digital marketing contractors monterey salinas

Marketing Your Home Services Business During & After the COVID-19 Crisis

By March 22, 2020, more than 101 million Americans were placed under a stay-at-home order because of the coronavirus. On March 23, there were more than 35,200 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States. Unfortunately, leading scientists and medical professionals believe that the number of cases is much more than this estimate because of a lack of testing.

While the world seems chaotic, people will still need to get home services during and after this crisis. Septic tanks need to be pumped, and pipes become clogged. Whether you are an electrician or a roofer, your services will still be needed. By carefully planning out your marketing strategy today, your business will come out of this crisis stronger than ever. The COVID-19 crisis will end at some point, and smart businesses will be ready to take advantage of the world's new situation.

Consider the New Reality

Even if a vaccine magically appears tomorrow, this crisis has already changed how people live their lives. Now, people possess a heightened awareness of how interconnected humans are. They are more likely to notice someone cough or sneeze nearby. Standing too close to someone and shaking hands are more likely to make someone feel uneasy.

For contractors, this means that the way you do business has to change slightly. People want to know that they are protected, so you need to take precautions when you enter a client's home. More importantly, you have to communicate these precautions to your customers.

Promote Your Efforts

When you do something that adds product value for your consumers, you generally have to tell the consumer about what you are doing. If you do not tell them, it is like the benefit does not exist. You will personally get to enjoy playing your part in reducing the spread of COVID-19, but you will not get to enjoy the business advantages of doing this if your customers are unaware of your efforts.

You can start by using the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for your staff members. If your staff members are not already doing things like washing their hands and staying home when they are sick, it is time for them to start. By communicating the steps you are taking with your team, you can reassure your clients that you are protecting them. Plus, these precautions will help you protect your staff members as well.

Now Is The Time to Start Generating Awareness

Advertising your products and services right now can be challenging. You definitely do not want to seem like you are trying to profit from a crisis. Instead, your goal right now should be to raise awareness and stay relevant. This is especially true for companies in states with stay-at-home orders because you might not be able to actually go to a client's property right now.

Many people are stuck at home right now because of stay-at-home orders and self-quarantine requirements. Because of this, many of your clients are spending more time on Facebook and social media than ever before. If you want your marketing message to really resonate, this is a great time to communicate with your clients.

Limit Your Advertising

While I do not recommend advertising your services if there is a shelter-in-place order in effect, you can still post photos of your completed projects. You can use your social media account to show off projects in progress and do-it-yourself videos. Right now, your main goal is not to market your products. You want to stay relevant and make sure your brand remains a focal point for your audience.

Most likely, your audience is bored and running out of things to do at home. By daydreaming about updates to their garden or a new renovation project, they have a chance to escape reality for a little while. Once the crisis is over, they will tackle the renovation and repair projects they have spent so much time daydreaming about. If you plant the idea's seed now, your business will be able to harvest the fruits of your labors later on.

Preparing for the Future

If we can flatten the curve and reduce the number of COVID-19 cases in the United States, things will start to return to normal. At this point, you will need to begin actively advertising and promoting your business again. By raising awareness and staying relevant during the crisis, you will make your future advertisements more effective.

While each business is different, you will probably want to consider using Google Ads after the crisis has passed. During the crisis, you can use Facebook ads and social media posts to raise awareness. By using Google Ads after the crisis ends, you can convert your Facebook audience.

Home repairs and maintenance work are necessities for American households, so there will be pent-up demand to meet after the crisis is over. If you can position your company well today, you can reap the benefits of your work tomorrow.

 

If you’re looking for more digital marketing ideas for home improvement companies and contractors, we can help! Coastline Marketing Group can answer your questions about Google Ads, Website Design, Paid Advertising, Social Advertising and more. Please contact us today to learn more about how to grow your contracting business online.

 

Article by Phil Fisk
CEO, Coastline Marketing Group, Inc.
831-789-9320
Book A Consultation

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Professional Website Design

Is Your Website Out of Date? 18 Benefits of Upgrading to a Professional Website Design

Is your business website going the distance for your home improvement contracting company? If you rely on do-it-yourself site design like many small business owners, chances are that it isn’t even coming close. Through my many years in the digital marketing sphere, I’ve seen it again and again: Despite having an active site, general contractors fail to see results – and it’s usually because the site hasn’t been professionally designed. Don’t just take my word for it, though; read on to learn 18 benefits of professional website design for contractors.

The Statistics Don’t Lie – A Website's Design is Crucial for Marketing a Business Effectively

When it comes to effective Monterey Bay contractor marketing, having a professionally designed website is absolutely vital. Here are some statistics that I dug up to show you why:

  • 94 percent of consumers cite poor design as the top reason for not trusting certain websites
  • People form an opinion about a website in 10 seconds or less
  • Two out of three people prefer to read content that is beautifully designed
  • Consumers take an average of just 0.05 seconds to form an opinion about a website – and the company behind it
  • 38 percent of consumers say they will leave a website if its design isn’t attractive

18 Top Benefits of Investing in Website Design for Contractors

The above stats just scratch the surface of how important a professionally designed site is for any business – including contractors like plumbers, electricians, landscapers, renovators, builders and roofers. Without further ado, here are my top 18 reasons for investing in professional site design and website management:

1. First Impressions Matter

When someone needs contracting services these days, Google is sure to be their first stop. Even if your site appears in the SERPs, however, it won’t do you much good if it doesn’t make a great first impression immediately. Given that 48 percent of consumers cite site design as a top credibility factor, this isn’t just about dazzling people with a stylish site – it’s also about demonstrating your company’s legitimacy, credibility and authority. Remember: Merely getting someone to land on your site isn’t enough; you also need to present them with a website that makes them willing to stick around for a while.

2. A Unique, Quality Design is Crucial

If you rely on generic templates and do-it-yourself web design solutions, your contracting website is certain to look the same as countless others. It will also come across as amateurish. In today’s competitive business climate, no business can afford to skimp when it comes to the design of its website. Having a unique, high-quality website is a must.

3. Reliability Means Fewer Headaches

When a website isn’t professionally designed, it is apt to experience technical issues on a regular basis. Since your site acts as your virtual representative, it needs to be functioning and available when people find it. With a professionally designed business site, you’re far less likely to deal with website downtime and other issues that can alienate prospective customers.

4. Providing a Great User Experience is a Must

Today’s internet users are savvier than ever – and they don’t like to be kept hanging by slowly loading websites. The user experience that your website provides plays a critical role in any prospect’s journey toward becoming a paying customer. According to HubSpot, 47 percent of users expect a website to load within just two seconds. On top of that, reducing site loading times from eight seconds to two seconds improves conversion rates by a whopping 74 percent. With professional design services, your site will load faster, be easier to navigate and will help push people along the sales journey instead of scaring them away.

5. Clean Code Means Better Results

When you put together a website yourself with templates, plugins and third-party tools, the resulting code is guaranteed to be messy. Amateurly designed business sites tend to have code that is positively choked with CSS, JavaScript, HTML frames, Flash and other elements that reduce load times and cause other issues. Worse still, Google has stated that code quality is an important ranking factor. When you hire someone to handle digital marketing for home improvement contractors for your business, you can rest assured that the code that they produce will be clean, effective and SEO friendly.

6. You Need a Professional Design to Compete Effectively

Regardless of the type of contracting or home improvement company that you operate, it’s sure to face fierce competition. Surer still, your chief competitors have already likely invested in professional design services for their websites. Indeed, 73 percent of companies have invested in design just to differentiate their brand. If you don’t bother to do so yourself, you’re basically handing business over to your competitors.

7. A Professional Site is a Scalable Site

Even if you manage to cobble together a basic website for your home improvement firm, the work doesn’t end there. Web design technologies and trends constantly evolve, so website updates are a fact of life. Updating one that is barely functioning in the first place is difficult at best – or you might just fail to keep up with those updates, causing technical issues that push people away. With professional site design for contractors, your site will have a strong foundation that allows it to be updated and expanded as needed with minimal effort. With website management, which is usually included, you won’t have to worry about it at all.

8. Mobile Friendliness is Imperative

More people access the internet through mobile devices now than ever. Without the right technical know-how, your odds of designing a site that works just as well on mobile as it does on desktop are woefully slim. Professional website designers use responsive web design that allows sites to load correctly regardless of how they are being accessed, allowing you to seamlessly reach prospects whether they are on a desktop computer, smartphone or tablet. In fact, 68 percent of businesses that adopt responsive website designs see increases in sales.

9. Brand Identity and Consistency Starts with a Quality Design

Your contracting business’s website should be the hub of your digital marketing efforts. When done correctly, quality design can help you to enhance brand identity and to create consistency across all platforms. With a professional design, everything from your site’s graphic design elements to its content will be geared toward telling people about your company and brand. This not only appeals to human users, but it helps to demonstrate to search engines like Google what your contracting business is all about – and that helps with ranking in the SERPs big-time.

