[Sticky] Online Marketing Series
An online marketing series for inspectors, designed to elevate your digital presence starting from the beginning by properly defining you and your brand. The series is ordered to guide you in the proper order to maximize the benefits along your journey. Short 30-60 minute videos with tons of useful advice from marketing expert Ammon Johns, and brand specialist Mia Voss.
[embed] https://youtu.be/PKoKJcL26hM?t=1 [/embed]
What is Marketing?
We all get so many marketing tips all the time. It doesn't apply to us. It doesn't work for us. It's often a completely different business model. Here we really want to be talking about, what's in it for you. And the big picture, the big picture that everything else will fill up between foundations.
Marketing is the word. Everyone thinks he knows, and almost nobody really does understand. Most people think that marketing is another word for advertising. They think marketing is about getting your name out there doing promotions, that kind of thing. That isn't what marketing is. I like to explain it in classic business, you often invented something somebody wanted to buy it, and you made more, and then look for more customers. Marketing turns that backwards.
Marketing is the scientific approach to business. It's just being sensible about business, instead of hoping.
The way that people consume information has changed a lot in 30 years. Years ago, inspectors got 90% of business from talking to realtors. Now, this shift to the online presence is that business comes 80-90% from your business online.
It's important to make sure that even if the product demand stays the same, stay aware of shifts in demand and where their origins are. People understand that a lot of people are already buying products online at Amazon, but they're starting to buy a lot of services too. It's time to be aware that, in a service business, people find you online.
There are things we look for when we're making a purchase. Let's face it. A lot of people are first-time buyers. These buyers don't really know what the market is. They don't know what’s out there. So they look for extra clues. How do they know that you know what you are doing?
They can look for past recommendations. They can look for writings by you and about you. They can look for bodies of trust like trade organizations or a market service listing like Inspect.com All of those things help them know that it's not just your opinion that you’re a nice guy. There's something to back that up.
Marketing Builds Trust
Trust drives business. If you're doing your job right, recommendations are social proof. Other people have experienced your service and took the time to write a review. New prospective clients we don't know what they’re going to get. Recommendations come from somebody who's already gone through an experience with your business. What did you buy? Was it good?
That word of mouth is part of your marketing. It’s essential for building trust with people who haven’t used your service before.
Business owners are doing two big things wrong. Either they're over-hyping because their idea of marketing is too big, so they try and sound like one. And, of course, it comes across as pushy. It comes across as hype. It comes across as fake. It's not your authentic voice. It's not you. You're not showing them you. You're showing them this idea of what you would be if you were in a cheesy ad. It's not helping.
And the other one is that people feel like all marketing is too pushy for them. And so they don't do it at all. And that's not marketing, that's bad advertising. Marketing is building up those recommendations. It's giving people that good experience. Because, that's one of the things to drive business.
Marketing is having a great relationship with several other realtors, who are going to want to use you again and again because you've built up that trust. It's about being able to demonstrate what you know instead of just telling people that you know everything.
The Four Ps of Your Marketing Mix
Everything that you can do to build up reputation is a huge part of your promotional effort. When we talk about marketing, the traditional thing is the four Ps of marketing. These are the foundation of your marketing mix.
Marketing is more than just advertising. The four Ps are: product, price, place, and promotion. Promotion, like advertising, is only one quarter of the mix. And that's all kinds of promotion.
Your product is your service. And it consists of all your services. You may be a home inspector, but you may offer other services. Do you also want to do commercial buildings? Do you want to do in restaurant inspection? Do you serve construction sites? Inspect pools? Offer pest inspections? Roof inspections?
All of that mix affects your product, what you're selling, and who you're sending it to.
Most likely you set your fees (price) based on your expertise, square footage, and what the local market. Do you want to be more than that charge a bit more?
Are there going to be extras that you're delivering that basically just can't be done at the same price as everybody else. Or, do you cut corners to get the price down to be the lowest available? That's not always the greatest idea but it can be very good for people who deal in a lot of volume. Do you offer volume discounts? Once you start playing with price, there's leeway.
Determine your service area. You can use this to extend just your radius. Before business were online, customers had to drop by your office or pick up your service from directory. You were limited. But the internet is available everywhere. Say somebody in New York is moving to Dallas. He could hire an inspector in Dallas without having to leave in New York. That was difficult before the internet.
Inspect.com facilitates a network of independent inspectors that can just be independent, but can trust each other and if they have someone in a different location they can refer locally.
Promotion is all the ways people learn about your business. If you've got ads out there, great. If you've left your card with a local realtors, that's cool too. But that's not marketing. Reputation is a huge part of your marketing. What people read about you. What people see on your website. Wherever people find a reference to your business is part of your promotion. Make sure you have consistent messaging wherever people find you.
Are You Really Marketing?
Marketing goes that step further. Are you touching the right person? Let's face it, if you are an inspector, your ideal customer is going to be a first time, single person getting their first home. How you serve them now pays it forward, because there's a high chance that they're going to meet somebody, and move into a place together. There's a high chance that within a few years of that they're going to have kids and want a bigger place, maybe getting three or four moves out of this one.
You're getting them again and again. This is called customer lifetime value. Customer lifetime value is making sure that they know you would like them to recommend you to others. Make sure you are the one they recommend. Go the extra distance for them. Build out that relationship. That relationship can become generational, when their children come to you for their first home.
Trust and quality build relationships that last.
As the market changes, they'll realize that there's more demand for you.
This session, we're letting you know what's coming, and why it's important, and what marketing is. Next session, we are talking about the real framing question which is: really knowing what you want to achieve, getting your brand right, building that that foundation so that every customer you drive sticks.
If you're paying $10 a lead through some advertising methods, you want to be sure that you're converting as many of them as possible and that they're the best possible leads, the ones with the big jobs, repeat business.
We’ll be talking about social listening, which is one of the main uses of social media. It’s what people are saying. Like they’re not able to find you. People complaining about service and what they couldn't get. That listening gives you ideas of what to add to future proof, because things change. Everything changes. The technology changes, the expectation changes, ways that people do business change, and you've got to always be listening.
Getting a listing on Inspect.com is just one way we help inspectors with online presence. Take advantage immediately to build a website or start a targeted ad campaign at Inspect.com. Let’s talk. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The first in a 10-part series of marketing with Ammon Johns dedicated to property inspectors in the United States. He has been variously described by others as a veteran, pioneer, and expert in the field of SEO and search marketing. He has spent over 20 years in all aspects of Internet marketing, working with several leading SEO agencies, helping to launch several of them to industry-leader status. Ammon is best known for innovation, pioneering many of the common strategies of today, and he continues to innovate strategies.
You Can Only Manage What You Can Measure
When you commit to change, the key is that you cannot make any kind of conversion improvements or improve your process if you don't know the variables. You can't make a good meal if you don't know the ingredients that go in. So, analytics and performance metrics simply quantify what is important to measure, and they give you tools to do it.
You need to have different tools for all your channels. It’s where the business comes from. Phone calls, online orders, word of mouth. The channel helps you understand where your traffic comes from and how you acquire clients. Your phone call business is different from your internet business. You need different tools to discover where your business originates and how to manage it.
Analytics is a tool, it's supplied by Google, but you can find other analytic tools. You measure the traffic coming to your website and all the other systems, like advertising.
You can use Google AdWords, Bing ads, Facebook ads, and others. Most importantly, you want to be consistent about getting your message out so that next time people recognize your business.
If you're a small business, you may not have a time to do a lot of this so you're going to use a couple of these key tools. Then learn how to look at the reports once a week to keep track of your business. You don't have to do this on a daily basis search.
The metrics will help tell you exactly how much success you had with an ad. So, you can constantly fine tune your advertising. You may narrow down to local or you may want to talk to age groups. They want to talk to you.
Search Console is a tool from Google that lets you check out all the visits and all the traffic to your website, and their sources.
Steward your time so you develop a social media presence but not get overwhelmed because you do want to be out there working in your business.
There are important metrics in advertising Google ads and Facebook as well. They have tables of data that you can use to exactly classify your audience. You can specifically choose which type of audience you want to talk to.
Reputation and Reviews
There's so much business to be found in referrals and word of mouth from social media.
You want to have a tool that gives you a measure but doing it in the background. Reputation review is an important part of businesses. Get reviews on Yelp, for example. Those reviews pay off. A future customer may discount what you say about your business but they're happy to hear what another person thinks because they’ve had an experience with your business.
Review reputation has expanded importance in the past 10 years. Twenty years ago, you didn't need to worry about it but now you have to pay attention because it's accurate and very powerful. And it travels fast.
When you receive a negative review, it takes ten good reviews at least, to negate one negative one. Analytics helps you understand the numbers. You can't back channel a problem review because everybody can see how you manage it.
Conversion measures how much business comes from your online presence. You should work to make sure your system is optimized as much as possible as quickly as possible, so that all the resources aren't wasted. Set up your analytics to discover where your traffic originates for your business.
What Are The Metrics?
For your website, you want to know how many people come to your website sessions. You’ll learn what content appeals and how long they stay on the website. Did they stay for three seconds or three minutes? If they stay for three minutes, where do they go? Did they bounce away? How long do they stay at the top of the page?
Metrics will measure
- Sessions - how many pages are visited
- Time on page - how long a reader stays on a page
- Bounce rate - when they leave before reading
- Conversions - when you get a sale from the page
With time and familiarity with metrics, you can set customized parameters to measure how people use your site.
Advertising on platforms like Google, Facebook, and Bing allow you to control the cost of each ad and compare the return on investment. In other words, you can compare the money you make from each ad to the money you spent.
The advertising platforms have variables so you can classify your audience. You can specifically choose which type of audience you want to reach. And, metrics will tell you how much success you had so you can constantly fine-tune your advertising. You may want to target local, or age groups, or gender.
For example with gender, when you go to an inspection, a woman may be silently there in the background in terms of the financials, but it’s important to recognize she is definitely part of the purchase decision. She will be home in the house, and needs to feel comfortable in her home. Understand you have a complete family to serve. It's important to know.
Reputation and Reviews
Consistently check your reviews to monitor your reputation. Honestly, just don’t make mistakes. Make sure you faithfully serve your clients.
Google My Business is part of one of the biggest search engines. Leave reviews to act as a cheerleader for your community for the businesses you like. Make sure you’re on Google My Business. It’s a great tool to use for reputation management. You have to measure. For example, Google My Business directly links to Google Maps. Until you realize that people are typing in “home inspection” on Google Maps, you won’t realize they are discovering you.
You can also post directly on Google My Business with articles that back up your expertise signaled by the reviews. You can post special deals and links to your blog posts. And because Google My Business links to Google Maps, you put your business name in client's eyes. And from there they will go to your website.
That is part of your business reputation. For example, on conversions, if you're getting a 1% conversion rate on your Google My Business website visits and you're getting 600 visits, you're getting six inspections a month from Google My Business. Multiply that times your inspection rate. If you're charging $250 inspection, that's $1500 in revenue based on your online reputation.
Social Media like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram all have metrics to measure your visibility.
Social media is where you can multiply your know, like, and trust factor. People experience your business through individual posts and those posts build your online presence.
You can post cool projects you've worked on, some of the neat things you've seen, some things like what not to do. Social media acts as a tool that shows you're out there in the community. It’s a great place to share photos and videos and advice. Social media keeps your business in real time and it's time sensitive.
For example, on Instagram, inspectors can share images of different findings and advice. And following other inspectors, you may learn new things, as well. You get a good fun conversation going. And engagement builds your reputation on the social media platform.
Know Where You Failed - The Side Benefit
Failure a lot of times is success. Learning how to eliminate failures and eventually win, wins every time. You’ll always make mistakes. So what Ammon always preaches is that you want to maximize your conversions. Right away.
Be smart right away. Maximize your conversions right away. Keep failing early, otherwise you’ll burn resources and continue to burn them if you don’t check your metrics. Use failures, as touchstones to adjust your online presence on your website and in social media, as well as in your advertising campaigns.
And the second thing is you need to optimize. Improve your conversions...always...constantly. Always work towards making small tweaks and changes so that instead of three people liking what you present out of 100 it grows to four. You've just grown your business by 33%. And it turns out that adding one person or two people when you're talking about 1-3% conversion rates, your business grows pretty quickly.
Jeff Bond of Inspect.net found business he wasn’t expecting. He built a website based on serving home for home inspection. People called his business asking about mobile homes. It grew to where a thousand people or more were calling from all over the state of California.
He used the opportunity to solidify his reputation as a mobile home expert. Before he had failed to address the large market. He discovered a potential business opportunity.
It’s a strong example of where he thought he was failing, and what type of clients challenge the business to signal a new market opportunity.
Data is Everywhere
Information is informed data. The computer age has brought us more and more information.
Numbers are Meaningless Without Context
But it is true that information, until you make sense out of it, synthesize it, until you take all of those numbers and translate them into something that is in context to your business, it’s just data. It’s important to be filtering out the non-essential stuff, allowing you to stay focused on the core information that provides key insight into the market you’re serving. You need an awareness to make sure that the metrics you see are the ones that are targeted towards building your business.
Know What You’re Looking For
You need to know what you are looking for, which means you need to know what your business is. Tie analyzing the metrics into your business actions. For example, tie looking at your metrics to your weekly business check deposits, associate it with the rewards of your work.
Learn How Data Impacts Your Business
It will take some time to look at your analytics and your data with the right interpretation. Try to synthesize the data, a little bit of information at a time. Figure out why you were doing well that week or not well that week. Use those two data points to correlate to get a better sense of how these metrics tie to your business.
You need to have an analytics account as soon as you have to have a website presence to measure things and have a social channel and have these destinations where people can come and engage with you.
Go over and get an analytics account with Google for free. Then start to add pages and destinations into your analytics. What happens is that, as traffic comes to those sites, data is gathered, collected, aggregated, collated, and sorted. You’ll start to read all the data and interpret it.
Case Study - One Person Inspection Business
Real numbers for Inspect.net after four years of implementing all these policies. This data is pulled from the inspection business. It's important to share how metrics and analytics work.
The first column indicates the source of traffic. Business is coming direct: people come right to the website. You can see the number of sessions in the second column is 160 people. CPC is Google ads. Google organic is when someone searches on Google. Yelp is website traffic from Yelp directly to the website.
People spend an average a minute and 51 seconds visiting the website. 40% leave right away. 60% stay. In the next two columns are contacts & orders, that's three and 17 for 20. That's 20 inspections. That's 20 conversions right there.
CPC got 145 website visits. They stayed the same, almost two minutes but you can see they don't stick around as long. Someone who comes from an ad, they're less likely to stick around.
The important thing is to look at the number of sessions. Realize if you have a lot of sessions. That's where you want to focus your attention. It’s where your business is coming from. If you don't have a lot of sessions from a source, you have to look and see what you can do there to increase visits.
Expend a majority of your resources and time to where you are getting conversions, engage with that market more. This report provides a good quick read on all the channels, and where your business is coming from, when they come up, if they stick, and how much they order.
It's okay to look at it once a week or more at first, especially when you first set it up. It's exciting. It helps you understand the pattern. And what eventually happens you become more familiar with what’s going on. Oh, that's normal, or that's not normal. But now you know and can make adjustments.
Website performance shows the monthly sessions and orders and people downloading reports. The black line is the current month and then the gray line is the prior month. It displays a quick graphical way to see how much business comes in and how that compared to the prior month. This is just a quick overview for a website in just a graphical form. I can look at this in 10 seconds and see how my business is doing.
You want to know where people are coming from, the top performing page is inspection/home inspection. That is a page we target using Google Ads and as a consequence, there’s a lot more overall traffic coming to that website page. 244 people visited that website page, and if there’s a 10% conversion that’s 24 inspections.
You can see that people are dwelling on a page for a minute and twenty three seconds.
You can check your content to see if there's little of value, or that it's not even important content. Get rid of unnecessary pages or consolidate two low performers into a new, targeted page.
You want to keep things simple and clean. You don't want a lot of noise and distractions. The more you can have all your information tight and available, and get out of the user’s way, the better their experience.
Those are the things in marketing online you need to deal with. The desire is to tell them how good you are, how much you know, that you're the best inspector in the world. That's not what people need to hear.
They need to hear what your qualifications are. They need to hear information about your business for them to get into what's important to them. They need to validate their decision. And so your whole communication shouldn't be about talking about yourself but how your desire is to make sure that they understand they are the most important thing to you.
Site visitors need to know that what you do will answer their questions. Project what you do on your website and your social media, because it’s important.
Which Page Drives the Most Traffic
Information from the Search Console. 2,252 impressions for the website home page and 28 clicks. So if you look at the last column, that's called the CTR, click through rate. It’s essentially the amount of times a person sees something that they're going to click through on the website. Anywhere in the 1%- 2% range is normal.
Go down when you get to about the About page impressions. The CTR goes way up because at that point, people really want to know about the business. It’s like who is this guy? That's really important in the purchase decision. When someone says I want a building inspector, what’s the first thing they’re going to do? Find an inspector who is qualified. So they find out about him. That's directly reflected in the CTR.
