Apr 12 2018
The energy industry has seen some tough times. Now that a recovery appears to be upon us, many upstream oil and gas companies are trying to redefine themselves in a new marketing era. Although it’s only been a couple of years since many companies reserved respectable portions of budget for marketing, the marketing landscape has changed – and keeps changing.
Although conferences and trade shows still dominate oil and gas marketing budgets (somewhere around 30%-40%), many enterprising operators are redirecting sizable chunks of budget that was previously dedicated to print, brochures, collateral, and traditional media. Consumer media consumption has changed significantly over the last 10 years, which is especially true for B2B buyers. Your buyers don’t take off their business hats when they switch to their own personal consumption, and now that they’ve adapted to digital media guess where they spend all of their time doing professional research?
Digital marketing for upstream oil & gas doesn’t have to be complicated. Think of it like raising awareness about your company, establishing your brand, and driving buyers to your door. By using your website and social media to connect with B2B buyers, you can share your story and deliver technical information to the people who want it most. Below are 5 digital marketing methods that upstream oil and gas companies can develop an online marketing strategy.
- Improve Your Website
By now you know how important your website is to the sales process. Your website is the first comprehensive experience potential buyers will have with your company. Over 80% of people look up a company online before contacting the business or deciding to buy. This applies to the energy industry, too. No matter if you’re selling miles of rebar or barrels of crude, your business must be explained in a compelling way that engages the visitor from the moment they arrive at your site.
If you’ve had the same website for a couple of years, it’s time for an update, especially to implement a mobile responsive design. People in the oil and gas industry understand that mobile is crucial to growth and they’re investing in it heavily: $8 billion was projected to be spent on mobile oil and gas apps in 2015, and according to Oil & Gas IQ, 71% of workers use mobile devices for work purposes, especially those in field operations, technical roles, and senior decision makers. As you can see, the emphasis on mobile technology is strong and will continue to grow as more industry professionals start using their smartphones and tablets in the field. If you want your site to be accessed by your ideal clients, make sure that it’s designed to adapt to their usage and provides the info they’re seeking. It should be designed to tell your company’s story and provide meaningful ungated content (aka: freely available reading material) so that your visitor doesn’t immediately bounce from the page. If you make it easy for buyers to view your site no matter the device, and find helpful information, they’ll be more likely to pick up the phone and contact you with questions.
- Invest In SEO
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. In a nutshell, it’s the act of making your website perform better to bring higher quality traffic to your site from search engines. It is pretty well established that engineers and C-level executives read tons of research and market news. Regardless if they read online periodicals or search for information using Google or Bing, your company must claim top ranking at every stop along the way.
As an owner of an oil and gas company, you’re trying to position yourself as a leader in your field. In the spirit of leadership, you can reach your clients when they seek to answer questions online. To optimize your site’s SEO, your goal is to identify the most likely keywords and long-tail search terms your buyers use to seek out products and services like yours. Using these keywords, your marketing partners can create blog posts, white papers, or articles that bring these engineers and executives to your site. It’s not enough to just optimize on your website, your off-site SEO activities must inspire your buyers to explore your site further.
- Bid For PPC
Pay-per-click (PPC) represents an effective shift in the way B2B companies handle advertising. Instead of pumping tons of money into print advertising, you can now compete for who sees your ads once they’ve searched for terms that are relevant to your industry. This represents a more efficient model to conserve your budget, potentially, since you only pay for the interest you’ve generated from your ads, i.e., the number of people who click your ad.
For example, if someone searches for “remote monitoring for oil and gas”, you can present an ad that highlights your company’s SCADA solutions for integrating dispersed assets across the oilfield. Once clicked, you can direct the visitor directly to the landing page on your website to lead them further into the funnel. Because PPC allows you to specify which keywords will prompt your ad to show, it won’t show up when someone searches for something like, “remote baby monitor.”
- Capture More Leads With Gated Content
Gated content is highly-valuable data or information for which a visitor to your website is willing to trade their contact information. Putting it simply, in order for the visitor to gain access to this materials they have to pass through a “gate,” such as a contact form, where they provide their name, email, number, and company information. This allows you to capture information about who is visiting your site and generates leads for your sales team to field. Additionally, the gated content sets you up as a thought leader in your industry. The better your gated content, the more likely your ideal client will put their trust and faith in you.
Gated content, like whitepapers and survey results, is an ideal way to collect info on potential leads. But, before you start requiring all site visitors to fill out a form, grow their trust and appreciation. You can do this by giving away high-quality content that is NOT gated, such as industry-oriented blogs, useful market news, or even special announcements about your company. If your followers see that you offer quality free content they will be more willing to provide their personal details in order to get your gated content.