10. Seamlessly Designed Sites Convert More Leads

In years past, a website that was little more than an online brochure would often suffice. Today, a company’s website plays a key role in the buying journey – so it’s wise to hire professionals to design it. As mentioned earlier, doing so boosts the user experience, which is a key determining factor in pushing visitors toward conversion. Furthermore, a modern, professionally designed business site addresses visitors’ pain points and guides them effectively toward reaching out to your company for help – and that can have a very positive effect on revenue.

11. Good Design Keeps People Coming Back

When seeking home improvement services, people don’t always make their decisions right away. Many times, a prospect will refer to the same site multiple times to inform their decision – but they’re not likely to do that if the site in question doesn’t inspire trust. Quality design plays a key role in keeping people coming back to your business website, and it can also even inspire them to leave positive reviews for your company. Those reviews serve as effective word-of-mouth marketing and are akin to a gift that keeps on giving.

12. Effectively Designed Websites Have Lower Bounce Rates

Many years ago, companies based the effectiveness of their websites on how many “hits” they received. Since then, of course, we have learned that attracting a prospect to your site is just the first step. You need to keep them there long enough for them to head toward conversion, and that can’t happen without professional design services. The rate at which people visit then immediately leave a site – the bounce rate – is a key performance indicator, and it pays to keep it as low as possible for effective digital marketing for home improvement contractors.

13. Excellent Site Design Saves Business Owners Time

If you handle Monterey Bay contractor marketing yourself, you also assume the responsibility of keeping it up and running. This can be a job in and of itself – especially for amateurs who don’t understand the intricacies of modern site design. When you hire a company to design your contracting business website for you, it’s tested thoroughly before going live. If glitches do arise, the digital marketing agency addresses them. In many cases, effective site design can even save you from fielding as many phone calls and the like, saving you even more time.

14. Professional Design Services for Websites Saves You Money

Imagine how much money your business would lose if people found locked doors or inept employees when visiting in person. Well, the same phenomenon occurs when they encounter a poorly designed website. Every prospect that is lost through bad web design is a missed opportunity and can cost you dearly. On top of that, since website management is rolled in with design services most of the time, ongoing maintenance is handled for you. Therefore, paying someone to do it for you reduces overhead.

15. Effective SEO Hinges on Professional Design

You probably already understand the importance of SEO for home improvement contractors. Did you realize, however, that quality site design plays a crucial role in the effectiveness of your SEO efforts? As noted previously, Google has gone on the record to say that code quality is a ranking factor. On-page elements like header tags and anchor text all play a big role and are directly impacted by how a website is designed. Furthermore, the right digital marketing agency can create an SEO strategy that is bolstered by the design of your site and vise-versa, creating a cycle of continual improvement.

16. Local SEO Works Better with Professionally Designed Sites

As the owner of a Monterey Bay contracting business, you need local prospects to find you. Local SEO is an excellent way to make this happen, but it works better when a site is professionally designed. That’s because professional web designers know how to incorporate important local SEO indicators into the design of a site, increasing Google’s ability to identify its service area and improving its ranking in the local SERPs.

17. It’s a Worthwhile Investment

It’s natural to balk at the initial investment that goes into professional, high-quality site design services. However, you need to consider the big picture. Most significantly, paying for professional design services now can help to boost revenue for years to come. It can give you a crucial edge over your competitors, helping you to convert more prospects into customers and broadening your customer base. It also results in fewer technical issues, letting you focus on running and growing your business.

18. Professional Site Design is a Complete Digital Marketing Solution

When you hire a firm to design your website, you aren’t just getting an attractive and appealing site; you’re also getting a complete digital marketing solution. Everything from graphic design to SEO to content and social media marketing is usually included, so you can truly put your website to work for you instead of the other way around.

How Does Your Website Stack Up?

Now that you’ve learned the 18 benefits of professional site design, are you still happy with your current website? Whether it’s one that you designed yourself or one that was professionally designed years ago, your Monterey Bay home improvement business is certain to benefit in countless ways from a professionally updated and designed website. Which aspects of quality site design do you think will help your contracting business the most? I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

 

If you’re looking for more digital marketing ideas for home improvement contractors, we can help! Coastline Marketing Group can answer your questions about Google Ads, Website Design, Paid Advertising, Social Advertising and more. Please contact us today to learn more about how to grow your contracting business online.

 

Article by Phil Fisk

CEO, Coastline Marketing Group, Inc.

831-789-9320

 

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Take Advantage of Google Maps and Attract More Customers in the Monterey Bay Area

If there’s one thing to know about digital marketing for general contractors in the Monterey Bay area, it’s the importance of effective Google Maps marketing. Put simply, this refers to using the functionality of Google Maps to make your local business easier to find.

Of the many strategies that I’ve seen come and go through my experience of more than 15 years in digital marketing, I can’t emphasize enough how crucial it is to rank well on Google Maps. Some top advantages of achieving a high ranking on the popular format include:

  • Increase the trustworthiness of your business
  • Attract local searchers -- online searches are their go-to resource
  • Enhance overall local SEO efforts, including through links back to your site
  • Stake a claim to your business so your competitors can’t
  • Receive more online reviews of your business – a crucial ranking factor
  • Improve the visibility of your brand through visual Maps aspects like logos and photos
  • Prove to locals that your business exists – it essentially won’t unless you claim it on Google Maps
  • Ensure that accurate information about your business is displayed online
  • Take advantage of a cost-effective and very powerful digital marketing tool

The Local 3-Pack and Its Effects on Ranking on Google Maps

Before delving into strategies for improving your company’s visibility on Google Maps, it’s important to know about the shift that Google made a few years ago from its so-called Local 7-Pack to its current model – the Local 3-Pack. This is particularly relevant when it comes to digital marketing for contractor businesses in the Monterey Bay area, so pay attention.

Previously, Google used the Local 7-Pack, which grouped the seven top results for local searches into a distinct panel at the top of the SERPs. A few years ago, however, the search engine giant cut down that number to just three, creating the Local 3-Pack. 

Google primarily made the change to reflect the importance of mobile search; displaying seven results on a smartphone screen just doesn’t work. Anyway, Google has also stated that the last four results didn’t tend to garner much traffic.

As you will see, this change had far-reaching implications for ranking well in local maps results. In particular, it had a devastating effect on ranking well across multiple cities, neighborhoods and other areas.

 

Why a Well-Optimized Google My Business Listing Plays a Crucial Role in Effective Digital Marketing for General Contractors in Monterey Bay

When someone searches for, say, general contracting services while physically located in Monterey Bay, the location-based functionality of Google Maps – the most common way in which local results are ranked – kicks in. Therefore, Monterey Bay contractor marketing can rely quite heavily on the mere location of users to generate strong, 3-Pack rankings in organic search results.

However, if someone doesn’t have location services enabled -- or is searching for services in one place while physically located in another -- ranked Google Maps results come into play. Although customer ratings play a strong role in such rankings, another factor is even more important: The quality and optimization of a company’s Google My Business listing.

 

10 Ways to Optimize Your Company’s Google My Business Listing for Optimal Performance in the Local 3-Pack Results

Okay, now I am ready to provide concrete tips for dramatically boosting your contracting company’s visibility in Google Maps for businesses:

1. Claim and Verify Your Google My Business Listing

The first step to getting on the fast track of effective SEO for home improvement contractors via Google Maps is by simply claiming and verifying your listing on Google My Business. Using a Google account that is specific to your business, locate your company on Google My Business and claim its listing. You must then verify it by agreeing to have a postcard mailed to your company’s physical address; note that P.O. box addresses are not permitted. The postcard will have a PIN that you will then enter on Google My Business to complete the verification process.

2. Specify the Areas That Your Contracting Business Services

The switch to the Local 3-Pack drastically changed the way in which companies that service multiple areas rank across them. Where your Salinas roofing company may have once ranked well across outlying areas like Hollister and Monterey, for example, it may have only retained its ranking for Salinas, becoming nearly invisible in the SERPs for other locations.

Luckily, there are ways around this issue. First, you can specify areas that your company services by either dictating a mile-radius service area on Google My Business or by listing zip codes that your company most frequently services. The option that’s right for you will depend on how and where your business operates.

Another way to effectively rank in the Local 3-Pack for multiple areas is by using geotargeted keywords across your website and in places like image file names; location markers; service pages; and title tags. This means using phrases like “roofing company in Salinas,” “electrician in Monterey” and “general contractor in Hollister” throughout your website. However, make sure not to overdo it – and keep the content natural and easy to read to avoid being penalized by Google.

3. Use Your Complete, USPS-Approved Business Address

Visit the USPS website to confirm the precise address that the agency uses for delivering mail to your business. It will include a room or suite number, if applicable, as well as the full nine-digit zip code. Make sure that your address is displayed without formatting errors – extra spaces are a common example – and make sure that you have checked the box to actually display your business address on Google My Business.

