What if you could bring in a steady stream of qualified leads actively looking for a decking contractor?
Week in. Week out. On autopilot.
With online marketing, this vision is not only attainable but can be accomplished in a relatively short timeframe. Very few decking contractors are taking advantage of the internet’s power to drive leads, which means fast results for your business.
Today, we are going to show you how digital marketing can transform the way you bring in leads. I’m going to teach you how to build a steady stream of qualified leads to your business.
This is 100% DIY. You can accomplish these techniques faster and at a higher quality with professional help (as with anything), but you’ll have everything you need to get results on your own by the end of this article.
Let’s get started.
Your business website is your #1 asset online.
You might have success with social media pages or review site listings (which we’ll discuss later), but at the end of the day, all of those properties rely on a 3rd party’s platform and can be taken away from you at ANY time.
Your website is your own. You control it, ALWAYS.
With the right setup and marketing, you can make it an ongoing lead-generating asset!
Not every website is created equal. Some are fantastic at “converting” visitors into leads. In other words, when people visit the site, they are more likely to leave their contact information or send an inquiry to the business.
Other websites? Not so much.
Our goal is to create a website that encourages visitors to contact your business without needlessly distracting them. For decking contractors, we recommend creating just 4 pages to accomplish this goal:
- Portfolio page
- About page
- Contact page
These 4 pages will provide all the key information your visitors need while keeping the site streamlined and focused on getting them in contact with your team.
Let’s look at each page individually.
The homepage is where it all begins. This page is what makes people decide to keep reading or click the back button and visit a competitor.
A great homepage will accomplish three key goals:
- Visually highlight your work
- Communicate your brand’s unique value
- Convince visitors to contact you
Here’s a fantastic example from Custom Deck Builders, LLC.
Visitors are immediately presented with a high-resolution photo of a gorgeous deck, which serves to highlight the brand’s work.
The brand name and visuals also do a good job of demonstrating that the company is able to create high-end, custom decking, although I would personally recommend that they add some copywriting to make that explicitly clear.
The company’s state-specific numbers are clearly displayed and users are invited to get a free quote in the sidebar. I would personally recommend making the “Get A Free Quote” button significantly more eye-catching, but for our purposes, it’s a solid example.
While there is no one-size fits all solution for decking contractor homepages, there are a number of tips and features to follow that generally work well in this niche.
1. Add your phone number in a large font.
Displaying this contact information for everyone to see helps establish trust right off the bat. It tells potential consumers that if there is a problem they can always reach out to you. This simple rule will pay dividends because those who are interested in buying or who prefer talking to a human over reading will call you right away. In fact, one accounting company added a phone number to their site and immediately raised paid conversions, or visitors who became customers, by 1.8%.
2. Create a form or lead magnet to capture potential leads
Place it at the top of your homepage above the fold, so it is the first thing visitors see without scrolling. This tweak will drastically increase your lead capture rate so you can reach out to potential customers to answer questions and finalize a sale.
3. Prioritize user experience
Keep things simple. Use easy to read text, plenty of white space, and make sure everything is clearly labeled so visitors can navigate throughout the site with ease.
4. Remove the paradox of choice.
This rule applies to not only your product offering but your site design also. With dozens of graphics, links, dropdowns, and testimonials it can be difficult for the consumer to know exactly where to go next or what to purchase. Instead, try to limit your site’s design to the bare essentials and steer them towards links and products you want them to consider.
The Portfolio Page
This page is your secret weapon, especially if you produce better work than your competitors. Anyone can setup a website. Not everyone can display top-of-the-line work.
Your portfolio or gallery page acts as a trophy case that will not only champion your greatest work but also educate your clients on what it’s like to work with you.
Check out Archadeck’s gallery page for a great example in action.
The components of a phenomenal portfolio page include:
1. High-quality product photos
High resolution photos set you apart from the competition and frankly, help you make your work look even better than it actually is. For decking contractors, it’s very important to have high quality photos to display, particularly if you are hoping to attract higher paying clientele.
While the finished product is most important, including before and after photos can be a great addition. Include some aerial shots as well if you want to really stand out.
