By Amanda Crangle

There are two primary forms of marketing: introduction and response.

When we think of a marketing funnel and the progression of a person’s thought process as they embark on the journey of getting to know, like, and trust us, it’s valuable to think about what type of advertising best guides our future customers.

Early on in a person’s awareness and at the early stages of their journey to better water, they may not be fully aware they have a problem you can help solve.

At this stage, introduction marketing plays a vital role in bringing awareness to this particular problem and introducing yourself as the expert. Response marketing is marketing that directly responds to a person’s search or inquiry about your business, products, or services. An example is Google Search Network Ads where you show your ads to people who search for a keyword you’re bidding on in Google’s auction network.

Historically, introduction advertising found its home plastered on the billboards of busy highways, in catchy ditties dancing on the airwaves, or in snappy headlines in the Sunday paper. The goal is to interrupt people’s daily routine to introduce a brand, idea, or message.

Today, we still see value in these channels, however, we also now have multiple avenues online to introduce ourselves and our products to a more targeted audience.

According to an article by Forbes, the average person sees between 4,000-10,000 advertisements per day.[1] In the 1970s, this was closer to 500.[2]

With these types of statistics, it’s no wonder why so many companies struggle to effectively communicate their message.

Social media like Facebook and Instagram have paved the way for businesses of all sizes to compete for the attention of con­sumers the world over. While there are many other options for social media, these two are the most widely used and successful social media platforms for our water treatment clients across North America, which is why we’ll focus solely on them in this article. It is important to highlight that while these platforms can be successfully used for business-to-business products or services, we find them most valuable for reaching the consumer market.

These two channels allow for a highly targeted, relevant, and entertaining way for people to experience your brand.

So what’s the best strategy for those in this industry?

Organic Versus Paid Strategies
Just like in search engine strategy, it’s important to have a mix of both paid and organic. Organic simply means that you post content such as videos, information, and articles to your business page on Facebook and Instagram. People can also find you organically if they follow any hashtags that are used in your posts. Typically, the goal of organic posting is to build brand awareness, improve customer service, and provide fun and edu­cational content to your followers.

You should, by the way, have a separate account for your business page apart from your personal page. Your business page allows you to show hours of operation, website, phone number, reviews, and post content without having to pay.

The catch is that only about 5.5% of your page’s followers will see what you post.[3] For many small businesses, this can be quite limited. This is where a paid ads strategy can help complement your organic efforts.

Facebook and Instagram work off the same advertising platform, which makes it convenient to manage ads for both.

We recommend that you set up a Facebook business account that will allow you to tap into the vast network of data to show your ads to the right people for your products and services. You’ll also have access in the business account to a broader array of ad types so you can test what works best for your company.

You can set the geographic targeting to match your service area and can highly customize the types of consumers to whom your ad shows.

You can start with as little as a few dollars per day and create “goals” like website form submissions or phone calls so Facebook can better optimize its algorithm to show to people who are more likely to convert.

How Does the Facebook/Instagram Algorithm Work?
While the overall workings of the algorithm are a bit complex and lengthy to describe here, the basics of the algorithm’s intent are to match up relevant content with those who are likely to be interested. Using thousands of data points, the algorithm seeks people who are interested in your products.

Their algorithm can be helped by narrowing down your audience based on certain demographics, psychographics, interests, and behaviors. However, we have also seen that for local marketing, a general audience without filters and with a clearly defined goal allows the algorithm to work its magic and find those who are a good fit for your business.

Don’t take our word for it, however. It’s always best to test different audience types as well as different ad creatives.

You can also use the Facebook and Instagram ad network to upload lists and show ads to specific people on that list or you can create retargeting lists. Retargeting allows you to show ads to people who have taken a specific action on your website like viewing a water softener page or adding a product to a cart.

Using Split-Testing to Improve Your Social Media Results
Facebook and Instagram offer a variety of ad types from video ads to carousel ads that allow people to swipe through multiple images or videos, to lead and call-only ads where the consumer never has to leave Facebook.

They also provide a massive amount of audience targeting options.

Between content options and audiences, split testing becomes essential when trying to improve your metrics.

Split testing (also known as A/B testing) utilizes the scientific method to test different marketing strategies. Using Facebook or Instagram, you can test variations in your content or audience targeting to generate more results at a better cost per result. Depending on your goal, this may be leads, phone calls, traffic, or content views.

What Results Do Water Treatment Businesses See?
It’s worth noting that each market varies in many ways that can affect the type of advertising that works in each individual territory. Water quality, demographics, and psychographics can influence which type of ads and audiences work and to what degree.

It’s also important to note that people who are “hanging out” on Facebook are not directly searching for or researching water treatment. Therefore we put this type of advertising under the introduction segment of marketing.

In this phase, people may be early on in their awareness of the problems that you can solve with your products and services. Keeping this in mind is important as it helps us to put the customer first and create a strategy that grabs their attention, provides a clear call to action and then nurtures them through your marketing funnel.

In contrast, a person searching for “water softeners” on Google is likely farther along in the buying process and will take less nurturing in their journey to becoming a customer.

Email marketing, remarketing, and follow-up strategies like email, text and phone calls will all help to maximize your investment in social media ads and convert a higher percentage of leads into appointments and sales.

Our clients all over North America have seen success with Facebook, particularly when they have a great process in place to keep in touch with leads.

Can I Manage Social Advertising on My Own?
Organic posting is something your team can and should handle. While marketing agencies can help with this, there’s nothing quite as authentic as posts coming directly from your team sharing install pictures, customer success stories, work anniver­saries, local sponsorships, and other information unique to your business.

Paid advertising is more complex and can take a while to learn the platform and the nuances of different types of ads, split testing, monitoring performance, and optimizing for improvement. Our suggestion is to either have a dedicated expert on staff or hire a trusted marketing company to run ads on your behalf.

More and more people are swarming to social media to escape reality, connect with friends, and share their lives. It makes sense for us to be there as businesses to communicate how clean, healthy water plays a vital role in people’s everyday lives.

Furthermore, in a recent poll, a large majority of water treatment dealers state that social media is one of their best lead generation systems. I encourage you to give it a try and make sure you’ve got clear goals and key performance metrics in place so you can measure success.

References
1. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesagencycouncil/2017/08/25/finding-brand-success-in-the-digital-world/?sh=3a4ad38626e2
2. https://www.gradschools.com/degree-guide/how-many-ads-do-you-see-each-day
3. https://blog.hootsuite.com/organic-vs-paid-social-media/

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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