4. Check All Applicable Categories

Another way to optimize your Google My Business listing is by moving beyond just clicking a single service category, which is required. Indeed, you can and should elaborate upon that as much as you can by selecting additional categories and subcategories that pertain to your business. For example, you might select “general contracting” as your primary category and select things like “roofing contractor,” “builder” and “masonry contractor” as additional ones.

5. Optimize Your Business Introduction

Google My Business allows you to create a unique introduction to your business that is used to provide clarity about your company and its products and services in Google Maps results and elsewhere. In addition to explaining things like what your contracting business does and where it operates, you should outline what sets it apart from the competition. Include links and keywords, but don’t overdo it. The introduction should be easy to read and helpful above anything else. If you provide a wide array of services, use a bulleted list for the sake of clarity.

6. Include -- and Optimize -- Photos

Beyond the maps themselves, Google Maps is a highly visual platform. When it comes to effective digital marketing for home improvement contractors, then, it pays to add and optimize photos to your Google My Business listing. In addition to a primary photo that appears prominently at the top of your Google Maps listing, you can include additional ones that appear when people scroll further down it. Use a third-party app to add metadata to your photos; examples of such metadata include:

  • city, geographic location and country tags
  • physical address and longitude and latitude
  • relevant keywords, including geotargeted keywords
  • additional category information
  • comments about related services that are offered by your business

7. Solicit Online Reviews of Your Business

Although it is not clear precisely how customer reviews impact a company’s ability to break into the Local 3-Pack, there’s no question that they play a crucial part in Google’s algorithms. Note first that reviews won’t appear on your Google Maps listing until you have accrued at least five of them – another reason to encourage people to post them.

Here are some ways help your business make the most of online customer reviews for more effective Monterey Bay contractor marketing on Google Maps:

  1. Use a third-party tool like Mention to continually scour the internet for mentions – or, more officially, “citations” – of your competitors -- Find out how many citations your top-ranked competitor on Google Maps has to get a feel for the standard and volume of customer reviews that you should be aiming for.
  2. Be responsive to customer reviews – even negative ones -- In fact, you should be especially diligent about responding in a transparent and non-defensive way to such reviews. It appears that businesses that are consistent about responding to online customer reviews tend to show up in the Local 3-Pack more often than those that don’t, so this is a good way to further enhance your general contracting business’s visibility there.
  3. Encourage customers to leave online reviews -- Make a point of kindly asking customers to leave online reviews of your business. You might consider using a third-party tool to make it easier for them to do so; for example, there is software that can automatically send a follow-up email with links directly to your Google My Business listing, making the process as effortless for people as possible. If customers visit your company’s physical location, consider using the Google My Business Marketing Kit to generate marketing materials, including posters and brochures, that encourage visitors to leave reviews of your company on Google.

8. Take Advantage of the Latest Google Ad Features

Google advertising for home improvement contractors is another great way to bolster your company’s ranking in the Local 3-Pack. However, many companies fail to capitalize on the latest Google Ad features, which causes them to miss out on prime advertising opportunities. Google Ads are pertinent to Google My Business because they appear across Google Maps results within the Google Maps app; on desktop and mobile versions of the Google Maps site; and on Expanded Maps results on Google.com.

The latest features that I strongly recommend employing for your Monterey Bay general contracting business are:

  • Promoted Pins – These can and should include branding and logos to help your ad to stand out even more in Google Maps results.
  • In-Store Promotions – Update your ads regularly with the latest promotions that you are offering for the roofing, landscaping or other contracting services that you provide to encourage clicks.
  • Customizable Business Pages – Customize your business listing as it appears in Google Ads to make it reflect your branding more clearly.
  • Local Inventory Search Functionality – Although not usually applicable to contracting businesses, companies that sell actual products should consider allowing people to search their inventory directly via their Google Ads.

9. Be Patient and Persistent with All of These Techniques

From personal experience, I know how eager you probably are to implement these techniques as quickly as possible. That’s well and good, but it’s important to remember that no single item on this list – nor even all of these techniques used in combination – represents a magic bullet that will catapult your company to the Local 3-Packs that you are targeting. As with things like website design for home improvement contractors and SEO for home improvement contractors, there is no “finish line” for effectively optimizing a Google My Business listing and ranking well in Google Maps results. Rather, remember to bide your time – and to continue employing and refining these and other techniques on an ongoing basis.

10. Take Good Care of Your Customers

All of the Google Maps ranking strategies in the world won’t matter a bit if you’re not doing right by your customers. Therefore, before anything else, focus on providing a stellar customer experience each and every time. Acknowledge that mistakes can and will happen, and be willing to be transparent in handling them and in making things right whenever you can. When combined with the above tips, you’ll have a recipe for true, ongoing success on Google Maps.

 

What Will Your First Step Be?

Knowing what you do now, where are you most likely to start in your journey to improve your Monterey Bay contracting business’s visibility on Google Maps? If you’ve already claimed and verified your Google My Business listing, you have plenty of other avenues yet to explore. Let me know your thoughts about how you are most likely to proceed as well as which strategies are most likely to help your company. I look forward to hearing from you!

 

If you’re looking for more digital marketing ideas for home improvement contractors, we can help! Coastline Marketing Group can answer your questions about Google Ads, Website Design, Paid Advertising, Social Advertising and more. Please contact us today to learn more about how to grow your contracting business online.

 

Article by Phil Fisk
CEO, Coastline Marketing Group, Inc.
831-789-9320

 

2018_CoastalMarketingGroup_Phil_0868-web


Should Your Website Be ADA Compliant?

ada compliance logoThe Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal law established in 1990 for the purposes of protecting those with disabilities against discrimination. It addresses a full range of accessibility issues covering everything from transportation to education to accessing public services. Believe it or not, the law also covers website access.

You might be wondering whether or not your website should be ADA compliant. In a word, yes. The challenge is actually getting it done. This post will explain why. If you are a website owner considering the possibility of upgrading your website for ADA compliance, this post is for you.

ADA Compliance Requirements

A good place to start is discussing who is actually required to comply with the ADA. The law addresses those businesses and other organizations that fall under Titles I and III of the ADA. Title I organizations are those with a minimum of 15 full-time employees and active operations for at least 20 weeks per year.

Title III organizations are those engaged in public accommodation. Examples include bus companies, hotels, entertainment venues and the like. Any and all outlets through which customers avail themselves of public accommodation must be ADA compliant.

It is fairly easy to make a company's physical premises compliant. Federal law is very clear about everything from accessible restrooms to adequate means of entrance and egress. Making a website ADA compliant is not so easy. The root of the problem is the fact that there are no clear guidelines for website owners to follow.

Accessibility Creates Loyalty

We believe website owners should seriously consider ADA compliance despite a lack of clear guidelines. Even if an organization is not a Title I or Title III organization under the law, offering disabled customers accessibility is good for business. In simple terms, accessibility creates loyalty.

It goes without saying that disabled people face many hurdles the fully-abled never have to consider. Something as simple as opening the door to a public restroom becomes immeasurably more difficult when you're in a wheelchair. The same types of challenges translate into the digital space as well.

You and I take navigating the internet for granted because we can see everything clearly. Yet a visually impaired person doesn't have such an easy time of it. He must rely on screen readers to get around online. If websites are not set up in such a way as to increase screen reader accuracy and efficiency, visually impaired visitors have to work that much harder to make sense of what you and I easily see on the screen.

Provide that same visually impaired visitor with an ADA compliant website and he will have a much easier time navigating. You can bet he will return to that site next time he needs access to the same information or services. Doing so is human nature.

Compliance Protects Organizations

Another good reason to make a website ADA compliant is the simple desire to avoid trouble. The popular Domino's pizza chain knows all too well what trouble looks like. They were sued in 2018 by a visually impaired customer who was unable to order pizza online because Domino's site was not compatible with his screen reader software.

A federal court ruled in favor of the plaintiff late last year. Rather than accept the ruling, Domino's appealed to the Supreme Court. Their appeal was denied when the Supreme Court let the lower ruling stand. Domino's must now revamp its website to make it ADA compliant.

Like it or not, failing to comply with the ADA can lead to civil litigation. Furthermore, there are attorneys whose entire practices revolve around ADA litigation. Website owners should understand that civil litigation can be rather costly. It is not uncommon for defendants to end up paying tens of thousands of dollars just in legal bills alone. The cost only goes up when lost cases result in fines and other penalties.

Complying with the ADA protects organizations from lawsuits. It is just that simple. While your company may have to invest in making its website compliant, the investment could end up paying for itself by keeping you out of trouble.

Typical Compliance Strategies

As previously mentioned, there are no hard and fast guidelines explaining how to make a website ADA compliant. Yet there are certain industry standards we can look to. For example, applying alt tags to all images, videos, and audio files goes a long way toward compatibility with screen readers.

