Online Marketing is More than a Website
If you own a window and door company of any size, you've likely found out that marketing your business in this digital age can be a confusing process. You could be a certified member of Mensa with an abiding interest in technology and still find yourself behind the eight ball in a hurry. That's because today's tech developments occur with such blinding speed that by the time you understand one thing, it's already been replaced.
Businesses that long relied on print advertising and other traditional methods (radio, TV, billboards) have seen their return on investment fall off precipitously in recent years, especially in the print medium. Yellow Pages directories go straight from people's doorsteps to their recycling bins. Newspapers have suffered massive circulation drops due to the easy availability of free information on the Internet.
If you want to command the attention of homeowners and business owners in need of your services in 2013, you must market yourself online. This evolution has been occurring for several years, but the exploding popularity of smartphones and tablets over the past 18 months has been a massive game-changer.
In the first quarter of 2013, more people purchased smartphones than non-smartphones for the first time, according to a recent report by the International Data Corp. More than 200 million smartphones shipped worldwide. "Phone users want computers in their pockets," says Kevin Restivo, an IDC analyst.
Meanwhile, sales of desktop computers have nosedived. IDC reports PC shipments fell 14 percent worldwide in the last quarter, the worst yearly decline since IDC first tracked the data in 1994.
These trends make clear that people now have their computers—along with 24-7 Internet access—everywhere they go. Large, brilliant displays on newer phones make viewing online content a breeze. These developments have made it much easier to access information online, so much so that it’s now the go-to option for many people, especially younger generations—including many young homeowners in needs of the services the window and door dealers provide.
The issue is how to take advantage of this rapidly evolving technology and not get left behind. However, every challenge is also an opportunity. By learning what methods of Internet marketing provide you the best return on investment, or by partnering with an established, experienced Internet marketing firm, you can get a huge jump on competitors. Now is the perfect time to position yourself at the front of your local market by using organic search engine optimization, pay-per-click advertising, social media, mobile marketing and much more.
Having a website obviously is a fundamental aspect of marketing yourself online. However, if you're not actively marketing it by improving your search engine optimization (SEO) to improve your local search engine rankings, providing compelling content to convert human visitors into customers, or using pay-per-click (PPC) ads and social media to attract leads and grow your brand, it's like publishing a book that no one knows exists.
Pay-per-click advertising can offer a spectacular means to get immediate results from your marketing efforts. As an internet marketing firm working with dealers, we typically employ these ads to allow dealers to appear right at the top of search engine results for their specialties and geographic areas immediately.
We work with the client to determine a daily dollar amount for the campaign; this can be lowered or raised at any time, depending on the client's needs (such as whether the client is looking to greatly increase business or has all he or she can handle right now—and the latter situation does occur on occasion).
|A-Taylor Made wanted to rank highly on search result pages for the "Richmond CA window replacement" query. It now appears at the top of the first results page in a Yelp listing optimized with keywords for best ranking and customer engagement. It is also now the top location listing thanks to additional optimization efforts. Having two appearances in the top half of the first results page is a huge asset for attracting qualified visitors.|
One of the biggest benefits of online advertising is that it's vastly more flexible than print advertising. If the phrasing of an ad isn't producing results, you can tweak it and have the new version "live" almost immediately. You can schedule your ads to only run on particular days or times of the day, ensuring you're being seen by the highest quality leads. If your business moves, if your operating hours change, or if you simply want to run a big sale to move overstocked inventory, you have a nearly instant means to update that information.
After a few days of running PPC ads, we typically review results to determine which pitches are most effective in persuading potential leads to click through to the site or landing page. Ads can be tweaked easily to use the most effective marketing language, ensuring the client gets the optimal bang for the buck with every ad. Sometimes different verbiage works better for particular seasons, so it is important to continually analyze the effectiveness of the ads.
Improving the SEO of your website or landing page is critical, but it can take some time for those improvements to produce a big rise in search engine rankings. This is because you have to wait for Google and other top search engines to "crawl" your site, see how much the SEO has improved, and adjust your ranking accordingly. Conversely, PPC advertising lets your business appear on the top of local search engine results for your type of business without delay. This lets you attract and convert new leads while you're waiting on your site's improved SEO to kick in.
