The Pros and Cons of Mailchimp Email v Squarespace Email

Mailchimp Email & Squarespace Email are probably the two most user friendly email systems out there - at least from my experience.

If you have a Squarespace website already, you know that Mailchimp used to be the default email list that Squarespace recommended until they recently came out with their own email platform.

Below are the primary list of Pros & Cons of Squarespace versus Mailchimp:

Squarespace Pros
- Less expensive (over time)
- integrated all in one place with your website
- A bit easier to use and manage on your own (especially if you’re already used to Squarespace)

Squarespace Cons
- Not a lot of advanced features like A/B testing, or lots of automated email sequences. This will likely come in the future, but it’s certainly not advanced right now.

Mailchimp Pros
- Ability to do lots of segmenting, A/B testing, complex automated sequences, ideal for ecommerce businesses
- More customization ability and more integration with lots of other tools and features and third-party software

Mailchimp Cons
- Can get more expensive (as your list gets bigger over time)
- A lot more options so a little harder to manage over time
- A totally separate system from Squarespace website which means more of a learning curve

Summary
If you are a small 1-to-20 person professional service company, like an interior designer, architect, landscaper, custom home builder, photographer, lawyer, accountant, etc, consider Squarespace as a simpler option.

For larger firms, ecommerce or requiring complex functionality, I think Mailchimp is the right option for you.

How to make your interior design business niche clear

Is your interior design firm clearly set apart from other designers? 

One of the biggest problems most interior designers do is not address a clear, unique, differentiating niche. 

Even if you know what your niche is, your customers do not.


Your website’s Home Page should make your niche extremely clear.

When people visit your website, there is a 50% drop off from the home page within the interior design industry. This means, for every 50 people who view your website, only 25 of them will look at a second page (usually the Portfolio page). 

One of the biggest reasons people don’t bother to view a 2nd page is because the interior design website they are viewing does not clearly speak to a target clientele. 

Your home page is like the store front of a retail store

Your home page is the first thing visitors see and the first thing that will determine if they “walk in” to your website to look around.

If your Storefront doesn’t speak the language of your ideal client with the right photos and words, then they wont walk in and browse other pages.

The 3 elements of a successful niche
1. The fewer the words the better.
Ideally, your slogan should be somewhere between 2 and 8 words. The shorter the better, because your clients will then be more likely to read and remember your niche. Paragraphs on websites are almost never read.

2. Specific and different than your competition.
Clearly explain why you are different. There are plenty of residential interior designers in New York City. And to compete for that on SEO is going to be nearly impossible. Instead, you need to pick a niche which is clearly different than all other designers and own and dominate that niche. For instance, Modern interior design for female entrepreneurs in NYC is a far better niche because it has so many specifics: the style, the ideal client’s profession, their gender, and location. There may be only 100 of these clients available at a given time, but these clients will likely have you as a top pick for their project if they find your website.

3. Repeated over and over.
Companies that repeat their slogan and make it as simple as possible are more memorable. You may get bored of using your company slogan, but your clients are not as familiar with your brand as you are, and they more likely to remember your when the time comes to hire someone for their interior design project.


The riches are in the niches

A niche is a powerful tool, especially when you pair the kind of work you love doing with an ideal clientele, and will set you apart from all the other interior designers out there. Failing to establish a niche will keep you small and look like all other interior design firms.

From what we see, most interior designers (approximately 90% of firms) do not make their niche clear. So doing this on your website and marketing material is going to set you apart from the competition and help you attract your ideal clients. 

4 Methods for the Best SEO Integration For Interior Design Firms

SEO integration sounds tedious. And it is, if you get hung up in all the details you hear about SEO.

SEO just means how Google finds you for a google keyword search. Just go to www.google.com and do a search for “interior design firms” and whatever shows up is basically what SEO is.

If you do SEO right, it can actually be fun and not feel like a big, boring project.

That is because the best way to SEO for your interior design business is to provide valuable content for your ideal clients, based on the skills, knowledge and interests you have as a business owner.

For SEO, the most effective way to do it with the following 4-step process:

1. Remember your lead’s first questions during the sales process. Figure out what your best customers typically ask before they become a client of your.  What questions do they have when first arriving? What worries them about moving forward with your design services? Why did they choose you over someone else?