An alt tag is a bit of hidden code that tells web browsers more about a particular website element. Assigning an alt tag to an image would tell a browser about that image even if said image could not be loaded. The same tag would tell a screen reader about the image as well. The screen reader could then describe the image to the user based on information in the tag.

Creating a simple and organized layout is another common strategy. A good example is a main menu designed so that each item is distinct and separate from every other item. Distinct and separate menu items are easier to navigate for people with impaired vision. Along those same lines, navigating menus is made easier when disabled guests can minimize the number of clicks necessary to get where they are going.

Other strategies include:

Creating text transcripts for videos and audio files.
Embedding automatic tips that help improve navigation.
Including a meta tag that defines a website's language.
Limiting the use of complicated language that screen readers might have trouble with.

The key to all of this is understanding how disabled people might use your website. This can be difficult. However, consulting an attorney who specializes in ADA compliance is always on the table. Attorneys are the most qualified to help you understand what the ADA requires of your business. Sound advice from a qualified attorney could prove to be your most valuable tool for maintaining compliance.

Website owners can also take a look at the federal government's ADA Best Practices Tool Kit website. It lays out all the ADA best practices state and federal agencies are expected to employ.

ADA Compliance Without Recoding Your Website

Coastline Marketing Group can help website owners in their quest to make their websites ADA compliant. We offer an advanced website accessibility solution without you having to refactor your website's existing code and ensure a comprehensive legal & regulatory compliance framework covering ADA, section 508, WCAG 2.1 AA, and much more.

Take a test run of our ADA Compliance Widget in the bottom left corner of our website.

If you'd like more information about adding our ADA Compliant Website Widget to your site, call us at 831-789-9320 or visit our Contact page.

 


contractor working and planning marketing

Contractors: Your Customers are Online – And You Should Be Too

contractor working and planning marketing

 

If you own a contracting company but haven’t prioritized establishing an online presence and digital marketing strategy, you’re selling yourself way short. Having been in the digital marketing industry for more than 12 years, I can assure you that all businesses need a solid online presence – yes, even general contractors, plumbers, electricians, landscapers, builders, renovators and roofers. In this climate, the only way to reach the next level with your business is through digital marketing. This has been the case for several years now, but many contractors continue to eschew online marketing – and many don’t even have a solid online presence.

 

Why Digital Marketing is Crucial for Contractors

Consider this: As of 2019, only 45 percent of the estimated 830,000 construction companies that exist in the U.S. are growing. Sure, some may be happy to rest on their laurels, relying on traditional marketing methods like word of mouth and mailers. Those that wish to rise to the next level, however, need to understand that their competitors are increasingly investing more time, money and effort into digital marketing. From establishing a professional, up-to-date website with informative and useful content to relying on SEO to obtain top Google rankings, construction companies and other contractors that put real effort into digital marketing overwhelmingly outshine their competition and soar to new heights of success.

 

Digital Marketing for Contractors Matters – Yes, Even for B2B Firms

In my experience, contractors that provide services directly to consumers are far more likely to grasp the importance of digital marketing than those that offer B2B services. All too often, I hear owners of B2B firms say things like, “Phil, online marketing doesn’t matter if you’re selling services to other businesses.” Perhaps that was the case a few years ago, but times have changed. Consider this: 71 percent of commercial buyers start their research by searching Google for what they’re after. Among B2B contractors that have turned to digital marketing, 57 percent say that SEO generates more leads for them than any other type of marketing effort. If you’re not already prioritizing digital marketing, then, how can you hope to truly compete?

 

How Can Digital Marketing Help Your Contracting Business? Let Me Count the Ways

At this point, you may be a bit on the fence about the benefits of digital marketing for contractors. After all, as the owner and CEO of Coastline Marketing Group, I have a vested interest in convincing you to give me your business – especially if you are located in a California Central Coast community like Monterey Bay, Hollister, Santa Cruz, Morgan Gill or Gilroy. That’s not what this blog is about, though. I am here to show you that in today’s competitive world, the only way to get ahead as an electrician, plumber or other type of contractor is by putting real effort into online marketing.

 

Here are seven great reasons to invest time and effort into digital marketing for your contracting business:

  1. Improve Customer Service – Most contractors are SMBs, so they struggle to juggle customer service while providing the services that actually pay the bills. By establishing, maintaining and frequently updating a website and social media pages, a general contractor can provide information to prospective and existing customers without having to pick up the phone. Through FAQs, videos, webinars and other online content, you can provide information to people who would otherwise have to call you for it and save yourself a lot of time and effort in terms of customer care.
  2. Cultivate an Authoritative and Professional Image – Given that 97 percent of consumers go online to find and research products and services, failing to have a professional and engaging online presence is a major misstep for contractors. If someone needs plumbing services in Monterey Bay, for example, and your company doesn’t appear in local Google searches, people not only won’t become aware of its existence – they will seriously question just how competent and professional your firm is.
  3. Be Available on a 24/7/365 Basis – As any SMB contractor knows, a key aspect of generating new leads and keeping existing customers happy is being available to them. If you are only available during regular business hours, you’re certain to miss out on lots of potential business. With an effective online presence and digital marketing for contractors, you can be available to prospects and existing customers 24 hours per day, seven days per week and 365 days per year. In essence, your company will be “open” three to four times longer than it otherwise would be – and you can imagine how significant that can be for your bottom line.
  4. The Internet Was Made for Business – Although some may argue that the internet is primarily there to entertain us, myself and many other digital marketing experts posit that it was really created for business. From the start, companies flocked online to extend their reach and increase their fortunes. In 2018, nine out of 10 American adults used the internet. A whopping 90 percent of people go online to research their home building and renovation needs – and 53 percent of them begin with online searches on major search engines like Google. Through SEO and other digital marketing practices, you can help your company rise to the top of local search results – and then you will see precisely why the internet is designed for business.
  5. Increase Responsiveness – At the risk of sounding redundant, I want to reemphasize the fact that having a solid online presence, including social media pages and an information-packed website, can dramatically increase your responsiveness to customers. Whether they are prospective customers or existing ones, providing avenues through which they can learn more about your company and get the answers that they need goes a long way toward improving your bottom line. Compared with hiring a slew of customer service reps, digital marketing is extremely reliable, affordable and effective.
  6. Cut Costs – Through a well-designed website for your contracting business, you can even cut costs in many ways, making digital marketing more affordable and effective still. By simply providing sales videos, for example, you can avoid having to hire sales reps or having to go out and pound the pavement yourself, so to speak. Many contractors, including landscapers, builders and roofers, even provide online billing services. Their customers can create online accounts through their websites and then view and pay invoices and even request quotes. The manpower that would be needed to provide those services at a higher volume would be considerable, but your website could handle much of it for you for a far lower price.
  7. Getting Started is More Affordable Than You Think – As an SMB owner, you are acutely aware of every penny that you spend to market your business. Not surprisingly, many contractors are reluctant to get started with digital marketing because they assume that the initial costs will be far too great for them to manage. In reality, though, digital marketing can be tailored to suit any business and any budget. You can get a new website off the ground for far cheaper than you probably think, and outsourcing things like SEO, social media marketing and the like is far more affordable than many traditional forms of marketing.

 

Statistics Show the Importance of Digital Marketing for Contractors

In the sections below, I highlight key statistics regarding various aspects of why digital marketing is so crucial for contractors – whether they are B2Cs or B2Bs:

 

Why Having a Quality Online Presence is Crucial

If you think that having a quality website and online presence only really matters to companies that sell goods online, I’ve compiled some eye-opening statistics that suggest otherwise. Indeed, things like SEO for home improvement contractors can make a significant difference for everyone from electricians to roofers. According to Google Ads there are:

  • more than 1.7 million searches per month for contractors;
  • more than 4.2 million searches per month for home builders and design-build companies;
  • more than 2.8 million searches per month for plumbers;
  • and more than 1.2 million searches per month for roofing services.

Additionally, 80 percent of internet users own smartphones, so having a mobile friendly online presence is equally important – especially considering that 82 percent of smartphone users use search engines to find local businesses.

 

Why Having a High Ranking on Google Matters

The stats also show that when it comes to drawing in relevant traffic, achieving a high ranking for crucial keywords on Google is a must. More than 5.5 billion searches are performed on Google every day. Having a number-one position on the Google search engine results pages, or SERPs, for your desired keywords can increase desktop click-through rates by about 34 percent and mobile click-through rates by about 31 percent. On top of that, 86 percent of users look up the locations of local businesses on Google Maps, so Google advertising for home improvement contractors is a sure-fire way to attract more business.

