Digital Marketing Strategies for
Local Service Businesses

Digital marketing encompasses a wide range of services and can feel overwhelming to the uninitiated. When you work with an outsourced digital marketing agency, your company will be able to maximize its marketing efforts without reinventing the wheel! From website rebuilds to pay per click (PPC) advertising, a comprehensive digital marketing strategy will drive traffic, increase conversions, and boost your business’s revenue!

Digital marketing is one of those buzzwords that many people toss around – but what exactly does the process look like in practice? Instead of dealing with abstractions, today we’re going to examine a hypothetical case study in digital marketing, showing how a typical project could go from start to finish. Afterwards, we think the value of outsourced digital marketing will be more clear, and you’ll know what to expect from the journey.

Cut Throat Marketing<br />
-Marketing Strategy<br />
-Business Development. with professional in front of a computer.

William’s Wonderful Widget Wrepair

Our newest client, William’s Wonderful Widget Wrepair (4W) has just hired us to completely revamp their online marketing strategy. 4W is a small business that specializes in residential widget repair, and makes service calls across the South Carolina Midlands.

Let’s see how 4W’s first foray into digital marketing goes:

It starts with a conversation

Marketing shouldn’t happen in a vacuum and a good marketing company will sit down with new clients to get a thorough understanding of the company they are about to work with. We always seek to understand where a company is currently positioned, where they would like to go, and get a complete picture of the company’s business model and the services they offer.

Determining marketing objectives

Without clear objectives it is difficult to determine if a marketing plan has succeeded, so it is important to define what constitutes success. William’s Wonderful Widget Wrepair told us that they would like to see their revenue increase by $18,000 per month. To achieve this, 4W would like to see an increase in appointments, but also is hoping to increase their average order value from $400 to $500. With the current numbers, we can see that 45 appointments would be necessary to generate the desired revenue boost, although as their average order value increases this number will fall, so a target of 40 additional booked appointments per month should help them achieve their objectives.

As it stands, most of 4W’s calls are either repeat business or word of mouth referrals – so we will assume a 66% close rate on cold leads originating from the website. This means our digital marketing strategies will need to generate an additional 60 calls or website form submissions to hit their targets.

Measuring marketing success

Since William’s Wonderful Widget Wrepair’s main goal is to increase revenue, our primary key performance indicator (KPI) will be year over year revenue change. At the end of the day, if 4W’s website traffic goes up 1000% but revenue stays the same, it is impossible to call their marketing efforts a success!

Revenue increase is the goal – but other metrics will help 4W track their growth and see what is working. To that end, we will track secondary KPIs including:

  • Number of appointments booked
  • Number of leads generated (broken down by source)
  • Number of Google reviews generated
  • Average order value

Finally, we will track tertiary KPIs to help direct future digital marketing efforts. These indicators include:

  • Website traffic by source
  • Google search engine result page rankings (SERPs) for target keywords
  • Social media engagement and growth
  • Google ads metrics
  • Website conversion metrics
Google ad tracking graphics

Keeping track of it all

KPIs are only useful if they are easy to monitor. To that end, we build each of our clients a custom Google Data Studio (GDS) dashboard which shows all of their KPIs in a centralized, easy to read format.

For tracking purposes, we implement Google Analytics, and use a tool called GoHighLevel (GHL) to measure the number of phone calls coming in from various marketing efforts. GHL is a powerful tool because it lets you see if calls are being generated by your website, Google Business Profile, billboards, or radio ads. Without this tool, it can be difficult to tell where your new customers are coming from.

Plan the Plan

Before we actually get started with executing 4W’s digital marketing strategy, we need to ensure everything is in place for us to begin.

Talk with your vendors

Lots of vendors offer marketing funds for co-marketing with your company. Since marketing is a major business expense, getting free money to help with the process is always a good thing!

Defining value propositions

A value proposition clearly explains why a customer would preferentially do business with you over a competitor, and it is essential to develop a clear understanding of your business’s value propositions before embarking on a new marketing campaign.

William’s Wonderful Widget Wrepair is run like many businesses – the owner is a hardworking businessman who has worked tirelessly to deliver great service to his customers. However, also like many businesses, the leadership at 4W isn’t actually entirely sure what their value propositions are.

That’s where your crack team of digital marketers comes in – taking the information gleaned from your onboarding interview and turning it into 3 to 5 clearly articulated value propositions which demonstrate the value of your business to your customers. These value propositions will be a central part of your digital marketing strategy, showing up on webpages, Google and Facebook ads, newsletters, and traditional marketing channels like direct mail and radio ads.

