The Most Powerful Lead Capture Tool In Your Marketing Utility Belt

If there’s one question I get more often than any other, it’s “How can I get more leads?” Which of course does not have a quick and easy answer.

This is the marketing equivalent of asking a remodeler “How much does it cost to remodel a kitchen?”

There are dozens of various tactics you could use, across literally hundreds of delivery channels. From Facebook to email. From Print ads to t-shirts.

But, regardless of what channels you select and what tactics you use to find the perfect customer, there’s one lead capture tool that every successful marketer uses.

It’s called the squeeze page.

You may have heard of it referred to as a landing page though this is technically incorrect. A landing page is any web page you set up to receive visitors and prompt them to take action. That action can be anything from scheduling an appointment to filling out an application to making a purchase.

A squeeze page is a type of landing page. It’s designed with one very specific purpose—to get visitors to fill out the opt-in form, providing you with their critical contact information.

In other words, it’s purpose is to capture leads. The amount of information you capture can be as little as an email address or as in depth as a full profile.

The reason it’s called a squeeze page is because it’s part of the marketing funnel. It’s where the funnel starts to “squeeze in” and only let qualified leads through.

Squeeze pages are a critical component of your lead generation program. They can (and should) be used in any marketing channel you use — including offline channels like direct mail and print advertisements.

At any given time I have over 20 squeeze pages live on the web. And there’s no reason you can’t too.

How you can do it yourself

So you’re probably thinking “I can’t build web pages so this isn’t going to work for me.” Well, don’t worry my friend. Even though I’m proficient in CSS and HTML and can build a web page in my sleep, that doesn’t mean I do. All things being equal, I always prefer the fast and efficient option.

There are a few tools out there that make it possible for anyone to create their own squeeze pages, regardless of technical acumen.

The one I use is LeadPages. I find it incredibly easy to use. Plus it integrates with a slew of software platforms (including the ones I use) and the customer support has been superb.  Other platforms include Unbounce, ClickFunnels, and Instapage.

Why squeeze pages work

One of the biggest marketing mistakes I see remodelers make is to send everyone to their homepage. Especially in their advertisements. But, unless your homepage is built specifically with lead capture in mind, you should not send people there.

Actually, even if it is built for lead capture, it still might not be the best choice. Like I said, I have dozens of squeeze pages and our homepage is most certainly built for lead capture.

So why is the homepage a bad place to send people?

Well, let’s look at your homepage for a moment. Odds are it looks something like this:


Your logo is in the upper left-hand corner and your phone number is in the upper right. There are five or more navigation links across the top — and when you hover over them, you probably get a dropdown menu of additional choices you can make.

Below the navigation links is a large picture of an amazing project you’ve done (this is called the hero shot). It may even be a rotating slideshow of the different types of projects you have done.

Now, depending on the size of your hero shot, we may need to start scrolling down “below the fold” to get to some text-based content.

Ah, there it is. It possibly starts with “Welcome to our website!” but either way, I expect I’d find some variation of this:

We specialize in whole house renovations, additions, exterior improvements, basements, kitchens, and bathrooms.

There’s also some pictures down here and links to “learn more” about these various specialties of yours.


How did I do? Am I close?

The reason I’m close is that this a typical homepage layout that supports the typical homepage purpose: to impress visitors and tell them what services you offer.

So do you see the problem? It’s choice.

Your homepage is littered with choices. Links upon links of places to go and things to see. Click here. Learn more. Our services. About us. Check out our portfolio. And on and on and on.

Choices distract the visitor from engaging with you. Choices are a barrier to capturing the lead.

A squeeze page, on the other hand, has only one choice: provide us with your information. Period.

A well built squeeze page is laser focused and gives your prospect something useful in exchange for their information.

The real beauty of this tool is you can publish dozens, even hundreds of these pages and distribute them everywhere: Share them on social media, add an offer on your blog posts, and run highly targeted pay per click (PPC) ads.

