SEO versus Adwords – What Should You Spend Money On?

This is one of the most common questions I hear when consulting with clients.  Companies don’t know where to invest their money… sometimes they only convinced that SEO is the way to go and other times I’ve heard companies say they will only do Adwords because they’ve been burned with SEO.

So what should you do?  What one is better?  SEO or Adwords? (by the way, Adwords is the same thing as pay-per-click marketing in case you are wondering)

Well, the truth is that the answer will actually vary depending on your situation.  In some scenarios SEO is perfect, in other scenarios Adwords is the right choice and then there are times where a combination of both is best (in my opinion a combination is almost always best).

What you need to know is that they are NOT the same.  Yes, they definitely have similarities but they are not the same.  Both of them allow you to get targeted traffic from Google but one is a long-term investment and the other is more instant.  Let me give you the advantages/benefits for both:

SEO or Search Engine Optimization Advantages & Benefits:

  • Not pay per click – at first SEO might be a lot more expensive but over time it might be a lot cheaper
  • Long term – SEO can drive results for years
  • Better traffic – SEO is considered organic traffic and is always better.  Just think about it, how many times do you click the ad or go to the search results?
  • Higher conversions – people who see your website high up on Google automatically think you must be the best.
  • Stable cost – you might pay a monthly fee to a SEO company but as your traffic increases your cost doesn’t.  You don’t need to bid or worry about rising costs based on competition

Adwords or Pay Per Click Advantages & Benefits:

  • Instant – you can get an ad up today and have targeted traffic rolling in
  • Total control – your traffic is like a tap, you can turn it on full blast, turn it off or just have it slightly on
  • Can change budget on the fly – you don’t need to commit to a certain budget
  • Easy tracking – you can see what keywords are performing better
  • Split testing – you can test ads and get higher click thru rates

As you can see both have benefits.  And from my experience a combination of both is usually best.  You don’t necessarily want to rely 100% on SEO since it can be finicky and long term.  But you definitely don’t want to just use Adwords since the best traffic is organic traffic and the cost per click will always go up over time.

Either way, you will want to make sure if you spend money online that your leads are automatically going into a CRM that allows you to easily manage them.  truLeads lets you tag your lead with a source so you know if it is Adwords or your organic, etc.  That lets you easily see where most of your leads are coming from.

How Many Form Fields Should Your Lead Form Have?

A lot of companies don’t realize that many factors can affect lead conversion including how many fields you put on your form.  The other day I saw an insurance brokerage who had a very long form for a user to fill out to get a quote.  The problem with a long form is that the user probably will find it very inconvenient and would rather just talk to someone or find another website that makes it easier.

Now, whether you are a local service company or you are selling something online definitely factors into how many fields are optimal on your form. From my experience I find that a local service company can get away with basic fields such as name, email, phone and a comment box.  It would be odd for a service company to only ask for an email… most people expect to fill out some kind of comment box of some kind when contacting a service company to explain what they are needing.

If you are selling an ebook online or doing something to build your email list then obviously you will just want to have a very simple form like an email address.  And if you are an insurance company providing a quote online then you will want to reduce the amount of forms/questions during your quoting process as much as possible.

The bottom line is that too many form fields can definitely create inconvenience.  What you really need to ask is are you adding the form fields because the user will want to provide that info OR are you doing it for your own selfish needs?

Tip of the Day: Let’s say you need to capture a lot more information but you don’t know how to do it without reducing your conversions significantly.  In this case you can actually split your form into steps… so you can ask for name, email, phone in the first step and then add a few more fields in the second step and so on.  This breaks up your long form and creates a perception to the end user that it is easier.  The best part is that if they abandon the process in the second step you still have a lead!

truLeads’ API actually lets you integrate a multi-step form.  So if the user fills in the first step it will send that lead info and as the lead continues through the steps all the other information will get added to the lead.  That way if the lead abandons the process at any given time you can have an email auto-responder setup to go out to that lead right away.

How To Design An Effective Landing Page With High Conversions

Alright, so in order to generate leads online you need to have high converting landing pages on your website.  A landing page is simply the page a person “lands on” after doing a search on Google.  For example, someone might type in “white label CRM software” and land on our white label page that we specifically designed for that niche.  Of course, a landing page should be optimized for SEO… a good landing page strategy actually starts with keyword research so that you know the overall topic you should focus on including what keywords your headline should have, etc.

