When the lights are off and no one is in the office, your business is still open. Even during regular business hours, most of your customers probably visited your website before calling. With the internet at most people’s fingertips, your business is accessible 24/7. Therefore, online presence is crucial because it is where people research your company and determine if they are interested in doing business. Through an effective online marketing strategy, your voice can be heard above all the noise and make it easier for customers to find you.
Looking at the components of online marketing, attracting visitors to a website and converting visitors to customers are necessary steps. Apologies to “Field of Dreams,” but there is a little more to it than “If you build it, he will come.” For more than 20 years, I have been involved with online marketing and building and optimizing websites. One challenge I have faced is teaching my clients that their website is for their customers. This mindset pertains to an entire online presence: website, social media, e-marketing campaigns, etc. You need to cater to your customers, not to your own liking.
Think about the last time you met someone new: maybe at a conference, a civic event or your kid’s soccer game. When they asked what you do, how did you respond? Did you dive into the history of your company, highlight all the projects you have completed or explain to them what services you offer or, better yet, what problems you solve for your customers? Too many companies focus on the history of their successes rather than how they fill their customers’ needs.
At the speed of the internet, consumers can search multiple options for services they need in moments. Therefore, it is crucial to make it quick and easy for your customer to know how you can help them and why they should choose you over your competition. Unfortunately, you have less time than a 60-second elevator pitch to grab a prospect’s attention and convince them to take action.
I talked to marketing experts about the critical elements of a website for a contractor, and these were the top three responses:
Make the site about the customer and how you solve their problems.
Keep it simple. You have only seconds to grab their attention.
Have a clear call to action.
In a conversation with marketing consultant Ben Johannemann, he put it quite simply. Your message needs to be “brick to forehead,” a singular message with a clear next step. What problem(s) do you solve for your customer? How do you help your customers make money, save time or make life more convenient and comfortable? How can they hire you? Johannemann also expressed the importance of keeping your message simple when it comes to explaining the services you offer, certifications you have, your satisfied customers and how to contact you.
Your marketing message is more about your customers’ needs than what you want to say. If you spend too much time explaining who you are and your history, you will lose the audience’s interest, and they will move on to the next service provider.
Echoing his point, Lyn Wineman, president of marketing agency KidGlov, Lincoln, Neb., said, “People are bombarded with messages. You have to make it very, very clear why they should choose you.”
The simpler you make it, the more likely visitors to your website will be to engage with you and take the next steps to become a customer.
“Your home page is more about what your customer is looking for than what you want to say,” she said.
So how do you know what information people are looking for? Put yourself in your best customers’ shoes. What problems do they have that you can solve for them as an electrical contractor? This information should be front and center on your website. Once you have caught their attention as the superhero, they consult you to help meet a business or comfort need.
Make it easy for customers to take action. If you genuinely want their business, then ask for it. According to John Wooten, founder and owner of Artillery Media, Lincoln, Neb., a clear call to action (CTA) is getting the fish in the boat once you have it on the hook. According to Wooten, some customer CTAs might be getting a free quote, requesting a no-obligation bid, scheduling a service call or joining a mailing list. Any of these prompt the visitor to act.
Hey! Look over here!
Now that you have built your website, how will customers find you? Think of your website as the nucleus of your marketing efforts. All your marketing aspects should complement one another and point to your website. As you drive traffic to your site, there is a clear CTA, and you will begin to convert visitors to customers.
According to Wineman, it is important to remember the seven-times rule. “Research indicates your audience has to engage with your marketing seven times for it to be effective. That can be a combination of things: maybe they see your ad, then your social media post, then your sign, bump into you at a community event and then see your ad or social media again, etc.,” she said.
As you promote your company on social media, include a link to your website and have your web address on company vehicles. If possible, display your web address and logo on any sponsorship opportunities.
In my experience, most contractors are all about doing things themselves. There can be the general attitude of “I don’t need to hire someone because I can figure it out on my own and save some money.” Many service providers in the market cater to these types: do-it-yourself and have your site live in hours. It’s like building only to Code minimums. It gets the job done, but does it provide the most useful installation for the customer?
More to the story
You can create a website, but there is much more to making it an effective marketing tool with a good content strategy. How do the messaging and site structure tie in with your other marketing efforts? These and other elements must be considered to get the most out of your online presence.
Whether you are a solopreneur just getting started or a large contractor wanting to build up your online presence, focus on what you excel in. You are in business to fulfill your customer’s electrical, low-voltage, transmission or other power needs and not in the business of marketing strategy and implementation.
Just as you want to be hired as the expert in your field because you provide solutions to your customers, seek out professionals who are marketing experts and provide website design and online marketing solutions for their customers. Think of your online presence as an investment rather than an expense. The more professional the appearance and congruent the message, the better positioned you will be to command higher rates for the solutions you provide, be heard above your competition and be perceived as the go-to experts.
Online marketing is constantly evolving. Tactics that were effective a few years ago may get you blacklisted by search engines today. Having a website, Facebook page or other social media presence does not ensure you will attract customers. Through an effective marketing strategy, you can get the most out of your marketing investment.
Target your ideal customer with your messaging and what you offer them on your website. Avoid throwing marketing dollars in every direction and hoping something works. A targeted, straightforward approach leads to better results and gains more customers you want to do business with, instead of those just looking for the lowest price. This approach should include identifying the characteristics of your customers in the areas you want to grow, identifying messages that resonate with them and selecting targeted marketing efforts that will deliver your key messages to customers through multimedia channels.
I strongly encourage you to work with marketing and communications professionals. You should also ask questions and seek to understand how your online marketing works. Be sure you know how the marketing professional will keep you up-to-date on the effectiveness of your efforts and recommend adjustments to improve your return on investment. Your online marketing strategy should be dynamic and fluid, adjusting and improving as you receive feedback and data available to you.
Marketing is only an expense when it is not effective. Effective online marketing is an investment in your business success and separates you from your competition. When consumers see you as the go-to solution provider, you are being paid for the value and quality solutions you offer, not just competing on price.