Last updated 4 years ago
I speak to a lot of local business owners and marketing directors, and the crux of the consultation revolves around what that particular business is doing to attract consumers who go online and look for their products or services. Then, step 2, is identifying (and/or creating) a process to ensure they have the best tools to a.) better attract qualified leads, b.) convert those leads into customers once they take action and c.) measure the whole process.
Before all of that takes place, it's first important to learn the online behavior of those target consumers. With essentially access to the internet everywhere we go, it's important to position your business in the best possible way along each step of the "purchase path."
Visual.ly has created an excellent infographic to highlight this online purchase path most local consumers take. Check it out below:
Last updated 4 years ago
Ok, before I start, I need to make a few assumptions with this post:
First, what I talk about below assumes you already have a “good” web site in place and it’s optimized for mobile. These are topics in themselves, but if you want to read more on both, check out Ten Essentials Every Small Business Website Needs and The Mobile Web: Does Your Business’ Mobile Web Presence Measure Up?
Let’s also assume, for as much as you can do on your site for optimizing for search engines (SEO), you are doing (or trying) your best.
Thirdly, let's assume that a fair amount of people search the internet everyday for your industry.
Finally, let’s assume you are a small- or medium-sized business, whether it be B2C or a B2B, and your transactions take place for the most part offline, meaning you are trying to get the phone to ring or a contact form/application completed more than anything else.
So let’s now decide what’s next…
1. Identify your online challenges:
I work and speak with a lot of small- and medium-sized business owners and marketing directors who fall in the above criteria, and by far, the 3 most common challenges they face are:
Not exactly sure what they should be doing on the web in general
Don’t know how many customers come from their web site, let alone inbound contacts, like a phone call
Unclear of how many leads are slipping through the cracks
2. Determine what’s more important:
Visits to your site -OR- a steady stream of qualified inbound contacts (phone calls, emails and/or web submission forms)?
Now this might seem like an obvious answer, but really ask yourself if you had the same amount of money to spend each month, which is more important to you. Even with endless Google Analytics reports at your fingertips, it can be challenging to clearly understand how many of your monthly visitors turn into customers/clients/students/or patients.
My experience has also shown that one (visits) doesn’t always correlate with the other (a qualified prospect). The key is to ensure your traffic is qualified and that you know the end result of those visits, otherwise you’re shooting darts in the dark with your online marketing budget.
3. Establish your baseline budget
Before you can specifically develop a targeted budget aimed at your precise audience, you first need to determine some general baselines.
Now I am not one for generalities because there are so many factors involved (location, industry, business size…), but data from the Small Business Administration suggests that the average SMB with revenue less than $5MM “should” dedicate 7-8% of their annual revenue to marketing, of which at least 30% gets put into online.
Let’s say your business earns $3MM in annual revenue. This suggests you are/should be spending between $210,000 - $240,000 in marketing annually, of which $63,000 - $72,000 is at least dedicated to online. To simplify further, here’s a breakout for a $1MM a year business:
$1MM annual revenue x 7.5% marketing budget = $75,000 x 30% online marketing = $22,500 / 12 = $1,875 per month spend on online marketing.
4. Set up your online marketing plan in phases (the stuff that happens off your site to get more qualified people to it and to get them to take a revenue-generating action):
Here’s a snapshot of how the best businesses approach their online marketing plan. They take things in phases. Even if you have deep pockets and can tackle it all at once, it’s still a wise move to crawl, walk then run, as there will be key data and insight gleaned from each stage.
Phase 1- The quickest and most efficient way to drum up inbound leads online is through an effective Search Engine Advertising campaign. This means pay-per-click and a pull marketing approach- you are literally pulling in qualified traffic (consumers actively searching online for your services).
READ: A Good Pay-Per-Click Campaign is Like Winning at Poker
Additional elements to consider adding in Phase 1 are Live Chat and Video to your website. Since you will be driving more visitors to your site, you want to ensure you can convert as many as possible into leads. 20% of your customers who visit your website prefer to chat, rather than call or fill out a contact form, so be sure to give these potential customers that option.
Additionally, adding a video to your website makes your site 6 times more likely to convert a browser to a paying customer. In today’s info-overloaded world, offering a professional and concise video in a prominent position on your site allows visitors an easy way to learn about your business.
Phase 2- A good industry standard click-thru rate (the # of times someone clicks on your sponsored link from the # of times it was shown) for a Search Campaign is 1 - 2%. To stay in front of the additional 98 – 99% of the audience who is showing buying intent, successful companies are rolling out Retargeting Display campaigns. A good Display campaign, when added to an effective Search campaign, ensures you keep your business top-of-mind with “missed opportunities” and retain them in your buying funnel. This is your “push” marketing strategy to compliment the “pull” marketing strategy of Phase 1.
Phase 3- Build out your complete off-site web presence. The rest of the web is not such a scary place if you tackle it strategically. At this stage, you have a steady stream of inbound leads and a system in place to ensure you stay in front of those who don’t connect with you on the “first pass."
