Digital Marketing

Top Three Digital Marketing Mistakes Home Service Companies Make Today

Digital Marketing

 

Today we’re going to talk about the three most common digital marketing mistakes that I see home service companies making. They’re really simple but really damaging.

#1 – The first mistake that I want to talk about is being too reliant on your PPC, paid search, AdWords or Google Ads campaigns (however you want to call it)

#2 – The second mistake that I see people making is not filling their funnel. We’ve all gone away from branding and it’s unfortunate. True, it’s not direct response, you’re not going to get a really low cost per lead, but you’ve got to fill that funnel from the top and not just stay at the very bottom at the conversion point where PPC lives.

#3 – The third thing is not taking Yelp seriously enough and, let’s be honest, even if you don’t think Yelp is a player in your market it is and there’s one reason and that’s Google. I’ll explain why later.

Okay, let’s dig into it.

Ten years ago, if you owned a Home Service company, you were probably doing things like local cable television advertising and maybe some radio advertising and direct mail and, of course, the Yellow Pages. Well, AdWords came along and basically replaced the Yellow Pages and you were able to move those YP dollars straight into AdWords. And that was great. Good riddance. But things have changed. AdWords was incredibly cheap and incredibly effective back then but it’s gotten considerably more expensive over time. We’ve all become so reliant on the power and the performance of it that we’ve stopped doing those other things. TV is becoming less effective, which we’ll talk about in another post. But the most important thing to note is that we’ve started to filter out those other advertising and marketing opportunities that we used to do and so AdWords is all that’s left and it’s holding this incredible burden. It’s now the most important part of your marketing and advertising campaigns. Or, in some cases, the only part. Occasionally, we have potential clients contact us and on our free strategy call, we discover that they’re only doing AdWords. They’re saying, “Well, it’s really getting expensive” and “you know, we’re just not growing like I want to be able to grow” and I’m saying, “well, yeah, you have ONE CHANNEL that’s responsible for your entire business”. I tell them, “This isn’t going to happen but imagine if Google said, you know, AdWords has been great, but we’re going to shut it down. What would you do? You’d be out of business.” Now that’s not going to happen. AdWords is basically all of Google’s revenue. Don’t worry about that. But you have to worry about it getting more expensive and more competitive and it has never been more expensive or more competitive in the history of its 15-year reign than it is now and it’s unlikely to get better.

Look at your advertising and marketing budget. Look at your advertising and marketing plan overall. Look at it from a 10,000-foot view maybe all you need to do is just climb up on a chair and see the fact that almost all of what you’re doing is AdWords.

Now obviously, the things that used to work like TV don’t work anymore. You need to brand in new ways.

And I’m not saying don’t do AdWords. At IMA, we are certified AdWords experts that have been doing this since 2006. We’re 12 years in doing AdWords and were incredible at it for our Home Service clients. We have some that are getting leads as low as $10, maybe $9.50, at this point right.

But we have to be less reliant on that. That’s a key mistake. That’s number one.

Number two is not filling your funnel. What am I talking about with the funnel? Well, your marketing funnel looks like any other funnel. It starts at the top and it’s really wide. That’s where you engage your potential customers, at the top. Then you nurture them, through what is referred to as the User Journey, all the way down to the point where they’re right there at the bottom and they’re saying, “hey, I need your service right now!”.

This is crucial because in some industries, like plumbing or heating and air, customers don’t need you until they need you. You can’t fix a broken pipe if it doesn’t exist yet.

So what we need to do at the top is create a marketing funnel in order to create awareness. This where things like Facebook and Instagram campaigns and retargeting and what we call Advanced display campaigns come into play? All these different types of digital branding. These are the types of things you need to do so that your AdWords campaign, which is running way down at the bottom of that funnel, is churning out all those leads for you. And now you can make it perform even better and combat the increasing costs because you’re nurturing people down the funnel.

This is crucial to understand. As I said, you cannot just rely on AdWords. You need to feed that funnel. You have to start at the top and you’ve got to nurture that User Journey all the way down to the bottom.

And YouTube just announced that you’ll be able to start targeting television sets. Cool, right? So you can actually use a 30-second spot that you have and only show it to people watching YouTube on their TVs. So now you can get back in the TV advertising game at a significantly reduced price.

