Digital Marketing: Building Upon the Foundation

If you read my last article, you know that I believe the core of local marketing starts with a professional website and a Google Maps listing. This routine setup has done well for my businesses as well as the businesses of my clients over the past 5 years and beyond. So, you already have this set up and you feel it’s optimized. What comes next? Well, that’s what this article is about.

This report is not meant to be completely comprehensive. It’s not going to show you the ins and outs of how we do this at our marketing agency. What I do aim to do with these writings is to give you an overview of local marketing as I see it and introduce you to some of the tools and strategies we use. Use this as a starting point to guide your entry into the world of marketing. Whether you are doing this for your own business or someone else’s, this introduction will serve you well and provide a jump-off platform for your future endeavors. If you find this information helpful, please leave a comment at the bottom of the page. If there’s something I missed or perhaps you disagree with me about something, please tell me in the comments. Thanks for reading.

Google Paid Advertising vs Organic Search: Where does the traffic come from?

Have I lost anyone yet? What the heck does traffic have to do with marketing for my company? Let me explain.

Traffic is what we call people that come into contact with your website or other online assets. When marketers say they are generating website traffic, it’s the people they are referring to.

So, how do we generate traffic? Typically there are two ways: Paid Advertising and Organic Search.

Paid Advertising

Paid Advertising on Google is commonly referred to as PPC, or Pay per click. When you type something into Google Search, you are given a list of search results. If you are looking for a local business, then your search will look something like this:

The first search result you see is actually an advertisement. This is why it says “Ad” next to it. When you click on this link, the person who put it there will be charged a certain amount of money. This amount is dependent on how many other people are bidding on the same search term. I won’t get too far into that, but the general idea is that someone pays when you click on that. They are paying Google a commission for being the very first search result on the page for this search term: “water well drilling Idaho”.

These ads are spread all over the internet. Those pesky ads you see when you’re trying to read a recipe on a cooking blog? Yep, those are Google Ads too. If you click on one of them, the person who put them there pays Google a certain amount. There are trillions of these ads scattered around the internet. Is it any wonder why Google is such a powerful company?

Don’t for a second think that Google is the only place you see ads. Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Bing, the list goes on. All of these companies offer advertising on the pay-per-click model. As a local business owner, I stick to Google mostly, but once in awhile, I’ll venture out into other areas of the net.

Pros of Pay-per-click Advertising

  • Very quick results as the ads go live as soon as you enter your credit card information (Google is very good at taking payments)
  • You get to choose exactly where your ads show up
  • You get to see what some of your competitors are doing

Cons of Pay-per-click Advertising

  • It can be extremely expensive and ruin your budget if you aren’t careful and know what you are doing
  • Some people don’t feel good about advertising
  • Constant testing and trying new things is usually necessary to get the best results
  • Did I mention it can be very expensive?

So, that is Pay-per-click advertising in a nutshell. You can see that right below the “Ad” is the Google Maps box. Those companies do not pay Google to show up there. There is also a lot of context such as reviews, phone numbers, hours, and links to their website and map. This is prime real estate for something that is free. This is why I recommend it as part of the foundation. Right below Google Maps is the Organic Search Results. Let’s talk about why they are called that.

Organic Search

The organic search is what Google was before they added Google Maps and Advertising. It’s literally the best results Google could come up with for your particular search term. If your business shows up at the top of this list, it means that Google thinks your business is the more relevant and reliable search result to show. Google is in the business of search, after all, so they want to show you exactly what you’re looking for so you’ll continue using their service. As long as you are on their service, you are clicking ads and making them money. That, and the tremendous amount of power that comes from having 90% of the population use your system to find the information they’re looking for. I can’t think of one possible evil thing that could go wrong. Can you? Let me digress…

Organic search is my favorite place to be right after I make sure I’m in the Google Maps box. My best clients are the ones that show up in the “Ads”, the Google Maps Box, and the Organic Search. The team at my marketing company makes sure they show up in all 3 places so they are sure to be the company people find when they’re looking for that particular service. Cool huh!

Getting into the organic search results is one of the holy grails of marketing. It is achieved by practicing something called SEO, or Search Engine Optimization. SEO is the practice of making sure your website rocks in the eyes of Google so they will be happy to show you on top of the search results page.

