The way new customers are finding us is changing—or rather it’s already changed.
Gone are the days when a Yellow Pages listing was enough to get noticed. Direct mail isn’t as effective as it used to be. Interruption advertising (television, radio, etc.) just seems to bleed money.
Welcome to the time of inbound marketing, where it’s either hop on board or lose out to the competition. It’s time to leverage the popularity of the Internet to help grow your tree service.
Keep reading for some quick tips to get you started. But first…
Why Inbound Marketing?
Why waste your time pursuing leads when there are already tons of people looking for your services, ready to buy?
Around 550,000 people in the US search Google every month for phrases matching or similar to “tree service.” These are ALL potential leads.
These people are looking for us… but the question is how can we help them find us?
Just Having A Website Is Not Enough
Every arborist out there who wants to gain new customers online NEEDS a website, but just having a website isn’t enough. You need to drive traffic to the site, and even then you need to convert that traffic into potential leads for your business.
These tips should help get you started.
SEO – What It Is, and What It SHOULDN’T BE
SEO (search engine optimization) is the process of ensuring that all technical aspects of your site are aligned to search engine guidelines, and providing high quality content that helps users and encourages the search engines to show your site.
That’s it. Nothing more. Nothing less.
Google & Bing want people to use their search engine so that they can make money from advertisements. The only way people will use their search engine is if they consistently provide top-notch results pages.
They pay close attention to other sites that link to yours and social media signals (shares, likes, +1’s etc) as indications that your content is valuable and should be shared.
In other words, provide the content searchers are looking for, links and social exposure will follow, and the search engines will reward you.
Note: Do not try to cheat the system. “Faking” links, stuffing keywords into your content, etc. will do way more harm than good.
PPC – Pay to Gain Exposure
PPC (pay-per-click) advertisements, allow you to bid on real estate on the search engines or other sites based on different targeting methods.
This is a quick way to shoot to the top of the results in the search engines, or hyper focus advertisements within a particular geography, interest group, demographic, etc.
The way it works is that you create ads, bid on placements, and then get charged a “fee” for each click. That fee is based on your bid.
The goal is to achieve a cost per lead that provides a significant return on your investment. This can be extremely effective if done correctly.
Take Advantage of Relevant Directories & Citation Opportunities
It may have been unfair for me to say that the days of the Yellow Pages are gone. They’ve just moved on—online that is.
People still turn to online directories when looking for tree services. Perhaps more important, are the sites that provide citation opportunities.
Sites like Angie’s List, Google Local, Yelp, and more give your business an opportunity to not only show your contact information, but also to get reviews!
And I’m sure we are all learning quickly that a slew of good reviews means more phone calls – while a lack of reviews (or even worse, bad reviews) leads to the sound of crickets chirping.
This means that we all need to not only ensure that we are listed on these important sites, but that we also proactively encourage positive reviews, and address any negative reviews to resolve dissatisfaction.
You can equate a bad online review in the present, to a bad BBB rating in the past in terms of crushing your business’ lead generation.
As a bonus, the search engines pay close attention to these listings as a way of confirming your business’ location and credibility, leading to a greater presence in local queries.
Become the Online Authority for Tree Service in Your Area
So how do you distinguish yourself from your competitors online?
Share your knowledge with the online community. For example, offer an extremely helpful guest post like this one.
Participate in forums about landscaping, tree climbing, etc. Get social on Facebook, Google +, and Twitter. Discuss industry trends. Debate. Teach. Inform.
Be a genuine person that shares tips, provides recommendations, and makes peoples lives easier.
Not only will your online reputation grow, but you’ll likely also attract links to your site, which will both help to improve your online presence.
Make It Stupid-Easy to Contact You
I wanted to share a final tip that may be one of the most important.
Getting visitors to your site is only half the battle. The most important thing is to convert these visitors into leads.
Make it stupid-easy for visitors to contact you.
Ensure your phone number is easy to find. Don’t make them search for the contact page. Provide call-to-actions throughout making it easy for customers to contact you. It may seem pushy, but you need to think about it from the visitor’s point of view.
They are on your site because they need tree service.
So don’t be subtle. Be blunt and say, “Click here if you’re looking for a free estimate on tree service.”
Take a look at my homepage: http://www.absolutetreeserviceinc.com. See that big red button? It literally increased my lead conversion rate by 105.77%!!! It may not be subtle. It’s certainly not pretty. But it definitely doubled my leads! I’ll take it.
How Do I Take Advantage Of These Tips?
Note: This only scratches the surface. There’s email marketing, YouTube optimization, media buying, multi-variate split testing, content marketing, and much much more.
If you have the time and resources to do the research, all of this is doable in house, but sometimes it can be difficult to know where to focus your efforts, or even how to get started.
Personally, I’ve hired a few Internet marketing companies over the years and some are definitely better than others. These are the things I’ve noticed that distinguish the best from the rest:
- They speak in a way that you can understand – Don’t be impressed by buzzwords and industry terminology. Be impressed by the company that can explain what they do so everyone can understand.
- They provide clear insights into what their plan of action is, and why – The why is the most important part. If they can’t provide a reason for their actions, then don’t expect an ROI.
- They are transparent with results – Performance data should be readily accessible and customized for your concept. For example, I have a clear idea of where form submissions are coming from on my site, so that the agency I hired isn’t claiming leads from Angie’s List as their own.
- They’re always just a phone call away – Monthly meetings are great, but what about when a major storm hits. You want to be able to call up your marketers and make sure that you’re PPC bids are ready to take advantage of the onslaught of tree removal requests. Better yet, they should call you!
If anyone has any strategies or Internet marketing agencies they’ve had success with, or if anyone has any questions, please leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you!
This post was authored by Ashley Davis
Ashley Davis is the owner of TCIA member company Absolute Tree Inc.—a full service tree care company serving Fairfax, Arlington & the general Northern Virginia area as well as Montgomery County, Maryland. For more information visit absolutetreeserviceinc.com or call (703) 969-6207.