When we get the chance to work with local, service-based businesses, there are a few tried-and-true steps we take that lead to success. Once we have an understanding of the priorities of the business, we begin our process of establishing them as the go-to for that service in their local area.
For this example, we will use Climbing Vines Cafe and Play in Victor, New York. Climbing Vines Cafe & Play is a small indoor playground where children under 5 can play while their parents can relax and enjoy a hot cup of coffee or a snack. To an outsider, they may think that these “open-play” passes are the focus of the business and that getting as many playing children in the door during the week is the goal.
While that is important to business, it’s not their primary focus and it is not what they are known locally for. Instead, it’s their private Birthday Parties that make the business profitable. This was not always the case, but after surveying the competitive landscape (which has changed drastically since they opened) and looking at how they best serve their customers, the unique birthday offerings were pushed to the forefront, since no other similar businesses had competitive offerings.
This is exactly what we look for when we work with other local businesses: the thing that makes them unique from their regional competitors. While their stand-out points don’t need to be the bulk of business efforts, becoming the “go-to” in one unique area will help that business to stay at the forefront of people’s minds and will, therefore, make them more likely to recommend that business to others, even if they have not been a customer themselves.
THERE ARE A FEW PRELIMINARY STEPS WE RECOMMEND BUSINESSES TAKE BEFORE BEGINNING THIS PROCESS:
- Determine their “go-to” factor
- Invest in professional photography or videography
- List all of the reasons they are the BEST business to deliver that service
- Install the Facebook Pixel on all website pages
Even screen-printing or manufacturing businesses have stories to tell. There are interesting people that make the business run and deliver the incredible service they are so proud of. Being able to document that story is crucial in today’s digital storytelling world, where consumers are looking for company’s they connect with. Having professional photography and videography assets will help to tell that story in a meaningful way and successfully forge those connections in the hearts and minds of the community.
For Climbing Vines Cafe and Play, we shot photos of both birthday parties (of course) and the owners and staff working. These photos have proven successful with parents since many local competitors are NOT family-owned and operated, and have different values overall. While many local families may be drawn to the price and convenience of a place like Chuck-E-Cheese, those are not the ideal customers of Climbing Vines Cafe and Play. Having these photo and video assets help businesses like Climbing Vines not only attract their ideal clients but also easily repel those who do not connect with their values or their offerings, for whatever reason.
Once we have these assets and the information about their unique offerings, we put together a video paired with a well-written blog article filled with photos and anecdotes to further connect them with their audience.
Since traffic-objective ads to a free resource, like a blog article, are relatively inexpensive to run, especially to a locally targeted audience, we are able to generate an average of 2,000 local website visitors to the blog article for just a $500 ad investment. We recommend that this ad runs continually, perhaps after a more aggressive launch, at around $5- $10 dollars per day. Businesses that serve larger audiences can increase their budget until the frequency score gets too high, causing the ad relevance score to go down.
Since we ensured a Facebook Pixel was installed as part of the preliminary process, all of those website visitors are tracked using Facebook and are now available for retargeting.
SO, WHAT IS RETARGETING?
Retargeting describes an ad strategy where users must take a first action (clicking on a blog article, watching x number of seconds of a video, or “liking” a Facebook post) which qualifies them as candidates for the second round of advertising.
Since we know not ALL local customers who fit a specific demographic will be interested in a business’ unique services (in this case, parents with children under 5 within 25 miles of Victor, New York), qualifying an audience first is essential. It will be far less expensive in the long run to sell to consumers that have already expressed interest in your services.
In this case, by putting the blog article out in front of folks FIRST, we will spend less money because we are directing people to a free resource and are establishing the business as the “go-to” in the industry even for people who are not a good fit as customers.
Since Facebook targeting categories are NOT perfect, a parent with a slightly older child may get served the blog article by mistake. However, even after just reading the headline “6 Ways we Deliver an above-and-beyond Birthday Party Experience” (without even clicking on the ad), that person now may recommend Climbing Vines Cafe and Play to their friends with younger children should it come up in conversation. However, if the first ad they saw read simply, “Buy Now, Book Here, Reserve your Date,” they likely would NOT have been left with the same impression of the quality of the services offered.
Having no “call-to-action” button like “learn more,” “book now,” etc. also makes the post look more organic in nature, leading people to click on it more frequently than if it were more obviously an advertisement.
Once people start clicking over to the blog and reading about the services that the business offers, we can start retargeting them with a second ad that has a more straightforward call-to-action.
While these clicks are more expensive (as much as $1.50 per click), they are more valuable because we are ONLY targeting folks who have already expressed interest in the services offered on the page by reading the blog article. Since this is not the first time they are learning about the businesses, they are also much more likely to actually book, making the traffic also more profitable overall.
The audience of these retargeting ads will also be much smaller (based on the budget of the first ad and how many website visitors it was able to generate) than the original audience, so an even lower budget ($3-5 a day) can be quite effective.
For businesses who may only be relevant to consumers a few months out of the year (in this case, the few months leading up to their child’s birthday), we are OK with letting the frequency of these ads creep up higher than normal (even as high as 12-14). This is because, with current targeting capabilities, we never know just when customers may decide to take action and book. As an option, a 3rd or 4th retargeting ad can be created based on those who clicked on the second ad with a call-to-action, but for this purpose, we can keep it simple and assume we just have one retargeting ad set up.
We suggest clients set up a carousel-style ad for retargeting ads because each time a potential customer sees an ad, a different carousel “card” (or ad photo) will be shown to them, making the ad appear “fresh” and reducing the likeliness of “audience fatigue.” Audience or ad fatigue occurs when your campaign frequency gets too high, causing your target audiences to see the same ads again and again, and therefore become less responsive to them.
Having these 2 ads (1 ad to a cold audience, 1 retargeting ad) running continuously for our service-based business clients has resulted in as high as 20x ROAS, or return on ad spend. Return on ad spend of 20 simply means that for every $1 spent on ads, that client can expect to earn $20 as a direct result.
Running continuous ads can seem intimidating and expensive to many businesses, especially local ones. However, recall that just $8-10 per day (between BOTH ads) can still be effective with this strategy.
If even that seems like too big of an investment, use a video for the creation of the initial, cold-audience ad instead of a static image. Video views tend to be less expensive than website clicks. For example, businesses can expect to get potential clients to watch 10-seconds or more of their videos for just a few pennies, which allows them to grow their retargeting audience less expensively.
While this can result in a larger retargeting audience, and one that is slightly less qualified (since they may have just watched a video instead of clicked to a website), this strategy can be more effective overall for businesses with more conservative budgets. We recommend testing both strategies and comparing results.
Having these 2 ads run in the background, consistently generating sales, can be a game-changer for many local businesses who have typically relied only on the efforts of their staff to generate leads and bookings, which is also something we remind clients of if they are intimidated by a daily budget.
Testing this strategy for even a month (after the ads are tested and optimized) will likely give business decision-makers enough confidence to see that it IS a very effective strategy.
Have you tried this before? How did it go?
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