It May Be Time for a Digital Checkup
authors Eric Schimelpfenig | May 2, 2016
With the holidays and tax deadlines behind us, we can all start to actually work in the New Year without distraction. So this month, I thought it would be good to revisit some important ideas in the form of a quick “digital checkup.”
First, let’s talk about Google. When people are looking for you, this is very likely the way they’ll look to find you. Have you Googled yourself lately? If not, you should.
For starters, Google your business name. Something like “Jane’s Kitchen & Bath Design Studio” should lead directly to you. Don’t forget about other, more general searches that people use, things like “kitchen remodeling” or “contractor.” Consider other searches relevant to services that you offer, things like “countertops” and “tile” if you offer it.
Try these searches on both a computer and a smartphone. The results may be quite different. When searching on a smartphone, the information that’s delivered is a bit more contextual if Google has the information to give. In English, that means if you’re searching for “kitchen remodeler” on your phone, the results will be located near to where you are. Often, some of the first bits of information to surface on a phone search are the phone number, address and business hours.
So what if this information isn’t accurate, or, even worse, missing altogether? You can actually submit the proper information directly to Google, rather than waiting for them to figure it out.
Just go to Google.com/business and follow the steps. There you will be prompted to fill out all of the relevant information about your business, things such as name, address, phone number and hours. In addition to that, you can (and should) upload pictures of your business. The pictures should be the outside and inside of your showroom.
If you don’t have a showroom, you can still register. You just put the areas you work in, not an actual physical address. This way if you work out of your home, you won’t be exposing your address publicly if you don’t want to.
After you get through all of this, Google is going to try to sell you advertising. I think this is something that many of us should look into, but let’s put that aside for a moment and we’ll come back to it.
So you’ve fixed up your Google listing and double checked it on your computer and your phone and it all looks good. What’s next? Well, think about the most likely things a potential client is going to do after Googling you…They’re going to either call, drive to you or go to your website.
Your website may very well be the first impression that people get of you and your showroom or design service. How does it look? Are you proud of it? If you aren’t as proud of your website as you are of your best project, it’s time to start thinking about updating it.
I’ve written in the past about how you can get your website up to snuff. If you have someone who works on your site, go through it and at a minimum make sure it’s up to date, has fresh projects and has all of your information correct.
If you’ve decided that you need a new or totally revamped site, you can either hire it out or do it yourself with one of the many easy-to-use platforms. My personal favorite is Squarespace.
Now that you have your website looking good, let’s talk about digital advertising.
You know all of that stuff we get online that’s free and awesome, like Facebook and Google? Someone’s got to pay for that. Who does? Advertisers.
Google and Facebook are some of the biggest purveyors of online ads on the planet. Why? Because they can be incredibly specific about whom they target.
Unlike a radio or a TV ad where you get general distribution numbers and geographical coverage, digital ads can be incredibly specific. The other day I ran an ad for someone who wanted to target advertisements for a design service up and down a specific highway, to people who were educated at a college level, had over 300k income, had modern taste and were looking for furniture and/or remodeling. That is very specific, and something you can easily set up on digital ad platforms like Facebook and Google.
Facebook and Google both give you this kind of specificity, but they are a bit different in how they work.
Fundamentally, Google makes money by keeping you online. Most of their ads are served up in search and when you’re browsing websites. If you want to target people to get to your website, this is where Google excels.
Facebook is a little bit more of a walled garden. Facebook wants you to spend more time on Facebook. When you set up advertising with them, they force you to create a Facebook page for your business (unless you already have one) and they try to tailor ads to direct traffic to your Facebook page.
Both Google and Facebook have impressive ad platforms. Depending on where you “show” the best is where you should send traffic. Does your design firm use Facebook a lot for customer engagement? Do a lot of your clients use Facebook? Consider advertising there. If you’re not using Facebook, Google might be the solution for you.
Now before we close this out, let’s talk about metrics. I know, boring, but important. When you spend ad money, you’re going to want to have a way to check it. If you’re driving people to your website, make sure you can track how many people actually go to your website. Each web platform can (or should) have a way to do this.
Also, don’t forget to ask your customers how they found you. Keep a log!
Lastly, don’t forget about traditional advertising. Part of what I do is keep an eye on trends and how our customers are consuming information. While digital advertising is gaining in popularity, TV watching and radio listening are still big. A Nielsen study from 2011 to 2015 showed that TV watching in all age groups has declined, but not that much. For ages 35 to 65, it’s nearly stayed the same, and in the 18-24 age group, it’s only declined a bit – but this age group still isn’t shunning TV altogether as one might think.
So, the takeaway here is that digital advertising is something we should all look into and learn about – but ultimately, it should augment traditional advertising, not replace it. KBDN