As a business owner, you rely on many methods of acquiring leads for your services; you might try cold calls, networking, maybe even direct mail before you fully invest in digital marketing.
Finding new customers can be a long and resource-intensive process. This is why most businesses attempt to build up a digital presence for their brand online, in an attempt to support their direct outreach efforts and organically attract new customers using the Internet.
Early-Stage Digital Marketing is Fractured
Many businesses start by:
- Building a website… and simply hoping that visitors engage with it
- Creating a Facebook page… and posting content that doesn’t matter to prospects
- Creating a LinkedIn profile… and never posting
- Running a Google Ads campaign for $300… and then abandoning it when it generates no leads
Frustrating, right? How many of these methods have you tried without success?
Unfortunately, this is a common problem for busy service-providers.
Why doesn’t this approach work?
Digital marketing can be an absolutely magical process – but here’s the unfortunate truth:
The journey is long, and the cost is high.
There’s no such thing as a free lunch here, my friend. An asset like a Digital Pipeline takes concentration and technical ability to build effectively, which is why so many businesses have a fractured pipeline that leaks prospects at every turn.
Digital Marketing is Costly, but not necessarily Expensive
It is important to remember that “costly” and “expensive” are not the same.
If something is “too expensive”, it generally means that whatever you invest into it (time, money, reputation) isn’t creating a proper return and simply drains your business.
However, if something is “costly”, it can simply mean that your business invests a lot into it and it creates a return that is at the very least acceptable, with resources going into optimizing the return on investment.
The beauty of digital marketing is that much of it can be measured quite effectively, and when the right digital metrics are compared against your business metrics it can create a clear picture of your ROI.
A Digital Pipeline that took 3 years to perfect and now costs $12,394 per month is far too expensive for a business that only sells a handful of $150 services as a result; but to a business that can generate a $24,000 client from the same Digital Pipeline every month the upkeep is simply a cost of doing business.
Additionally, if more than one $24,000 client comes through that Digital Pipeline, the cost per acquisition drops rapidly. All of a sudden, that $12,394 looks like a screaming bargain!
What is a Digital Pipeline?
A Digital Pipeline is an end-to-end digital marketing process that nurtures and generates leads for your business.
Your business may already have sales pipelines in place for addressing the concerns and questions your leads have and converting them into customers – but without leads to push through the pipeline, you (or your sales team) have to resort to prospecting.
Cold-calling is uncomfortable. Hitting the pavement and networking can be a full-time effort in and of itself.
Meanwhile, digital marketing has the ability to operate 24/7 to reach new prospects who actually want to talk to you (as opposed to cold-calling), and are more interested in how you can help them than how they can sell to you (as opposed to networking).
Why doesn’t every business have a Digital Pipeline?
Here’s the neat thing – every business does have a Digital Pipeline!
Most of them suck.
“But wait” you might say, “I haven’t built a digital pipeline, how can I already have one?”
The Internet is made for the users just as much as for business owners like you. Customers can leave reviews on your business even if you never touch your Google My Business listing, never build a website, and never start a Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, or *gag* Yelp listing for your business.
You’ve got a Digital Pipeline whether you want it or not – though if you’re reading this, I’m assuming that you not only want to have one, but you want it to consistently generate leads online for your business.
An example of a terrible Digital Pipeline
Let’s suppose that you wanted an easy, free, and quick way to get calls from the internet. You might spend a small amount of time…
- Putting your business name and a phone number on Facebook
- Waiting for the phone to ring
This is a very simple digital pipeline, because it presents your basic information online and allows customers to reach out if they think they might want your services. It is also a terrible Digital Pipeline because…
- You are doing nothing to bring online attention to the phone number
- You don’t own the platform – you’re at Facebook’s mercy
- Unless you ask the caller, you have no way to know that they came through your digital pipeline
Is this cost effective? Yes. You’ve spent nothing but an hour or less of your time to put the phone number on Facebook, and you could in theory get customers from it.
What is more likely, though, is that you will get nothing for this effort. Your competitors who are more active on Facebook (even by a small margin) will absolutely bury you.
The next step, then is to take whatever basic Digital Pipeline you may already have and focus on strengthening it.
How do you strengthen a simple Digital Pipeline?
This is easy to do! You add more content, more steps, and more channels to your digital platform.
- Launch a new website
- Post more on Facebook
- Put videos on YouTube
- Start an account with MailChimp to collect customer emails
It is so easy to do all this and more that you run into a new problem:
You’ve added too many of the wrong things into your Digital Pipeline, and not enough of the right things.
Now you’re struggling to maintain multiple channels, and nothing seems to be working to bring in new leads. Soon you return to spending your time serving the clients you have or returning to networking and cold outreach. Your Digital Pipeline stalls.
Can you strengthen your Digital Pipeline by yourself?
There’s a wealth of information available to you for free or low cost, and affordable tools to add or improve any step of your pipeline.
However, unless your full-time job is developing, measuring, and iterating your Digital Pipeline, you will struggle to do this effectively while running your business.
Hiring staff to do this internally at your business could be the answer – but hiring an experienced marketing manager could cost you $50k-$150k/year, on top of all the expense and hassle that comes with employee management.
Working with specialized marketing consultants and service-providers can be a good way to build a solid platform for your Digital Pipelines, positioning your company to find and onboard the right employees down the road.
How complex does your Digital Pipeline need to be?
In a nutshell, your Digital Pipeline needs to deliver a measurable and consistent stream of leads into your business, with as few steps as possible for your prospects.
How can you get started with strengthening your Digital Pipeline?
Here are some things that you can do today to make your Digital Pipeline better:
- Make a list of the tools you have in place (your website, Facebook page, or Google My Business Listing for example)
- Write out the steps that a brand new lead would need to take in order to find your business and get in touch with you for a services consultation
- Review the language that your digital pipeline uses to speak to your customers – then adjust it to speak to their needs
Ready to get professional insight and support to make your Digital Pipeline strong and reliable?
I established Clarity to help businesses like yours to strengthen and expand their digital pipelines. Since 2017 we have been doing just this, and I believe we could help you.
Clarity has worked with home services providers and custom home builders, private education, and specialized medical service providers to generate qualified leads on a more consistent basis.
If you think that our expertise might be a good fit for your business, then click here to schedule a complimentary consultation to discuss the current state of your Digital Pipeline and where we may be able to help.