At this point, you are starting to build some authority for your brand and potential consumers are starting to take notice and research your company online. You’ll want to now make sure your total web presence is showing a positive portrayal of your business. This means 4 main things:
Good content that people will actually want to read and share (blogging)
Consistent information and image across all the web directories, like Google+ Local, Yelp, TripAdvisor, SuperPages, Angie’s List and many more
A non-neglected social media presence, particularly on the main social media sites: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Google+ (and LinkedIn if you are B2B and Pinterest if you are in retail or your target audience is primarily female)
When you address these 4 initiatives in addition to the on-site SEO that you are doing, you will put your web marketing into overdrive and not only show up prominently in the paid portions of the search engine results page (which you initiated in Phase 1), but you will also start to rank higher in the organic portions (from Phase 3), helping you to command “more shelf space.”
READ: The Anatomy of a Search Engine Results Page
5. Know your online customer acquisition costs and squeeze more ROI out of each month
The most successful small- and medium-sized businesses know this number by heart and constantly work hard to drive down their customer acquisition costs while always looking for ways to maximize ROI. This is where a valuable partner can help by providing your business with tools on the back end that not only report on these numbers, but actually optimizes your campaigns around them.
The smartest business owners also take it into account the lifetime value of a customer and know how to appropriately calculate this number into their ROI figures, because we know for the most part, businesses cannot thrive on one-time transactions only. They must also retain their new acquisitions.
6. Don’t let any leads slip through the cracks
We all know the cliché “early bird catches the worm,” and we know the first to reach a potential lead with timely and sought after info will ensure they win that customer, not just once, but hopefully for life.
According to Marketo, 75% of internet-based leads fall through the cracks. In today’s age, a sophisticated business does not have to rely solely on asking “how did you hear about us?” These top businesses, across all industries, are employing a simple and effective lead management system that ensures they move every inbound lead, no matter how that potential customer came to their website, all the way through the funnel to “closed/won!”
If you would like to learn more about applying an effective online marketing strategy for your $1MM+ annual revenue business, contact me or call (941) 735-3600.
Photo courtesy of commerce.idaho.gov
Last updated 4 years ago
As you embark on your own or hire a company to build a solid Search Engine Advertising (pay-per-click) campaign, be sure to be conscious of the following seven essential elements. Running an effective Search campaign is a lot like trying win a poker tournament.
1. Get as many players playing for you (a robust, but relevant keyword list).
If the end result were to win a poker tournament, the logical first step would be to employ as many players who have the potential to win for you.
There are literally hundreds, sometimes thousands of ways someone can search for your business or services. You don’t pay for showing up for the keywords, only the clicks, so be sure you don’t miss out on any relevant traffic.
2. Play in the right tournament(s) (proper geo-targeting).
Where are you best served- the local circuit, or are you ready to tackle the major national tournament?
Make sure the campaign is set up for your target sales area. If you’re a locksmith in Savannah, GA, it does you no good displaying ad impressions in Seattle, WA.
3. Come to the table with a good amount of chips (budget).
You’re entering an auction, so think about it like sitting down to the poker table. You have to have a big enough stack of chips to go far in the game, let alone winning it.
4. Leave a good first impression (good text ad copy).
If you want to be taken serious at the table, then you have to come across that you know what you are doing.
You have a limited amount of characters and space so make an impact (within the proper guidelines).
5. Play when you have a good hand (a relevant landing page).
Nobody will know your hand until you reveal it. You cannot bluff your way through every hand.
A strong landing page is what is going to convince the visitor to take action. Make sure your text ads are driving to the most applicable page of your website.
*While we are here at the Conversion stage, it’s important to know that Google assigns your text ads a Quality Score, which ranks the relevancy of three things: a.) the keywords searched, to the relevancy of b.) the keywords within your text ad, and how those relate to c.) the keywords on the landing page on your site. The more relevant all three are, the higher your score. The higher your Quality Score, the less you have to bid on the keywords and still achieve higher ad rank than your competitors.
6. Know your own good habits (proper reporting).
As you garner wins, you'll need to know the habits that get you there so that you can build upon them or fine tune for the next game, if necessary.
This is where you want to track your campaign’s performance, but ultimately you want a system that shows you the real results and conversions- phone calls, emails, online sales (if applicable), coupon downloads or web contact form submissions. This is tough to do on your own, as phone call tracking (besides just the mobile click-to-calls) is not baked into Google AdWords and Microsoft Ad Center, and they are definitely not recorded for your own quality assurance purposes.
7. Put your poker face on (optimization).
When everything is running well, but the stakes are high, this is when you need to kick it into overdrive to make sure you get the grand prize.
Simply put, at this point you need to know what keywords, what page position, what text ad and what search engines are driving the most conversions and then allocate your budget towards those that are most effective and remove the ones that aren’t.
ReachLocal has proprietary technology to optimize around conversions. The combination of powerful technology and professional management of campaigns is a winning combination for the 23,000+ clients we serve. We do what no human is capable of doing on their own.
Usually at steps 1 -3, the business owner can feel up to the challenge, although time and time again, I see areas for improvement in these steps. It’s by step 4 that the owner starts to get a little squeamish and really could use a professional hand. At step 6, forget about this on your own, you need technology in place.
At this point, just go back to step 1 and call me: (941) 735-3600.
ALSO READ: I'm Doing Search Advertising, Now What? 5 Ways to Get Conversions from Your Site
Photo courtesy of Casino Cash Journey, made available on Google Images.