And you should be using them offline as well. For example, do you ever run Job Radius Direct Mail campaigns? Build a squeeze page for that particular neighborhood and send people to the squeeze page instead of your website. Because the content is tailored specifically to their neighborhood, you should see a significantly increase in the leads generated from this campaign.

Worried?

Does the thought of not sending them to your website make you quiver? Don’t worry about it! Remember, the number one goal is to capture leads. Does it really matter what webpage the leads are coming from?

Still, I can hear you saying, “But Mark, our website is beautiful and I’ve spent tens-of-thousands of dollars on it.”

Again, don’t worry. You can still get them to your website. Just send them there AFTER they’ve submitted the form.

For example, after I give you my email address on your squeeze page, I’m redirected to a page that says “Thanks! Your free idea guide will be in your inbox in 15 minutes. While you wait, take a look at these amazing award-winning kitchens we’ve done.”

The possibilities are endless. But they all begin with a squeeze page.

What about you?

Are you using squeeze pages? What have been your results? Please share your stories with our community in the comments below!

Paid Search: It’s Not Just About Keywords

A great paid search campaign can really drive your business. But building campaigns, identifying ad groups, and developing keywords is just part of it.

You’ll also need to integrate a negative keyword strategy.

If you don’t have one, it might be the reason that your paid ads are falling flat.

You see, it’s not just all about optimizing the keywords you DO use in the campaign.

Success largely depends on negative keywords, too.

Don’t feel bad if you’re wondering, “what are negative keywords?” Many businesses fail to take them into account.

But if you spend just as much time building this list as you do your keywords list, you’ll see a huge ROI.

What are negative keywords?

Simply put, negative keywords prevent your online ads from displaying for particular keyword phrases.

Here’s how an AdWords campaigns works:

Much like an auction, your business bids on keywords in order to get your ad in front of customers.

If the ad is relevant to the audience and the bid is good, you’ll increase the odds of appearing in search results.

That’s what it’s all about.

Negative keywords, however, stop your ad from showing up in front of the audience that does NOT care about your products or services.

Let me show you a couple of examples of negative keywords in action.

Example 1

Let’s say your business sells bathroom remodeling services. Your keywords will focus on the term “bathroom” and hopefully appear on search pages when people are looking for design ideas in general and specific materials like cabinetry, flooring or plumbing fixtures.

But what if people are looking for “bathroom remodeling jobs?” You don’t want to be included in these searches.

In short, negative keywords help Google know when a search query doesn’t apply to your business.

That way, you can limit the ad impressions for these kinds of searches. And that’s important because they will never lead to a sale.

Example 2

Not all people search for the term “remodeling.” To some, it makes perfect sense to search for “home improvement.” But let me ask you, do you remember the popular TV show “Home Improvement” featuring Tim Taylor?

You know know where I’m going with this right?

As you can see, negative keywords play a big role in ensuring your ad is served to the correct eyeballs, and they will save you big bucks in the end.

How to create a negative keyword list

It pays to do extensive research when finding negative keywords. And there are a few different ways to build your list.

  1. Create a list. For example, if your business offers high-end services, your negative keyword list should include terms like “jobs, pictures, tv shows, magazines.”
  2. Use the search query report. The AdWords search query report will show you the searches that are currently triggered by your ad. Look carefully through the report and identify irrelevant searches and terms. Add them to your list.
  3. Turn to the Keyword Planner. Another great tool to use when searching for negative keywords, the Keyword Planner lets you build a list of related and common keywords. Generate your list and then look for negative keywords.

With an effective strategy for generating keywords and negative keywords, your paid search campaigns will soar — and build a business you can bank on.

Is this Website Mistake Costing You Remodeling Business?

Recently, I attended a Google Partners event and heard a statistic that almost knocked me out of my chair: 45% of people would rather give up vacation than their smartphone. This stat is confirmation of what most of us already know—people really love their phones. You can see it when you venture out to any public place. Everyone is glued to their phones—and it’s not just teenagers.

