By Scott Gordon, The Chief Revenue Officer
You’ve been thinking about a certain home improvement project for some time, but, for one reason or another, you just haven’t pulled the trigger. Then you see a television commercial, hear a radio ad, open a free home improvement mailer or magazine, receive a robo call, have your door knocked on by a salesman, or see a neighbor up the street having said improvement performed on their house.
Suddenly you are compelled to action. That final ad, vehicle wrap, or billboard finally pushed you over the edge and now you want to get a quote from that company.
So, what do you do next?
If you’re like most people I know (myself included), you grab the smart device nearest you, open Google, and enter “Name of Company” & reviews. What you see next will determine whether you do business with the company that final got you off the fence or one of its competitors.
It’s quite simple really. Page one of Google is your online business card in today’s instant access to everything culture. What your potential clients find lurking there will determine the ultimate growth trajectory and profitability of your company.
The key to this search is the word “reviews” (or “complaints”). Google’s algorithms will instantly serve up all the Yelp, Pissed Consumer, Google reviews, Houzz, Glassdoor, Indeed, etc pages with star ratings in tow. At a quick glance, your prospect will see the good, the bad, and the ugly and make a quick determination whether they are going to hand you their hard-earned money or award the job to a competitor instead.
As you’re reading this, you’re probably thinking ‘CRO, tell me something I don’t know’. Of course, we all know that the majority of the buying public today uses online reviews for everything from restaurants to garage doors, but even though this may appear self-evident to most, I’m astonished by the number of companies (particularly home improvement contractors), that spend piles of money on mailers, print ads, radio & t.v. commercials, etc only to neglect both their online reputation and page one Google results.
This is what I mean by ‘advertising for your competitors’. One of the ways I prospect for new clients is to save all the home improvement mailers I receive. A few times a month I go through these and determine what value I might be able to bring to the various organizations advertising in these media. E.g. can I capture some of their advertising dollars and provide them with a higher return on those dollars?
I do two things with each ad:
The second search demonstrates the power of their SEO (search engine optimized) content versus their competitors.
For advertisers who do well on both counts, I give them a humble nod for a job well done.
For those who fail the first test, they go on a specific follow-up list. Same for those who fail the second test, but pass the first one. Unfortunately, many companies fall down on both, and I have a very special list for those folks.
I was inspired to write this blog after a recent experience where I saw the same home improvement contractor’s ad in every mailer I saved in the months of July and August, yet said contractor has terrible SEO and the worst online ratings in its industry!
Worse, they bought the cover of two of the publications I reviewed. Holy expensive, Batman!
As you might imagine this enigma inspired me to probe a lot deeper, and I spent several hours reading their customer and employee reviews everywhere I could find them. After digesting all of this information I quickly came to the conclusion that their advertising was working. They are obviously doing a lot of business, but I had to wonder how much of their large advertising budget was benefiting competitors in their space who had 4 - 5 star ratings versus their 1.5 star rating (Yikes!).
A lot of their reviews read like this: “I wish I had read all these horrible reviews before I went with ‘company name’. Here’s another less than stellar experience to toss on the pile.”
The company’s responses (if they responded at all) just added fuel to the fire.
I had to conclude then, that this company’s clientele was probably less internet savvy than the general population since they skipped any online due diligence prior to making a buying decision. This led me to ponder how their local competitors were benefiting from those prospects who did basic online research. I then began to wonder how much further their marketing dollars would go if they corrected their unattractive online persona.
Here’s the challenge. This company will eventually run out of digital neophytes and find itself in a very vicious feedback loop if they don’t address this issue soon. In fact, I’d bet that even as I type this, they’re having to increase ad spend just to maintain current sales levels. Given this assumption, it won’t be long before marketing dollars alone will no longer be able to surmount the tsunami of negative online sentiment.
If you’re advertising in traditional and social media and aren’t also buffing and polishing that first page of Google as a strategic matter of course, chances are you’re losing business to competitors who have made this a priority. If you haven’t done so recently, pretend you’re a prospect considering your business. Would you do business with yourself?
Hopefully, the answer is yes. Otherwise…