So mistake number one is to leveraged on AdWords.

Mistake number two is not feeding that funnel.

Mistake number three is not taking Yelp seriously. A lot of business owners in smaller markets might say, “hey, you know what, Yelp’s not a player here.” Well, I’m going to tell you something that crushes that naive thought. What is it?

It is this. Google is going to rank Yelp for your service keywords. And not just rank but rank in position 1, 2 or 3. So what does that mean? Let’s say you own a large plumbing company. We have a lot of plumbing clients. Let me talk about that. So if I’m a plumber and somebody searches for “plumber” in their city or “plumber near me” or some other variant of that keyword or key phrase what’s going to happen is Google is going to show the Yelp results first.

In fact, a lot of times the three organic listings are Yelp. And, not only will they rank Yelp, they’re going to rank Angie’s List. They’re going to show HomeAdvisor. They’re going to show Thumbtack. We’ve seen certain markets where half of those organic listings, five out of ten, are not actual local businesses. Instead, they’re aggregators and Yelp is the most prominent among them.

So to the original objection of, “Hey, nobody uses Yelp in my market” doesn’t hold water. Sure, they might not post a lot of taco truck reviews on Yelp but people in your market do searches on Google. And if they’re doing searches on Google and they see Yelp in the first one two, or three positions, guess what? They’re clicking on Yelp. And if they get to Yelp and you’ve got six reviews and a 1.5-star rating, you’re not getting their business.

That’s why it’s incredibly important to take Yelp seriously. You have to get your reviews up, get your ratings up and then watch your business grow.

So let’s recap the three biggest mistakes:

1. Being too reliant on Adwords. It’s great, but it is not the end-all be-all
You cannot only do AdWords
2. Not fueling that funnel, not doing digital branding, not getting people aware of who you are in your marketplace and gaining market share. Before they get all the way down to that conversion point you have to start getting in front of them.
3. Not taking Yelp seriously. Your customers are going to Yelp. They may not check Yelp before they go out and get dinner. You may not be hearing about it from your neighbors all the time but, trust me, people are seeing reviews on Yelp because of how Google ranks them for your keywords.

The good news? Guess what? It’s really easy to address these three things. What we do at IMA is use something called the Digital Marketing Quadrant to address those three concerns specifically and it solves those problems and allows our clients to grow their businesses exponentially. One of our clients has grown from four million to 20 million since we’ve been working with them.

But all you have to do is start taking those three things seriously and start looking into how you can get less reliant on PPC, how you can start doing some top of funnel digital branding (I’d start with Facebook and retargeting) and then start getting those Yelp reviews and ratings up. If you do that, you’re going to grow your business immediately.

Have a great day and good luck growing your business.

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Remote Work is Good for IMA. Is it Good for You?

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Remote work, or distributed teams, are nothing new. They have been around for decades. In 1979, IBM ran a small experiment at their Santa Teresa Laboratory, in Silicon Valley that launched laid the groundwork for remote working as we know it today. They had one mainframe computer in the office, and they wanted to reduce the logjam that inevitably happened when an office full of engineers was trying to access it. So they installed small-ish terminals in the homes of five employees, allowing them to work from home.

It worked. By 1983, IBM had 2,000 employees working remotely. By 2009, 40% of its 386,000 employees in 173 countries were working remotely (173 countries! I had to look up how many countries are currently recognized in the world today. It’s 195. IBM is in 88% of the countries in the world. Wow). That policy allowed IBM to sell off its office buildings at a gain of almost $2 billion. But eight years later, in 2017, IBM, brought their workers back under the fluorescent lights.

One Year In

IMA is not currently in 173 countries. While IBM was bringing its employees back into the office and firing those that didn’t want to return, IMA left our office in San Francisco (you can read more about that here ). We are almost one year into our move to remote work. We have two smaller offices. One of them is a private office at a WeWork location in SOMA. The other is a small office in a charming old building with a view of the ocean in the town where I live. Currently, most of our team lives in or around San Francisco and use the WeWork space. Our Project Manager and I work from the coastside office. Everyone else is spread out between Sacramento, Denver, Atlanta and beyond and work from home.