Looking at other pages like earthquake retrofits, manufactured, and mobile home leaks, those are blog posts. That’s evergreen content. It's on the website. People keep coming back and back to it. Once it’s up, you don't have to make any investment in it other than keep it current if things substantially change. It just keeps generating new business for you. People call thank me for writing a blog post that was written over a year ago. They said, it's immensely helped them. That's a really wonderful phone call.
Top Search Queries
This is a measure of when people type into the search engine what their queries are that land them on your website. You have no idea how they are going to engage with you. For example, they may type home inspector Hayward, California or Hayward, California home inspection. You want to look at the top search queries because they give you keys to exactly what people type in to get to your site. Then you can turn it around and make your website content talk to those topics.
WoW Performance (Week Over Week)
Week over week performance helps you understand your business in short-time performance. You can see impressions, clicks, and CTR on a weekly basis. And you can see the average position for your business. It's hard to get up high in home inspection rankings because Angie's List, Home Advisor, and all the major companies and aggregators tend to be there. So for a small business, it's just a way to gauge your business ranking over a long period of time, comparing it to prior weeks.
Top Performing Ad Group
Use these as good metrics targets. If you're hitting these numbers, you’re doing a good job.
You want to add groups in Google Ads if you have multiple campaigns. You can see here on the ad group sometimes the ads address local markets or sometimes addressing concepts like the brand Inspect.net.
You can even see they address competitors. Home Guard is a competitor. What you're trying to do is make sure that you're getting your representation, no matter what. People are seeing your business and not pointing over to the competitor.
If you look at over in the fourth column, conversions, there’s one for the first five. That's five home inspections. And if you compare the cost to advertise for those five, its about $125. That's basically $2,000 in business for $125 in advertising. So, 6% advertising cost is fine. If you spend $6 and make $100, do it again.
It’s common industry words like home inspection and home inspector, and sometimes property inspection, property Inspector. Don’t try to guess what the person on the other end of the computer is going to type in to get to you. They may call you property inspector and you just keep on saying you are a home inspector. That’s not connecting. You’re stuck on a word.
Open up your view. It’s a key point. You have to step out of your world, recognize this is how the customers communicate with you. You have to get into their world. These are a chance to see cost per impressions and conversions. You can see that some have yielded pretty well over a period of time. You set these up, and then you throw a budget at it and they keep on working for you. It's like the yellow pages but it's dynamic.
Search Auction Insights
When you're in Google Ads, you're going to have auction words. The idea is if someone's going to type in home inspection you're going to bid how much you're willing to pay to let your ad be presented to that person. So it’s an auction.
The second column, impression shares, shows how often people see your ad, for example home advisor gets almost half the ad impressions when people type in home inspection. They're getting their impression shares so they're doing a good job getting their name out there. Inspect.net is in second place. What's nice is the red arrows point down for everyone except for the second line. That second line is Inspect.net. I had bumped up my spend by 25%. Inspect.net actually got more impression share.
Housemaster at the bottom, you can see how much they dropped. They’re capitulating. You can see from that number that they're not continuing to fund their auction. and their impression share is going way down. With this tool, you can see what your competitors are doing.
This data is from a Data Studio report. You can click down in the country and down to the state and then to the city to see where your business comes from. You can also track new users, seen in the second and third columns. New people that have never been to the website before. And that helps understand how much you’re potentially bringing in new business.
Data Studio is another free tool from Google that lets you capture information from multiple platforms including analytics, Facebook, and Twitter.
Search Query Insights
Search Query Insights provides data about individual search terms. These are all variances of people trying to find a home inspector in the Bay Area. What you want is into their search pattern. The second column, the impression, shows, if someone typed in home inspection, 35 of those people actually saw the business. If you look at the CTR, you can see 11% came over. That is how many people see something presented and click through over to the website.
In the next column, at 82.9% the percentage is way up because people are coming on web searches. You can see Inspect.net literally has almost doubled the amount of traffic coming to the website because people are using search to find the services. A delta of 82.9% shows that people are really searching.
If you look at the delta for home inspection cost, minus 61%, it shows people don't care what it costs. They want to get a good inspector. It's like finding the cheapest doctor when you have a serious problem.
I know it sounds crazy but once you start looking at this and think about it for your own business it's just like watching a child grow.
Sessions of 411 shows Inspect.net website traffic was down 30%. It's like my website traffic has dropped 30%, which doesn't sound fun. Monitor sessions because they’ll show a trend. One time down is not a big deal, but a series down indicates it’s time to rethink your strategy.
Contact rate is the number of people calling . At 1.2%, they're not calling. This is starting to get like a little nervous from a small business perspective. They’re not coming to the website and not calling. What's up? It’s time to review the current strategy.
If you look at the bounce rate, it’s down almost 20%. Whoever's coming here, they're serious. They're sticking and they’re staying. So maybe some of the looky loos are gone, but the people that really need the service stick in here. Now they are really sticking on the website.
Here's the answer: 8.5% of the people that come to the website order a home inspection. That's a crazy number. In 100 visits Inspect.net gets eight and a half orders. So, if you're doing 600 visits you're getting 50 orders a month from an online presence system where you didn't do a thing. You can see online orders are up 35%.
This online presence has become critically important with COVID. It doesn't negate the fact that people need homes, they're just really changing the way that they're finding what they need.
Aim for Conversions
Metrics and analytics let you keep a measure on your online presence. It all works towards conversion, conversion, conversion, making your business more efficient. You do more with less.
Get in the habit of taking a look at your numbers. Set up a simple analytic system and start looking at your numbers and start seeing the patterns. You'll start to understand them and then you'll start to look at how they sync with your business and you'll start to see the correlation. It's a learning experience, a learning curve.
It's like muscle memory. It takes a while to swing the hammer and get good at it. You’ve got to swing your analytics hammer for a while. But the knowledge will come so you can do much better with it.
Put that time in to work on your business instead of just in your business. If you want to grow your business, now is the time.
Getting a listing on Inspect.com is just one way we help inspectors with online presence. Take advantage immediately to build a website or start a targeted ad campaign at Inspect.com. Let’s talk. Email us at email@example.com.
The second in a 10-part series of marketing with Ammon Johns dedicated to property inspectors in the United States. He has been variously described by others as a veteran, pioneer, and expert in the field of SEO and search marketing. He has spent over 20 years in all aspects of Internet marketing, working with several leading SEO agencies, helping to launch several of them to industry-leader status. Ammon is best known for innovation, pioneering many of the common strategies of today, and he continues to innovate strategies.
Define Who You Are and Who You Want to Reach
Defining who you are and your brand and working towards developing an online presence: your website, social reputation, and reviews. Your online presence is a constant, ongoing source of business for new business as well as established business.
This is your business. This is who you are. You need to account for that, through the rest of your processes. You want to be communicating who you are, who you want to be dealing with, who wants to be dealing with you.
Because otherwise where are you putting your message? You’re not getting it right. Then, how are you measuring right, even with all those analytics? If you don't know who you're trying to be, you're trying to speak to, and who you’re trying to be to them.
This isn't about, Oh, I'm a home inspector and I did this inspection and that inspection. There’s nobody out there saying, Oh, I'm a home inspector but I'm not very good at it.
Everyone is claiming to be a great home inspector and claiming to do many of the same things you do. So what really defines you is the things you don't do or the things you don’t do particularly well. If you specialize in something, that's the kind of thing that you need to put forward. Be aware of what makes you stand out.
Don't spend too much time stressing the obvious that every other inspector is also going to be saying, because it misses the point. The person shopping around is more aware of other home inspectors right now than you are because they've just looked at 50 different profiles. So focus on what you don’t do.
When we talk about brand, a favorite example is Northwest Airlines, now part of Delta—what they choose not to do. They don't do the major routes; they serve city to city.
They designed the whole business around that one particular function. They function like a service. There's no big long check-ins. There's no third party payments. Everything is geared around doing what they do really, really well. Again, knowing what they don't do: they don't do long distance, international flights, that's not their business. That's not who they are. Know what you don't do.
Who are you? What are your core values? What are your strengths and weaknesses? What moves you? How does it move you? These are the core essentials to represent your brand online.
Your unique selling point (USP) is what sets you apart. It’s what compels people to buy or not buy. If they don’t have a history with you, it’s what they perceive as being unique about you. What are they choosing over somebody else’s offering?
Your USP must be aligned with your core values. People are inviting you into their home. They won’t want you there if your core values are muddy or not aligned with your business.
For example, somebody who can do very fast turnarounds and doesn't need a lot of lead time. You need an inspection done tomorrow? I’m the guy you can call. I will get it done tomorrow. That’s your unique selling point. But you need to make sure that all your ducks are in a row to make that happen. What happens when you get busy? How are you gonna keep on doing that thing? So where it comes into your core values and your strengths and weaknesses, is how you deliver that unique sales proposition. Every single time. It might be your radius of operation. So you're always one hour away from anyone you actually serve. That is a unique selling point.
What does your brand represent? For a lot of home inspectors, you and your brand are the same thing. You can grow your business by bringing others on board. Now your brand is a family brand. But, it’s not so much about what you want to be as who your customers want you to be. Be the right thing for that customer.
If you know you’re going to be dealing with a high-end customer, know there's a little bit of snobbery sometimes involved there. You need to be going a bit classier, and you certainly need to be a bit more on point with your reports to make the client feel special. If you're not good at making somebody feel special, you're just good at doing a good, honest day's work on time, every time, maybe you don't want to go for the high end. So, those are the things you consider when deciding what brand values you need to be pushing.
For many customers, their thought about home inspectors is to find the lowest price. They’ll ask what you charge for a home inspection versus your qualifications. And for the client who wants to know about price, you’d better be focused on whether your price point is going to satisfy them. Sometimes you have to answer that maybe they have the wrong spectrum about price, because you are more focused on quality.
If you work with a large property developer or a large realtor who deals with large properties, then making them feel special by delivering the report in the format they need to make them feel special. That becomes core to your business.
They also don't want a lecture if it makes their job easier.
If you know who you are but you still really don't know who you're serving, you have to figure out who your customers are. You need to consider developing some profiling personas. Not all customers are the same.
We know we have great customers and not so great customers. Identify the things that set them apart. What traits you spot help you target the customers who are most valuable to you. Drilling down through the analytics that we talked about in Session 2:
- who your customers are
- who the different customers are by paying attention to social media
- which customers ask which questions
All of these things help you know whether someone is likely to be one of your better, higher value clients, or one of the problematic ones.You need to have client profiles so you can determine the tactics that work best for each kind of customer.
It’s not always about how much they pay. It's more about your feeling that you’re really giving something of value, making a home safe. It talks to the idea that you need to know who you are and who your customers are. Make sure those two things are aligned well for different customer types.
It's not just about who they are as a person, it’s about their situation. Somebody who's in a hurry, is a lot less patient than somebody who's got all the time in the world. Somebody who is selling their own home at their own leisure, has a very different proposition than somebody who is out of town and is only going to be available on one day. You need to take this into account. Different customers have different needs, different things that you say are going to sway them to either work with you or not.
Sometimes you have to do your business a certain way. Something might be profitable, but the very fact that it is makes it harder, makes it part of being known for what you are. For example, you may only deal in a 50-mile radius, and you will not do 51 miles no matter what. Sometimes that's going to be a tough thing to stick to. But set the line somewhere. And once you have, that's your line. Hold your boundaries.
If that creates a problem from a business perspective, then you look to change. You're going to need to look at why the plan wasn't working. Was your original area too small? Or was it simply the wrong area? The wrong supplier for the customers in that particular area? That the property values in this area are a little bit too low for long detailed inspections? Would smaller, cheaper inspections work out better? Or do you need to move to a different area? You need to find that circle to include higher value items.
You need to think that the customer is king. Always look at everything that you're offering, not from whether you think it's reasonable, but from whether your customer, in this particular mindset, going through your personas for different needs or services, is this reasonable from their perspective? Does this really sing to them, because they're gonna vote with their wallet.
Usually a couple that buys a house are not the same. What she thinks is completely different from what he thinks. You can help identify the different concerns and hold them together to reach a conclusion. That can be gold, helping one spouse understand what the other is looking for in a home can help them understand the home. It’s a little bit of therapy, but it works.
Every home inspector wants to have a website and other channels. But, your website is your constant presence online. That allows customers to come to you and find out about you. It is you online. It represents you.
Use a navigation menu to address your different personas, like buyers, sellers, and realtors. Then present material that speaks to each of those personas in their language.
If people are looking for home inspections or mobile home inspections or commercial inspections, they may tell you that with their selection. Through their selection they may tell me whether they're a buyer or a seller, or they may just signal that they want a particular type of inspection. The different website pages talk to them on that specific topic level.
Buyers and sellers have different priorities. Buyers want something that's completely different than sellers. Buyers want a home as nice as possible and sellers want repairs to be as cheap as possible. So create pages set up to talk to them independently.
Realtors work the same way. Whether they represent the buyer or the seller, their interests are completely different. With commercial brokers, it’s all money for them. Each page talks in detail to that persona. You’ll talk differently to a listing agent than an agent who represents a buyer.
Create an order form that helps you define the required information. Collect name and contact details as well as details for real estate representatives. Give them a selection of square footage so you will know the size of the job. And, add a brief place for notes. Sometimes people don't have a lot of time, so send them a text with the link to the order form.
The benefit of having the website work for you, is receiving new business while you are out working. For example, a week’s worth of business that came for 15 home inspections. That’s without an office or a secretary or answering service. You come back to the office and these inspections result from a form on the website. It’s worth doing.
When you reply immediately to those requests, you build a reputation of being reliable and responsive to client needs.
Reputation and Reviews
We become what we do. And we do that by developing forms and procedures. People love consistency, and that translates into a perception of quality. They also love sincerity. Your respectful conversations, the way you treat them in interactions on the phone and in person builds trust. Those are elements that lead to positive testimonials and reviews.
People remember your service and the way you interact with them. And, they tell stories about you. From clients gossiping with friends to posting online reviews, they are amplifying your business.
People form an idea of you through your reputation. That idea of you has a large impact on how they choose your business. People like to do business with people they know, like, and trust.
Reviews are factors that you need to take into account, because they can directly affect how likely you are to close a deal or get a recommendation or anything else along those lines.
With homes, it's such a big investment for most people, that they don't want to get it wrong. So they will talk to friends who've already sold a property or former property. They will ask if you did a good job with them. they're going to give a positive review. If you did a bad job, or just didn't impress, you're back on square one. All the way back down to zero.
Reviews are evergreen. When someone writes one, it sits forever for someone to see. Jeff Bond of Inspect.Net has had people call up and say, I saw your review on Yelp. And that's a four-year-old review. They used that to make part of their decision. There is still power in a review that's four years old. Plus, if you told them something four years ago they won’t remember. Reviews stick and they stick forever.
Reviews are lifeblood. They’re the way other people look for social proof that other people have worked with you and they haven’t regretted it. When people buy a service like an inspection, they’re not buying it every week, so they look for social proof. When they look for social proof they look for brands or expert approval.
- Never ask for reviews
- The best ones are genuine
- They’re a powerful testament
- They’re evergreen
- Don’t leave long replies to compliments
- Engage with complaints and resolve them immediately
If there is a complaint, usually don’t go online. You don’t have to resolve it in public. Encourage the disgruntled client to reach out. Be open about how they can get in touch with you. Ask them to send you their phone number. Then instantly respond (at no cost to them). You’ve kept it private. You’ve instantly responded. They want to know you have listened and that you are being responsible.
When you receive a bad review, always apologize for them having a bad experience. Because, you are always genuinely sorry they’ve given you a bad review. That’s not saying that you did a bad job. That’s saying you’re honestly sorry they had a bad experience. Apologizing does not mean you are admitting that you did something wrong.
Something went wrong. Maybe they were having a bad day. Maybe you were. Maybe the expectations weren’t being set quite right. Maybe they’re just a complainer. But, something went wrong. If you immediately leap in and dig in, you’re not going to see what it was. You’ll miss an opportunity to heal a wound.
Focus on getting good reviews by being systematic, creating a strong website, and using Google Ads to get your name top of mind. Then, work hard for customer satisfaction. Please customers so well that you show up on the top of a review list especially Yelp.
Channel Your Business Presence
You’ve got to know who you are, what you want to offer, and who you want to serve, instead of leaving everything to chance. If you’re not mindful about it, it’s a crap shoot.
When you're young and getting started, you want to be everything for everyone. It doesn't work. You’ll feel scattered and distracted and and not focused,
- Clearly define strategies and tactics
- Filter out the noise
- Engage your audience for feedback
- Use social listening as a weather vane
Social listening is important, not just for mentions of you and your particular service, but also listen to what people say about other home inspections. Take note of what they expected and what they don't like, because this is research for you. This is free ideas on how we can offer new services, or how you can improve your services to be something above and beyond what people expect.
For example, Instagram is such a vibrant medium for building inspectors to connect with a ton of people. Inspectors post what not to do or what to do in photos. And you get a good idea of their personality.