In recognition of the importance smartphones and mobile devices play in our lives, earlier this year, Google began using mobile usability as a ranking factor in mobile search results as of April 21, 2015. The search engine predicted this change would have a significant impact on search results—giving mobile ranking priority to those sites that pass its mobile-friendly test.

Does your site pass the test or are you seeing something like this:

mobile-friendly test

If your site isn’t mobile-friendly by Google’s standards, you can kiss your mobile SEO, and the leads and sales it generated, goodbye.

Does This Really Affect My Business?

Sadly, some remodelers are simply unaware of how much mobile website traffic they receive. I found this out while manning our booth at the 2014 Remodeling & Deck Expo in Baltimore, MD. I showed business owner after business owner how they could see, in their own Google Analytics account, that 25-35% of their website traffic is from visitors using mobile devices. Surprise turned to terror when I pulled out my iPhone and iPad and showed them what their website actually looks like on those devices!

Don’t make the mistake of assuming that just because your website looks great and functions properly from your laptop, it also looks good on a smartphone or tablet.

Based on my research, the odds are high that it doesn’t.

In 2014, my team at Blue Corona used our website analysis software to analyze nearly 3,000 remodeling contractor websites—including Remodeling Magazine’s top 550. Although we only reviewed the mobile usability factors for a small subset of sites, what we found was alarming. Most of the sites we reviewed had significant mobile-usability issues (i.e. they probably would not earn a mobile-friendly score using Google’s test).

So much for believing that your “web guy” is thinking about and handling all this stuff for you. As a web marketing guy, I can tell you that most of my competitors’ sites don’t pass Google’s test either. If you ask them, I’m guessing they’ll tell you a story about the cobbler’s kids’ shoes.

It’s Time to Get Serious About Mobile-Friendliness

Test your site. If it passes, awesome. If it doesn’t, you’ve got some work to do. Not only are you putting your search rankings at risk, you’re also irritating your prospective customers! Look at your company’s site on your phone, on your friend’s phone, on a tablet, etc. Ask yourself—is the text big enough without having to pinch or zoom? How easily can you find your phone number? Can you click to call it?

In my opinion (and this is also Google’s preferred method), a responsive website is the best way to make your remodeling company mobile-friendly. With a responsive website, you have one website (versus a desktop website AND a mobile website) that adjusts the way your website looks depending on the size of the device.

Here’s a visual example of how a responsively designed site functions:

responsive web-design

The only drawback is that a responsive design generally requires a redesign and rebuild of your current site.

Even if your remodeling company has missed the April 21st deadline, Google says you can still benefit from the update once you launch your mobile-friendly website and the search engine re-crawls it. And if you choose the responsive option, most website design companies should be able to set you up with a temporary mobile solution while you’re waiting for your responsive redesign.

A couple things to prioritize with your mobile-friendly remodeler website:

  • Quick page load speed
  • Large, easy to read fonts
  • Good text-to-background contrast
  • Click-to-call numbers
  • A mobile-friendly remodeling portfolio/gallery

What about you?

Do you have a mobile-friendly website? Are you utilizing responsive design to achieve it? Please share your comments or questions below!

Why Remodelers Need a Mobile Website

Mobile, mobile, mobile. It’s all we hear about today! Ugh! Well, we’re hearing about mobile because it’s absolutely exploding. Mobile website traffic that is.

Why Having a Mobile Optimized Website Matters

One of our clients was getting about 10% of their website visits from mobile devices in December of 2013. Just 6 months later, that percentage rose to 40%! Then, in August, it hit 60+%. Wow. More than half their visitors were viewing their website on a mobile device!

I’ve got a quick action step for you. Log-in to your Google Analytics right now and check your mobile traffic percentages. Or, if you have a webmaster, send him or her a quick email and ask for it.

why-remodelers-need-a-mobile-websiteNot sure where to look? Here’s a quick screen shot on the left and below. Log in to your Google Analytics dashboard and look at the left navigation. Find “mobile” and click on “Overview”. Then scroll down a bit and look at the percentages for mobile, tablet and desktop. Play around with the timeline and look at the mobile traffic in January of this year vs. this month. Chances are, it’s risen dramatically!

why-remodelers-need-a-mobile-website-2

Mobile visits are on the rise because phones and tablets are getting much better in terms of screen size and resolution and more and more people are purchasing them. You can see this in the launch announcement of the iPhone 6.

