Looking to market a local business online?
If so, you’re in luck because you’ve got a number of advantages over virtual businesses (the interview below covers what these are). However, there are some unique challenges too, especially when it comes to accurately tracking conversions.
Having managed PPC campaigns for local business for quite some time, I can confidently say that the tool available on Talor’s new website, ConversionPPC.com, is a game-changer. It provides information that I’ve never seen available anywhere else that gives those using it a huge advantage in optimizing local PPC campaigns.
In this interview, we talk about this game changer and Talor also shares a number of great tips and strategies for marketing local businesses on the web.
I heard you recently say on a webinar that local businesses have a big advantage when it comes to generating leads/conversions from Google AdWords which makes it much easier for them to be successful than many other niches. What are those advantages?
There are a couple of major advantages Google gives to Local Businesses. The first one should be obvious but, amazingly, many local businesses do not even implement it. That is, location extensions.
While you used to have to integrate a Google Plus local account in order to have your location extension show when people search from your local area, you can now manually enter location extensions which definitely makes things a lot quicker and easier.
Location extensions integrate the businesses address and phone number into the ad, making the ad bigger and giving it more real estate on the page. I have seen this alone increase click through rates by over 30%!
The second big advantage is the fact that people are more likely to click on an ad and call a business that is located close to where they live. For example, if you live in Springfield, Illinois, and you are searching for a cosmetic dentist, you will be more likely to click on an ad with “Springfield Cosmetic Dentist” in the headline than you would be to click on an ad that simply said “Cosmetic Dentist.”
Local Advertisers should use this to their advantage by using the name of the location they are targeting in their ads.
Here’s an example of a local AdWords ad for a martial arts studio that takes advantage of all these features:
So those are the advantages local businesses have when it comes to paid search. Are there any unique challenges local businesses face with paid search? If so, what are they?
Many local businesses have low-paid receptionists (usually with little or no sales training) answering the calls, yet they are spending a lot of money to generate those calls. Ideally, there would be someone who is trained in sales answering the calls because fielding the calls is as much of an important part of the conversion process as the landing page is.
Think about it. If a person who is trained in sales can convert twice as many calls into clients compared to a normal receptionist… that can double the ROI of the AdWords campaign.
Another big challenge is that most leads for local businesses are generated in the form of phone calls and these businesses have no idea which keywords and ads are generating calls/conversions and which are not. This essentially means they are flying blind and are optimizing their campaigns to get more clicks without really knowing what keywords and ads are profitable for them.
Very few local businesses track call conversions back to the keyword and ad that people clicked on and, therefore, they are not able to optimize their campaigns for conversions.
Having managed PPC accounts for local businesses for the past 8 years, I know what a challenge tracking phone calls can be. Having 3rd-party call tracking in place helps, but most systems only tell you that a call was placed, but not what keyword and ad triggered the call. The ability to do that is a game changer for managing campaigns for companies that get a lot of their leads by phone. I know you’ve started using a system that does just that. Can you tell us a little about it?
Yes, you are right that this is a total game changer. The system we use dynamically inserts a unique tracking number on your landing page / website every time someone clicks on your ad (after you put the code on your landing page / website, of course).
You can choose to have either local or toll-free numbers (most businesses choose to have local numbers with their local area code) and, when a call is made, it pushes the data back into your AdWords and/or Bing account as a conversion.
This allows you to see exactly which keyword and which ad generated the conversion and allows you to dramatically fine tune your campaign by optimizing for conversions instead of clicks.
Once I started using this system and tracking all conversions back to the keyword and ad, I found that many keywords I thought were some of my best keywords (because they were generating the most clicks) were actually some of my worst keywords because they were eating up my budget and not generating many conversions/leads.
Here’s a screenshot from a campaign, where the ad with the highest clickthrough rate had a higher cost per conversion and lower conversion rate.
I can only imagine how many millions of dollars in PPC advertising are wasted by local businesses on keywords that they think are good keywords, that, in reality, are not generating conversions/leads. I truly believe that many local businesses could double their ROI if they had this conversion tracking set up and could identify (and pause) those non-converting keywords that they were spending money on.
Currently most local businesses are optimizing their campaigns for clicks because they don’t know which keywords are generating phone calls for their business. If they instead optimized for conversions, they’d dramatically improve their ROI.
Now that you’re better able to optimize sites for local businesses based on call data, what advice do you have for businesses that want their landing pages to generate phone calls? Are there specific elements that are key to driving calls?
The model that I have found works best for local businesses is to have a “Free” offer to encourage people to call for. For example, an attorney would offer a free consultation, a mortgage broker would offer a free quote, a chiropractor would offer a free initial evaluation, a contractor (like a roofer or plumber) would offer a free estimate.
With regards to the landing page layout, I always have a call to action (like “Call now for your free consultation”) on the top right hand side of the page as well as at the bottom of the page. I also have an opt-in form on the right side of the page above the fold for people who are interested but are not able to pick up the phone and call right then and there and would prefer to speak to someone later.
On the top left side of the page is typically the logo, and below that would be a video or an image. Below the video or image would be my headline, sub headline, and bullet points. That is the landing page layout that I find works best for local businesses.
There are a lot of local businesses that offer free quotes, consultations, etc. How would you recommend that a business make their free offer stand out from the competition?
One thing I like to do is—if my client has been mentioned or featured in any news outlets like local newspapers, radio, TV, etc.—to put the logos of those local news outlets right below the opt-in box and say “As seen in….” I think this adds additional credibility and looks really good on the landing page.
In addition to that, while many local businesses do offer free quotes and consultations, many of them fail to have a simple and clear call to action that encourages people to call now. For example, some attorneys I have worked with never put “Free Consultation Call Now” on any of their marketing because they just assumed everyone knew that attorneys offer free consultations.
When I simply added this message and call to action, they started immediately receiving a lot more leads. Seems obvious, but amazingly many local businesses don’t have clear call to actions on their landing page or website.
Regarding the landing page for a local business, is offering free reports, whitepapers, ebooks, etc., an effective strategy for them in generating more leads? If so, what works best in your experience?
I have only really tried this one time (offering a free report) and it did not work out well. I have tried to get one of my big attorney clients to create a white paper, but here we are 6 months later and the white paper is still not complete.
I think that is an issue. Unless you are going to create the white paper or the e-book for your client, it may take a long time to get done (if it ever gets done at all). In addition, if you are going to go this route, there should be an autoresponder sequence set up.
In my experience just offering the free consultation works well for most local businesses because, when people are searching for them, they are trying to fill an immediate need (rather than looking for free information).
With info-marketers, it is a completely different model than with a local business. Info-marketers definitely should have some sort of white paper or e-book or free video series. But my personal opinion is that, for local businesses, this kind of stuff may only be a distraction that may deter the person from actually picking up the phone and calling.
You may very well get more opt-ins, but I think you may end up getting fewer calls unless it is really done right.
Read other Crazy Egg interviews and articles by Adam Kreitman.