2. Customer testimonials
Social proof is a big part of online selling. Showing real testimonials from happy clients can go a long way in building trust with visitors and giving them a positive expectation of a potential working relationship with you.
3. Project case studies
Going more into detail about projects you’ve worked on, including their timelines, what sort of challenges were faced, and how your company overcame those challenges can give potential customers a great feel for your business. Focus on breaking down projects that would be particularly interesting to your target customers.
The About Us Page
The About Us page is one of the few pages that many companies actually feel comfortable writing themselves. While it’s not difficult to write per say, it’s very easy to forget the purpose of the About Us page. Your About Us page can go a long way towards converting visitors into customers.
When people click on your about page, they want to know about you and your business. They want a peek into your personality. This is the PERFECT opportunity to make a personal connection with them.
1. Communicate your identity & purpose
Some people call it their mission statement. Others call it their core values. Regardless of the name, you should communicate your reason for being there. Why did you start your business? What need in the community are you trying to fill? What values do you strive to bring to the table?
2. Communicate with personality
As mentioned before, your About Us page should have personality. You don’t have to be a comedian. You don’t have to be suave. You just have to be you. Are you a parent? Are you active in the community? Introduce visitors to you.
3. Mention your credentials
Your About Us page is an open invitation for you to brag to your heart’s content, within reason. If you have awards, mention them. If you’ve been featured in a publication, mention it. If you’ve been invited to speak at an event, mention it! Your About Us page is a great opportunity to establish your authority and expertise.
4. Include a CTA
Don’t sell at any point during your About Us page, but at the end, give readers an option to continue their relationship with you by contacting you or engaging with your business in another way. This is called a Call to Action, or CTA. This is a great place to invite readers to get a free quote or download the decking style guide you’ve created for this purpose.
The Contact Us Page
The Contact Us page will typically have high traffic and will change the least over time. It will likely be one of the simplest to write, but it’s definitely worth spending a little extra time on to optimize it to generate the most leads possible.
Be sure to include both an immediate contact point, like phone or live chat, as well as a more passive contact option, like an email address or contact form.
I’ve broken down some options below.
You can take your communication to the next level by having a CTA above the fold on the contact page that directs your visitors to fill out a form for you to contact them. Don’t make the form super complicated: name, phone, email, maybe a few job-related details, and a spot to write in a custom message should suffice.
Here’s a great example from Sunshine Sunrooms, which actually uses a popup on top of the normal contact form.
The fewer the questions, the more likely it is that someone will actually fill out the form. In fact, the sweet spot for contact forms (found in a Quicksprout study) is three fields.
A local number will suffice but getting setup with services like Grasshopper or Zendesk can pay off significantly in the long run if you are targeting a broader geographic area. Services like these can automatically route calls between your office, your cell phone, and even your computer depending on your current location, so you are much less likely to miss out on valuable leads.
Zendesk takes it a step further by giving you a low-cost attendant who will answer the phone as your company, ask simple screening questions, and field simple questions like hours of operations and directions so you can focus more on doing what you do best.
This is pretty simple. Try to keep your email addresses branded. A simple [email protected] works great.
Live chat can be a really great option in certain niches. With companies like Tawk.to you can get up and running with live chat easily at no cost. The messages can be routed to your computer or even to your cell phone when you are on the go so you can easily chat with potential leads anywhere and anytime.
You can set hours for your live chat and away messages where people can leave messages for you to respond to during normal business hours, so you never miss a lead. Of course, you can also pay companies like Tawk.to and Zendesk to attend to the chats on your behalf.
While using social media as your sole communication channel isn’t advisable, it can definitely supplement your existing traditional channels. Some companies have found great success with taking their technical support and sales questions to a Q&A style session on social media channels like Twitter.
While others' success is a good marker, it’s difficult to know if your efforts would have similar results. It greatly depends on your customer demographics and your ability to keep up with messages and activity on your pages. Overall your social media presence on your Contact Us page should be bold and clearly clickable so that your visitors know that you are approachable and have more avenues for creating a discussion.
