If trains mirrored the way we adapt to technology, some of us would be the 200 mph bullet train, while others would be the less speedy but still dependable milk run, needing to be jarred loose from stops along the way. Whether you’re on the Acela or the local, chances are good that you’ve gotten your business online by now: A basic web listing, so that your prospects will be able to find you on Google when they searching for a new mat or linen company is mandatory. But what do you do after you go digital? Do you ever feel like your site is just so much virtual yelling into the ether? A handful of Universal Unilink Members, also Members of a dust control networking group called the EDGE Group, met in Atlanta this April to discuss just that.
“When we talk about online marketing being a journey, it’s truly a journey, and continues to be one,” says Member Fred Anderson of Pilgrim Dust Control in Tucker, Georgia. “I come from the days of the Yellow Pages, and we never even had many people looking there for us. Now, it’s completely different.
“Now, instead of going to customers and telling them we’re going to cut their janitorial costs, we tell them we’re going to cut their insurance costs. Two years ago, only attorneys were there when you searched ‘trip and fall’—now it’s mat companies. This is a total transition, even in the person to whom we’re marketing within the company, and that shift has occurred because of the Internet,” Anderson, whose site can be found at PilgrimMats.com, concludes.
Like many of his peers, Anderson led Pilgrim to attack this challenge by reaching out to an expert—in his case, Preferred Supplier Jennifer Schulman of Fortune Web Marketing (see Jennifer’s words of wisdom on “Mobilizing Your Message” on page 11).
“Reining yourself in on the old ways of doing business is very important. You can’t force your old methods onto this new landscape,” Anderson points out. “With technology, you need to partner with people who are able to adapt quickly and help them learn your business, so that as a team, you can work with maximum success. For us, Jennifer and her team have been a very good choice. Jennifer is changing in milliseconds.”Jeff Forester at Trenton, Georgia’s Tri State Rental Service agrees with Anderson that a partner is
Jeff Forester at Trenton, Georgia’s Tri State Rental Service agrees with Anderson that a partner is key to negotiating the online journey. Forester debuted his website at TritexServices.com in 2014 and retained Preferred Supplier Infinite Laundry shortly thereafter to get it firing on all cylinders.
“They manage the back end of our website, and handle all of the mechanics in order to get it to show up high in the search engines,” Forester explains. “The Linen Finders folks were good about letting us know the amount of time it would take for traffic and inquiries to build, and it has performed as they said they would. Now, they are also redesigning our website so that everything will work better.”
Forester has been so encouraged by the website’s burgeoning performance that his team, along with Infinite Laundry, has redoubled its efforts online.
“A lot of people know they need a website, so they get one and there it is,” Forester says. “But then it’s just a boat anchor—it sits there. You have to do constant work to get your website to show up on Google and elsewhere, otherwise there’s nothing popping up to get your customers’ attention. Now, we come up first or second on Google for our area, right up there with the big guys, and that’s a great feeling.
“Plus, [Infinite Laundry] also manage(s) all of our social media, and our experience with that has been good,” Forester continues. “Finally, we’ve also started remarketing (see sidebar) with Facebook, which we like. It all works together in a way traditional marketing doesn’t, and that’s pretty neat,” he concludes.Meanwhile, in Bridgeton, Missouri, Becky Hughes also recognized that Hughes Customat’s website—at HughesCustomat.com—needed some attention to make it to the next level.
Meanwhile, in Bridgeton, Missouri, Becky Hughes also recognized that Hughes Customat’s website—at HughesCustomat.com—needed some attention to make it to the next level.
“We’ve had a website out there since 2004 or 2005, but it just wasn’t optimized the way it should have been in order to show up on the search engines. Now it is, and we’re definitely getting more traffic.”
As it turns out, in Hughes’ case, the Yellow Pages actually did do the trick…but not in the way one might think.
“We’ve advertised with the (print) Yellow Pages for 40 years, and everyone knows now that that’s not necessarily the way to go anymore. So, when it came time to renew with them last summer, we asked them what we could do better in terms of marketing, and subsequently, hired them to do our search engine work.
“Since then, YP.com has done everything that needs to be done to get our site to show up in the top rankings on the ‘big three’ [search engines]—Google, Yahoo and Bing,” Hughes continues. “We are getting more phone calls and more web inquiries. Our agreement is very new, but since then, we have noticed a lot of growth in traffic on our website, considerably more than when our local website guy was doing our online marketing. Just about every [cold] call we get is to the number that’s on our website.”
With that, Hughes brings up a good point. For those who have the ability to do website edits in-house, retaining control can ease the some stress, and can also add an important level of tracking to the mix.
“We try to be very deliberate about all of our leads—for example, we have a designated phone number for each of the different places our it appears—so when someone calls in, we can tell exactly where that person has found us,” Hughes says. “It gives us a good sense of what’s succeeding.”
However, for others, this level of detail may be too much for internal staff to handle, or may simply muddy the waters when evaluating efficacy.
“Having a better idea about the makeup of your customer is one of the benefits of digital marketing,” says Pilgrim’s Anderson, “but then again, all of that information can lead to overload. I’d advise you to focus on key indicators and pare down to the top things that are the most important for your company. This is one place where your business logic comes into play.”
For Hughes, the next leg of the journey will take her deeper into the social media experience.
“We’re still experimenting in that area. We recently added ourselves to Facebook, and it’s looking promising in some ways we hadn’t envisioned,” Hughes says. “For example, we had more response to a recent job ad for a route delivery rep on Facebook than anywhere else it was posted. We were able to specify ages, geographic and other parameters for this ad, and we got emails and private messages with applications, all kinds of interaction. We’re interested to see what social media will let us do with sales and service. We definitely intend to pursue it.” (See page 33 for a rundown on hiring using social media.)
Anderson likens the digital marketing journey to a common theme park amusement. “Doing anything online is like taking one long rollercoaster ride. It reminds me of one time I went to Busch Gardens with my son. We rode the first rollercoaster, and it was huge…but then we went to the next one, and it was even bigger and the ups and downs were more dramatic. They just kept getting bigger and bigger,” Anderson acknowledges.
“If you’re going to keep up, you have to be willing to step right up and get on that next rollercoaster,” Anderson says. “You can’t just be along for the ride.”
Remarketing refers to the techniques used by marketers and online merchants to follow up with website visitors who do not make a desired action on a website—usually, when they abandon their shopping cart.
Think of it like this: you use marketing to bring a visitor to your website, and if he or she doesn’t make a purchase, you then use remarketing tactics to bring the visitor back to your website and convert him or her into a customer.
Here’s an example: The familiar-looking 60” 4K smart TV that keeps showing up in your Facebook feed? Did you by any chance abandon it in your Amazon.com shopping cart? That’s remarketing.