In general, the most critical aspect of a windows and doors website—and really, a site for anyone who provides a product or service that runs into the hundreds or thousands of dollars—is that it establishes the credibility and trustworthiness of the company throughout the site. Every potential customer needs to see clearly that you know what you're doing and that every detail matters to you. Spelling and grammar errors can be devastating to trustworthiness, as is generic content that's too similar to other sites.
It's also important to add a personal touch. Let your personality shine through on your site. Potential customers want to know there are real people at your company who care deeply about their craft. Talk about your dedication to complete satisfaction, your devotion to open communication regarding any issue, and the fact that you treat your customer's home like it's your own. By adding these credibility builders to our clients' sites, we've seen engagement increase massively.
Window and door dealers talking about their current online marketing efforts often say the same things: "Well, we have a website. And we're on Facebook." More often than not, however, they don’t know what they’re getting from those efforts. They typically say they haven't been getting much response or don't know how many leads or conversions they are getting.
This GoogleAnalytics graph above shows the increase in both visits and unique visitors to
the R&M Windows site, left, after initiatiating the use of pay-per-click ads and organic
search engine optimization efforts to drive traffic. Visits increased by more than 180 percent,
and unique visitors increased by more than 175 percent.
There are exceptions, however. Many window and door dealers have a strong online presence. And, more are learning. "As the newspaper and the Yellow Pages disappeared, we could not find a good source of leads," says Steve Kenyon, owner of A-Taylor Made Window in Richmond, Calif. "Even though we’ve had a website for 10 years, nobody was finding us. Within the first six months of (our Internet marketing campaign), our leads increased over 300 percent."
The first priority at Kenyon’s business was to improve the website to ensure that visitors were converting into ready-to-buy leads. Using a conversion optimization checklist, steps taken included the addition of more high-quality original content and spotlighting a clear, persuasive call to action on every page.
Additionally, Google Analytics was used to determine which pages had low engagement and content for those pages was rewritten. A-Taylor Made Window then started a PPC campaign that specifically targeted the geographic area Kenyon wanted to focus on. Finally, the dealer’s site was optimized for local and mobile search, employing keywords that greatly improved the site's ranking for the search terms potential customers were using. Because this was a multifaceted approach, each of the elements complemented each other in a way that had an exponential effect in making leads skyrocket.
Another dealer that recently implemented an online marketing campaign is R&M Quality Windows & Doors, which increased its sales by more than 50 percent as a result, reports Mike Easter, owner of the Newark, Calif.-based firm. "I'm looking to hire more people to handle the sales, because we are so inundated with new leads."
Several of the same methods used at A-Taylor Made Window, including optimizing the website for conversions, doing a geography-focused PPC campaign, and improving local/mobile search optimization, were used at R&M. Additionally, work was done to improve the SEO so that R&M was organically ranked on the first page of search results for adjacent cities. Another important step taken was the creation of a business profile video for the R&M website. Video can be an incredibly effective tool in increasing conversions, and it worked like a charm for R&M.
One of the best things about marketing your business online is that current technology makes your ROI extremely easy to determine. Various analytics allow you to determine exactly how people come to your website, whether it's through clicking through on an advertisement, clicking a link through a Facebook post, a blog post or a tweet, or discovering you through an outbound link on another site. This also works with email links and other marketing efforts.
There are many more techniques to leveraging online marketing for your business than I have space to cover here. The most critical thing to understand is that Internet marketing isn't going away.
Of course, as the owner of a window and door business, your time may be best spent doing what you do best: running your business. A highly qualified Internet marketing firm that can work with you to understand your goals and your needs is often the best option. It's important to be careful when partnering with an online marketing firm, because—as with any business—there unfortunately are some very poor providers out there. Be cautious about getting locked into a long-term contract and demand quantifiable data on exactly what the campaign is providing. Consider providers offering a pay-for-results model, because it’s a good sign they know what works.
Whether you opt to work with an outside firm or do your internet marketing internally, ultimately, you can't afford to ignore the sea change that's occurring in business marketing, no matter how confusing it might seem at times. Online marketing is quickly becoming the norm, and the future of your business might well depend on how well—and how quickly—you can adapt to promoting your company in this digital age.