By Rick Mullen
Maintenance Sales News Associate Editor
Speaking to a group of cleaning industry professionals at the ISSA/INTERCLEAN show in Las Vegas, two digital marketing experts from Metro Studios, of Hiawatha, IA, outlined concepts and techniques on how companies can utilize their websites to attract and keep customers.
“To master the game of online marketing there are two basic concepts,” said Digital Services Account Executive Ashley Weaver. “The first part is finding your audience and bringing those people to your website.”
The second concept, Weaver explained, is once a company determines its target audience and people begin landing on its website, what information needs to be online that would lead to a prospect, a phone call or a lead.
“There are some hard questions you have to ask yourselves in terms of your website,” Weaver said. “Is your website actually working for you? Are you getting more business? Are you getting more service calls? Are you getting leads? Do you know what your goals are for your website?
“Another important question to ask is, does the user know what to do within seven seconds after landing on your website? A well-designed website gives a company instant credibility.”
Weaver outlined some essential elements of a well-designed and effective website, including keeping it clean and simple, and how to capture the attention of a visitor within seven seconds.
“The last time your website was designed might have been in the days when everyone wanted to spit out everything they possibly could about their company on the homepage,” Weaver told the audience. “However, today it is all about keeping the homepage clean and simple. People have no time to waste — they want to get what they need right away when they come to your website.”
It is essential the website is designed to give visitors a clear path to easily navigate the site. Weaver said 80 percent of the people who come to a website first land on the homepage. Furthermore, 75 percent of the people visiting a particular website are there for the first time.
“It is very important to have that awesome first impression,” she said. “Another element that is really important to a great website is to have clear calls to action. A call to action is providing an incentive for someone to do what you want them to do.”
Weaver compared good and bad calls to action on two company’s websites, both seeking customers’ email addresses for marketing purposes.
The bad example of an email sign-up form gave the visitor no information about what he or she might expect or receive. Furthermore, the form was overly complicated.
“This company wants people to sign up for email updates, but gives visitors no information about what they get in return,” Weaver said. “All it says is, ‘Sign up for our email on this page.’ Well, what am I going to get if I do that?”
In contrast, the email sign-up form for the good example was simpler and the call to action was clear — “Sign up below to set up your free private group tasting.”
“This is a great example of a call to action,” Weaver said. “This company also wants names and email addresses, but it will provide valuable content to the visitor in return.
“Another important aspect to great website design is easy-to-use forms. Most of our clients’ main goals are to increase sales. That means they need to get people to their websites and have them pick up a phone or fill out a form so the company can call them back. We want to make the forms as easy and simple as possible for the user.”
As many people search the Web on their smart phones and tablets, it is also critical that a company’s website is responsive, i.e., mobile and tablet friendly. A responsive website is one that is easily viewed on such devices, Weaver explained.
“Many (if not most) websites still require the user to repeatedly zoom in and out in order to navigate on a mobile phone or tablet,” she said. “This does not equate to a good user experience. Nowadays, it is very important to have a mobile and tablet friendly website.”
Search Engine Optimization
Senior Digital Strategist Adrian Brambila’s portion of the presentation focused on search engine optimization (SEO).
“The truth is, you can have the best website with simple, easy-to-use forms, but it is not going to create sales unless you can get the right people to go to your website,” Brambila told the audience.
In online marketing there are two major players involved — Google and Facebook, Brambila said.
He added: “Facebook is the best ‘stalker’ in the world. It knows everything about its users.”
To illustrate, Brambila told of his experience on Facebook after he announced he was getting married.
“Within an hour, I had all these ads for where I could take my fiance to get her dress and what I should wear with my tux,” he said. “It was crazy and super-creepy. But, for us marketers, Facebook is awesome because it has all this demographic information about it users. The more information a company knows about customers, the more often it can reach them. It has never been easier to reach exactly who you want, and Facebook is the best tool for that task.”
While Facebook in the best “stalker,” Google is the best “psychic” in the world, Brambila said.
“Google knows your behavior,” he said. “For example, it knows last night I was searching for the best restaurants in Las Vegas. It knows more about my consumer behavior than I do. With Google, think behavior-type marketing, and, with Facebook, think demographics.”
A major strategy in online marketing to attract people to a company’s website is search engine optimization (SEO).
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“I always get a little frustrated when people try to explain SEO,” Brambila said.