In addition, everyone is spending more and more TIME on these mobile devices. 75% of Americans admit they bring their phones to the bathroom and 4 out of 5 shoppers use their smartphone to shop.

Here are some things to consider about mobile website traffic:

  • Your bounce rate is higher with mobile traffic, but it will skyrocket if you don’t have a good mobile site. (Bounce rate is the number of visitors that leave after visiting just 1 page on your site)
  • You’re missing out on leads if you get a visitor and they don’t take action. You miss out on more leads if your site isn’t mobile ready.
  • You frustrate visitors trying to find information if you don’t have a good mobile website.

I don’t think I need to make more of a case for the NEED for a mobile ready website, but just in case you aren’t convinced, look at these stats here.

What is a Mobile Optimized Website Anyway?

By now, you’re probably thinking, “Ok, Spence I need a mobile optimized website. What does that actually mean?”

Great question.

A mobile optimized website is a website that is specifically designed for mobile devices. Mobile devices include smartphones of all sizes and tablets like iPads. Mobile devices have different screen sizes than desktops and laptops, so it’s important that your website displays your content in a visually appealing way. The goal is to make it so that your visitors don’t have to zoom in and scroll all over the place to read your content. Navigation is bigger and is in a toolbar. Font sizes are bigger and you should really only need to scroll down. Not sideways. You’ve probably been on a mobile optimized website before. It looks a little something like this:

screenshot

See how the words and buttons fit the screen? This is much better than forcing users to zoom in on your website with their fingers. That can be time confusing and frustrating.

What Are Your Options for Mobile Optimized Sites?

There are actually a few different options for creating mobile optimized sites, but there’s really only one route you should take.

1. Separate Mobile Site

One option for creating a mobile optimized site is to create a separate mobile website. This was common a few years ago. The idea is that you build a site that has different content, different menu structure and looks much more simplistic. When someone visits your website (www.XYZRemodeling.com) from a mobile device, they are automatically re-directed to your mobile site (usually something like m.XYZRemodeling.com).

The good thing about this option is that you can provide your users with a much better experience on your mobile site than your main website. However, the downside to this option is that you have two separate websites to manage and there is different content on your mobile site compared to your desktop site. This can be a big negative for users that find some information on your mobile site and want to go back later when they get home. However, when they load up your website on their desktop they can’t find that information, because it’s different.

In addition, Google has stated that Responsive Design is the new best practice for mobile.

2. Responsive Design

Responsive design means that you have one website, one set of pages and they all dynamically adjust sizing and layout based on the device someone is on. Here’s an example of a responsive site viewed on various devices:

Sample Responsive

You can tell if a website is responsive by opening it in a desktop browser and then dragging the width of the browser window until it’s skinny, like a phone.

Just minimize your browser and drag it all the way to the left. Remodelers Advantage is responsive, so you can try it on this website right now to see what I mean. Notice how the content dynamically morphs and adjusts based on the width of the browser?

If you don’t have a mobile optimized site right now, I definitely recommend going the responsive design route. Anytime Google recommends something as a best practice, it’s always a good idea to follow that.

Next Steps for Ensuring You’re Mobile Ready

Okay, let’s take a look at some good next steps for you.

Step 1. Take out your phone right now and navigate to your website. How does it look? Is it tiny? Do you have to pinch-and-zoom to read anything? Does the content flow off the side so that you have to do a finger-waggle just to read a complete sentence? Then you don’t have a mobile optimized website.