Final Thoughts on Websites
A final note on the importance of your website is the increasing importance of mobile-friendly websites. With 80 percent of internet users owning a smartphone mobile websites are becoming non-negotiable.
A study by Nectafy found that 88 percent of consumers who search for a type of local business on their mobile devices end up calling or going to that business within 24 hours. Having an easy-to-use mobile site with features like push-to-call can drastically increase the number of leads you get from your website.
Now that your website is ready to go, let’s look at how to drive visitors there.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and is the process of getting your website and web assets to show up in Google’s search algorithm when potential customers search for your service.
Many people refer to this traffic as “organic traffic” or “free traffic” because once you are showing up for the right search terms, you continue doing so month after month, often without any additional costs.
For example, when someone types in “deck builders sacramento”, this is what they see:
According to a study by Chitika, the number one listing in Google for any keyword gets 33 percent of the total search traffic.
That should be you!
So how can you use SEO to give your business a boost? Well, it all starts with those words your potential customers are typing into the search box.
Finding out what your potential customers are searching for and determining which keywords to target is known as keyword research. The process of keyword research isn’t about just getting visitors to your website. It is about getting the right kind of visitors to your website.
For example, if you primarily work with upper-middle class families who purchase decks, then it wouldn’t make sense to try to rank for keywords like “budget-friendly deck” or “cheapest deck builders.” Your market segment isn’t using that terminology in their searches.
In that scenario, you might want to target terms like “best deck contractors” or “custom deck builders.” If you are having trouble thinking about which terms your customers are searching for, just enter the first thing that comes to mind, scroll down to the bottom of the page, and look at Google’s related search suggestions.
You can also learn to use tools like Google AdWords Keyword Planner Tool, Moz Keyword Explorer, and Google Trends in order to find great keyword targets.
Snapshot of Google Trends search for Deck Building in August 2017
Beyond keyword research, there are some other important parts of SEO that we’ll need to cover.
On-page SEO is the art of optimizing your individual web pages so your site can rank higher in search engine results for the keywords you target and therefore earn even more relevant traffic. On-Page SEO tactics include:
- Using SEO-Friendly URLs like mycompany.com/portfolio rather than long or ugly URL’s like mycompany.com/p=157/8-23-17/portfolio-links. Google and other search engine have reported that 3-5 words in a URL are given SEO preference.
- Starting your title with your target keyword if possible. As an example, if your page or blog post is targeting the keyword phrase “revamping your deck” then you might set your title to be: Revamping Your Deck in 7 Easy Steps to get even more keyword optimization out of your site.
A big part of SEO is getting other websites to link back to your website. Websites of other local businesses and publications are a great place to try and get these links.
For example, if your company does business in Dallas, Texas, then you would want links coming from local Dallas newspapers, local Dallas businesses, the Dallas Chamber of Commerce, local Dallas charities, and more.
These links will tell Google your business is relevant to your area and a wide array of important and popular websites. As a result, you are more likely to rank higher when people search for local terms like “Dallas Decking Contractors” or “Where do I buy a deck in Dallas.”
Industry Relevant Links
Another good place to look for links is from businesses that are in your industry but not direct competitors.
For example, this could be from suppliers like lumber companies or complimentary services like pool installers or landscapers. Home decorators and designers would be a great link source because their audiences are people looking to spend money on fixing up their home or adding amenities to it. The possibilities are endless.
One way to get these types of links is simply to ask and offer to include a link back to their website. Another method is to set up a larger referral system or reach out to your existing referral partners. If they have blogs, you could write guest posts for them and link back to your site in the post.
Citations can include links but they primarily include “NAP” information about your business:
- Phone Number
Getting these setup all over the web is a big part of local SEO, and the most important citation you can get is your Google My Business page.
With Google My Business, you get to take charge of what people see when they do a local search for your business. The listing you create will not only help you rank better in search engine results, but will also give people a more appealing view when they click on your listing.
You will get to list a short description of your company’s offering, phone number, address, hours of operation, and some pictures of your business and products. With enough citations and reviews, you can even make it into the top 3 listings and get precedent over the normal search results.
