Having a website and just hoping that it’s going to bring you business is like waiting for a boat… when you’re at the airport. It’s just not going to work that way. There are millions of websites. Why would a user just go to a random website? How are they ever going to find it?
They’re not going to find it unless they know the domain name or unless you’re at the top of the search engines, which is not going to happen for a brand-new website. So, how are they even going to know you exist?
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.
In many situations, we start working with a particular client and find there isn’t a solid foundation of a marketing plan on an ongoing basis.
With every scenario we walk into, we sit down with a potential customer and ask, “What are we doing here? What’s our goal? Why are we doing this? Why do you think you need a website?”
Oftentimes, during a conversation with a client, they focus heavily on how much the development of the website itself is going to cost without paying enough attention to which resources we are going to spend on a monthly basis to drive relevant traffic to the website.
We see people get lost in the actual building of the website or having the perfect design or the perfect images. They’re losing focus. They’re looking at it all the time, they’re in it, it’s theirs. But sometimes there’s too much oversight into the actual website and not enough time developing into the actual marketing plan.
There’s certainly no secret sauce, otherwise we would be retired on the beach. What works for one person in one industry, in one city, might not work for their competitor in the same city. 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 by clicking on an ad.
Now, on average, anywhere from 1% to 5% is a good conversion rate. In today’s climate, 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 involves setting up various campaigns, testing different ad copy, looking at the keywords, looking at the actual cost per lead, seeing how it actually costs.
Just because you get a lot of clicks that are very inexpensive, say $2 to $5 a click, it doesn’t mean they’re good clicks. In many industries, a $15 click will generate you one phone call.
Now, most businesses don’t want traffic going just 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 only $200 a month, you’re not going to see that type of volume. It’s just not enough spent to translate into a profitable campaign for you.
Let’s say you’re a brick-and-mortar offering services and you want to advertise to people within a 5-mile radius of exactly where your location is. Someone 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 instead. What percentage of people are even interested in what you’re selling? The ability to get in front of only those people who are interested in what you’re selling, and to have the opportunity to market your service directly to them, is the Holy Grail of advertising.
We like digital marketing so much because it eliminates the black box variable that would go into a billboard or a magazine ad. Now, as people drive down the 95 freeway here in Vegas, they see billboard after billboard.
Whether they see a divorce attorney or a plumber, there’s a metric that those advertisers, those businesses, are paying for someone to drive down and see those billboards.
If someone’s not in the market for a divorce, that divorce attorney is still paying for them to see it anyway. If they rent instead of owning a home, that plumber is still paying for them to see it. But they’re never going to call the plumber. They’re going to call the landlord who will then pick a plumber.
Essentially, those people who pay for the billboard or magazine ad are factoring in the point that most people would have no interest in what they’re selling. They’re doing it to reach a mass amount of people, but there’s a lot of waste.
Magazines have this backwards arbitrage on how they price each full-page ad. When you buy an ad in a magazine or newspaper, they’re accounting for maybe printing a hundred thousand copies. Then they assume that 50,000 of those copies are going to get left in a doctor’s office and someone else along the line is going to read it. So now they’re factoring in that 150,000 people are going to read that one ad on page 87.
But with digital marketing, unlike with print and old-fashioned media spends, every single click, every impression, every view, and every phone call can all be attributed to a specific action, to one particular person. It’s a very black-and-white situation.
People don’t have to 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 they ever going to know?
But with Google, Facebook, or YouTube ads, it’s extremely 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.
And unlike a billboard, where you’ve paid for the billboard for six months and you can’t change it, with digital marketing you could 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 digital marketing this other thing instead?” And you can pivot your strategy in real time with no repercussions.
When a business is putting their money into an ad platform, they need to set up key performance indicators (KPIs) or business goals. In some of the client accounts we manage, we see that there’s not a clear picture of what success looks like. Time will go by, they’ll spend some money, and then they’ll sit back and say, “Well, digital marketing isn’t working.” It’s almost like, “Let’s throw some money at this, and if we’re not seeing definite huge gains right away, we’re just going to stop and call it. It didn’t work for us.”
It’s certainly not their responsibility to execute the strategy alone or even to come up with the strategy in the first place. But in order for the campaign to be successful, we need to have goals centered on what’s good for their business.
Over the years, we’ve seen so many different industries and verticals from one business to the next. They can vary significantly. Even several 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, we’ll see a scenario where 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.
You need a digital marketing plan
A business needs to have an idea of what a profitable customer would look like.
One of the most important elements for a business that’s just getting started with digital marketing is to understand what success looks like. Ask yourself, “How much can I afford to pay for a lead?”
Part of it depends on the type of business and how well a business can close on a sale. In any ad campaign we choose to run, we’re confident that we drive good quality traffic. But that’s only one part of it. If the 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 will naturally 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. If you don’t answer the phone, your competitor will answer the phone.
Having a starting point of what success, of what the end goal looks like for you as a business, that’s the first step. Your website is probably 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. Before you get started with Google or Facebook ads, you need to know, “I have X amount of dollars, and this is what I need to get in return to be successful.”
So essentially, we have to start with the end in mind. There’s a great saying, “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.”
When we know what our goals are, we can build campaigns that are in line with our goals. When we know what we’re trying to achieve, we can target our advertising to meet that objective over a course of time.
There’s no 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 or a restaurant, you’re probably going to want phone calls, and that’s what success looks like.
Now, the most important part of being able to say that an ad campaign is successful and profitable, is understanding the cost. How much can I afford to pay for a lead?
If you’re an attorney who handles traffic tickets and you charge $90 for a traffic ticket, you certainly can’t afford to pay $100 for a lead. However, if you’re a divorce attorney, you can probably afford to pay $100 for a lead all day long. It really just depends on the business and understanding your numbers. The takeaway is, “What are the margins?”
How much can you potentially spend as a business to bring traffic to the site, and then to convert it into an actual lead and then into a customer? How much can you spend? Once you know that number, the actual amount you spend on a monthly basis is irrelevant.
You could spend $5,000 or $10,000 a month. That number really doesn’t matter, as long as you’re within our budget, as long as you have proper reporting, that you know what’s happening and why.
So, what should you do? Should you go open a Google Ads account yourself? Well, you can certainly get started by yourself.
One thing we’ve come across with some of our clients we’ve managed in the past is that they’ll say, “Google ads don’t work.” And typically, our response is, “Maybe. Or 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.
We can’t tell you how many times we’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? Then the customer goes back to Google, looks at the next ad, calls, and your competitor 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.
It’s an easy ad setting. It’s all about having the right campaign structure, and part of that structure comes with a digital marketing plan.
Again, one of the biggest downfalls with client accounts are when there’s not a clear strategy, just, “Oh, I want to do Google Ads.” Great, but what do you want out of Google Ads?
Only after they have that answer, can we figure out if it makes sense. If a lawyer calls us and say, “I want to do Google Ads. I do criminal defense. I want leads at $30 each.” We’ll say, “That’s great. Unfortunately, we’re not going to be able to help you.” We know that a phone call for a lawyer is going to be more than $30, plain and simple.
So, it’s all about having a plan, knowing what your goals are, and then ensuring you have proper management of your accounts to direct you to that goal and consistently make updates and make progress towards that. Then you focus on improving your data, improving your metrics, and getting to a point where you know that if you spend X, you will receive Y, which you can calculate after you have a significant amount of traffic and data over the course of months.