Building a stable, sustainable, and ever-growing flow of leads requires a strong digital footprint. Your digital presence is made up of two key components: branding and lead gen. To have a digital presence that is void of quality brand elements creates a foundation of bricks without the mortar. Companies that rely solely on generating leads without the substance, depth, and value that the right brand message provides will only pander to the least desirable kinds of prospects, the transactional shopper. Sure, you’ll attract the odd relational buyer who hasn’t yet found their forever provider, but do you want to be a blind squirrel searching for nuts, or a fat squirrel with a tree full of nuts? It really ends up being a choice between quality and quantity. Done right, with a willingness to take a little bit longer upfront to bake the strategy all the way through, you can have a quantity of quality. Based on the fundamentals of neuroscience, psychology, and consumer behavior, it is impossible for lead generation to grow your business beyond the natural 7% of demand in any given marketplace at any given time. Lead generation is designed to be forgettable, and the brain is designed to forget the unmemorable and infrequent. This is why having a balanced and consistent digital presence paired with a branding strategy is essential for stable, sustainable growth. If you had to choose between 2 opportunities, one being a prospect who is inclined to close on the first sit at a higher average sale and profit, and the other one was not, the choice really does make itself. This is the fundamental difference between only running a lead gen strategy and having a healthy digital presence paired with a powerful brand identity. Lead gen makes you a slave to Google Ad placement auction system and the negative impacts of seasonality. Make no mistake, lead gen is essential to your business success, but not the way you are thinking about it today. In this article, we'll take a look at the difference between digital presence and lead generation. This will give you a better understanding of how you can navigate the online environment and build a strong tribe of leads that convert to high-quality appointments.
Digital presence is a term used to describe an organization's total online digital footprint. Your digital presence includes your website, your social media profiles, landing pages, directories, backlinks from other websites, and other digital assets that are discoverable online. You can have a healthy digital presence that helps generate leads or you can have a toxic digital presence that repels potential customers. Whatever digital real estate you choose to erect should be protected and maintained. That means deleting abandoned Twitter accounts, ancient YouTube pages, updating the social media buttons on your website, and everything in between (like that dusty old blog you haven’t posted to in 8 years). Several factors impact digital presence, including things like the quality and consistency of digital content, Google and Yelp reviews, social media engagement, and digital interactions with your brand. Ultimately, having a strong digital presence is key to building trust and credibility online, so it is important to be thoughtful about how you use digital tools and platforms. At Wizard of Ads®, we are always exploring new ways to help our clients build a strong online presence. If you are interested in learning more about elevating your brand to thrive, book a call with us today!
The Essential Elements of Digital Presence
There are a few key elements that make up a strong digital presence. Here are some of the most important ones to keep in mind when increasing online visibility and reach. Having a strong digital presence is all about creating and publishing valuable content that shows your prospects that you’re the right choice over your competitors. While your competition is posting boring content that no one in their right mind would ever read, view, or share, your content is entertaining, edutaining, and endearing.
- Website: A website is the cornerstone of your digital presence foundation. It’s where people learn the essentials of your business and convert into appointments. When a cornerstone is set incorrectly on a building, the entire building is compromised. The same is true for your website in relation to your digital presence.
- Blogging: Publishing regular blog posts that focus on relevant topics to your target audience can increase brand awareness and credibility. When the message avoids selling and focuses on edutainment, it will add to your positive digital presence. Blogs are the primary tool for SEO, which is a game your residential home service business is not likely to win on the big play. Therefore, if you’re going to invest time and money into blog content, don’t ignore SEO, but focus your efforts on human optimization first, and backfill it with search engine optimization.
- Email Marketing: Email marketing is a great way to keep in touch with your audience and nurture leads. A well-crafted email campaign is an effective way to increase your online presence and drive traffic to your website and social media channels. The best email campaigns focus more on developing the relationship, and less time sticking your hand out like a teenager looking for his unearned allowance.
- Social Media: Social media is a powerful tool to increase your digital presence and, more importantly, your presence in the heart and mind of your prospects. When you abandon the notion of selling on social media and focus on delivering value in the form of entertaining shareworthy content, edutainment, and encouragement to others, you will have more people willing and actively paying attention to you when you do have something valid to sell.
- Reviews: Reviews establish trust where trust otherwise does not exist. Prospects discover and disqualify companies that have a low star rating. Pairing a high star rating with a high volume of reviews acts as an indicator that you are a relevant business. Protect your online reputation with your life. Your lifestyle depends on it.