Another added benefit of claiming your Google My Business page is giving customers the ability to leave reviews that everyone can see. You can take the initiative to encourage satisfied customers to leave reviews so you can rack up 5-star ratings and let prospective customers get a third party perspective on working with you.
Sure, on occasion you’ll get a less than stellar review. We all get them. The best course of action is to respond to that review and try to alleviate the situation. Not only could it turn that detractor into a promoter but it also shows other prospective customers that there are two sides to every story and that you take customer satisfaction seriously.
Beyond Google My Business, you’ll want to secure your NAP citations sites like Yellow Pages, Bing, Yahoo, and much more. Going through and adding your business information can be tedious but it is important for your SEO. It’s also extremely important that you keep your data up to date and consistent across all these channels. It not only helps your SEO, but also cuts down on customer confusion.
You’ll also want to get your citations listed in local directories.
There is honestly an endless number of directories and potential citation spots out there, so for the purposes of this guide, I’m just going to cover some of the heavy hitters.
Yelp — A heavyweight of the directory world, Yelp is a must-have for any service business. Their links show up at the top of search results for almost every keyword related to your business and can really give your company a boost in leads and SEO. One thing that sets Yelp apart is its ability to give you preference if you respond to quotes quickly. If you can at the very least, reach out to a client within an hour, you’ll get a handy ‘Replies in about 1 hour’ badge near your company listing. This is great sight for potential customers browsing a list of deck contractors and will definitely get you more leads. Find and claim your business page on Yelp for Business Owners.
ThumbTack — Unbeknownst to many, Thumbtack is actually backed by Google to the tune of $100 million in funding. This makes it ideal for generating more leads and netting additional SEO benefits. With Thumbtack, you really want to fill in every detail of your business and leave nothing blank. Upload clean and professional photos and make your company seem approachable. After all, they are inviting you into their home. One of the best features of Thumbtack is that you can send out links to past clients to start building your reviews right away. No waiting for new customers, you can build a profile to be proud of in no time. Register for your Thumbtack account and build your profile on their pro-center.
Angie's List — Angie’s List recently removed their paywall, making it extremely enticing to business owners who want to expand their local SEO strategy. Angie’s List does really well in the home services market, making it essential for deck contractors.The best part about Angie’s List is the amount of content it has and that content's effect on your SEO. Angie’s List members tend to be a tight-knit community that thrives on details. As such, its users give extremely detailed and meaty reviews for every company that crosses their path. To claim your profile head on over to their business registration page.
While SEO can be very effective, there’s a time investment involved that you can’t always skip. Getting immediate results can be difficult, if not impossible.
For fast, targeted, and guaranteed results, paid advertising can be very effective. For decking contractors specifically, Google Adwords is the way to go.
With Adwords, you bid to have your ad shown when someone searches for a particular keyphrase. These are the ads you see that look like normal Google search results but say “Ad” next to them.
Setting up an ad campaign can be a bit complicated. If there is any place where you want professional help, this is probably it, but I’m going to do my best to walk you through it.
Setting Up Your AdWords Campaign
1. Sign-up for an account at adwords.google.com. Once you’ve signed up, you will be prompted with a screen telling you to start your first campaign. Skip that. Then, click to the top of the screen where you will select the Keyword Planner Tool under the Tools menu.
2. Determine what keywords to target using the Keyword Planner Tool. Think of common phrases your clients might search for. Some examples might be:
- Decking Contractor
- Deck Builder
- Decking Contractor Miami Florida
- Deck Builder Miami Florida
Write all the relevant things you think your potential clients might search for to find you in a spreadsheet. Then search for each one individually in the Keyword Planner Tool and check which ones have the lowest competition and/or the highest monthly search volume. The keywords that fit that criterion will be the easiest and cheapest to rank for, so those are ideal targets.