Conversion Rate Optimization: More traffic doesn’t always equal more sales…

Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is a fancy term used by marketers when they are talking about “making a website better for the user”. What good is it getting 100 people to your website if none of them ever become a customer of your business? This is where the CRO police come in. It’s their job to test various details of your website from the placement and color of a button all the way to the general idea of the content that is on your website. It’s all about getting into the minds of your customers and knowing them well enough to show them what they are looking for in a way they understand and making it easy for them to become a customer once they’ve decided to work with you. Simple, right? Well, kinda!

We use tools like Google Analytics, Hotjar, and various other data trackers that look at what people are doing on your website. This data is used to figure out what people like and what they don’t like. Sometimes we even do it the old-fashioned way: Ask. That’s right! We ask the users of a website what they like and dislike about it. When I’m meeting with new clients at my construction business I am commonly told that we were chosen because of our website. That is a good sign that we have a good CRO. Do you ever get compliments on your website? Are they from actual customers or just your mom? No offense to mom, but she’s probably pretty biased.

If you are at the point where you are paying for advertising, have invested in SEO, and still think you aren’t getting the results you should, then CRO is where you ought to look next.

Lead Resellers like HomeAdvisor, Angie’s List, etc.

I have a somewhat famous article about these companies that I wrote a few years ago. To this day I get multiple calls a week from people who want to sue HomeAdvisor. Why? Because they feel like they’ve been ripped off. I know. This isn’t a great way to start a section of an article, but it’s the truth! It begs the question: If these companies are no good, how are they still in business? The answer is that they are not always bad, just most of the time. Let me explain.

HomeAdvisor is a website that captures leads from around the internet and sells them to contracting companies. When they capture a lead (someone’s contact information), they sell it to up to 6 contracting companies at once. They do this because 1. It’s expensive to generate that leads and 2. Some contracting companies never call the leads, so they want to make sure someone actually follows through. The negative side of this strategy is that the person who is the lead often ends up getting multiple phone calls at once and it turns out to be pretty annoying, especially if they didn’t really want a call in the first place which happens.

How do these companies generate leads? Well, exactly how I explained it already. They have a website and pay Google to advertise. They also employ thousands of SEO technicians to make sure they show up in the organic search results. In essence, they compete with the same companies they sell leads to. They are so good at it that they often take the majority of the leads and flip them for cash.

I’m not a huge fan of this option for small contracting businesses like my remodeling company. That doesn’t mean they don’t work for everyone. At my marketing company, I get a different picture. For some of my larger clients that rely on a high volume of new customers, Homeadvisor provides a great service. On top of that, they work really well in rural areas where competition isn’t very thick. For me to compete with Homeadvisor in these areas would cost more than it would to just buy the leads from them, so in that case, it’s a pretty good deal.

My general thought to those that are considering trying one of these companies is to try it, but be careful! Don’t sign any long-term contracts and ask them to give you a credit to start out with before you pay your own hard-earned dollars. You should be able to get proof that it works before you spend any money or sign your life away.

My final thought on these companies is about their sales process. I happen to know that their salespeople are shady. They call and pretend to be homeowners looking for services instead of owning who they really are and what they do. Upon being confronted, I’ve even had some of them deny being salespeople for Homeadvisor even though they called from the same number as a few days before. In my opinion, any company that has to resort to these sorts of shady sales tactics probably doesn’t have a product or service worth buying.

Putting Them All Together

These are just some of the many strategies we use for local marketing. These strategies will work well for water well drillers, pump service companies, and any other local service providers.

A great example of this would be MPI Water Solutions, a small well pump company in Idaho.

As I’ve made clear, it’s important to start with a solid foundation before moving onto these more advanced areas of marketing. It’s also important to know what you’re doing. I wouldn’t try to dig my own well just like I wouldn’t recommend a well-driller run their own Google Ads. That is of course unless they take the necessary precautions and get an ample amount of training first. I’m sure it’s a lot easier to run Google Ads than it is to dig a well, but when it comes to your business, I’m not sure if it’s worth the risk. Just always start small and watch your spending closely. It’s easy for it to get out of hand if you’re not watching!

If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below. I am happy to expand on anything you wish. Thanks again for reading and have a great day.