The power of online information gathering fundamentally has changed how purchasing decisions are made. Architects—just like everyone else these days—tend to turn to online sources first to research and collect product data when working on projects.
In a recent proprietary study conducted by Dodge Data & Analytics, 83 percent of the architects surveyed said they turn to architectural building product manufacturers’ websites first when looking for product information. After that, they turn to other online sources like Sweets (50 percent), ARCAT (47 percent) ARCOM/Avitru/Masterspec (30 percent), SpecLink (21 percent) and others.
Online specification sites like the ones listed above provide an opportunity for architects to easily browse product offerings, access educational materials, download catalogs, brochures, data sheets and product specifications and, ultimately, get all the information they need to specify products. A key benefit for architects who use these online specification sites is the ability to search and compare a variety of similar products in one place—one-stop-shopping—rather than jumping from one manufacturer’s site to another.
Often, the information architects can find on these and other online resources can provide them with enough information to develop a specification without having to engage with an architectural or sales representative. So, if you aren’t sharing product information via online specification sites, you may be missing many opportunities for your products to be specified. If getting your products specified isn’t reason enough to put your product information on some of the specification sites out there, below are some additional benefits.
In the spirit of brand awareness, by being on websites that architects trust, spec sites allow your brand to have a greater presence and share of voice. Any time you can get your brand in front of architects you’re in a better position to be considered when they’re researching and evaluating products. Think of it this way, your competition likely is already out there, so you should be, too.
Lead Generation Functionality
Every manufacturer wants as many leads as possible, and online spec sites offer another potential source for leads, as many of them integrate contact forms and other lead generation opportunities in their offerings. Leads that come in from specification resources may be some of your most valuable since you know they were online recently researching your products. This can provide you with a steady source of valuable contacts that you can communicate with on a long-term basis to stay top of mind and drive demand for your products.
Improved Domain Authority
Manufacturers also can leverage the Domain Authority of spec sites to their benefit. Domain Authority predicts how well a website will rank on search engine result pages. The higher your Domain Authority is, the more authoritative your site is considered to be, and sites with high Domain Authority scores tend to get better search results, which can drive more traffic.
However, domain authority can be difficult to improve directly – especially for newer brands. The best way to influence this metric is to generate inbound links from trusted sites. Spec sites can make a big impact in that area. Links from a site like Sweets or ARCAT that refer back to your website can serve to increase your site’s credibility in the ‘eyes’ of search engines.
Industry Trend Identification
Another way spec sites add value is by making you aware of product trending based on keyword searches. For example, let’s say you’re an interior wall manufacturer. The spec site may be able to share which keywords related to interior walls are trending on their site and you can use that information for anything from email outreach to your database or insights for your sales team so they can nurture relationships based on these trends.
In addition, many sites bundle your brand’s profile with ad placements, email promotions or other value-adds. This also can help raise awareness of your brand and products, and, ultimately, help to secure the spec.
The Bottom Line
Spec sites present real opportunities to close the loop that begins at awareness and ends at installation. With online spec resources, architects, designers and other specifiers have a place to review multiple products in a familiar environment to determine what will work best for their projects. Simultaneously, building product manufacturers have an opportunity to present themselves and their products to their target audiences on trusted outlets so they become not only considered, but also preferred. The end result is more awareness, more marketing contacts, and, ultimately, more specifications.