Despite what you might assume, Tulsa, Oklahoma, isn’t exactly small town, America. With a metropolitan area of nearly 1.2 million people, it’s not quite Memphis or Milwaukee, but it’s bigger than Albuquerque and El Paso. Most importantly for today’s discussion, those 1.2 million Tulsa-area homeowners have their choice of approximately 1,000 plumbers.
Enter Wooten Plumbing Wooten Plumbing in Sapulpa, Oklahoma. When I first met Brian Wooten to talk about marketing goals for his business, he had this to say: “I want to be on the first page of Google results.” His ranking on that day? None. He had a one-page website that didn’t show up on even the first 10 pages of search results. His shop simply didn’t exist, as far as Google was concerned.
Now, if you’re not a marketer, it’s critical to understand one important thing about Brian’s request: sites don’t rank; pages do. And, with all of those pages Google’s trying to index, it’s incredibly easy to rank on “page one” for a search term that has almost no organic search traffic. So, as digital marketing experts, it’s our job to understand correctly the goal behind Brian’s ask::
“I want more customers, and I want the internet to help me do it.”
Or, even more simply: “I want more sales.”
In the world of marketing, experts ought to avoid selling snake oil to clients who otherwise have no idea what they’re looking for or how to measure the results. Our job is to understand our client’s goals and help empower those companies to reach them. My company is only as valuable to my clients as the results they get. No results? No value. We’re fired, and they’re frustrated (likely for the third or fourth time).
For that reason, I care less about activity and most about outcomes.
In Wooten Plumbing’s case, we wanted to help them to reach their goals by not just selling activities. Instead, we want to give them knowledge, experience, context, accessibility, and results. We prefer a handful of long-term clients to an army of short-term ones, so it’s in everyone’s best interest to add the most amount of value to Brian’s company as possible.
Here’s how we did it:
Step 1: Have Outstanding Customer Service
Naturally, digital marketers tend to think first about websites, SEO, social media, and PPC ads—and those are important channels. But for businesses to grow and prosper, they have to do more than look good online. They have to be good.
With that in mind, we coached Wooten on the best use of their marketing dollars: creating remarkable customer experiences.
Wooten’s goal was to actively work against the negative stereotypes homeowners have about plumbers. To that end, they began creating “wow” experiences for their customers, going above and beyond their expectations. Their technicians carry around $5 Starbucks gift cards to give to homeowners. They offer to walk customers’ dogs before heading out after a service call. When a leak destroyed the contents of a customer’s kitchen cabinet, Wooten replaced them all—and arranged them exactly as the customer had placed them in the cabinet.
Before businesses can expect to rank well online, they have to rate well with their actual customers.
Step 2: Ask for Reviews
Google updates their algorithms 500-600 times per year. When it comes to the service industry, the algorithms try to determine one thing: Is this business taking care of its customers? Google answers that question by looking at online reviews.
By simply asking happy customers to offer reviews, Wooten went from three reviews to more than 100 in just a few months. The shop gained repeat customers, and those customers began referring their friends, family members, and business colleagues.
Reviews count as referrals, and referrals convert at a ratio of nearly 1:1
Step 3: Optimize Website Conversions
Competition is tough in Tulsa, so we knew we had to think strategically about Wooten’s website.
While the other 999 shops in the metro area were busy talking about themselves, we took a different approach. Brian’s website would focus on customers and their problems, and it would help them find a solution in three seconds or fewer.
To do this well, you need to do far more than simply have your hours and phone number on a website.ou also need to provide a compelling value proposition to your customers. Creating a captivating statement to engage with customers immediately on a website is a practice in amateur psychology, and you first have to understand the demographic and psychographic variables motivating their decision process. For a company to be effective online, they need to understand their customers. If your customer feels like you can solve their problem in less than one second, chances are you’ve earned their business.
For all of people’s eccentricities, they’re also highly predictable. Typically, people make a decision for one of two reasons: emotional (feel safer, stronger, healthier, wealthier, sexier, etc.), or financial (make money, save money, etc). Understanding your customers’ triggers is a critical step for having a conversion-optimized website.
People don’t care what you company does. All they care about is if you can solve the problem they have.
Step 4: Add PPC Ads
While Brian worked hard to create review-worthy customer experiences, and while our SEO efforts began to take hold, we turned our attention to the bottom of the funnel. With carefully chosen keywords, we developed AdWord campaigns targeted toward people with emergency plumbing needs.
Home service industry companies using AdWords should pay special attention to mobile traffic. More than 80% of customers on a mobile device are looking to make an immediate decision for a solution.
Step 5: Monitor SEO
Within just four and a half months, Wooten reached their goal: page one on Google search for the most competitive user searches in the Tulsa market. But we couldn’t step there. Recognizing the fluidity of Google algorithms, we’re constantly monitoring and tweaking our SEO strategy.
“Page one” is an earned position, not a set-it-and-forget-it achievement.
Landing among the first results on Google search was impressive. But ranking isn’t the point: getting new leads is—and Wooten’s getting them. In February 2017, when Brian and I first met, he only needed one, part-time guy on his team. These days—just eight months later—he’s at seven full-time staff and on the verge of hiring another one. And he doubled his revenue in six months.
Here’s the deal with marketing: Great marketing only makes bad companies fail faster. Understanding the value you’re adding to your customer is the single most important truth to managing a successful business or creating a successful marketing strategy. For larger companies, consider how you add value to your employees, your supply chains, the communities you contact, and the like.
Want the single best way to market a company? Take care of people.