Are your website analytics performing correctly? In this video, Robert Wasiluk, design consultant, shares three reasons why your analytics may be producing incorrect or inaccurate information. Your firm’s SEO strategy should include a review of these tips.
Developing your Digital Marketing Toolbox – PAID SEARCH
Everyone wants to rank high on Google but sometimes your digital marketing strategies can use a little boost. Digital ad strategies, such as Google Ads or promoted posts on social media, can be a powerful tool in your online visibility and lead generation strategy.
In order to harness the immense power available through paid ads, start by clearly defining your target audience. Who are they and what do they need? The more accurately you can identify your audience and their needs, the more targeted your ads can be, providing quality leads that have a higher potential for conversion. If you are unsure how to determine who your target audience is, take a look at your current clients.
The next step is to figure out what makes you unique. Since your competitors have services similar to yours in similar industries, you need to identify what it is that makes you stand out from them. How can you inspire your audience to engage with you? Addressing your client’s needs in conjunction with your unique value to them through your ad headlines and content, can boost engagement on your ad.
Finally, offer your audience some information or a resource to download that addresses their needs on some level. Be sure to include a form fill feature to capture their information so you can follow up with them after they receive your downloadable resource.
To recap, in Part I of our digital marketing blog series, you learned how to write copy for your professional services website. In Part II, you learned about SEO and social media – and why your firm needs SEO and a social media presence. And, in Part III, you learned how paid search and advertising can bring in leads.
Once you have all your digital marketing tools in place, remember to monitor the analytics and track the effectiveness of your efforts. Above all, remain agile so you can adjust what isn’t working, as well and do more of what is working.
Developing your Digital Marketing Toolbox – Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Social Media
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Getting on top of search results organically is a process that requires strategy and patience. There are many ways to build an SEO-friendly website to provide better rankings on Google and other search engines.
- Choose keywords that are unique to your business. Brainstorm these words and phrases in your website committee and make sure they are used frequently in your site content. Consider working with an SEO specialist to find keywords and phrases to get additional possibilities and performance forecasts.
- Try to establish external links to your website. Have your company name posted on organization websites to which you belong, contribute articles to trade sites, and allow relevant websites to link directly to yours. Just having your company name listed on another website can help boost your ranking.
- Update your content regularly. At Google, fresh content is a key factor in search rankings.
- Develop page titles, descriptions and meta tags with your keywords in them. Meta tags are the words that show up at the top of each web page and the title and description show your audience what that page is all about when it shows up in search engine results.
It’s no longer a matter of IF you are on social media platforms, but how well you do it. It has virtually become a requirement for firms to engage through social media. A good social media strategy can help you retain clients, find prospects and recruit talent by increasing brand awareness and building trust. Social media can also boost your online visibility and organic search rankings.
To build an effective social strategy, the first step it to determine which platforms your audience is on and what content will drive engagement with them. Just because a firm down the street is having success on Twitter it doesn’t mean that you will also have the same measure of success. It’s important to do a bit of research to see where your current clients and prospects are spending their time online.
Next determine the type of content you will provide through your social channels. Understand the needs and goals of your clients and prospects and show them how you can help them.
They key is not simply to look at social media as something you must to do, but as a powerful tool to help you achieve brand awareness and firm growth.
Developing your Digital Marketing Toolbox – Website
Digital marketing has evolved very quickly and it seems as if some new tool, platform or app is popping up every day. As soon as you feel like you understand how the digital landscape works, it changes and there’s something new to figure out once again. It’s no wonder that digital marketing has become a point of confusion and frustration for many professional service firms.
Today, more than ever, your presence online and on social platforms makes a difference in how you are perceived and in your firm’s sales effectiveness. With so many firms and individuals online, it takes strategy and agility to stand out from the crowd. In this three-part blog series, we will tell you HOW to use digital marketing for professional services. First up: your firm’s website.
Firms that are operating on outdated web platforms or with old design templates are missing some critical opportunities. When referred to a new firm, many prospects go first to the website. When seeking a new job, candidates often head to the website to learn about the culture. An old website can do more harm to your firm’s image than ever before.
If your website looks staid, boring, and “template-like,” that one chance to make a great first impression is over. The key to great websites is to think through who will use it, how they will use it and how to communicate your services and unique culture and the value you bring.
Before you write one word or design one page, consider what you want your website to do based on how the audience will use it. Do you want it to speak primarily to prospects or recruits? Is it an information service for clients? Do you want to get leads from your website?
