It can be easy to forget that the whole purpose of the internet for a small business is basically to get the phone ringing (or the inbox filling) with new, qualified leads.
The tools available for businesses trying to market online make this process incredibly simple.
In order to do so successfully, though, it helps to understand that online marketing is essentially about giving searchers what they’re looking for at the exact moment they expect to find it – and then encouraging them to pick up the phone.
The first step
Start using a search engine advertising (SEA) service like Google AdWords, and track what works and what doesn’t using analytics software like Google Analytics. For more information on using AdWords read Top 5 ways to market your business.
This process is valuable not just because it gives you a quick way of appearing at or near the top of search results, but because it gives you a good idea of the sorts of promotional messages searchers are likely to respond to.
To get a better idea of how SEA converts to actual phone enquiries, set up a 1300 number for your business. Link every AdWords listing to a unique, tailored landing page for the product being advertised. Feature the 1300 number prominently on these pages, and nowhere else in your marketing.
At the end of each month, take note of which numbers that contacted your business through this pipeline became sales, and compare this to the number of click throughs from your search ad listing. From here, aim to improve the copy on this landing page to encourage more leads, and measure the results the monthly.
This will not only give you an idea of how useful SEA will prove to be for your business, but will also show you which combinations of search listing and website copywriting result in the most leads.
Make it easy for them to call
The 1300 number approach is a good place to start for a business new to online marketing. Before you let your SEA listings direct traffic to other parts of your site, it’s important that your contact details are prominently displayed on every page.
If displaying your phone number on each page isn’t possible, then using what’s called a ‘call to action’ (CTA) encouraging visitors to contact your business, and linking to the ‘Contact Us’ section of your site could work just as well. Jo Macdermott, owner of Next Marketing, finds that a combination of the two works well for her business.
“The Next Marketing phone number is in the top right hand corner of every page,” she says. “At the base of every page, there’s an email link and the phone number again. Throughout the website copy, there are multiple calls to action to click through to an email enquiry or the contact us page.”
Use copy to qualify leads
Although having a high volume of traffic and phone enquiries is a desirable outcome for any small business, if the resulting leads are from the wrong types of customer, then the process is effectively an expensive way of creating unwanted work. This is why it’s important to make sure your site doesn’t encourage leads that are irrelevant or unserviceable.
The copy that appears on your site can help to ensure that only relevant prospects end up contacting you. When writing the copy for Next Marketing, Macdermott identified Melbourne-based business owners with an annual or ongoing marketing budget as key qualifiers for the type of leads she wanted.
“Those three points are mentioned numerous times within the homepage copy,” says Macdermott. “By the time you’ve bothered to read even one or two paragraphs, the person reading should be able to ascertain whether the site is relevant to them. I basically, in the nicest possible way, eliminate everybody else.”
Use landing pages as qualifiers
Creating qualified leads with AdWords is simply a matter of matching the search listing with highly relevant content coupled with a call to action telling visitors to pick up the phone.
“It comes down to having your website content structured so you have a specific page for each service or product,” explains Jon Tinberg, a partner at The Digital Marketing Agency.
Having created a dedicated product page, each AdWords listing that targets people interested in that particular product should link directly to that page.
“Then, you have conversion activities on that page. You have either a short enquiry form, or really prominent links to your ‘Contact Us’ section,” says Tinberg.
By creating a dedicated landing page for each product or service advertised, you’re giving those who click through exactly what they were looking for. Consolidating this interaction with a call to action directing them to contact your business means you’re more likely to hear from a greater number of visitors to that page.
Tinberg gives the example of a travel agent that specialises in family holidays. For this business, the online conversion activity is for visitors to fill out a ‘plan your holiday’ form.
“When taking over their AdWords campaign, instead of having everything landing on their homepage, we had it landing on appropriate content within the website,” he explains. “If a keyword was ‘Fiji family holidays’, they landed on a page about Fiji, and it would take them to the enquiry form.”
To supplement this conversion funnel, Tinberg also ensured the business was tracking visitors with analytics through each stage of the process so that they could identify and fix any step that was presenting a barrier to the goal.
The core of any SEA campaign is the keywords that a business chooses to target in search. These keywords are the terms that potential customers are likely to use when looking for the your products or services. To learn more about choosing keywords for your business, read Top 5 keyword resources and Why you need SEM.
A particularly useful feature of services like AdWords is the ability to choose negative keywords that you don’t want your business to be found with. Negative keywords are useful because they help to weed out customers that the business either doesn’t want or can’t serve.
“This relates to having qualified leads, and having quality in your pipeline,” says Tinberg. “For the travel agent, the negative keywords were words like ‘cheap’, ‘inexpensive’ and ‘budget’, so that people who search for ‘budget Fiji family holiday’ don’t see their ads.”
Image credit: Thinkstock