I'm planning on building a website and doing a ppc campaign. Right now I'm trying to lay out an overall strategy before I hire a web company to do the design and setup the campaign. Mine is a 3-man shop doing a mix of commercial and residential. I prefer the commercial work, particularly p-lam and radius work, but I take on residential to fill my schedule. I don't have any standard products. I have a few questions regarding websites and ppc campaigns for small custom shops such as mine:
1. What type of customers are you targeting? Would it be end customers, or would it be designers and builders? Does it even matter in terms of how you setup your site and configure your campaign?
2. For shop doing custom work, is it better to show a broad range of work or a narrow range of work? Same question with regard to a ppc campaign - is it better to target broad keywords like 'custom cabinets' or use more specific keywords.
3. How important is the website? Many of my competitors have very rudimentary websites, yet I see them in the ppc column every time I do a search. I don't want to pour a ton of money into a site if it's not warranted. I also don't want to skimp on it, and then waste a lot of money on ppc by having a poor site.
4. Lastly, how effective in general is ppc for custom shops versus other marketing channels? Cold calling, etc.
Don't have a custom website built, it will be out of date in 6 months, use an eCommerce template site from WIX, Weebly, Shopify...ect. Have your 13 year daughter set it up in two hours and your ready to go.
What has happened in just the last 18 months is all eCommerce websites are consolidating into just a handful of web companies because there is a race to become the dominate eCommerce platform because of the amount money to be made in eCommerce. You can now get a $1 million eCommerce website for free all you have to do is populate it with your own content. Lands End or Urban Outfitter uses WIX, and I can use the same WIX web platform for free, of course if you use more advance features there are monthly fees. Basically they have poured millions of dollars into developing these websites for you to use in the hopes of when you eventually sell sometime so they can manage the transaction and take a small percentage. They offer some non eCommerce portfolio templates to get you started.
The effectiveness of any source of traffic to your website is number of visits and quality of those visits, or conversion ratio. How many filled out a form, called you, etc.? Also, what did it ultimately cost you for those leads.
The key is to get in front of more "hot leads", or people further in the process. Thus implementing inbound marketing practices vs. outbound is a more sane approach. The article below is a good place to start before you spend any money.
I have read the first few chapters of the Inbound Marketing book before I put it down. I found it a frustrating read because it's message is geared toward businesses with some very specific niche. And my business just isn't all that unique nor do I have a niche. I make boxes.
Basically, what I want to get out of my marketing investment is to find 5 or 10 more good GC's or designers to work with.
If you specialize in boxes--you are niche. Very niche. You may have much competition (or not) but it is still niche.
Truth is that inbound marketing is still more effective than outbound. To keep that customer base that you desire you can't just wake up one day and say I'm going to go out and get another 5-10 customers with PPC, cold calling, email blasts, or billboards. That's a good way to die on the vine.
The question is turnover. How long will you keep a particular customer. Undoubtedly those "good" GCs and designers will be gone eventually and you will need/what more.
As a contractor for 17 years, I've responded better to inbound forms of marketing from potential suppliers. We're not all the same for sure, but it's worth a look.
Unless you can say for sure that your customers are utilizing ppc then I would seriously reconsider investing.
Ultimately your goal is to drum up more business and connect with your customers. Some ppc campaigns (goodle adwords) are setup in a matter that can exhaust a campaign in a matter of minutes if the correct keywords are not setup specific enough.
Example being you want to spend $10 a day on a campaign aimed at "wood boxes" (total example) and you have setup a variety of keywords which your campaign will run off of. You can essentially have that campaign budget eaten up by the more expensive keywords at 2am should someone click on your ad when it is searched under something general like "woodworking". It is confusing and I am sure I did not do it justice but I would reiterate my point that reaching your potential customers if all your marketing money is trying to do. What you should first try to investigate (my 2 cents) is what medium is going to reach them most effectively and what is going to influence them to go with your product rather than the next guys.
Perhaps you determine that your marketing budget is $1,000 and you have no followers on Facebook. A little research could possibly answer whether it would be wiser to invest $1,000 in more Facebook likes so you can continue to reach people through daily updates,videos,photos,etc... OR if it would be better to go with a ppc campaign. Both cost the same amount of money, one will deliver more customers than the other-I guess that is the tricky part about marketing huh hehe
One thing I know for sure is that my competitors are using Adwords and have been for a long time. Unless they like wasting money, I have to assume it's working for them. And I want some of those customers they are getting.
Thanks for the responses. I've chosen a web design/marketing company and will start laying out my site and marketing strategy soon.
There are two ways to have a niche: product and geography. PPC can work for either, but it works best for those who are also sitting on strong organic results.
If I were starting over (thank God I'm not) I'd work on my website first - make it informative and attractive. You also need to think about what happens after the click - what will your response be to the incoming traffic? Once you have that worked out, then start driving traffic to it with PPC, but be prepared for poor results to start. You're fighting for attention with competitors who are strongly entrenched. That's why the geographic approach can be good - unless you have a competitor in the same neighborhood, you will at least be strong with local searchers.
The whole subject is very complex, and the best approach varies depending on what you are selling and the geographic size of your market.
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