Making it pretty is not enough. Be clear about your target market and what you want to communicate to them. When we work with clients on a website, we like to establish some key messages about the firm that can act as a guide for content. This sets a tone and ensures that the firm’s website isn’t cookie cutter.
Writing copy for websites is different than writing for a proposal or marketing flier. Use a professional writer who has experience with websites, as well as one who understands your industry. Have that person write the sections that matter most: your Home Page, Services, About Us and key leader and staff bios. If you are having trouble recruiting, hire a writer to add some snap to your career pages. If your firm is moving into a specialized niche, work with a writer to develop key messages and web content that helps your firm rise above your competitors.
In our next blog post, learn how Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can help your website rank higher on Google and other search engines.
Or, if you need help now, contact our digital marketing consultants.
What role does your website play in marketing a professional service? A good website costs time and money. If you get all your new business from referral sources and satisfied clients, why should you invest in your website? Let us tell you.
What a business card was in the 90s, a website is now.
At a minimum, your website establishes that you are a “real” firm with solid expertise and a good team. Without a website, or with an outdated “90s brochure on the Web,” your prospects may mistake your firm for a smaller, weaker organization that does not move with the times. Old or missing information? You give an impression of disorganization and lack of attention to detail. You might even look too busy to take on more clients if you can’t get your website updated.
Our world of multiple referrals.
When an engineer, banker, lawyer or CPA gives a referral to another professional, they are more and more likely to refer more than one individual. Guess where the prospect goes when they have more than one referral to choose from? The Internet. For most professional service firms, the website’s primary strategy is to support referrals. The person with the best website — well-written, easy to navigate, mobile functionality, bios of leadership, clear strengths and differentiators, client testimonials — gets called first.
Bios are mission critical.
Leadership and team bios are almost always the first place people look to learn more about your firm online. Prospects are either searching for a specific person or determining if they might have good rapport with you. If your bio is stiff, full of dull achievements from years ago and your photo looks like you had it taken at the county license bureau, you will not get the first call. And if your bio isn’t even on your firm’s website? You just lost the race.
Your site sets up the prospect’s expectations.
If your website clearly gives your prospect the idea that you are up-to-date, savvy, interesting and have loads of expertise in the area where they need solutions, the expectation becomes that you are the “first choice.” If your website is ugly or even just basic, it sets up the expectation that you are the “B Squad.”
Design and bells and whistles.
While strategy should lead design, ugly design leads people to think your firm is bad. Average design leads to average expectations. Make sure your website looks good, is easy to navigate and a pleasant experience for users – these should be the least of your brand promises – that you are good, easy to work with and pleasant. Add an interesting blog, some podcasts, videos or interactive features and suddenly you are the market leader compared to most professional service firms. Have some outside people tell you about yourself based only on your website. Does anything about your website tell them you are interesting and experienced or do you give a generic impression?
Your website is recruiting central.
Most people looking for jobs talk to their friends and look for jobs online. They are interested in your culture and how your website portrays the brand experience of your firm. A careers page that speaks to a youthful audience beyond benefits and job openings and “we’d like to meet you,” but instead portrays your firm as dynamic and interested in developing talent — that’s your goal.
Are you using marketing technology that is aligned with your marketing strategy? Leah Spielman, marketing consultant at Ingenuity Marketing Group, shares the importance of using the right marketing tools and technology for your firm. Learn some of the things to look for when assessing marketing technology and how you can test it out before jumping all in with a product. Your technology should fit your needs and improve your marketing success.
Is your new website designed for search engine optimization? Robert Wasiluk, design consultant at Ingenuity Marketing Group, shares five design tips to consider for SEO-friendly web design. Learn SEO best practices for your website including video crawling, alt text on images, responsive site design, site speed and 301 redirects. Implement these five tips and enhance your website’s SEO performance.
As mentioned in the video
Site speed test: https://gtmetrix.com/
Are you up-to-date on the latest Google, Facebook and WordPress changes? Virginia McCoy, lead SEO and social media consultant, discusses what changes are coming to Google Analytics and how they may impact your firm’s website. She also explains how to keep your Facebook content fresh and in front of your audience in light of recent algorithm changes. Robert Wasiluk, lead design consultant, explains the changes WordPress is making and why they matter to your firm. Watch the video above and read below to learn more.
Google’s Mobile-First Indexing
Historically, Google has indexed and ranked websites based on their desktop version. Now, with more than 52 percent of internet traffic coming through mobile devices, Google is switching to mobile-first indexing. Here’s how to make sure your website is ready for the change:
- Test if it’s mobile friendly using the Google Mobile-Friendly Test
- Add important, high-quality content to the mobile version of your site
- Update the structured data to the mobile version
- Provide meta data (page title, header tags, meta descriptions, etc.)
