Blog Marketing Strategies for Landscape Designers
When it comes to marketing, well-written content can be meaningless unless you’re making the most of strategies that can bring traffic to your blog. Good writing is certainly pivotal in keeping visitors on your page and building your brand's reputation, but content marketing is about more than engaging prose or useful information. It’s also about how that information is presented, formatted, and contextualized. To put it another way, if your blog reads like Pastoral Capitalism: A History of Suburban Corporate Landscapes than your audience size is so small that your blog is either a pastime or you're seeking tenure.
If you're a landscape architect seeking new clients and you’re interested in crafting your content to generate more traffic, then make sure you keep in mind these five critical strategies to guide your content creation.
1. “FLAGSHIP” CONTENT
Flagship comprehensive or content seeks to answer every question - not just one or two of your readers. This type of content has come to be called “flagship” content, a term coined by Copyblogger’s Chief Digital Office Chris Garrett. Flagship content is the type of content that creates return visitors and motivates them to share what they’ve learned with their friends and coworkers. Keep in mind this is about marketing. Flagship content should speak to your audience of clients and not to an audience of peers or competitors.
Copyblogger has taken the lead on flagship content generation with its “Ultimate Guide to Twitter Marketing.” This guide, as you might expect, answers every question you could ever have on the topic and offers real, in-depth information to answer those questions. But creating this type of document was more than just a single writer’s stream of consciousness. The guide contains hundreds of well-sourced pieces of information to support its conclusions (more on that below).
Without a doubt, in-depth pieces of content require a far greater investment than the standard blog post. But they offer far greater rewards too. Flagship pieces of content are necessary to build real trust with visitors and convince them to take the time to share your information. The best flagship content is also “evergreen” - most, if not all of its insights have a long or indefinite shelf life and will attract visitors submitting search engine queries for as long as the blog remains online.
And what can you expect from this type of investment? Copyblogger’s Twitter guide earned more than 3,400 shares. Beyond shares, it certainly earned them many browser bookmarks too. These bookmarks are solid pathways for readers to return to your site for more industry advice (and, perhaps, more information about the paid services of your landscape architecture business.)
Flagship content is easy to promote as well since you can confidently put it forward as one of the top resources available anywhere on the Web, rather than cajoling visitors to read thinly scraped prose.
Don’t forget to make the most of your bump in traffic: Be sure to add a call to action and lead generation form to your blog, so that visitors can begin to work their way down your sales funnel. A compelling piece of evergreen content is the best way to convince them to sign-up with your firm.
2. FUNCTIONAL TUTORIALS AND “HOW TO” GUIDES
Dovetailing with flagship content are in-depth “how to” guides and other tutorials. These don’t need to be as comprehensive as your flagship pieces, but they should offer visitors real insight and understanding into a given challenge.
Of course, you’d be wise to choose a sub-topic of landscape architecture that represents your specialty, both because you’ll be able to provide exceptional knowledge and because it will help nurture leads to the specific strengths of your design business that help you stand out among other local competitors.
Before you select a topic, however, make use of Google’s AdWords Keyword Planner to check on the search volume of the leading keyword for your proposed how-to guide. Sometimes, a single pluralization or preposition can be the difference in hundreds of monthly searches. Ask yourself, how would a person condense your topic choice when conducting a search. Be advised that the most popular searches are generally the most competitive, too. Try and find a keyword that connects most closely with your specific topic, even if it doesn’t gain the greatest search volume. After all, you want qualified leads, not just misdirected traffic.
To increase the impact of your guide, add images and videos (if relevant) to give your readers a fuller experience. If you feel that your content is especially in-demand and valuable, consider placing it behind an email sign-up wall. Great pieces of content are a fair exchange for email addresses, and they give you a chance to convert your visitors right away. Combine multiple blog articles into a single article, create a PDF and place it behind a form on a landing page. This will encourage visitors to give up contact information in exchange for your words of wisdom. It is by far the best way of developing an email list for future email newsletters and marketing. Just make sure your content offering equals the “ask” you demand from your visitors.
3. WELL-SOURCED DATA
Data provides value in a number of ways. For one, it gives you the chance to become the source of hard information, which often results in backlinks. (If you’re new to search engine optimization, quality backlinks are key to getting your content to appear in organic search.) Pull data from well-known sources such as the ASLA, ALPD or the EFLA.
But even if your data doesn’t lead to more backlinks, or if you’re citing data culled by other sources, it’s still a great way to add credibility to your claims. There’s never a shortage of bloggers claiming "A" is better than "B", or vice versa, but there is an absence of well-researched information. To take another angle, you could also use a subset or unique perspective on an existing set of data to provide original insights to your readers.
In short, remember that you’re trying to create the best quality content for your readers, and, no matter the field, using good data to back-up your claims is a core journalistic and academic standard.
4. LIST-FORMATTED INFORMATION
Lists are useful for a number of reasons. As an author, they help you organize your thoughts and streamline your writing process. For Web users, they help provide an eagle-eye view of your content before clicking. If you’re offering twenty design ideas to create privacy around in-ground swimming pools, a potential reader knows they’ll see plenty of options.
BuzzFeed has made an online fortune off this strategy because, quite simply, people like lists. Additionally, in the age of mobile reading, lists allow readers to quickly skim content and hone in on what most interests them. Here are a few suggestions,
- Top Ten Reasons Not To Use Arborvitaes
- Five Hardscapes You Should Be Using for Period Homes
- Twelve Questions You Should Ask Before Hiring a Landscape Architect
5. E-BOOKS AND OTHER DOWNLOADABLE CONTENT
E-books, white papers, and other downloadable content can serve multiple purposes for your site. If you’re creating fantastic flagship content, it may be enough to build it into an e-book. But it’s not an either-or proposition. Often, successful content-generating sites have offered flagship content along with an option to download an e-book version - after submitting their email address.
This is an effective way to convert visitors to leads after you’ve already shown them the quality of your content. If an email wall exists between visitors and every piece of content on your site, it might be a bridge too far to generate trust and interest if most visitors are getting to know you for the first time.
Alternatively, if you typically release shorter blogs, e-books are a place to showcase your in-depth content generation efforts. If you already have a respectable following on your blog, you will have generated enough trust and goodwill to ask for an email address before visitors can download your latest and greatest piece of content.
Or, you can make your e-book download available with no buy-in from visitors. If you think you have a fantastic piece of content but no brand authority, this might be an effective way to drive brand awareness. Just remember that your e-book may be passed around widely without requiring visitors to come back to your site, even if they see your brand displayed on the cover.
In the end, haphazard blog generation and a wait-and-see approach simply is not enough in the crowded digital marketplace. Focus your efforts on creating at least a few pieces of in-depth content to pair with your posts, and be aware of post structure - like data-rich and list-based entries - that can create more traffic and interest. Think of it as intelligent architecture for your content strategy.
About Michael Conway and Means-of-Production
My firm builds Squarespace websites, Houzz profiles, and content marketing and advertising solutions for architects, interior designers, design-build contractors and landscape design firms. Our all-in-one tactics attract the right clients with exceptional architectural photography and brand messaging that sets you apart from the competition. Contact me for a free-of-charge consultation and marketing review. It takes about 40 minutes and you'll be provided a list of actionable improvements designed to solve your specific marketing problems.