This article first appeared in Window Fashion VISION Magazine.
1. Build that darn website!
This may sound obvious, but too many interior designers still don’t have websites, or maybe they have one page, which is essentially an online business card. If someone searches the Internet and all they see is your name and phone number, they are going to be disappointed. You wouldn’t just send someone a business card in the mail, so don’t do that on the Web.
2. Optimize, optimize, optimize!
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is critically important. You need to ensure that people who need your services can find you. Select a few keywords for every single page on your website and then embed those keywords in the page content and metatags (see next tip). This takes some writing skill so it might be helpful to hire an online copywriter. P.S. Beware of expensive offers for SEO. It really doesn’t have to cost a fortune.
3. Don’t forget your metatags.*
Metatags are the hidden labels that search engines read. They show up in organic (not paid) search results. The “description metatags” are like a free advertisement for your company. If you don’t write them yourself, the search engine will just grab whatever words it likes. Your Web site builder can show you the metatag tools.
4. Words should have a light touch.
The copy on your site should not be “advertisy.” The Internet is a relaxed medium and users expect a casual tone. Interior designers will want to convey elegance along with simplicity. This can be done, but does take some skill. Again, you may wish to bring in a professional online copywriter.
5. Use testimonials.
Good testimonials are hard to solicit. People hate to write. Even if you request a testimonial by email, you might get: “Awesome work. Will recommend u 2 all my friends.” Instead, have a skilled interviewer-writer elicit the best responses from your clients and edit them. Put your best testimonials on your Home Page. On an Interior Page, the testimonials can accompany project images.
6. Add lots of pages all the time.
Always be adding pages to your website. You can add articles, tips, answers to questions … anything relevant. Website activity and bulk increases your ranking with search engines. Just be sure to optimize those pages by figuring out the keywords and writing metatags for them.
7. Interact with your visitors.
Have a Q&A page. Let them ask about a design problem or send you a picture of their problem room. Recommend products to them. All of this will build a rapport with your company and your prospects, as well as your client base. Remember a prior customer is always your best “new” customer. This will also help give you additional pages.
8. Sales landing pages and pay per click marketing.
If you have a special offer, you can create a special sales landing page and then buy pay per click ads that will only target prospects in your geographic area. You will be able to target practically everyone who types in “interior designer,” “living room furniture,” “remodel home,” etc. in your service area. That’s better reach than other advertising media.
9. E-newsletter marketing.
Create an e-newsletter with genuinely helpful information. Make sure it reflects your company’s unique perspective. Your various designers can contribute to it, but be sure to have a good editor. Do not make your newsletters overt sales instruments. That will just drive your contacts to unsubscribe. Fill them with good information and observations, and you will develop a loyal readership that will call your company when they need a decorator, and they will refer you to friends.
10. E-mail marketing.
These can be regular or infrequent. They are simpler than a newsletter with one basic message. You can use these if you don’t wish to do a newsletter with lots of content, or you can supplement the newsletter with occasional special announcements. The purpose is essentially the same as an e-newsletter: to keep in contact with your subscribers, while keeping them informed of your services and special offers.