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Getting Customers to Call or Click

Armed with the latest and most advanced piece of local business search technology in history, most people will likely call the first professional-looking option that appears.

I feel like my parents saying, “Back in the day…,” but back in the day there was only one way to find a local business.

When the drain clogged, people grabbed this treasure trove of local knowledge, thumbed to the plumbers and called the AAAA Plumbing Services. They had to be the best, right? They were listed first and had an “AAAA” rating. Those were the days of the venerable Yellow Pages. Back in the day, my parents had strict rules about our copy of the most current, fresh from the porch, near-golden pages. It had a special spot in our home. If you used it, you made sure you returned it to its proper place. Failure to do so was a sure bet that you wouldn’t be hanging out with your friends for at least a week.

That’s how important the Yellow Pages once were. And the advertisers sure knew all the tricks: get listed first, have the biggest ad on the page and have your phone number big and clear. They knew potential customers with flooded basements wouldn’t scroll their eyes too far down the page, wouldn’t squint to see small phone numbers; wouldn’t call a company that didn’t seem reliable and they certainly wouldn’t turn the page after seeing some viable options.

In all of the areas that really count, today’s local search options aren’t all that different. If a water pipe breaks, and someone is ankle-deep in water in the basement, he simply reaches in his pocket for his smartphone. Armed with the latest and most advanced piece of local business search technology in history, most people will likely call the first professional-looking option that appears–a reliable company that has been in business since 1978 (formally known as AAAA Plumbing Services).

Search engine optimization experts understand the importance of getting key information in front of the potential customer when they search for a product or service. In years past, advertisers had only one challenge, and one chance, to get their potential customers’ attention. One of the biggest challenges today is to make sure your company ranks high on all the appropriate local search options available to your customers. That is, of course, a major challenge and one worthy of many articles and books. However, our focus here is on your message–from the initial appearance on a search listing, to its consistency across your branding efforts–and to its role in getting your customers to call or click.

Initial Contact–The Elevator Pitch

Too often, businesses underestimate the importance of using customer surveys when implementing a highly organized, professional and expensive SEO program. Consider the process your potential customers go through to select your product or service beginning with their first exposure to your company, the online search. That initial message, whether it’s the description in the pay-per-click ad or the local/organic listing, it should be the best possible solution to their quest. Simply put, it is a 35-character regurgitation of what your customers have told your brand that is important to them.

The Unique Selling Proposition is equally as important as placement when it comes time to enter the 35-character message that differentiates your business from the competition.

Be sure that 12 of those characters are your phone number, if applicable. In the case of Google AdWords, a small percentage of customers will call when they see your ad. This percentage varies by industry, and exact numbers are usually considered proprietary marketing information. But without a phone number, there would be no call at all.

The Website and User Experience

Presumably, the links in your search ads send your potential customers to your website, landing page or one of your social media pages. The destination is not important, but the consistency of your message is.

Just because your potential customer has clicked your initial listing, your organization is far from done. Your company now has someone who is interested in learning more about your business on your destination page.

Here, that is much more space to elaborate on your company and why it is the best choice. Your SEO staff or consultants will help with various white hat optimization techniques that will get the attention of search engines.  The obvious goal is to get your page assigned the best choice when people are looking for your product or service.

The important part for human visitors, opposed to robotic search engine visits, is what is “above the fold” and their experience on your destination page. Your goal is to get them to take action, not to leave your page. Your page should provide exactly what the customer is looking for and your company knows what that is from your customer surveys. However, the one thing that your customers won’t share is that they have considerably less attention span than they did only 10 or 15 years ago. The idea of the “elevator pitch” should not be lost here just because there is ample space. There are more than 35 characters and generally great options for beautiful graphics, but stay focused on the message.

Above the fold, there are two simple goals:

1) Effectively, but efficiently, make the case that your business is the best solution to meet the prospect’s needs.

2) Provide two clear calls to action: “call or click.”

There is one additional thing to keep in mind when creating, renovating or simply editing your destination page:  keep it personal. The less your company looks like a stiff corporate entity and more like a collection of folks anxious to provide great solutions, the more clicks and calls it will receive. There’s nothing better than someone saying, “Loved your website” in a response.

So, above the fold, there is an efficient, personal presentation of your business to your customers, and there are calls to action presented in a manner just short of neon flashing signs with big arrows pointing to them.

Analytics and Tweaking

The job is not quite done. One would hope that everything was done right on the first attempt, but we’re all human. There are probably a few dozen things that could have gone better that will result in more calls and clicks.

Use Google Analytics. At the very least, use analytics to track traffic, bounce rates and user behavior.

Set a baseline. Talk with your customers who have called or clicked and are willing to share their experiences and how they found your company.  Find out what did and didn’t impress them.

Enhance or modify your site. Closely monitor the changes.

Update constantly. Just like search engines, people love fresh content.

Soon enough, your franchise business will be getting all the calls and clicks it can handle. ⎯

Mark Sweetnam is the manager of branding and technology for Fish Window Cleaning Services, Inc. and a member of IFA’s Information Technology and Convention committees. He can be reached at mark@fishwindowcleaning.com.

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