Building a presence—online and off
When it comes to generating new leads for painting contractors, I’ll be the first to say that off-line marketing is still very effective.
Yard signs, branding your vehicle, word-of- mouth referrals, sponsoring community events, mailers, door hangers, etc. can all work well to generate new leads.
With that being said, consumers are increasingly going online to find information, products, services and locations. In fact, according to Google, 4 in 5 consumers use search engines to find local information, which makes having an established, consistent online presence more important than ever.
NOT A ONE-SIZE-FITS-ALL APPROACH
With digital, there are a variety of factors that can influence which online channels will prove to be most effective for your business. What works well for one contractor may not be fruitful for another. Every online marketing campaign needs to be customized to meet both the needs of your business and the behavior of your customers.
Here are six key areas that can provide your company with a holistic approach to online marketing, and work to increase the qualified leads you receive online.
1. LOCAL SEO
Sending clear, concise signals to search engines about who you are, what you do, and the areas that you serve plays an important role in an SEO strategy. If a potential customer sees a yard sign on their way to work and wants more information about your services, how do you think they’ll find it? Likely through a branded search using a search engine.
For contractors that serve a specific service area, the quickest local SEO win you can achieve is to set up and verify a Google My Business page. This requires you to:
• Verify your page either via phone or postcard
• Complete all required fields including company name, address, phone number, hours of operation and web site URL
• Add your company logo and plenty of high-quality images that showcase your best work
• Ask your satisfied clients to post reviews
With a verified Google My Business page, you’ll increase the chances that your new listing will appear in Google’s local 3-pack of search results that appear below paid ads and above the traditional organic results.
This is prime real estate that’s free for the taking and requires minimal time to set up and optimize.
Google released a statistic earlier this year that said 75% of all searches will be from mobile devices and that in the U.S., 94% of people with smartphones search for local information on their phones. At Congruent Digital, we are consistently seeing at least 50% mobile traffic for most of our painting contractor clients and I only expect this number to grow.
It’s important to provide your web site visitors with a great mobile experience. Some specific items to look at when auditing your mobile site are:
• Do you have a click-to-call button enabled so visitors can easily call your business?
• Is filling out your contact form easy?
• Is text easy to read?
• Is it easy to navigate through?
• How many seconds does it take to load?
Recent research published by DoubleClick by Google found that 53% of mobile site visits are abandoned if pages take longer than just three seconds to load. Translation: a slow web site could be costing you over half of your mobile site visitors.
Verify that your web site passes Google’s free Mobile- Friendly Test (search ‘mobile-friendly test’). Be sure to check your site on different devices to ensure the experience is consistent no matter how it’s being accessed.
Sponsoring events, donating your services through charity events, or simply participating in other local community events, is a great off-line marketing strategy that can also be used to enhance your online presence. If you decide to start or participate in a community event, here are some tips to leverage your online visibility:
• Share details about the event across your social media channels and on your web site
• Share with your local chamber of commerce; many chambers allow members to post or share news on their web sites
• Get in touch with your local media outlets and let them know what’s happening
• Work with other organizations and businesses involved in the event to cross-promote each other
Community events are great ways to build your local network, increase your off-line and online visibility, and strengthen your unique value proposition as a local business and community partner.
4. THIRD-PARTY PLATFORMS
Houzz, Thumbtack, Angie’s List, Yelp … and the list goes on. It seems like a new platform is launched every week. Your time and resources are limited, so which platforms should you have a presence on?
Start by performing a couple of searches in Google for your services and the locations that you serve; e.g., ‘painting contractor Los Angeles.’
Pay attention to which networks are consistently appearing on the first page of search results and start with those. Make sure you’re putting your best foot forward by including:
• Professional logo and high-quality images that showcase your best work
• Company description that includes your unique value proposition and a call to action
• Your address, hours of operation, phone number, web site URL
You’re in business because you do a great job, but are you consistently asking your satisfied customers for online feedback? If not, you should be. A recent survey found that 90% of customers are influenced by online reviews and that 85% of customers reported reading online reviews. Today’s consumers are doing their research, so make sure that you stand out from the competition by having reviews across all the platforms on which your company has an active presence. Tips for increasing the number of reviews you receive from satisfied customers include:
• Ask permission. Ask a customer during a job if they’d be willing to provide online feedback after the project is complete.
• Provide options! Not everyone has a Houzz account and not everyone is an active Yelper. Creating a simple ‘Reviews’ page on your web site—or an email template that lists the top platforms you’d like reviews on—along with simple instructions on how to leave feedback on each, can help to increase the amount of online reviews you receive.
• Add links to the profiles you’d like reviews on by including them on your invoices, email signatures, etc.
• Don’t offer compensation! This is against most platforms’ terms of service and can land you in hot water if you’re caught. Remember, most customers that have an amazing experience with your company will be happy to leave feedback.
Reviews are the top organic ranking factor for platforms like Houzz and Yelp, making them essential to keeping your business visible for searches related to your services on these platforms.
6. PAID ADVERTISING
Paid advertising can be an incredible tool for specific campaigns, and a very effective way to get your business in front of your target audience in your service area. If your web site doesn’t have a strong organic presence, Google AdWords, Yelp and even Facebook advertising can be a great option for increasing brand awareness, building a following, and attracting new leads.
For Facebook and Google AdWords, I’d recommend enabling ‘remarketing’ and ‘retargeting,’ which allows you to target those who have already expressed an interest in your company.
I’ve only scratched the surface on ways a painting company can increase both their online and off-line presence and attract new, qualified leads. Just like no two businesses are exactly alike, the same rule can be applied to your customers, making a diversified, holistic approach one that will likely yield the highest returns in the long run.
Brian Jensen is the CEO of Congruent Digital, a full-service online marketing agency located in Huntington Beach, CA. For more information go to congruentdigital.com and Brian can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org