The Power of Your Online Presence
We have this early in the series because what's the point of driving 100 visitors now if you could convert another 300 if you work on your conversion rate as early as you can? You're going to want to convert 300 customers.
A thing that often people would come to the search engine optimization expert for was, we've been around for a while, and we've got a level of traffic. They say, we want more traffic, we really want to get about 50% more people. Do you want more traffic, or do you want more business? It’s a lot easier to improve your conversion rate 1% than to try to go from 30,000 visits to 45,000 visits.
It's usually a lot easier to go from a 3% conversion rate to 4% than to build more traffic. It’s more efficient and effective than trying to grow your volume. Once you drive the conversion rate up, you can drive more customers and make more money. That's really how you want to make your money. You're going to do well working with the people that resonate with you.
The third in a 10-part series of marketing with Ammon Johns dedicated to property inspectors in the United States. He has been variously described by others as a veteran, pioneer, and expert in the field of SEO and search marketing. He has spent over 20 years in all aspects of Internet marketing, working with several leading SEO agencies, helping to launch several of them to industry-leader status. Ammon is best known for innovation, pioneering many of the common strategies of today, and he continues to innovate strategies.
What are Conversions?
It’s easy to think when you put up a website then customers will roll in. But there are a lot of different things that have to happen before you get there. Someone has to hear about your business. It may be through search, it may be from someone talking about you. You need to create something that makes any of that possible. If you’ve never done anything, nobody’s going to hear of you.
The very first part is from somebody hearing about you to being interested. They hear about you, so they go to check you out. Are they impressed? Impressing them is one micro-conversion. If not, they’ll move away. If they are, that’s another micro-conversion on the path to the proper conversion that brings you business.
Micro Conversions Lead to the Final (macro) Conversion
All the way through, you want to think about all the little steps, all the little decision concepts, that you need. It is called zero moment of truth, that one instance of when something either works or doesn't work. But, there is an instance for each part.
Sometimes, that conversation with the wife is necessary before that final booking. And, how do we improve that? How do we influence that? How do we make sure that a spouse has the information to get to the question or vice versa?
If we're dealing with commercial enterprises, is the guy that's checking out the website the sole decision-maker? Would you have to make a presentation to his colleagues or his boss? And how will he be helping you make the case that this is the inspector that they want to work with? So all of these things are things we think about. All the steps along the way are micro conversions you want to maximize.
There are a whole lot of important pieces. If you only think about the big picture, you can miss the small points. A whole two-hour conversation can boil down to one second. And that incident can make or break the whole two hours of setup. The micro-moments work together to form an ecosystem of all the different conversion moments.
The standard thing that we talked about is a sales funnel. And that's because we get narrower and narrower. And also we're eliminating more and more people that didn't convert as we come down that funnel. People who first hear of you is the top of the funnel. The next step is people who actually engage who can work with you. You know, maybe you're out of their area. Or they heard about you from a friend, but you don't cover their area. They’re out.
So all of these things eliminate people. We want to get as many people as possible down through that funnel to the end. So we want to make sure that we are looking at the whole funnel smoothing out every single part of it and making it as efficient as possible.
Filter out the noise, but make sure you keep in the potential contacts. Get rid of the chaff but also focus on also making sure that you're really focusing on the wheat that you're getting. It's two sides of that whole equation.Be clear about what your area is and where you're going to set your boundaries.
All the way through this series, we present every single thing as a foundation for the next step, all the way through. The reason that we cover conversions here, still early on in the process, is this is the foundation. This is where the rubber meets the road. If you're not converting, everything else is a waste of time. So, you want your conversions to be up there before you worry about advertising, before you worry about getting thousands of people to your site. You want a site where if you send 10 people there. One of them has to buy.
At lower numbers of conversions, getting one additional conversion makes a substantial growth to your business. When you can do that immediately, then throughout the whole process everything compounds in terms of the benefits of not having to go through the loss function.
I will say when putting this series together, in my mind I finished up with conversions as like, hey, when you finally figure everything else then convert. As a small business you may be doing what you do well, but you may not do the business part well. So it's critical to make sure you get conversions, always, and immediately.
AIDA - Attention, Interest, Desire, Action
AIDA is a classic marketing acronym. AIDA is attention, interest, desire, and action. These are the four stages that somebody has to go through before they're going to take action.
First, you've got to get their attention because they're not going to hear anything if they're not paying attention. But once you've got their attention, it's easy for somebody to look and if that is not for them, look away. You need their interest.
Before you're going to get their money, before you're going to get them to act, they have to want it. Desire is more important than need. Desire is always more important than need. People will put back things they need, they'll put them off, they'll wait. But that thing they want to do, they'll do straight away.
What you need to do is work on what you need to work on first, and then you can work on what you want to. For example, in buying a house it should be an automatic to fix what you need to and then fix what you want. But, for some people fresh carpet and paint come first while the toilet is still leaking. That kind of decision magnifies the fact that people's desires override what they need.
If you can double your conversion rate now, then everything else you do, is going to be twice, double as efficient. You're going to get double the bang for your buck in everything else you do. If you wait till afterwards, you've wasted half your money.
That's a four times impact. That's exactly what it quantifies to, its a two to the second power law, so you're blowing 75% of your energy if you do it wrong.
Hit Where It Matters
You've got to understand how people's mindsets are working. If somebody is in a hurry, then what matters is speed and getting it now. And it changes all the rest of their decision making, because they're interested in getting it now and availability becomes key. They may turn down a better service because they can't get it when they want it. So always understand what somebody is after from you, so you can frame everything within their context and help them see that what you offer meets what they want.
Find Things That Stop the Sale or Affect Price
Sometimes we’re our own worst enemies. We’re stopping the sale because of what we're doing and who we are.
If you are projecting on people -I don't think they would like this, I think they would like that. You need to get super, super clear about what they really need. This applies to your customers as an inspector, especially when you're working for the seller or for the realtor. Find the things that will stop the sale or affect the price that are going to matter to them. And the same for the buyer, except you want to find things that are going to stop the sale or affect the price that you can inform them about. You’ll help them to either avoid making that costly mistake, or to negotiate a better price.
In terms of being a home inspector, we're asked not to be a judge, not to have a bias for the buyer or the seller but just represent truth. For example, you'll get a buyer that's picking on a carpet stain saying, this carpet needs to be replaced. They ask, do you do agree? Guide them toward talking to their realtor. Don’t let yourself get pinned by people reframing things or re-characterizing them. Counter positioning with a quick follow up. It's important to make sure that you're very clear. You're there to be the expert opinion. If people are trying to rewrite that narrative, on the go, as you're speaking, it becomes important to make sure that you interrupt that so that the truth comes out.
Understand What Your Potential Customers Need From You
Speak your customer’s language so you don’t get in the way of your sales.
Understand the language of the buyer, the seller, and the realtor are slightly different. Your job is often to act as an intermediary between them to help them speak each other's language. Regardless of which one hired you. Your job is to enable better communication, fairness and justice between them.
Help is Defined By The Recipient
Online retailers often fail their customers by behaving completely differently to the way they behave as a customer. As a customer, they shop around. They look at lots of things. But when they're trying to run their business, they imagine they're the only business that their customer is going to see.
Our intent to help is in our hands. We intend to help, but whether or not it is help is up to the recipient to decide. We need to understand that all the way through. As an inspector, we are there to help them with something. We need to understand what it is they need, not to dictate it, but to be facilitative.
When a client is deciding, find the discipline of saying and doing nothing, because is at that point, they’re making an internal decision. If you interrupt, you’re making it harder for them to focus.
Think about the couple who are looking at the windows and thinking about what drapes they're going to get. You're trying to get them to understand that the plumbing has a serious issue, but they're busy putting the imaginary furniture in and hanging drapes. Understand that's what they need to do. So, let them do that. Then they will move to what you need them to know.
What makes you think that your thing is more important to them? They're not wrong.They're doing what they want, they're not wrong. You have to work to make sure you work toward their understanding. Otherwise you're really in the way.
Todd Thuss has an inspection business in Huntsville, AL. An engineer, his business Integra Inspection Services is listed on Inspect.com. He’s working on his online presence.
Todd says, this has been a nightmare. I started out with a Wix site. I got contacted by a company that specializes in taking homegrown sites and revamping them, making them polished. Basically it sits on WordPress.
They did an adequate job with it, but I'm kind of a control freak. They copied over the content and probably did about a C average, C-minus average type of site. So, I’ve basically been fiddling with this thing and found it's very frustrating to keep the text and things aligned properly as to the different browser sizes. It's been very difficult.I don't really know that they knew exactly what they were doing, but it's tough to manage it well.
I was told by other WordPress experts that this really wasn't a foundation, it wasn't laid out properly to support this. So it's very important when you're building a site to make sure that the fundamentals are there and they're solid.
Jeff (Inspect.com) has spoken at length about the importance of having a good theme. The middle layer that actually layers over top of something like WordPress that allows you to do that's very important. Choose carefully because if you don't, you'll wind up with a lot of plugins that have compatibility issues.
First Thoughts from Ammon Johns
(Ammon) I would really want to be looking at the code to see what was going on behind the scenes. What I was seeing straight away, is I'm having trouble finding this on Google. When I search for Integra Inspection Services. I’m finding LinkedIn, Facebook, Homestars, Integra Inspections.com, with a hyphen, Inspect.com, Thumbtack. I'm not finding you on the first page of Google.
(Todd) That's the wrong Integra displaying. We do have this issue of local, or it depends on what your IP address is. You're finding a totally different set of Integras than what you would have to search in this area.
(Ammon) We always talk about this as a brand confusion issue, and it may be that this is a good time to think about renaming your business before you get too far down. It looks like there's a lot of other companies also using Integra in various forms in their brand name. You want something as unique as possible.
The further down that road you go, you really want to be making sure there's nothing that's going to confuse people. When you're building your brand. It's your brand you're building.
(Jeff) I'm all tuned into that. I spent a year and a half tackling my website on my own. I just tore the whole thing apart. It was the most beautiful thing I did, because then I just started off fresh and had a nice team. I had all of those learning lessons about what to do wrong. It turns out that it was much wiser just to start from scratch and do it again. I was able to implement all of the responsive components - scaling and zooming and growing and getting my head around H1, H2 tags right. And making sure that I have the meta data right. I'm using the Yoast SEO plugin.
Todd is an ideal home inspector with his qualifications and skills and abilities. He's exactly what the market needs. The key is to get that projection present so that the market can find him so they can get an outstanding inspection.
(Ammon) I think this is one I'd like to have a proper look through with some time. Have a good look around.
WordPress is great if you are going to be spending a lot of time on your website to post to regularly; add new content, share things as they come up, it's very easy to add stuff. And if you're going to do that, that's great.
But if he were an inspector who was going to do much more of a brochure style site, you're going to do it once really professionally. Make it all glossy and then leave it alone. That's not in your skill set. Don't go with a WordPress site go with a plain HTML site for that kind of thing, because anything more than you need, and slower than you need. HTML gives you complete control over the code. Whereas, the more plugins you add on WordPress, the more things are in the background injecting their own parts in too. The thing is, you've got things putting in extra code on every page. Whether or not you're using all those bells and whistles, it’s still loading them up.
I saw a great site the other day, a wonderful, really expensive platform. But that platform is building so many bells and whistles. It's loading them all up in the background for every single page and most pages aren't using them. It's making the site, half the speed it should be, three times the code it needs to be. And that's just not efficient. So understand what you want from your site and build a site that delivers that.
(Todd) That's, that's actually a great question. I had these other experts tell me you need to be creating content, posting, blogging everywhere. What is the balance between taking this existing site and really optimizing SEO wise, getting your keywords, getting everything dialed in, versus continually adding new content? I can't find that balance. I'm overwhelmed with tasks that are just SEO related, let alone to create content. So, I prefer to have a brochure site, to be honest with you.
(Ammon) Let me ask you a quick question. How much time do you spend each week on marketing? All your different marketing activities from organizing ads, getting your business cards printed, anything like that? What has been going on marketing? What's in your budget?
(Todd) At this point zero. I find that in this local market. I don't find marketing works in this local market. I find that talking to agents, doing any form of traditional advertising, it falls flat. I find that actually the only thing that sells is my report. Basically word gets around that this guy spent a lot of time with me. And my Google reviews, be honest with you.
(Ammon) Those are good. But that's not all. Marketing is not just advertising. And even then, there's certain kinds of ads that work really well. If you've got a poster up of you, inspector of the month, in a realtors office, that's going to be amazing marketing for you. And you know what that's nothing to a billboard, it's just where it is and what the context is.
The placement of your ads is something that you should spend a couple of hours per week just brainstorming clever ways to drive new opportunities for you. Because, even if it only pays off once out of six months, that once is going to be worth all of those little two hours, put together. It can skyrocket your business.
Having a couple of hours to play with, to spend time, knowing that you can be creative. What could I do this week? It's gonna be so valuable to you. Sometimes it will be like a lot of people keep asking you a specific question when you meet. Why don't you answer that on your website first, obviously it's something people have in mind. How many didn't come to you because there was somebody else that told them that and they went with them.
Little things like that are the kinds of thoughts you need to have time for and are going to have results. Also in that week, think about what could I add this week that was really interesting? The best inspection I did this month. Why did I enjoy it? What was it about serving customers, whether they were the buyer, the seller, or a realtor? What was it about that I really enjoyed? Now you're talking to the mindset of the kind of person who hired you and who will hire you. You’re talking about what they got out of it and why you connected with them. It's going to help the next person that's likely to connect with you.
Recognize You Can’t Do Everything
We're home inspectors. We like to think that we can dig in and we know everything and we can't. Have an effective use of your time and your talent and your energy and be productive. Know where can you apply your skills best to move yourself forward to achieve your goals - to satisfy yours and your family's needs. Sometimes that means handing things over.
The fourth in a 10-part series of marketing with Ammon Johns dedicated to property inspectors in the United States. He has been variously described by others as a veteran, pioneer, and expert in the field of SEO and search marketing. He has spent over 20 years in all aspects of Internet marketing, working with several leading SEO agencies, helping to launch several of them to industry-leader status. Ammon is best known for innovation, pioneering many of the common strategies of today, and he continues to innovate strategies.
Let's start with the big thing. People often buy more website than they need. Think of it, just like you would if you're buying a car. You don't buy a Formula One. You don't buy a supercar as your first car. You want something that is just going to work that you can practice in, that you can learn what you need. And it won't matter too much if you get something wrong.
It means you're not wrecking a good car straight off the bat. Also, you couldn't handle a really high-performance car when you've only just learned to drive, or still figuring out how to drive.
If all you need is a brochure website; an online brochure that's there for people to help themselves. That's just a few pages of regular HTML. It's going to cost you a lot less as a few pages of HTML. It's a cinch to keep it going. It doesn't need regular updates. It's just there. It's done. And all it is the hosting costs. That's it.
You need to know what you want your website to do, then use the simplest thing that does that. No extra bells and whistles. Don’t get carried away. Don’t go gadget mad. The simplest thing that does the job.
A lot of websites today are automatically built in WordPress because WordPress is free to install and WordPress is widely used. For sites that need dynamic structure, that are run from a database, they are complicated. To just change a little bit of a theme is going into a whole lot of PHP programming. And a PHP programmer is about five times more expensive than the guy who can do HTML.
We're building on these things as we go. Conversion rate is what you need to know, and then build the site that does what you need to do. What your conversions are. What you're measuring. And that's it. That's all it needs to do.
You do need to make sure that it's cross platform, so that people can read it on a computer, can read on their laptop, or can read on their phone. That’s HTML, it doesn't have to be expensive.
Circling back to that fancy car. It obligates you to so much. It's just a distraction from what you need to be working on and where you need to be focused. and all of those are attaching into conversion rate.
There’s this classic old Toyota Hilux. These trucks just ran, and they would last forever. and, you know, you could drop them over a cliff, go down, and start the damn thing up. And, they were dirt cheap. And if you look at successful vehicles - the Willys Jeep, Land Rover - all of these vehicles that could take a beating and keep going for decades.
There’s a philosophy in engineering which is less is more. It takes a lot of work to make it simple.
If you think of how the regular business guy, especially somebody like an inspector, wants to be out doing inspections. He has to sometimes spend a lot of time on the phone, arranging inspections and selling inspections. But he wants to be doing inspections. He doesn't have a lot of time to be working on his website. In the time he has, he wants to spend it on building content not having to install this month's set of updates because of WordPress updating.
Your content can sit, and perhaps get stale. But it depends. If you've got regular visitors, regular viewers, a community, they need new stuff all the time. But if this is a landing page that people find the first time, for first-time people, it's always the first time. It's fresh to them... as long as it hasn't started to look outdated. So, don’t be neglectful.
The whole idea of the internet is to be on point. Your website needs to stay fresh because people are basing it on that fresh criteria.
Every Touch Point is a Potential Failure
Less is more. What we're talking about is the performance of your site. If somebody has come to your site to contact you, they don't want a huge presentation. They already know they want to contact you. How fast can they get to that contact form? If you're making them sit through a three-minute video because you spent a lot of time working on this video, they've gone before it's finished.
