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Some Just Want to Text

why_we_love_text_messaging

I’m about to write regarding something that’s usually met with rolled eyes and sighs or reluctant acknowledgement – Text Messaging.
Yes, yes. I know. Texting is the bane of most “responsible” adults because all they see nowadays is their kids or other younger people staring at their phones with thumbs flying to tweet, text, or instant message their “friends”.
But here’s the question I must ask you: Would you really turn away a perfectly willing customer just because they prefer to text message rather than call you to schedule a job? I didn’t think so.

Customers Texting You

Consumer’s lives today move at breakneck speed. Between meetings, running kids to soccer practice, catching up on social media, and keeping dinner from burning, they don’t have time for hardly anything – especially conversations that aren’t convenient to have during the day. If you’ve noticed a change in the dynamic of phone calls with your customers, there’s a reason – they’re busy.
Picture this: Mrs. Jones is a busy mom of 3. While her two oldest are at school, she’s running errands of all sorts with her youngest in tow. She’s constantly thinking about the PTA meeting she has this evening, whether or not to buy Lucky Charms or the “organic, non-GMO” cereal that her kids won’t touch, and the article she’s been asked to write for her part-time job. As she’s hurrying through the grocery store, she walks through the cleaning isle and spots a bottle of some junky surfactant-loaded spot remover and realizes, “Shoot. I need to get our carpet cleaned before the party on Saturday, but I don’t have time to call them right now.”
After a quick Google search, she finds a local Chem-Dry’s listing and sees that, lo and behold, she can TEXT them to ask about availability! She taps the “message” button your listing and you’ve got an engaged customer that wants an appointment, STAT!

How Do I Do That? And What’s the $$$?

Google to the rescue! You probably didn’t know it, but you can set up text messaging with your Google My Business listing without any cost or risk of divulging your cell number. Your customer never sees it. In fact, they see a dummy number that Google assigns to you. YOU, however, WILL see your customer’s number.
When you log into your Google My Business account, you’ll see several menu options on the left side of the screen. Select “Messaging”. You’ll enter the mobile phone number you want to use for texting and verify it with a code that Google will send you. After that, you’re all set. You’ll be able to craft an outgoing message that automatically responds when your customer starts the conversation.
I tinkered around with this on my own and found it very intuitive. I even had a short text message conversation with the business (myself).
You see on the right how such a conversation might work for you. Pretty easy, right?
Do you think you could handle this? OF COURSE you can!
Oh, and guess what else… It’s FREE! That’s right. It costs you precisely $0.00. Since most of you probably have an unlimited text messaging plan, there’s no need to worry about any cost whatsoever.

Why Should I? Will I Ever Really Need It?

Short Answer:  Because it’s easy and it’s cheap.
Long Answer: While you may not have that many customers come to you via text message, you don’t really know how many of your customers you’re missing until you try it out.
People today are getting more and more reserved and giving them the option to text you to arrange service could be just one other way to set yourself apart from the competition. It’s not hard, and it shows courtesy and deference to people who may not be able to comfortably contact you otherwise. You just won a loyal customer because you let them contact you on their terms.

Big Takeaway:

Texting isn’t going away anytime soon. If there’s an opportunity to quickly and easily capture a customer via text message, why wouldn’t you do it?
  1. Set up your Google listing with a mobile phone number for texting.
  2. Craft a welcoming message to potential customers.
  3. Keep your phone available and answer promptly!
Text messaging is another potential funnel to bring customers in to your business. Get yourself set up or schedule an appointment to get some help.
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Marketing to Millennials

Let’s just get this out in the open, even though I don’t identify as one, I’m technically a millennial. That means I know a bit about how my generation thinks. Let’s talk about how you can better connect with your most “connected” group of potential customers ever.

