The Ultimate Marketing Blueprint for Landscapers | 2020

The 2020 Ultimate
Marketing Blueprint
for Outdoor Service Companies

Find out exactly what the most successful outdoor service companies are doing online to grow.

As a Digital Marketing agency that specializes in trades like landscaping & other outdoor services, we have a behind the scenes look at what separates the most successful outdoor service companies from the rest. We’ve compiled a list of the most important online marketing strategies you need to implement in order to increase leads and get the results you’re looking for.

1 Web Design

The first step in any digital marketing plan is updating your company website. This is the hub of your digital marketing strategy, the place all prospects are funneled to in order to be converted into leads.

What's Needed

Responsive design
A responsive website is designed to seamlessly work on all device types. If your site isn’t designed for mobile users you are basically irrelevant for over half of internet traffic in 2020. Needless to say, if your business's website isn't optimized for mobile traffic a lot of your digital marketing budget is going to go to waste. Since March of 2018, Google has switched to mobile-first indexing. This means that if your site isn't mobile-optimized, it will now negatively affect your ranking in search engines results, making it imperative to update if you haven't yet done so.

Calls-To-Action
In order to maximize your marketing ROI, your website needs to convert at a high level. That's where calls-to-action (CTAs) come into play. It is extremely important to make it easy for prospects to contact you -- by placing CTAs on each level of your business's website, you eliminate the hurdle of having to search for a way to contact your company, increasing your conversion rate. To quickly grab a visitor's attention, CTAs should be designed to stick out from the rest of the site. We recommend outdoor service companies always have the following types of CTAs:

  • Click-to-Call Phone Number: placed in the header, content area & the footer of your website
  • "Get a Free Estimate" Button: placed in the header, content area & the footer of your website
  • General Contact Form: placed in the content section of your website

Easy-To-Use Navigation
What you don't want to do is make site visitors search for what they're looking for. The navigation on your website should be simple, intuitive and include all the main pages a visitor might be interested in. These pages should include every specific service your company provides, contact pages, about us, testimonials, before/after galleries, etc.

Branded to Your Company
The most successful outdoor service companies focus on building a strong brand. Your brand should portray professionalism and provide prospects with a unique logo, tagline, color scheme, etc. that makes remembering - and feeling a connection with your company - easier! Your website and all other marketing materials (business cards, vehicle wraps, yard signs, etc.) need to also incorporate these same unique branding elements.

Build Trust
Let's be honest, there are a few bad apples in every area that give service providers a bad name. That's why building trust is so important! If a website's visitors have any doubt in how trustworthy a company is, they will quickly leave for a competitor's site. Luckily there are a few quick and easy strategies that you can implement in order to help build trust with prospects and current customers:

  • Use real photography and video featuring completed work and your team in action throughout your website. Stock photography gives a site a generic, impersonal feel that your competitors can easily copy. Using custom, professional digital media provides a glimpse into who your company is and all you offer.
  • Show recent customer reviews and testimonials. There are several reputation management tools, including feeds from actual review websites, that make collecting and sharing reviews from real customers easy!
  • Show people exactly how good you are by making sure to take before & after photos of your jobs and displaying them throughout your site.

2 Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO is something an outdoor service company can't afford to overlook. No other marketing efforts can provide the long-term ROI of a successful SEO campaign. There are two types of strategies your business will need to implement: an On-Page SEO strategy and an Off-Page SEO strategy.

What's Needed

On-Page SEO
On-Page SEO refers to all the measures you can take on your website to improve your rank in the search engines. It involves everything from content strategies, backend code, and server setup & optimization. The most important elements include:

