Have you made your New Year Resolutions for your business? Each year business owners have a refreshed outlook on the new year and excitement for new business growth. To reach those new goals you need a solid marketing plan. But there are so many options out there and how do you know which to choose without breaking the bank and which ones will be the most effective? Let us give you a general checklist to help you figure out where you stand currently and what you may want to include in your 2019 marketing plan and budget.
WEBSITE DESIGN & FUNCTIONALITY
First and foremost, your website is the peak of the pyramid. All other marketing efforts should support and direct traffic to your site. Whether your website is brand new or was one of the first websites created at the birth of the world wide web, the following items are important for the design and functionality of your website with the humans and the search engines who are visiting your site.
Do you see ‘HTTPS’ and a padlock in the address bar? This will make your site more competitive and safer to search engines and users, whether you sell online or not. For example, it will keep your customer’s information safe from online forms and your website structure safer from the bad guys using it to hide code on the back end of your site.
Is my website ‘mobile responsive’ – not ‘mobile-friendly’?
Does your website change formats for each mobile device? If you have a ‘mobile-friendly’ site, the search engines will still have trouble adjusting to the various sizes of devices that are viewing your website and rank you lower than if your website was ‘mobile responsive’. Plus, the benefit of a ‘mobile responsive’ site allows you to make a change to your website ONLY ONCE versus a ‘mobile-friendly’ site that requires you to make any changes to both a desktop and mobile version of your site. This saves you time and money if you are having a third party or web developer make the updates!
Is your website easily navigated by customers and prospects?
Your website’s layout needs to be clean, intuitive (navigation) and speak to your audience in their words or layman’s terms. These are also the keywords and keyword combinations they tend to search, so the search engines want to match those keywords in the search bar with the same keywords on your website. Also make sure your products, services and contact information are easy to find and use including mobile links to maps, click to call for mobile devices and some type of captcha for security on your contact form submissions.
Do you have Google Analytics added to your website?
This information is FREE and great insight on who comes to your website, when they view and for how long, as well as where they go within your website, ie. hyperlink to another page (or two or three) or do they bounce out because maybe they didn’t see what they wanted. The longer someone is on your website and the more pages they view help your search rankings.
Do you update your website at least one time per month?
Whether it is a testimonial, new product, image, video, event or blog post, keeping your website relevant and competitive in the eyes of the search engines. This will also help your search rankings and can lower your cost per click if you are paying for an online marketing campaign(s).
Is your website (or developer) prepared for upcoming changes?
While the Internet is always changing and developing, many elements of website have stayed inaccessible for people with disabilities. This has led to a series of lawsuits that have left many companies paying big bucks in settlements while other industries and business owners are wondering if they are next. All of this falls under the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), a law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life. For many blind and visually-impaired users, they use software like JAWS (“Job Access With Speech”), a Microsoft tool, to use the traverse the internet. As the number of lawsuits for ADA Website Compliance grows year after year (2018 looks to be have 30% more lawsuits than last year), it’s becoming imperative that business owners do what they need to make sure that their websites are accessible for everyone.
Gutenberg WordPress Editor
For almost a year, WordPress has been talking about how they are going to massively overhaul their text-editor. For a refresher, WordPress is a Content Management System that currently powers 32% of the internet. So that means 32% of the websites are going to have to change the way they currently create content in their websites and view that content change. While this seems like total madness, what WordPress is planning looks exciting and will be the foundation (literally) of many improvements to the platform to come. If you have a WordPress website, please check with your Web Developer before you update WordPress to version 5.0 and accidentally break your website.
SOCIAL MEDIA PRESENCE
If your target audience is using social media then your company needs to have a social media presence. Choose platforms your target audience is using regularly. The key to successful advertising is frequency. If you are not in the forefront of their minds on a regular basis developing a relationship of trust and credibility, you will be forgotten, or your competitor will win their business. The most popular platforms in the water treatment industry is Facebook, Twitter and Google+. Don’t forget to use your social media as a means of directing people to your website, NOT a replacement for your website. The search engines give more credit to a website over a social media profile. Use teasers and links in your social media posts directing your audience back to your website for more information or to read more.
