By Amanda Crangle

Growing up in Durango, CO, was the quintessential experience of small, mountain town living. We would go sledding down our steep driveway, skip school and catch the bus to Purgatory (the local ski resort) and enjoy riding horses, fishing and camping all summer long. The most famous icon of Durango, however, is the impressive Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad (D&SNGRR). It’s likely if you’ve ever heard of my hometown, you’ve also heard of this grand steam engine train.

While attending college in Durango, I had the opportunity to intern in the marketing department of the D&SNGRR. It was there, for the first time in my life, my appreciation and love of this unique historical relic rooted itself deep into my heart. Many of the over 2,000 moving parts of the locomotive are custom fabricated and repaired in ‘the Roundhouse,’ which my dad helped rebuild after a fire in 1989. During my time there, I got to see first-hand the magnificence of the coal-fired, steam-powered locomotive.

It was also during my internship I learned a valuable parallel between using steam pressure to power a 254,000-pound locomotive 45 miles up 2,806 feet of elevation gain and direct response marketing. The lesson? You can move anything to action when an effective amount of pressure has been built up and released at the right times.

With a steam-powered locomotive, burning coal heats the water in the boiler creating pressure in the form of steam. The steam travels through piston-fired cylinders on either side of the train powering the driving rods which cause the wheels of the train to move forward. The used steam is released so new steam can be used. Without that release of pressure, the locomotive could explode, just like your mom’s old pressure cooker, without a functioning release valve.

In marketing, we already know people have pressure in their lives. It could be pressure to buy a bigger home for their growing family, provide healthy food and water for their loved ones or perhaps it’s to get rid of pesky hard water stains once and for all. The job of your marketing as a water treatment professional should be to help this pressure build to a productive point and then provide a release that encourages that person to move forward in the desired direction.

While the principle seems simple, effective execution can be complex. Our goal is to break down a few strategic ways you can tweak your digital marketing to become more effective at moving your target audience to action. The first step is to look at your website and read through it as though you were having a conversation with a friend face to face. After all, people buy from people they know, like and trust, right?

Does it sound like a friendly conversation? Or does it sound like you’re spewing industry lingo, product stats and technical bullet points? Does it identify the problem your target audience is facing, build productive pressure around the issue and then provide a simple way for them to remove this pressure from their lives? In going through this exercise, think about how your sales reps communicate with people in the home. What questions do they ask? What types of responses do they receive? What objections do they help people overcome? It’s likely you’re already using this form of building pressure in a positive way. Your sales team may already be asking questions like:

  • How do you think this problem will continue to affect your water heater, plumbing and water-using appliances if it’s not fixed?
  • What type of effect will this have on your hair and skin if you keep using untreated water?
  • How much money are you spending right now on cleaning supplies, soaps, lotions and cosmetics?
  • What kind of chemicals are you using currently to treat your water?

Now, write down some ideas on how you can improve your website to sound more like an extension of your sales team.

Next, assume that any page on your website could be the final step before someone is ready to contact you. Is there a clear path for them to do so on each page? By ensuring there is a simple and effective call to action, contact form and phone number on every single page of your website, you can know for sure that you’ve made it as easy as possible for people to find relief from the pressure they are feeling and move in the desired direction of reaching out to you for help. Just this one step can increase the rate at which your site converts traffic into leads. If you don’t manage your website in-house, reach out to your agency for help.

Lastly, consider the psychological principle of social proof. Robert Cialdini, social psychologist and author of Influence: The Power of Persuasion, coined this term. The principle of social proof states that one common way we know what is right or wrong, specifically with our behavior, is to find out what other people think. In today’s digital world, this is imperative to removing anxiety and building trust with those who visit your website or see your ads. Once the tension builds for the homeowner, now having an understanding of what will happen if they fail to improve their water quality, they must be reassured that others like them see you as a trustworthy partner to help them solve their water problems.

One simple way to do this is to place easily verified testimonials from Google or other online directories on your site. You’ll want to do this strategically, by placing the reviews right next to your contact form or call-to-action on every single page. This can help alleviate pressure when their anxiety has likely reached critical mass. After all, it’s a bit scary to hand over your name, email and phone number to someone you’ve never met before.

Now, far be it from me to suggest changing your website without testing it first. If your marketing agency offers split testing services, I suggest A/B testing these strategies against the original version of your web pages. A/B Testing, also known as split testing, is a method of comparing two different versions of a website or webpage against each other with the goal of determining which performs better. This requires tracking phone calls and forms submissions so you know with statistical significance how the different versions impact your leads. If, however, you do not have access to a marketing agency with this capability, you can request your agency test sequentially and closely monitor phone call leads and web form submissions. These three strategies can make a big difference for your business as I’ve seen it do for nearly every dealership we’ve worked with in the water treatment industry over the past decade.

Think of your website as the boiler on the train, the content (words, images, videos) you use on your site as the steam building pressure inside the boiler, the piston-fired cylinders as the strategically placed contact form and phone number, and the wheels as the social proof on your site. Put together, this drives your target audience forward to take the desired action while ensuring they feel good about the whole process. The increased calls coming in will sound just as good, if not better, than the whistle of the historic train making its way through the Rocky Mountains.

About the author
Amanda Crangle and the team at Lamplight Digital Media help residential and commercial water treat
ment companies profitably grow their dealerships using digital marketing. They have worked with over 100 water treatment dealerships spanning North America, managed millions of dollars in ad spend and performed over 1,000 scientific website split tests. Crangle intimately knows the water industry, having worked in a dealership as a sales rep and as a general manager. She and her team are passionate about expanding consumer awareness of water quality issues and providing education on final barrier solutions.

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