The fundamentals of customer acquisition haven't changed much over the past few decades.
Twenty years ago, when a homeowner needed to repair a leaky roof, she grabbed her latest copy of the Yellow Pages, flipped alphabetically to the "R" section, searched for a name that she recognized under "Roofers" and then picked up her rotary phone to call the business to set up an estimate.
In those days, as with today, the roofing companies that had the highest recognition were the ones that were regular advertisers on tv, billboards or the radio. They had memorable jingles, silly mascots, competitive pricing or celebrity endorsements. They advertised consistently to create general awareness and interest....... knowing full well that when someone would eventually have a need, they would remember the ads they had heard on their favorite radio station and then look them up in the phone book for their address or phone number.
Fast forward to today, and not much has changed. The internet has taken the place of the Yellow Pages in a slightly more sophisticated way, and the process otherwise remains largely unchanged.
Instead of licking an index finger to flip the pages of a dusty phone book, consumers simply type, click and select based on the results provided by Google. Hundreds and sometimes thousands of options are available on their computer or phone in an instant, and yet the most familiar businesses are still the ones getting the largest share of the business.
PAY-PER-CLICK DOESN'T BUILD RELATIONSHIPS OR AWARENESS
Great marketing is akin to building a relationship with someone you've never met, with the intent of ultimately meeting them sometime in the future. With that in mind, it's imperative you ask yourself where your current marketing is focused throughout the sales funnel pictured above.
If, for example, you are only using SEO and pay-per-click SEM to drive traffic to your website, your strategy is only addressing those consumers who are at the bottom of the funnel - ready to make a purchase today. While it may seem efficient to speak only to people who have an immediate need because they are ready to buy, decades of research has proven that consumers more often than not will choose a business that they've heard of, over one that they haven't. It's that simple.
If you aren't advertising your business in the phases prior to intent or evaluation, you'll have no more credibility to the consumer than the other 8-10 businesses above or below your business in Google's featured search results. Likely, this will be the very first time the consumer has ever seen or heard of your business. You've not had any time to build trust, or communicate longevity as happens over time earlier in the sales funnel. Because of this reality, your competitive position may be reduced in terms of consideration based only on price or geography, rather than your reputation, commitment to the community or outstanding service.
Furthermore, even if your business happens to be at the top of Google's search results, you still risk not being chosen if the #2 business right below you has better AWARENESS because they happen to advertise regularly. When all else is equal, familiarity wins.
So, if you are still wondering what is missing from your online digital marketing strategy, the answer may very well be OFFLINE traditional marketing. Most of my current clients recognize that radio advertising as an example, is excellent at driving online search results throughout the sales funnel. Even before a consumer needs a new roof, hearing a relevant commercial from a local roofer on their favorite radio station will cause awareness, interest and even consideration LONG before the roof starts leaking.
Mark Steckman is a Senior Broadcast & Digital Media Marketing Consultant with Beasley Media Group - Tampa Bay. He utilizes over 25 years experience in business operations, marketing, and as an entrepreneur to serve clients across a broad portfolio of categories including: automotive dealerships & aftermarket, home service providers, professional services, local & regional retail stores, online businesses and recruitment.