Digital marketing could be looked at as a continuum.
On one side, you have SEO – search engine optimization. That consists of all the tools and techniques that make your website more attractive to search engines (and the people who use them.)
The goal of search engine optimization is to deliver a knock-out experience to visitors, especially those who would be ideal customers. As you follow principles of SEO, your website is more likely to appear prominently in searches related to what you do.
On the far end of the spectrum, you have brand loyalty. Brand loyalty is a rare and heady state where no other marketing is necessary to get a particular customer to buy from you. Loyal customers will always come back, and they’ll gladly educate themselves on your new offerings, too.
On top of that, they may leave glowing reviews and send business your way without even being asked.
When someone first encounters your SEO efforts, they might know nothing about you. In fact, they usually don’t. Instead, they’re looking to solve a problem or answer a question and your website “just happens” to come up. How does this stranger become the raving fan who is truly brand loyal?
To understand that transformation, we need to look at something called the buyer’s journey.
To Get to Loyalty, You Need to Be With Your Prospect Through the Entire Buyer’s Journey
At the very beginning of a brand relationship, website visitors are prospects. You know nothing about them and they know nothing about you. You don’t have enough information to know whether they’ll ever become a lead, someone who has signaled interest in your brand and what it can do.
Far less are they a qualified lead, someone with the budget, motivation, and intention to buy.
A prospect you meet online is usually totally self-interested – they don’t give a hoot about your brand or what it’s for. Instead, they’re out to get specific information. They type in a search query and follow the trail of breadcrumbs, potentially arriving on your website.
If your website has the information they need, they may stay and learn more.
If it doesn’t, they won’t. And they won’t be coming back.
So, exactly what information are they after?
Most prospects are on their way through a three-stage process on their way to a purchase:
- Awareness: They’ve just learned about a problem or opportunity and they need to know more
- Consideration: They’re building “buying criteria” to select a potential solution to their problem
- Decision: They’ve narrowed down their shortlist and are now choosing between solutions
No matter what industry you’re in or where you are in Central Florida, everyone you have a chance of igniting a relationship with is somewhere on this journey. Done right, search engine optimization helps ensure you can join them early on the trek when your expert advice can make the biggest difference.
Let’s look at how SEO and other digital marketing techniques play out every step of the way.
1. Awareness: Your SEO-Driven Introduction to New Prospects and Their Problems
The Awareness phase usually starts with a simple search for information.
Search queries that fit this phase might look like this:
- “wings on windowsill what insect”
- “it hurts when I brush my teeth”
- “can adults have braces”
Notice that these are all general requests for information. They don’t use any specialized jargon or show detailed knowledge of the subject. One of the core tasks of search engine optimization is to identify the searches Central Florida locals make when they start thinking about the kinds of problems you can solve.
Even if a search seems very specific, odds are good that hundreds or thousands of other people in the local area are also thinking the same thing every single month. And most small businesses in Central Florida don’t need to serve tens of thousands of people each month to reach their growth goals.
Searches like these indicate that someone is in the earliest stages of figuring out what’s going on.
That usually means one of two things:
- They just noticed the signs of a new problem for the first time
- An existing problem just became more urgent or time-sensitive
Someone could suspect they have had a pest infestation for months or even years before they take action. But when they spot mysterious insect wings on the windowsill, new evidence makes the problem seem more pressing than it was before. They now have the details they need to start getting real insight, and they’ll soon learn that they’re most likely dealing with termites.
The same process goes on in virtually all other buying scenarios. Thanks to the magic of the modern search engine, websites like Google service trillions of questions just like these every single year. By tapping into a tiny fraction of that information flow, you can supercharge your business.
So, relevant searches are out there – happening every day, perhaps even right this minute.
What makes one website appear near the top of search results instead of another?
There are more than 200 known factors that influence Google search ranking. Your Central Florida marketing agency does the tough work of crunching all the numbers and keeping you on track. But, throughout Google’s history, two factors have been consistent:
- Excellent content that speaks to the precise problem or question the user brings up
- Links from other credible, authoritative websites back to the content on your website
With that in mind, a long-term search engine optimization campaign often includes building a base of helpful and informative content.
Most of that is written content in the form of blog posts, but an increasing amount of it is video-based. A page with video is much more likely to rank high in search than one without.
Content is designed to match with relevant keywords, the exact words or phrases people input into search. Most of a website’s base of content will appeal to a large audience and rarely need to be updated – we call that evergreen content since it never “wilts” no matter how much time passes.
The goal of content isn’t simply to answer the question or resolve the problem. It’s to entice the prospect to learn more about your brand and what you can do for them. Content succeeds when it moves a prospect to “raise their hand,” express interest in you, and become a lead.
This transformation usually comes when a prospect decides to join your email marketing list. And they won’t do it out of kindness – they need an incentive. Central Florida digital marketers call that incentive a “lead magnet.” It gives the lead deeper, more actionable information on whatever issue they were just learning about … in exchange for consenting to receive a few emails from your brand each month.
With email marketing, you have the opportunity to strengthen a relationship over the course of weeks and months – however long it might take your prospect to make that final decision. Plus, they continue to benefit through valuable content they receive directly in their inbox.