Step 2. Contact your existing website design company and tell them you need to get mobile! If you’d like an unbiased third-party opinion before speaking with them, feel free to contact us. We’re happy to give you our expert opinion…even if you’re not working with us. 🙂


Phone FAQ image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

How to Find a ‘Reputable’ SEO Company for Remodelers

If you have a website or are doing any Pay Per Click advertising on Google, then you’ve probably received a sales call from an SEO company or two (or a 100 . . . they’re everywhere!) Unfortunately SEO companies have a bad reputation. They are very similar to contractors in that respect: because of the few “less-than-reputable” companies out there, the whole industry has a black-eye.

In truth, there are some very good SEO specialists, you just need to know how to find them.

Let’s break down the signs, qualities and components you should look for in a good SEO company as well as the services they are proposing.


What Should You Look For in a Quality Remodeler SEO Company?

1. They Put Content Marketing First

Really good SEO companies aren’t really SEO companies anymore. They are content marketing companies. Content is the foundation for improving your website’s ranking in search results. Content marketing is used in conjunction with SEO (or “optimizing”). You can’t “optimize” a page or blog post if you don’t have a page or blog post. In order to target keywords, you need content. Make sure that content is excellent and that the company you’re working with is putting a big emphasis on content as well as keywords.

2. They Understand the Remodeling Industry

If we think about the point made above (putting content first), it makes sense that this prospective marketing partner of yours should understand your industry. If they are going to be writing on your behalf and creating content, they need to understand you, your company, and your customers. They need to have knowledge of your customers burning pains, their top questions and their concerns.

3. They Focus on Lead Conversion

Usually, your SEO company (or prospective SEO company) wants to focus on keyword ranking, getting you to “number 1 on Google” and talking about increasing website traffic. Increasing website traffic is extremely important, but it’s all for nothing if your website doesn’t convert those website visitors into leads. Your SEO company should have a plan in place for converting traffic as well as getting more of it.

A good SEO company will talk to you about creating value added offers, calls to action (CTAs), and landing pages. If you aren’t hearing these things, they probably aren’t including a lead conversion aspect in their strategy.

4. They Put Strategy Before Tactics

Tactics are great because they are usually very actionable. However, a lot of remodelers (and SEO companies) can get hung up on these bright shiny objects.

“Ooo, a new social network Pinterest just launched. Let’s spend time “pinning” photos.”

“Wow! A new video platform came out yesterday. Let’s upload all our videos there.”

These are just a couple of common examples of “getting tactical”.

Don’t get me wrong here. Tactics are great if they funnel into a larger strategy. Pinterest may be a good idea for you, but only if it fits into your over-arching goals. Make sure your SEO company is helping you form a strategy that is designed to meet your goals. And “getting to #1 for a keyword” is not an over-arching goal. If we’re being honest, you probably have a sales goal and/or a profitability goal. Those should be used to back track to a marketing activity plan.

5. They “Eat Their Own Dog Food”

Need I say more? You want the company you hire to be practicing what they preach. If it isn’t working for them, why would it work for you?

6. They Stay Current on the Latest SEO Best Practices

SEO, Content Marketing, Online Marketing and Social Media. These are all changing so fast. Look for a company that has a process in place for staying up to date. This is an on-going effort, not a once per year “go to a big conference” sort of thing.


4 Things to Watch Out For

1. Rotating Keywords

If your SEO company tells you that they will be rotating keywords every month or every several months after they “see what’s working”…run! The best practice is to select the best keyword or keyword phrase for a page and stick to it. When you “rotate” keywords, it essentially re-sets the SEO equity you’ve built for that page and you’re restarting your efforts.

2. No Content Strategy in the Proposal

We talked about content earlier in this article, but it’s worth mentioning again. If your SEO company doesn’t mention content or a content strategy as a part of their SEO strategy, that is not a good sign. You need content to optimize.

3. Low Quality Content

Ask your SEO company for sample blog articles. Read them! The articles should sound intelligent. You’re the one that will have your name (or your company’s name) on the article, so it better be good stuff! If the content is shaky, you won’t have much to build on for your SEO strategy.

