I am frequently contacted by business owners who are dissatisfied with their digital marketing efforts. The number one reason I hear time and time again is “My phone isn’t ringing.” The owners want more customers, and their marketing efforts are not achieving that goal.
I have pinpointed three categorical reasons this disconnect occurs. If you are spending money on digital marketing and your phone isn’t ringing, read on for a guide to garner more customers. As an advocate for businesses, my hope is to empower owners with educational insight from independent sources so they can make informed decisions with confidence.
Reason #1: Agencies Selling the Work Wanted
To understand the business/agency disconnect, we must explore the typical marketing agency business model. Most are structured around a staff that includes website builders, social media marketers, graphic designers and copywriters who often work on search engine optimization as well. The website builders are project oriented and need an ongoing supply of work to justify their pay. Conversely, the social media work is typically ongoing.
The most common occurrence I see is building an entirely new website for a client when a less expensive update would suffice. If a website builder is needing new work, unscrupulous agencies will begin pitching websites to all their prospects, and statistically they will get work. I personally discovered one agency that designed a website template programmed to increase additional billings and work. They created internal coding on the website that overrides automatic search engine optimization (SEO) from working so they could bill for SEO work separately after the website build. I had the uncomfortable task of informing the client of my discovery and the cost of re-coding the website.
Green Light: An agency that produces documented reporting that shows your website needs SEO work and provides a market share report that demonstrates a deficiency in your website visitors compared to your competitors visitors is an indicator they have the expertise and have done research to support the suggestion. Reporting that clearly shows the deficiencies that need correction is a good sign.
Red Light: When the agency relies only on the visual appearance of the website, or wants to produce a website that is photography based with no supporting analysis of your site. Websites that serve as a photo album with little or no written content will not increase new visitors from Google searches.
Hint: You can check your website’s SEO score for free on many websites. This one scores on a scale of 100: https://www.seobility.net/en/seocheck/. This is the perfect tool to utilize to double check agency website work for integrity. This tool (or a similar third party) should also serve as a deliverable to achieve prior to final payment for website work.
Hint: If you are rebuilding your website, insist on an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant website. This ensures disabled visitors can access all the information. Websites are legally required to be ADA compliant; additionally, ADA-compliant websites are more SEO friendly, as the requirements of ADA and SEO overlap. Following is a link to a free ADA website checker: https://wave.webaim.org/
Reason #2: Owners Believe Digital Marketing is a Finite Process
Digital marketing is an ongoing process of pivoting with the additions of experiences on social media. Instagram Live video feeds and Facebook Business Suite are a few of the latest 2021 additions. Additionally, building traffic to a website is an ongoing process of deliberate growth dictated by Google, Bing and others. All of these show your content based on algorithmic updates that change how they choose, and who to show, your content. To add to the complexity, your competitors are actively adding content to drive visitors in tandem.
I demonstrate this to clients by showing them their market share of the products they offer, as it is an effective benchmark. For example, the search terms “cabinet hardware” and “kitchen cabinet hardware” total 124,000 per month. If your website generates 4,000 monthly visitors, you have 3% of the total market. By showing this data in numerical form, it speaks a language most owners can understand and they can then develop a budget. After a website is built, there is work to be done on the SEO side, digital advertising, or both, to drive people to it.
Red Light: Business owners who think a website just needs to exist to increase visitors, or they sporadically post on social media with no brand campaign.
Green Light: Professionals who have market share reports to determine the growth potential and the credentials to grow, and will supply references for website SEO initiatives. Social media posting plans that encapsulate more than one post type, ie: Stories, videos AND Feed posts.
Hint: Consistent Blog Posting is the perfect vehicle to connect with your customers and provide new content that search engines want.
Reason #3: The Marketing is Lacking
Targeting the correct audience is easier than ever with the amount of demographic and geographic data that every digital platform collects. When advertising on Google, Bing or social media, the success is in the details. If you are spending on digital advertising, you need to be guided by the reporting that shows the success rate by your audience demographics and geographical location. If your phone is not ringing, dig deeper into who exactly is being targeted to view the ads and adjust it accordingly.
Hint: Request reporting that shows the detail of the audience, the platforms the ads were shown on and the geographic locations.
A consistent brand identity provides consumers with the confidence of knowing the caliber of your products and the service associated with it. Does your social media brand mirror your website and printed collaterals? Does the customer experience stand up to the message? Are your employees educated on your brand identity? Having a solid, well-defined brand identity that clearly demonstrates your unique value is crucial. It ensures the customers are receiving the brand experience they expect.
Hint: Train your employees to ask customers qualifying questions. How did you find us? How was your first experience with us? How can we improve?
Savvy business owners view marketing as an extension of their business, and managing it with loyal partners and a staff that is accountable is a pathway to success. Trust your gut if there is any hesitation on your part and educate yourself with the help of third-party consulting when needed. Digital marketing is complex and is a powerful tool to grow your business, and make your phone ring. ▪
Denise Grothouse has an extensive background in international business, branding and marketing. She specializes in digital and social platforms and integrating them with traditional marketing and branding strategies. No stranger to the kitchen and bath industry, she is best known for her work as chief brand officer of Grothouse, Inc., and is the current president of the marketing firm Perfect Six.