- Social Media
Nothing confuses oil and gas companies quite like social media. Social media is the place where relationships happen. A research paper by International Data Corporation stated that 84% of B2B C-level and VP-level buyers use social media for purchasing. And, overall, 75% of B2B buyers consult social media when making purchasing decisions. The key to using social media for upstream oil and gas is to choose the right platform. If you’re the CEO, you might use LinkedIn to post a job opening for a rig engineer or share news about your newest drilling rigs. LinkedIn is also a great place to connect with other professionals in the industry to share your knowledge. By joining LinkedIn’s Groups, you can answer questions about the upstream market and establish yourself, and your company, as a thought leader.
Facebook, on the other hand, is a good platform for providing insight into how your company operates, sharing news about your company culture, job openings, announcing recent hires or photos/videos of your product. Beyond updates about your company, Facebook also makes it easy to share interesting articles about the upstream industry or to re-share posts from your clients, partners, and vendors. Finally, Facebook’s advertising platform is as robust as Google’s pay-per-click Adwords. The vast amount of user data and advanced ads manager make it easy to directly target your potential buyers and decision makers using well-crafted ads and messaging.
Putting It All Together
The Upstream Oil & Gas industry is competitive and fast-moving. To grow your business and gain new buyers, your marketing strategy has got to put you at the forefront of the industry. A comprehensive digital marketing strategy will not only grow your brand online, it will also help you target the right people at a time when they’re looking to be informed, educated and entertained.
We speak “Engineer” here and would welcome the opportunity to launch your digital marketing strategy. Our client roster includes numerous B2B companies, from engineer to tech, and we’ve helped each one develop a unique plan for implementing and optimizing their marketing efforts. Next time you’re making a long drive out to a drilling rig, we invite you to take a few minutes and give us a call.
Apr 02 2018
Home builders may design and construct dream homes in desirable neighborhoods, but if nobody knows about these homes, there won’t be much sales action. Traditional advertising, like direct mail, radio and newspaper ads, don’t produce the same results they once did. These days, buyers need to see more than just your offer. They want to see interior videos of homes, read online reviews from happy customers, be invited to groups on social media and more.
We’ve compiled 8 creative marketing ideas for home builders. Being savvy with digital marketing doesn’t necessarily require a ton of technical savvy. You just need a genuine approach to build a connection with potential buyers and provide the most important information they’re seeking.
- Use Pinterest to build a portfolio of interior & exterior photos that link back to your website
Pinterest is an optimal social media platform for showcasing a home builder’s work. The image-based site provides a perfect canvas for photos of kitchens, exteriors, bathrooms, landscaping, and more. The grouping of the photos is flexible; the home builder could organize photos by floor plans, by elevations, by room in the house or even by color scheme. Each Pinterest photo should link to the website so that you can drive traffic to explore more.
- Use social media to show pre-construction activities – specifically focusing on craftsmanship and quality.
Instagram and Facebook are perfect for engaging buyers before home construction is even complete. A new home is a big investment, and home builders want to please future owners. Posting regular project updates of new home construction not only lets your buyer feel like they’re part of the process, it also reinforces your solid construction quality to potential new buyers. By highlighting your dedication to craftsmanship and quality, buyers will feel confident in their decision, while new prospects will appreciate getting an inside look at the process.
- Pulse the market with PPC ads
Pay-per-click (PPC) ads give home builders an opportunity to be very specific, and efficient, with their digital advertising. If you have quality ads and a great understanding of which search terms drive the most traffic, you can stretch a smaller budget with PPC. It’s easy enough to turn on and turn off your campaigns in time with the fluctuations of the market or compete for specific search terms with less frequency. By pulsing the market you can nimbly edge out your competitors during the times of the year when you need sales the most.
- Capture video from the communities and publish on social media
People love videos – ESPECIALLY home buyers! Videos are a great way to provide useful information, while also building a connection with the viewer. Home builders can use marketing videos to do give tours of their communities, provide helpful DIY advice, or even share testimonials from happy customers. Videos are also a perfect method for showcasing a home’s floor plan, features, exterior and landscaping. With video, home builders can build demand and entice buyers to visit your models.
- Run lead ads on Facebook
Compelling ads can drive leads to a home builder’s website. Facebook has stepped up their game by offering home builders a quick and easy way to capture new leads. It’s already well known that you can create custom audiences for your ads based on location, age, income and other demographics. With a lead ad, an interested buyer can conveniently provide contact their info with one button click on their mobile device in exchange for more information or special offers.
- Encourage your happy customers to write reviews on Yelp, Google, and Facebook
When it comes to advertising for home builders, the best resource are happy customers. Future buyers want the real scoop and to feel like they can trust what a home builder promises to do. The best way to earn a buyer’s trust is not to tell them, but to let them read the positive stories of happy customers. Create business profiles on Yelp, Google and Facebook and then ask your happiest customers to provide feedback about their experience with your company and their new home. It’s well known that unhappy customers will leave negative reviews (everywhere), but happy customers need to be reminded. Ask them to post a review after they’ve moved in and are at their most satisfied moment.
