Owners of carpet cleaning companies often ask for tips on how they can best use Internet marketing to grow their businesses.
Many are overwhelmed by the complexity of Internet advertising, but they know that their competitors are out there making money on the Internet, and they don’t want to get left behind.
I’d like to share a few essential tips that will help explain how Internet advertising works, and how it can best be used by the carpet cleaning industry:
Start with the heavy hitters
Search marketing is the most cost-effective Internet marketing for the carpet cleaning industry, and it can generate immediate results.
The best way to get exposure with up to 99 percent of all online searches for carpet cleaning services is to focus on the three3 major search networks: Google, Yahoo!, and MSN(1).
Know your keywords
Simply bidding on “carpet cleaning” as a keyword will not lead to Internet riches. It’s critical to identify other, more specialized keywords that local customers are searching on in high volumes.
For example, in the carpet cleaning industry, “cat urine removal” has three times higher search volume than “pet urine removal.”
If your company is not coming up in these types of search results, you can bet that your competitors are. Savvy marketers bid on thousands of keywords for every ad campaign.
When a potential customer is searching for carpet cleaning services, they want to find someone that is local to their area.
I always recommend that companies buy local keywords, use localized language in their ads, and thoroughly “localize” their websites sites.
De-clutter your website
Having an informational website is not enough. For you to make money, customers need to actually call you!
Your website needs to work hard for you and turn visitors into callers.
On average, a well-designed website with strong direct-response copy delivers one phone call for each 25 visitors (2).
To achieve maximum calls, I recommend that you eliminate anything from your site that will keep visitors from specifically calling to schedule a carpet cleaning appointment.
Remove distracting clutter such as large images and franchising information. Build a focused website that has information about your local carpet cleaning services, and provide an easy way to connect with you or your sales representative.
Don’t get too personal
Another problem I often see is that many carpet cleaners ask for too much information on their online contact forms.
The less information you request, the faster and easier it is for the customer to feel comfortable filling out your form, resulting in a significant increase in online inquires.
Remove all unneeded fields, and resist asking for an address. If you are screening for customers outside of your service area, ask for just a ZIP code instead of street address, city, state, and ZIP.
Know what makes the phone ring
Closely monitor keyword performance, and eliminate those that are draining your budget and not producing phone call or e-mail inquiries.
All keywords do not perform equally, and if you don’t stay on top of them, you will, without a doubt, lose money on your advertising effort.
A person searching for “carpet cleaning” could actually be looking for carpet cleaning equipment to rent, or a carpet cleaning business to buy, rather than carpet cleaning services.
There are many software packages available that can help you to analyze your keywords and cut out non-performers.
Become a first responder
This may seem elementary, but unfortunately, I see it happening almost every day.
The bottom line is this: When your phone rings, answer it!
Statistics show that most customers who don’t speak to a live person do not leave a voicemail, particularly if they found you on the Internet.
Talk to your office staff about this, and make sure you have your phone answered within the first two rings.
The same goes for e-mail inquiries: More than 70 percent of all customers will go to your competitor’s website if they don’t receive a response to their online inquiry within one business day (3).
If you follow these steps, you will be well on your way to mastering this exciting new advertising medium.
Remember, advertising and lead generation is a game of numbers. Each call or e-mail will certainly not close the deal, but if you keep at it and focus on the essentials, you will make money.
(1) Compete.com: January 2008 Search Market Share: Google Who?
(2) MarketingSherpa Search Marketing Benchmark Guide 2007
(3) The Customer Respect Group: First Quarter 2005 Online Customer Respect Study
Mitch Brandow is the founder of Local Marketers, Inc. Throughout his career, Mitch has specialized in developing targeted Internet marketing campaigns on behalf of large corporate clients. In founding Local Marketers, he is now focused on helping local business owners boost their sales using the same powerful advertising technologies in use by Fortune 500 companies. He can be contacted at [email protected] or (800)576-4064.