Business Smarts: Setting Your Digital Marketing Up for Success - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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Business Smarts: Setting Your Digital Marketing Up for Success

There are a multitude of marketing methods, both traditional and digital, readily available for lawn care and landscape companies to take advantage of. However, it can be overwhelming deciding where your marketing dollars are best spent.

“Most landscaping companies do not have proper digital marketing strategies and execution in place — it’s just a fact,” Corey Halstead, co-owner of HALSTEAD Media. “They may have some of the elements of one – i.e. they run targeted Google Ads, but very few have a well-round system in place that leverages cross-platform efforts, proper retargeting funnels, etc.”  

Approaching Digital Marketing

If you are looking into your digital marketing options, Chad Diller, director of client success for Landscape Leadership, says that your approach trumps the method of marketing you choose.

“You can have a really great method, but you execute it really poorly and then all of a sudden someone says that doesn’t work,” Diller says.

Because the landscape industry is so diverse, there’s no one-size-fits-all strategy that is the best for every company. From the type of customers you are trying to reach and for what services, to the goals of your individual business will dictate the strategy, targeting, messaging and budget needed.

“A marketing campaign for a lawn care business that relies on repeat customers is going to look completely different than a marketing campaign for a commercial landscaping firm,” says Alain Parcan, vice president of operations and financial administration for Market Hardware.

Implementing SEO

One effective digital marketing method that should serve as the foundation for the rest of your efforts is your website and local SEO.

“These will always provide the largest volume and highest quality of new leads,” Ricketts says. “However, these are also long-term strategies and an immediate ROI shouldn’t be expected.”   

Diller says that while other digital marketing efforts on different platforms serve as rented attention, investing in your website and making it a valuable resource is something you own. Halstead says SEO should always be as hyper-local as possible, meaning you are working to rank organically in the service areas you care most about.

“SEO is not a DIY project,” Tony Ricketts, owner of Lawnline Marketing. “The most effective way is to hire the right agency or freelancer that has a core focus on SEO and let them plan/execute for you. The term ‘SEO’ is very broad and encompasses so many aspects from technical knowledge to strategy that a landscaper should never spend their time on. There are a few things pertaining to local SEO that landscapers can do themselves such as populating their Google Business Profile, consistently building reviews, adding new photos/videos monthly, and publishing new content.”

Diller agrees that landscape company owners shouldn’t become an SEO expert but find a partner who is transparent and proactive. He says he often hears companies say they have an SEO company they pay, but they don’t know what exactly they do. A proactive partner will communicate with you and let you know what they are doing on a monthly basis.

Halstead encourages owners to make understanding digital marketing and SEO a priority so they can decide if they want to hire an outside partner or build an internal marketing team.

“The thing is — it’s impossible to find one or two people that are going to be experts in all things digital,” Halstead says. “SEO and many other digital strategies change so quickly. So, keeping up with all of that, and having the cross-platform knowledge usually requires at least some level of outside support. It’s about choosing the right partner you can trust and investing in that relationship.”   

Quality Content

One major element to improving your SEO is developing quality content. Great content will often persist for years to come and benefit your site, as it is answering the questions of your buyers.

“Writing great content on a consistent basis, year after year, is probably the best thing that you can do for SEO, but also for your buyer,” Diller says.

However, Diller says 95 percent of the time DIY content fails pretty miserably. He says oftentimes a company may be dedicated to writing for a few months and then after some time it will be three years since their last blog post.

“It’s not because they don’t have good content, it’s just there’s more to it than writing 200 words of the recap of what they’re trying to say,” Diller says. “There’s way more to it than that.”

You need to publish pieces at a great enough frequency that it has an impact. Diller says it’s also not just about writing content but going back and fixing it. He says every two to three years they will tweak and update their clients’ articles that aren’t performing well.

“Landscaping companies must realize that reaching the right prospects all day is worthless unless you have something compelling to say,” Halstead says.

Metrics That Matter

Regardless of what digital marketing methods you choose, it’s critical you’re monitoring the metrics to make sure you know what your ROI is for the different strategies.

“I recommend dashboards for every owner of a $2M firm or larger,” Halstead says. “This dashboard shows anything and everything an owner would need to know about their entire campaign. Including the foundational metrics and spend amounts per platform, but also metrics that matter most such as conversions and brand awareness.”

Halstead says conversions should have a source attached to it so owners don’t need to guess where a lead came from. Parcan advises looking at the web traffic year over year, clicks/calls if it’s a paid ad campaign and how a customer heard about your business. These three metrics combined can often paint a clear picture if your digital marketing is working.  

By dividing your total spend by the number of leads you get from that given period you can get your cost per conversion. Diller says the other important aspect is tracking what is happening to the leads after they are given to the sales team.

“Even the ones that are sophisticated enough with marketing to say, ‘I know we spent $28 a lead for pay per click last year. That was a great investment,’” Diller says. “But they often cannot tell me what they sold as a result of that. So, a lot of times people go ‘Well this marketing method stinks.’ When their sales process or their sales team are not great.”

He encourages examining your sales process before assuming there is a problem with the marketing method.

“I think the big thing is just not making quick assumptions about things working or not working when you’re not looking at the whole process,” Diller says.

Jill Odom

Jill Odom is the senior content manager for NALP.