  • Keyword Optimization - In order for search engines to understand and rank your webpage as a credible option for prospects, you'll need to have the correct search terms in place and optimized on your pages. Start by coming up with a list of keywords for each page that a customer would search for to find your exact service. Next, optimize these specific keywords or key-phrases on each page using H1 & H2 headings, title tags, internal linking, image alt text, and well-written page copy.
  • Service Page Build-Outs - Often times businesses assume having a website with fewer pages will produce better results due to its simplicity. They have a single Services page that merely has a small summary paragraph followed by a bullet-list of the services they offer. The problem with this strategy is that it severely limits a site's ability to rank for industry search terms. Google ranks pages not websites, in order to rank for long-tail terms such as "Commercial Landscape Maintenance" you need a page with optimized content that provides details about that specific service. For each service you offer, a corresponding page is absolutely necessary for optimal results.
  • HTTPS over HTTP - Securing your website with a SSL Certificate has become one of the newer ways to help your SEO. While it's not yet critical to update from http to https, Google's algorithm is quickly moving that way. Get a jump start on it, and adjust your website now.
  • Page Speed - Not only does a slow website encourage prospects to leave, it now affects how search engines rank your page as well. Search engines, such as Google, want to give their customers the best user experience, so it makes perfect sense that they would negatively score a website who's speed will frustrate users. A target page load time should be around three seconds. You can check yours here with Google PageSpeed Insights
  • Schema Markup - Schema is structured data that you can add to your website's html to improve the way search engines understand and display your website in search engine results pages (SERPS). It also improves the way your page displays in SERPs by enhancing the rich snippets that are displayed beneath the page title.
  • Blogging / Ongoing Content - Creating a website that contains a bunch of well-written content is great. But what search engines don't like is a website that remains stagnant and stale. That's why your initial website build-out is just the beginning - your business should be adding new content to your website through blogs plus deeper linked pages on-site that will drive new longer-tail traffic. A couple of examples of this would be to create Location Pages for each area you service or continue to drill down in certain categories, if you do outdoor living spaces create pages for all types (outdoor kitchens, outdoor lounge area, patios & decks, etc), the more granular the better.

Off-Page SEO
Off-Page SEO refers to the actions your outdoor service company takes outside of your own website to increase your rank in the search engines.

  • High-Quality Backlinks - Backlinks have been the backbone of off-page SEO for a long time and continue to be the most important factor in search engine results. The more high-quality sites that link to your website, the more authority search engines give your site which results in increased rankings. There are several types of backlinks, including:
    • Self-Created Links are done by manually adding your company profile to directory sites, such as Google My Business, Yellowpages, BBB, Houzz, Chamber of Commerce, etc.
    • Manually-Created Links are generated by asking for links back from websites such as community, manufacturer, and industry related sites. A link from Toro, Hunter Irrigation, Bonide, etc, would be ideal if you use their products.
    • Natural Links require no direct action on your part. They occur when other websites naturally link back to you. Possible causes could be that a company wants to share quality content you've created or community news you've been involved in.
  • Social Media Signals - While nothing you put on social media directly affects SERPS, having a regular social media strategy keeps your company in the public eye which can result in increased brand recognition, content distribution and brand mentions — which all have positive effects when it comes to higher ranking.
  • Online Reviews - Each year the impact of online reviews on ranking increases. The quantity, velocity, and diversity of reviews all play an important role in organic local listings, especially Google Local Pack/Map listings.

Google My Business (GMB) Optimization
GMB is one of the leading traffic sources for outdoor service companies. So it's easily understandable how showing up higher in local map listings can have a huge affect on your business. Once you have a verified GMB account, you can optimize your listing by:

  • Category Selection - You MUST make sure to select your primary business category for your specific outdoor service. If lawn maintenance is your primary business you would select Lawn Care Service. If you offer a wide range of landscaping simply select Landscaper. If your business provides other services such as hardscapes, tree trimming services, etc. add these in the "Additional Categories" spaces.
  • Set Your Service Area - Google recently changed this so that you can't set a distance radius around your address. Instead what you must do is include up to a maximum of 20 different cities or zip codes that you work in to define your service area for your listing.
  • Fill In ALL Info - For best results, it's important that you fill in everything you possibly can. List your phone number, hours of business, website, physical address, etc. Also, to increase conversions add the URL of your "Free Estimate" page to the appointment url box.
  • Business Description - This is where your business can sell itself and what makes your company different than your top competitors. Include details on why potential customers that land here should choose to contact your outdoor service company today!
  • Continuously Add Photos - Begin by adding your company branded images like your logo and your profile and cover photos. Then, be sure to continuously upload as many photos as you can of your jobs, crew, etc. on a regular basis. Add before and after photos to truly spice up your profile.
  • Continuously Add Reviews - This is crucial to your success on GMB. Even if your business already has more Google reviews than any of your competitors, you need to keep adding them. It's not just quality and quantity that Google takes into account, review recency also matters when it comes to your placement among other outdoor service companies.