Don’t Pay for Things You Don’t Need
If your budget is a bit limited, and from an inspectors perspective, it's hard sometimes to justify the spend. You'll find a lot of other things or a lot of different places that are more important. Keeping the cost down makes it easier to manage. A lot of people probably never get started because they think the cost is too big. So keep it simple.
Pieces of the Website
What pieces the website needs is going to be part of you deciding what pieces it has to have. Does it need to have an order form or not? If they're going to phone you, and you don't process online, then it just needs your phone number. It doesn't need a web form. But if you do want it to take those bookings while you're out, then that needs to go in there. It's an extra piece of overhead, but it's worth it in the long run. You've got to think of whether you're going to have the site that actually converts to get them to fill in that form, or whether you're better at doing that on the phone. So it's all down to what you're going to do, how you want your site to function.
Jeff Bond had different area code phone numbers because he serves a couple different markets. He’d get a phone call here and a phone call there and an office call and a text over there. It was scrambled. He consolidated down to email so he can have one number. You have to figure out how to work. He uses email and an online order form. Select a method that suits you, and then be consistent and engage. It's tough to be on the phone when you’re crawling under a house. So, be consistent. And, with email, you have a way to track the engagement.
For a lot of inspectors, even if the phone call is held, you want to be doing your business. It's often worth having a website that allows people to request a phone call. Then you follow up and call them back. It's a nicer system that way. It still happens over the phone, but it's more practical.
You may be a phone guy, but your client is an email person. If you don't provide that simple option, there's no connection and then that business transaction doesn't happen. So it makes sense to have an option, even if it's not your main focus.
On the website, there's got to be confirmation. Everything that someone can click needs to confirm that it's worked. Also, head off any common questions, because you're a busy person. You don't want that phone ringing with questions that you could have answered on your website.
Make clear what they need to know before taking action. Get rid of those tire-kicker questions before they ring the phone and take up your time. Some of them will still call you and ask them, the thing you've already told them on the website, but it'll be easy to reduce that down. Include the area you cover, what you don't do, what you don't cover. We said that was important to your brand. Make sure that your site is authentic to your business. Get rid of as much wasting of time as possible on your website.
Making sure that they know where to go. When you go back and look at your analytics, that's when you can see what sequences work to bring people in. They've looked at the FAQ's and spent this much time and then they went to the contact page. You will be able to gauge if you're putting out the right information.
Isolate where site visitors abandon the process, because that is probably where you're making a mistake. You need to make some corrections. Or if they backtrack a lot, then you've led them down a bad path. So try to follow the path as they navigate through the website, because that does a lot to demonstrate that your content is on target, funneling, and working them towards the ultimate idea that they're able to make an informed decision. Whether or not they choose to use you, there is content there because that's what they deserve.
The Content Inverse Pyramid
So when we're talking about content, a lot of people say, how do I write content. And the example I always talk about is the inverse pyramid.
Now, first of all, we've got to explain what the normal laws of writing work; and this is very much like a scientific paper. Have you ever had one of those big papers of what they want to prove and then how they went about it and how they were going to cross check everything, and then how they did the experiment. And then finally, at the end, at eighty-five pages, is the answer. Nobody's got time for that online.
So the inverse pyramid is a very successful format of presenting information people want. It was developed by the newspapers. It’s the way a newspaper story is written: the headline is first and the headline tells you the whole story. Hero Fireman Saves Family. That’s it. If you're not interested in firemen or people saving anybody, you know that story is not for you. If that interested you... Oh, where was that?
The first paragraph, almost always says hero firemen, name, each location, saves family of four. In your next paragraph there’s all the important details. When was this? Oh, it was Friday night. As you go down, the details get more and more specific. The whole point is it's very easy to abandon at the point where your interest wanes without feeling you've missed anything. Which means you can go on to the next page. Next story. The next part.
You really want to engage people right away. Any attempt to build the drama and the build up of the story, actually, is counterproductive to conversion. You've got your site, you’re a home inspector, and somebody's looking for somebody to inspect something. They want their aircraft inspected.
The sooner you point out that you are a home inspector and you don't do aircraft, the sooner they can be on their way to find what they want. They won’t remember, Oh, I went to that site once it was rubbish. I can't remember why but I went there and it was a terrible experience. They won’t remember they were wrong. They just remember that they saw your brand once, and whether it impresses them.
This is a matter of not presenting what you want to present but rather what the client needs and how they’re going to make that decision. This is not about you and your job it’s to fully document who you are, what you do, and where you do it. There are so many potential clients out there, you don't have to feel obligated to catch every fish. What you want to do is catch the right fish that is consistent with who you are and who you want to serve. It's not even catching at that point anymore, it's just proper alignment of a service provider with the client that needs that service.
Say, you've got a radius. You've got an area, you can reach all of these businesses within two hours. That's your catchment area, and somebody is just outside. Do you want it or not? It's really tempting to facilitate, to leave your options open especially in the early days. It's much better to be crystal clear about what your area is, and to quickly eliminate anybody who's outside, and not just eliminate, send them to somewhere good. Tell them who does serve the area or tell them where they can do a search to find somebody who does.
You're not losing the customer, because they're not in your area. What you're getting is the chance to impress somebody who may one day meet somebody who is one of your customers and say, Oh, you should have a look at this guy, I discovered it by accident; I wasn't covering that area but he does their area. That's a win.
You don't need to make a sale every time.
Serve, Not Sell
(Ammon’s example.) I was working in an area of London outside of my usual stomping grounds. And during my lunch break I wanted to pick up a particular piece of equipment, which was kind of rare. It was a data modem for a mobile phone, back in the days before smartphones. They were quite rare items. So I've got some time to see if somebody’s got one. The first shop is one of these really big chains; does everything mobile, everything electronic. They don't have it but they really, really want to order me one.
I'm just seeing if it's here. I’m on my lunch break because if I wait to the weekend, I can go to another part of town, and pick it up there. And so I know I can, I'm just seeing if I could pick it up today, I'll have it. So I go to another shop. This one tries to send me back to that first shop. It's one of these ones where you know they're related. And so they can be basically an affiliate link. It's a mutual arrangement for them. It's not good for me.
I go into a third shop. This guy doesn't have it either, but he knows this little shop around the corner that has the oddest things. He can't guarantee that they’ll have it, but he might, if anyone's got it. That's the place.
So, because the guy didn't actually have it but it was a really good lead, I remembered that third shop because they had tried to serve me. They hadn't tried to get me to book one. They haven’t sent me to their friend. They tried to serve me. They got my business time and time again for the next six months because they would always try and serve me, not sell me.
(Jeff Bond) You’d think that would be automatic, but in California, there's a state bill, SB 258, for home inspectors. It says, if you do a home inspection, you can't work on the house for a period of a year, to avoid any potential conflict of interest. It is trying to avoid that issue. You’d think that this would just be so common sense, but obviously it's not, because they had to write a law to tell people not to do that. You really appreciate the person that just provides service.
Inspector Example Inverted Pyramid
The first thing, a reliable inspector in whatever your town is what your experience is. Just a headline. No more than eight words that sums up. That's it. That's your headline that's your lead paragraph.
And then from there, in order of the most commonly asked stuff, the most important stuff. Fill them in. Don't go too deep too soon. Make it very easy for somebody to see what they need to see very early, to skip down, and get as far as they need to get, and then call you. Not be looking for that vital information before they can, they can’t get anywhere because it's very, very way down. Prioritize.
So, first of all, who you are, what you do. Second, your experience, and a really punchy statement. Then your testimonials, then your qualifications and references, then your price guide and contact details.
Some people are afraid to put their price on their website for fear of scaring people. But not having the price is a distraction because people want some closure on that item. They like you, you’ve got all your experience, so they think it must be expensive. The decider there is going to be, do other inspectors tell them how much. If you don't and they do, they're getting the job.
Before online presence, it was common to have a three-page, trifold brochure. And people were throwing them out as quickly as you’d hand them out. And then when you’d print a price on it, as soon as prices changed, that whole guide was irrelevant and you’d throw out the old ones. So, recognize that one of the beauties of the online presence is if you want to do a price shift, if you want to do a market adjustment, you can do it online and just put in the change. You don’t have to throw out any brochures.
Make sure your testimonials are updated as well. So, they're not from five years ago. They have something a little fresh. If this is about your Huntsville customers, maybe you do three different towns that are in a radius of your Huntsville page, have testimonials from Huntsville. Have stuff that's relevant to Huntsville, to the kind of properties there are and the kind of people that keep it super relevant.
Make sure if you're going to start that you commit to it.
(Jeff Bond) I have a technical writer, because I’m not a writer. She's amazing. I'm a home inspector. We engage and share ideas, and then we collaborate to create a piece. But I leave the writing to the expert. I've made a commitment to continue that because I know that it adds value to my clients. They like those articles. Make sure if you're going to commit that you're going to stick with it.
The last thing you want is to be trying to become a writer or trying to become a social media guru, doing updates and keeping on top of stuff. That's a pain, that's something you don't need to do. So, yes, don't get a blog,
Your website developer may want to install a blog because he knows how to do that. But if you don't need a blog, don't put a blog up. Stick to what you need, as simple as possible. If all you need is a couple of pages don’t let a developer talk you into something. If you asked for those two pages and he can't do it, find somebody cheaper. Because a three-page website, just the design and then you can fill in the stuff yourself, is dirt cheap. You can get that for literally about 50 to 100 bucks flatline. It's like - a homepage, an About Us page, and a contact page. That's really it.
You could always find different articles to share, like sharing from ASHI. And so there are a lot of other places that you can share content from. Those articles make you look giving, because you're saying, hey, look at this great article. You can share that on social media, and then focus on what you do best, which is inspection.
Don't be a whirlwind to your site visitor. Start with simple and focus on conversions.
When people are very busy trying to do something and it's a bit of a hassle when the kids are messing about in the background and they've got to do this thing that they don't even know what they're doing exactly because they have never done it before, the last thing they need is a whole other distractions and pretty much an intelligence quiz. Let them find what they need to do, and get on with it.
Your aim is to start simple and focus on those conversions, getting people to do what they want to do, the way they want to do it. Have clear paths. Don't offer too many choices. Just give them very simple things. Whether they're customer buyer, whether they're needing this kind of inspection, that kind of inspection. Not too many choices, all in one go. Keep it simple. It's much better for them to ask several different questions and feel confident than to have a deluge of questions, and they don't know where to click. The confused mind doesn’t buy.
Clients of home inspectors have a few key things on their mind. first they want to know that you're qualified. They want to make sure that the person that they're asking is an expert. You're doing something important, so they want to check your qualifications so immediately. Let them know which qualifications you have - contractor, architect, engineers. They also want to make sure you have experience. Has this guy been doing this for a day? Let them know about your experience base, so that they can build relevance. Let them see you've done this for a while.
You probably have some testimonials or reviews that they can go back and fact check. And they're very price conscious. They care what they’re spending. They're not going to go and spend as much money as you tell them. They're going to want to feel that they have fair value. Make sure that you share your prices, but try to be in competitive range. Understand if you want to upsell your services at a higher price, make sure you're delivering more service. They want to know if they can trust you. If they can't trust you, they're not going to count on you. You're giving them some of the most important advice of their life.
There are times when people don't necessarily want the cheapest, when they're looking around, and they probably don't know. You’ve done this yourself. When it's a product you don't know, you deliberately choose, not the cheapest because you assume it's going to be the worst. That's where you go to somebody around the middle of the pack.
So sometimes you can do your own framing of it with a low price and a medium price. This is the bells and whistles on this sell, all these things, what they're getting for their money. And that gives them more confidence in the middle price range. But every now and again, you get a customer who wonders for that top product is and buys it.
There's something from selling marketing. We used to try and pitch what the customer would buy. Well that's great except, we're not psychic. It's much easier to pick the absolute minimum that anyone could possibly buy, and that's a bottom level offering. But it's much better if you pitch what you think they'll buy as that bottom level. What you'd like them to buy, as the middle one. And as a top one, think to yourself, if money was no object, if this client could let me run away with all the things I can do and still deliver great value. What could I do? That's your top product. Your top product is the one that stretches you to deliver as much as possible for the value.
Price chasers, the ones that insist on the lowest price, are often the hardest client. Their expectations are higher. They want more for less. They’re harder to please. Sometimes you give them your gold and they want more. There's really not a lot of benefit in trying to chase price down. You're underselling what you're worth, and you are sometimes asking for your own problems.
You think, what's the lowest I can go when I cut my margins down? But then you've got no wiggle room. You've got no margins. You've got no room to do more than you've been asked for. So you can't delight, anybody. It's much better to have a bit of wiggle room, where you can do a little bit more than they were expecting, really wow them. Don't think about race to the bottom.
Study when the pages are abandoned. You're going to know what's not working for people. I know that seems like a lot. We have a lot of takeaways. But once you get this down and then keep coming back and checking it, you're going to be able to see what's going to work for you.
The fifth in a 10-part series of marketing with Ammon Johns dedicated to property inspectors in the United States. He has been variously described by others as a veteran, pioneer, and expert in the field of SEO and search marketing. He has spent over 20 years in all aspects of Internet marketing, working with several leading SEO agencies, helping to launch several of them to industry-leader status. Ammon is best known for innovation, pioneering many of the common strategies of today, and he continues to innovate strategies.
The Semantics of Semantics
If you're going to be talking to a developer about building a website for yourself, if you're working with a website and you're going to be working on SEO, you're going to hear about semantic search. You're going to hear about the Semantic Web. You hear a lot with this word semantic in it, and they're not all the same thing. You need to know a few things. It's all going to go way over your head and confuse you, and you can end up paying for things you don't need.
Semantic Search and Semantic Web
There are two major different things. One is semantic search, and the other is the semantic web. And they are not the same thing.
This is probably like one of the biggest confusion points. They have the same word and so you might want to associate that they're kind of the same thing. They are completely different.
It gets even worse than that in SEO because there is this old mythical technology, Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI). People have found papers on this and think, Oh, it's got the word semantic in it so it must be all about semantic search. This is the secret sauce. No. It's from the 80s. It predates the web. It's no use for the web at all. Latent Semantic Indexing was a way of building an index, based on the uniqueness of words and what words were in the documents. If you add one single document, you have to rebuild the whole index around. It’s no use to the web at all. It’s never been used for the web. Anytime anybody tries to sell you anything like latent semantic analysis or latent semantic indexing, they're a charlatan. They have no clue what they're talking about. Walk away from that idiot.
Let's get down to brass tacks here. Semantic just means meaning. Semantics is the study of the meaning of words. It's related to other things there is a field called proxemics. And that's about the meaning of the relationship in distance between the things. Downtown you've got a lot of the top restaurants, and you'll have some of the bars. Because people go from the restaurant to the bar, and there'll be some theaters, and there'll be restaurants near the theaters because people want to eat before they go; that's proxemics. Understand that those things have been deliberately placed near to each other. There is a meaning there, and a lot of understanding.
Just think of semantic as a bit like the word context. You know context. We know what it means. It’s the meaning of something changing, according to what's around it. How we know what we mean by what circumstances, it was said, in what's around it. Semantics just means the meaning of the word itself.
A semantic web is a different thing to semantic search. Semantic search you're going to have to worry about, but not much because Google's doing that. Google's doing all the hard work. You just need to know enough of it to understand that Google is trying to understand what the searcher meant, not just what words they used.
Once upon a time, Google just matched the query string that you put in with the words on the page. That was all it could do. Then they started to look at whether those words were in links. What if I said palace and I meant house? Or I've said theater and I meant cinema? What's the difference? Well, Google is trying to work that out. It tries to understand that when you say restaurant you may also include diner. You may include pizzeria. You may include lots of other things than just restaurant.
So basically, it’s like, do you really mean that? It's trying to get around the fact that we all have our own ways of speaking or preferences. They’re partly based on what we like and based on our society. People can use very different words for the same thing.
The idea is to get the true intent, to the meaning through more than the word, it’s the meaning that we're really trying to get to. That plays into what somebody needs to know when you’re writing a blog, writing for the website. If you've got inspector on your page, you've probably also got inspectors and inspections. You've got it in context, home inspection. These are all things that are giving context, and therefore, semantic meaning to those words. So, Google knows you're not a gynecologist doing a gynecological inspection. This matters.
There are a lot of different kinds of inspections you don't do. You're not going to check people's tickets. So, using the words to give Google the context, gives you the ability to pick the right searches that relate to your content, rather than other kinds of inspections. That matters to you, but it's that common sense.
This is mainly a discussion with regards to website development not advertising. In advertising we use specific words like home inspection with different keyword combos and match phrases. At that point what we're trying to do is play a different game than what we're driving for on our website. The ads work on a different algorithm. They're not based on the same understanding.
Make sure home that you understand that the way you dance on your website is different than the way you play the game in your ads campaign. They're closely related but you can count on Google doing the heavy lifting on the website, but in your ads campaign especially you need to do the heavy lifting.