But, how should your landing page be designed?  Here’s my basic blueprint for a landing page:

  • Strong headline including keywords
  • Call to action (i.e. Click here, Get A Quote, Start Now, Contact Us Today, etc)
  • Easy way to capture lead info like form (right near top, above the fold)
  • Big phone number if you want phone calls
  • Valuable content
  • Testimonials

Sometimes it helps to see examples so here is an example of a landing page in the insurance industry that we designed:

Boat Insurance Landing Page

The actual design elements may vary but you can see the overall idea.  This landing page is focused on boat insurance and we wanted to make sure the people looking for boat insurance had an easy way to get a quote.

The concept of a landing page is actually very easy to understand but so many companies don’t have a great landing page strategy and if they do have landing pages they aren’t designed well for conversions.

Don’t forget that if you design proper landing pages you will most likely have a form on your landing page that you should integrate with a simple lead management tool like truLeads.  That will allow you to manage your leads easily and give you some marketing automation.

How To Get More Leads As A Local Business Using Google and Your Website

One of the reasons truLeads came to be is because my digital marketing agency helped so many local businesses generate leads online and they needed a better way to manage their leads.  So what is the best way for a local business to get more leads online?  Just so you know, my company has helped generate over an estimated 500,000 leads for local businesses over the last 5 years… so I know a thing or two about generating leads online.

In my opinion the best way for a local business to generate leads online is to get a decent converting website with proper landing pages ranked high on Google either through SEO or Adwords or both.  Sounds pretty easy, right?  But the problem is that it isn’t as easy as it sounds.  A lot of companies struggle to get this done.

I have an equation that I came up with that makes lead generation super simple for any company to understand:

Targeted Traffic (TT) + Conversions (C) = Qualified Leads (QL)

Forget about all the stuff you have heard online that you need to do.  It’s just noise.  Don’t worry about Facebook, LinkedIn, or anything else that you think you need to do.

The real magic is in this formula.  it is brain-dead simple and if you get each part of the equation right you will get more qualified leads.  If you are struggling to get qualified leads then you are either not getting enough targeted traffic OR your conversions suck.  It is not more complicated than that.  So let’s chat about each part of the equation…

Targeted Traffic (TT): Targeted traffic could come from anywhere… it could be someone going to your website from a referral or from a postcard in the mail or from Google.  It just so happens that Google is one of the best sources in the world for getting targeted traffic to your site.  Targeted traffic simply means they are people that are truly interested in what you are offering.  Don’t be fooled by looking at just “traffic”… you can buy traffic for cheap that will never turn into leads.  “Likes” on a Facebook page are NOT targeted.  You must get targeted traffic… people who actually are looking for what you offer.  If you use Google to get targeted traffic you can use SEO or Adwords to do so.  I wrote an entire post on how to use SEO to generate more leads that you can read by clicking here.

Conversions (C): Conversions simply mean you have a landing page of some kind that is targeted to a specific product or service you offer.  You need a well designed website to make sure you capture leads.  If someone is looking for a plumber and goes to a cheap, hard to navigate plumbing site do you think that plumber is going to get the business?  On the other hand, if someone types in “emergency plumbing” in your city and lands on a page that talks about emergency plumbing, has a nice big phone number to call or a form to fill in and has some customer reviews they are most likely going to get a lead.  You MUST match the page your visitor is going to with what they are looking for and give them an easy way to contact you.  And always remember, your design of your website builds trust.  If you walk into a home builders office and it is messy and not clean what would your first impression be?  Likewise, your website is the first impression a potential customer will have your company.  It is worth investing in making sure you have a nice website that will convert well.

Qualified Leads (QL): Once you get the two parts of the first side of the equation right you will end up with qualified leads.  Just remember there is no point in spending money on targeted traffic and getting a high converting website if you don’t have a simple way to manage your leads.  You should integrate your web form into a CRM or lead management tool like truLeads.  Having a simple but powerful lead management software will help you close more deals.

Good luck with getting more leads!