Think FAST

Even though millennials are well-known for wanting to take
life at their own pace (aka the “Peter Pan” generation putting off adult decisions as long as possible), that doesn’t mean they move like a 3-toed sloth.
Millennials, in a very general way of speaking, want things fast. Like, lightning fast. They grew up in a world of credit cards, drive-thru windows, pop-tarts, and instant gratification. They HATE waiting with a fiery passion. They have the shortest attention spans of any generation (thank you twinkies), and “know everything” – or, at least, they know someone who does (Google). They’re all “busy”, whether with jobs, friends, or keeping up on “OITNB.”
If you’re going to land one of these customers, and it’s worthwhile to do so (I’ll explain later), you’re going to have to be ready to respond at their pace. That means:
  • A quick, mobile-responsive website
  • Text messaging (for those that don’t like actually *talking* on their phones)
  • Prompt e-mail responses
  • Being at the TOP of the list on Google searches so they don’t have to look very far

Leverage Connectivity

Millennials and their devices are virtually inseparable. 94% of college students in 2007 (I know, 10 years ago) owned a personal computer and 94% of them owned a mobile phone. They’re so well-connected, it’s ridiculous. But all that connectivity means good things for your business – if you play your cards right.
With the overwhelming presence of opinions online, it’s important for you to leverage the opinions that paint you in a good light. With social media giving everyone a voice, A shockingly high percentage of them have a Facebook account and at least one Google account (I actually have FOUR).
Here’s what you should do with your millennial customers to make sure you get more than just your money’s worth:
  • REVIEWS, REVIEWS, REVIEWS – If you satisfy your customer, you won’t get a review without solicitation. Blow them away, and you might get one. Let them down, and you will certainly get one.
  • Connect with them to find more like them. “Lookalike” audiences are a new trend allowing platforms like Facebook to find more potential customers for you based on the characteristics they know about your current customers.
  • Give them a coupon code to TEXT to their friends. Reward their referrals.

Make Them Feel Special

They’ll never admit it, but millennials are narcissists. They’re very egocentric, which means everything comes down to how it affects them. Even when it comes to their “causes”, they care about those things because it makes them look or feel better.
Take a little extra effort to pander their ego and make them feel special. They’re accustomed to it – they’ve been told they’re special since kindergarten. While you can market en masse, find ways to make your marketing personalized – as if you took the time to reach out only to them and their needs.
  • Custom e-mail/mailing campaigns that dynamically inject their name.
  • Throw in a “bonus” just for them on that job. Even if it’s just standard procedure.
  • Get a text-enabled tracking number and hand it out as a personal contact number you only give to “your favorite customers”.

Big Takeaway:

Millennials aren’t as complicated as they sound. Frustrating? Sure. Quirky? Absolutely. But they’re going to be your best customers if you treat them right. Remember these things:
  1. They move quickly. You’ll have to keep up.
  2. They’re well connected. Use their connections to grow your business.
  3. Make them feel special because, in their minds, they’re the only customers that matter to you.
Take the steps that will grow your business online. I can also help you with any of these things.
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Advertising on Google for Free

Yes, you read that correctly – FREE. Doesn’t cost you a dime. And it’s easy. We’re not talking about the complexity of AdWords. This is something you could do from your phone. All you need is a few minutes.

Google “Posts”

Google My Business has recently released a new feature called
“Posts” that allow you to highlight specials, services, and other media directly below your Google listing in search results.
See the example that I’ve shared below where TNT Chem-Dry in Nashville has leveraged the space below their Google listing to feature a special for carpet cleaning, tile cleaning, and highlighting their reviews. This costs NOTHING! Let’s show you how to do it.
TNTCD Google Posts

Creating “Posts”

Start by signing into your Google My Business account. When you get to your home screen, you’ll see a menu like this over to your left.
You’ll not only have access to your reviews and other information here, but you’ll notice the “New” feature pointing to “Posts”. Click there.
On the next screen, you’ll see something that looks like this. If you click anywhere in the white box, you’ll be given a screen like the one you see below.
Now you get to create your post.
I’d recommend doing something with a picture that you either downloaded from the Gateway or a high-resolution photo you took yourself. Maybe a before/after shot.
You can also make it an “event” adding dates for the promotion and create a button to drive action like “reserve” or “get offer” which take them to a page on your website.

The Finished Product

By the time you’re done, you should have something resembling what you see to the right.
I’ve highlighted the allergen study results, added a time frame, and made a compelling offer for people to call.
It took me about 5 minutes to put this together. See how easy it is?

