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Posted: December 04, 2012

How online marketing grew my business

Three steps to inbound leads

Cory Johnson

When my business partner and I started two contracting companies in the Denver area a couple of years ago, we were ready to work hard to make a name for ourselves. We utilized traditional marketing sending out mailers, running newspaper ads, attending tradeshows and buying listings in the yellow pages.

We also spent a lot of money. We got the word out, but we needed to adjust our marketing strategy for long-term success. I’ll admit I was not incredibly comfortable with the world of online marketing when I first began looking into the possibilities, but I decided to give it a try with our garage floor coating business.

After a year of refining our company’s online presence via a mixture of SEO, SEM & Social the ROI for our online marketing has exceeded my expectations – not to mention the ROI of all our traditional marketing efforts. Our website is now a magnet for high value inbound leads. Instead of constantly searching for potential customers (and paying a sales team to do so), we reach them exactly when they’re prepared to buy – when they’re searching online for our service. This has dramatically altered our business and our marketing budget. 

Here are some simple steps you can take to make your website easier to find for customers who are actively looking for you.  I should note this is a very, very brief overview of some basic tenants that helped us.

1. Research Keywords

Do research to decide on several keywords you want to rank well for in search engines like Google. It’s important to set achievable goals – don’t expect to beat Amazon for “books,” but “rare mystery books” might work. The more niche the keyword, the easier it is to rank for.

Businesses that serve local communities, like ours, can take advantage of their narrower targets; “Colorado bankruptcy lawyer” is easier to rank for than “bankruptcy lawyer,” and “Denver bankruptcy lawyer” may be even easier.

When somebody types “garage floor coating Colorado” into Google they’re almost certain to be potential customers of ours, and thanks to our efforts, they’ll see us at the very top of the results.

2. Create Content

Add content to your website that relates to the keywords you identified. You can start with the basics, like an “About” page with basic contact information and a write-up about your business and a “FAQ” page that goes into more detail. From there, you may wish to get more creative.

Sharing news and information about your industry is a great way to do this. A regularly updated blog is one of the many signs of quality that Google’s ranking algorithm looks for. Realtors can talk about local housing trends, retailers can mention positive product reviews, and so on.  Content is king – but be sure to make content that others want to share. Don’t just talk about you, make it topical. No one wants to read a blog post that reads like an ad for your company.

Don’t go overboard in using your keywords – a page stuffed full of keywords without context is a red flag to Google and a turn off to visitors.

3. Get Listed

Identify your businesses on online directories and fill in all the details. Many customers search directly on Yelp, making it an important directory. Google Places is essential and will have dramatic results for local businesses; Google uses the address they have on record as a basis for many kinds of searches.

Beyond these two essentials, the right directory will depend on your business. LinkedIn is a valuable tool for making professional contacts, while FourSquare is popular for retail locations. SuperPages is a good online companion to traditional yellow pages.

Results You Can Measure

These steps will get you headed in the right direction. With online tools, you can track how effective your efforts are at attracting traffic, making it much easier to measure ROI compared to traditional media and decide what areas to focus on for future online marketing initiatives.

Following the success experienced by our floor coating company, I’ve altered the marketing budget of all three of our businesses to favor online marketing. Our organic traffic alone has gone up fourfold in one year. That means more visibility, more leads and more profit.

Cory Johnson is a co-founder and co-owner of the epoxy flooring business Garage Floor Coating of Colorado, www.coloradogaragefloors.com , and the residential and commercial painting company House Painting of Colorado, www.housepaintingofcolorado.com. Cory has a degree in Applied Economics and almost a decade of experience in owning and managing contracting businesses.

Enjoy this article? Sign up to get ColoradoBiz Exclusives. The opinions expressed in this article are solely that of the author and do not represent ColoradoBiz magazine. Comments on articles will be removed if they include personal attacks.

Readers Respond

Cory, It was great to read an article from a business owner who has successfully leveraged online marketing to grow his business. I agree with your comments about content. Research shows that a strong content marketing campaign will strengthen company awareness, build website traffic and generate leads. These campaigns need to share content that doesn’t blatantly promote products, but rather make your target more successful and/or solve their problem. Producing enough content is a big challenge. To combat this, businesses may want to consider “syndicating” their content across multiple channels. Any area of expertise could be communicated in written form, via video or in a live presentation. Book authors do this regularly. Bottom-line: more reach without having to develop completely new material each time you communicate with your target market. Continued success, Cory! By Tricia Akins on 2012 12 04
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