3 Customer Reviews

Studies show that people today trust online reviews nearly as much as personal recommendations from friends and family. This growing mindset makes it critical for a local landscaper, tree trimmer, concrete company, etc, to obtain and display as many high-quality reviews as possible.

What's Needed

More Reviews For Increased Traffic
When it comes to traffic drivers like the results show in Google Local Map, reviews are one of the main factors in determining how high your outdoor service company ranks and how many users click on your listing. The more high-quality reviews -- the better the results. This makes acquiring reviews from happy customers a key element of your digital marketing strategy.

Review Software
In today's fast-paced world it's hard to find the time to actually reach out to customers to personally ask for a review. There are also guidelines by most review sites as to how that review can even be requested making it tough to keep up with. That's why a third-party software that sends review requests directly to your recent customers is a great tool for obtaining reviews without having to jump through so many hoops. Software like Birdeye and Podium do a great job of this.

Community Management
Few things bother a business owner more than seeing a negative review left on a major review site, but it happens. To minimize the damage, it's important that businesses respond to a customer's complaint in a timely and professional manner. Additionally, responding to positive reviews is a great opportunity to show potential customers you are an attentive and appreciative company.

4 Paid Ads

The outdoor service companies that see the most growth use a well-balanced strategy of both organic inbound marketing and strategic paid ads. While paid ads take skill to implement properly, they can provide a positive ROI and pay large dividends when they are. For companies looking to maximize their ad performance, the use of analytics and A/B testing is critical to achieve maximum ROI.

What's Needed

Google Ads
All outdoor service companies are after the same thing - quality leads! But when it comes to ads, your cost per acquisition of these leads will make or break you. Google ads can be extremely ROI positive for your business or extremely detrimental to your marketing budget. It's how you run these ads that makes all the difference. Here are the major points-of-focus for a successful Google Ad campaign:

  • Keyword Targeting - The first step of every Google Ad campaign is to do keyword research, setting up ad groups for each unique service you want to attract leads for. Ad groups should consist of a small number of keywords, generally between five to twenty. Google will set these keywords to “broadly match” by default, but these keywords are sometimes very expensive and will send you untargeted traffic. When setting up your bids, use “phrase match” and “exact match” to avoid this unwanted traffic.
  • Negative Keywords - The use of negative keywords allows you to dodge unwanted traffic that won't convert and depletes your budget. If your company only does residential work for example, you should place "commercial" in your negative keyword list which will make sure you won't show up for a term like "commercial landscaper + your city".
  • Location Targeting - Your company likely has a radius it needs to adhere to in order for jobs to remain profitable. By setting your geo-targeting radius to a realistic range, you can limit ad spend to only the areas you want to service.
  • Landing Page Per Ad Group - A common mistake companies make is directing all ad traffic to their homepage. This will not only result in a lower conversion rate than an optimized landing page for the intended keyword could provide, but it will also cause your Google quality score to drop considerably resulting in much higher cost-per-click prices. Every Ad group should have a landing page specifically tailored for those terms.
  • A/B Testing - Between the ad copy for each ad group and the design and content of your service specific landing page, chances are that you aren't going to get it perfect on the first try. By including A/B testing into your strategy, you can greatly increase your ad performance.
  • Analytics Tracking - The majority of companies that lose money on Google Ads do so because they don't use analytics to track and adjust performance. Turning off under-performing keywords, finding negative keywords, tracking conversion rates, and knowing your cost-per-acquisition and ROI are just a few of the key elements analytics can give your business a handle on.
  • Give It Time - Even the best Google Ad specialists will tell you that it takes time to dial your performance in to get your cost-per-acquisition where it needs to be. We typically recommend 3-months, with necessary adjustments throughout and a keen eye on analytics to get a decent read on whether paid ads will work for your outdoor service company.