- Host more special events & share them on social media and on your blog
Special events provide an opportunity to connect with future buyers without the pressure of asking for a commitment. Try hosting community open houses and inviting social media followers to tour multiple homes and explore neighborhood amenities. Similarly, you can organize informational events to provide answers to common concerns on the home buyer’s journey – like how to apply for a mortgage, how to make kitchen design decisions, how to pick the right school, etc. Any event you organize should be shared on social media platforms, on your blog and possibly in email campaigns. The more enjoyable and informative the events, the more you’ll see attendance grow.
- Post about open houses on social media
Social media’s fast-moving news feed is a prime spot to promote your open houses. As potential buyers scroll their daily updates, they’ll see your announcement, beautiful home photos and details. Posting open houses on social media also provides a way for you to answer questions about the property, or community, without the interested party having to pick up the phone and call. It also drives traffic back to your website where you can gather lead information or remarket to them with ads tailored to their interests.
For more home builder and real estate marketing inspiration, click here.
Jul 05 2017
Unlike the iconic movie Field of Dreams, no one comes to your website solely because you built it. With over 1.2 billion websites online as of March 2017, standing out among the crowd has become no mean feat.
Whether you have a great idea for an online business or simply want to get your existing business on the web, you need visitors. You need them fast, and you need them the flow of visitors to be sustainable over the long haul term.
It’s obvious that visitors are needed to generate sales and thus create revenue, but determining the best way to obtain these visitors is much less obvious. Given that the rich visitor data and analytics on your website is critical information for a company’s future decision-making, how do you decide which strategy to take with your digital marketing?
Let’s start with the basics.
Organic traffic is any visitor that comes to your page without paid advertising. When people search for your site, or specific keywords, your site appears in a natural ranking in the search results. When a person clicks thru to your site they are ranked as organic traffic.
Search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing rank your website based on a variety of factors like content, coding, backlinks, and website architecture. These search engines consistently seek to provide search engine visitors with website results that are both trusted resources (for the searched keywords) and that provide quality content. Companies invest heavily to optimize their websites for better search ranking (Search Engine Optimization – SEO), because they know that over time organic traffic will increase and outperform paid traffic.
Paid traffic is any visitor that comes to your page as a result of a paid ad on a search engine or advertising network. This type of advertising is called “Pay Per Click”. Paid search ads include a call to action (CTA) and are ordinarily identified as advertising in the search rankings. When a person clicks thru to your site via an ad they are ranked as paid traffic.
Paid ads are a fairly deliberate technique to get instant gratification. Your website is listed either at the top of the page or to the side based on the budget and keyword strategy you develop. Rather than working to establish backlinks or develop rich content, you can go directly to the top of the page – with the right budget.
Breaking It Down
Paid placement allows you to get visitors immediately and thus gives you the ability to quickly gain market share. For a company that needs to demonstrate sales right away, a paid campaign will do that. You can control your sales volume despite your organic ranking. However, it also ends the moment you run out of cash, which can result in start/stop interruptions that affect nearly every part of your business.
If an SEO strategy is in your future (or now!), paid placement gives you essential data on keywords and visitors to devise your SEO strategy. Only 20% of searches result in an ad click, so your market share with organic search will outpace paid ads over time. But the paid placements give you quick, reliable insight into which terms should be included in your search engine optimization.
Organic traffic will outperform paid placement in the long run for nearly every measurable statistic. Organic also outperforms paid for other important measurements like overall percentage of traffic, quality of traffic/visitors, and ROI. Organic will have higher costs and longer timeline to reach your first sale, but those costs will go down over time thereby allowing you to pull back on your paid ad efforts – or eliminate it entirely if it’s not needed for market share or testing new areas to expand your SEO.
The only way to effectively determine your SEO strategy is to know which keywords are being searched for and which ones offer the highest conversion rates. With this information, calculating your costs and strategy are as simple as conducting a professional evaluation of the competition, determining what it will take to compete with them, and what costs will be associated with reaching that level.
This is why you should always be wary of any company that offers tiered SEO packages with a “one size fits all” approach. Since SEO strategy is exclusively tailored to your industry and your company, “Bronze, Gold, and Platinum” packages are highly dubious terms that offer almost no insight into how your website will perform six months to a year down the road. Don’t be deceived.
So which is better: Organic or Paid?
The answer largely depends on your goals.
Want to generate immediate traffic? Use paid ads.
Want to outperform your competition in organic search engine ranking? Invest in a long term SEO strategy for organic traffic.
Want to quickly earn market share? Paid.
Want to taper off of Paid ads? Invest in SEO.
Want to figure out which SEO strategy will give you the best ROI? Test the market with paid ads.
Were we to counsel you on a comprehensive plan that promptly builds website traffic and keeps it long term, we’d tell you to start with both. Invest in a paid ad strategy to get quick results for immediate sales and market share while also investing in SEO to give your website staying power in organic rankings. Over time you can pull back on paid ads (or not) while still benefitting from a steady flow of visitors reaching your site through organic search results.
Want to move your business forward? Let’s talk.