 

How Website Design for Home Improvement Companies Can Help

Think of your business website as a type of sales rep that is out there 24/7 promoting your company. Now imagine hiring a human sales rep who looks disheveled and is unable to speak articulately. That’s what you have if your business site isn’t up to par in terms of functionality and user experience. Considering that 92 percent of people look at websites when researching local businesses, yours needs to be as professional and user friendly as possible – and these additional statistics back that up:

  • 63 percent of users mostly rely on a contractor’s website to find and engage with them
  • 30 percent of users won’t even consider a business without a website
  • When a page loads, users form an opinion about the business within 0.05 seconds
  • 75 percent of users judge the authority and credentials of a business based on the design of its website

 

Content is Still King – Even for Contractors

For a long time now, quality content has been one of top characteristics that Google “looks at” when calculating rankings. Therefore, content marketing for home improvement companies is essential. Did you know, for example, that adding a blog to your site can increase its odds of ranking by 43 percent? Surveys have also shown that 70 percent of users feel closer to a company after viewing or reading its custom content, and 82 percent have a positive impression of a business after reading unique, engaging and informative content on its website.

 

Online Reviews: A Crucial Component to Any Effective Digital Marketing Strategy for Contractors

When it comes to online reviews, slapping a few customer testimonials onto a website won’t cut it anymore. After all, 85 percent of users don’t trust online reviews that are more than three months old, and 40 percent only look at ones that were posted within the last few weeks. When doing research for goods and services online, a whopping 95 percent of users read online business reviews. The right digital marketing strategy can help you to cultivate more consistent and effective reviews that drive business your way.

 

Don’t Forget Social Media

Finally, statistics demonstrate the importance of social media marketing for home improvement contractors. Through social media, roofers, builders and other contractors can engage in real, human interaction with prospective and existing customers, which helps to build trust and to increase the odds of generating effective leads. Incredibly, only 1 percent of contractors report using social media on a regular basis, so there’s fertile ground for companies that put some effort into doing so. Also, 90 percent of companies that engage in social media marketing state that those efforts have increased online exposure for their business, and 75 percent say those efforts have helped to increase traffic to their sites.

Have I convinced you yet? If so, how do you envision your digital marketing strategy taking shape? If not, why? I’d love to start a conversation with you regarding digital marketing for contractors and why it’s so crucial!

If you’re looking for more digital marketing ideas for home improvement contractors, we can help! Coastline Marketing Group can answer your questions about Google Ads, Website Design, Paid Advertising, Social Advertising and more. Please contact us today to learn more about how to grow your contracting business online.


lead magnet for landscapers

Lead Magnet Ideas for Landscapers

What is a Lead Magnet?

Do you remember when you signed up to download that one free report in exchange for your email address that one time a year ago and you're still receiving emails from that company you downloaded that report from?

Yep, that report was a "lead magnet". You likely see these companies continuously sending you emails trying to get you to come back to sign up for a service, right? While you might consider this annoying at times, especially if their emails have nothing to do with what you downloaded in the first place, the art of staying in touch with email can play a tremendous role in growing your business.

Now before you think this type of marketing is not for you, let me explain how simple it is and just how it can help you grow your landscaping business.

Lead Magnets Done Right

The problem with a majority of these companies that put me on their mailing list is, they send me information that just isn't relevant to me and doesn't provide me any real value. In other words, it's basically spam.

But lead magnets done right, combined with a proper email campaign, could turn your prospects into raving fans of your business.

In the digital world, it's widely known that the company who provides an abundance of valuable information to their audience is the company that will win the contracts, every time.

How To Use Lead Magnets to Grow Your Landscaping Business

As I just mentioned, the company that provides an abundance of free information to their audience is the company that will win the contracts. Many business owners feel that the services they provide are proprietary secrets that they don't want their competition to know about. Or, as in the landscaping industry, we don't want to show our audience how to do it themselves because this means they won't hire us to do the job.

Let's be clear about one thing - There are at least 1,000 videos on the internet for every single question someone might have about landscaping. By providing how-to information, rather in video or a lead magnet format, you are proving yourself or your business as the local expert.

Sure, many homeowners will try to do it on their own, but many might give up halfway through the project and reach out to the company that was willing to provide them the free how-to guide in the first place.

My Own Little Secret

Here's the secret to providing free information - give them just a little too much information.

Here's my little secret, I've been a digital marketer since 2007. In that time I have written over 1,000 articles and done numerous local workshops and a few webinars. The content that I put out has two objectives, to drive awareness for my business and to provide just enough information to my audience so that they're slightly overwhelmed with the amount of work they have to do (when it comes to marketing their business), that they just throw their hands up and say, "can I just hire you?".

Yep, that's the idea behind creating lead magnets - Drive awareness, prove your value, make it look simple and eventually they may just end up calling you to complete or fix the job. Now, you have a client for life.

Lead Magnet Ideas for Landscapers

As you determine which lead magnet to create for your business, think about some of the questions you hear the most from your clients. Or, what do you always see clients trying to do that they eventually give up on and call you? These could be great topics for your "how-to" lead magnet.

Here are a few titles we've either used for our own clients in the past or that we've seen used effectively by other landscaping businesses;

  1. Informational - 5 Questions To Ask A Landscaper Before Hiring Them
  2. Informational - Why You Should Consider a Drought Tolerant Landscape for Your Home
  3. Informational - What to Consider When Landscaping Your Home Within (city name) City Limits
  4. Informational - The 5 Biggest Mistakes in Landscape Design
  5. Informational - The 3 Requirements to Qualify for a Landscape Rebate Program
  6. How To - How to add $50,000 to the Value of Your Home with Landscaping
  7. How To - How to Choose the Right Material For Your New Home Deck
  8. How To - How to Select Concrete Pavers for Your Driveway
  9. Special Offer - Coupon - Save 50% on Your First Months Lawn Care Maintenance, Sign Up To Download
  10. Special Offer - Coupon - Free Yard Clean Up with 6 Month Agreement, Sign Up To Download

Be Creative with Your Lead Magnet

These are just a few ideas. You likely know what it is your audience struggles with the most. Don't just write about something because you're the expert at it, write it to truly benefit your audience. When you provide real value for your audience, you will likely have a fan for life.

So, You Have Their Email Address, Now What?

Once someone has downloaded your lead magnet, they are now considered to be at the top of your sales funnel. It's not often that someone downloads a lead magnet then calls you a few days later to hire you for a project. It's not impossible, but it's very rare.

Your job now is to help guide them down your sales funnel. Try to get them to take another step towards doing business with you. Don't ask for a sale right away, see if they will engage with you some other way.

So how do you do this?

This is NOT the right way - Sit down once a week and write a personal email to every single person that downloaded your lead magnet and ask them to take advantage of your newest special offer.

Don't worry, this is not how I suggest handling your new leads.

This IS the right way - If your lead generating campaign is successful, and you have several people downloading your lead magnet, I strongly suggest implementing a marketing automation campaign. Marketing automation will send emails to your new leads at intervals you specify, often called a drip campaign. You can set your marketing automation campaign to send out 2 emails or 20 emails over a period of time.

As I mentioned before, you want to make sure that your emails are providing true value. Don't just continuously send your prospects emails to get them to sign up for a service. Instead, send them tips and ideas for improving their own landscape. Or maybe allow them to download another lead magnet directly from the email.

Most of all, provide valuable information to your prospects. When they see what you are willing to provide for free, they will be excited to see what you provide when you're their own landscaper.

 

Article by Phil Fisk
CEO, Coastline Marketing Group, Inc.
831-789-9320

 


when to outsource your digital marketing

How And When To Outsource Your Digital Marketing

when to outsource your digital marketing

Digital marketing is one of those things that have to be done. If you’re relying solely on direct mail marketing, flyers, and banners, it’s likely not getting you to where you want to be. Times are changing and, if you want to survive, you have to learn to evolve.

You have probably already figured out that marketing can be exhausting. And, if you don’t know all of the latest tools, you may be spending a lot of money without seeing the results.

This is when you have to be realistic about outsourcing your digital marketing. How and when should you do it? It might already be past the point of needing professional help, especially when it comes to your outdated marketing strategies. If you’re not there yet, you might be closing in on the time when you need to raise your hand and get the help once and for all.

Why Digital Marketing is Important

Digital marketing covers a broad range of marketing strategies, from email marketing to social media optimization to social media. It can be overwhelming to do everything on your own, especially because there is so much that you should be doing in order to keep up with the competition. Additionally, trends are constantly changing. What worked last year or the year before may no longer be capable of giving you the same return.

Growth is what allows you to be successful. You need to make sure that you’re always marketing so that new people know who you are. There will always be customers who leave. If you’re not actively marketing, you’re going to slowly die. This means that growth is the only acceptable option.

Every customer is different. You can’t possibly expect to connect with everyone the same way. Some people want to learn about you with social media while others want to read an email in their inbox. Additionally, others will conduct a search in Google and wait to see the results. You need to be everywhere.