Cut Throat Team meeting with a client to work out the businesses plan of action

Tracking your success

Whenever possible, it is best to have your tracking and analytics in place before launching your new marketing campaign. This way your business will be able to see how new marketing ideas are working in real time. When William’s Wonderful Widget Wrepair came to us, they did not have any analytics in place. This is not an uncommon situation amongst small business owners – but it is one we quickly work to remedy. As soon as possible, we ensure that the business’s Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business) are set up and properly configured. This is also a good time to establish call tracking procedures so we can get a more complete picture of where 4W’s leads are coming from.

Executing the marketing campaign

With a clear goal, well-defined value propositions, and tracking in place, we are ready to dive into the marketing campaign!

Website rebuild

Every business’s website should be their most valuable employee as it is able to market to potential customers 24/7. However, even well-performing businesses often come to us with websites that are out of date, don’t work well on mobile devices, and do a poor job representing the business.

In 4W’s case, their website was getting very little traffic as it hadn’t been well optimized for search engines and thus failed to rank for important keywords related to their main services. Rather than trying to fix individual elements of their under performing website, the most efficient and best solution is to create a brand new website which is responsive, easy to use, optimized for search engines, and focuses on 4W’s main value propositions.

At Cut Throat Marketing we specialize in creating websites that are designed with the customer’s decision making process in mind, a marketing practice known as Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO). This means that each webpage will be written in a way that matches the customer’s state of mind – holding their attention and gradually converting them from a curious prospect to a booked appointment.

This is a screenshot of the website builder showing text settings.

Google Business Profile Optimization

At the same time as the website is being revamped, we also do a complete refresh of our client’s Google Business Profile.
Having a GBP is an absolutely essential element of local SEO as this is what Google uses to show customers businesses on Google Maps. Any time a customer performs a search with local intent, such as “widget repair near me”, Google presents them with a list of local businesses pulled from its GBP directory.

In the case of William’s Wonderful Widget Wrepairs, the business already had a GBP but some of the information was out of date or missing. Additionally, while 4W’s reviews were good, they only had a handful and many of them were several years old.

Screenshot of "repair near me" google search map pack of Columbia SC

Optimization of Google business listing helps by raising your business’s ranking in Google’s local search Map Pack as well as providing customers with valuable information like hours of operation, details about your services, and even current promotions.

Finally, we will reach out to 4W’s past and current customers for online reviews. Having good reviews, and lots of them, is one of the best ways to improve your online presence – and is also the only reliable armor against negative reviews!

Update social media profiles

Depending on the type of business you run, social media platforms may or may not be an important part of your local marketing strategies. Regardless of whether or not your business spends money on social media marketing, it is essential to ensure that the information on your social media profiles is accurate.

In the case of William’s Wonderful Widget Wrepair, we opted for a small ad spend on Facebook ads, partially for direct conversions, but more focused on developing brand awareness.

Start running Google Local (Google Guarantee) Ads

Google Guarantee is a well named service with a proven track record of driving calls. The service is relatively pricey when compared to other marketing tactics, but has the advantage of only billing you for actual leads. We like to start out clients with Google Local ads and then gradually switch this ad spend over to more economical avenues as the SEO and CRO improvements to the website begin to pay their dividends and web traffic increases.

Marketing is a marathon, not a sprint

As with many elements of life, marketing is not something that you do once, or do intensively for a few weeks and then walk away from. Good marketing plans build traffic, boost conversions, and increase brand awareness over the long term. After the first phase where 4W’s website, GBP, and social media profiles were optimized, we will move on to our longer term marketing strategy.

Join 1-2 local business organizations

In the digital era it is easy to forget about your local chamber of commerce and other small business networking groups. However, these local community organizations are often an incredibly effective way to reach your customer base. Sponsoring an event or two is a great way to get your business’s name out there, meet with local customers, connect with other local businesses, and have a fun time giving back to your community.

Of course, not all professional organizations are equally effective at helping your business grow, so it helps to do your research before committing. Over the years, we have worked with several local organizations and have found which types of business benefit most from joining them, as well as which organizations offer the best ROI.

Chamber members ribbon cutting for the opening of the new Irmo Chamber building.

Creating content

Believe it or not, but blogs aren’t just for travel writers and influencers. Content creation can help small businesses build brand authority, boost their SERP rankings, and inform customers about your services. It’s important to focus on your industry or locally relevant topics and to be sure to employ search engine optimization techniques and carefully select your keywords.

