Last updated 4 months ago
When a new prospect calls your business for the first time, or even requests product or pricing information from you, they have certain expectations on how quickly your business should respond to them. Although expectations vary for different contact methods, the general rule of thumb is the same. The longer it takes you to respond to a new contact or lead, the less likely it is that they will choose your business. But how can you determine which contacts and leads you should follow up with? (Hint: The real answer is all of them!) See which common ways contacts and leads show you they’re interested — and why you should take the time to follow up with each of them.
They Call You
You’ve optimized your website to feature your phone number at the top of every page. Your phone number is also listed on your social media pages, local directory profiles, Google+ Local, and your advertising. So, when a consumer actually takes the time to call your business and you don’t answer, your efforts to get the call are wasted. Consumers expect to speak with a person when they pick up the phone, so make sure someone is there to answer the phone and capture important details like their contact information, like phone number and email address, and products or services they are interested in so you can follow up with them. But if someone calls your business before or after business hours and take the time to leave a voicemail, make sure you call them back as soon as possible. Studies have shown that by contacting a prospect back within an hour, you are seven times more likely to convert them than if you waited over an hour.
They Email You
Much like one who makes a phone call or leaves you voicemail, a consumer who emails you or submits a Web form likely has a strong interest in your business. Email these contacts back as soon as you can in order to show them you are paying attention to their requests and to help convert them into customers. You can also take advantage of automated email, like those available with ReachEdge, that lets customers who email you know that you received their request and will get in touch with them soon.
They Say They Need Your Product or Service Now
When a prospect contacts you and expresses an immediate need for your products or services, you need to provide them with the information they are looking for right away. These leads often do not have several hours, much less days, to find a company to do business with. By answering the phone — or following back up with them within minutes — you can meet their need before your competitors have the chance to.
They Request Pricing Information
It’s one thing for prospects to request general information about your products or services. It’s a completely different story when they begin to ask about specific prices and specialized quotes based on their needs. This demonstrates that they have extreme interest in doing business with you, but if you fail to follow up with them quickly and provide what they are looking for, you are likely to lose them as a lead, and they’ll find another business that can help them.
They Have Gotten an Estimate From You
This is really a no-brainer. Let’s say that you got a call, followed up with the lead, gave them a quote, and sent a representative out to their home for an estimate. Basically, they did everything but sign on the dotted line. Why would you not want to stay top of mind with them as they make their decision? Of course you would. However, some businesses may leave these leads hanging because they don’t have an easy way to remember to follow up with them. Without an automated system to help you stay in front of your most interested leads, you could be missing the most obvious opportunities to close a new sale. Don’t make these “hot” leads wait! Follow up immediately after providing a quote so that they choose your business.
How long does it take you to follow up with your new sales leads? Let us know in a comment!
Learn how quickly following up with leads can help you convert more leads into customers and more critical marketing must-dos on www.dontleakleads.com!
About the Author
Tara Banda writes about how small business owners can reach local customers through online marketing for the ReachLocal blog. You can connect with her on Twitter.
Last updated 4 months ago
When it comes to search engine marketing, there are two strategies you can use in your marketing: search engine optimization (SEO) and paid search advertising. Together they form a powerful strategy in reaching your online audience. While there is a cost associated with paid search (while SEO doesn’t cost money) it’s an investment in your marketing that’s worth the cost. Here are three reasons you should add paid search to your marketing mix.
1. SEO Alone is Not a Complete Strategy
There’s no “magic SEO formula” that can guarantee your website will be ranked at or near the top of a search engine results page (SERP). Google, Bing, and Yahoo search algorithms often change, thus SEO tactics change with them. Rather, SEO uses best practices that simply increase your chances that you’ll reach your online audience. Therefore, you still run the risk of not reaching the online audience you want. Paid search ads are an excellent way to make sure you’re appearing where your audience is searching online.
2. Consumers Are Searching Locally Via Mobile
Consumers are researching and finding the products and services they need via their tablets and smartphones in increasing numbers. In fact, one survey noted that consumer use of smartphones in the shopping research phase grew 39% from 2012 to 2013. This steep growth rate illustrates how mobile phones are more than just a means to call a company — consumers are using it increasingly as a shopping-research tool.
