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Marketing game plan

  • SIMA
- Posted: June 1, 2015
By Garrett Smith

The Internet has changed the way businesses acquire customers. Here’s a clear path to success for your Internet marketing strategy.

Set goals
Your marketing plan or campaign must start with a goal. The goals for your Internet marketing plan are dependent upon understanding your business’s broader goals. Some goals to consider for your plan and campaigns include revenue, profit, new customers from leads, total number of leads, and new phone calls.

Track your results

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With a goal in mind you will want to determine a few metrics to watch as you execute so that you can track with analytics. There’s a variety of free and paid analytics and reporting tools that will allow you to monitor your progress and determine ROI.

Your website is your hub

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It’s also a direct extension and reflection of your brand. A modern, well-designed website needs to be easy to use, mobile-ready and should contain interesting content, including professional videos and downloadable information. This is a worthwhile investment. Such a site can be had for less than $5,000. There is no shortcut to quality, and the Internet no longer rewards “anyone with a website.” As in real life, what customers see and feel about your brand and message on your website is what they’ll expect to get.

Do your research
There are a number of available tools that give businesses tremendous insights into how and what customers are looking for when it comes to snow and ice removal. The keyword tool found in Google Analytics, for example, allows you to find what keywords customers are using (and how often) to find products and services like yours. This valuable information allows you to set the direction of your advertising, content, and search engine optimization plans based on actual customer data, rather than a marketer’s gut.

A local secret, Google+
If your focus is on local residential and small business customers, you must have a Google+ page. Many of the most popular snow and ice management related search results display Google+ pages, not company websites. This is because Google+ is Google’s baby, and it rewards those who show it love by increasing their visibility in search rankings.

Think of your Google+ page like a second website. It contains all of the basic information about your company, plus photos, videos, and the ability to share content. Google also rewards businesses that have reviews with improved rankings. Make it one of your goals to get more than 30 positive reviews from customers on your Google+ page, and reap the benefits of all the new customers who otherwise wouldn’t have found you.

Make it smartphone friendly

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Customers are increasingly using their mobile phones to find businesses, with over 48% of mobile users starting their buying journey with an online search. Google recently updated its search algorithm to prioritize businesses with mobile-compliant websites. Make sure your website is mobile compliant and don’t forget other ways to reach customers using their mobile devices, such as mobile advertisements.

Get listed
There are more than 350 online business directories where potential customers can look for snow and ice removal businesses. Many times your business may already be on these directories, but have inaccurate or incomplete information about you. Not only are customers looking for you, properly claimed profile listings on these sites can improve your search rankings. There are a number of services, such as MOZ Local and Yext, as well as agencies that can help you find, claim and update these listings. 

Create, create, create
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The heart of customer acquisition on the Internet is content. Whether it’s blog posts, videos, case studies, guides or white papers, customers and search engines love educational, well-written content. This content also forms the basis of ongoing social media and email marketing efforts, allowing you to consistently stay at the top of mind with existing or prospective customers. Publishing new content via a blog each week, alongside a monthly or quarterly newsletter sent to customers, is enough for most businesses.

Be social
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When it comes to social media, you get out what you put in. Being social no longer means more than simply having a profile. The most successful businesses using social media are sharing content, information and links all day, every day. Tools such as Buffer and Hootsuite can help make you more effective and efficient with the time you spend on social efforts, allowing you more time to focus on other areas of your business that need attention.

You are your reputation
Love it or hate it, online ratings and reviews sites are heavily trafficked by potential customers. With 88% of customers trusting online reviews as much as personal recommendations, ensuring your business has a positive online reputation is crucial. Implementing a customer review solicitation program, where you are proactively asking customers to leave reviews online and monitoring the Internet for new ratings and reviews is a smart move. It’s also wise to join the Better Business Bureau and local Chamber of Commerce.

Don’t forget email (newsletter)

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The one marketing channel that’s been around the longest is still one of the most effective - and underused. Sending a monthly or quarterly newsletter to your existing customers and prospects in your sales funnel is low-cost, high-return marketing. Staying top of mind, especially in the offseason, is an important component of a successful marketing plan. Look into email marketing tools from Constant Contact and MailChimp to get started with your campaigns.

Target your advertising

Today, online advertising campaigns can be run at a fraction of the cost of radio and local print ads.

Whether your customers are on LinkedIn or Twitter, online advertising provides you with a highly targeted way to reach potential customers. Most advertising sold from major websites today occurs on a cost-per-click or cost-per-impression basis. Focus on websites and social networks where you know your customers are going to be looking for your services. 
Garrett Smith is the founder of Pitch + Pivot, a sales and marketing agency in Buffalo, NY. He also currently serves as president of WNY Snow Removal, a snow and ice management company that he and his two brothers founded in 2014. Contact him at

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