While traditional article-style blogs are still effective, video content is better and tends to get more reach.

Social Media Strategy

Social media marketing will depend on your target audience’s demographics and the type of business you do, but there are some general guidelines for local service businesses to follow. Your social media posts should focus on proof of work – demonstrating what your company does with high quality pictures and video. If running ads on social media makes sense for your industry, running retargeting ads for people who have already visited your website is a good way to reinforce brand awareness and boost sales.

Note: For both content creation and social media posts it is absolutely essential that your business have current photos and videos. It’s perfectly fine if you do not have a professional photographer on staff or don’t own a DSLR camera – iPhone photos are more than adequate! Before and after photos are a perennial favorite, as are photos of your team helping out at sponsored events.

Google Ads

With William’s Wonderful Widget Wrepair’s new website up and running, it’s time to start reaping the benefits. Traditional Google ads are a great way to drive traffic to their site and now that it is optimized for conversion all it takes for calls to come in is for prospects to make it to one of their service landing pages.

Modern AI driven campaigns generally take about 4-8 weeks to get ramped up, with Google’s algorithms winnowing out poor performing ads in favor of ads which are getting more attention. While the cost per conversion may start out higher, it shouldn’t take long before it becomes cheaper than Google Guarantee ads.

Let your local audience know about your business

While we’re focused on digital marketing strategies, that isn’t to say we want to neglect traditional marketing channels. Radio, TV, billboards, and even local newspaper ads can be great ways to spread the word about your business. In the beginning there is no need to go all out – focus instead on channels which offer good cost per mille (CPM), the cost for getting one thousand customer views on your advertisements. Brand building is an element of marketing that is more commonly associated with large corporations, but even small businesses will benefit from increased brand awareness. Having a recognizable brand builds trust, increases customer loyalty, gives your employees a sense of pride, and can make your existing advertising campaigns more effective.

Crossing the finish line

With a comprehensive marketing campaign well under way, William’s Wonderful Widget Wrepair was able to watch their call volume increase. With more calls coming in, 4W was able to hire another dispatcher to handle the calls and hired a technician who was able to pick up weekend appointments.

Within one year of starting their campaign they had met their initial goals and growth was still continuing strongly. Some may think that this means 4W is “done” marketing – however as long as a business’s advertising budget is producing greater revenue, the marketing campaign is a sound investment and should continue.

Increase Google Ads Budget

Google ads, and advertisements in general, provide diminishing returns as more money is spent on them. However, as long as your ads are still producing solid leads and the cost of conversion is reasonable, businesses should continue increasing their Google ad budget. There will be a point where additional money spent on Google ads would be better spent elsewhere, but until that point is reached it makes sense to stay the course.

Sponsor local organizations & events

Local businesses are special because they are local. People like to support businesses that are a real part of their community, and so if your business has the opportunity to sponsor local events and organizations you will foster stronger customer loyalty. A great side effect of these sponsorships is that your business will be able to get sponsorship links, which will increase your website’s domain authority and help you rank higher in future searches. It’s always a good idea to choose sponsorships that align with your company ethos or show off your unique brand identity. Local sports teams, particularly minor league or youth teams, religious institutions, or charity groups are all wonderful avenues for helping your community form positive associations with your brand.

The sponsors for the Carolina Classic Home & Garden Show in Columbia SC

Add additional branding ads

As time goes on, it is prudent to invest a bit more heavily in branding ads. Improving customer recognition and creating brand loyalty is a great way to make your business’s growth sustainable. An added benefit is that if you ever seek to franchise your business, having a recognizable brand identity will pay dividends!

Continue content production

Videos, blog posts, and infographics will go a long way towards solidifying your business’s reputation for excellence. Continued production of content will keep Google’s algorithms satiated and show your customers that you are staying abreast of developments in the industry.

Small business marketing is a process

While William’s Wonderful Widget Wrepair is a fictional entity, the benefits of digital marketing are very real! Any small business looking to increase their revenue will be able to see significant returns on investment from a thoughtfully designed digital marketing campaign.

Whether you choose to go it alone, or opt for the expertise of an outsourced marketing agency, remember that marketing is a process which shouldn’t be rushed. Make sure to determine your value propositions before building a new website, and have your new website in place before spending big on traditional Google ads. Once your company’s marketing has hit its stride, stay the course and make adjustments as needed!