Do you have a presence on one or more social media platforms?
FYI – Twitter, Instagram and Facebook can be linked together for posts and paid advertising (boosts & campaigns).
Do you post regularly to your social media accounts?
Posting at least once a week is enough but we recommend 2-3 times per week. Mix up your posts to include industry, geographical and company related information that has a balance of fun and fact.
Have you created an audience for prospecting efforts?
Using knowledge of who your best customers are and where they are will help you to create an Audience in Facebook to reach new prospects who have similar characteristics and demographics to your best customer profile. Then when you post something that gets a lot of likes or shares, “boost” the post choosing the audience you selected within a timeline and budget you allocate based on ROI (return on investment). You can also use this audience for paid advertising campaigns. Don’t forget to use co-op for your paid campaigns too!
ONLINE TOOLS & UTILIZATION
Online marketing does not just include social media and paid online marketing. There are tools available that are inexpensive and easy to use that will help improve your online reputation and search rankings. Plus, don’t forget your current customers for cross marketing and up-selling opportunities.
Have you claimed your online directory profiles?
Search for your company online and click on every link (one to two pages deep). Review the profile and ‘claim’ your listing. Make sure your contact information, company profile and your website URL are correct and clickable. Once claimed, you can make updates and add pictures, hours, etc. to help your online profile be consistent and relevant.
Do you use email marketing to grow your business with your current customers?
Email marketing is not as effective with new prospects as it is with your current customers. Your current customers have opted-in to give you their email address. Use it to cross market or upsell related products and services. Your response rate will be higher when you give them exclusive offers that they can download via your website. Be sure to include a link back to a specific page on your website to track click throughs. A side benefit is that your website will receive inbound traffic which will help your search results for new prospects. Don’t forget to use email marketing and text messaging for service reminders and open estimates too. These emails can be automated working in the background while you run the rest of your business.
Do you reply to ALL reviews – bad and good?
First, make sure your online profiles that accept reviews are set up to notify you of new reviews posted from your customers and prospects. For example, you need to be sure the box is check in the settings for your Yelp profile, otherwise, you won’t be notified of new reviews unless you go onto Yelp and search specifically on your profile. Second, be sure to reply to all reviews, including the good ones with a personalized note. For example, “Thank you, Shannon, for taking the time to share your experience with Brad, our service technician.”
DATA AND DIRECT MARKETING
Direct mail is not dead! A targeted list and personalized mailer to that specific targeted list is still one of the most effective marketing vehicles. However, the most successful direct mail campaigns are based on current sales and installation. In the water treatment industry, most neighborhoods have the same type of water quality. Therefore, a targeted mailing to a neighborhood where you already installed a system or have a customer or two is the best use of your direct marketing dollars versus Every Door Direct. However, you still need to invest time and money in your website, online reputation and social media presence so when the prospect receives your mailing and does their research on your company, they will find relevant information on your company and reviews from other customer’s experiences.
Cross-referencing your sales to the existing population, matched likely (and unlikely) prospects will make your direct marketing efforts more effective. FYI – this information is also useful when creating your ‘Audience’ for Facebook boosts and advertising efforts.
Do you use direct mail to reach new prospects around recent installs and service?
As mentioned above, sending mailings around recent sales and service addresses are effective because these prospects are likely the same demographic, home type, water quality, etc.
Do you continually update customer email and mailing addresses for future marketing?
Email marketing can be an inexpensive, effective and profitable strategy because a relationship is already established with the recipients, your current customers.
WHAT’S THE MORAL OF THE STORY?
Bottom line, if your marketing efforts grow then so will your business. But it doesn’t have to break the bank. Be sure to be honest with the value of your time. Advertising in the 21st century requires a lot of time and energy to saturate the marketplace with your company’s unique position and message. If you don’t keep your message in the forefront of your customer’s minds (online and offline) on a regular basis, you will be overlooked. Identify someone in your company that can consistently manage your marketing efforts and message OR invest in a company that can fill in the gaps where and when you cannot. The return on your investment in frequency and saturation will help you meet those new year’s goals for your company.
Here’s to a GOOD marketing plan and a GREAT 2019!