Knowledge Exchange is a weekly series of educational articles that we encourage you to share and discuss with your colleagues and network. This month, we’re offering advice for successfully marketing your services.
A lot of marketing and advertising advice is aimed at promoting products. But what if you run a service business? It’s less obvious how you might take advantage of trends like influencer marketing and AI for paid ads when you’re not selling tangible items. Still, it’s important to go beyond the basics and understand how digital advertising trends impact your results.
Why Use PPC for a Service Business?
If you don’t already have a pay-per-click (PPC) strategy, developing one should be at the top of your priority list. Even for businesses with a relatively small advertising budget, PPC can ramp up lead generation and increase conversions. And as they’ve gotten more targeted over time, digital ads have become more useful: 75% of people admit that paid search ads make it easier for them to find what they’re looking for on a website or search engine.
Here, we’re diving into five shifts in online advertising that you could use to reach more people in your target audience and engage in ways they’ll respond to.
It’s worth keeping up with updates from paid platforms like Google and LinkedIn, which are regularly improving the options they provide for targeting. Google, in particular, is helping you make your ads even more relevant by allowing you to mix demographic and keyword targeting. The best way to make this work for your business is to take advantage of automated built-in features such as Smart Bidding, optimized targeting and audience expansion.
How to keep up: Even though these advanced options mean less manual guesswork about your target audience, it’s still important to have a defined ideal customer profile (ICP) and know where they hang out online. Understanding exactly who you want to reach will help you properly set up ads to minimize your customer acquisition cost.
An effective SEM strategy is a lot more casual than it used to be. Instead of sticking with formal keywords and copy, many marketers are learning they need their ads to match the speech people use when searching. Because more and more people are using voice search, queries have become more conversational over time. Instead of searching for “accountants for a small business,” for example, a business owner might say to Siri, “Find someone who can save me money on taxes.” Your ads should feel like a natural response to statements and questions like these.
How to keep up: Focus on the keywords your ICP would search for when they have buying intent — or when they’re in the consideration or decision stage of marketing. These are the stages in which you’ll get the greatest bang for your buck, especially if you have a limited PPC budget.
You’ve probably noticed in the past few years that you don’t always have to click on a search result to find the information you’re looking for. Instead, your answer might appear right at the top of the page in what’s called a “snippet.” The people who are paying for ads to appear on that search engine results page (SERP) aren’t getting their money’s worth if the snippet wins out. Thus, one way to supplement your paid advertising strategy is to hone the SEO on each of your website pages to organically compete on SERPs by making your web content appear in snippets.
How to keep up: Keywords are still important, especially for snippet potential, but you should use them in a natural cadence throughout your page copy. Learn how to incorporate keywords properly in title tags, meta descriptions and more using this guide from Backlinko.
A paid marketing strategy doesn’t end with the ads themselves. You need to follow through to be sure you’re generating conversions. Think about what kinds of interactions your audience is having after they’ve clicked on an ad. Are they landing on a dead-end page on your website or being given opportunities to engage live? Chatbots and messaging software continue to rise in popularity because they allow you to supplement ads with interactions that feel personalized and make conversion more likely.
How to keep up: Start by automating the conversation you have most often with prospects. This is likely to be answering FAQs via email or providing clarification on pricing. If you take the time to set up auto-generated responses in chat software, you’ll save time and modernize your marketing strategy simultaneously.
It’s impossible to effectively change up your ad strategy if you don’t know which of your efforts have been effective so far. Attribution tracking has always been a thing in the marketing industry, but it’s traditionally been limited to identifying the first touch or last touch a won prospect had with your business. And it’s not always been achievable for businesses that don’t have experts on hand to invest in attribution tracking. Now, however, there are tools cropping up that can help you put together an accurate picture of how your marketing investments are performing across the entire buyer’s journey, from blog content to videos to ads.
How to keep up: Consider supplementing your use of free tools like Google Analytics with a marketing data analysis tool. Then, ensure that you’re not neglecting attribution in the handover from marketing to sales by entering as much data as possible into your CRM.
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