Big Takeaway:

It’s not very often that Google gives you the chance to advertise for FREE. Take advantage of every opportunity they give you. This will be especially relevant if you’re working on building up your online reviews, too!
  1. Update your Google My Business listing.
  2. Pick 2-3 pictures that you can create a “post” with.
  3. Make some alluring posts that can drive customers to call your business!
This is a HUGE opportunity that can really benefit your business. Don’t miss out on it! If you’d like some help, click here to schedule an appointment with me.
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PPC Done Right

 
There’s a saying that goes back a long, long time. “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.”
It’s applicable in so many ways, but today I’d like to apply it to Pay-Per-Click advertising. I’ve stated many times that I’m confident enough in PPC that I’d be willing to stake my personal and professional reputation on it – when it’s done right. Let’s talk about what that looks like.

Before We Get Started:

With VERY few exceptions, I would not have you get our theme confused with “If you want it done right, do it yourself.” Just like it’s worthwhile for your customers to hire you to solve their problems, I would recommend that you hire someone to handle PPC advertising for you. It’s not a “set it and forget it” sort of platform. It needs daily maintenance and management, which is not necessarily entrepreneur-friendly. You have a lot more important things to worry about, so it’s worth handing off to an expert that can focus on it.

What “PPC Done Right” Looks Like

Pay-Per-Click advertising on all platforms (Google AdWords, Yahoo!, Bing, Facebook, Instagram, Doubleclick, etc.) is a very complicated and intricate practice that’s not easily mastered or maintained. It takes a very specialized skill set to appropriately organize and execute campaigns.
In order for PPC to be done right it needs the following elements to be dialed in:
  1. An appropriate budget
  2. Impression Share
  3. Targeting
  4. Click-Through-Rate
  5. Conversion Tracking
I’ll touch on the first two today and the last three next week.

A Good Budget

I recently wrote about how to come up with an appropriate PPC budget. While I think that explanation is pretty good, let’s take another look at it.

Say you’re wanting to grow your business by 1 job a day. You know you usually have the capacity, so you’re just looking to expand a little bit. At an average cost per click of $6.00 (which is very low for some markets), every time someone clicks on one of your ads, you’ll average in cost at about $6.00. If one out of every 5 clicks turns into a job (average call per click rate is 1 in 4), then that means you’ll pay $30.00 to get a job every day. Multiply that out by 22 working days a month and you’re looking at a budget of about $660.
I’d venture to say that if you’re not willing to spend at LEAST that amount on PPC, you’re probably not going to get much return. If you’re only willing to spend $10 per day, that amount probably won’t last you long. A daily budget of $10 means that you would likely only get 2 clicks in a day (at $6 per click), which means you’d go 2.5 days of clicks before getting a job.
This is where calculating impression share with your vendor comes in.
Big Takeaway:
PPC is a complex and time-consuming practice, but it’s worth doing. Those that aren’t are going to struggle to keep up with competition.
  1. Find a trustworthy vendor to run your PPC campaigns and get them off your plate.
  2. Figure out your budget based on your business needs. If you need help, schedule a call with me to get one established.
Appropriate digital marketing practices offer a bright horizon for your business and reaching new customers. Click to receive updates about future webinars on digital marketing.

Impression Share

I get questions from business owners all the time saying, “I’m budgeting $1,200 per month in PPC. Should I spend more than that?”
The answer is usually “It depends on your impression share.”
Impression share is the percentage of times your ad is shown out of how many times your ad could have shown. For instance, if there are 1,000 applicable searches for “carpet cleaning” in my area and I show up 350 times, that’s a 35% impression share.
Now, is a 35% impression share good or bad? Well, that also depends. Ideally, I would want your business to show up as often as your budget will allow. Meaning, if you live in a smaller market with little competition and have the ability to show up 90%+ of the time, go for it! Otherwise, if your budget only allows you to have a 45-50% impression share, have your vendor do as much as they can to analyze peak performance criteria for your ads to maximize your budget.
Impression share gives you a great insight into your campaign performance and is something you should be asking your vendor about on a regular basis.

What Can Happen

Since impression share serves as a barometer for how you’re keeping up with your competition, it’s a useful tool to know when something’s going wrong.
Let me paint you a picture.
Suppose you’re watching your impression share to keep an eye out and it takes a sudden nosedive.
That could be due to a new competitor coming into town with a HUGE marketing budget (maybe someone with a palindrome for a brand). They start spending inordinate amounts of money on PPC and drown you out.
You and your vendor now have some research to do in order to figure out what your next move is. Do you increase your budget? Do you stay at your current budget and just try to ride it out, hoping that they’ll run out of money? (They will eventually.) Or you can go Braveheart on them. Your choice.

