By Bob Lester, president and CEO of Dura-Seal
The COVID-19 pandemic has fast-tracked digital operations for every industry, from healthcare to education to construction. Coronavirus has elevated internet usage 70%customers shift to digital mediums in their day-to-day routines, making sure to cater to where they are communicating is key to reaching them.
Recent surveys reveal that 52% of businesses are planning to invest more heavily in digital efforts throughout 2020 and beyond, and contractors should be doing the same. It’s no secret that contractors often operate in saturated markets where employees are constantly bouncing from company to company. With so many service options, employees and customers alike can make quick decisions to leave your business for a competitor if they feel like a competitor’s information is more accessible.
It’s now more imperative than ever that contractors are accessible in this digital age we’ve entered as a result of COVID-19. If competitors are easier to find and communicate with, businesses could lose customers quickly. Companies that have an online presence are better positioned to reach customers, providing vital information about pricing, hours, availability to customers—and more—at the touch of a button.
At Dura-Seal, there was a gap in how the sales team was reaching prospective clients during the pandemic. We decided to invest more in Dura-Seal’s digital marketing efforts, prioritizing items such as paid search, SEO, paid social, and Google ads. For other companies looking to do the same, we have a few tips to help guide you to better reach your customers during the rest of the pandemic.
Evaluate Current Channels and Pinpoint Goals
In the early stages of planning, before deciding which digital efforts to invest in, a great place to start is evaluating your current digital channels. This will help identify strengths and weaknesses, allowing you to build a digital strategy that makes sense for your business.
At Dura-Seal, we noticed that our website was not nearly as informative as we wanted it to be, which meant customers weren’t finding our site when searching for keywords that would uncover paving services in the local area.
Identifying this allowed us to prioritize a website redesign and focus on boosting the search engine optimization (SEO) of our new website once it was created. SEO is the process of improving your website to increase visibility for relevant web searches. We also decided to focus on elevating the website’s domain authority, which is a ranking (1-100) assigned to each website to signal its trustworthiness. To do this, you want your website URL to be backlinked by other credible websites, such as media outlets, event websites, and affiliate/partner websites.
Some tactics we used to boost SEO and domain authority included earned media, Google Ads, keyword optimization, and social advertising. We prioritized going after earned media with key industry and local media outlets, as well as investing in Google Ads to help our website show up for individuals searching for local commercial paving services. Additionally, we optimized the website and owned content with keywords associated with our services and allocated a portion of our marketing budget toward other social media ads to reach target audiences and spread awareness of our services.
Foster a Dialogue
In addition to building out your website to make it easy for customers to get in contact with your sales team or schedule a job, it is also important to leverage your own channels to build trust with customers and connect with them on a more personal level.
Investing in building a blog and posting regularly on social media channels can help to inform customers, create a dialogue, and ultimately build trust by showing them that you’re an expert in your field of service. Making sure that you’re establishing yourself as a trusted resource goes a long way to making customers feel comfortable approaching you to ask about your services.
Customers can comment on blogs and social posts with questions, or even reach out directly via email or phone to ask questions about services or pricing. This is a great tactic if your team is unfamiliar with some of the more technical aspects of media relations and digital marketing.
Choose the Right Digital Partner
If there are digital investments you’re wanting to make, but your team is not equipped to execute these tactics on their own, bringing in a digital partner is a great alternative. At Dura-Seal, we decided to work with a partner because our team was not as familiar with some of the digital operations and didn’t have enough bandwidth to execute the tactics we wanted to prioritize.
When it comes to finding the right partner, make sure to do your due diligence in examining a few different agencies and asking for case studies that are similar to the work you’d like to invest in throughout the process. The right digital partner will also have an open dialogue with you and explain the approach they will take to boost your digital efforts before you begin execution.
Requesting that the partner walk through the full strategy is beneficial for teams that are not as familiar with digital work, as it can help your team understand what your partner will be working on. Good partners will also provide reports that show progress, being transparent about what is working and what is not and pivoting in real-time.
Digital is often a game of trial and error when it comes to A/B testing and figuring out which messages are performing best and resonating with customers. The right partner will have an open line of communication and flexibility, adjusting to what is working and trying new strategies.
No matter what your digital strategy includes, one thing is certain: investing in digital will be key to standing out amongst competitors for contractors throughout the duration of the pandemic and beyond.
Bob Lester is president and CEO of Columbus, Ohio-based Dura-Seal, a sealcoating, asphalt, and concrete services company. He has worked in the paving industry for over 20 years, leading two buyouts, an acquisition, and the sale of an equipment manufacturing company at Dura-Seal. Prior to joining the company, Bob studied business finance at Otterbein University.