The semantic web is much more about the different kinds of devices that are connected. You may be aware that now you can buy refrigerators that are aware of what stock is in them and can automatically order top-ups for things you run out of. That requires the Semantic Web. That requires standardized meanings, standardized semantics, so different devices can understand each other.
That plays into the web, a little bit because of the app’s capability for machines to read our sites, and to a very small extent that applies to search. But the whole point of a search engine like Google, is they don't want to be dependent on you writing specifically for them to understand. Google wants to be able to understand it, whether you've made that effort or not, because they want to index, everything.
So, the Semantic Web is not as important for people when we're talking about things like schema later. These are much more to do with Semantic Web and less to do with semantic search, there's a little bit of crossover, but mostly that's about the semantic web.
One place semantic search and the semantic web cross over a little bit is entities. And this is the idea of clearly identifying which thing we're talking about.
For example, if I searched for Jaguar. I could mean the car. I could mean the sports team. I could mean the big cat. And there are lots of other examples of words with more than one meaning as well. Which one I mean, the search engine has to guess by which other words I might have put in there, with what I've searched for in the past, and what the search engine knows about my history. It gets complicated fast. That's partly why it needs to know entities because then it can separate the results.
What Google will do in a situation like that, is it will try and show different results for each of the possible meanings it knows. So it will try to show a couple that relate to the Jaguar cars and a few that was like the football teams, some that relate to the animals. Then allow the user to pick, because that's the only way it can be sure.
One of the really interesting things is now Google recognizes when you're talking about a specific entity, and how other entities correlate. That's the cool thing about entities. It’s based off of relationships between entities. So if I say, who was the last president in the White House? It understands that the White House is in America. It understands that the President in the White House and must therefore mean the American President. knows the last one was Obama. If I then do a follow-up search, how tall is his wife? even though I haven't said Obama, I haven't said President, I haven't said it, it knows that that relates to the previous search and it will give me Michelle Obama’s height.
All of that came about through semantic search. And the way that Google has what it calls a knowledge graph which is where it builds up this idea of entities and how they relate to each other. Google described it best when they said that they were moving to things not strings.
Originally what it had was a string of characters, and it just tried to match anything else that had that string. Back in the 90s, that was pretty much how all search engines worked. Now it's trying to understand what the thing is itself; to recognize what we're talking about and how the words relate to actual concepts.
Sometimes you mis-type something, and Google automatically corrects you. You know, if you, if you've accidentally written soap when you meant suit, it will usually be able to tell what you intended from the other queries or even the words that are with it. The content helps it know your intent.
What Google's doing here is learning about these relationships all the time. It's looking for the times that things are mentioned together and when it does, Google can recognize this entity keeps getting into this but it also gets merged with that and how they relate to each other.
Where it matters to an inspector is it understands the area you serve; the entity is place, and where it is and what it's in relation to. And it understands that inspections are a service. And that one's important because when you do searches for services on Google, it treats those searches slightly differently than a place. When I search for plumber, in any town, it will automatically go to a much more localized search. But also, if I just search for, I need a plumber. Google knows that is almost certainly going to be one within my region. It's learned from the way that people do searches. It knows that. Plumber is a service, and they usually operate within a radius, so it will automatically narrow down towards the localized results. That's doing well in Google Local. That's when it will help you more.
Local search is going to be honing in on your region as closely as possible to get a full set of results. It's going to depend on how many results it’s getting on healthy that radius will be. because they're plenty of options, and that's the easiest way for the machine to scale it.
It doesn't then have to know whether the area you're talking about is a small town or a big city, even though it's learning that way. It’s looking for how many results. If a place only has five plumbers, it's probably not as big a place. Again, it can change over time as people's behavior changes. That's a really good case for having a strong Google My Business presence as it relates to maps because a lot of people start their search on maps and they started on Google. So take your energy there because that's where you're going to get the best bang for the buck.
So, staying active is really important.
Right now, during the pandemic, don't forget to do listings notices with simple things like emailing your reports as a contact-free service ,because right now that's a selling point. It gives everybody a sense of security and safety, which we need right now.
Disambiguation is telling the difference between which kind of thing we're talking about. If I've got a guy I've just hired on my thing, and his name happens to be Brad Pitt and we will have a laugh about it. He's not actually Brad Pitt the actor. Google might make a mistake. How do we know that this isn't going to happen? Google is going to be looking at the kind of information about them. The fact that this guy is listed as an inspector working at your firm is going to be a big one. The fact that he's not in L.A. All of these differences help with disambiguation, distinguishing one entity (Brad Pitt, the actor) from another entity (Brad Pitt, the inspector).
This goes back to what we said about inspections. There are all kinds of inspections, you do not do, and helping Google understand which kind of inspections you do, is a big help to you. Google is trying to do that and just giving it any help you can with disambiguation is going to help it send you better customers.
With consistency, we all have idiosyncratic ways of talking about what we do in our services. And that's fine. But again, be consistent. Consistency in most things helps people adapt to you. If they're trying to adapt to you, and you keep changing that can be actually more confusing for them. So disambiguation is about giving them power cards, meaning you're giving context to it, but also being consistent in that terminology throughout so that people can learn. That's exactly what disambiguation means.
When you have a system that is consistent and works for you and a client wants to do business another way, you've got to decide whether the extra hassle is worth it. Is this adding or taking you out of your comfort zone? And if it is, do you charge more for this? Do you make it clear that that isn't what you want to do? It's a marketing decision at the business level. It's a strategic decision. How you go about dealing with it could be you do a search. This is your format and your other formats will entail this surcharge. That way if they take you out of your comfort zone, you're laughing because you're getting paid to meet somebody at a space where you don't work your best.
You can help clients understand your preferences to work consistently, by stating your preferences. For example, if you prefer text or email, leave a voice message for the phone that states you prefer text or email. Make that distinction.
It’s worth mentioning when you're talking about your service, how you tend to work. That's content to have on your site anyway. But also mention that there are flexible options available. Because ultimately, you're in a service business and serving the customers.
This goes back to something that was on before, if you're in an area of the world where people like to use the phone, they like to talk a lot, and you're going to be out of easy contact out on an inspection, make sure you set up your website for them to book a call. Let them know a particular time. You can set an hour when you are able to call. That makes them comfortable. They can do the method of talking they're comfortable with. And it's not costing them because you're calling them. That can make a lot of difference to how many leads you get. They feel heard and in control.
Having it immediately come through on the website, lets you handle it in your own time and the customer knows you're going to handle it. It's all good.
There were many different formats for what we call micro data. Micro data is a way of marking up little pieces of data, letting machines know different parts of text meant different things. For example, this block is an address. This is a telephone number. This is a contact detail. This is my web page... all of those kinds of things. Schema is the most popular format of microdata.
Google is behind a lot of it. They do listen to what people are doing and using. There’s a whole community around expanding it. They test things out for what works. And if it's really useful, it gets incorporated into the main body of schema. It is extensive. It's not magic, and it's not something you absolutely have to have on your site, but it can help a lot.
Schema does things like enable Google to have those fancy looking listings where it's able to understand more for how your website goes together. So it knows that these pages are interrelated. The second most important page. Your contact base. Your telephone number. And it can put those details, sometimes directly into the search result.
You can put schema directly into your website with the HTML code, or people are using WordPress site plugins that do that. It's not going to suddenly make your page go to number one when it isn't in the top 10 right now. It's not going to do that. There are a lot of other things to do. The content you write is going to be more important than the schema you mark it up with. But once you've got your content schema, then it becomes more important, because you've covered the basics. This is one of those game of inches kind of plays. When you're down to the game of inches, schema comes massively into play. When you’re still on yards away, don't worry about schema too much.
Remember Google deals with everything, and it knows that even though you're dealing with this local store, when you call customer support, you're getting head office, or maybe you're even getting a call center in India, and it doesn't care because it’s still the right number and it still serves the customer. So don't think that localization of a phone number is necessarily going to be the signal to Google that you would think it is. You're thinking about your specific case, Google’s thinking about every possibility in the entire known world.
Sometimes we do get caught up in our specifics, and lack context. Google's got a very different context than the rest of us. It tries to adapt to the user’s situation which is why we say user first. Think of what they want to know. When it is going to affect user clicks, looking for local numbers, that may be a ranking signal. It may not, but it may be.
Schema can be added to any site, it can be written into HTML. It can be done with inline script. So I can literally mark around the telephone number in the code. I've got my content as normal and then I can add around it to know which parts mean what. But machines know.
What the plugins tend to do is just stick a lot of stuff in the header. And that's not as useful. It works like those Twitter cards and Facebook cards, so when somebody mentions your page on social media it does the nice little image and it's got the right picture there. Well, probably done. And if social media is going to be a major part of your marketing, then that's important. But otherwise, it's doing nothing to help your ranking in Google.
Google doesn't care what you look like on Facebook or Twitter. Facebook has blocked Google from Facebook for years. They don't want them going through thousands and thousands and thousands of fresh posts every few seconds. That's not not their thing. Google has instant access to Twitter. It's the only one they pay for. But why Google does that is they're much more interested in what's changing, what's new, and what's happening.
Remember what we said about the semantics, the meaning of words - things change really fast. Remember, a few years ago near Hurricane Katrina. The day before that, if I’d searched for Katrina, it was probably the talking about an actress, or the pop group Katrina and Google was giving results for that. But the day the hurricane hit the news that the storm was coming, Katrina, they're not going to be so much interested in the pop group. Google needed to learn how to recognize things like that very, very quickly.
You know how you get lots of information very quickly that something's happening, that’s Twitter.
And it affects all kinds of searches. If there's a rainstorm coming, and I'm suddenly looking for new clothing that is weatherproof, and I'm not talking about wind proofing, I'm looking for the right stuff. So all of these things matter.
There's a whole field on the context of time and how things change over time that we know as seasonality. The construction industry tends to all be around the summer, although a lot of the demand for it happens in the winter, because you don't find out you've got that leak until the autumn or the winter. It needs fixing but you really want to put all of your roof work to be done in the summer. You don't want your roof off in the winter. So Google is aware of time and stuff like that.
With schema, you are putting context around your stuff. With the themes, it all tends to be focused on the header. It's somewhat useful, but it's not very useful. There are a lot of plugins for WordPress that add schema, but it's only adding head schema. It's only making those nice little Twitter cards and putting extra code in the head, that isn't going to be massive scale.
When you're speed testing your site, it's great to have the speed test things. The test site says, it got it in two seconds and that seems like it's quick to you. Actually, you need to be under half a second, ideally, to be considered fast. The way to speed test your site is to go out with your smartphone to somewhere where you've only got one or two bars of signal. Then try accessing your site, because that's the real world usage.
Always speed test your site on your phone with a bad signal, because that's when you really know. It will be true or at least 10 to 20% of the people that are going to be at your site. You want to see it in not the most ideal circumstances rather than when you're at home on your lightning fast internet. Not everybody has that so you may as well get the real truth.
Next, we’ll talk about creating evergreen content. The value of it is evergreen and forever there so it's worth the thought.
Extend the consistency for your inspection business with a listing on Inspect.com. Showcase your details in an organized presence that’s easy for future clients to understand.
The sixth in a 10-part series of marketing with Ammon Johns dedicated to property inspectors in the United States. He has been variously described by others as a veteran, pioneer, and expert in the field of SEO and search marketing. He has spent over 20 years in all aspects of Internet marketing, working with several leading SEO agencies, helping to launch several of them to industry-leader status. Ammon is best known for innovation, pioneering many of the common strategies of today, and he continues to innovate strategies.
[embed] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y6dDSwoRF4w [/embed]
What Is Evergreen Content?
Evergreen content is one of those creative tasks that you have to make time for.
The evergreen piece is where it's going to resonate for people and bring them in.
Evergreen content is written once, rarely changes, and keeps working. And, as time goes by, it generates more return on investment (ROI). The point of evergreen content is that you can create something and it keeps on working. That way your time is most effectively used.
Otherwise, you are chipping away, time after time with a post, with a piece of content that gets a tiny bit of attention. Then it goes into the ether, vanishes and goes into the streams of the internet, never to be seen again.
Jeff Bond has an evergreen piece for Inspect.net that brings people to his site, mobile home pieces. Because mobile homes are problematic, they are constantly something that people constantly are looking for. So writing a piece to talk directly to that and solving their problems has turned out to be really nice. People contact me about that because they find it very relevant. I wrote that seven years ago, and it still gets tons of attention.
I live in the Bay Area. We have earthquakes. I write articles related to earthquake preparedness, making your house structurally sound in advance with small things like anchor bolts. Earthquakes are dot the i's, cross the t's, and the problem never happens. The little things can make huge differences. So earthquake preparedness is another evergreen content topic.
Content that changes rarely, once written, keeps working which is important. And it gets more ROI with time. I've had people contact me about the article and then, because it didn't turn out that I was the proper person to serve them, I referred them to another person. But then, later on, they're referring business back to me from other people because they appreciated the value they got from the evergreen content I wrote like six years ago.
You can easily collaborate with other inspectors. There are an awful lot of people who you may view as competition that are not. So you are giving out information and then everybody's going to refer each other.
We've had that with our inspectors on Inspect.com. Erast from Bay Area Inspections is listed on Inspect.com. He contacted me to say thanks for getting a couple referrals. It was my pleasure because he does a great job in San Francisco. It's a little too far for me. As we mentioned earlier about being clear, San Francisco is 36 miles away and if your circle is 35 miles, don't do it . You scatter yourself. I'm glad to send him business because he's an excellent inspector.
All of your content has to be written. It's all got a writing time. It's not like any content has zero investment of your time. So making sure that you get the most back out of it is a really important part. Whenever you can make content that's evergreen, make content that is going to last. Build it for the long haul.
Outsource content if you can't produce it, if you can't every week be thinking about what comes out. It doesn't mean you have to create something new every week. But you have to be thinking about it every week. Put aside time because a really good article may take you several weeks to put together, especially if you've only got a few hours a week.
Timeliness could be misleading to some people, because usually it is something that is timing related. It's probably not going to be evergreen if it's something that can expire. By nature it's not going to be evergreen content.
On the other hand, if you wait six months to produce content, you waited six months that it could have been bringing in business and building up links and building up traffic and building up reputation. It is like a flywheel. Each piece of content has to build on the momentum you've built up already with your site, with the last pieces of content.
Also, pay attention to seasons. For example, Inspect.net is writing holiday content in August. It’s forward thinking to make it relevant. And that seasonal content is recurring evergreen content.
What we've got there is recurring evergreen, content relevant during different seasons of the year. For example, right now, Fall is coming. For homeowners that brings up topics like: What kind of maintenance, are you going to do for your home? How are you going to make it safer for winter? For Pool Inspectors to get their closing up. You're getting into that season. The ROI will come around quarterly for seasonal content.
Once you've created that piece of content. It can sit there, all year round. It won't get traffic, when it's not on people's minds, because people aren't searching for it. When the season starts, people start searching for it again. Up it pops. It's still there. It's still got the old links that it built. It's not a piece of content you refresh every time. Just make sure it's still valid.
Return on Investment (ROI)
If you create a post and it gets some attention and then it's gone with the stream, as it was on Facebook or it Twitter. It's gone. You still spent that time writing it, you got whatever you got back from it. You obviously thought it was worthwhile. It gave you certain return on investment that time. But if you put that same investment into a page, and every year that page pops up again, and it gets that same traffic, without any further investment because it just sat there. Every single time that happens, you're doubling, tripling, quadrupling your investment.
As an example, Mia wrote blog piece for Inspect.com, about a punch list inspection a while back and that got engagement yesterday. People like it and they like that list. That's actually a piece of valuable content that generates both interest for Inspect.com as well as for TMC Services. And that is truly evergreen, because that's not seasonal.
You've got things that are specific to inspectors like bad weather preparedness, especially storms for hurricane season or tornado season. If those occur in your region, then those are important things that people are going to be searching for year after year after year.
And, the same with findings. Doing an inspection you find a piece of mold and you think, Oh I know this, I see a lot of this around here. And it took me ages to find out what it was. There is a piece of evergreen content: how to identify mold and how to treat it. How to do it. A lot of people still want to do it themselves. They still want to call in a professional, but they'd rather get you to check that they're right in identifying it.
If it took you a while as an expert to smooth that out and determine it, chances are good that's lurking below the radar for a lot of people and they're not even aware of it. And so drawing awareness and discovery to it is valuable in itself. You may be helping someone out that didn't even realize they had a problem.
There was something in social media this week that I noticed which was somebody talking about their basement keeps flooding. And they've tried to solve this for over a year, and they've had inspections here and they've had trouble identifying exactly what it is. It doesn't seem to be ground water at all. It doesn't seem to be this. Those kind of things are the kinds of things people are going to be searching for time and again. If you have groundwater in your area, then all the problems that are associated with that, are things that people in your area are likely to be searching for.
As an expert, that's really one of the value adds that you can serve to your community with valuable information. Do it from a non-business perspective, just straight altruism. But then you get the business because people are appreciative of that. So it has immediate as well as larger social value. It’s useful content and problem solving or problem prevention.