3. Divide all your keywords into Ad Groups. This can be thought of as organizing or categorizing your keywords, so your ad campaigns are more focused. This specificity yields more relevant ad offerings and allows you to track the performance of specific ad sets easier. Below is a graphic depicting the ideal ad group structure:
4. Set up and create your first campaign by selecting Campaigns at the top of the AdWords screen.
- Click on ‘Create your first campaign”
- Select ‘Search Network Only’ and the ‘All Features option’
- Choose a name for your campaign
- Select the location you wish to target
- Choose ‘Manually Set Bids’
- Skip all other options and click ‘Save and Continue’
Next, you will be prompted to create your Ad Groups. Since we did this in step 3, this portion should be a breeze.
- Give your ad group a name
- Select the keywords for each ad group
- Set you max Cost Per Click (CPA)
- Click ‘Save’ and create your additional ad groups
5. Create your ads by writing your headline, display URL, description lines, and setting up your ad extensions.
Headline — This is where you will catch the attention of your audience and stand out from your competitors. You have 30 characters to accomplish this task. Some good examples might be:
- Dealing with a rotting deck?
- Free deck replacement quote
- Looking to build a deck?
Display URL — This is the link to your website that visitors will see (not necessarily follow). It’s highly recommended to make this simple and use your keyword in the URL. Some good examples might be:
Description Lines — This is where you convince people to click on your ad. While the headline grabs their attention, the description lines drive home your value and pull them in. You get one 80-character description line to accomplish this task. Some good examples might be:
Decks done on time & within budget — every time. Call for a free consultation.
We’ll get you a free assessment within 24 hours to restore or replace your deck.
We offer 24-month 0% financing and can start work this week. Call today!
Ad Extensions — Beyond increasing the visibility of your business, Google has also innovated ad extensions, which give you more options for reaching potential customers. These ad extensions range from:
- Text Extensions - These allow you to display other pages on your website that might entice a visitor to click further into your site. Popular options here could be the pricing or portfolio section of your site, or even the contact section so they can jump right to calling you.
- Phone Extensions - With the ever-growing popularity of smartphones and mobile browsing, your company can take advantage of click-to-dial buttons which display your phone number and a clear link that mobile users can use to call you automatically. Removing barriers to contacting you makes potential customers even more likely to take the next step.
- Location Extensions - These give you the power to display a small map showing your location in reference to surrounding streets and popular locations about town so potential customers can easily find you or get directions to your office.
6. Adjust your keyword match types. The biggest piece of advice echoed across digital marketers and Adwords experts is that you shouldn’t use ‘broad match keywords’. Doing so will eat up your ad budget with irrelevant clicks and give you a terrible ROI. If you are optimizing for leads, it is suggested to use phrase, exact match, or broad modified keywords. Select ‘Make Changes’ when you are finished here. But first, let’s look at each type suggested in more detail:
Modified Broad Match - Think of this as the middle ground between broad match and more restrictive match types like phrase and exact match. It allows you to reach a wider audience like broad match, but gives you greater control over who sees your ad by “locking” certain words in a key phrase using the ‘+’ symbol. Adding ‘+’ in front of your term in the keyword tells Google your search query has to include that term.
Phrase Match - This match type gives you the flexibility of the broad match but introduces a heightened level of control. Your ad only appears when users query your phrase in an exact order you specified. They can add words either before or after the phrase you selected, but that is all. For example, if you chose ‘deck replacement’ as your keyword phrase, someone could also find you if they searched “how much is a deck replacement” or “where can I call to get a deck replacement?”.
Exact Match - This is the most restrictive of all the match types. Users will only see your ad when they type your exact keyword phrase as you have selected it. Nothing before, nothing after, and nothing similar. It must be exactly as you specified. This creates extremely relevant ad appearances which will save you money and most likely give you more qualified leads. On the down side, you will also receive less traffic because your ad won’t be shown as much.
Have you ever added an item to your Amazon checkout and then decided against purchasing, only to be immediately bombarded with constant ads for that product at every subsequent site you visited?
That’s ad retargeting.
This form of advertising keeps track of people who visit your site and then serves them ads after they leave. It allows you to recapture the attention of people interested in your products when otherwise, they would be lost forever.