When it comes time to contact a company, 61% of respondents in a different survey said that the “click-to-call is most important in the purchase phase of the shopping process.” And the “call button” in Google search results was used by 70 percent of respondents. So make sure your company website is mobile-friendly and that you have a paid search program in place so that mobile device users can learn more about your company and find you as they search and surf for products and services.
Ad extensions is the umbrella term for the various features that can be part of your mobile ad. Examples include: sitelinks, call extensions, and location extensions (just to name a few). These extensions add robust functionality to your mobile ad and help you to promote the important components of your business: including phone number, your address, and user ratings. Mobile ads with extensions also have an edge in getting ranked higher in Google’s latest ad rank algorithm update.
3. Helps Branding and your Reputation Because Positive Content Is on the SERP
Paid search ads also appear more quickly on the Internet than SEO results, which can help you to be found more quickly than if you just use just SEO alone to be found online. Also, when you create a text ad, you control what your audience sees about you, which is especially important when bidding on your business name because you can’t control what’s in an organic listing. By owning more of the “shelf space” on the search-engine results page (SERP), you’re improving your reputation and increasing your brand awareness because people can see and click your ad. And, when your online audience clicks on your ad, you’re helping to improve your Quality Score (the number from 1 through 10 that Google assigns to your advertising based on keywords, your landing page and your text ad). Because the more people who click on your ad, the higher your Quality Score goes up, which helps to improve how often your ad will appear and whether or not it will appear at or near the top of a search result.
Paid search ads also help you to craft specific messages for segmented online audiences. For instance, if you’re a dentist and you offer several services, like teeth whitening, braces and general dentistry, you can create three different ads using specific keywords that are related to these specific services. This ensures the right message is reaching the right audience.
Are you using paid search in your advertising? Let us know with a comment!
About the Author
Amy Neeley helps small- and medium-size businesses navigate the online marketing world with insights and information featured on the ReachLocal blog. Connect with her on Twitter.
Last updated 4 months ago
You put a lot of effort and investment into getting more leads for your business. But have you ever thought about how easy it can be to scare off new leads? Your business could be suffering from this problem – and you might not even know it. So, we put together a list of five (scarily common) ways many businesses lose leads (and what you can do to avoid them).
We Present: The 5 Monsters of Lead Loss
1) The Ghost of Unanswered Phones
Phone calls are important for any small business because they’re one of the top ways new customers initially contact a company. In fact, 51% of ReachLocal readers said in a recent poll that the primary way new customers contact them is via phone.
But there’s no better way to kill a lead than when a prospect calls your business and you don’t answer. All the life, energy, and investment you spent on trying to drive calls to your business simply die when you leave your phone vacant and unattended. Save your lead management from this monster by making sure you have a living soul ready to answer each call that comes through.
2) The Zombie of Bad Call Handling
Have you ever listened in on the phone calls your business answers? If you did, you might be surprised just how mindlessly some people treat new leads. If you don’t give your staff the knowledge and sales skills to handle each call that comes in, you might be just as well off with zombies answering the phone. So, make sure everyone on your team is well versed on exactly how to handle all the types of phone inquiries your business regularly receives.
3) The Skeleton of Sketchy Information
Even the best phone handling can die before its time if just a skeletal amount of information is gathered from a customer. Without a system in place that requires people to collect and store all the right information, you might have to lay too many leads in the graveyard of sketchy information for eternity.
Getting the right information from a new contact enables you to follow up with them in a timely manner. Did you know that according to Insidesales.com, the odds of making contact with a new lead drop by 3000x if you wait more than 5 hours to call them back? You’re more likely to successfully turn a contact into a new lead if you do it quickly – and you can’t follow up with people unless you’ve got all their information. So, make sure to put a system in place that requires everyone who answers to the phone to capture details like the name, phone number, email address, and call details from each prospect that calls your business.
4) The Demon of Ignoring Hot Leads
Some leads are hot. Red hot. When a lead gets to a point when they are talking about your product and service options, getting a quote, or setting up an appointment, they probably want to do business with you. Why would you banish them into the fires of ignored leads? It sounds unthinkable, but sadly, it happens every day. Don’t ignore hot leads or treat them like they aren’t a priority. Put a system in place that helps you identify and quickly follow up with leads who are ready to buy.
