“How can I get more clients?” is one of the most common questions asked by small business owners frustrated at the lack of business their website brings in.
The good news is that it is possible to attract a steady stream of clients. But you will need to develop a digital marketing strategy to build a sales funnel. Don’t worry if you’ve not heard of this before, it will be explained!
In this article I hope to provide you with some of the information you’ll need to start the process. So let me introduce you to the sales funnel, which is a visual representation of the different stages a client will pass through on the journey from potential client to actual client.
The sales funnel is important because by targeting each stage with the right type of marketing, it’s possible to attract a long-term, sustainable flow of potential clients to your website.
But if you use the wrong marketing, your results will be poor.
How the sales funnel works
- Awareness Stage: This stage includes the largest group of prospective clients who may have an issue but are not searching for solutions right now. These people are best reached through contributions to Facebook groups, educational articles, blogs etc.
- Consideration Stage: At this stage, your prospective clients are becoming interested in learning more about your services. They may do this by requesting information and asking questions. Best reached through contributions to Facebook groups, educational articles, blogs etc.
- Intent Stage: At this point, your prospective clients are actively searching for a solution to their issue Right Now. Best reached via Google My Business, Bing places for Business, Adwords, Organic listings.
- Decision Stage: Your prospective clients are now at the decisions stage so will be on your website ready to decide whether to contact you and become a client or choose another provider.
- Loyalty Stage: Your clients have had a positive experience with you and built a relationship and return for other services.
Marketing to groups at the Awareness/Consideration stage is about building audiences who will be more likely to choose your service at a later stage because you already have a relationship.
This article will focus on the marketing methods best suited for attracting potential clients who are actively searching for a solution to their issues, Right Now, so the Intent stage.
1. Free Advertising Google My Business
Google My Business is a free marketing tool that connects potential clients with businesses.
It’s super important to be advertising here as it boosts your visibility in local searches.
Without Google My Business you won’t appear in local map listings which are displayed for most local searches.
Local listings are often displayed above organic listings on mobile devices, so it’s a good opportunity to attract new clients.
HINT: Most businesses don’t bother to optimise their Google My Business listing, so this is low hanging fruit which could boost you to the top position in double-quick time
If you want to learn more about setting-up and optimising Google My Business here are some great tutorials by Tech Function
Bing places for Business
This is Bing’s equivalent to Google My Business. Bing’s market share is a fraction the size of Google’s, although still sizeable in number.
Because of this it is often ignored by businesses. This is great news for you as it means fewer competitors.
Again, this is low hanging fruit for getting easy wins.
Like Google My Business it’s completely free and very easy to set-up.
Here is a link to: Get started with Bing places for business
Some agencies do offer Google and Bing free ads configuration for a relatively low cost, so you may want to investigate this option.
2. Pay-Per-Click Advertising (PPC)
PPC is one of the most popular and effective ways to quickly put your website in front of potential clients.
It relies on paid search platforms such as Google Adwords to bid for ad placements in a search engine’s sponsored links section when someone searches on a keyword related to your business. For example, if you bid on the keyword phrase “counsellors in bristol” your ad could appear on top of Google’s search page results (see image).
Google Adwords is the most popular and largest paid search platform with over 70% of market share but it’s not the only one.
Other paid platforms are:
Facebook Paid Ads
LinkedIn Paid Ads
Advantages of Paid Ads
- Speed – You can generate targeted traffic within a few minutes of opening an account and even be in the top position for your primary keywords
- Flexibility – Organic ads can take weeks or months to catch-up to a change in customer behaviour or environment, whereas PPC campaigns can be adjusted in hours or days
- Skill – Done well it’s possible to outperform competitors with much bigger budgets
- Measurable – It’s simple to predict budgets and calculate return on investment (ROI)
Disadvantages of Paid Ads
- It’s relatively simple to learn but difficult to master. Consequently, it’s very easy to waste lots of money and the internet is full of such examples. For this reason, it’s highly recommended that you use a professional to set-up your campaigns.
- User behaviour on the internet and competitors marketing tactics change all the time, so regular reviews should be carried out to make sure your campaigns are performing well and that you are getting good return on your investment.
Key Things For Running A Successful PPC Campaign:
- Focus on converting website visitors into clients. This is your Conversion Rate. Don’t focus on how many people are visiting your site. Instead focus on the ratio of visitors that are converting into clients and try to improve it. In general, the more visitors you convert into clients, the bigger the return on your investment (ROI).
- Target Narrow Client Groups – targeting too broad a market will spread your resources too thin. This will have a detrimental impact on your marketing. Instead, target narrowly defined local client groups. The reduction in market size will be more than outweighed by the reduction in the number of competitors. Remember big fish in small ponds always get to eat more!
- Do Thorough Keyword Research – and use negative keywords to reduce wastage on clicks that will never convert into clients. Negative keywords are used in keyword advertising to prevent ads from being shown when the search terms contain the negative keywords. For instance, a therapist advertising ‘Anger Management’ services could specify “child” as a negative keyword so that their ads do show for searches upon ‘Anger Management’ but not ‘Child Anger Management’.
