I met up for coffee with a business coach this week and we got talking about the various ways we help our respective clients grow their businesses. And it turns out that my approach to digital marketing consultancy has quite a lot in common with the way a business coach would help their clients.
You see, whilst a lot of digital marketing consultants and agencies focus purely on getting more traffic to their clients' websites, I think that these days you need a more holistic approach.
In the Beginning
Back in the early days of the web, if you wanted to generate enquiries online, it was enough to just stick a contact form on your website and then drive traffic to it using SEO or PPC.
Then, as websites became more sophisticated and consumers became more discerning, conversion rate optimisation started to become more important. It was no longer enough to just drive people to your website. If you wanted to convert those visitors into customers, you now needed to become an expert in user experience and online psychology in order to make your website as persuasive as possible.
And that's still the case. But is it still enough?
I don't think it is.
We're all different
In today's competitive world where consumers have so much choice, you need to make sure that once someone has made an enquiry via your website you do everything you can to turn them into a paying customer. And a key part of that is to remember that people who find you via a Google search are different from people who find you via other channels.
Let me give you an example - the same example, in fact, that I used in my conversation with the business coach.
Google Ads for Dental Implants
About 18 months ago (before it was rebranded to Google Ads) I was asked to set up and manage an AdWords account for a dentist who specialised in dental implants.
This was the dentist's first foray into the online world. Previously he'd had a website, but he hadn't done any online advertising. Pretty much all his new business had come through referrals and recommendations (quite literally word of mouth!).
Anyway, we created a landing page all about dental implants and kicked off some AdWords campaigns. And soon we had a good number of enquiries coming in.
But the enquiries weren't converting and the appointment book wasn't filling up.
Although strictly speaking I'd done my bit (the website was now delivering a steady flow of leads) I wanted to get to the bottom of why these leads weren't being converted into clients.
What is call tracking?
Whenever I run a PPC campaign for a business that gets enquiries via inbound phone calls, I always set up call tracking so as we can see how many calls have been generated via PPC and which keywords have been responsible for the calls.
As you'll know if you've read 7 Simple Steps for a Successful Google Ads Campaign, there's a free call tracking facility built into Google Ads. But for this dentist, I was using a paid-for third party call tracking system that gives more detail about each call and which also includes call recording.
I knew that the majority of the enquiries I was generating were coming in via the phone rather than through online forms, so I decided to listen to some of the recordings to find out what was going on.
And very quickly I spotted a common theme across most of the calls.
A typical call would go something like this:
Caller: I found your website on Google and I'm interested in getting dental implants.
Receptionist: Ok. Have you had implants before.
Caller: No. How much do they cost?
Receptionist: Well, it depends really. They start at £1,500 and go up to about £5,000. But before we can give you a price you'd need to come in for a consultation.
Caller: Oh, ok. And how much is it for a consultation?
Receptionist: It's £100 for the initial consultation. But then if you need any x-rays that's another £50. And if we have to take impressions that's a further £45. Then we might need to do a follow-up appointment which is £75. And then after that we can advise what implants you'd need and give you a price.
Caller: Ok. Well thanks very much. I'll have a think and call you back.
Receptionist: Ok. Thanks for calling. Goodbye.
There are two issues here. Firstly I was amazed that the receptionist was making no attempt to get the name and contact details of each caller so as she could follow up with them if they didn't call back.
Secondly, the whole conversation seemed to be about money. That's never a good thing when you're trying to close a sale. And with so many different prices flying around, the whole thing was very confusing. It was no wonder the potential clients never called back.
Horses for Courses
I spoke to the dentist and the receptionist and told them what I'd learnt from listening to the calls. I explained that there were some important differences between the kind of people who would make an enquiry about implants as a result of a personal recommendation and those who would enquire as a result of a Google search.
The people coming through recommendations had already been told how good this dentist was. Therefore they didn't need much convincing to book an appointment. And, within reason, they were not going to be too concerned about the price. All of this meant they tended to be fairly easy to convert into clients.
But the people coming via the web were a different breed. They had never heard of my client. Plus it was highly likely that they would be looking at the websites of several other dentists at the same time and phoning them too. Therefore, price was going to be a much more important factor in their decision-making process.
I knew the dentist I was working with had a great clinic, had lots of experience of doing dental implants, and provided an excellent standard of care and customer service. But unless these potential clients of his came in to meet him and take a look around the practice they were never going to fully appreciate the quality of the service that was being offered.
A New Step in the Funnel
So I suggested we use a completely different approach for people who made an enquiry about dental implants as a result of visiting the website via AdWords. Instead of charging them for a full-scale initial consultation we would add an additional step in the sales funnel by offering a free no-obligation 15 minute assessment to see if implants were suitable and discuss the different types available. If that 15 minute appointment went well then the next step would be to book the patient in for their first paid-for session.
Having agreed this new strategy, I developed a script for the receptionist to use when people rang up as a result of finding the clinic on Google. This script was designed to move the conversation away from being a discussion about price and to instead focus on getting the caller booked in for their free 15 minute assessment.
When this new approach was adopted we found that roughly 75% of the people who made an initial enquiry accepted the offer of the free assessment. And of those who had the assessment, just under half went on to pay for the full treatment.
Once you look beyond the initial click like this, and instead take a holistic approach to generating more paying clients from your website, that's when Google Ads really gets the chance to shine. It's also when the worlds of digital marketing consultancy and traditional business coaching start to overlap and work very nicely with each other.
If you've got any thoughts on this - especially if you're a business coach - I'd love to hear from you. Just leave a comment in the box below.