Limiting your advertising and conversations to the social web is like a pizza delivery chain spending big bucks to run a TV ad and forgetting to include their phone number. You have to carry the message forward into the social customers research phase, or risk losing out to competitors who freeload off of your initial investment.
Let’s check back in to the doctor search I began on Facebook, where I asked my friends to recommend a doctor. Visit yesterday’s post here for details.
My next step involved selecting two of the doctors my trusted friends recommended and performing a couple Google searches. First I referenced ‘best doctors greater Burlington VT’ to see if my friends picks made the cut compared with the general public. There were no paid ads present, so I clicked on the second organic link titled ‘Top 10 Best Rated Doctors in Burlington, VT’.
To my sister-in-laws credit, her recommended doctor was ranked number one on the list of family physicians. But there’s a pretty big lost opportunity here. Not one doctor or family practice took advantage of Google’s advertising platform to send me a curated message (More on this later).
Options are important though, so I gave the top ranked doctor and my other friends’ choice a shot at impressing me by searching their names on Google. The top ranked doctor began to crystallize his position when it was clear he had more reviews (and a higher overall star rating) than the competitor I compared him to.
Furthermore, the top ranked doc has a dedicated website for his family practice and a well built ‘Provider Staff’ page that includes professional photos of each care provider. Maybe this sounds silly, but I want to know whom I should expect to see before walking into the doctor’s office, and it’s important that they are open about credentials and perhaps a quick look into their personal life (This doctor recently moved to Williston, VT, the same city where his practice is located).
Takeaway: Search dominance, ratings and reviews are critically important to the social shopper who transitions from building an initial list of service providers to consider to the research phase of the buying cycle.
Action Step: How prominently does your web presence dominate the local search results? Is there a paid advertisement that makes it easier for me to understand the services you provide, where you’re located and why I should consider you (Which also make a deeper dive into the organic results unnecessary)? Make sure to budget search and display advertising into your digital strategy for the year ahead to capture more of these social shoppers who make the leap to the traditional and mobile web.
Think back to pay-per-click advertising for a moment.
For shoppers like me search results are not about paid vs. organic, they are about convenience. Crappy ads without a hook or useful information direct me straight to the organic results. Conversely, a great informative ad allows me to spend less time sifting through results and make a quicker decision. Shoppers appreciate this.
Here’s a micro example of a search I performed for a 2012 Subaru Outback in Burlington. Let’s inspect the elements that make it successful:
The ad features something called ‘site links’ inside of it. These are links to specific information that may be relevant to a car shopper, such as ‘New Inventory’ or ‘Service’ profit centers. But one of the most useful features is the ability to find your business on a map and get directions with a single click. Notice the address to the right of the map? That’s my starting off point, with my destination highlighted below it.
All of this information makes it easier for me to find what I want. Plus it pushes competitors out of the way, ensuring the social customer has a smooth ride from Facebook to Google to my website.
The overall takeaway I hope you grab from this post is that buying habits have changed, and it’s critical to adjust your response team and advertising strategy as a result. My recommendation is to test the effectiveness of these strategies and tactics with the help of a socially aware community manager and a deadly efficient platform.
Joe Mescher is the Digital Marketing Evangelist for Dealer.com. He will be attending the 2012 NADA Convention and Expo, and is available to discuss your specific questions at the Dealer.com Booth 3301.
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