Feel like there’s not enough time, money or clarity to get results with marketing?
You can continue trying different things—some time on social media here, a few blog posts or emails there—or you can get an action plan together to reach your goals. Read on for our suggested steps.
From ads and blogging to SEO and social media, there are now almost too many ways to promote yourself online. Businesses can benefit from using a variety of tactics, but we’re going to focus on the top options for a service-based business serving local customers.
For businesses with local customers, these items will always top the list of priorities…
- A website that converts or brings in leads and looks great on mobile
- High ranking in Google and search engines
- A good reputation and reviews
We’re going to review these and other areas, but keep in the mind, the steps will vary depending on what stage your business is in right now.
If you’re just starting out, we’ve got ideas for you. Been around for a while and have a few things set up already? We’ve got advice for you too. Each suggestion below will include steps for both new and more established businesses.
Here’s our suggested action plan for your local business:
1. Set up or update your website
Your website serves as HQ for ALL of your online marketing efforts. Make it the first thing on your list and consider it an investment that will serve you over the life of your business if you treat it well and keep it updated.
Because, unfortunately, websites age in dog years, so if your site is 5 or more years old, it’s time for a total revamp. Really. Websites do a lot more now than they used to, so you’re leaving money on the table the longer you wait. If your site is 3 to 5 years old, it most likely needs a refresh as well.
Your website should:
- Have a clean, appealing design
- Work well on mobile (this is now crucial)
- Feature reviews/testimonials and information that builds trust
- Include many “calls-to-action” to encourage visitors to contact you, sign up or book
- Be optimized to help it rank well in Google and other search engines
- Have a free Google Analytics account to track performance
2. Get reviews and manage your reputation online
Today’s consumer wants to see how your business has been rated by others in the community. That’s why reviews are vital to service-based businesses. We can’t stress that enough and suggest you read our post on how online reviews boost sales and SEO for local businesses.
To get started, create or update your profiles in Google My Business, HomeAdvisor, Angie’s List, Top Rated Local, Houzz and other review sites. Then think of current or past customers you can reach out to now for a review.
If you do have reviews, take a look at what they say. Are any of them good enough to feature on your website? Place a few in prominent areas of your site.
Already have profiles and reviews?
The next step is to create a process to ask for reviews consistently. This is important because happy customers are less likely to leave reviews unless they’re asked. Create follow-up emails to ask every customer for a review after their project or service call. Speaking about emails…
3. Use email for marketing
Email has been around for so long its power as a marketing tool is often overlooked. But that power lies in its ability to nurture prospects and keep past customers in the loop to come back.
Every time you send an email, you’re reminding that person of the great experience they had with you or the fact that you’re close by and available.
Get an email service that will allow you to send out email newsletters. We recommend MailChimp because it’s free for up to 2000 contacts and has tons of templates. Even if you don’t have a list yet, you can start adding your client emails there (you should only add people who have already done business with you).
Email newsletters don’t have to be complicated either. They can include information from any website articles you may have, tips for homeowners, sales offers and/or news about your business.
Already have an email newsletter?
Assess the results you’ve seen so far. Are you getting calls/sales or even email replies? Try to change things up a bit, use a different email format a template, try different content, or send it at a different time (perhaps the weekend) to try to improve results and see what works best.
4. Improve your standing with Google
By now, we’re pretty sure you know how important it is for your business to appear in Google. Getting on the first 1 or 2 pages of search results isn’t easy though, which is why we suggest working with a professional who does Search Engine Optimization or SEO. They’ll make sure your website has everything Google wants to see and that your content has every chance to get found online.
We’re not going to go into greater detail here except to say that this is a long-term strategy that should be set up early so it can bear fruit in 6 months or later. With the help of a local SEO, you can ensure this is continuing in the background while you focus your efforts on other things.
5. Bring in traffic now with online ads
While SEO is a long-term strategy, online ads are short-term and can bring in leads and business now. This includes Google pay-per-click (PPC) ads, Facebook ads and other paid ads.
Many small businesses shy away from buying online ads because of the expense. But consider a tactic used by many marketers: start work on the long-term strategy (SEO), then use other short-term strategies (PPC and sales campaigns) to bring in visitors and business while you wait for SEO to bear fruit. When SEO results start bringing in free traffic, then cut back on PPC and paid ads.
We suggest setting aside a budget for 6 months of paid ads. At the end, asses whether you want to continue or scale back.
6. Use social media to get your message out
Another great way to bring in attention, traffic and possibly leads, is social media. There are too many networks though, so it’s best to choose 1 or 2 that are most popular among your customers.
Consistency is key with social media as many networks have algorithms that will reward or penalize you based on your activity. To get the biggest benefits here, work with a social media marketer who understands each network’s advantages and disadvantages. They get you up and running and post for you on a consistent schedule that will yield results.
Ready to take action?
We hope these steps will guide you in making the best use of your time and budget with online marketing.
If you have any questions, let us know below or send an email.