Digital marketing is always a tricky endeavor, especially for an industry that runs mainly on referrals and even more so when the platforms for marketing online seem to change daily.
The Internet is a beautiful tool for marketing, and if you're not taking advantage of it, you're missing out on some cheap and effective ways of promoting your business. That was the message in a CE Pro Summit session, “Integrated Digital Marketing and Sales,” presented by Ron Callis, CEO of One Firefly, in Atlanta last week.
Callis named six powerful digital marketing methods to seriously consider.
1. Make Your Website Responsive
“60 percent of web traffic is now coming from mobile,” says Callis. It has surpassed PC traffic and now the majority of people are scrolling the Internet on their mobile phones.
This means your company website needs to look and act just as well on a phone as it does on a desktop computer. It needs to be easy to navigate with the touch of a thumb as well as from a mouse. There's a word for one way of doing this: responsive design.
Your website needs to be responsive, in that it needs to respond to the device that potential customers are using when they find your website. And this isn't just for user experience.
“Google has started penalizing your website for search traffic if your website is not deemed by Google to be mobile-friendly,” says Callis.
Here's a test, says Callis. Pull out your mobile phone and Google your website. If it looks exactly the same as it looks on a computer, your website is not mobile-friendly.
2. SEO or PPC?
SEO, or search engine optimization, is a method of making sure your website and the content you put on the web gets into search engines, like Google, so your audience can find it. SEO is strategic and it takes time to take effect.
PPC, or pay-per-click, is a method of online advertising to get your website (and content) into search with a Google Ad. PPC is tactical and has a fast response.
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“You're getting a lot of your business through referral,” says Callis. “That referral, when he or she hears about you, is going into Google and typing in your company name. What comes up?”
When you Google something, do you look at the first result, which is usually an ad, or do you scroll past the ads to get to the unpaid content? Callis asked the audience, and the entire room answered that they click on the links below the ad and ignore the ad completely.
“We're all paying for Google Ads but we're all looking at organic results,” says Callis.
The data says that organic results receive 8.5 times more clicks than paid ads, but paid ads receive 1.5 times more conversions, says Callis. “The reality is that one is not better than the other. Pay-per-click can buy you instant gratification. SEO will buy you long-term customer acquisition. You need to be doing both.”
3. Blog, Blog, Blog
Do you have a blog on your website? A place where you share information, tips you've learned and stories of your business?
“There is nothing more powerful if you want to define how you show up in your local markets,” says Callis.
Blogs define who you are to your audience. They give you credibility when referrals find your website. They also count majorly toward SEO.
“Blogs give you many different components that are highly relevant to Google’s algorithm,” says Callis. “Headlines, copy, tags, categories, keywords and photos. Google wants to make sure [you have] relevant content [on your website].” That relevant content could be in the form of a blog.
Even if you don't have the resources to hire a writer or run a full-time blog, create a section on your website where you can contribute an article about the industry every now and then. It's also something you can share on social media and help promote your business.
“If you do have a blog, and you’re in multiple markets, you should have different blogs per market,” adds Callis.
4. Facebook Advertising
The days of saying “Facebook … psh … that's just for kids,” are over. Your customers are on Facebook. Adults spend an average of 22 minutes a day on Facebook, says Callis. You can no longer overlook Facebook advertising.
Not only is Facebook not just a social media platform for teenagers, but in many ways its a digital marketing goldmine. Facebook allows you to target ads and promotions to a specific audience by town/city, age, interest, income brackets and more.
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“If you already have a Facebook page for your business, you can create “lookalike” audiences from the followers you already have and target them specifically,” says Callis. “Facebook will match the demographic parameters to those who come to your Facebook page so you can advertise to like people.”
One post immediately drives traffic to your website for increased conversions, it helps you understand your audience demographics, and cost-per-click is much less than Google Ads.
5. Drive Online Reviews
“Online reviews are a necessary part of your marketing strategy,” says Callis. “Yelp, Facebook, Google+, Houzz, Angie's List. They all show up in search … and usually at the top.”
Don't let customers, satisfied or unsatisfied, control this process. You have to take the lead. Ask your customers, “How did we do? Tell us!” and provide them with the online platforms to do so (named by Callis above).
Invest in customer loyalty programs. Ask your customers how you did with a survey before the project is officially closed, so your staff can proactively resolve low-scoring client issues.
Craig Leyers, SVP of sales and marketing at ADS Security, has tried something different with his clients.
“We're been doing this for eight years now. After seven referrals, clients receive their service at no charge. The response has been fantastic,” says Leyers.
This creates a culture of happy customers who become advocates for your company and do the online promoting for you.
6. Embrace a CRM
“Rapidly growing companies are embracing their CRM as a central element of their sales and marketing efforts,” says Callis.
A CRM, or customer relationship management platform, should hold 100 percent of your leads from all sources: web form submissions, live chat leads, call in leads, trade show leads, social leads and pay-per-click leads.
Another advantage of the CRM is that you can go paperless. The CRM provides you with all the necessary steps: form entry, prospect record creation, salesperson assignment … every step is paperless.
“We went paperless to improve the customer experience,” says Leyers. “Additionally, our sales team loves the high-tech system … resulting in their actually using it! It’s a win-win. A lot of people view it as a customer appreciation thing, but we view it as an operational efficiency.”