Specials & Promos
Everyone loves a deal! By offering short-term specials and promotions, you not only incentivize customers to choose you over your competitors and add a sense of urgency — which will help to increase your overall conversion rate, but you also have a mechanism to retarget potential customers with after they've landed on and left your site. By running a specific time period promo such as a spring yard cleanup you can cast a wider net on platforms like facebook to get your brand in front of more people.

Retargeting
Every single visitor to your site costs you money, whether it be through Google Ads, SEO, branding, or even building your website in the first place. That's why retargeting to visitors is so important. Retargeting allows you to show ads to the people who visited but ultimately left your site without taking an action, such as filling out a contact form or completing a purchase. By simply getting in front of them again, your business can greatly increase your conversion rates.

Facebook Ads
Facebook Ads are great for certain industries. For outdoor services, there are a few scenarios where we would highly recommend using a paid campaign budget for, including:

  • Retargeting - As we've mentioned before, retargeting ads are a great way to bring past website prospects back into the fold so you can convert them into customers. Facebook retargeting offers more visibility and opportunity to increase your marketing ROI than other retargeting platforms.
  • Seasonal Offers - By targeting your geographical area during specific seasons for special offers such as a Spring Yard Cleanup, you can generate a large volume of smaller jobs that could lead to a much larger LTV (Lifetime Value) for these customers.
  • Off-Season Jobs - Are you a landscaper that offers snow plowing or ice removal during the slow winter months? Facebook ads are a great way to add awareness in your area for seasonal jobs that prospects in your area are in need of hiring for!

Google Local Services Ads
Local Services Ads, also knowns as LSAs, are only available for local outdoor contractors that provide specific services. Services like Lawn Mowing or Tree Trimming are included in the list of permitted services. Located in prime position above normal Google Ads, LSAs will show up for businesses that are "Google Guaranteed providers" in your local area. Ads include your business's hours, location, and rating based on recent Google Reviews — helping local consumers find a business close by that best help them with their immediate need.

Pre-Roll Youtube Video Ads (Based on Search History)
Wow, that title was a mouth full, but these video ads can be extremely effective at getting in front of the right customers at the precise time they are looking for your services. When a user searches Google for your services, the next time they visit YouTube, they can be shown your ad all based on their previous search history -- making this a very targeted video ad strategy.

5 Social Media

While the days of endless organic reach on social media have long been over, the effects of a consistent social media strategy are still necessary for all types of businesses — including outdoor service providers. Since potential customers regularly check a company's social media accounts before picking a service company, having a non-existent or neglected presence can create uneasiness about your professionalism or company credibility. Keeping your social pages up-to-date builds trust, creates additional website traffic, and raises brand awareness making social media a cost-effective marketing strategy your outdoor service company can't ignore.

What's Needed

Before/After Photos & Video
Show potential customers not only what the Before/After results are from a recent project, but also share progress pictures along the way. These types of images will help them get a feel for your company, the overall process of a projects, and results they can expect. Adding a time lapse video of your large jobs is a great way to use video on social. Places to add: Facebook, Instagram, Houzz, Linkedin (Commercial)

Outdoor Service Articles
Articles and blog posts on your website let prospects know that you are a leader in your local industry. Take time to write your own, while also sharing articles about industry trends, how-to-tips, company news, and more! These types of posts show that you are knowledgeable and they help to build trust that can lead to future jobs. Places to add: Facebook, Linkedin

Company & Community Content
These types of post are used to add some personality into your social profiles. Every company is unique, by showing your team and company's personality you can build a sense of comfort and relatability with potential clients. Also, by adding community related content, you're able to that your business is involved and present in your local community. Places to add: Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin

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