Should You Capture The Lead Upfront or Give Value Of Some Kind And Then Capture the Lead Later…

Being the President of a digital marketing agency as well as being the Founder of truLeads allows me to have a lot of experience with lead generation techniques.  We have a client in the insurance industry that created an online web portal that allows users to quote and bind professional liability insurance online.  So just to give you an idea… someone searches on for “professional liability insurance” or something like that and finds their website.  Upon going to their website they can immediately get a quote online and even purchase the policy if they want.  The quoting engine is like a 4 step process, each step collects more information from the user.

So the million dollar question is should they capture the lead upfront BEFORE the user is allowed to go through the quoting process OR should they allow the lead to start the process and capture the lead AFTER they get the initial quote?

For over a year our client had it setup where they captured the lead after they gave the quote… so in essence anyone could get a quote for absolutely no cost, they didn’t even need to enter in their personal information.  I kept telling them that capturing the lead upfront is the way to go for two primary reasons:

  • Curiosity is one of the biggest driving forces of the human nature.  If a user is curious what the insurance will cost them why not leverage that and ask for their contact info first?  It only makes sense.  After they get the quote you have lost that leverage.
  • Getting a lead upfront is very powerful since it allows you to market to them over time through drip emails.  What if the quote isn’t what they were expecting but through continuous contact they eventually come around to seeing the value?

There are more reasons you would want to capture the lead upfront but these are what I consider to be the biggest reasons.  After a lot of convincing we managed to get the client to setup the website so that the lead would be captured FIRST before going through the quote process.  The client had a fear that nobody would want to give their information to get a quote and that they would get less leads than before.

Can you guess what happened?

After implementing the changes they got MORE leads, not less.  People who landed on their website were willing to give up their contact information in order to get a quote and the option to buy insurance.  And because they are now getting the lead upfront they are able to market to the lead through email drip campaigns based on the stage the lead is at.  So they have total control over their marketing.  The client is using truLeads and setup targeted emails based on the stage the lead got to.  So even if a lead abandons the process after the quote, they still have their contact information and can market to them over time.

Never forget that the value IS the lead.  It isn’t the traffic as much as it is the ability to turn traffic into leads.  Once you have someone filling in a form with their contact information you have way more of a chance to getting a sale.

Does that mean you should always capture the lead upfront?

No, not at all.  The client didn’t have control over their quoting engine since another company in the UK created it.  Therefore, they couldn’t make it the best experience on the Internet for getting a quote.  In my opinion, if you have such a great experience that you know a user will want to continue then there is the possibility to allow people to go through the experience without asking for their information.

But if you aren’t confident you have the best experience in the world then why not capture the lead upfront.  You don’t have to have the best experience in the world if you have a really good, targeted email drip campaign setup through your CRM (truLeads allows you to do this in a very cool way).

In conclusion, from my experience it is almost always better to capture the lead upfront.  If you have a landing page that is well designed and you are offering exactly what the lead is wanting then why not ask for their information upfront?

How To Generate Leads Using Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Most companies want more leads… I’ve been running a digital marketing agency for many years and I’ve never come across a company that doesn’t want more, qualified leads.  Whether you are a small, start-up company or a large company, you still need a source of leads.  Larger companies tend to hire sales people for outbound marketing to generate new leads that could turn into customers.  While this is fine, it  can be quite expensive and there are other ways of generating leads using the Internet.

The big trend right now is companies figuring out how to use SEO to generate more leads online.  Google is a great source for qualified leads… just think about it.  If you are an insurance broker and want more leads there is probably not a better place to start then getting a presence on Google. Every day there are people typing in “{city name} car insurance” or any other type of insurance looking for a quote.  And this doesn’t just apply to insurance, most of your customers will be using Google no matter what industry you are in.

The reason Google and any other search engine is so powerful for generating leads is because people can search for exactly what they want and if you offer that exact product or service they are searching for then they will most likely contact you.  It is very targeted.  Other than a referral, getting a lead from Google might be the next best thing.

So how do you get leads from Google?  That is where search engine optimization comes into play or commonly referred to as SEO.  SEO is the art and science of getting your website ranked on Google.  Of course, you can always just buy an ad on Google but getting your website ranked on Google to generate organic traffic is far better than just buying an ad.

The problem is that SEO can be so daunting and hard to understand.  Not to mention, there are so many companies in the world that claim they know SEO and bombard your email inbox every day claiming things like, “We can get you top rankings on Google”.  What I’m going to attempt in this blog post is to help you understand the basics of SEO so that you can either do it yourself or be more informed to hire a good company to help you.