Competition is fierce, too. If you’re not careful, the competition can creep up on you and become a formidable opponent. Don’t assume it can’t happen. Blockbuster once thought that they’d be around forever, and look what has happened to them.

The newest business on the block is the one that you have to be the most concerned about. They don’t have the perk of referrals or word-of-mouth marketing. Instead, they have to focus all of their time and energy on digital marketing. They may also decide to hire a marketing company who will do it for them, allowing them to focus on the customer experience. This is where you have to be wary. You cannot allow the newbie to overtake you as the go-to business within your industry.

Digital marketing is important because it’s how the majority of people will find out who you are, what you do, and why they should choose you over the competition.

Digital Marketing Allows You to Be Everywhere

Digital marketing spans every digital component that there is. There’s an old school marketing rule of seven that says that people have to see things at least seven times in order to remember it and engage with a brand. However, in today’s day and age where people are bombarded by so much, it might even be higher than seven.

How can you possibly expose your brand to people seven times without turning them away?

Well, there are all sorts of ways to make sure that you repeat your message.

  • Social media ads
  • Social media posts
  • Website landing page
  • PPC ads
  • Emails

The list goes on, too. However, you can be creative with the way that people interact with your brand. Plus, you can use things like online contests and shopping cart abandonment strategies to help you with visibility and conversion.

If any of this is overwhelming to you, you’re not alone. The difference is that those that are overwhelmed and successful are the ones that have learned to use a marketing agency to do these tasks for them.

Be Honest About What You’re Doing (and How Long It’s Taking)

At some point, you have to be honest about what you’re doing in terms of digital marketing and how long it’s taking you to get it done. If you’re not a marketing guru by nature, even the simplest tasks may be taking longer than necessary. Additionally, you may be missing out on some important tasks that can get you in front of your target audience more effectively.

  • How much time are you spending on marketing strategies?
  • Are you up on the latest trends?
  • Who do you bounce ideas off of?
  • How is your reputation management going?
  • What kind of return on investment are you getting?

If you don’t like the answers to these questions or you don’t know what the answer is, it might be time to outsource. What got you here isn’t going to get you there. Essentially, you may be ready for the next step and your current marketing strategies aren’t going to help you achieve your loftier goals.

You can put in all of the time in the world, but if you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s not going to help. You can’t be an expert in everything. If marketing isn’t your forte, it might be time to admit it and outsource.

How a Digital Marketing Agency Can Help

A digital marketing agency can help you by providing you with an entire team who will work behind the scenes. What you would pay to have a single employee (don’t forget training them), you would be able to hire an entire agency.

Remember, too, that an agency has people who specialize in various areas. Hiring a marketing person may only allow you to tap into a few areas of expertise.

Establish Your Target Audience

Do you know who your ideal customer is? This includes knowing their gender, age, annual income, hobbies, and more. Many businesses are successful to a point. However, when it comes to paying for ads and interacting on social media, they reach a stopping point because they don’t know who their target audience is.

A marketing agency will do the research for you. They’ll establish customer profiles so you know who it is that you need to connect with. It can make it easier to get a better return on investment when you get into Facebook ads, pay-per-click ads, and more.

Build Your Brand

Your brand doesn’t simply become a household name. It’s something that you have to work at growing. This depends on social media profiles, the use of a strong logo, photos and videos that allow you to show that you have real people behind the company name, and so much more.

Branding takes a lot of work, especially when you have competition in your local area. Rather than working tirelessly behind the scenes, you can tap into the expertise of branding professionals.

Enhance Your Marketing Strategies

Your marketing strategies may be good. However, you want to make sure that they’re the best. This comes back to bouncing ideas off of someone. If you don’t have anyone to talk to about your marketing strategies, you may be spending money that doesn’t get you the desired ROI. What you think looks good may be falling flat in front of your audience.

Every marketing strategy should be carefully branded and created so that it identifies with your target audience.

A marketing agency will work as a group to come up with strategies for you. They’ll create the copy, the graphics, and more to ensure that the marketing concepts are launched properly.

Stay Up on Trends

Marketing is constantly changing in terms of what works and what doesn’t work. One of the main responsibilities of a marketing agency is to stay up on the trends. By working with them, you can ensure that you benefit from their expertise.

They’ll be able to tell you which platforms you should be on, what kind of content you should produce, how to search engine optimize your website, and what colors should be used in ads.

By staying up on the trends, you can be sure that you don’t appear outdated. One of the top reasons why you may stop growing is that consumers don’t see you as current any longer. If you’re not making adjustments to your marketing on a regular basis, you can be quickly replaced by your competition (who is up on the trends).

Monitor What’s Going On

There’s a lot that happens behind the scenes, and you can’t keep up on it all. Trying to will drive you mad. It’s a full-time job. It’s why so many companies are turning to an agency. You can have an entire team work on everything so that you have the time to do other things. We’ll talk about that more in a minute.

You need to know what kind of reputation you have, such as how many negative reviews were left on Yelp for you in the past week. You also need to know what kind of return on investment you’re getting on the Facebook ads that you created.

A marketing agency can track all of this for you. They have the automation tools as well as the team that can work in the background. They can make changes to marketing strategies based on what’s going on. It ensures that marketing efforts are successful.

Then, reports will be compiled to keep you in the loop.

Learn About Boosting Your Productivity

Think about how much time you realistically spend on marketing every week. It may be 30 minutes in the morning on Facebook, an hour around lunchtime creating ads, and another hour in the evening creating a blog or two for your website. When you add that all up, it could be 10 hours or more a week. And, you haven’t even hit all of the areas that you need in order to grow effectively.

If you’re not even putting in that number of hours, then, your marketing is really suffering.

It’s all the more reason to outsource your digital marketing. You can sit down with a marketing consultant to discuss what goals you have for your business. From there, they can create a marketing plan for you.

They’ll be the ones sending emails, posting on Facebook, and writing blogs. They’ll work on your backlinks and identify when you get new reviews. It will free up the time in your schedule to focus on other things, like your operations.

Think about what it can mean for your business if you’re able to focus on what you do best while a marketing agency focuses on what they do best. You can become more customer-centric and build your business because the marketing efforts are bringing in more customers.

Take Your Marketing Efforts to the Next Level

Marketing is one of the single most important aspects of your business. If you’re reading this you already know that you’re not dedicating the time and energy into marketing that you should be. Hiring a marketing team can be the best way to get ahead of the competition.

You need to choose a digital marketing agency that has a strong team. You want to know that there are individuals who specialize in social media, search engine optimization, email marketing, and other aspects. It ensures that your business’ marketing needs are in good hands. Further, you want to make sure that the agency has a strong reputation with positive reviews.

As soon as you hire an agency, you may finally let out a sigh of relief knowing that you have professional help to grow your business and reach your sales goals.

Coastline Marketing Group has a proven track record with companies of all sizes. Let’s talk about the benefits of a marketing agency and how it can benefit you. Contact us today to schedule a time where we can sit down and talk. We’ll show you why it’s time to outsource your digital marketing and how it can be a worthy financial investment.

 

Article by Phil Fisk
CEO, Coastline Marketing Group, Inc.


paid-advertising-monterey-salinas-1024x683

How Facebook Advertising Can Generate More Leads Than You Ever Thought Possible!

Why on earth should you focus all of your marketing dollars on Facebook Advertising? Well, you want to generate more leads than ever, and this is really what you need in order to accomplish your goals for a better bottom line and sustainable growth well into the future. You’ve just had a direct response experience when you chose to download this report. So that means that direct response advertising works – and now I’m going to show you more.

Branding vs Direct Response Advertising

Branding is one of the hardest things to do and that’s because of the money it takes to do it properly. You have to be where your people are – and you have to give your brand the exposure it needs for your ENTIRE audience to see it over and over again. You don’t think Kleenex got to be a household name because they spent $100 in one geographic region one time, do you? Of course not. Large brands spend millions of dollars to get their brand in front of you.

You don’t have millions of dollars. If you do, then you really don’t need to be reading this. Since you don’t have that kind of marketing budget, you need to focus on direct response advertising instead. Your brand will grow organically as a result of getting your brand in front of the right people and getting them to take action.

Here’s the really great part about direct response advertising:

  • It’s affordable
  • It’s highly targeted
  • It’s 100% measurable

Let’s talk about that last point for a moment. It’s 100% measurable. That’s a really big deal because you can learn about your ROI. You can use coupons and other incentives to learn how many people are converting, too. This means that you can see how much your investment is paying off. You can’t say the same thing about branding. 

If you’re spending a lot of money on branding, you don’t know what is and isn’t working. That’s because you’re using things like billboards and radio ads to promote your brand. How do you know how many people drove by your billboard or visited your website because of hearing your website mentioned on the radio? You don’t. It’s impossible to know how well it really did, which means you could have dropped thousands of dollars for nothing. 