Big Takeaway:

It’s pretty easy to see how knowing and understanding your Impression Share can be a game-changing factor in your business.
  1. Ask your vendor what your impression share is. They should be able to find it for you.
  2. Analyze where you’d like to be vs where you can afford to be and formulate a plan with your vendor to make that a reality.
  3. Keep an eye on your Impression Share to know where your competition is.

Targeting

You know that phrase “barking up the wrong tree”? I feel like a lot of business owners take that approach with PPC. They choose a shotgun approach to advertising instead of focusing in on talking to the people who are actively interested and have the highest likelihood of becoming a customer.
Here’s what I mean. PPC is an amazing tool in that you can get very granular with your settings on various campaigns. You can target customers based on location, the search they’re making, the device they’re using, the time of day, or even their gender (if Google can detect it).
What I would do is target locations (zip codes, more likely than not) where I know I have interested customers that can afford my services. I would also be willing to pay more for a click from a customer on a mobile device because I have a higher likelihood of getting a phone call from that customer.
In fact, a recent development from Google is the advent of what’s called a “call-only ad.” These ads do just what they sound like – they get the customer on the phone immediately. It might cost you a little extra every time someone clicks on one, but wouldn’t you be willing to pay another dollar to increase your chances of getting a booked job?
Another aspect of targeting is “keyword” or “topical” targeting. When you start advertising, you have the option of doing a blanket bid for all things you want to show up for. It would treat all bids from carpet cleaning to carpet dyeing the same, which you can understand is not optimal. Instead, you can target customers by what they’re searching for. Example: If you have a customer that’s searching for something along the lines of “pet urine removal”, you should probably be willing to pay more for that type of customer because you know you can make good money on that job. You should consider bidding higher on other high-ticket services too.

Click-Through-Rate (CTR)

Of all the metrics you should learn about when it comes to PPC (and as a non-vendor, I wouldn’t expect you to learn a ton of them), Click-Through-Rate (CTR) is in my top 3.
CTR is a result of dividing the number of clicks you’ve received by the number of impressions you earned. If your ad showed up 100 times and you got clicked on 3 times, you have a 3% CTR.
The reason it’s important for you to learn about it is because CTR is primarily an indicator of how good your ad/offer is. An ad with a high CTR is more likely to be shown by Google than one with a poor CTR. It’s also an indicator of how relevant your ad is to what people are searching for.
Ideally, your CTR for most ads should be between 3-5% on popular searches. On searches that are less common, you can expect a much higher CTR on a well-written ad.
In general, CTR is a number to focus on with your vendor for different search topics to always work on improving your ads.
Big Takeaway:
Pay-Per-Click done right gives you the ability to talk directly to people who are actively looking for your services. You wouldn’t ignore a phone call. Why ignore what makes the phone ring?
  1. Write out characteristics of your ideal customer and what they’d search for.
  2. Work with your vendor to come up with targeting options that fit your needs based on location, device, search terms, and other information.
  3. Ask your vendor about your current CTR to see how they’re doing on ad content. Ask them to share some ads with you and think about whether or not you’d click on it.
As always, if you have any questions about your PPC advertising, feel free to get in touch and get input. My door (phone) is always open.
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Connecting With “The One” Customer – Part II

 
Last week we talked about how to make your customers feel more special by addressing them personally through e-mail.
Let’s talk about how to do it with new customers and AdWords. It’s not hard, but it’s effective.

“Wow… That’s Exactly What I Typed!”

Probably my favorite advertisement platform, Google AdWords allows you to use the words your customer searched with to make an ad. Crazy, right? But it’s SO effective!
Here’s why:
Google AdWords bases your costs and placement on ads primarily on how relevant your ad is to what people were searching for. Instead of creating a new ad for every permutation of what someone could possibly type in, you can create an ad using “Dynamic Keyword Insertion” (DKI). It takes whatever your customer searched for and makes that the headline on the ad. You can then create the description for the ad and everything else your own and even include a “default” headline.
Here’s an example of how that’s set up:
If Google decides to just serve up my ad, it will look like this:
But, instead of “Green Certified Carpet Cleaning”, they’ll insert whatever someone searched for like “Scott’s Chem-Dry” or any other keyword on my list.
8 out of 10 people will read a headline, but only 2 of 10 will read the rest of the ad. So, when a consumer sees a headline that’s exactly what they searched for, they’re WAY more likely to click on that ad.