Why You Need Evergreen Content
The long-term benefits are those recurring visits. Visits are great. Visits are where your business comes from.
But even more than that, those links that this thing can build up over time as people find it. People say that was useful. That was really helpful to me. Somebody who finds your post on mold and it's solved a problem that they've had for a while, and they link to it. Maybe it's just social media at first. Maybe it's on Twitter, maybe it's on their own blog or whatever it is. Those links build up over time, and they are a major signal to Google, about the importance of this and how it should rank it. So, the links are so important. And the longer that content is around, the more likely it is to pick up decent links.
And for brand value, even if this is something that doesn't directly drive business, like we're saying with community altruism, you solve somebody's problem. Every time they're telling the story of how they had this problem with their home. Years and years ago, they're still going to remember. You become a part of that story forever.
Mold is an issue in the Bay Area. We have a lot of moisture problems and we have a lot of heavily wooded areas. So the mold issue is very real. I had an insurance agent that served the whole Bay Area call up and ask about it. They really liked the piece, and so they put the link for that article directly into their website. They got tons of clients coming through and it all of a sudden is just feeding through as well. This insurance broker has multiple offices is doing light advertising for me. You see my logo right there from his website. They find value in it. The key point is make it epic. If it really is a value, it's going to be appreciated for what it is. It's a valuable piece of content that delivers, always, for everybody.
It's a little bit more work to make evergreen content, to make content that has that extra value, that extra longevity. It's not just something you flip off the cuff. But that investment is always worth it. It's always worth spending that little bit of extra time to make it just that bit better, just that bit more memorable, just that bit more likely for somebody to link to it. Because the payoff is huge.
For another two hours, what would you have done with that two hours? Watch two episodes of something on Netflix or write one more throwaway piece and share it to various social media channels that’s gone tomorrow?
This is a time investment to create it. It's not just going to be an easy fluff piece, but a long-term investment so create something that has some good meat to it.
As a business owner, you should be doing that with everything you do. If you want to run a business, you should make everything epic. The website Inspect.com, is a consequence of thinking, a long time ago about making content that would have long term value and seeing the transition from the yellow pages to the internet. Website development itself back then was evergreen. You should be always thinking that way.
Cumulative Flywheel Effect
When you've built a piece of content, it's lasting. That momentum keeps going from it. Unlike social media where to keep my views, just static, I've got to keep producing content. If I don’t, I’m not there. Vanished. Just stay in place, I'm having to build content, and I'm having to build more and more and hope people share it.
With content, it lasts. Everything it does, lasts. It's still going to be getting X number of visits per month. It's still going to be getting so many links building up. Time after time after time, even though the work on it is done. So your next piece is additive. It's not keeping a level, this is on top of that, you're building up layer upon layer upon layer with each piece of evergreen content.
Even your followers on Facebook, three days after you've posted something is the last time it's probably going to be seen. After that it's gone. It's gone forever, lost in time. So, you've got to get that content.
The content should reside on your website and then you should refer back to your website from social. Because it's your domain, it’s the part you have complete control over. Nobody controls that except you. Facebook can change its policy tomorrow. Everything you've ever done is gone, and all your fans. Platforms are good for drawing people in for a while but as a long term home, there is no alternative to your own website.
There is no inspector out there who sat around going, I've got a lot of spare time, I've got much too much time on my hands. Not until retirement. And even then it's not that he's got too much time on his hands, it’s that his wife is going to kill him if he doesn't get out of there.
You've only got so many hours in a day. We are always short on time. So, every time, make sure that the time you spend is where it has the most value to you. Long term, content is always the most valuable thing, it lasts and lasts.
Time is money. Consider how much time you would personally spend to write a piece of evergreen content. Let's say you spend two hours and you get it done in two hours. Congratulations. That's good. It tends to be longer than that to research and find out and make sure that you're thoroughly complete. And you have to be good with grammar and punctuation and syntax. So I don't mess around with this.
(Jeff Bond) I have a writer. She's amazing. She's versed in homes and home ownership and inspections. The conversations we've had have helped educate her and made her more important about inspections. Now she writes wonderful blog articles. I consider half hour an hour of time that I would do inspections, is a very reasonable investment to generate a piece of content that generates repeat business over time. I use a writer because I write good, but she just writes so much better, and more just talks right to the points and in a written way that reflects well with people reading it.
What number of inspectors and other people in business that say, Oh, we don't have the time to create content. And you say, well, make the time. And also, that 10 minutes a day you're spending on social media, three times in a day. Even though it seems like that was only 10 minutes in the morning, 10 minutes in the afternoon, and another 10 minutes. That's 30 minutes in the whole day. If you save that up, if you spend that doing other stuff that needed doing. And then the time that you've saved for the weekend into having a couple of hours for your content. You will get a lot more out of that content. The content you can create in two hours is going to have more long term value. More importantly, if you work on something over a course of weeks, you can create a good piece of content that really lasts. When I'm writing articles about SEO, they often take 20 hours plus all the research, really getting everything in there to make it really useful, really informative all backed up and cross-referenced, that takes a bit of time, but the results are so worth it.
How to Create Evergreen Content
Start with the basics. You've got certain pages on your site that are already going to be turning up again and again and again. The base that you expect to come up for inspectors in the area and what you do. That's a bit of evergreen content, it's going to turn up again and again and again. So make sure you put the time into it to make it really effective. Your about page, you'd be surprised how often that is going to be a part of people's decision making. And again, make sure you've put the time to really make it as good as it can be. Because, it’s a long-term page.
(Jeff Bond) I had just a mess of an About Us page. Ammon cleaned it up. The About Us page is a huge part of the decision-making process for people picking an inspector. They want to vet you and they want to find out who you are. So the about page is your chance to close the deal.
The FAQ pages are useful in many different ways. These are frequently asked questions. Think about the things that people often ask you. Think about the things that people ask you as customers. Think about the things that people ask that draw or don't draw business. Having an FAQ page can help stop wasting your time. So having an FAQ page is something that, again, is going to last, is going to have a long-term effect. Often it matches the questions that people are asking on the search engine. You may not know that they asked that because, up until now, you didn't have a base of a FAQ page.
(Jeff Bond) A lot of times when people call me as an inspector, they're calling me because they were not happy with their inspector. One of the most common things they say is, he didn't really do a thorough job. I talked directly to the fact, I'm going to go everywhere. I crawl in the attic. I crawl in the basement, in the crawlspace. I'm everywhere in that whole house. In talking to that one issue in an FAQ, it automatically has people just being satisfied. I'm their guy because I'm going to be everywhere that the other guy wasn't. Talk to those tough issues.
Once you've answered the question it’s done. When you have to do the same thing over and over again, save time with FAQs.
Collated, Condensed Posts
A really good way of getting content is look for stuff you've shared on social media that had some traction. Look for blog posts you've done. Look at which ones can be reused, turned into a piece of long term content, possibly combining lots of different ones together into a bigger piece. It's half already been written in various places. You can put it all together, collate, condense, and you've got a piece of evergreen content.
These are the content pieces you spend time on. You think ahead, because the long term value is there. This is a billboard you're able to put up, that is going to be there forever. People see it, year after year after year. So you put the time into those or you invest in having somebody who can write for you, taking the time to really learn your business, to understand your market, to understand your customers, talk in the right time, all of that kind of stuff.
If you really write a nice piece like that, then by all means go get it published. Take that up to the next level. Republish it with someone who is a major player. Now you've written a piece and now someone upstream from you is using it.
Inspect.com is always looking for good articles from our listed inspectors. Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org to submit your piece.
The seventh in a 10-part series of marketing with Ammon Johns dedicated to property inspectors in the United States. He has been variously described by others as a veteran, pioneer, and expert in the field of SEO and search marketing. He has spent over 20 years in all aspects of Internet marketing, working with several leading SEO agencies, helping to launch several of them to industry-leader status. Ammon is best known for innovation, pioneering many of the common strategies of today, and he continues to innovate strategies.
Why Use Video?
Video is like a personal greeting. Viewers see your facial expressions, hear your voice, and feel as though they are meeting you.
People use video for a variety of reasons: a resource to learn something new or storytelling.
As a rich media learning tool video is easier than reading long text.
YouTube is the real biggest search engine. Video is content. What is interesting about live streaming is people joining as an audience. Then you engage with people, record that exact moment and that exact feeling and still have that transmissible to others.
Is YouTube really the biggest search engine? Surprisingly, it’s the amount of time people spend on YouTube. People may spend time searching on Google to get an answer, but people spend an entire evening searching through YouTube, searching for all their favorite artists and pop songs and playlists. They search for a tutorial on how to use a new piece of software or a new guitar technique.
More and more, Google tries to include a YouTube result in their search results. So you have the Google search on top of that actual YouTube native search. By far, YouTube is the biggest search engine when you combine the two different ways of getting there.
YouTube has experts working away to make people want to spend more time and see more videos. If your channel has videos that are going to suit them, YouTube is actively promoting that.
Some people may want to do the logical search on the website and other people might want to branch over into the video. Definitely cover both of those bases and make sure you have content that talks to both, because you don't want to lose the audience in either direction.
Make good use of text when you're uploading the video, when you're setting up the description, make sure that you have links to your homepage and links to anything you cite in the video. Cover all the bases, make sure it’s really rich media.
Video is Easy to Produce
People are resistant. Most people hate the sound of their own voice. And, most of us aren’t that comfortable with how we look on video. It’s not how you would like to be seen. That’s hard for a lot of people to get over. But, people aren’t there to see how pretty you are, they want to hear what you have to say.
Concentrate on the message because that’s what people want. Once upon a time, the game streams ruled it all, and comedy was the first really big hit. But now, most of it is infotainment. There are so many entertainment channels, that's where the real money is now. Home Inspection quality video is infotainment. It doesn't have to be dry, doesn't have to be boring, but it definitely has to be informative and succinct. Not a time-waster.
Think of your market. If you want to work with sellers who might have to fix the things you find in an inspection, doing a series across what's involved in making fixes that are suggested, repairing the floors. That's gold to them. Because you can help them get it right at the right price.
In this series, you'll see this is a running theme of providing content. Provide service. Provide recommendations, recommendations to other people if it's not a fit for you. That has to be a running theme in your business as well. Putting out these short friendly, helpful videos of where to go to next, what's the best. What's the best brand, what really cool places you saw, the best resource in your area for supplies or repair items.
Just get to it. You interface with people all the time and talk to them: realtors and buyers and sellers. You're already on stage. It's just getting over you're just not wanting to see yourself. People watch you every single day. They talk, they communicate. They already understand that they like it. it just gets shown they like your business, that you do a business. They care about it. So present that and add the value. See how much just by just providing that discovery, you get connections and you get business from it.
In the time of COVID, put these videos out now. That's an easy way to get your message out simply. People spend more time watching YouTube now because there’s so little else to do. Just the fact that video is easily reusable. You can expand it into other stuff. You can put it into your social media. Use it inside an article. Link to other videos within your video engine. That’s where your real strength lies.
House video on your website. Then have everything like your social,your YouTube, and your Facebook, and your Instagram actually go to grab it from your website. Let your website serve as the house repository.
The best place for any article is on your website. You link to it from other places or you cite paragraphs in other places to link to your site. Your site is your brand that you’re trying to build up. This is your commercial property. That is your real estate.
So even if you do use Instagram as your main platform, augment that by having a good website.
The website is always a solid investment. It’s a business property that you own. Whereas, if you get a listing on Yelp, that’s great. But if it one day they go under, where have all those reviews gone? Your website, you own that. One of the best things to do is to duplicate your reviews on other platforms onto your website, citing where it’s from. That way, you’ve got the best of both worlds.
Don’t forget your listing on Inspect.com includes reviews and a link to your website.
A lot of creatives have problems on YouTube as far as monetization. If you use it as a monetary platform, it can be hard. Your competitor can choose to promote their videos based on people who are looking at your ads, your video, your channel, so bear that in mind.
If you have good content and you created the video and you get the value out of it, and you use it for another purpose already, there's definitely no harm in housing it over on YouTube as well for discovery.
Keep a copy, but house your video on YouTube, because of your links to it on YouTube. If it's a YouTube video it is a signal to the algorithm that that is a good video on YouTube, and in Google search results when it's putting out videos.
The most important thing is creating a video that is unique, that's going to keep people watching, and coming back to see what you are up to next.
You're not really at that point like a creator that needs to justify the money and making it there, you're just utilizing the platform and the algorithm, to get value out of how it treats that content, but you've already monetized it and realized your return and are just using it for something else. Try to find your useful content and use it that way to leverage it. You’re using the platform for discoverability for your content.
For every video on YouTube, remind people to subscribe and hit the notification bell, so they will receive an alert for your next videos.
When To Use Video
What’s the point of video over other content? And obviously, the first answer is obvious, but so true, when the content is visual. When the content is going to be suitable for video, then that's when to use video. If you need something that people have to get back to like writing an instruction manual, don't do that in a video. Do it in text because it's easy to bookmark, to come back to places to try that paragraph again.
Video is tricky to search for. Anyone who's had to timestamp videos knows how much of a chore that is. Keep videos to bite-sized chunks is usually best. It's okay to go up to an hour if it's a really in-depth thing that people are going to want to sit through for an hour. 30 minutes is sometimes better. 20 minutes is sometimes even better still. That's a good segment length. It's a bit like broadcasting. Broadcasting is 10 to 20 minutes.
I want to see the one-minute videos. Google wants those one minute or under videos as part of their emphasis, to make sure that we understand. Get to the point. Have a specific point get to it. Don't let it drift all over the place. Make your point move on. Then, if you really want to have a longer discussion, you can start to integrate some of those one-minute videos into a playlist that can talk to a bigger theme.
How do you take an idea, parse it down into smaller little segments, and assemble all that?
Sometimes what you do is you create the footage. Take as much footage as you need. And then you go through it to collect the really rich stuff, the nuggets. If it's like this detail panel discussion, pick out subparts of the conversation that deal with a specific point. Create a separate video that links back to the main one.
As a home inspector, if you're looking at a deck or balcony configuration you’ll have multiple finds with an elevated platform and rails and you're starting to see a lot of construction defects like the ledger board is not well-fastened to the house and the whole thing can pull away from the house, or the stairs are very poorly built, and they're steep, and they're crooked, and they're small, and they're treacherous and there are no rails, or it doesn't have diagonal bracing so it can lean in. I'm going to document all that in video. Then break it down where to talk about a topic like how a ledger board should be fastened properly to the house. Another video might be about diagonal bracing to make sure that the structure. And a third video about stairs. Capture all that video, and then edit it later.
Once you've got the footage, you can take as much time as you like to get just the basics. Sometimes you'll find things you hadn't thought were going to be in there until you watch the replay.
Live streaming is documenting your brand, taking people along in real-time. You don't have the ability to control the situation, but it's about what's happening right now. Once you've got the equipment, you're good to go. If you're starting to build a following or community, live stream is fantastic for really putting together the Q&A (question and answer) engagement.
For home inspectors, being under the house fascinates people. It’s highly visual. And don't forget the things that really trigger people, as well. You find a huge spider's nest, you film that thing because that will be shared.
Face to Face
Face to face is one of the times that if you're really good at doing business face to face, then video is one of the better ways of creating contact. There are a lot of people who are better at face to face than they are with written stuff. Why be knocking yourself out trying to do written stuff if video is going to be the better format for the way you work? And the way your mind works?
The connections are very real. It develops a real bond. It is something that's hard to quantify but people really feel a deeper sense of connection. It's not hard to build an audience. That's all it really is. It’s not hard to build an audience up into the hundreds.
Be yourself. Find your voice and be yourself. Inject humor, if that’s your style. Be dry, if that’s your style. Be okay with being yourself, because that’s how people will connect with you.
When it’s a presentation, that’s perfect video content. Tutorials and how-tos work well in video. Explain how things work the same as you do to a person. It’s valuable and does really well. For home inspectors, it’s the perfect medium to show people what to do and what not to do.
You might take something for granted, but it’s new information for people who don’t understand home construction and safety. Maybe you’ve got a part of town which is all Victorian style architecture. Some of those properties have old sash windows, which most people look at today and just have no idea how to be dealing with. So, how to fix such windows or what they need to be aware of when examining whether sash windows are in good condition or not. That’s great content for somebody who has sash windows. And you know that’s a built-in market in your area.
Don't be afraid to niche down because then people start looking it up, they’ll find a great piece of advice on the topic.
Jeff Bond has a 30-second video on a mobile home skylight. He gets little one-offs on how to stop a mobile home skylight from leaking or fixing mobile home leaking skylight. It all stems back to this one evergreen article. People come in from 1000 different directions but they have a skylight in a mobile home. They know it's leaking and they want to fix it. Different tangents come and arrive at this video, and it actually answers that question nicely. And it’s just a 30-second video.
People who are repeat customers could be people who fix up properties. Talk to a segment where you're looking at various extensions on different videos. Talk about the kinds of roofs used and what were the advantages of this rather than that one. What was more difficult? What requires more maintenance? That kind of stuff can bring some of these people to be repeat viewers.
