No longer an optional form of advertising, digital marketing has become the norm. Whether you’re sending an email to stay in contact with customers or sharing recent projects on social media to generate company awareness, digital marketing provides a direct line to potential customers. It lets you meet your customers where they are. 

According to Forbes, an estimated 82% of consumers conduct research online before making a purchase. They’re still asking friends for referrals, but sometimes those “asks” are in online neighborhood chat groups or personal Facebook pages. With those suggestions, consumers will then likely head to Google to check out company websites, company reviews and find phone numbers to schedule an appointment or request an estimate.

This means you can reach potential new customers with messages that address their problem and help you stand out from the crowd. It also provides an opportunity to keep in contact to stay top-of-mind the next time an issue arises, often at less cost than traditional marketing. 


Marketing 101

To make the most of your digital marketing presence, here are some tips to enhance your success: 

  • Outline your marketing goals first. Do you want to generate leads? Create a way for existing customers to review your services? Your goals will define what digital marketing tools to focus resources. 
  • Are your current online listings accurate? Before adding new components to your digital marketing, it’s important to make sure existing online listings are up to date. Do a search of your company online and take steps to correct any incorrect information, such as hours of operation or phone numbers. For Google listings, Google My Business can be used to update any inaccuracies.
  • Understand your digital marketing options. From online ads and search engine optimization (SEO) to email campaigns and social media channels, the options are many, but not all may help you meet your primary marketing goals. For example, are you looking for new customers? Targeted online ads may have a bigger immediate impact than trying to establish social channels that take more time to build and maintain. The tools you decide on should also integrate with all your marketing efforts. For example, your website design should carry the same brand identity as your social profiles, business cards and truck wraps. 
  • Have a plan to manage your digital presence. Having a presence is one thing; managing it according to a plan is even more important. Write down how your business will use social media, search engines and emails. How often will you add new content? Who will be checking for messages/posts on your social media? What contact information, like email addresses, do you have for your customers and how will you use these to reach out? Who is ensuring your content is on-brand? 
  • Create a content strategy. What news or information do you have to share? How can you use your expertise to provide value to your audience? How can content you create be used on multiple digital platforms? The answers to these questions will help guide the content you share on your website, social channels and emails. For example, a blog post that’s created for your website can then be shared on your social channels to be shared by your followers and friends.
  • Engage in social media and with influencers. As you’re getting started with your social channels, follow some of your favorite brands and industry influencers. Their content might provide ideas of content you’d like to create — and great peer-to-peer content will likely be helpful and educational for you. You can also re-share their posts via share options on your own feeds for a quick, cost-effective way to generate content. For example, Plumbing Hacks is an active community of professionals on Facebook. On Instagram, @thebrunetteplumber, @roadrunnerplumber, @prodrains and @georgetheplumber are active influencers who regularly post content.
  • Monitor ratings/reviews. The number of ratings and review websites continues to grow, with people increasingly willing to share opinions on products and services. It’s important to know what sites your customers are active on and take steps to address concerns they express. Be prepared to focus on those customers not so happy by responding to their concerns and trying to make things right. 
  • Avoid pitfalls. Keep it to business-related activities only. Personal opinions should be avoided unless it’s an opinion about a piece of equipment or new technology that you want to share. For example, “I’ll never solder anymore now that I’ve been using a RIDGID Pressing Tool to join pipe.” 
  • Measure effectiveness. Evaluate your digital marketing strategy regularly to see if it’s successful. You want to establish some goals in terms of things like open rates for emails, click-throughs for social content and traffic for your website. Then measure your success against those goals and adjust your strategy as needed for even further success. For example, if an email you sent out to past customers with a $100 coupon led to scheduled appointments, it likely is a campaign worth repeating. However, if no one picked up the phone as a result you’ll want to analyze why. Was it the timing or is this particular audience not driven by coupons? It’s smart to modify campaigns as needed. Testing is sometimes the best way to find what works with your customers.
  • Consult an expert when needed. Even if you have a staff member dedicated to your marketing efforts, occasionally partnering with a marketing expert can be beneficial. An outside opinion can be what’s needed to provide additional insight and new strategies to connect with your audience.

Digital marketing can be a cost-effective way to enhance awareness of your company, potentially reach new customers and keep in touch with existing ones. As you begin to enhance your online presence, remember you don’t have to do it all at a once. Take small, intentional steps to add to your efforts and you’ll see the long-term business rewards.