5) The Grim Reaper of Poor Follow Up
All leads deserve your time and attention: you brought them to life through your marketing efforts! Don’t kill your leads through neglect (even if they’re not ready to buy now). Instead, follow up regularly using emails and phone calls to show their existence matters to you (and that you’d like to win their business!)
Lead nurturing is a great way to make sure you are following up regularly with all your leads. And, companies using lead nurturing campaigns report 45% higher ROI than those not using lead nurturing.
What Are Your Monsters of Lead Loss?
Is your business a victim of any of these monsters of lead management? Are there other (perhaps less terrifying) ways your business is leaking leads? Discover more about the problem of lead loss at our new educational website DontLeakLeads.com where you can find more insights, tools, and advice on what to do about lost leads.
About the Author
Tiffany Monhollon shares practical tips and insights about reaching consumers across the web as senior content marketing manager and blogger for ReachLocal. Follow her on Twitter and Google+.
Last updated 4 months ago
Schuelke Plumbing AZ, a full-service plumbing company, wanted to improve the efficiency of its business processes and increase their revenue. Like many plumbing companies, they relied on manual processes and limited point software solutions to manage scheduling, dispatching, invoicing, and payment processing. Looking for a more profitable way to manage these processes, Schuelke Plumbing implemented ReachCommerce, an online commerce software solution that helps businesses increase bookings and reduce operating costs. With this new solution, they saw huge gains in efficiency that enabled them to service more customers and improve their revenue per job.
These efficiency gains resulted in:
58% increase in appointments per week
24% increase in average revenue per job
Massive reduction in time spent processing payments and paperwork
Read this ReachCommerce case study to see five ways Schuelke Plumbing uses ReachCommerce to improve business processes and increase revenue.
1. Route Technicians More Effectively
With ReachCommerce’s online scheduling dashboard, Schuelke Plumbing can easily add appointments to the schedule as soon as they are received, using the system’s routing recommendations to optimize schedules based on optimal driving distances. This has saved Schuelke Plumbing many hours each week creating the schedule manually as well as reduced the amount of time technicians spent driving back and forth across town. This resulted in an increased the number of appointments they could book in a day.
2. Easily Track and Communicate with Technicians
Using the ReachCommerce app on the iPads included with the ReachCommerce system, technicians have their daily schedule including maps and customer information at their fingertips. The dispatcher can see where each technician is throughout the day and receives notifications if a technician is running late, enabling the dispatcher to notify customers and even send a different technician if possible. “Our technicians are able to see their schedule so they’re able to get there on time and not be late. The communication between the office and the field has been cut down extremely by usage of the iPads and ReachCommerce,” Don Paz, owner of Schuelke Plumbing AZ, explains.
3. Create Digital Estimate Templates
Inconsistent estimates were often causing Schuelke Plumbing to under- or over- charge customers for services. The ReachCommerce app standardizes this estimate process for them, reducing the time required for a technician to create an estimate from 30 minutes to five minutes. Customers also prefer the ReachCommerce digital estimates to the written estimates that were often difficult to read or understand.
4. Process Credit Cards On Site
Unlike writing a credit card number down on an invoice or taking a carbon imprint of a card, using a mobile credit card reader (like the one provided by ReachCommerce) enables instant and secure credit card processing and ensures compliance with Payment Card Industry (PCI) rules. Schuelke Plumbing saved both time and credit card processing fees while giving their customers the peace of mind of knowing their credit card information was secure.
5. Digitize Estimates, Payments, and Invoicing
The ability to process credit cards on-site and automatically tie the payment to a digital invoice helped reduce the amount of time Schuelke Plumbing spent managing accounting processes. Customers instantly get a receipt emailed to them once payment is complete, and the ReachCommerce administrative dashboard automatically records invoices and payments. This change allowed Shuelke Plumbings’s administrative staff to reduce time spent processing payments and invoices from four to five hours per day down to less than one hour per day.
Want to learn more about how ReachCommerce helped Schuelke Plumbing improve efficiency and reduce operating costs? Download their entire ReachCommerce case study to learn more.
About the Author
Jenni Williams writes about issues that affect home services businesses, including online marketing, content marketing, and local commerce. She regularly contributes insights to the ReachLocal blog and can be followed on Twitter.