You don’t have to hit the jackpot on everything. Just put that content out there. If you put the content out and then in the future, all of a sudden it's important. For instance, you create a video about mobile home leveling and earthquake stability and safety. Then three years later there is an earthquake. That video is of value because your content has been out there, on point, for three years. All of a sudden, you are a real complete authoritative source. Video can be evergreen the way written content is evergreen.
Don't be afraid to follow up, as we talked about talking about tornadoes or earthquakes or tsunamis or whatever. When you had one of those guys do some video that shows the aftermath and shows the damage and what can be done about it, you've got content that will come up again. People will be looking at what they can do to prevent that kind of damage in their life to show them what the damage looks like before, and show what should have been done before. It doesn't have to be a well-produced video, just create the content.
Sound is crucial in video. Especially if you are going to be outside, use a good microphone. But you can do surprisingly well simply concentrating on how you speak. Make sure there's no background noise. There's so much you can do with just a mobile phone with a built-in mic. Take your time to be clear.
Try things out before you happen upon something, because, if it's not something that's going to be staged, you're going to be ready to have your camera out. Be ready to film and know your capabilities.
There are lots of opportunities for things to happen that provide good value. It can be a plumbing leak or an electrical item. There's always a lesson to be learned and the consequences that can be avoided. Together they make very compelling stories.
How To Use Video
On Location or In Situ
This is one of the great things about video. You’re actually right there. You can tell people about being there. Video gives you the feeling of me and me. You're talking about it right now. You’re showing me. You're telling me. I can hear it. We're talking about the damage to the stone. I can see it. That’s a really powerful piece of video content that you do not get in writing.
Social Media Live Streams
If you’re starting to build a following, capitalize on that by rewarding people with some exclusive content. Social media live streams are a great way of doing that.
Try creating a theme for the week and that can be the live stream. This week we ran across grout problems and here's how to make sure that your grout is sealed. If it's behind a backsplash and a roof. You can create these theme-based live streams that people will want to come back to. You’re uniquely positioned where you can capture that content.
Q & A sessions are really powerful. If you have a group of people that keep asking certain questions, put it up on video. A lot of that is the kind of questions that people ask in search. Often Google doesn’t have a full set of media for it. There are articles that mention it. But when a video comes up that answers that exact question, there’s a really good chance that video will get the results.
That's also something you can use if you are in a group or have created a group. You can put that video up there in the Q&Q if you want it to be rewarding your viewers.
Advanced Use of Video
Within Articles and Blogs
Use a video you've created as the seed to create longer content. Or if you've already created an article, use the video to illustrate rather than just an image. Then embed the video into the article. When Google finds that article and sees the video, makes the video show up more often on YouTube videos, in search results. It means that video is more likely to show up in search results a bunch of times as well. So, don't forget to embed it. It makes the article, much more multimedia, rich media.
It’s the way news media works these days embedding the video news in the written article so both formats are there. Plus, the article has a bit more background information that wasn't in the two-minute video. Use that technique.
Search Result Sniping
This is pure guerilla marketing. There are lots of searches that drive traffic to your business. You’ve heard people say, that's how I found you on Google. There are tons of things where there is no video. There is no video in those search results. Google likes video search results the same as they like some image searches. That is telling you, easy content, where you could create a video and instantly get page one coverage for that term. Not all things. There are some things where it knows that written content is preferred.
When people are looking for reviews of home inspectors, that's going to go through to a listing type site, most of the time. They're more concerned about inspectors because you actually want a category, not a single inspector. But anything with video is an unexplored means of content. Just having the right type of video can get you a ton of free advertising on Google, which in turn is advertising for your business and your website because you embedded those links.
That’s getting your name out in front of a random audience. It's a straight numbers exposure game. But you could make that scale.
There are a lot of property areas where people regularly search for new properties to buy. Very rarely is there a video walkthrough of that area. What is it like? What’s the drive to school like? Where the nearest coffee shop? What’s that bagel shop on the corner like? Give a tour of the neighborhood that a lot of people move into. That’s getting you known to people who are going to be buying property and may need an inspector to check out a house they’re thinking of buying.
Keep track of the video watch time on your YouTube videos. Go back and look at your videos. You can literally watch that people watch it in real life. Watch the patterns of when people drop off. Having a bunch of useful videos helps YouTube suggest more videos to watch.
On YouTube have one channel. It’s one identity. Then create separate playlists for different types of content on the channel. It's one identity. Separate playlists, different content
on the channel. This is about you and your business and your brand. It’s one identity. Your driving views to one place, your channel.
The only time you want a separate channel is when you don't want those viewers connecting you with this thing because the opposites detract from the message.
Create your videos, then get a listing on Inspect.com to amplify your web presence.
The eighth in a 10-part series of marketing with Ammon Johns dedicated to property inspectors in the United States. He has been variously described by others as a veteran, pioneer, and expert in the field of SEO and search marketing. He has spent over 20 years in all aspects of Internet marketing, working with several leading SEO agencies, helping to launch several of them to industry-leader status. Ammon is best known for innovation, pioneering many of the common strategies of today, and he continues to innovate strategies.
What is Social Media Marketing?
There is a reason that we have left this subject until near the end. That’s because the other stuff took priority. This isn’t where you start. Your website, content, video, all of those things come first. People think they want to start here because they think, Oh, I’m already on Facebook. I’ve already got 20,000 followers. That’s not social media marketing.
One major question is, do I post it as myself, or do I post it to my brand? It depends on how you are branding your business. If you are a sole expert, you can interact as yourself and automatically reflect on the business. Or you can interact as the brand and talk about professional things. It's fine to separate the two because sometimes you post on your business page and sometimes based on you. Keep it to what is relevant to each audience so you can have separate followers, so that the people who are only interested in your business don't have to watch the size of that fish pulled out of the lake on the weekend because they don't care. And the people who are interested in pictures of your family or pictures of the barbeque you went to
don't have to see everything about your business because they don’t want to.
If you maintain only one profile, people can get confused. They’ll think, Ah, that's not why I followed you. We've got to honor the relationship we have which isn't always to be advertised to. A lot of friends feel uncomfortable when you start pushing to them.
One of the great things is it's a ready-made audience. You don't have to talk people into using Facebook. It's not like getting somebody to go to your website. They're already on Facebook. All you're doing is saying add me, or even just keep doing what you're doing and I’ll use advertising to reach you if you’re in my target market. Or I will put interesting stuff out that other people who are interested in will find. So, its own little inner circle, its own little sphere where you can interact with the audience already there. And it's the same with all the other platforms. LinkedIn already has people on it; they’re already looking for connections. You are one of the people they're looking to connect with or willing to connect with. It's there, it's already happening. That's the big advantage of social media.
Social media isn’t a thing everybody has to do. If social isn't your strong suit, if you find Facebook a waste of time, don't use it. Your mindset is going to be wrong. You're not going to enjoy it. Your content is going to be bad because it's something you don't want to do and don't enjoy.
You’ve got to find yourself and make sure that your social actions really support your brand.
Fish Where the Fish Are
We already know that the ready-made audience is on the platform, but there are certain groups, there are certainly interests, that are expressed there, whether it's a certain hashtag that’s being used on Twitter, whether it's groups on Facebook, there's almost always a local community group for buying and selling or for listing tradespeople. You definitely want to be aware of that group, in that group, following that group. Because even if you don't want to advertise, even if you don't want to be talking, you want to be listening. Because when people are complaining about things they hate about certain services, you want to be aware of that before you make that mistake.
(Jeff Bond) I took your advice. And I did go to Facebook and I did a search for real estate Bay Area. It came up with some groups. So East Bay Area Real Estate Group have 1000 people, and a Keller Williams San Jose had 3000, Santa Clara County associations board had 3300. Women's Council of realtors had 3000. Right there are 12,000 people that done right, they may want to interact. Now I'm watching those groups. I'm just seeing what's going on in the group. That's all I'm doing right now. Just checking them out and seeing how they're playing and what they're talking about and getting a feel for that market.
Read the Room
Before you just crash into a group and do what you want to do, get a feel for what that group is like, how they're going to react, before you do something.
A lot of people are on social media to interact with friends and family and a salesman suddenly coming up and pushing is going to be the last thing they want. You crash the room, there's 3000 people. The one person in the room that really doesn't resonate with what you're saying happens to be very powerful, influential, and says something to 100 people. There's 100 people now that are going, that guy right there, no. You don't even know what happened. It's just happening. There's a quiet canceled culture that goes on. People talk.
Different rules for different people as well. We are talking to people. Social media is talking to people. Everybody has their own rules. Some people would rather you sent them a direct message to ask something. Other people don't want direct messages from strangers, full stop. If they haven't asked you to direct message, you don't. Sometimes it is worth dropping a note in public, Can I DM you? And then go to DM. Always try the fail safe.
You can interact with people just solely saying, what a great article, that's really helpful, great information. And then when you see that, and see it consistently from someone, either that's coming onto my page, or coming onto my personal information, that's that building know, like, trust.
I get friend requests from people I've never had a conversation with. I get it, they've heard of me, and they follow me. But Facebook lets you follow somebody, lets you subscribe to follow them, without being friends. Do that. My friends have at least interacted with me. If I haven’t had a conversation with you and you sent me a friend request, it's getting rejected straightaway.
It’s about the whole business relationship. Don't take advantage of the fact that there's a group of 3000 people. They're not there for you. They're there for themselves the same way you are. Learn to engage with them and provide value. Then they're going to become accepting of you and appreciate you.
Remember that just because the audience is there, does not make a captive audience. And it does not make it your audience. It just makes it a potential audience. You are the person having to turn that potential into actuality. Find your way of reaching those people without upsetting the rest.
Each platform has its own style. Facebook is the one everybody is on, and its friends and family. There are a lot of people who only want their friends and family. They don't like to mix the two. They don't like business on Facebook at all. But it's the one with the biggest audience, and there are tons of professional groups. If you can't make Facebook work for you, it's because you don't like Facebook.
LinkedIn is the very professional network. It's all about the business card, the recommendations and referrals, who else you’re connected to in your industry. It's really good for that industry networking. If you've got a construction company, and it does a lot of building work for people who are turning one property into three properties, that is a great platform for being able to manage those connections by adding testimonials from people that they know. Working with a network, it's very good. It's very professional, it does allow articles, it does allow an awful lot of content, there is depth to it.
LinkedIn is not a real demanding platform. It doesn't take a lot of your time. So if you can get those connections, get that professional presentation, and cannot really consume a lot of your time. Ammon says it’s the first platform he goes to. It’s in the business of doing business versus social. So it speaks to that.
At its basic level, LinkedIn can be like another business card. It's a little bit of business networking. It's a minimal amount of engagement, and it’s ongoing. It's a business card with the curriculum vitae attached to it. You can toot your horn on things you’ve done, not just your title. You can also list the projects that you worked on. For example, I worked on a $5.9 million project that will XYZ the community. You can put all your business accomplishments in there, without looking like you're for yourself. In fact, you should be.
It’s the right place to connect with other people in your network, whether it's businesses you've worked with, whether it's clients you've worked with. Just make sure you get those connections.
Audit your LinkedIn profile when you've got the time and for those people who are too busy doing other stuff. Otherwise, check in as regularly as you enjoy doing. Some people love doing LinkedIn. It’s their number one, go to, pool.
For all of the platforms, you definitely want to get your name there whether you're going to use it or not. If you're somebody who is really well known, always do that. Grab your name. But sometimes there is a black hole. You know, you're never going to use it. It's okay just to forget that platform. It is an account in your name just in case. But, it’s okay just to forget a platform.
Twitter is one of the most important platforms for what it's good for, which is the instant, what's happening right now. It's the most time-based platform. It's all about the right now, the moment. And if you want to be up on current events, if you want to be talking about trends right now, Twitter is great.
If you don't, if this is something you're going to be doing sometimes, Twitter might not be the platform for you. You might want to grab your account, put up posters, get your links to the homepage, and then say, I'm more active on another platform. You can turn toward where you are more comfortable.
Twitter is not for everyone, but it’s very, very powerful. It's the only social media platform where Google pays for access. They keep up with the entire stream on Twitter. The Twitter firehose we call it. Everything that goes on Twitter goes through Google as well. People use it to identify trends that are happening that may influence search. Because a celebrity dies, their name suddenly starts trending. Google knows that it needs to grab fresh information about this entity, this person. Then it will look at new sites and it will look at official sites, the sites that are strongest for that name for any fresh news. Have they died? Have they just got married? Whatever it is, that's changed about them. It lets them know to grab that fresh content to have the latest news. So that's why Twitter is so important to Google.
Twitter is really useful for keeping up with national, local hazards, for instance, forest fires. There is no platform that spreads the news of forest fires like Twitter does. You’re able to keep track of that. And notice that we’ve got a storm warning.
As an inspector, what would I be telling people who have homes to do right now? If I were quickly examining somebody's home for whether it's safe or not, what would I be looking for? This is that time to get our content out there, help people do something useful. It's right on trend at this moment. Or pick an article you've already dealt with on your site and remind people that it's there. This is the time to go and quickly check that you are strong where you are. You've covered up your main fire hazards, or these things simple and easy to do, given what's happening in the area.
So hurricanes come. You wrote an article three years ago about hurricane preparedness. You go in and you start to link back in Twitter to that article, saying, hey, look, you may need some tips on being prepared for a hurricane. Go and you catch this article right now.
Everyone in the region is safe. Here's some quick tips to make sure you're ready for this to burn out.
Facebook again, is so important. Subscribe to consumer groups in your area. Look at what they're complaining about ,what they didn't like about services, because it’s something to avoid. This is free advice on what not to do. It gives you ideas of the little things that are pertinent you never thought to mention. But it's a big selling point, and you’ll be surprised what you can sometimes find and how much of a difference it makes. You can just go there and get the read. You don’t have to say anything.
You’ve got two ears and one mouth. Listen to people talking. Don't go thinking, I've got two ears, but I’ve got 10 fingers. Just read, then share and comment. Use 80% of that time to interact with folks or reshare.
Instagram works with anything that's visual. They’ll do so well there. Property inspections, the building trade, all of those things. Things that have been built. New houses do phenomenally well. Interior decoration is massive.
On Instagram find the brands you like even if you haven't interacted with them. If they have a great story, share that as a story and tag them back. That action creates goodwill with people, when all you're doing is saying, look at this cool information.
Follow the hashtag #homeinspector and #homeinspection. Then it pops up when people are posting using that hashtag.
Each day you're out doing discovery and it's something new. So there's always something new to be seen. And a lot of times it's pretty unusual to see someone's taking a very creative approach to solving problems. So it's great to share things that are kind of unusual.
There is an awesome opportunity to really help someone. For instance, a duct tape around something that is supposed to have waterproofing. For you, you might add a client because as a customer, they’re thinking I did that in my house.
A lot of people forget that YouTube is a social network. They think, Oh, it's uploading videos. Yeah, but it's so much more. It is a channel. Your channel has a comments stream and dialogue. You can create posts through your channel that everyone sees and gets updates on. Content creators, release schedules, like what they’re games streaming and what was coming up. Don't forget there is a whole social media aspect to YouTube as well.
Organic vs. Advertising
What we're focusing on here is the organic. Because we're doing a whole episode on digital advertising. When you've created posts, you've got some organic content, and then you pay to make it be seen by more people. That exists on a lot of different platforms. And that's okay, that's the crossover point.
Paid advertising is something you would want to consider. If you're having trouble initially getting a real audience, start getting a little bit of both the emotional piece and really getting into the nitty gritty of the targeting. Next time, we're talking about advertising specifically. A little bit of paid promotion can help you be seen by the right people.
Let's say you're on Facebook and you have some content and you're really trying to get your message out to the realtor's, to the people that will use your services. You can go check the rooms, do the group search and find those groups. When you advertise on Facebook, you can target those groups to interact with them. You can float your message out in front of them. And so now you're using this organic post and using the social media advertising to really try to feed your message to the audience you want. It puts your money right where you want it to be applied.
For a lot of businesses, social media, they're not quite sure what to do with it. But when you work out how you can use it in your business, and you've got the right mindset to do so, it can be phenomenally powerful.
There are sandwich stores that advertise and run polls on social media for the special for the next week. They let the audience that follows them select at least two of their recipes as specials that come in. And then in the store they point out that these are the ones that their Facebook group picked out. It tells everyone that comes into the shop, they've got Facebook groups where they can influence the menu.
That feeling of ownership and being acknowledged is powerful. You’re saying, Hey guys, I'm listening to you, I'm watching you and I want to have your input. That's magic. That type of advertising is not intrusive. So it feels helpful, rather than pushy. People are opting in and choosing to participate at that point. It's a whole different bias. They want to be part of your business.
There's that old saying, it takes a village. It takes a village to make a business. All of those connections, those who are your customers, and your helpers, and your advisors, and your suppliers are all needed for your business to exist. So don't forget that community is the heart of business just as much as it is any person. Being a part of your community acknowledging in your community, that's where social media can be a really powerful tool for doing that.
