Hi everyone. I’m Alex.

I’m Michael.

Great to be here with you. We thought about what the subject of the podcast should be today and we really said, “Let’s talk about the importance of having the right plan.”

Having a plan when it comes to digital marketing or to your website strategy is really everything. When you start without a plan, you’ll keep pivoting, and those pivots cost in both time and resources.

Mike, there’s many situations that I find myself in working with a particular client where there isn’t a solid foundation of a marketing plan on an ongoing basis that’s set up, and I think that that’s an issue. Pretty much every scenario that I walk into, I sit down with a potential customer and I say to them, “What are we doing here? What’s our goal? Why are we doing this? Why do you think that you need a website?” Oftentimes when I’m in conversation with a client, we focus heavily on how much the development of the website itself is going to cost without paying significant enough attention to what resources are we going to be spending on a monthly basis in order to drive relevant traffic to this website? And I think that that is a very, very important point.

So often I see people get lost in the actual building of the website or having the perfect design or the perfect images that they’re losing focus. To them, sure, they’re looking at it all the time. They’re in it, it’s theirs. Sometimes there’s too much oversight into the actual website and not enough time being developed into the actual marketing plan. There’s certainly not a secret sauce, otherwise you and I would both be on the beach.

You’re the only one on the beach!

Come down to Miami! The process of testing, there’s not a secret sauce. So what works for one person in one industry, in one city might not work for their competitor in the same city, and they all can work. It just depends on who the end customer is. If we’re going to use the average of $5 per click and you decide I want to spend $200, you’re going to get 40 clicks to your website, and that’s not leads. Those are clicks. People are coming to your website, they’re clicking. Now, on average, anywhere from 1% to 5% is a good conversion rate. I would say for a business just getting into Google ads, a budget of $2,000 to $4,000 for a period of three months would be a very good indication of what they could expect to see from Google Ads.

Now, when you first get started, it’s a calculated test to see what’s going to work. It’s setting up various campaigns, testing various ad copy, looking at the keywords, looking at the actual cost per lead, how much does it actually cost? Just because you get a lot of clicks that are very inexpensive, $3, $2, $5 a click, doesn’t mean they’re good clicks. In many industries, a $15 click will generate you a phone call. Now, most businesses don’t want traffic just going to their website. They want someone calling them. They want someone filling out a form requesting a demo, requesting a quote. They want something out of it. If you’re spending $200 a month, you’re not going to be able to see that type of volume that’s going to translate into a profitable campaign for you.

Imagine this scenario, whatever it is that you’re selling. Let’s say you’re a brick and mortar store offering services. You want to advertise to people within a 10 mile radius of exactly where your location is. That person goes to Google and types in, I want A, B, and C and they see an ad that is specifically about what you do. They click on the ad. It goes to a landing page on your site that talks again about exactly what they’re searching for. Let’s say you took the same budget and put it in a magazine. What percentage people are even interested in what you’re selling? The ability to get in front of only the people that are interested in what you are selling and have an opportunity to market your service to them, nothing seems better than that to me. What else can we do besides setting up a great site and spending some paid dollars with the right oversight to direct traffic?

So Alex, the reason that I like digital advertising so much is it eliminates the black box variable that would go into a billboard or would go into a magazine ad. Now, as I drive down the 95 freeway, I see billboard after billboard. However, when I see a divorce attorney or I see a plumber, there’s a metric that those advertisers, those businesses are paying for me to drive down and see those billboards. If I’m not in the market for a divorce, that divorce attorney is paying for me to see it. If I rent a home, that plumber is paying for me to see it, but I’m not going to call them. I’m going to call my landlord and they’re going to pick a plumber.

What you’re saying, Mike, essentially is that those people that take the billboard or take the magazine, they’re factoring in the point that most people would have no interest in what they’re selling, but they’re still doing it to reach a mass amount of people. But again, there’s a lot of waste.

Correct. Now, same for magazines. Magazines have this backwards arbitrage on how they price each full page ad. When you take it out of a magazine or a newspaper, they’re accounting for maybe they print a hundred thousand copies and they assume that 50,000 of those copies are going to get left in a doctor’s office and someone else is going to read it, so now they’re factoring in that 150,000 people are going to read that one ad that might be on page 87 of a magazine that no one actually ever made it to. Unlike print and old fashioned media spends, digital advertising, every click, every impression, every view, every phone call can all be attributed to a specific action, to a person. It’s a very black and white situation. Trying to guess, did my advertising work? Did this billboard work? I sponsored a football team, they put my logo on the jersey. Am I getting a return on that? Maybe, maybe not. How are you going to figure that out?

Google ads, or Facebook ads, or YouTube ads. It’s very, very clear. You want to reach a specific person. You’re paying to get your ad in front of that specific person, and for them to take a specific action. You can make informed decisions on how you want to craft a strategy. Now, unlike a billboard where you’ve paid for the billboard for six months and you can’t change it, digital advertising, you can call up tomorrow and say, “Okay, we figured out that this service is not actually converting at a cost that makes sense for us. Why don’t we try marketing this?” And you can pivot your strategy in real time with no repercussions.

So often in some of the client accounts that I manage, I see that there’s not a clear picture of what success looks like. If a business is putting their money into, whether it’s Google ads or Facebook and Instagram or YouTube or whatever ad platform they want to reach their audience through, there’s not necessarily set KPIs or business goals of, “here’s what I want to get out of it,” and time will go by, they’ll end up spending some money and they’ll sit back and look and be like, “Well, digital advertising isn’t working.”

Sure. It’s almost like, let’s throw some money at this, and if we’re not seeing a definite, “Hey, this is really working out.” We’re just going to stop it and call it, it didn’t work. It didn’t work for us.

