. I better wait until next week”. Bologna! Post it now!
Positive online reviews are crucial to your business success. According to BrightLocal, 85% of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
Not only do people select a provider based on positive reviews, reviews are also an important way to optimize your website in search results.
There are a plethora of review sites out there so you may be wondering which ones you should focus on. Initially, I urge you to focus on GMB (Google My Business) reviews.
Google My Business Reviews
It probably won’t surprise you to know the most important reviews are GMB (Google My Business) reviews. Businesses that have claimed their location on Google My Business have the ability for customers to leave reviews of their services. Customers with a Google account (i.e. Gmail) can leave a review for any business when they are logged into their Google account.
As a bonus, Google Maps automatically pulls your ratings and displays them beside your business name. Think about it. If you searched Google for “interior designer” and saw the results below, which business would you click on first? The one with the five-star reviews, right?
Additionally, when your business is included in the search results, your Google ratings can appear along with the listing. A skilled web designer can easily implement the code needed. This approach gives you another leg up when prospects are deciding which business to explore further.
Once you are familiar with you can add one or two other review sites to your overall review strategy.
Facebook is another important area where people can view reviews of your business. If you elected to use Facebook for social media marketing, you will want to make getting reviews a part of your reviews strategy.
Facebook Reviews appears on the left-hand side of your Facebook Page and is neither movable or removable. It’s a permanent fixture on your page.
Anyone logged into Facebook can post a rating or review of your business. All they have to do is go to the Reviews section of your Page, click the grey stars to choose a rating, and then optionally write a review.
Yelp!, BBB, Houzz, and the others
We previously discussed how multiple business listings can boost SEO. However, there’s a difference between having a listing on a site and actively promoting it by posting and acquiring reviews from that business listing site.
Again, keep it simple.
How to get reviews
Your interior design business needs to be proactively seeking reviews from your clients. You can do this by sending clients a link to your review page immediately after the project completion which it’s still fresh in their mind.
The easiest approach is to send an email directly to the client. There are several keys to effective review request emails:
- Enticing subject line.
- Short, to the point copy.
- Embodies your personality & brand.
Below is an example for Suzie’s Interior Design, inspired by Darren Shaw from Whitespark’s.
Subject: Hey Ellen, quick favor?
It was a pleasure working with you on your project. Thank you for your business!
Online reviews from awesome clients like you help others to feel confident about choosing Suzie’s Interior Design. Could you please take 60 seconds to leave a review on Google? Here’s a direct link: Suzie’s Interior Google Review Page
Thank you in advance for helping us out!
Suzie’s Interior Design
Notice the casual tone of Suzie’s personality & brand in the email example above. Be sure you are true to your own brand and craft the message accordingly.
How to link to your google my business reviews
As discussed earlier, there are several sites that allow customers to leave reviews for your business. The only one that is an absolute must is Google, so we’ll focus on getting direct links for Google.
To easily grab a link to your business’s Google review page, follow these simple steps:
- Google your business name.
- Your business information should appear in the right sidebar.
- Scroll down until you see the Write Review button. Click it.
4. A review pop box displays.
5. Double click your cursor in the address window and copy the URL. That is your link. Simply paste it into your email.
The link URL should remain the same over time but don’t expect it. Always get a fresh link every time you send one to a client. That way you can be assured the link functions correctly. When pasting the URL into your email, be sure to “hide” the long URL behind the text as shown in our example above. Just about all email programs will allow you to create a link or hyperlink where you paste in the URL and define the text that displays to the user.
If the client hasn’t provided a review yet, continue to follow up with them weekly until they’ve completed it. If there’s a reason why they are not providing a review this may be an opportunity to improve your services. Put on your customer service hat, give them a call and ask them personally if they were satisfied with your service. You may gain some valuable insight that could change the way you do business and provide better service to future clients.
Congratulations. I applaud you for sticking with me and reading to the end. As a special reward, I’d like to offer a simple plan of action to set your sails in the right direction.
- Hire a professional website designer to design and build your website properly.
- Make marketing a priority. Allocate 1-2 hours each day, even if you have client work so you can keep lead generation active in pursuit of regular, consistent work. How to spend that time?
- Publish a blog post weekly. If you can’t commit to weekly, AT LEAST monthly.
- Aim for 1-2 hours each week to be “social” by posting your posts, sharing others’ posts and providing meaningful comments.
- Email review requests and follow up on outstanding requests if there are any.
Don’t expect instantaneous results. It’s a journey, not a race. In fact, marketing is just another thing you do as part of running your business. You will be marketing your business for as long as you want the business to succeed.
We realize you have a business to run designing and implementing beautiful interiors. And maybe, just maybe some time to spend with family and friends or enjoying a favorite hobby.
Digital marketing is necessary for any business to compete in today’s world. At Renovate Digital, we’re dedicated to saving interior design businesses time and money by sharing only relevant and actionable digital marketing tips and techniques to attract more customers, get more leads, schedule more consultation appointments and grow your business.
That’s why I created this guide. You don’t have to spend one minute down a rabbit hole. Instead, I believe you just need to understand “what matters” to your business and take action on areas you feel items so you can confidently get in the digital marketing game.
Please share if you think this information will benefit others.