That emphasizes how home inspectors can best participate in social. Be educating and let that be the value you add. And then when people need you, they're going to remember that. They're going to really remember.
The ninth in a 10-part series of marketing with Ammon Johns dedicated to property inspectors in the United States. He has been variously described by others as a veteran, pioneer, and expert in the field of SEO and search marketing. He has spent over 20 years in all aspects of Internet marketing, working with several leading SEO agencies, helping to launch several of them to industry-leader status. Ammon is best known for innovation, pioneering many of the common strategies of today, and he continues to innovate strategies.
This is the final episode in the online marketing series for inspectors. We’ve built this series step-by-step so you do first things first. It's like building a house. I'm trying to build a house, why am I digging a big hole? I don't want to hole, I want the house. Well, first you’ve got those foundations. For foundations, you dig down first. And you've got the bedrock, you've got the foundations. Then you start building up. You start the exterior walls. It's not good worrying what your kitchen is going to look like before you got the rest of the building structure there. And, there's no point putting on the roof until you have something to support it.
These things have an order. Likewise, when we're building out a digital marketing plan, there are a lot of parts that it makes sense to have. The very first thing we looked at is knowing who you are, what your message is, what your brand is because that's your blueprint for everything. What you're trying to build comes from that. Without that, you're just hoping it goes in the right direction, which is not good.
We talked about measuring in the second part, because everything we do after that has to be precise. We need to know if it's working or not. And that means we've got to have the measurements.
Conversions come third. Now that we can measure. We check the conversions everywhere. Make sure it is working as intended. When we try to test things first to make sure that conversion rate is as good as possible, before we spend time and energy building out all the things to get people there to find out, it doesn't work. So you see what I mean. There's always a logical process.
Types of Advertising
It’s not a shock to people that digital advertising is out there. Google is very good at letting people know. The minute you signed up for Google My Business or Google Places or local, they're letting you know that you can buy ads. They're letting you know that they're happy to run them for them. That's nice.
However, it is the last piece of the puzzle. Make sure all of those things we've talked about first are in place. Because if your conversion rate isn't good, and you're spending money to send people there and with a half an hour or an hour time you could double that conversion rate then, at the moment, you're wasting half your money.
The easiest way to look at advertising is by price and by content. These are the solid types of advertising we can talk about.
By pricing we have three different things that we are looking at.
PPM. We have what's called PPM, which is pay per mil. It’s by number of impressions and it's always rounded to the thousands. It's the French for thousands rather than realizing per million. ppm.
It's controllable. It's very, very budgetable. You know what the details are. You know how many people it’s going to reach. The point that so many people see it. But there's a reason it's the worst, and we'll come back to that in a little bit later. This is the one that’s by the number of people seeing it. This is really, really good if you know everything. And you know that this is the perfect audience for the specific product, it's been shown to work. If you've got all of the skills you need to make PPM work for you, it’s based on pricing on demand from the average person, and you're better than average at targeting your message, then you can make this work for you.
PPC. Otherwise, pay per click, PPC, is much more preferable to where you want to be. Pay per click is the Google AdWords version. They show the ads to everyone they want to, and you only pay when that ad is clicked. Affiliate programs in all kinds of things use this. It's solid because you're paying per lead.
The first one, PPM, is seen by people whether or not they act on it or not; whether it was only seen against the side of their eye, whether it's in that area of the page where they got banner blindness. The fact it was served means you pay. In pay per click, PPC, you’re only paying if they've clicked on it. Now that doesn't always still mean that you have a customer, because they could click out of interest to see what it is. But it's much more deliverable. We know that this is a click, and should be landing on your business.
You can work on your PPC first to work out your targeting and be least offensive in PPM. Then you can take all that information you've learned in PPC and use it to be smarter about your PPM program.
There’s even little tricks that can be done with pay per click. Now Google will only run ads if they get a certain amount of clicks. If it's not generating money for them, they're not going to show it because it's just not generating any money. So, they do look at the click through rate to determine how popular an ad is, where it rates, as well as the price. The price times the click through rate is how Google sorts the order of those ads.
However, there are times when you're complying with a particular niche that has almost no advertising in it, and that can be made to work. Years ago I worked for a mortgage company. We ran ads very specifically on certain postcodes where people were looking for properties to buy. They're not looking for a mortgage, they haven’t even found a house yet. We targeted those searches so that our brand was showing up even at that stage. We had to actually pay a few people to click those for us. We had to pay for the clicks, but we did it just to keep the ads visible so that Google wouldn't stop campaigns as ineffective. We weren't competing with any other mortgage companies so the prices were very cheap. Nobody had thought to target this. It did very, very well for us. By the time they had found a property, they felt like they'd been seeing our ad everywhere.
Fixed Rate. This tends to be private arrangements. Sometimes you've got a particular newsletter, publication, or group who will advertise you in whatever way at a fixed fee. They'll say , give us X amount for doing it. Those are great because you always know what the need is, you always know what the circumstances are, and it's usually a pretty good way for you. This could be having your card up in a place that specializes in house cleaning, but they will have a poster up there, in the shop, anything where you can get exposure to people who may also need building inspection stuff. That could be a fixed rate deal.
Anything except pay per click, you're not guaranteed results. And even with pay per click, you're only guaranteed they're going to click, not that they're going to buy.
(Jeff Bond) I did work on my targeted ads first. I worked on trying to figure out exactly who my audience was and how I would engage best with them. Then I focused all of my advertising towards that. Then I worked on conversions.
I then took that data back and I used it to immediately improve my conversions. I figured out what I was doing right and wrong, and was able to increase my click through rate. That gave me better working capital and let my budget go further. I continued in PPC and then lightly played around with the price per mill, just the impressions. I didn't want to make an impression and not have a handle on who was making impressions with or what I was presenting to them. Basically with price per million, you’re offending people. You're presenting to them and they don't want to see it. So you try to be very judicious in using that. I'm fortunate to say I've had good smart people helping me out in building the website, and then go into PPC, and doing conversions. I think the message for me is be smart and talk to people that know what they're doing.
One of the counterintuitive things is the idea, I want as many people to see it as possible. No, you don't. You really do not want to tick off as many people as possible. Let's face it, most of us when we see an ad a lot, we hate it. We all remember those terrible TV, terrible radio ads to print ads which we just saw everywhere and we're just, give it a rest. You don't want to be that. The in all advertising is to be able to convert as high as possible by showing it to as few as necessary.
Use pay per click to learn your conversion rates before doing PPM because that will help you have the knowledge. But, even then, when you first start doing PPM understand that you need to have disposable budget. What if you've got it wrong? This budget could be wasted. So don't have too much. Just test, put a toe in the water. Don't go diving in before checking at the depth and temperature. Be careful when you spend.
Certain platforms will be more inclined towards serving that particular model. For example, if you're on Google ads you can count on a PPC type model, but if you go to a Facebook you might be taught more PPM. And so you need to be aware. You don't want to be doing a lot of PPM, make sure you're careful which platforms you're playing on.
Ads by content is useful to know as well, because different content types are good for different kinds of messages to be ways of reaching people.
Ad blocks, is kind of like pay per click where it's got sponsored links at the top of a page, or on any website. It's got a visible part that you can see and it's marked as advertising. There’s a block for ads on that page, and it's clear that that's the ad. It gets seen, but it's also not going to confuse anybody that it’s anything other than that.
Then we've got the inline endorsement. The reason I've got both of these is we're not only talking about printing digital print. Inline is where the ad is in the middle of something. It flows. It might be a paid placement in the middle of a story that relates. It could be that they've endorsed this product or service as the one they've used while going through this article. Obviously, in video content endorsements come in. We've all seen those adverts where somebody is halfway through the video and this week was sponsored by Skillshare and talking about how these courses apply. It does mean you can't miss them. It's an endorsement but then making clear it's an advertisement as well.
Then we've got interstitial. Rarely in print, but this is when you click a link to go to an article, and you're shown an ad before you get there, and it says, you'll be forwarded in a moment. That's an interstitial. They are like a TV style ad, before we get that program, we've got an ad you can’t miss. And Google does this across as well on YouTube. You can't just start a video, it shows you the ad first. You can't skip to watch. Those are interstitials. They are obnoxious, but they're the most visible.
There's a lot of ad blockers that remove those ads for you. However, do bear in mind, if you like YouTubers and want to support their channels, and you have those ad blockers, you are stopping them from getting ad impressions, stopping them from making as much money.
Sponsored content is where you pay for the whole piece of content itself. This can be kind of like guest posting on the internet. It can be featured articles in print, as well. You could pay to have a full page ad written as a piece of content. So, an article, rather than just a glossy picture. So sponsored content is a very, very powerful way of doing the infomercial.
How to Choose
Choosing which type of ad to use depends on what the message is, who you're trying to reach, and where you're trying to reach them. The reason why we mentioned all this is to just spark those ideas. If you've got somebody you want to reach, you've got to know how long that message is or how it's got to be presented. That will help you determine which of these you need to use. Sponsored content if you've got a complex message. You need time to get across the message. Sponsored content is when you've got as much time and space as you paid for. Interstitials are the most objected to by people because they can't avoid them. So make them short punchy, and most of all, forgivable. Go for the human, make it something that they can't get too annoyed with you about. Funny or heartwarming works well.
There was an ad a few weeks ago, doggy dentures. An ad for those who choose not to clean their dog’s teeth. But it started off with an ad for doggy dentures, every time, dogs with false teeth grinning at me from the screen. I started laughing, every time. It didn't matter how often I saw the ad. That ad couldn't be over done for me. I don't even have a dog.
When to Use Digital Advertising
Budget determines your priority.
(Jeff Bond) Case study.
I had a limited budget. I thought, I'm gonna go ahead. I have $250 a month to put it all into PPC and I put in Google Ads. I'm gonna try to tickle two or three inspections a month out of it. Maybe spend $250 and then make $1000. I tried to slowly grow it. It was good and effective. I had my start. My start was to do PPC. I had my website. Absent that website, I had nothing of substance and value to really land on. So it really begins with having content that you can land on and completely refer back to and give control back to. Advertise when you have a budget. When you have a budget, you get your priorities done first.
The budget priority is always about what's the smartest use for any money that you have. And remember, some of the things we've talked about. If you do not have your brand sorted out, then, instead of spending $250 on an ad that is hit or miss, throwing spaghetti on the wall, spend that night off work. Just sit and really think about that. Spend it on a weekend away. It's more sensible to keep your head straight for that.
If you haven't got your analytics in place before you buy ads, pay for somebody to set up those analytics. If you're not great at this, get some professional specialists to set it up, set up a dashboard for you. Then you can look at and really understand that anytime. All of the steps we've talked about, if there were any of those that aren’t addressed, they are missing. If you're missing social media because by choice that's just not what you're good at, that's fine. But all of the rest, check you've done those first.
If you haven't done them, putting this budget into ads will be hit and miss. Look at those other things that last, that are the foundations, that are still going to be there month after month after month. Spend your money wisely.
Content comes up there as well. In doing that, you're going to learn that through PPC, certain content actually just resonates well. It really delivers and converts well. Then what you can do is take that and you double down and amplify that with PPM. Take your winners and find the PPM. You already know it's smart. You know it's good. You know what's converting. Then you might as well resonate that.
Once you've got the measurement in place. Once you've been doing your content, you know what content is working. That's when you can do a very limited campaign to amplify the reach of that content. Promote it on Facebook, promote it on Twitter so it's seen by more people. More people get that quality content.
You know it's quality, because people are already reacting to it. Amplifying the content is usually a lot cheaper and a lot less resistant than a straight up ad, buy my product. That's fine if you have your head straight, and you have your business set. You know what your goals are and you have metrics that you're seriously looking at to determine if you're converting or not.
How to Use Digital Advertising
The two things that really separate digital advertising, is that we have a lot more granular control over who is seeing it, how and where, the ability to target demographically rather than means of publication. In the days of print, everyone who read that paper was going to see your ad, which sounds great, but it isn't. When you're talking Facebook you can, rather than just show everybody on Facebook—you can do that, they'll take your money—you can target really specifically. For example, only people with an interest in this, are members of this group, and had my pixel, they're going to see this ad. And you can really, really be super precise. So, everyone is a really targeted link, rather than trying to reach everyone.
Facebook Pixels. Pixels Is Facebook’s own analytics offering. It's kind of like Google Analytics You put this little bit of code into HTML into your pages. Then it lets you track all kinds of stats on that page. But, more importantly, Facebook knows when people have picked up that pixel on that page. What it relates to is you can then show retargeted ads. If an ad keeps displaying, you knew that was Facebook guilty. You know, if somebody has watched one of your podcasts, one of your posts, one of those specific things then they’re more likely to see all of the others. You can specifically pay, just to show those people.
It's like someone coming to your home inspection website. They've expressed an interest in home inspections and you particularly. They chose to come there and your thought is that they might need you, but maybe later. So you go ahead on occasion and remind them that you’re there for professional service. You let them know that when they need you, if you could be of service. Otherwise, If there’s a homebuyer in a year and a half, between impressions, you might have lost that potential client.
It's always that degree that determines. The pixel itself isn't creepy. If you were at a meeting at the town hall to discuss some project that's being done, and that meant that all campaigners crowded around, you might recognize some of those people. You might recognize them on the street, and go up to them again later on and say, I saw you at the town meeting. Pixel and things like are allowing you to do that automatically in the way you could in real life. The difference is, just like in real life, if you see them at that time, the fact that you saw them at the town hall doesn't mean you should sit outside their house every night in a car.
Just because you can do it in real life, doesn’t mean you should. And just because you can do things online, doesn't mean a should. Be considerate.
It emphasizes why you really need to know what to do with PPC. Because if the only people that come to your website are the people that really need you, and if you continue to educate them lightly, then you're adding value. You're actually being productive and giving them information. They're basically signaling to you a year and a half in advance, they're going to use you. A lot of people do that. They look for a home inspector a year before they went to buy. People call and talk about a house they’re going to be buying next year. Try to stay in contact with those people.
One thing to be warned about with retargeting is the fails. There is a really obvious fail that happens quite a lot. Amazon is terrible at this. You look at a product. And then for the next three months they send you, oh, you're still interested in this product. No, I was looking at four websites, I bought one of them three months ago. Then for three months since then you've been sending ads for the thing I bought already. Be careful, sometimes some purchases are a thing that are made almost certainly instantly. Don't retarget those people because they've already bought the damn thing.
Don’t send ads to someone just because they came on your site interested. Yes. These six seven other tabs they had open at the same time, they shopped around, you may have lost. By all means retarget once, send them a link. So, add a special offer if necessary. If that doesn't get clicked, delete them from your database.
Take that money and advertise somewhere else, like a trade journal for people who are doing flipping and remodeling. And now these people are looking and they're seeing you as a home inspector, someone that's able to help them before they've even bought the house or going to flip. And next they're lining you up for in the future when they buy a house. If they're going to flip you’re the inspectors. So, be smart about where you put your money.
I think one of the things home inspectors often miss is the correlation to other things. Google isreally good at this, their search results correlate so much stuff. But, how many of you think, home decorators are often called for homes that have been fixed up and about to be sold or generally about to be sold. Are you in with the local painting and decorating companies? If you're not, that's an obvious trick you’re missing.
There is one advantage of paid advertising over anything else. It is the ability to turn it off. You can stop that the minute that you need to.
This was really important when I was working with realtors. If you were listing a property and that property sells, and you carry on advertising it, people want to see that property. And you say, I’m sorry it sold. It sounds fake. We all have seen companies do that. They advertise something great that they don’t have so they can show you something else. Yeah, that car on the car lot that isn't there, and the house that isn't actually for sale. We are critical of that, and other people critical as well.
Be careful. If you've got a thing that needs to stop being listed, advertising lets you do that straightaway. They will not show that ad if they're not getting paid for it. Google might still show old results until it realizes that it's gone.
And the smart thing is, think laterally. The more you can put in, the more you can be really super smart about where, how, and who you are targeting, the more value you will get out of your ads.
Think of the other things that people are looking for, as signs that they're going to be looking for you before you start deployment. If you have a bit of ground exposure in before they've started looking for an inspector. That is, people that do industrial cleaning, if you're doing industrial business inspections. People that do painting and decorating. People that are building constructors. They're going to list those properties or somebody's going to list those. They're going to want them inspected. Or buyers are going to be targeting the search phrases related to that round or anything like that.
If you are a home inspector, reach out to us on Inspect.com. Join a community of inspectors precisely focused on serving your clients sincerely. Once we receive your information, we make you look good so you can reach a national audience.
Get found on Inspect.com.
The tenth in a 10-part series of marketing with Ammon Johns dedicated to property inspectors in the United States. He has been variously described by others as a veteran, pioneer, and expert in the field of SEO and search marketing. He has spent over 20 years in all aspects of Internet marketing, working with several leading SEO agencies, helping to launch several of them to industry-leader status. Ammon is best known for innovation, pioneering many of the common strategies of today, and he continues to innovate strategies.