Big Takeaway:

Make your marketing about your customer. They’ll respond. I promise.
  1. Dynamic search ads are incredibly effective! When your ads are more relevant to what people are searching, you get more shown and clicked on more often.
  2. Watch the list of words that get inserted into your dynamic ad headlines to know what words to add to your keyword lists.
The service industry is a very personal one. It’s a loyalty business. Encourage a personal relationship with your customer by using their name and what they’re looking for.
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Connecting With “The One” Customer – Part I

We have a pretty good idea of what our core customer is. You know them, you can probably picture them in your mind. But sometimes you have to do more than target the group as a whole. People feel important when you address them directly. They also will surprise you with the unique ways the find you. Here’s one thing you can do this week to make your customers feel more special.

Make E-mail About THEM

Consumers are automatically more interested in a message you have to share with them when they feel like it’s personalized. Luckily, that’s an easy fix.
Without getting too complicated, you can address your customers individually using a technology called “dynamic content” in e-mail.
What it does is create a salutation at the beginning of the e-mail that either defaults to something like “Hello, Valued Customer” and inserts a name into it if you provide the “input” resulting in something like “Hello, Chris.”
If you want to get really fancy, you can try putting their name in the subject line to say something like “A Deal Just for Dan”.
I wrote about this last year and showed you how to do it in Constant Contact. Take a look here.
Big Takeaway:
Make your marketing about your customer. They’ll respond. I promise.
  1. Try having an e-mail speak directly to your customer.
  2. If you can, get their name in the subject line!
The service industry is a very personal one. It’s a loyalty business. Encourage a personal relationship with your customer by using their name and what they’re looking for.
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Courting Your Customers – Part II

Last week, we talked about how getting online reviews (aka your business’ “online dating profile”) can help potential customers feel more confident calling you because they see that you’ve got a good reputation. Let’s continue down that path this week.
My kids have been on a Disney music kick lately and one of their favorite songs that comes on (though they haven’t seen the movie yet) is “That’s How You Know” from Enchanted. The first lines from the song are “How does she know you love her? How does she know she’s yours?”
This makes me think of our relationships with our customers. I’ll explain.
When you ask them for a review, you’re essentially telling them “Hey. I think we had a good time and I want to see you again.” You’re setting the stage for a long-term business relationship.

How Soon is Too Soon?

I remember after my first date with my wife I debated about when to call her again. I had a great time, but didn’t want to come off desperate. (Come on, guys. You know what I’m talking about.)
Meanwhile, she was left wondering, “I wonder when he’ll call me again.” Turns out, I could have called her when I got home and it wouldn’t have been too soon.
Here’s my recommendation for your customers: Don’t wait. Whether you got a review or not, don’t wait.
In today’s marketing/business world, you’re actually expected to “call back” within 24 hours. That could be a literal phone call, e-mail, postcard, or text message (use your best judgement based on the customer). But the key is that you need to follow up. “THAT’S how she’ll know.”
Plus, if you didn’t get the review, this is your chance to find out how they feel. You get to ask for a review, a referral, or just check in make sure everything from your “date” is still okay.

Sending Flowers

There are some things that can never go wrong when it comes to following up on a job. These are all things you should be doing. Like sending a few flowers after a date, keep it reasonable, but “that’s how [they’ll] know you love them.”
Here are some ideas:
  • A personally-signed thank-you card (all but forgotten in our day and age)
  • A short, simple e-mail
  • A phone call
  • A text message
  • Referral cards
  • A review request
  • A box of dog/cat treats on a big P.U.R.T. job. (Amazon, anyone?)
Whatever you decide to do, make it meaningful. Take some time and show you care.

Big Takeaway:

  1. Make sure they know you “love” them. Feel for it by asking for a review.
  2. Don’t wait too long to “call” after the date. Follow up quickly and show some appreciation and thought.