Facebook’s News Feed Update
Facebook is now prioritizing “posts that spark conversations and meaningful interactions between people.” The algorithm prioritizing content posted by family and friends, which creates an obstacle for company pages. The best way to overcome this obstacle? Post content that is relevant and creates engagement. Also, live videos and Groups will receive higher visibility in news feed, so look for opportunities there. “Engagement bait,” which asks for engagement that is not meaningful, will be demoted by Facebook.
What’s coming in WordPress 5.0?
Scheduled for release early this summer, WordPress 5.0 introduces the Gutenberg editing tool replacing the existing word processing tool bar. Gutenberg will add content based on blocks with page builder-like functionality to try and move WordPress towards a more simplified user experience. Users can test out the new editor by installing the beta plugin for it. Be sure to back up your existing site with Backup Buddy or Updraft before using the Gutenberg plugin. For people who still want to use the traditional editor, they will be making it a plugin after the release of WordPress 5.0. When installed, it will override the Gutenberg editor. Many theme developers are starting to incorporate the technology into updated versions of popular WordPress themes, if you have questions regarding your specific theme, please contact your theme’s developer to see if there are any issues with Gutenberg working with your theme.
Every time we talk to a partner for the first time at a law firm or engineering firm or CPA firm or fill-in-the-blank firm, we hear the same comments: “We don’t get new clients from our website. They all come through referrals from other satisfied clients. Our business growth is mainly word-of-mouth.”
Then they tell us that websites do not really help them acquire new clients; they are just something they have to do. So why are the second most visited pages on any professional website the firm leadership or bio pages? Your website has actually become a critical part of developing new clients from referrals.
How does a website support the business development process? When someone searches for your firm on Google, you need to consider not only Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to make sure that your firm appears high in search results, but also what we call REO — Referral Engine Optimization.
There are three primary ways that prospects use search engines and firm websites in the vetting or qualifying process. This process is similar to how you qualify prospects: cold, warm and hot.
In a cold search, the prospect is using Google or another search engine to locate a product or service with no other reference. They may type in “personal injury law firm Minneapolis” or “tax planning Philadelphia.” They are looking for a certain type of knowledge, location and professional who might look like an “approachable” or “experienced” advisor. In a cold search, inbound marketing is important because keywords and website content and links to other sites will help your site line up with all the cold prospects searching for you.
However, as we know in business development, a warm or hot prospect is a much stronger bet for closing a sale. Warm prospects are those who have a referral to your firm. (They have probably received three to five referrals to various firms.) Before they commit to calling and taking time to meet with your firm, they are going to look up your website, bios and other information. They will weigh its impression against the other referrals they have received. Then they decide who to call first. If your website is not REO-friendly, you lose and never know it.
Your hot prospects also use your website for decision making. They may have already met with you and there is more than one decision maker who will seal the deal. Now they’re digging deeper — comparing your team bios against the competition, checking out your connections on LinkedIn, reading your articles. How do you stack up against another firm in your branding and messages? Do they match how you talk about your firm?
Build REO to Reach Every One
SEO by itself is important and good. But good SEO combined with great REO is what firms need. Some of the most important factors for REO include the following:
- A clean home page that offers messages about competitive difference and easy navigation
- Sophisticated, content-rich bios
- Informative niche services pages
- An engaging firm story or history
- Resources created by the firm
- Testimonials or client success stories
REO Means Business
How do you know if some of your prospects are contacting you or calling you in for a second meeting based on some aspects of your online presence? First, you could ask them. Ask them if they visited your site, what they looked at and what they liked (or didn’t like) about it. You can also find out by tracking the number of hits to key pages to your website.
If you have ever had a referral source ask you if their client called — and the client didn’t call — it could be a failure of REO. Are you losing potential clients you don’t even know exist?
Websites are a serious investment of time and money, for sure. But once the site is up and showcasing the best aspects of your firm, it’s out there 24/7 for the world to see. Do a little research on how your current site is being used by your referral sources and prospects in the decision making process. Maybe it could use some Referral Engine Optimization.
When a website goes down, it impacts your security, your reputation and new business revenue. Lead Design Consultant Robert Wasiluk puts on his technical hat to discuss four reasons why you should always update your WordPress site. He also cautions professional service firms about the one critical thing that should always be done before updating any website platform.