COVID-19 has made it more important than ever for sole traders and small businesses to get their services noticed online.
With less people out on the road listening to the radio and looking at billboards, less foot-traffic through malls and fewer magazines and newspapers being printed in hard copy every day, online is one place where you know there will always be eyes on the page.
How do you get eyes on your page?
Melbourne tradie Dean Elabbas said that when he founded his own plumbing company, 24–Hour Melbourne Plumbing, he paid a lot in subscription fees for his business to be included in online and hardcopy directories.
Since instead deciding to focus on digital marketing and advertising, his business has gone from $200,000 in revenue to over $1 million in four years.
“In the beginning the subscriptions were costing more money than I was making. And the problem with directories is that they are showing your potential customer your business and everybody else’s business too,” Mr Elabbas said.
“I started to think I needed to look for other options. I ended up engaging a digital marketing agency.
“I was very surprised with the results. We went from no calls, other than word of mouth recommendations, to receiving 10 calls, 20 calls, 30 calls a week. We probably get 500 a month now,” Mr Elabbas said.
“I would say 99 per cent of our work comes from our presence on the internet. You have to be there,” he said. “Now I have a team of six plumbers to help me with the work.”
Sagar Sethi, an SEO specialist and founder of Melbourne digital marketing agency, Xugar, said small businesses looking into whether they should invest in their time and/or money in digital should think about how customers find their business online.
“Digital marketing is just the use of the internet, mobile devices, social media, search engines, and other channels to reach potential customers,” Mr Sethi said.
“Pretend you’re a potential customer looking for a professional in your field online. What are the words you would type into Google? For example: ‘Melbourne plumber’ or ‘24-hour florist Sydney’. These phrases are called keywords,” he said.
“When you search these words does your service appear on the first page? Do you have positive reviews online that potential customers can easily see? Can your potential client easily contact you once they find the landing page of your website?” he said.
“This investigation may lead you to changing your website to include more of the search terms people would type into Google to find your business, or making sure the phone number on your website is clickable from a mobile phone, or even encouraging more of your happy customers to leave reviews.
“You may even consider running a marketing campaign to get your business out to new audiences.
Google, Facebook, Linked-In and Instagram offer advertising platforms that allow you to utilise user data to target campaigns to people in certain areas, of certain ages or who have certain interests. These platforms are relatively easy for a layperson to navigate.
“Just make sure you measure the results and identify what worked best according to the goals you set at the start.”
Mr Elabbas said services seeking to engage a digital marketing professional to flex some digital muscles on their behalf should only sign a short-term contract to begin with.
“I recommend that you start on something month-to-month so you don’t end up paying for a service that’s not producing results,” he said.
“A good sign is if the service has a lengthy conversation with you about your market currently and where you want to take your business into the future.
“In the first month you should see small changes to your website and your pages should be updated regularly with new posts. Within three months, your website should have moved up the Google rankings and you should start receiving more calls.”