Making the Most of Your Marketing Budget

In order to make the most of your marketing budget, you have to go with direct response advertising. Facebook Ads is a great way to reach a large number of people. You set the budget and therefore it will reach as many people as possible with the money you have available.

You also get to determine your audience you play to. Have different audiences? Great, you can have a different ad copy and set a different audience for each ad that you run.

The “direct” in direct response advertising is what you need to focus on. You want to advertise DIRECTLY to your target audience in order to get an immediate response (which is your call-to-action – click here, buy this, download this).

Who is your audience? Well, that depends. Once you figure it out, Facebook allows you to home in on it with the audience selection tools to include:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Regional area
  • Interests
  • Behaviors
  • Life Events

This is a powerful tool. You can’t market directly with billboards or radio. While you can choose where you put the billboard or what radio station you choose, you don’t get to truly focus in on the audience with laser accuracy.

But Why Facebook?

Facebook is by far the largest social media platform. There are certainly others that are popular, but they don’t have the same draw as Facebook. Plus, Facebook makes it SO easy to really home in on your target audience. This makes it easier for your message to be seen by the right people.

When you show someone an ad that really connects with them, they comment, like, and share. Sharing is exactly what you need because it stretches your marketing even further.

By now, you have probably heard about the unicorn Frappuccino that Starbucks launched. It was available for a limited time. People took pictures of it, created hashtags about it, and it went viral. Here’s the crazy thing about this: Starbucks didn’t do anything. They let their product stand for itself. They earned over $1 million in extra revenue in a single day because everyone wanted a unicorn Frappuccino. Because it was cute (even though filled with tons of sugar), people talked about it.

This is what you want to accomplish with your Facebook ads. You get the concept (or product or service) in front of the right people. Then they do a lot of your marketing for you.

When you give up all of your other marketing (such as radio, SEO, and more), you also have more money to play with. This means that you can use the money to give something to those who take advantage of the offer. It’s a better use of your money because it results in guaranteed conversions. Maybe it’s a really amazing coupon or a free product when they purchase a certain amount from you. Whatever it is, it’s the carrot that you dangle in order for them to convert and buy from you.

Client or customer engagement is critical and that’s what will help you with your word of mouth, SEO, and more. Get your audience hooked and let them do a lot of the marketing for you.

If you need help in getting started with Facebook Advertising, call us direct at 831-789-9320.

BONUS ARTICLE

6 Successful Facebook Advertising Hacks

Facebook is a great tool when you’re a small business. However, posting on your business page is not always enough. You might not be getting the reach you really need, which is why Facebook Ads is an important component to explore.

Various hacks have been used at Coastline Marketing Group and we have found them successful with some of our own clients.

Regardless of whether you’re paying to reach 1,000 people or 10,000 people, there are some ad tips you need to incorporate so you get people clicking the ads and taking action on the link that they arrive at.

Ad Hack #1: Create Buyer Personas

A buyer persona allows you to create your ideal customer. The reality is that you might have several personas based upon the product or service you have to offer.

With each potential customer, think about their age, their gender, what they do for a living, and the kind of problem they have that would be solved with what you have to offer. Have fun with this and maybe even create a graphic to go along with your customer. It’s something that will assist you in future marketing campaigns as well.

When you have a buyer persona in hand, it will make it easier to design a Facebook Ad. This includes being able to identify the best target audience. You will be asked to enter keywords and locations to home in on who your target really is. As you enter more information, Facebook knows more about who they need to show the ad to – and this ensures you’re not wasting your money.

The more you know about your buyers, the easier it will be to get a ROI from your ads.

Ad Hack #2: Speak To Their Emotional Side

You have a limited number of words to use when creating a Facebook Ad. You have a headline and a description – and neither of them give you a lot to work with. Additionally, you are limited by the amount of text you can include within your graphics.

That being said, you have to speak to the audience’s emotional side within your post. Through your image (or video) and your words, you have to make a connection. People shop with their emotions, whether they realize it or not. It’s more important to focus on the benefits of a product or service as opposed to the features. This means that you have to figure out why a certain feature is so beneficial – and focus on that.

There are options available when you want to include several benefits and therefore play on a few different emotions. When you create the Facebook Ad, create a carousel of images. This will allow you to have different “cards.” Each card features a different photo as well as a different headline and description. It gives you more to work with so you make the connection with your audience. You can also choose to have the most popular cards featured first, which means if it has already worked for others, it will show that one before going to the other cards.

There are two different types of buyers: emotional and rational. Within your description, focus on a little bit of both. List a benefit to be emotional, followed by a great feature. Use emotional, powerful words that people will identify with, such as “money saver,” “time saver,” “free time,” and so on.

Ad Hack #3: Use Call-To-Action

There’s a call-to-action built into Facebook Ads. This is an optional pulldown so the button says “Learn More,” “Book Now,” “Shop Now,” and the list goes on and on. This is absolutely a feature to use because people will get an idea as to what they will be prompted to do upon clicking on the link you have connected with the ad.

However, when it comes to creating a call-to-action, you don’t want to depend solely on the button itself. You need to use your words to convey a strong CTA so you grab people’s attention and pull them over to your link. 

A call-to-action probably isn’t going to increase the click-through rate. It will reduce friction once a user lands on your landing page. They will know what to do, so they will get right to performing the desired action. 

The CTA can be anything from “click for your free trial” to “download this amazing offer.” Get creative with the CTA and make sure you deliver once people get to the landing page. If your Facebook Ad promises a coupon and there’s no coupon on your landing page, you won’t get the conversions and you could end up with a lot of negative comments on the ad itself. 

Ad Hack #4: Limit Stock Photography

A lot of websites offer stock photography. Some might be free while others are going to charge you for use of the images. The problem with stock photography is that it’s impersonal. Don’t underestimate your audience – they will be able to tell stock photography from internal photographs. Plus, if they just saw another ad that uses the same stock image, people will keep scrolling right past your ad.

Forget about professional photos. Instead, use the photos that you capture of your employees working, your products, and real customers enjoying your real services. It will be more emotional and more REAL, which is the whole idea.

Remember, you’re not just limited to photography on Facebook Ads, either. You can choose to use a video. This could be something you record from your smartphone. It could be a time lapse of something being built, a video of your assembly line, a head decorator frosting a cupcake, or something else that is personalized to your business.

It’s also a good idea to use photography that’s geo-targeted. For example, if you’re targeting NYC for one ad and Chicago for another, you need to use different images. This could include the use of the city name in the ad in order to get someone’s attention.

The more you get target specific in your ads, the more your photos (or videos) should reflect it. This could be as simple as going into Photoshop to add a few words across the photo. Get creative and see how it can pay off with a higher click-through rate.

If you’re really stuck on the photo to use, consider how much people like to see faces. A study from Caltech in 2005 shows that there are specific brain cells that only fire when a face is seen. The faces don’t have to be human, either. Look at all the cartoon mascots on cereals and even for a bag of Cheetos. We see the face, we identify with it, and it’s humanized. Next thing we know, we’re hooked on that product. That’s what you want when you share photos inside of a Facebook Ad.

Ad Hack #5: Use Attractive Landing Pages

Within your Facebook Ad, you determine the link where people land. This means you have the opportunity to create custom landing pages within your website for people to arrive at when they click from the ad. When they get there, you want it to be attractive and feature rich.

What are people going to see when they get to your page? Will they see a lot of clear information about your product or service? Will they see the same kind of design as what was in your ad? You need to focus on branding so people don’t question whether they landed on the correct website.

The reality is that getting people to click on the link from Facebook is only half the battle. Once they have clicked on that call-to-action button, you have less than 10 seconds to convince them to stay on your site and read more about what you have to offer.

Your landing page has to be interesting and deliver the same message. If you promised a free download, then people need to see where that is. If you promised a discount, be sure the discount code or link is easily identifiable.

Some things to consider include:

  • Bold graphics
  • Minimal images
  • White space within blocks of text
  • A clear offer
  • An enticing call-to-action

Your landing page should take at least as long as it takes for you to create your Facebook page. Before you go live with either one, be sure that they are branded in a similar way. They have to appeal to the buyer persona you are targeting, which means the images and the way in which you pitch have to be considered.

Ad Hack #6: Use Promos and Giveaways

Promos and giveaways are a great thing to use on your Facebook Ad because people love being able to get something for free, or at least for a discount. Approximately 34 percent of users have identified that they will “like” a Facebook page in order to get a discount or be eligible for a promotion.

This means it’s in your best interest to provide a contest or conduct a promotion on Facebook. 

A sweepstakes contest, for example, lets people know what you’re giving away. The landing page shows off what you’re giving away and you have them do a few steps to win, such as liking the Facebook page and signing up with their email address. You might even ask them to share the contest with their friends, giving you even more exposure. The added benefit is that you have now collected their email address to target them through a newsletter at a later point in time.

