Contracting PLUS Marketing Series: #2. Digital Marketing for the Contractor

Posted Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The digital marketing arena is moving at light speed. To keep up, you need confidence in yourself and your business combined with the judgement to think critically, act independently, and be relentlessly creative.This series of articles on Marketing for Contractors will hopefully enlighten and empower you with the building blocks to stay ahead in an ever-evolving market place.

With the digital economy now growing 25 times faster than the general economy and Irish consumer online spending up 51% year on year, it is essential that all Irish businesses arm themselves with the skills to market successfully online. But where do you even start when it comes to marketing in the online sphere? It can be an intimidating minefield! You know you need a website, with persuasive content and captivating imagery, perhaps even a video or two, a social media presence, maybe some Facebook ads, a consenting database for direct and personal emails and even some Google Ad words to get you found online  the list is endless and not forgetting conversions  sending traffic to a site that fails to convert visitors into qualified leads is a futile exercise.

This blog intends to guide you from the beginning, to share with you four simple steps to get you started and build your online confidence. These steps are: Reach. Act. Convert. Engage.

The RACE basics: Reach. Act. Convert. Engage.

The idea behind RACE is to provide a simple and all-encompassing structure for your small businesses to develop a digital plan which meets the challenges of marketing online today. By looking at the four components as parts of a funnel, whereby by you need your audience to progress from one stage to the next to eventually generate a sale or revenue, you can easily begin to outline a basic structure to plan and manage your activities.

So where to start? Reach how to put yourself out there and be found online. It’s all about creating touch points that will drive traffic to your site. Firstly, if you build it they will come! That’s the plan! Use free templates from Strikingly or WordPress and build your site. However, if you really want to attract visitors, you need to do more than simply build it: you need to optimise it. Search engine optimisation, or SEO, is essential to getting your website discovered via search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo.On-page SEO is the strategic implementation of keywords on your website, including in page titles, headers and throughout your content. That’s where blogs and videos (using Powtoon to create for free) really come in to play whilst your website can stay relatively static with key company information, your regular blogs and videos can up the tempo and ensure your site is relevant and fresh.

Build awareness of your site and indeed brand via multiple inbound interactions, such as using Google My Business (which is free) combined with Google Ad Words which is 100% effective at driving targeted traffic to your site. Maximise reach with powerful Social Media platforms such as Facebook, Linked-in and/or Twitter where you can share your content / blogs / videos with a community and increase word-of-mouth marketing.

So you are attracting visitors to your site now what? Act  persuade visitors to take the next step now that they’ve found you. Ensure their journey onto and throughout your site is effortless, logical and engaging so that they don’t hit the back button and bounce. What you want or need them to do once they reach your site is the reason you are going the online route in the first place  do you want them to “View product”, “Add to Basket”, “Register as member” or “Sign up for newsletter”. Google Analytics can highlight to you how long visitors spent on your site, their journey throughout and where they left your site these are key analytics that illustrate where you need to improve on content, aesthetics or instruction.

At the end of the day, you are a business and need to make money your online presence is merely another outlet to help you do this. So when you get them hooked by not only your product but also your amazing content, stunning imagery, your witty tweets, your Facebook promotions etc.You need to sell sell sell Convert. They need to take that vital next step which turns them into paying customers either via your site (in which case you will need to install the mechanics to monetise the site, set up an eCommerce facility / checkout) or they go to offline channels. If you have their email address because they signed up to your newsletter in the step above, entice them with personalised discounts or promotions via MailChimp.If you see they have “added to basket” but not “checked out” follow them with the product around the web so they can’t avoid it through re-targeting techniques!

Now that they are a customer, ensure that their post-sale experience with your brand transcends the product that they just purchased, just keep on giving and Engage, strive to develop a long-term relationship with to build customer loyalty to derive repeat purchases.Be careful not to harass but use your site, social presence, email and even offline interactions to boost customer lifetime value. Be sure that you are adding value to what they have just purchased, highlight alternative uses for longevity, create a club for members, offer exclusive discounts, include them in social conversations to massage their egos!

This four-stage framework breaks down the tasks that often confuse and dishearten many when it comes to reaching and engaging their online audiences. But online marketing really doesn’t have to be a dreaded and daunting task. Embrace the online realm, as it’s not going to go away anytime soon!

Top Tip!

Start off SMARTly, be practical and don’t over stretch and over promise if you can set out a plan to blog once a month, to create good fresh content that can be optimised and fit your keywords with your monthly or seasonal AdWords campaign. Promote through your social media touchpoints and every other week share other good content you find from trusted RSS feeds.Be diligent with your monthly blogs and commit to 500 words! Your SEO rankings will gradually improve and you may even be sought out as an expert in your filed!

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