Market Like a Rock Star: Your Service Business on the Web

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As a need-based service provider, you should know and understand the power that Google wields on your business. The fact of the matter is that customers do not want your service. Seriously! Given that, you must align your marketing so that when a prospect has a “triggering” event, you are there.

First thing's first. Before beginning a discussion about SEO, we need to establish who this article applies to. If your business is a need-based business (such as Pest Control, HVAC or Plumbing), then this article is for you. If you are in a luxury-based service (such as lawn care, lawn maintenance, and landscaping), the principles in this article still apply, but SEO may not carry as much of an impact as it does for need-based business.

So what are your options?

  1. Television - A great way to build your brand but TV campaigns are becoming less effective as the advent of devices like DVRs and the hopper; your ad does not get the exposure that it once did on this medium. That does not mean that TV is not effective. It does mean that TV is very expensive and usually carries a high cost per lead (CPL). Also, when you market on this medium, you message goes to prospects who need your service AND to consumers who don’t.
  2. Radio - Radio is another great way to build your brand, but it carries the same disadvantage as TV, only on a smaller scale. Radio carries a high CPL as well and is not a very efficient way to get leads into your business.
  3. Direct Mail - Direct mail in recent years has made leaps and bounds in targeting ability. You can now run surgical campaigns that zero in on your target demographic. The problem is that this type of marketing is expensive and just like TV and Radio carries a very high CPL.
  4. Internet Marketing - Internet marketing can be used in both branding efforts and needs-based marketing. Unlike TV and Radio, you can use internet marketing to directly target users who have a need for your service. Thus driving your CPL way down. E.g. efficient marketing.

So now that we have established that internet marketing offers you the most efficient method of getting in front of prospects who need your service, there are some questions that you will want to consider:

  1. Which search engine should you focus on?
  2. What is the value of ranking in the top 3 search engine results for our core business and market?
  3. How much money should I be spending on internet marketing?

Well if you are unsure about these questions, let's run through a simple example to answer them.

Which search engine should you focus on?

While I am sure that the following information may not be Earth-shattering, it is very insightful.

According to StatCounter Global Stats Reports the top 5 Search Engines Sending Traffic Worldwide:

  1. Google sends 90.62% of traffic.
  2. Yahoo! sends 3.78% of traffic.
  3. Bing sends 3.72% of traffic.

Given that stat, it makes sense to focus your efforts on Google. While I am not telling you to ignore Bing and Yahoo!, the opportunities there are limited there at best. If you have limited resources both of time and money (who doesn’t), then I would focus my efforts where 91% of the traffic is going.

What is the value of ranking in the top 3 search engine results for our core business and market?

Is this not the quintessential question that every service business owner should be asking? I am amazed at how many business owners I meet who for one reason or another has made a decision to ignore the web (or not consider the web as its primary lead source in marketing). Well, let's take a look at what this small omission stands to cost you in opportunity costs. Of that traffic a 2011 Slingshot SEO study revealed click-through rates for the top rankings to be:

  • #1 Position gets 18.2% of all clicks
  • #2 position gets 10.1%
  • #3 position gets 7.2%
  • All others... <2%

We are going to keep the math simple here so stay with me. Let's say that your average revenue per customer per year is $500 and let's assume that there are 4000 prospective customers searching for your service on Google in a given year and that if a prospect clicks through to your site, you close 100% of them.

That means of the 4000 customers:

  • 728 will click the #1 position
  • 404 will click the #2 position
  • 288 will click the #3 position

That means of the 4000 prospective customers 980 customers go to the top three positions that show in the Google Search Engine results.

What does that equate to dollars?

  • In our example, the companies that appear in the top 3 search engine results earn $490,000 more than everyone else.
  • The research survey also showed that 52.32% of searchers never leave the front page of a given search results page. 
  • In our example, the companies that appear on the first page earn $1,046,400 more than everyone else.

How much money should I be spending on internet marketing?

That question largely depends on your market and your industry. In general, I think that this question needs to start with your budget and how much money you can and want to spend per lead. Going through the math of how to calculate this number for your business can be a one-day seminar. The point of this post is not to tell you what you should be spending.

The point is to show you that if you are not serious about internet marketing, it may be costing you more than you think.