Showing up is 80% of life – Woody Allen
Fish where the fish are – Old saying
Our agency's first customer was a boutique studio that was struggling to grow. It had been opened for a little over a year and after a good burst of new clients and activity, things had leveled out. People loved the classes and almost everyone came back. But the studio was no longer attracting new people at a fast enough clip. The owners were starting to panic.
It just so happens that I was one of those owners. I had gone into this new venture with a friend. He was a former national cyclist, a long-time coach and teacher, and a natural leader. The clients loved him and he was inspirational. I was his wing-man, focused on the operations and the business. Part of my job responsibilities included marketing. Uh-oh.
We had been using what I know call the spray and pray approach to marketing. We had a local well-respected boutique agencies. We ran some local ads, did some PR, sent out direct mail coupons. We were also buying a bit of Facebook and search. We had a Twitter and Youtube account and were producing weekly videos. We also bought a few SEM terms. I was working on special promotions, beautiful logos and get videos. I was doing the sexy stuff. What was wrong?
I started asking our existing customers and the few new ones that showed up where they heard about us. The answer was overwhelmingly clear –out of 100 customers, 75 had done a Google search as their first stop. Anecdotally, the majority of those searches were done on their phone. I pulled out my phone and started doing Google searches. The results were not good. While we ranked well on the most obvious terms – like searching for a cycle studio in our town, when it was not perfect, we dropped way down.
The next stop for most of these customers was checking out our reviews on Yelp! And Google and then browsing around our website. Was that as good as it could be?
I spend the next month stopping all of our other efforts and just getting these basics right. SEO is not hard, reviews are not hard (if you have a great product) but you would be surprised how many people get it wrong. 75% of the clients we work with have not optimized this channel. The most beautiful website and mobile app mean nothing if no one can find you.
Good SEO means producing content – the right content that your customers and prospective customers want to see. It means getting the key words right. It means getting your website to look perfect on mobile. It means answering all of your reviews and asking customers to think about giving you reviews if they love the experience.
Let's face it. Nothing of this stuff is rocket science. But because it is not sexy, it tends to fall to the bottom of the list. It requires daily attention and without it, nothing else works.
SEO is a long game but we started to see results fairly quickly. We got 10 new customers the next month just from this work. How did we know? Because we asked them. Maybe it was just ranking for a town that was a few miles down the road, or a class that we offered but had not put a keyword in, or something as simple as the babysitting services we offered for busy moms.
Most importantly, we built off this base to start doing some creative and innovative things in other channels. That work helped us double our business over the next year. I will talk about how that went in some future articles. But none of it would be possible without getting the basics right.
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