In today’s era of digital marketing, the role a website plays in a company’s success cannot be underestimated. This is especially true for the professional pest control industry, as indicated in 2017 research conducted by the Professional Pest Management Alliance that found internet searches are one of the top three sources used by Millennials, Generation X and Baby Boomers to find a pest control service. Despite this, I still find myself occasionally coming across a business’ website that appears as though its aesthetics and functionality haven’t been updated since consumers were logging onto AOL via a dial-up modem.
If one picture is really worth a thousand words, then an entire website certainly speaks volumes about a company—from its competence to its trustworthiness—making it crucial for marketers to keep company websites full of fresh features. Although the online world is dynamically evolving, below is a simple checklist of factors that marketers, especially in the professional pest control industry, can reference to ensure their company’s website is maximizing its potential.
In 2015, Microsoft released a study that found people generally have the attention span of eight seconds, only one second less than a goldfish, so the ability to sift through content with ease is key. Search bars should be clearly visible, and consumers should be able to intuitively find their way to other pages on the site. It’s also important to ensure all contact information is not only clearly listed, but also regularly updated to reflect any technical changes. Imagine a potential customer’s frustration with trying to email or call a company only to receive a bounce-back or an audio recording that the number has been disconnected. Chances are, that person won’t be reaching out for any services again. Features like online chats can also help serve as a useful customer service tool, especially if you are trying to reach Millennials. Lastly, a company’s website should serve as the central hub for all other platforms to have cohesion across all areas of the brand, making it ideal to hyperlink to all social media profiles from the website.
It’s rare to see someone using a cellular device that isn’t a smartphone with Internet access. In fact, nearly three-quarters of American adults (77 percent) say they own a smartphone, according to Pew Research, which is up from 35 percent in 2011. And, a 2016 study by eMarketer.com found that U.S. adults spend more than four hours per day on their mobile devices. Think about that. One-sixth of the day is spent looking at a phone. This means it’s more important than ever to have a company website that is responsive—one that will adapt to the screen size of any device, whether it is a laptop, tablet or smartphone. There are various tools that can help determine if a company’s website is adaptable for mobile use. One of my personal favorites is Google’s free mobile-friendly test. Simply type the URL into the test’s search bar and Google will reveal whether or not the website is compatible with mobile devices. If your website is incompatible, it’s likely time for a full refresh.
Tracking online visitor behavior to measure success is one of the many ways websites can be a powerful marketing tool. Google Analytics, for example, offers a free way to track website activity. It’s important to first establish goals for a company’s website, outlining what specific actions are most desired of consumers. For example, if getting potential customers to view the “our services” page of the website is most important, then marketers should ensure their analytics track the number of clicks to that particular part of the website to measure success.
Aside from just focusing on action-oriented goals, monitoring website analytics can also help reveal what specific content on the website is most and least interesting to readers, so marketers can make refinements to improve overall website quality. For example, if a page on termite prevention and control is ranking high in terms of page views, take this information and market it. Post about available termite services on a company Facebook page or send out a direct mail piece on termites to prospective customers.
High Search Engine Optimization (SEO) ranking
If a marketer truly wants to know if a website is competitive, look no further than its search engine optimization (SEO) status, which indicates the organic volume and quality of traffic to the site. There are a number of ways to improve SEO, from producing and frequently posting a large quantity of relevant content, to adjusting tags, and beyond. However, the best first step is simply to evaluate a website’s current SEO performance before making any necessary adjustments. To get a sense of a website’s SEO, try making a list of the top 40 keywords or phrases that are most relevant to the business and search each one—it’s easy to tell how your company’s website fares by observing where it lies, if at all, in the order of links that the online search yields.
Just as the Internet is vast, the ways to enhance a website are very extensive, but these basics serve as a strong foundation to maintain a well-functioning online tool. The work that professional pest control companies do to help defend public health and property is important, and it’s essential to leverage every tool at our disposal to help share our efforts. By strengthening and mobilizing our online content, together, our individual voices can be better heard as one. ●
Cindy Mannes is the executive director of the Professional Pest Management Alliance. Visit www.npmapestworld.org/ppma for more information on how you can become involved.