Brambila’s frustration has to do with people describing SEO in too simplistic terms.
“SEO is the most complicated thing you can do online,” he said. “SEO involves three elements: on page — anything on a website; content — blogging, videos, images, etc.; and off page — links that point to your website. It is about getting quality backlinks (when a Web page links to any other page).
“For example, a pressure washer company has a tutorial on its website on how to start a pressure washer, and there are other dealers and distributors linking that website as a resource. This is what we consider ‘off page.’
“Another aspect of SEO is structured data markup or schema, which is search engine programming language.”
One of the main objectives of SEO is for a company to “rank” high on a search engine’s page. To be successful at digital marketing and SEO takes consistent effort over a period of time, Brambila said.
“When we work with a client who wants to rank on a national scale, we tell him or her to not expect to see any significant results for 90 days,” Brambila said. “If a client wishes to rank for pressure washers in the United States, for example, it is going to take a long time, and that company is going to have to use all aspects of SEO.”
Some companies also run Google sponsored ads that appear at the top of the search engine results page (SERP), followed by “organic” listings. Brambila said when it comes to clicking on an ad or an organic listing, 1 out of 10 people will click on an ad, and the rest will go to the organic listing.
“Most people will click on the organic listing, because they trust it more,” Brambila said. “As a result, a company’s conversion rate, which is the number of people who become a lead, is three to five times higher with an organic listing.”
Brambila said one of the aspects of SEO is a technical structured data markup, which results in how a company’s listing appears on a SERP. For example, the structure of the pressure washer client’s website listing, which ranks No. 1 on the SERP, contains four bullet points, describing how to start a pressure washer. By adding this valuable information on its listing, the company’s click through rate is likely higher than the other listings on the SERP.
Click-through rate is defined as the ratio of users who click on a specific link to the number of total users who view a page, email, or advertisement. A high click-through rate increases a company’s ranking on the SERP, Brambila said. Along these same lines, “pogo sticking” can drive down a company’s ranking.
Brambila explained pogo sticking is when a user performs a search, clicks on a result, and then very quickly clicks back to the SERP and clicks on a different result. Pogo sticking is most likely a result of a user not being satisfied in the search result.
While ranking organically takes time and much effort, some companies opt to use Google AdWords to set up ads at the top of the SERP.
“AdWords is a great thing to do because it is so fast,” Brambila said. “A company can set up an ad and be in the first page the next day. The catch is, it is a lot more expensive than ranking organically.”
Marketing Using Facebook
Brambila discussed how a company can use Facebook to generate leads.
“Facebook is an under-utilized tool,” he said. “Most people think it is a place to watch cat videos, etc. We are finding out Facebook is growing much more quickly than Google, because it is so smart about demographical information.”
As with Brambila’s earlier example of Facebook ads specifically targeting his upcoming marriage, ads can be purchased to target specific demographics that would likely be interested in what a particular company has to offer.
Brambila explained when people are on Facebook, they are constantly being targeted with ads. If the target demographics ignore an ad by not commenting or scrolling back, Facebook is judging that behavior and, as a result, will show the ad to fewer and fewer people. A remedy is to design ads that will have value to the consumer.
“When you have a great value ad, Facebook is going to give you more ‘bang for your buck’ by showing it to more people,” Brambila said. “ Users of Facebook have all this data, and it is really not that expensive to set up.
“Marketing used to be about, 'let’s have this really broad message that is going to be on a billboard or TV, trying to reach a very broad audience.'
“We talk to different types of clients. There are small clients, medium clients and specialty niche clients. One broad message trying to reach all of them is going to reach no one. Today, to be really successful, requires creating micro-audiences and micro-messages. I can be very specific. I’m not going to try and reach everyone at once. I’m going to make 10 different campaigns until I get all my different micro-audiences covered. When a company does that, its conversion rates will go way up.”
Brambila suggested using Google Analytics for the all-important task of conversion tracking. Google Analytics is an online service offered by Google that tracks and reports website traffic.
“To master online marketing, a company must find the right people, target them, and bring them to its website,” Brambila said. “The website must contain the exact information needed to illicit a phone call or a lead. More than anything, it all has to be tracked to be able to have data on the cost per lead, or whatever the marketing goals of a company may be, to determine the effectiveness of its website.”
Contact: Metro Studios,
1350 Sherman Road,
Hiawatha, IA 52233-1293.