4. Shady Link Building Techniques

SEO companies that are all about link building can be a gamble. Ask them about the process they use for building links. If they mention directories, blog commenting and article submissions, that’s probably a bad sign. If they mention creating great content in order to attract links naturally, using social media to share that content and using local, relevant directories, you’re on the right path!


Summary

Search Engine Optimization is extremely important today, so it’s important you find a company you can partner with for the long term. This shouldn’t be a 3-6 month adventure for you. This is a long-term partnership, so do your due diligence, find a reputable company and then work with them to improve over time.

Remember, blogging should be a huge focus in the SEO company’s strategy to improve your website ranking and credibility. Ask good questions, do a little bit of research and you’ll certainly find a great company to work with on your SEO and Content Marketing Strategy.


Bonus!

Want to know what questions you should ask when interviewing potential SEO companies? Builder Funnel has provided a great question (and answer) guide exclusively for PowerTips Subscribers!

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Are your prospects looking for specialists, or are you the perfect fit?

Are you the perfect choice for your customers? I have no doubt that you are. The fact that you are a loyal PowerTips reader proves that you’re committed to being the best at what you do.

But do they know that?

Do your potential clients arrive at your website and say, “This is exactly what I’m looking for.” Odds are the majority do not. And that’s to be expected. After all, here’s the type of content you’ll find on a typical remodelers website:

Our services include additions, kitchens, bathrooms, master suites, interiors, interior design, decks, porches, landscaping, finished basements, in-law suites …

Phew! And therein lies the rub. You offer all these great services and you want the world to know it. But this “we do it all” approach doesn’t necessarily leave your site visitors feeling warm and fuzzy. At least not in the short term.

You have 25 seconds (at most) to convince them that they should not hit the back button and go to the next result in their Google search. So how do you do that? One powerful way is via microsites.

A microsite is a website that is comprised of only a handful of pages and is dedicated to one specific service you provide.

The benefit of running microsites is two-fold: A) your site visitors know the moment they arrive that you specialize in the exact project they need completed. This is comforting and validating. B) You have a tool that helps you own the top position in Google search.

Lets look and both benefits more closely.

Benefit A: I’m Home!

Assume for a moment that you’re in the market for a red baseball bat.

Imagine, if you will, what a visit to the fictional website Anns Sporting Goods.com would look like. You probably envision a navigation bar listing all the sports (football, baseball, hockey, hiking etc.) tons of sub-navigation like Apparel, Equipment, Shoes, and so on.  A clearance items section, images of fit athletes running. Is that about right?

Now imagine visiting Anns Red Baseball Bats.com. How clean is the picture in your mind? You see nothing but red baseball bats, right? Every size, every shape, every age group.

Which website makes you feel like you’ve found what you’re looking for? More importantly, which website are you more likely to buy from?

The same principal applies to remodeling, with a bonus kicker: specialization carries a lot of weight. A dedicated website reeks of specialization. People feel comfortable with specialists.

Benefit B: Own Google results

Without getting into all the specifics of SEO, lets just say this is a strong tool in your quest for top Google rankings. Although there are many, many variables that go into Google’s algorithm, one thing you can count on is that the actual domain URL and the content on that page carries a lot of weight. Think about it, how do you think a website called HartfordKitchenRemodeling.com (not real) would perform when someone in Hartford searches for kitchen remodeling?

Of course there’s more to it than that. But in the end Google’s primary goal is to provide relevant content. It’s difficult to argue that the sample microsites above aren’t relevant to what the people were searching for.

Parting Thoughts

This is a “top of the funnel” web marketing strategy. Use microsites to get people into your world. Get them to submit a form, call or email you. You want them to know you are the best choice for their project. After that your primary site is perfect. In fact, after they submit the contact form, have it redirect them to your main site. Saying in fact,”Look what else we do!”

See, once they know they’ve found the right company, that’s when the “we do it all” approach becomes an asset. It reinforces that they’ve made the right choice because — hey, you do it all!

How about you?

Are you currently using microsites to capture more leads? How is it working? If not, what’s stopping you? I  look forward to reading your comments below!