It’s certainly not their responsibility to execute the strategy alone or to come up with the strategy, but in order for us to be successful, we need to have goals of what’s good for their business. Over the years, I’ve seen so many different industries and verticals from one business to the next, it can vary significantly. Even multiple lawyers, even if they practice the same type of law from one state to another, the costs change. What works in some markets don’t work in others. Even just for what they can get on a return basis.

Oftentimes, Michael, I’ll see a scenario of which a client will think a website is a magic pill, so to speak. They want to drive more traffic to their business. They say, “Let’s make a website.” As if just having a website published on a domain somewhere is going to magically make the phone ring. Have you had that experience?

Yeah, having a website and just hoping that it is just going to bring you in business, it’s like waiting for a boat… when you’re at the airport. It’s just not going to work that way. There’s millions of websites. Why would someone, a user just go to a random website? How are they going to find it?

They’re not going to find it, unless they know the domain. Unless you are at the top of the search engines, which is not going to happen for a brand new website, how are they even going to know you exist?

You need a plan. A business needs to have an idea of what a profitable customer would look like. I think one of the most important parts for a business who’s getting started with any form of digital advertising is to understand what success looks like. How much can I afford to pay for a lead? Part of it depends on the business and how well a business can close. I’m confident in any ad campaign we choose to run, I’m confident that we drive good quality traffic. Now, that’s only one part of it. If phones don’t get answered or the person answering the phone is having a bad day and doesn’t really care, or businesses just let form submissions go unanswered, that’s not going to turn into business for them, and that naturally will drive up the actual costs of what it takes to convert a lead. If you have a whole day go by and no one responds to the customers, then you’ve spent all this money on ads and you still have no business.

Yep. I always like to say, “Hey, if you don’t answer the phone, your competitor will answer the phone.”

All day. Having a starting point of what success, of what the end goal looks like for me as a business, that’s the first step. The website, it’s fine. You don’t need to overthink having the perfect web page or the perfect Instagram feed. None of that really matters. What matters is knowing what success looks like. Because our business, before they get started with Google ads or Facebook ads, they need to know, I have X amount of dollars, and this is what I need to get in order to be successful.

So essentially, Mike, we have to start with the end in mind. When we know what our goals are, we can build campaigns that are in line with our goals. There’s this great saying that I always like to say, “Hey, with no goals, any direction will do. You go to the left, you go to the right. Everything is fine because you don’t know your destination.” So when we know what we’re trying to achieve, we will target our advertising in order to meet that objective over a course of time.

Sure. There’s not a cookie cutter recipe that says, “For a plumber, this is what success looks like.” If you’re a service provider, you probably want form submissions of people asking to request a quote. If you’re a lawyer, if you’re a restaurant, you’re going to want phone calls, and that’s what success is going to look like. Now, the most important part of being able to say that this is successful, this is profitable, is understanding the cost. How much can I afford to pay for a lead? If you’re an attorney that handles traffic tickets and you charge $90 for a traffic ticket, you can’t afford to pay $100 for a lead. However, if you’re a divorce attorney, you can probably afford to pay $100 a lead all day long. It really just depends on the business and understanding your numbers.

I think that my major takeaway from our conversation today is, “what are the margins?” How much can I potentially spend as a business in order to bring traffic to the site, and then to convert it to be an actual lead and then a customer? How much can I spend? Once I know that number, I think that any amount that we spend on a monthly basis is irrelevant. We could spend $5,000, $10,000 I don’t think that number really matters as long as we’re within our budget, as long as we have proper reporting that we know what is happening and why, and I think that’s really the question that we have to ask. What is our target point that we’re trying to achieve?

What could be an actionable takeaway for somebody listening to this to say, “What can I do? What does that mean? What should I do? Should I go open a Google Ads account myself? What am I taking away from today’s conversation?”

You can certainly get started by yourself. One thing I’ve come across with some of the clients that I’ve managed in the past is that they’ll say, “Google ads doesn’t work.” And typically my response is, “Maybe. Maybe Google just didn’t work for you.” Now, it’s not a reflection of their business, but maybe it’s a reflection of how their ads were previously managed. If they’re running ads and they’re not setting specific locations or certain times, they can be driving clicks and traffic and paying a lot of money to drive ads when their business is closed. I can’t tell you how often I’ve seen businesses that are open from nine to five run ads at 11 o’clock at night. Who’s going to answer the phone when it rings? No one, and what happens? Customer goes back to Google, they’ll look at the second ad, they call, someone else picks up. Okay. Not all businesses want to have 24 hour phone service. That’s fine, but then you should only have your ads running from nine to five.

Easy ad setting. It’s all about having the right campaign structure, and part of that structure comes with a plan. Again, the thing I’ve seen where the biggest downfalls with client accounts are when there’s not a clear strategy, just, “Oh, I want to do Google Ads.” Great, what do you want out of Google Ads? And when they have that answer, at that point, we can figure out if it makes sense. If a lawyer calls us up and they say, “I want to do Google Ads, I do criminal defense. I want leads at $30 a lead.” I’ll say, “That’s great. Unfortunately, we’re not going to be able to help you.” I know that a phone call for a lawyer is going to be more than $30, plain and simple.

So Mike, having a plan, knowing what our goals are, and then ensuring that you have proper management of your accounts to direct you to that goal and consistently make updates and make progress towards that, I think that’s what it’s all about. Improving your data, improving your metrics, and getting to a point where you know that if you spend X, you will receive Y, after you have significant amount of traffic and data over the course of months.

Yep. I agree.

Well, Mike, I’m running low on coffee and you know what that means?

Coffee is for closers.

All right. Have a great day. We’ll talk soon.

All right. Take it easy.