- Relevance – Make sure ads click through to the website page with the most relevant information. For example, anyone clicking on an ad for ‘couples counselling’ should land directly on a ‘Couples Counselling’ page, not the ‘Homepage’. Lack of relevance is a major contributor to website visitors not converting into clients (conversion rate).
- Monitor the results – User behaviour can change and competitors can up their game. Get someone who knows what they’re doing to set-up Google analytics and automated reports so you’re aware and up to date with the performance of your marketing.
- Review & Optimise – Regularly review the performance of your marketing to determine where it’s working and where it isn’t. Do more of the things that work and change the things that don’t. Keep an eye on the revenue being generated to make sure that any updates implemented are successful.
Optimise for mobile searches
- 4 in 5 consumers use search for products, services or experiences nearby
- 88% of consumers use smartphones to conduct local searches
People search for services on the internet on the go nowadays – whilst at work, on buses, in restaurants or walking the dog. By optimising ads for different screen sizes you’re providing mobile users with a friction free experience, which translates into more of them converting into clients (conversion rate).
Some examples of optimised for mobile are:
- Call extensions give people an easy-to-click button in your ads so they don’t have to dial a number. They still have the option to click through to your website.
- Location extensions which can show your address and a map to your location.
- Call-only ads which focus exclusively on driving calls. These are a great option for advertisers without mobile friendly websites.
3. Organic Search Listings
Also called Natural or Free Listings these make up the bulk of the search engine results page and equate to around 95% of search traffic compared to 5% for paid search, so it can be very profitable provided you can get into a high position or rank for a highly searched keyword.
Getting a high position is achieved through Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).
SEO is a highly technical discipline the purpose of which is to make your website more relevant to the search engines than your competition.
Advantages of Organic Listings
- It’s free
- It’s generally viewed as more trustworthy then paid ads
- It can be very profitable if you achieve a prominent position for a competitive keyword
- Better long-term option than paid ads
Disadvantages of Organic Listings
- Can take up to 6 months to 1 year to achieve results, particularly in competitive sectors
- SEO generally requires specialist technical knowledge and can be expensive if you’re competing for keywords in very competitive sectors.
How you can improve your organic listing position
Search engine robots (bots) scan billions of web-pages to deliver the most relevant content according to their users search criteria. By writing web pages that are friendly to search engines and optimising them for local searches, it’s possible to significantly improve your position in the local search listings.
How to write search engine friendly copy – (adapted for therapy businesses from the book Brilliant SEO by David Amerland)
- What services for you offer? Organise them into groups under page headings. These pages should define the structure of your website and become the focus of your marketing efforts.
- Think of the theme of each page and write all the keywords associated with that theme. Put each keyword under the headings “Targeted” and “General”, so if your page is about ‘child therapy in Winslow, Bucks’ then the term “child therapy” is a general term and the terms “child therapy in Bucks” and “child therapist in Winslow” are targeted.
- Prioritise the keywords in order of importance.
- Now use these keywords to write search engine friendly copy but don’t go overboard as you don’t want to turn off human readers.
- Use headings (8 words or less), sub-headings (8 words or less), sentences (15 – 20 words), paragraphs (40 – 70 words), page word count (400+ words).
- Use short, simple words. Avoid jargon. Get to the point. And then stop.
- Write from me to you – The most powerful word in the English language is “YOU”. Write for your reader in a conversational tone
- Drive actions with content – Make sure your content steers the reader to the primary action you want them to take. In most cases that would probably be to call you or email you.
- Keywords Density – is an important element of optimising your website. Search engines expect to see keywords naturally occurring in writing, so you don’t overdo it. Keyword density is an important element of optimisation for your website. Aim for between 1 and 3 percent for your primary keyword (i.e. 7 in 250 words) and use at least 2 more supportive keywords in a lower (0.5 – 2 percent) density (i.e. 1 – 5 in 250 words).
This means that your target keywords should not really rise above the 5% mark for each page.
Importance of Google Analytics (GA)
Although analytics doesn’t directly attract visitors it’s still an essential tool because it allows you to pull together data from lots of different places and make sense of what is working and what is not.
Image from Google demo store.
Analytics collects information on:
- Where are your potential clients coming from – Adwords, Facebook, Referral site etc.
- Useful information about potential clients - i.e. location, gender, age range etc.
- What potential clients are doing on your site – Which pages are they looking at? How long are they staying on your site? This information can be useful for identifying website problems and/or visitors aren’t finding your content relevant.
- What actions are they taking? – for example, how many visitors are actually clicking the “Call Me” or “Email Me” buttons?
You can’t improve what you can’t measure.
Get an analytics professional to set-up it up to measure absolutely everything on your website, scroll-rate, buttons clicked, time on page, ASAP
90% of the Google analytics set-ups by web professionals that I’ve come across have been inadequate or broken. If you already have it configured you should probably get a proper analytics professional to check it.
Ultimately no single method of marketing will bring in a consistent stream of prospective clients to your website.
What you need is a mix of marketing that will target your audience both when they’re actively looking for solutions (for example Free ads+Adwords+SEO combination), and further up the sales funnel at the awareness stage by providing interesting, educational content to places like Facebook, Linkedin, Blogs.
And don’t forget that you need to know what’s happening on your website, so install Google analytics ASAP.
Best of luck with your marketing!