To unleash your display retargeting ads out onto sites like Google Adwords and Facebook, you will need to get setup with the right retargeting platform. The top 4 in the industry are Adroll, ReTargeter, Perfect Audience, and of course the Google Display Network (a division of Google Adwords).
Once you’ve chosen your retargeting platform, you’ll want to create quality content that has a clear call to action (CTA). Keep your ad content concise to immediately grab the reader’s attention. The ad content should have a striking graphic or image of the product that they originally saw on your site. The branding and color scheme of the ad should match your site to keep ad scent strong and familiar.
As you set up and optimize your display retargeting campaigns, you will be prompted to select from campaign objectives, so you can set relevant goals and track the success of your campaigns. The options are as follows:
Engagement - This setting optimizes your ad to get clicks. You want people clicking on your ad to get them back to your site. From there, you can send them to a landing page that is optimized to encourage purchasing or contacting you for more information.
Impressions - This setting optimizes your ad to get the most views. This way your prospective customer sees a greater number of ads. These additional soft touches can condition them think about your offer more and more.
ROI - This setting optimizes your ad for conversions and cost per conversions. The conversions are up to your interpretation. This could be as simple as reaching your website and filling out a quote form or contact form, or even making a purchase directly on the site.
Last but not least, you will want to set a frequency cap on your campaign. At some point, you have to cut your losses and stop showing your ad to a potential customer who might be a lost cause. This will likely take some testing to find the sweet spot. Generally, you’ll want to avoid showing ads to someone greater than 20x in one month.
Facebook is the #2 ad platform in the world with $22.4 Billion in ad spending in 2016. The platform's meteoric rise has been driven by unparalleled targeting capabilities. Thanks to Facebook's 2 billion monthly active users, advertisers have a massive database to work with and Facebook's Ad system helps them make the most of it.
You can use Facebook ads to target your ideal client with a truly remarkable level of specificity. Beyond simple ad specifications like location and keywords, you can narrow your focus down to income level, education level, marital status, job title, what music they listen to, what other brands they like, and much more. This exact targeting feature not only reduces ad spending, but creates extremely relevant leads.
Screenshot of Facebook life events ad targeting
Screenshot of Facebook household composition and net worth ad targeting
With ad targeting details like household composition, life events, and net worth, you could target senior citizens who have a net worth of $1 million to $2 million and have recently purchased a home. Then, you can create Facebook ads that offer a senior discount of 10% off all new builds. The possibilities are truly endless with Facebook ads and their enhanced targeting features.
The Importance of Video Marketing
In recent years, video content has taken the internet, and especially Facebook, by storm. In fact, according to a recent study done by Adobe, consumers that view videos are 1.81 times more likely to purchase than a non-video viewer.
That is a staggering statistic, but in reality, it makes perfect sense. Nothing sells better on the internet than a good explanatory video that can give the consumer not only an idea of what is possible when they purchase from you, but alleviate some of their hang ups about said purchases.
For example, you can show beautiful decks you’ve built and people enjoying backyard BBQ’s while telling viewers about your financing options and turn-around times to alleviate some of their purchase apprehensions.
One best practice for Facebook video ads is to show videos that don’t require sound. A mash up video of people quietly enjoying their new deck, or a view of the pool rock waterfall from the patio is simple and effective to garner attention from would-be customers.
Adding some text overlay explaining the detail that goes into the decks, what they can expect working with your company, and that you do free consultations can go a long way toward getting a greater number of relevant leads for your business.
Keeping your videos short is another must when utilizing Facebook video ads. A study conducted by Wistia found that after analyzing thousands of videos, on average people watch more than 80 percent of a video if it is shorter than 30 seconds.
Last but not least, set your ad bidding to CPM (cost-per-impressions) to make sure your ads are on autoplay. This will optimize your ad to display to as many people as possible while also auto-playing the video to capture the attention of people scrolling through their Facebook feeds quickly.
Woah! That was a lot to cover in one sitting! You’ll probably want to take this with you for the road, so we’ve made today’s post available as a downloadable PDF.
Click here to get access to the PDF version of this blog post!