Two years ago, my husband and I attended a presentation put on by a "so called" Social Media and SEO expert. At the end, my husband asked his typical "accountant" question ; Can You Tell Me What The ROI is on Social Media and SEO and how much revenue have you made from implementing them? One would think the speaker would have a snappy come back and a slide of examples, but the answer was I don't know. I could tell it almost made the "accountant" in my husband smile and say to himself, "I knew it".
I was already starting putting together our Social Media sites and was starting to work on the SEO for our website, but had not volunteered too much of that to my husband and business partner. He then caught on to what I was doing and basically shook his head, but having both as strong technical and marketing background, I was going to prove him wrong.
For anyone who is in a professional type service business versus product one, you know that some of the traditional sales and marketing mediums do not work as well. Customers usually have an issue before they call and they are not going to take your word for it through a cold call or from an advertisement, that you can solve their problem. They need to have a requirement for your services and to have some level of trust before they will call. This is why Digital Marketing and specifically our website and Social Media were important. This was the perfect medium to show clients that we had the background, experience, and skills to help them.
Though really important for professionals or service providers, the same is true of any business. You need to build confidence and show who the customer should buy your product or service over your competition. Around 90% of customers will research your business or your products and services online before they buy. Your hope is that your competition does not have a website, Social Media sites, and cannot be found online. If you believe your customers after meeting you did not go back and "Google" you and your business online, you are probably mistaken. If you do not have some type of online presence, you may have been discounted for the business without knowing.
About a year and a half ago, I redid our website and decided I was going to embrace SEO, Social Media and Online Marketing as a whole. I made sure our website was targeted at the prospects we were interested in helping which were start-ups and small business. I added a blog and resources that clients could download, integrated social media, and spent time implementing SEO from an organic perspective. At the same time I focused on Social Media sites that had more of a B2B focus such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, and Quora. I personally like Facebook, so even developed a company page there as well, knowing this is probably not a key focus, but still wanted to be there.
I knew what my metrics were when I started and where I wanted them to be and I started measuring. Within 3 months we were on page one of Google for 4 of our keyword phrases. Within 6 months I had doubled my traffic. I spent probably 3-4 hours a week on Social Media and tweaking our SEO based off Google Analytic and an SEO tool results. One of my business partners, who is in this space told me that having forms on our website was a waste of time, as people didn't fill them in. I listened and then ignored him. Within the 3 months, we had prospects downloading resources and also filling in forms to contact us about engagement and signing up for our newsletter. The phone starting ringing and we were getting more and more contacts each week both from our website and through Social Media. We were also found by writers from the newspapers who wrote on small business, who now consider us experts on certain subjects based on our website and LinkedIn profiles. This is exactly what we wanted to happen.
My husband and business partner all of the sudden was having to eat his words and is now a believer. Now roll forward a year and a half later, over 1/3 of our overall revenue last year came from leads from our website, Social Media, and other Online Marketing such as landing pages. The amount of time spent to achieve this was not trivial. You have to truly embrace it and spend the time making sure content is current and up to date and something that is of value to your prospects and customers. Going to a blog and seeing the last entry 6 months ago tells the reader this person is not committed. Visiting Social Media sites where businesses are only providing self-serving "selling" information will not benefit you either. Social Media is about communication and about sharing useful content. You also have to find out what platforms your prospects and clients are using. There is also a lot of trial and error with Social Media and SEO, so you have to be able to understand the metrics that are produced and what they mean in order to make changes to benefit your business.
I am not saying that Online Marketing is the be all and end all, as there are some industries where print advertising is still being used due to the demographics of the end customer. In this case, it is important that you utilize both and have them support each other. If you have a print ad, send them to your website or landing page for a call to action, for example. If you truly believe that none of your prospects are looking online for you, then you are truly missing out on those that are.
Before you embrace SEO and Social Media, you need to do some work and research and understand how prospects will find you and what platforms are appropriate. Both SEO and Social Media are not something you can do half halfheartedly, nor is it something that will give you instant gratification - it does take time. If it is done correctly though, it is something that can give you a lot higher rate of return than the .5%-1% return you got from that direct mail that you sent out to 5000 prospects.
RK Fischer & Associates