Last updated 4 months ago
Car shoppers consult many media sources before purchasing a new vehicle. However, there is one source that continues to grow in importance in the auto shopper’s buying journey, and that’s the dealer website. But, before consumers can use your site, they need to find it when they search for new cars online.
In order to stay competitive in your local market with search engine advertising, it’s critical to establish some best practices when setting up paid search campaigns to promote new car inventory for your auto dealership. By implementing the following best practices, you can reach your target shoppers as they’re searching online.
1. Create Campaigns Using Makes, Then Models
When setting up your paid search advertising campaign, remember that you must make it easy for consumers to find your dealership and the car they’re searching for. So, it’s important to use make and model keywords along with your location so your ads are shown to someone searching for them.
To get the most from your advertising, it’s best to set up separate campaigns for each make your dealership sells. This will ensure you can effectively monitor and control the budget and performance for each campaign. For example, if your dealership sells Acura, Honda, and Lincoln brands, you should set up a separate ad campaign for each, rather than combining them all into a single campaign. Although it may seem like a good strategy to extend your budget by combining all the brands you sell into one campaign, you’ll never be able to divide or control how much you spend on each make.
Then, set up ad groups by model within each campaign; for example, set up a group for each type of sedan, SUV, etc. that you sell. For instance, when someone searches for “Honda Civic Atlanta,” shoppers are more likely to click an ad that contains the same keywords they are searching for. One way to improve this is with dynamic keywords, which will automatically insert the exact keyword phrase typed into the search box into your text ad so that interested shoppers will click through to your site.
2. Include Your Dealership Name in Keyword Lists
Setting up search engine advertising campaigns with keywords to promote the makes and models on your lot is important. But don’t forget to include your dealership name inside the keyword lists of your digital campaigns. Most big name advertisers do this today!
When someone searches for your business name online, what do you want them to see? Not your competitors, of course; but chances are they are already bidding on your business name and poaching searchers who are looking for your business. Plus, bidding on your business name keywords means you own more of the real estate on the search engine results page, which allows you to control the message and improve your online reputation.
Dealers spend a lot of money promoting specific makes and models. Why not spend some of those dollars on your dealership name, too? The fact is these terms aren’t as competitive as your make and model keyword sets, so these will be fairly inexpensive. Whether it’s an offensive or defensive play, you can achieve a significant ROI on a minimal cost-per-click given the average sales price of a new car.
3. Use Promotions to Reduce Current Inventory
The decision of when to add in new makes and models to your search advertising campaigns can be tricky. Promoting a new model or year before you actually have it on your lot may seem like a good strategy to build up excitement. But wait until those cars are physically on your lot or can be ordered.
Don’t spend precious advertising dollars on something you don’t have yet. Instead, use your marketing budget to reduce current inventory. For instance, you could create seasonal promotions for your text ads. Car dealers often utilize holidays like Christmas, Labor Day, and Memorial Day, which are big sales periods for new cars.
Also, update your text ads to have the newest dealer offers or specials that are going on for the brand. Something as simple as “2013 model price blowout” when you are trying to make space for 2014 models helps clear traffic. Most people searching for cars know that you are going to get good deals during the transition of years for models. Enhance that by putting it in your ad. Make sure the landing page you are sending traffic to also contains the offer or promotion to improve your quality score.
4. Understand OEM Guidelines When Bidding on Competitor Terms
When bidding on competitor terms, it is important to understand the financial impact to your campaigns and the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) guidelines. Bidding on similar OEM dealerships is generally against most OEM guidelines. For example, a Toyota dealer bidding on another Toyota dealer is often against OEM guidelines. However, bidding on competitor OEM terms is a common practice.
5. Build Customer Loyalty, Which Leads to New Car Sales
The lifetime value of a happy customer is more than just the profit made on one transaction. As you set up search campaigns for new cars, it’s important to understand that a good campaign can and will generate some calls for service. These are not bad calls.
If you bring in a new customer to your service department and the service is memorable, you have a customer for life. Service is probably one of your biggest profit centers! You should expect to receive some service calls as part of your campaigns.
Are you following these search advertising best practices when marketing your dealership online?
About the Author
Lori Jones is a Senior Marketing Manager with ReachLocal. She writes about digital marketing for the auto industry. You can follow her on Twitter.