This gives you the opportunity to show your stuff in the second part of the buyer’s journey.
2. Consideration: Defining What a “Solution” Looks Like for Your New Lead
There are usually multiple different ways to solve any problem. When it comes to professional services, such as that pest control agency, you might think the obvious answer is to hire an expert. But, much of the time, consumers need to come to that conclusion on their own.
During the Consideration phase, you advise them on what they should be looking for.
The formula for basic Consideration content is simple: “What Makes a Good [X]?”
Most people looking for a pest control company, for example, will be hiring for the first time ever – or for the first time since moving into a particular area. They may be starting completely from scratch, or they may have unhelpful assumptions that need to be challenged before they can progress.
Whatever the case, your SEO now “hands off” to your email marketing and social media in the effort to educate your lead into becoming a potential customer. During that process, you’ll collect more data and learn about each lead, qualifying some and gently directing the rest elsewhere.
It might seem counterintuitive for a Central Florida roofer to talk about “what makes a good roofer” instead of focusing on what makes them the best roofer. But remember, customers have the whole world at their fingertips. They are already comparing different options, and they control the tempo.
They want a reliable, trustworthy source – and that means unbiased advice.
Of course, they realize you’re in business and you would probably like them to buy from you. But at this fork in the road, they aren’t there yet. Often, leads get to this point and simply … stop. The problem no longer seems as urgent, or something even more critical sweeps in to capture their attention.
You never quite know what’s happening behind the scenes – which is why your email marketing should always be at work. Every email you send is an opportunity to re-engage and inspire action. And every special offer you send could be the one that finally gets subscribers off the fence and into your office.
This can be a long process, and it’s not especially glamorous. But mastering the Consideration phase is one of the best things you can do for your business. It means building your email marketing list, and a quality list can quickly become one of your most powerful business assets.
A business with a vetted email list of potential customers is one that can break out of the “feast or famine” cycle no matter the industry or time of year. Getting a 2% response rate for a limited-time special offer might not seem like much, but as your list climbs into the thousands, it’s a game-changer.
This is one area where a Central Florida marketing agency can really shine. Instead of painstakingly crafting each email – and trying to figure out which ones are really successful – you can leave it to your team. That can save you hundreds of hours of work a year while you focus on what you do best.
3. Decision: Choosing a Solution That’s “Best for Me,” Not “Best of All”
By the time someone is ready to make a decision, you can bet they’ve looked at your local competitors – and plenty of other alternatives, too. For instance, rather than pick up the phone and call a pest control company, someone might decide to try DIY methods first.
Ultimately, though, most people are willing to invest in solving a problem that’s “bugged” them long enough. They know there’s no perfect, one size fits all solution – so they zoom in on the nitty gritty details that make a business the best for their unique situation.
In the Decision phase, your brand and website are already known to the lead. Through your email and social media connections, you have the opportunity to send them content that can compel them to act.
What kind of content does the trick? Throughout the buyer journey, the customer learns more and more. They need more sophisticated, detailed information as they go. This is the time when case studies, testimonials, and other social proof can really make the difference.
Every piece of content you share at this point has the same goal: Get them to schedule an appointment or make a call. From there, your team can do the rest. When a purchase is finally made, it marks the start of a new, mutually beneficial phase of their relationship with your brand.
The Hidden Fourth Step: Customer Retention and Life-Long Brand Loyalty
Your ability to serve a customer and fulfill their needs is where the rubber meets the road. It may feel like you’ve had dozens or even hundreds of interactions until this point, but now is when they learn whether your digital branding reflects the real-life experience you can deliver.
But here’s the secret: Brand loyalty usually isn’t won in just one interaction.
Even if you do a fantastic job, there’s still a chance your customer will forget your name before they need your services again. It may take two or three great experiences before they’ll confidently name your company as their go-to specialist in your area of expertise.
There are two “must haves” here:
- Keep the Relationship Burning with Targeted Email Content
This is the stage where your customer goes onto a new retention-focused email list. Support them with hyper-targeted content about how they can get the most value from the experience they just had with you … until they see you again, naturally.
- Deepen the Connection with Social Media
More and more Central Florida businesses are launching exclusive social media communities through Facebook, LinkedIn, or even Discord where they stay in touch with existing customers and provide special perks and benefits.
Combined, these two methods streamline the process of learning more about your customers, re-engaging when it’s time for them to follow up on your services, and giving them direct opportunities to send referral business your way.
It All Starts with Search Engine Optimization – and Your Trusted Central Florida Marketing Firm
If you can’t be found online, you’re effectively invisible, even here in Central Florida.
The customer relationships you want begin online, and search engine optimization is the key to making sure new faces find you every single day. Not all of them will become customers, but those who do can propel you forward with their loyal business, testimonials, and referrals.
At New York Ave, our team has helped small and mid-sized businesses all throughout Central Florida unlock the power of digital marketing and solve the puzzle of what happens between SEO and brand loyalty. When you choose us, you get talent, technology, and proven results.
And you get it at a fraction of the cost of hiring your own marketing director.
The sooner you get started with search engine optimization, the sooner it will deliver compounding results in the form of greater online visibility. Contact us to find out more or get started today.