One of the reasons remote work has flourished in the recent past is that technology has solved for nearly all of the communications hurdles. At IMA, we use the following software stack for communication:
Slack for chat
Zoom for video conferencing (IMO, Zoom if head and shoulders above their competitors)
Teamwork for production work
Prosperworks for our CRM
RingCentral for client phone calls

One critique of remote working is that the more space you put between people, the less they communicate. The claim is that you can have all of the tools in the world, but employees are not inclined to adopt them. The historical thinking is that human nature throws a wrench in things. One study cited as proof of this idea was done back in 1977 by an MIT professor named Thomas J. Allen. Allen separated scientists and engineers by various distances and then tracked their communication patterns. He found that when people were 100 feet away from one another communication dropped to near zero.

Of course, Stewart Butterfield hadn’t attempted to build a video game company which failed which led his team to focus on the chat app they built to create the video game in one of the best reincarnations in recent memory, right up there with Odeo turning into Twitter (also a very similar story of internal communication tech replacing the product that it was built to build) in 1977.

In our experience, people use tools that make them more productive. It’s true that IMA didn’t regularly video conference until Zoom came along. We also didn’t use chat regularly until Slack came along (we tried with Campfire. It just didn’t take). The tech that actually works flawlessly allows for adoption. It’s not human beings that are the monkey wrench. It’s mediocre software. The good software opens the floodgates. In fact, it’s a problem we’re trying to now fix. Our team communicates to the point of distraction in Slack, and I don’t think we’re alone.

It’s Important to Physically Interact

Remote work certainly has its challenges. Physical interaction breeds a level of trust and familiarity that isn’t possible via Zoom. But that doesn’t mean you have to see each other every day. Or even every month. I would argue four times a year would be the minimum. At IMA, it’s closer to 16 times a year. We think that works best for us at the moment.

Every month, our strategic team meets in a conference room at WeWork. We’re currently able to do this because this team is all located in the Bay Area. It’s always great to see everyone in person. We drink coffee, catch up on with each other (there’s lots of baby talk currently) and then get to work on company news, priorities, client work, etc. We go to lunch together and bond a little more. Then we go home.

It’s always an enjoyable day, but I don’t think it’s needed all the time. When we first moved we would meet at We Work every Monday. We quickly discovered it was overkill.

Remote Work and Trust

I’m a firm believer in trusting employees and treating them like adults. Taking this approach has never let me down. Trust is a large part of remote working. If you are anxious and thinking your remote team is just loafing around watching Netflix all day, I encourage you to practice being more trusting. One famous founder who goes all in on trust is Richard Branson. I could summarize what he recently said on the Freakonomics podcast, but he is so committed and clear on this topic that I’ll just post the transcript.

BRANSON: …if people want to work from home, let them work from home. If people want to work from home on Fridays and Mondays, let them work from home Fridays and Mondays. If people want to take a month off and go around the world, let them take a month off and go around the world. I mean, people will give everything back if you give them the flexibility and treat them like adults.

DUBNER: I hear you, and I so want to believe that that’s the way to be. But the skeptic in me just thinks well, if every company let everybody work from home Fridays and Mondays and let them take a week off and go take balloon trips or climb a mountain that, you know, productivity would plummet and the economy would fall apart. Why do people not exploit that, at your firm, at least?

BRANSON: Because they feel trusted. And also, look — let’s just look at this business of forcing people to come to an office. First of all, you’ve got maybe an hour or an hour and a half of travel time in the morning, another hour and a half of travel time in the evening. And, you know, when you’re at the office, it’s important that you say hello to everybody and that you’re friendly with everybody, so you use up another hour or two, you know, socializing with people. Then, because you’re not at home, you need to communicate with your family. So you spend another bit of time communicating with your family. And so the day carries on, and you might get a couple hours of work done. If you’re at home, you know, you wake up. You can spend a bit of time with your family. And be a proper father, which is perhaps the most important — or mother — most important things that we can do in our life. But you can also find the time to get whatever your job is done because you’ve got another four or five hours free to do it. And you know, we’ve never been let down by people that we’ve given that trust to. I think treating people as adults, giving people trust, is so important.

Well said, Sir Richard.

P.S. If you are a company that is considering a move to remote work but would like some more insight into how to do it, contact me on LinkedIn, and we can set up a call. I’m happy to help.

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