- Directories: Directories are typically not a primary source of leads, rather an effective way of driving up the number of backlinks to your website. The more backlinks you have, especially from websites that Google deems as highly credible, the better you rank in the Google algorithm. This means better positioning of your ads. The first and most critical directory is your Google Business Profile (GBP) formerly known as Google My Business (GMB).
- Paid Advertising: Paid advertising is a necessary evil in every marketing strategy. PPC and LSA ensure that you show up where your prospects are looking when it comes to the zero moment of truth. This is the moment that a prospect needs and looks for your service. In a digital presence strategy, the three key areas that you need to pay to show up include your brand, your competitor’s brand, and keywords that suggest an action for consuming your service, or what the Wizard’s call the ‘Near Zero’.
Most people believe that lead generation is the process of bringing in potential customers or clients through digital channels. It is not. If we can agree that the buyer’s purchase process begins with Attention, leading to Interest, and then to a Decision, then lead generation is about employing tactics that motivate the Action to click on your company over others (A. I. D. A.). Digital Presence includes the elements that generate interest that lead to a decision that your company is the right choice. Great branding is what captures the attention of a too-busy public before they need the thing you sell. The exclusive goal of lead generation is to convert leads into prospects, which are people who need your thing but have yet to make a purchase. This is why leaning on lead generation to capture attention and create interest that leads to a decision to choose your company over others is a fool’s errand. You will be a slave to natural demand cycles and Google advertising auction prices which is neither consistent, reliable, or affordable. There are several ways to go about generating leads, and the best approach will vary depending on your market demand, competition, visibility, and yes, your digital presence.
Essential Lead Generation Tactics
You have a bevy of lead generation tactics at your disposal. This is the obsession of most digital marketing companies, regardless of the quality of the lead that is generated. New tactics are invented every day, but you’ll find that quality digital marketers will stay focused on the most tried and tested platforms to protect the limited budget available to the majority of residential home service companies. There are plenty of tactics that you can use to generate leads for your business. The key is to focus on the quality, not just the quantity of leads you receive. Otherwise, you risk overspending on low-quality leads that do not convert into an abundance of appointments that convert on the first sit at a higher average sale and profit (C. A. P.).
- Paid Advertising: When paired with a solid branding strategy, PPC costs per acquisition will continue to lower as direct and organic searches increase. It is essential that you show up where your prospects are looking. Be sure your branded PPC campaigns are robust, including misspellings, brandable chunks of your offline messaging, taglines, and other embedded codes that your branding strategy has employed.
- Google LSA: Local Service Ads offer additional credibility and top-of-page presence. LSA currently produces leads that convert at an 8:1 ROI and an average of a 60% conversion to appointments. If you want to send your limited supply of skilled Techs to a appointment, LSA is a proven winner for high C. A. P. opportunities.
- Email marketing: It is incredibly easy to break the trust and engagement of your clientele with a poorly designed email campaign filled with transactional offers and too high a frequency. When delicately designed to sneak in a soft call to action (CTA) amongst some super helpful, entertaining content, your conversions increase as more people remain willing to open and read your content.
- Landing pages: Creating targeted landing pages with relevant, persuasive information and a strong call-to-action is becoming the standard in paid advertising. As business owners are afforded less and less control over the copy, targeting, and costs, the content on the other side of the click must be powerful, specific, and valuable. An extension of your website, all paid advertising must be conversion-rate optimized (CRO) for maximum results.
- Text messaging: Our phones are computers, and one of the highest open rates comes from SMS text messages. Don’t take your copy lightly, though. Because of its unbridled access into your prospect’s pocket, your message must be on point and to the point. Forget about your immediate, short-term needs, and focus on delivering big value in 160 characters or less.
- OTT and Targeted Cable: Over the top are ads that play on streaming services, including Hulu, Prime, and in some cases targeted zip codes on cable. While extremely difficult to buy efficiently with the proper frequency and reach, a well-crafted media buy on these media with the proper frequency and message can be deadly. Business owners are best advised to hire a professional media buyer to navigate these buys, or risk spending far too much money on the incorrect reach and frequency for the investment.
Lead Generation Tactics To Avoid
While some lead gen tactics will continue to serve you well, others are nothing more than a stinky red herring. These tactics are not generating a conversion to an appointment. These tactics are just creating price sensitivity, unrealistic expectations, and low margins. Do these media work? Of course. For the right products and services. Just not the products and services that a typical residential home service provider offers.
