Ask a Pro May/June 2023June 9th, 2023 by Nathan Hobbs
Getting More Out of Online Marketing
By Mike Burke
Google is the most visited website on earth, with 87.3 billion visits per month and 8.5 billion searches per day. The next-most-visited are YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. Facebook ads are less expensive than Google, but Google tends to generate higher-quality leads. Why is this? People see Google ads when they’re searching—a critical distinction.
Someone who sees your Google ad for window tinting is already looking to have their car tinted; they are ready to spend money. Social media ads, on the other hand, are opportunistic. People see them as they’re idly scrolling through their feeds. The ad may pique their interest or plant a seed for later, but, in general, these potential customers aren’t nearly as ready to spend money as people actively looking for your services.
The sales process will be longer, and your close rate will be lower. So while the same budget might get you twice as many leads on Facebook compared to Google, your close rate for Google versus Facebook will likely be four to five times as high. If you’re starting, Google is the way to go.
Set a Budget and be Consistent
Pre-COVID, the average advertising budget across all industries was just over 10% of gross revenue. During COVID, that dropped to around 6% but now is climbing back toward 10%. A minimum advertising budget should be 5% of gross revenue if you want to grow. So, for example, if you do $500,000 in sales per year, $2,083 should be your minimum monthly advertising budget. If you do a million in sales, your minimum budget would be $4,000. If you want to grow more quickly, increase that to eight, 10 or even 12%.
Whatever your budget, think of it as another mandatory business expense. You can’t pause your rent/mortgage payment, electric bill or water bill when business is slow—don’t pause your marketing either. Marketing campaigns are more effective when they are consistent. All other things being equal, shops that run ads all year have the best brand awareness and performance on Google.
Get the Most Return on Your Advertising Investment
1. Do What You do Best and Hire for the Rest
You’re a tinter—you make money when you have a squeegee in your hand. It can be very tempting to manage your own Facebook and Google ads but think about the opportunity cost: if you spend just two hours a week managing your marketing campaign, that’s eight hours per month. In eight hours, you can tint five cars and make $2,000. Why lose the opportunity to make $2,000 to avoid paying someone $500?
The world of online advertising gets more complicated every day, and the rules change constantly. A marketing company monitors changes to algorithms and keyword searches and constantly updates your content and strategies to adapt, so the same budget will get more return than if you blindly create an ad and hope and pray it will do well.
2. Targeted ads, SEO and Google Business Profile
The most common Google search related to window tint is “window tinting near me” –searched over 368,000 times per month in the U.S. “Car window tinting” is a distant second at just under 50,000 searches. “Home window tinting” is searched only 22,000 times a month, and “paint protection film,” for those who do both, is only searched about 18,000 times.
If you provide a range of services, it can be tempting to spread your advertising dollars over all of them. Instead, pick the one that’s most searched for and/or the most profitable one, and align your ads with that service to cast a wide net at the lowest cost. Once you have a prospective customer, you can always upsell them the other services.
Similar to aligning your ads with searches, search engine optimization (SEO), in its most basic sense, is aligning your website’s metadata with those same searches. This means that the text in your website should match the text your potential customers are searching for. This includes the “invisible” text like Meta Title, Meta Description, URL, H1 headers, as well as all of the text on your actual website pages. This increases your site’s relevance in Google’s eyes, so it will rank higher even without paid ads.
If you have a high organic ranking and good Google ads, you can then occupy two of the top spots in Google’s search results rather than just one. There is more to it, and many marketing companies miss the mark … if you hire someone to do SEO for you, check your organic ranking periodically in an incognito window to make sure they are actually getting results.
Finally, to make your business more attractive to Google (and therefore get Google to show it to more people), paying attention to your Google Business profile is invaluable. The top three metrics Google uses when determining how to rank your business for local (“______ near me”) searches are Google review count, recent Google review frequency and proximity.
Your proximity is fixed, but you can move yourself well up the other two rankings by consistently asking your customers to leave reviews and by responding to those reviews. A business with 30 recent reviews will rank higher than one with 300 reviews spanning two years. Responses to reviews are also seen as activity, so respond to both good and bad reviews. This also helps customers see you as genuine once they find your site. Lastly, consistently upload content such as photos and videos to keep your business active and relevant to Google.
3. Website Load Speed
Now that you’re ranking well organically and running targeted ads, the final step to hooking potential customers is one that’s often overlooked: how quickly your website loads. In 2006, Amazon did a study that found every 100 milliseconds in page load time cost 1% in revenue. So one second = 10% … that’s a lot! If your page takes 15 seconds to load, no one but the most motivated person (probably your friends and family) is ever going to see it.
Sales/Front Counter Staff
Now, all that said, the most important thing you need to get out of online marketing is sales staff. You can have SEO that gets you ranked #1 organically on Google, the perfect ad campaigns on every platform and a lightning-fast website. But if you don’t have anyone to close the leads, all the money you spend on marketing goes down the drain.
Front counter staff is another area where tinters love to try to cut costs, but this is a huge mistake. For example, one Sun Stoppers location with one tinter and a helper was doing about $6,000 weekly and was maxed out. When we added a front counter person, sales almost instantly increased to $10-12,000 weekly.
Mike Burke has worked in the window film industry for 33 years. His company, Sun Stoppers, has more than 71 locations in 28 states and offers residential and commercial tint and decorative film services as well as automotive tint, paint protection, and ceramic coatings. If you have a question for Burke to tackle in a future column, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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