2. Write about it on a blog. Once you figure out those initial questions your best clients asked in the past, develop content on your website to address those common client questions. It's best to set up a blog and address one question or topic per blog post. This way, Google can easily pick it up on your website and catalog topics with 1 topic at a time. That means you’ll get more visibility in Google overtime.  Write content typically once per week, or as often as you enjoy doing it. And you can keep it super short if you want. Just keep writing!

3. Offer some kind of free offering on your website. This part is important. Because even if you get traffic to your website through SEO (Google keyword searches), if they take no action on your website, it ends up being a total bust. Your free offering could be anything: A downloadable PDF checklist, a free 15-minute phone consultation to answer questions, a free in-studio consultation, or anything else you think is worth offering that wont suck up too much of your time! The goal is to collect email addresses from your website to then follow-up with more valuable content. 

4. Follow up with email marketing and more blog posts. Continue the process over and over and build a collection of email addresses to them continue to give new content, and offer valuable info until new clients trust you as the best interior design business in your area to go to. After all, people listen to others who offer valuable information, not create meaningless noice. Think of the leading people in certain industries. They offer valuable insights to others - for free. On TV, the radio, podcasts, blogs, books and more. Start becoming an expert in your field and give your insights away for free. People will start seeing you as an authority and want to work with you.


Schedule a free phone consultation with me about your website project.

9 Interior Designer Marketing Tips & Ideas

Most interior design firms don’t use their website and email marketing to their advantage.

While most businesses focus on Social Media (where people hang out and are not really looking to make big decisions), most interior designers neglect to use their website and email marketing effectively.

Here are strategies to start utilizing the best tools you have to convert curious leads into clients.

1 | Identify your ideal type of client

You likely know this already, but if you haven’t done it already, write out your ideal client, based on your best previous clients. For instance, their typical age, gender, city/state, their interests, married or single, kids or no kids, residential or commercial. If residential, what type of residential? Single story? Apartment? Get as detailed as possible. If you’ve had 3 or 4 similar client that match each other, then write ALL of your marketing as if you were speaking directly to them.

2 | Identify your most popular, highest-margin, favorite service

The interior designer’s demise is when she or he picks too many services or angles to business. In order to scale and grow, you must identify which single, number 1 service is your top service. Whether it is e-design, design concepts, design/build. Once you identify your number 1 top service, develop a step-by-step process that can work for every single project you do. And for an interior design project, this can often be hundreds or thousands of steps. Can you imagine trying to scale a business with 3 different primary services, each which has it’s own one hundred-step process? You’ll never grow. Identify your best seller, and focus on a single core service.

3 | Clearly convey your primary service and primary client on your marketing

If Instagram is your #1 marketing method, always speak to your ideal target client as if you were speaking to just 1 person. This way, your ideal clientele will gravitate towards you specifically, because you speak their language! Then, focus on the 1 thing you do really well, and continue it through all your marketing, all the way to your website.

4 | Lead people directly to your website with a clear Call To Action

Start developing a website which actually engages your target clientele. This means you collect information from them in unique ways. Don’t just expect people to fill out a simple Contact form. Instead, gain their interest through the following methods:

  • A PDF download or your pricing, services, of process

  • A free project quesitonnaire

  • A free “style quiz” or something interactive

  • A free phone consultation

  • “Ask the designer” free Q&A interactions, interview or podcast

Anything which is going to engage and interest people from your Instagram or other social media marketing to drive people to your website and take action by filling out their email address

5 | Capture their email and follow up regularly

While you have Instagram or other social media marketing, people become more serious clients once they are on your email address list. People are frivolous about making their social media accounts public. But their email address is a little more private. If they give it to you on their website, you’ve started to capture a real potential lead. Follow up with email marketing at least once per week for as long as it takes to convert them to a lead.

6 | Initiate a clear process to start services with you

Once you’ve made a path for clientele to follow from social media, to your website, to your email marketing, the lead has engaged with you in numerous ways, and they are going to start feeling more comfortable with you from afar. Using a podcast, audio recordings, and video recordings will then allow you to become more familiar to your potential clients. You can then start the “Le't’s get started with your interior design project” technique and Call them to a sale. Use words like this:

  • Request a quote

  • Request a proposal

  • Schedule a design consultation

  • Schedule an in-studio meeting

  • Schedule a meeting at your project location

  • Request an estimate

Or any other wording that makes sense for your business. At this point, get ready to follow up a few more times to ensure the lead has all their questions answered. This can often take 1 to 10 more times of engagement, so follow through once a lead comes in.

