By Amanda Crangle

In the summer of 2002, I packed up my two-door Toyota Tacoma and headed to Montana. I had applied to be a wrangler on a guest ranch just north of Yellowstone and when the news came in that I had been accepted, I wasted no time throwing my saddle in the back of the truck and heading north to Big Sky country. The ranch was sprawled out over 300 acres with the famed Gallatin River, with a highway splitting it down the middle.

Each evening we ran the herd of guests’ horses to the 150 acres on the opposite side of the road. Excited to be free from the responsibility, they would run and buck and kick up their heels in excitement. Before long, they’d settle down and a familiar pattern would emerge. As the horses split into groups of 5-6, they’d meander to their favorite spot on the mountainside, hidden from sight and safely nestled into the forest for the night. The following morning, we’d saddle up and begin the process of gathering the horses that had been turned out the night before. Each group of horses had a leader on which we’d place a bell. Being creatures of habit, the horses would go to the same general area each evening, making rounding them up the next day reasonably simple. We would know the vicinity in which they’d be grazing and when we heard the leader’s bell, we could find and gather them quickly.

Finding the right people with whom to share your marketing message can be very similar. You simply have to know where to look by understanding people’s habits – specifically people who are in your target market. Whether you’re in the business-to-business or business-to-consumer market, international or local, e-commerce or storefront, we’re all in the market of serving people. Therefore, understanding human behavior, lifestyles and purchasing patterns (to name a few) will help get the right message to the right people at the right time and the right place.

Let’s discuss a simple process we can take to find the right people and drive them to your business.

  1. It seems an obvious first step; however, very few businesses go through the process of identifying their ideal customer. To do this, think of one person who epitomizes who you want to help and write down their demographics, where they like to shop and eat, who they trust for accurate information, where they spend most of their time and what activities they enjoy. You may have multiple customer segments, depending on your business model, and you’ll want to go through this process for each one.
  2. Based on what you’ve outlined above, try matching up both online and offline places where your ideal customer will be hanging out. A pro tip is to find out who they look up to and trust and see where they hang out online as well. You can either reach out to these influencers directly or simply find out if you can market online or offline where they have a presence.
  3. In this step, you’ll identify the lowest hanging fruit. The Pareto Principle (or 80/20 Principle) can be applied here, which states 20 percent of your inputs will generate 80 percent of your outputs. In this context, 20 percent of potential marketing channels (ways people can find you online) will drive 80 percent of traffic to your website or storefront. The goal is to find out which channels will yield the best results.
  4. Implement the channels that will drive quality traffic. To determine the 80/20 principle of traffic, first consider where people go to search for your products and services. In the golden days, this was typically a phone book or any type of directory specific to where your ideal customer was searching for providers. For most businesses these days, search engines like Google are a great place to start.
  5. Lastly, optimize based on performance by investing more in the channels that work and less in the ones that don’t. If you’re not comfortable with or have time to learn the online marketing labyrinth, do some research to find a reputable company with a proven track record in the water treatment industry to help.

Just like we found our horses in the mountains by understanding their unique habits, you’ll also understand where to find your ideal prospects, once you’ve gone through this process.

Here are a few of the channels people can use to get to your website:

  • Paid advertising using search engines, known as search engine marketing (SEM)
  • Organic reach through ranking high on search engines for specific keywords (SEO)
  • Online directories like Google Business Listings, Facebook, Yelp, or Whitepages
  • Direct traffic, meaning someone types your website URL directly into the address bar and goes immediately to your site
  • Referral traffic from other websites
  • Social media like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, or Twitter
  • Display advertising such as banner ads, YouTube ads, GeoFencing, etc.

These are outlined in order of what often is the most significant driver of quality traffic to local water treatment websites. Your list may have a slightly different order if you offer commercial/industrial water treatment or e-commerce solutions.

Paid advertising on search networks like Google (which makes up over 92 percent of search engine market share) [1] is a great way to show up for people actively searching for your products and services. With the ability to set a budget and show ads in specified geographic areas to those searching for relevant keywords, you have the chance to be there at the exact moment when people are looking for a solution. With the right marketing partner, this can be an excellent opportunity to drive quality traffic to your website and then build an organic strategy based on what’s driving traffic, leads and sales. Organic ranking can take a lot of time and resources; however, when done right, you’ll enjoy more traffic without having to pay per click as you do with search engines ads. Just be sure you’re focusing on keywords that will provide actual results for your business, so you don’t waste a lot of time and money!

Directories are a great source of traffic. Making sure your listings are claimed, verified and up to date can help people quickly find you and give you favor with search engines. Recent positive reviews play a big role of making sure your listings are effective. Recent studies[2] show the average consumer spends 13 minutes and 45 seconds reading reviews before making a decision and that 73 percent of consumers only pay attention to reviews written in the last month.

Social media can also be an effective way to educate your target audience on solutions to problems they may or may not be aware of while keeping your brand front and center. Facebook and Instagram offer a robust advertising platform that allows you to show your ads to specific audience types, custom audiences like those who have interacted with your website but did not contact you, or even by uploading a customer list and creating look-alike audiences.

Before asking your marketing agency or in-house marketing staff to use these different channels to drive traffic to your site, be sure that they’ll have the systems in place to know the following:

  • Which channels are driving traffic? In other words, what were people doing right before they landed on my site?
  • What kind of search term(s) did they use to find me?
  • What is the intent of the search? Are they trying to figure out why they have a particular problem, or do they already know why and are looking for a product to solve their problem?
  • What problem are they trying to solve?
  • What outcome are they hoping to achieve?
  • What happened once they got to the website?
  • Did they contact me? If so, how (form fill, live chat, phone call)?
  • How many leads, appointments and sales did each channel generate?
  • How much did it cost to get traffic from each channel?

A few ways to track and find answers to these questions is to use tools like:

  1. Google Analytics (free)
  2. Google Search Console (free)
  3. Hotjar (free for simple polls and surveys)
  4. Call tracking software to track the source of the call

Once you start to see trends in data, you can begin to develop a strategy to improve. After all, as Peter Drucker accurately stated, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.” The great news is that getting quality traffic to your site is an achievable goal. In our next article, we’ll discuss converting that traffic into leads, which is an exciting and powerful process. In the meantime, keep in mind that people, like horses, are creatures of habit. Go through the process to identify your ideal customer with your team. You’ll be amazed at the ideas that come from this exercise!

References

  1. Search Engine Market Share Worldwide. https://gs.statcounter.com/search-engine-market-share
  2. Local Consumer Review Survey 2020. https://www.brightlocal.com/research/local-consumer-review-survey/

About the author
Amanda Crangle and the team at Lamplight Digital Media help residential and commercial water treatment 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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