In a world that revolves around appointments, price quotes, and long-term relationships, the service-based industry has its own set of challenges for digital marketing.
And while popular digital marketing techniques used by retailers can apply to service-providers too (catch my latest article on how to drive online retail sales), there are still some differences worth considering.
For starters, think about the customer’s perspective.
Instead of purchasing a physical product that they can see and touch, they are purchasing a service that helps them complete important tasks. This includes tasks like shopping for insurance, fixing a car, or getting their haircut – in other words, products that are ‘unseen’ or ‘experienced’, rather than purchased and used.
Secondly, customers often evaluate service-providers based on their:
- Knowledge and expertise.
- Simplicity and ease of working with.
- Trustworthiness and reputation.
These three factors combined with the intangible nature of services can make online marketing for service-based businesses tricky and sometimes a bit complicated.
Whether you’ve owned a service-based business for years or you’re just getting started, here are four considerations to make when marketing your service-based business online.
4 Considerations to Make When Marketing Your Service-Based Business Online.
1. Keep your website simple.
When it comes to setting up your service-based business’ website, always prioritize simplicity.
While it’s tempting to want to show off a flashy design or communicate everything you do all at once, be aware that this can be very overwhelming for your visitors. Remember, your website is for your guests, not you.
Through your website’s photos and text, try to focus on helping visitors answer these three questions for themselves:
- Is this website for me?
- What’s the benefit to me?
- What’s the best way to contact this business?
If your website is too complicated or veers too far away from the above questions, your visitors are more likely to become frustrated and leave.
If you are unsure about what makes a website confusing, here are a few examples:
- Too much content. You don’t have to have all of your content displayed on a single landing page. It’s much easier for your visitors to digest your messaging if it’s laid out in bite-sized, easy to navigate pieces.
- Unorganized content. Your homepage, headers, and footers should provide a clear path to all of your content. Try to avoid publishing hidden pages or irrelevant content on your site.
- Difficult to read content. Think about how your content is displayed, does your colour scheme pass a contrast checker for accessibility? Is your wording simple and easy to understand?
- Flashy design. Cognitive overload is a real thing, and humans can only take in so much information at one time. By avoiding flashing images, rotating banners, and complicated text, you can help to ensure visitors receive core messages without feeling overwhelmed.
2. Try to alleviate decision paralysis.
At the end of the day, your website should serve as a channel for generating leads for your business. And while you may want to offer different avenues for customers to get in touch with you, request a quote, or book an appointment, it is important to not go overboard.
Personally, I have seen so many websites with dozens of different methods of contact and service variations. Even though I’m interested in the service, the process for making contact or using the service is so overwhelming that I choose to look elsewhere.
This is known as ‘decision paralysis’, and it can be very harmful for your website’s ability to convert visitors into paying customers.
Instead of offering visitors dozens of options for contacting you, try to stick with only a few (1-3) consistent ‘call to actions’ across your entire website. This not only simplifies the process on your side, but it leaves your visitors feeling confident and clear about the next steps for working with you.
If you’re not sure about what your call to action should be, here are a few that typically work for service-based businesses:
- Request a free quote.
- Book an appointment.
- Call/Email us today.
- Book a discovery call.
- Subscribe to our mailing list.
3. Give website visitors instant gratification.
There is no way around the fact that people nowadays expect answers to their questions right away. When setting up your website, make sure that there is a clear way for visitors to either contact you or make a booking directly.
To start, think about your existing processes and what works for you. Then, direct people on your website to take action in a way that mirrors your preferred method of being contacted.
Here are a few ways that you can go about this:
- Instant Messaging. You can add an instant chat feature on your website that goes straight to Facebook messenger, or an app on your cell phone or computer.
- Call or Email. If you’re a person who answers their phone all the time but rarely checks their emails – highlight your phone number everywhere and limit where you link your email. Alternatively, if you’re always on email and are too busy to take calls, highlight your email and avoid sharing your phone number.
- Booking Forms. Booking forms are a great way to provide instant gratification for your visitors. There are many tools available that sync directly with your calendar, which can take the guessing game out of finding a time to connect. Customers immediately know when the service (or virtual meeting) will take place.
Remember, when customers have to wait too long for a response or a way to book their service, they just might move on to another company.
4. Maintain a presence on social media and on Google Search.
In addition to keeping your website clear and simple, you should also aim to keep your basic digital presence up to date, primarily on social media and in Google Search.
That doesn’t mean you have to invest a ton of time and money into social media marketing or search engine optimization (SEO). However, you should at the very least make sure that your profile, business hours, and website links are correct and up to date. By keeping an updated and engaging social media presence, you are telling the world that your business is active, trustworthy, and an expert in your niche.
If you’re unsure about how to set up your Google My Business (GMB) listing, you may find my recent article ‘How to Get the Most Out of Your GMB Listing’ helpful.
Final Thought: First impressions are everything.
Just like in real life, first impressions online are everything – and they happen fast! In fact, it’s estimated that you have less than 15 seconds to capture your website visitors’ attention online.
To get the most out of those 15 seconds, you don’t need a flashy website or social media presence. Instead, you can make a much stronger impression on your audience by providing a clear message, organized information, and a simple call to action.