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Hunting for Customers

Adobe Spark (20)It’s that time of year again. Here at headquarters, we see people all around preparing for whatever hunting season it is right now (I’m not one of them). I also see social media posts about getting ready for their annual deer/hog/duck/jackalope hunts. Even if you don’t hunt, let me explain why this is on my mind.

Like Picking Apples

Envision with me, if you will, that you’re wanting to hunt ducks. You happen to live on a large plot that’s right next to a marshland FULL of mallards, teals, and wood ducks. You could literally walk out 100 yards with your dogs and your shotgun and bring in your limit within an hour or two. It would be as easy as picking apples from a low-hanging tree.

Would you rather do that or drive into the city and try your luck at the local park pond?

Now, ignoring the obvious infringement of city limit hunting ordinances, which one makes more sense? Of course, the first one! It’s obvious!

Your past customers are like these ducks sitting in the marsh behind your house. You know they’re there. They’re “expecting” to hear from you at some point. They’ve worked with you before and know you. Why would you ignore them?

Rule #1 for owning a Chem-Dry during the pre-holiday season: MARKET TO YOUR DATABASE. Use what you have available:

– Postcards from Postcard Guru or Franchise Print Shop.

– E-mail with ConstantContact.

– Voice/Text Messages w/ Specials with CallFire.

Whatever you choose (hopefully a combination of ALL of them), just DO IT!

Going for New Game

Think for a moment about hunting for new customers. Say you’d never hunted deer before and you asked a seasoned expert where you should go. He told you to get up into the mountains where they’ll be looking for available food. Would you go to the foothills and then wait for one to walk down out of their way and right past you? NO!

If you want to land new customers, you go where the new customers are. Yes, I’m speaking again of Pay-Per-Click. PPC has proven to be far and away the most reliable source for new customers for virtually every Chem-Dry franchise I talk to. Very rarely do I come across anyone that it hasn’t worked for.

New customers are searching daily for your services. Why wouldn’t you want to be one of the results they see?!

One of the great things is that we’ve done some of the hard work for you. We’ve found vendors that are not only reputable, but that are reasonably priced as well. Check out vendors like Net Search DigitalLocal Search MastersWeb Marketing Services, or Centermark. They know their stuff. If you EVER have any questions about whether or not their services will work for you, call me!

Big Takeaway:

Fall is an INCREDIBLE time of year to be a Chem-Dry franchise owner. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t be working full days every day. But make sure you have your bases covered.

  1. Market to your database. Use postcards, e-mail, and phone or text messages.
  2. Find new customers through Pay-Per-Click marketing.
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Free Ads When You Start PPC

Adobe Spark (8)

Yes, you read that correctly. No, this isn’t a sales pitch. At least, not really.

Google has started doing something that I think you PPC fence-sitters will be interested in.

The Details:

Okay, I’ve seen on numerous accounts that when you start using some Google services like Google My Business, Analytics, or AdWords, they have been offering an incentive of varying amounts (they’re probably doing their due diligence as marketers and trying different offers – just like you would). These offers range anywhere from $75 to $150 depending on how much you’re willing to spend with them.

One of my favorite offers I’ve seen is that you get a $150 AdWords credit when you spend $150, thus doubling the money you put down on it.

$150 AdWords Credit

(Don’t try to use the code in the image, it won’t work. It’s expired.)

At any rate, for any of you who may have been hesitant to try out AdWords because of the cost, here’s your chance.

“But What If I’m Already…?”

Some of you may be thinking, “But that’s not fair! I’ve already been using PPC for finding new customers!”

Well, to you, I would say “You already won.” That’s right. You’ve been enjoying the benefits of having more customers, who call more often, and spend more money (see what I did there?).

Others may be wondering how this works for vendors who handle PPC for Chem-Dry franchises. The answer is “it depends”. Vendors have varying relationships with Google, so some of them may already have an even sweeter deal worked out for you. So, the bottom line is, make a phone call to a vendor to see what they can offer. If you’d like some help figuring out who to talk to, schedule a coaching call with me below and I’d be happy to work with you.

Big Takeaway:

If you haven’t gotten on the PPC bandwagon yet, NOW IS THE TIME!
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What to Do When You’re Getting Out-Bid

auction (1)-3

Some of you might remember a little while back when I talked about PPC Done Right. In that series of articles, I talked about a little-known metric in PPC called “Impression Share”. It helps you keep a pulse on how well your campaigns are doing for your budget. But, as you know, sometimes a competitor comes along and starts spending inordinate amounts of money to try and drown you out.

Here’s how to know when it’s happened and some options of what you should do about it.

How You Know It’s Happened

If you’re paying attention to the performance of your campaigns (which, you should at least be getting a monthly report from your vendor), there are some key metrics you’ll keep an eye on like Cost-Per-Click (CPC), Click-Through-Rate (CTR), and conversions. But one of the best metrics to watch as a barometer for your campaigns is Impression Share.

impression-share-sunnyreports

Impression share is a measurement of how often your ad shows up compared to all the relevant searches when it could have shown up. For instance, let’s say that there are 10,000 monthly searches in a particular category for your area. If your ad(s) show up 6,500 times, you have a 65% impression share.

Now, remember that every time a search occurs, your ad will go into an auction that determines whether or not your ad will show based on how much you’re willing to pay, the content of your ad, the website you’re sending it to, etc., etc. There are tons of factors. The higher your impression share, the more often you are showing up and the more likely you are to get clicks and people to your website.

HOWEVER, what if you’ve been trolling along at around 85% impression share for a while (that’s a GREAT I.S. score), and you see it take a sudden nose dive? One of two things are likely to blame:

  1. That search all of a sudden became incredibly popular and you blew through your budget quickly for that day, thus missing opportunities to advertise later on.
  2. (The more likely option) A competitor came in and spend a boatload of money on advertising trying to drown you out.