Refer Your Friend giveaways are also great tools because it helps you to gather more likes to your Facebook page. When people get their friends to enter, they earn more entries into the contest. With the trust factor involved, a promo has the chance to go viral.

Other types of contests include essays, vote for a specific item/design, or a photo contest. It gives you future marketing fodder for down the road, and ensures people engage with your brand.

There’s also the Facebook coupon, which is something you can add to your Facebook page and have a landing page to match. The Facebook like button will coincide with getting the coupon. Ask people to enter their email address and next thing you know, they have their coupon and you have a new subscriber to your newsletter.

The tools are out there for you to run sweepstakes and contests, so get creative and make sure that it ties back to your brand. With the right graphics and a prize worth winning, people will give you the likes and shares needed to give your brand considerably more exposure than what it’s getting now.

Final Thoughts

Facebook Ads are simple to create. Plus, the social media platform walks you through all of the different steps. It’s all well and great to launch just any ad. However, if you want a good return on your investment, you want a high click-through rate as well as a high conversion rate once people get onto your landing page.

Branding matters and this has to be taken into consideration with all that you do. A buyer persona will allow you to learn more about your target demographic. From there, you can choose the right images, the right wording, as well as the best overall promotion. What goes in the Facebook ad should also match what goes on the landing page as this is what will make it easier to convert someone into a customer.

You don’t have to spend a lot on Facebook advertising. You simply have to be smart about your approach and what you want people to do. It might be in your best interest to create a campaign where you ask people to refer a friend in order to win something. Once you have more likes on your page and traffic to your website, you then run another Facebook Ad and target the same people. This time around, you drive them to a product or service on a landing page and with exposing them to the brand in two different ways, you have developed a higher level of trust.

With these advertising hacks, you might be surprised by how much easier it is to improve ROI and overall conversion rates each time you run an ad.

If you need help in getting started with Facebook Advertising, call us direct at 831-789-9320.


why hire a website design agency when i can do it myself

Why Would I Pay a Website Design Agency to Build My Website When I Could Do it Myself?

why hire a website design agency when i can do it myself

There’s something to be said about putting your best foot forward. When you go for a job interview, you take the time to focus on what you wear so that you make the best possible first impression. Your website can be considered a job interview. It’s what people are going to use when they want to learn more about you. If they like what they see, they’ll continue to interact with the site, sliding further down the sales funnel that you create.

Online marketing begins and ends with a good website.

Acknowledge Your Strengths and Weaknesses

You may be great at what you do. Whether that is being the best dentist in town or the best architect, the reality is that you have your strengths. You don’t have to be the best in everything. As soon as you know what your weaknesses are, you can start to do what’s right for your business.

I learned this the hard way a few years ago. The 2016 El Nino storm resulted in my backyard fence being blown down. I figured, “I got this.” I watched a few YouTube videos and rebuilt my fence. It looked fine. About three years later, another big storm came through. This time, I lost almost my entire fence. I admitted defeat and called a pro.

My point to this story is that there’s no shame in admitting your weaknesses. While you can build your website doesn’t mean that you should. It might look okay at the surface, but your competition may be blowing past you because of insufficient online marketing tactics.

Save Money But Don’t Be Cheap

There’s nothing wrong with saving money. The savviest business owners do it all the time. However, you don’t want to be cheap, either. Many businesses should take a DIY approach for their website when they’re starting out, especially when a budget is tight. After all, there are some great platforms that allow you to take a DIY approach and still have a professional website.

However, it’s important that you have a website planning session to ensure that you’re building your website to meet your needs. Once you reach a point where you know you need more, you need to make sure that you’re doing what’s right for your business. Your website is not the area where you want to be cheap. As you grow your business, it’s important to start delegating key tasks, including website development and online marketing.

Focus on More than a Web Presence

It’s important to know what your website is and what it isn’t. It’s so much more than a website.
Your website is:

  • a lead generator,
  • an educational tool,
  • a sales funnel, and
  • an online marketing strategy.

If you don’t treat it as all of these things, you’re missing out on the whole point to a website. For example, how are people going to find you on the search engines if you haven’t thought about search engine optimization? How are people going to connect with you if you don’t have a lead form on your site? How are people going to be converted from site visitors to customers if you don’t have the right marketing tactics in place?

If you don’t know how to accomplish all of these things, don’t panic. It’s all about asking for help when you’re in over your head. What got you here will not get you there. You need a website that will help to automate lead generation and serve as a vital marketing tool for your business.

Market Smarter Not Harder

Your website is a great way to focus on online marketing. You need an SEO strategy in place to ensure that you’re visible. From there, you need to have videos and testimonials attached to your website. You need to explain to people what your unique value proposition is and why they need to do business with you.

A basic website from a DIY platform is only going to cut it for so long. At some point, you have to consider how a professional website design company can help you to start marketing smarter. The right agency will look at your business model and processes, establish your target audience, incorporate your branding, and ensure that you have the necessary calls-to-action.

A user-friendly website with various marketing tactics in place can make it easier for you to market. Once a professional website has been built, you can get more leads and see your revenue grow exponentially. Let us help. Our web design services have helped a number of businesses throughout Monterey Bay and beyond.

You need more than just a pretty website. You need a website that makes you money. We understand that your website is an investment in your business. Let us show you how to get there by contacting us today. A quick conversation can help you to see the importance of a professionally built website.

 

Article by Phil Fisk
CEO Coastline Marketing Group, Inc.


video marketing for local business

How Integrating Video Into Your Marketing Mix Will Crush The Competition

Marketing tactics change regularly. When you want to crush the competition and get consumers dialed into your offerings, it’s important to use video marketing. Using videos within your marketing mix is nothing new. However, there are a number of reasons why it should be prioritized.

Ensure Consumers Understand

You have a unique value proposition, which is great for your brand. However, what if consumers don’t understand what that is and why they should care? The attention span has dropped considerably, so you have to think outside the box when it comes to making sure consumers see what you have on your website.

By using explainer videos, you have a greater chance of having people understand what you’re all about. Rather than filling your website with blocks and blocks of text, you can have a video that tells them everything they need to know. You let the video entertain and educate them for a minute, ensuring that they “get” it.

Before consumers hit the buy button, they hit the play button. This allows you to use a video as one of the greatest conversion tools. Remember, for many, seeing is believing. There’s not enough text in the world that will convince some people that they need to do business with your brand. They need to see it. Video is a great way to accomplish this.

Whether you use animated videos or professional video production, you’re providing a different way to convey your message. Further, approximately 95% of a message is retained in a video in comparison to 10% of what is read in text.

Provide Testimonials without a Shadow of a Doubt

Don’t ever assume that your target audience is naïve. While many people search for online reviews to see what other people are saying about you, there are others who will question the authenticity. You read about fake reviews all the time. Unfortunately, there are companies that use fake reviews in order to promote that they are better than they really are.

Even if all of your reviews are authentic, it can make it hard for people to believe it. This is when you can, yet again, turn to the power of video marketing. You can use video testimonials as a way to prove that people love your product or service. People can see that it’s a real person using their own words to tell others what they love about you.

Testimonial videos are easy to create and highly shareable. You can have them on your website, Facebook, and more.

Change Up Your Marketing Strategies

99% of businesses don’t market in the year that they actually live. Essentially, I’m referring to the idea that most businesses are using outdated marketing strategies. Video is the ultimate way to stand out from the competition. It’s great for search engine optimization, too, because your website is more likely to be on the first page of Google when there’s video content on it.

By switching up your marketing tactics, you can start to see more traffic to your website, more leads, and higher conversion rates. You may also be able to tap into new demographics because of giving people what they want to see.

Marketing videos can be as creative as you want them to be. More importantly, they can be branded to your business. You can use them to give people a “behind the scenes” look at your operations, be entirely promotional, as well as be a tutorial of how to use a product.

You can use marketing videos in so many exciting ways, too.

  • Have them on the landing pages of your website.
  • Incorporate them into blogs.
  • Load them onto your YouTube channel.
  • Post them on social media, including Facebook and Instagram.
  • Add them to email newsletters.

Many brands grow 49% faster on an annual basis when videos are integrated into their marketing strategy. With more and more businesses figuring out that video is where the future is, you owe it to yourself to get in on the movement. The results may shock and pleasantly surprise you. The best part is that you don’t have to do it alone. Rather than winging it every step of the way, you can have a professional marketing team guide you through the video marketing tactics.

Video creation services provide you with the opportunity to get above your competition. 30 to 60-second animated videos can entertain site visitors. 3-minute professional production videos can also be used to educate potential consumers and increase conversion rates. We’re already starting to offer these services to Monterey Bay Area businesses and look forward to showing you how they can work.

Start a conversation with us at Coastline Marketing Group by contacting us today. We’ll talk to you more about marketing videos so that it can have the biggest impact for you.

Article by Phil Fisk
CEO Coastline Marketing Group, Inc.