Alright, let’s begin…

Why does Google rank a certain webpage above another?  The main reasons are:

  • The page is relevant and optimized
  • The content is useful and well written
  •  The page has other good websites linking to it from the Internet

It is really that simple.  But before you get too frustrated thinking you are doing this and still not getting results let me just caution you on one thing… you cannot try to rank for broad phrases like “car insurance”.  Something to broad is way too competitive and your webpage will never get enough trust and authority to rank for it.  So doing proper keyword research is vital in order to get results.

So if it all starts with keyword research let’s quickly talk about that.  You can use Google’s keyword planner tool (just sign up for Adwords).  If you are an insurance broker then you already know an idea of what topics or phrases people might be searching in your city such as:

{city name} car insurance
{city name} car insurance quotes
{city name} car insurance brokers
{city name} auto insurance

Just start with some common sense keyword phrases that you think people would be searching for and copy and paste them into Google’s keyword planner tool and see what you get.  You will get a lot of great insight into what search phrases people are using.  Then after you get these ideas group them into “topics”.  So one topic might be “car insurance” and you will want to build a page on your website dedicated to {city name} car insurance.  This makes the page extremely relevant to the user and allows you to show Google that you care about a good user experience.  After all if someone searches for “Calgary car insurance” they probably want to land on a page that talks about this and has what they are looking for instead of having to search for it.

Building out these topical pages on your website around keyword phrases is commonly referred to as landing pages.  You want to have as many landing pages as your services or products.  This is very important.  And your landing page URL structure should have the main keyword in the URL such as{city name}-car-insurance – this helps optimize that page even further.

After you understand the concept of landing pages that are targeting a specific group of keyword phrases then you will need to know how to properly optimize that landing page.  What you need to know is the following:

  • The title tag is very, very important.  Your title tag should have your main keyword phrase in it and not be stuffed.  You want it optimized for Google but also written in a way that will get someone to click on it.  So something like: “Los Angeles Car Insurance – Get a Free Quote | Broker Name”.  If you don’t know what a title tag is just Google it 🙂
  • Your H1 Header is also important.  You need to start off your content with a strong, optimized headline that is your H1 header.  So something like: “Looking For A Quick & Easy Car Insurance Quote In Los Angeles?”
  • Your content should be informative and valuable.  Don’t just write content for the sake of writing content.  Actually write something that is valuable… maybe show the user some stats they would like to know.

That’s it!  That is all you really need to know about optimizing your landing pages.  Just keep in mind you want to make sure your website is mobile friendly and loads fast.  But other than that you are set to start ranking for keywords.

But don’t expect to go onto the first page of Google just doing this alone.  You need to build up the trust and authority of the landing pages you have created.  The best way to do this is to get other websites to link to your new pages you created.  Do you have a network of partners that would be willing to link to a specific landing page you just created?  Also, try to get a listing in all your local online directories such as Yellow Pages, Yelp, etc.  The more relevant the directory to your industry the better.  You can also get some social media links as well.

Getting another website to link to a specific landing page you built can be hard to do.  That is why a lot of companies hire SEO specialists… but the problem is that Google doesn’t like cheap links or unnatural links to your site so it can also be dangerous.  To help, you can also start a blog and write about the same topic as your landing page and link to it from your blog post… this is called “internal linking” and Google likes this.

The bottom line is that they more high quality links you get to your landing page the more trust and authority your webpage will have and the higher it will rank (assuming you did all the on-page stuff correctly as I’ve outlined above).

Let’s say you nail it and your webpage starts to rank… how do you get leads?   That has to do with the design of your landing page.  You want to have a strong call of action and an easy way for the person to get in touch with you.  You can put a form on your website that captures their info such as name, email, phone and comments.  You can even integrate this form with truLeads so that your leads go directly into truLeads after they enter their information.

I’m amazed at how many companies miss this point… they don’t make it easy for the person to contact them right from the webpage they are on.  And a lot of companies don’t have a good lead management tool like truLeads that integrates with their web forms.

Using SEO to generate leads can be very powerful if you are dedicated to it and do it right.  I hope this blog post serves as a very basic blueprint for how you can start generating leads using SEO.