- Coupons: Coupons are the crutch of ineffective and fearful digital marketers. They will very convincingly tell you that coupons generated an abundance of leads when in actuality, the only reason the coupon was the natural path of the customer was that it simply existed. Any customer, including Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk would use a coupon if you offered it to them. Don’t be seduced by the deception of the desperate looking for your approval.
- Social media marketing: Utilizing social media platforms to sell your products and services is risky business. People go on social media to be entertained and edutained. Social media is an excellent medium for small impulse buys, but rarely a place to generate high C. A. P. customers. Nurture high C. A. P. prospects, absolutely. The question you’ve got to ask yourself is, do I want to be the cool kid that captures the attention and interest of potential buyers with highly shareable content, or do I want to be the lurky sales guy who's only trying to sell stuff? Deliver value; keep it social. If you’re going to go for a sales pitch, do it infrequently in an entertaining manner with a low-priced, impulse buy.
- Display Advertising: Display ads are the pre-roll ads that you see in the middle of Facebook content, YouTube videos, and in between rounds on your free online games. These ads are notoriously inexpensive with monstrous impressions, but incredibly low conversions. In very limited applications (like branded recruitment) there are opportunities that make display ads a great option, but rarely will you convert a lead for an externally triggered, grudge purchase.
- Digital Radio and Podcasts: There are a number of great ways to leverage digital radio and podcasts for internally triggered impulse purchases. It is nearly impossible to leverage these media for externally triggered grudge purchases due to a lack of effective frequency and reach. The data clearly supports traditional offline mass media still currently delivers a superior frequency and reach, which means more people hear your message enough times to remember you.
Lead Generation vs. Digital Presence
Lead generation is a small subset of your online presence. It is an essential component of your marketing strategy to get the lead over the curb and call you for an appointment. Lead gen is not, and will never be a comprehensive marketing strategy, albeit the one that most new home service companies have to start with to generate the revenue needed to support a comprehensive marketing strategy that includes branding. Branding creates attention, interest, and the decision that you are their service provider of choice. Lead generation tactics have the lead convert into a prospect. Your online scheduler or CSRs are the ones who convert the prospects into appointments. Investing in a comprehensive, single, unified marketing strategy will help you attract high C. A. P. prospects leveraging a powerful message that takes up quality real estate online and in the buyer’s mind. Whatever you choose to invest your time, energy, and money into, be ready, able, and willing to maintain a consistent and engaging presence. If you cannot be consistent, don’t do it. Delete it. A message that delivers 100% of your leads to you 10% of the way is far worst than a strong message that delivers 10% of the leads to you 100% of the way. Your online reputation is everything. Be prepared to defend it with everything you’ve got. This includes creating content that is entertaining, edutaining, and endearing. Yes, even residential home service companies. Great content is about your customers and their lives. Terrible content is about you and your company. Very little selling is done online with externally triggered grudge purchases. Spend your time providing value that your prospects are inclined to find valuable and share. This often means saying considerably different things than you would say if you were on an appointment. Your website is the lynchpin to everything you do online. While many digital marketers will try to justify why you need to have a monstrous website, what you really need is a highly intuitive, simple website that does nothing but converts leads into appointments at the highest conversion rate possible. Do not get ‘sold’ on a bloated SEO strategy that you have no chance of winning against the aggregators in your marketplace. There are far better places to redistribute your marketing dollars to reach more prospects, more often. Digital presence is important for all businesses, but for small businesses, it is especially important for generating leads. A strong digital presence will help you attract more visitors to your website, and it will also make it easier to convert those visitors into leads. When it comes to lead generation, it's important to remember that you need to focus on quality over quantity — after all, it's better to have fewer high C. A. P. leads than a large number of low C. A. P. leads. Combined with a branding strategy, you’ll see your volume of high C. A. P. leads rise exponentially. You can generate high C. A. P. leads by creating content that is relevant and useful to your target audience. Paired with an expert-level branding campaign and a solid digital presence, you will soon see your cost per lead drop and your profitability rise. At Wizard of Ads®, we use the latest methods for improving your digital presence and lead generation. We help you target those high C. A. P. leads who are actively in the market for your thing, and more importantly, those who are not in the market right now for your thing but will someday need your thing. With the right message, frequency, and reach, we make your brand a household name. Book a call with us today to get started!