What do you do then?

Focus In On Relevance

If an sudden surge in popularity is to blame, thank your lucky stars and simply increase your budget. It’s time to make hay while the sun shines!

Adobe Spark (7)

If you owe your sudden dip to a competitor, don’t panic! You have three options. You can:

  1. Increase your own budget to try and duke it out.
  2. Simply wait out the storm counting on their pace to be unsustainable.
  3. (The best option) Focus in on what is most relevant to your business.

Here’s what I mean by “focus”. If a competitor is impacting your impression share, that means they’re going after the same customer searches that you are. BUT, you have advantages that they don’t. For instance:

  • Your Name. While there may not be a TON of customers that will search for your business by name, your competitor is almost certainly going after them. But since Google gauges the relevance of your ad to the search, you have the upper hand. Your business is much more relevant to your name than your competitor’s is.
  • Your Brand. Like your name, a competitor is going to have a harder time showing up as well as you do for “branded” searches like “Chem-Dry”. If you have a ChemDry.com premium listing, consider sending some ads to your premium page to leverage its domain authority.
    • Example: For both your name and your brand, you may have your vendor shift focus away from bidding on generic search terms like “carpet cleaning” and increase your bids on “phrase match” and “exact match” keywords involving your name and brand.
  • Focus on Value. Chances are, your competitor is going to be very price-focused. You know that price-shoppers don’t become loyal customers. Google’s very good at determining when a customer is focused on price vs value, and you want the latter. Mention the advantages of using you over the other guy in your ads. Just like Apple, BMW, and Nike, people are willing to pay a bit more when they understand the advantages.
    • Example: I would advise against advertising prices in your ads. If you do, don’t low-ball the prices. Make sure they’re competitive, but try to show the value of your service.

In general, if PPC starts getting more expensive, don’t freak out! It happens from time to time. It may just be time for you to refocus and adjust.

Big Takeaway:

Competition will come and go. But your business will stand the test of time if you keep your head and take the correct actions. Keep your head and:

  1. Increase your budget if you’re able to compete with newcomers.
  2. Recognize that a small disruption is not the end of the world. You may be able to stick it out.
  3. Focus in on what you’re best at. Advertising to what is most relevant and your competitive advantages will get you more bang for your buck.
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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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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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SEO Supports PPC – Not The Other Way Around

It’s been a common idea and belief in the small business world that Pay-Per-Click website traffic boosts Search Engine Optimization and organic ranking. Most business owners have the plan of paying an SEO specialist to work on their website so that it eventually ranks highly enough so as to not need PPC.
I, however, believe that idea to be misguided. Here’s why.
***(Side note: I drew that picture. Feel free to mock my art skills.)***

PPC Traffic Doesn’t Always “Count”

When a website visitor gets there via paid advertisement, Google (obviously) knows it. Depending on the duration of their session (visit to the website), and how they interacted with your website, the traffic may not meet their “qualifications” for a visit. The biggest reason is that if PPC traffic counted as “true” website traffic, that would mean that you can buy website visitors.
While those criteria of what truly “counts” isn’t commonly known or talked about outside the fortressed walls of Google, you have to understand that Google’s biggest concern is how interesting or relevant the information on your website is to whatever your target is searching for.

How Does SEO Support PPC?

When you combine Search Engine Optimization and Pay-Per-Click efforts, it’s known as Search Engine Marketing (SEM). The primary goal of SEM is to give your business as many placements as possible on the first page of search results.
That means you show up in an ad, the map listing (3-pack/”snack pack”), AND the organic (unpaid) search results. Ideally, you’d have all three down pat and enjoy a high “impression share” (percentage of times you show up vs. the number of times you have the chance to show up).
Continual, regular updates to your website (SEO) help to make sure your website more attractive and relevant to searches on Google. The more optimized your website gets, the better prices and placement you’ll start receiving when advertising with AdWords.
Once your website start showing up well in the organic search results, however, that doesn’t mean you should give up advertising. On the contrary, your paid placement only increases the chances that the person who started the search will end up on your website.

NEVER Stop Doing PPC or SEO

Search Engine Marketing is a continual process. You should be doing both PPC and SEO so that you increase your chances of being found – especially when you have potential customers who are actively looking for someone of your expertise. It’s like submitting a bid for a commercial job in miniature. You pay for the chance to have your customer hire you.
The better your website performs, the cheaper you’ll be able to make your bid, or at least you’ll get a higher placement in comparison to a competitor placing the same bid.

Look At It This Way

Go back to when you were a little kid and think about the Merry Go Round on the playground. It was one of my favorite things. I have very dear memories of the playground down the street from my grandma’s house. When my cousins would all get together, the little kids would all pile on and the bigger kids would be the pushers. But there was a BIG difference between my wimpy cousin being a pusher and my older brother (who worked out). When he pushed, we got going so fast that we thought we’d go into orbit!
That’s how an optimized website can propel your PPC efforts. The better your site, the more Google is willing to promote you to potential customers, and the more often you’ll show up (think of revolutions on the merry go round). You’ll also have to pay less and less for your clicks (once it gets going, you don’t have to push as hard to keep it that way).

Big Takeaway:

No matter where your business is located or how long you’ve been there, the ideal is for you to show up as often as possible when a potential customer is searching for you. SEO supports PPC efforts, which should never stop.
  1. Talk to your SEO & PPC vendors about how often you’re showing up in search.
  2. Never stop doing PPC advertising. It’s an opportunity to connect with potential customers.
  3. Never stop working on your website. Google is constantly changing its search algorithm. Your vendor should never stop working on your website.
Take a look at your SEO and PPC strategies to make sure they’re aligned. Your website should support your PPC efforts. Always remember that.