8 | Deliver and follow through

Marketing doesn’t stop there. You must make sure the client is super happy with the process you go through. Develop a clear project process that takes your client through a step-by-step journey that is clear. Remember that you are focusing on a primary service with hundreds of checklist items you know very, very well. So perfect every detail and ensure that you delivery is amazing.

9 | Go above and beyond

When the project is almost complete, do something a little extra and above-and-beyond so your clients are thrilled. Interior Design is the perfect industry to wow people, because they’re going to tell EVERYONE about their home or design project. So if you wow your clients, you’ll have a marketing agent for life after this process is over. This part to marketing is crucial. Stay in touch with your clients will beyond the end of the project to add value, such as how to take care of their new space, or ideas for how to make the most of their finished project. Don’t overlook the power of following all the way through and beyond way past the finished line.

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How to build an effective interior design website

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Should I Use Squarespace or Wordpress?

Choosing the right website platforms depends on what business you do, how much revenue you bring in, and how much your business depends on a custom websites.

Put simply, here are the differences between these two platforms:

WordPress is for businesses who need full customization to match their business’s unique requirements, like a fully custom Ecommerce shop, or a fully interactive survey website, or software company that is interested in extensive website customization. WordPress gives your web developer the ability to create custom plugins and unique experiences that larger businesses (who have thousands of customers) need in order to grow their business.

Squarespace is ideal for small professional businesses, like for architects, interior designers, therapists, doctors, lawyers, accountants or photographers, who need a professional website, but do not need high levels of custom web development. This keeps your business website costs low while still having a beautiful, effective website for your business.

We build websites for professionals with Squarespace. Get in touch with your questions here.

In what order should I build my website, branding, Marketing & Ads?

Building a business online requires making thousands of small decisions. It's almost like building a custom home, with decisions to make about what door handles, window trims, flooring and countertops to select. 

What's important when building an online business, is knowing the right order to create your marketing material in, so you are not overwhelmed with everything that needs to come together.

1) Website
Everything you do online needs to come back to your website. It is the home base for your business online. It is the most important marketing tool you have and the first thing that needs to come together.

2) Logo Design
While working on your website design, a logo & branding scheme needs to come together at its own pace. That is because your logo is something you’ll be using for years to come, so it should be done carefully.

3) Email Marketing
To keep your business contacts, leads and clients in a single spot, I recommend Mailchimp.com - Email marketing should be the first marketing tool you use for your business, to collect emails and market to the 90% of Americans who use email on a daily basis.

4) Yelp & Google Business
To get started on SEO, the two best places to get started are setting up a Google Business account & a Yelp Business account and start asking previous clients for reviews. This will help jump-start your visibility online. Another good place to ask for testimonials is on Facebook, but should be a distant third.

5) Blogging & SEO
Blogging & SEO go together. In my opinion, SEO is a very long-term marketing strategy that can take months before seeing results, so this is something you should plan to work on at least once per week for as long as you are able to blog.

6) Google Adwords
Once everything is set up and working well on your website and optimized, you're ready to start online Ads. Google Ads is the most effective advertising platform because it target specific keywords, rather than broad demographics like on Facebook or Instagram ads. 

7) Social Media & Facebook Ads
Most businesses start with Social Media marketing. Yet it has the lower return on time & investment compared with any other online marketing method. That's why we recommend you focus on it as the very last marketing method you work on.

What architects, interior designers & builders should know about the web design industry

Establish Your Niche & Expertise
If you’re an architect, interior designer, builder or photographer, don’t get lost in the crowd of every other professional. Specialize in a clear niche, that is very focused, so that your website speak to your ideal client.

Clearly State Your Primary Service
Don’t overwhelm visitors with everything you do. Focus on the 1 or 2 primary and best services you offer, the ones that draw people in for the first time, and capture their attention with your highest-converting, highest-margin services.

Address Your Client’s Primary Concerns
Clients are worried about hiring you. Are you going to get the job done? Do you have the right expertise? Are you going to be responsive each step of they way? Address their questions & concerns ahead of time, so that it makes it so much easier for your clientele to get started and hire you.

Create a ‘Call To Action’
Websites with the typical “Contact” page get lower conversion rates. That’s because it is too generic. Tell your clients the first step in getting started with you. Do you offer a free 20 minute phone consultation? Do you offer a free in-person consult?