By Amanda Crangle

On a warm summer day in 2009, I was enroute to a sales call about 60 miles from the dealership I worked for in Farmington, New Mexico. A lead had called the office, hot-to-trot, saying they had a significant amount of nitrates in their well water. When the lead was passed to me from the office staff, I pulled up our database and looked for any neighbors who had our equipment installed in the past few years, hoping to find similar issues as well as what we installed to fix the problem.

Interestingly enough, we did have a few customers, however, none had nitrate issues. One customer had hard water issues, another methane and yet another had mildly hard water with iron. Unsure of what I’d find when I arrived, I came prepared with materials to help educate them regardless of their water analysis results. Sure enough, they’d already had their water tested by a local lab. The nitrates were high enough we had to customize a solution to bring the water to a consumable level.

In our area of the Four Corners, varying well water tests are common. Some folks have wells 60 feet deep containing 10-100+ gpg of hardness. Others have gallery wells or use surface water, which needs to be treated for other types of contaminants like bacteria. Being a hotbed for natural gas, we’d frequently run into methane or hydrogen sulfide issues as well. In contrast, our local municipal water is hard but has very few contamination issues. This experience as a sales representative set me up to be a better marketer once I transitioned into online marketing full-time. What I learned was, not only can each town or ZIP code have varying water quality, it’s possible that neighbors can experience vastly different water issues as well.

So can a water treatment dealership effectively communicate with these wildly different markets? Is it possible to be everything to everyone when it comes to digital marketing for water treatment? Can you actually use tools like Google trends or their Keyword Planner to accurately build campaigns or budgets for your local area?

The simple answer is yes, as long as you’re following a simple, three-step process which, over time, customizes your messaging to meet your specific audience. This process is to measure, test and improve. It’s the very same process that water treatment dealers use in the home when performing a water test, except done through digital marketing. When done well, this process allows us to be better equipped than ever to customize our marketing messages to meet people right where they are and show them highly relevant and valuable information when they need it most.

In other home service industries (like HVAC, plumbing, electrical, home appliance sales, maintenance and repairs), the products and applications are very similar, allowing these companies to more effectively rely on mass-market tools to create their marketing strategy. While they still would benefit from a measure, test and improve approach, they likely can copy what’s been done before and be reasonably successful.

In the water treatment industry, however, it is much more difficult to simultaneously help the consumer understand that a water treatment system is not your average appliance, while also being highly aware not to use industry jargon and complex water chemistry descriptions. Add in the layer of complexity that water quality varies widely from ZIP code to ZIP code and you absolutely must follow these steps to see long-term success.

The goal of most websites in our industry is to generate cost effective, consistent leads. We can do this through an effective strategy of measuring, testing and improving each step in your marketing and sales funnel. When this is done right, you will begin to learn how to speak to your market as a whole and to individuals’ water treatment needs, which will successfully allow you to scale your marketing and your business.

The three primary segments of your marketing funnel are traffic, conversion and economics. Perry Marshall, a digital marketing expert and the author of 80/20 Sales and Marketing, was the first to break the marketing funnel down into these three categories. Traffic is used to describe the flow of people to any online or physical property you own through your business. Conversion is what takes place when someone takes a desired action at your physical or online property. On your website, this is typically a form submission or a phone call. Economics is the final transaction(s) that takes place once that person has chosen to do business with you.

Over the course of the next few months, we’ll break down the steps of measuring, testing, and improving each category in your funnel to learn how to communicate more effectively with a variety of people so you further customize your marketing and, in turn, generate more online leads. Before diving into the nitty-gritty over the next few articles, let’s first discuss the overall marketing funnel and the three specific categories.

What is a marketing funnel?
Simply stated, a marketing funnel is a very real and tangible path your future customers will take on their way to making a decision to trust you with their family’s water. Imagine a woman driving down the road and she hears a radio ad for soft water. She’s experienced some of the same issues described in the ad so when she gets home she does an internet search for hard water and then water softeners. Both times, your Google Ad appears and she clicks through to your website. She also explores some of your competitors’ sites.

After speaking with her husband and asking around to a few of her neighbors, she decides to contact you as well as two other companies she feels are reputable, based on Google reviews and her friends’ recommendations. You contact her back immediately and she sets an appointment with your and one other company who also got back with her very quickly. Once you’ve tested her water and answered all her questions, she and her husband decide to purchase from you. They also sign up for your monthly maintenance program which provides them more value and also provides you with recurring revenue. In essence, this is the outline to your marketing and sales funnel.

Once you understand the different parts and how to measure, test and improve them, you’ll be able to identify:

  • Which marketing channels work to drive the most contacts, leads, appointments and sales
  • What your ratios are at each step in the funnel
  • How to identify where the leaks are so you can address and fix them
  • How to hold your marketing professionals accountable for results
  • How to track your initial investment in a marketing channel all the way to the sale
  • What tools you can use to better understand what your target audience wants at each step
  • What is ultimately driving consumers through your marketing funnel and how to make it more effective

Next month’s article will discuss how to measure, test, and improve the first section of your marketing funnel: traffic. In the meantime, your implementation homework is to outline the main steps in your marketing funnel from inquiry through follow-up service and notate if you are tracking (and optimizing) each step. As Jeffrey Pfeffer, a professor of organizational behavior at Stanford University, wisely stated, “Successful organizations understand the importance of implementation, not just strategy, and, moreover, recognize the crucial role of their people in this process.”

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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