What information are specifiers expecting from product manufacturer websites?

Research has been carried out by the NBS on what exactly architects and specifiers are looking for from product manufacturers when choosing products and services and how they see specifications developing in the future. With over 500 respondents the results highlight some interesting points that construction product manufacturers must take into consideration. It is important to know what information your prospects are looking for and therefore these survey results will show what’s valuable to specifiers when they are choosing products.

Type of information wanted

Making sure your website is working for you and contains the right type of information is vital for product manufacturers. In the survey, 90% of specifiers indicated that the main resource they use when writing specifications are product manufacturers’ websites. This is a huge number and if your website is not optimised for search (for both branded and non-branded keywords), how will architects and specifiers find it? When they do land on your website, have you got the appropriate content, such as product guides, brochures, whitepapers that they can download or newsletters that they can subscribe to? If not, these prospects may end up going to your competitors for the information they require.

Future of Specification

Respondents were asked what they thought about the future of specification and where it was heading. 90% said they thought specifications would be distributed digitally and 87% said that they would include environmental performance. Specifiers also stated that digital collaboration was going to play a bigger part and that specifications would be part of a larger information model. The increase in digital production and distribution will play a large role so what can product manufacturers do to make it easier for their products to be specified? Should they start thinking about creating downloadable objects for BIM?

What specifiers need now

From the survey there is a clear need for an online specification tool that can be used throughout the project timeline and deals with different types of specification. The future of specification is digital so how can, and are, product manufacturers building tools that can facilitate digital production and distribution? The results indicate that future specifications will be an integral part of BIM, which is necessary to streamline information and create effective working tools for every part of the supply chain. Will the use of BIM increase and can it help with the specification of environmental performance? Data is key in making informed decisions and product manufacturers have to be able to supply valuable content and develop product selector tools that fulfil specifier requirements.

Key questions for product manufacturers: 

  • Can your website be found for non-brand searches?
  • Have you created goals (downloads, sign ups, enquiries) for your website?
  • Do you have the right kind of information online?
  • Specifiers want pricing information, would you consider including this?

We wrote a blog post about what makes an effective website for a product manufacturer that might help you re-asses whether your website is working for you or not. It discusses the value of setting up goals and outcomes on your website so that you can measure conversions.

The full (free) report can be downloaded on the RIBA Insight website. What are your thoughts on the findings of this survey? Are you surprised by any of the results? Leave a comment and let us know.

Nb. This post was amended at 11.05am on 12 August 2011.

About Stuart Dinnie

Stuart has worked in the world of digital marketing for over 15 years. With his measured and planned approach, he has delivered robust digital strategies for construction companies to achieve real business growth. He now heads up the team at Pauley Creative as Managing Director and is leading his team & clients towards digital marketing excellence. He’s worked with over 100 construction clients; helping them on their digital transformation journey, providing sustainable strategies that return year on year incremental growth, delivering award-winning websites and adding value from board level to marketing assistant.

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