Category: Web Marketing

Understanding Google Local Service Ads

Understanding Google Local Service Ads with Clark Five Design partner, Greatness Digital.

Maximizing Your Local Reach: The Power of Google Local Service Ads

In today’s competitive market, standing out online is more crucial than ever. One effective way to boost your business’s visibility and attract more local customers is through Google Local Service Ads (LSAs). If you haven’t explored this powerful advertising tool yet, now is the perfect time to start and we have an amazing digital marketing partner, Greatness Digital who can help us maximize these ads!

What Are Google Local Service Ads?

Google Local Service Ads are designed to help businesses connect with local customers searching for their services. These ads appear at the top of Google search results, making them highly visible to potential clients in your area. What sets LSAs apart from traditional Google Ads is the “Google Guaranteed” badge, which adds an extra layer of trust and credibility.

Why Use Google Local Service Ads?

  • Increased Visibility: LSAs appear at the very top of search results, often before traditional ads and organic search results. This prime placement ensures that your business gets noticed by users actively searching for your services.
  • Enhanced Trust: The Google Guaranteed badge reassures potential customers that your business has been vetted by Google. This can lead to higher click-through rates and more conversions.
  • Pay for Leads, Not Clicks: Unlike traditional PPC ads, you only pay for valid leads. This means you’re investing in actual customer inquiries, making your ad spend more efficient and effective.
  • Easy to Manage: LSAs are straightforward to set up and manage. Google handles much of the heavy lifting, so you can focus on running your business while still reaping the benefits of a robust online presence.

How to Get Started

To help you understand the full potential of Google Local Service Ads, we’ve partnered with Greatness Digital to create an informative video. This video will guide you through the ins and outs of LSAs, including how they work, the benefits of the Google Guaranteed program, and how to get started.

Watch the video here and see how Google Local Service Ads can transform your business.

Significantly enhance your online presence

Incorporating Google Local Service Ads into your marketing strategy can significantly enhance your online presence and help you reach more local customers. With the added trust of the Google Guaranteed badge, you can stand out in a crowded market and drive more qualified leads to your business.

Don’t wait—take advantage of this powerful tool today. For more information and to watch our detailed video, click here, and once you’re done, contact us to set up a meeting with our digital marketing partners.

How To Best Use Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business) for Small Business SEO [Updated for 2024]

How To Best Use Google My Business for Small Businesses SEO [Updated for 2021]

Boost Your Online Presence with Google Business Profile

Just behind your website, the Google Business Profile (GBP, formerly Google My Business) for a small business is a crucial tool in impacting new and recurring revenue from online searches. The best part? It’s completely free. However, leveraging GBP to its fullest potential isn’t always straightforward. Fear not, Clark Five is here to guide you on how to optimally use GBP to enhance your results and outshine your local competitors.

Unsure About the Need to Optimize Your Google Business Profile?

Time to Rethink.

Right now, potential customers are using Google to search for products and services exactly like yours in your ideal locations. We’re talking about ready-to-buy consumers who, like a significant majority of today’s shoppers, will likely choose the first business that aligns with their needs. Don’t let your competition snatch them away.

This data, directly from Google and interpreted by Clark Five, is here to empower you. Embrace GBP and make your business the first choice for customers in your area.

Align Your Website and Google Business Profile

Google assigns the highest credibility to businesses that it can trust, and this trust is built by maintaining consistency across all your digital assets.

The three critical pieces of information that every business must align are:

  1. Your Company’s Name – It’s essential to ensure that your company’s name is identical across your website and your Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business), especially if you operate multiple locations.
  2. Company Address – Google may send a mail verification to confirm your physical address, adding to your credibility. It’s crucial to have matching addresses on both your website and GBP listing. Tip: We suggest maintaining the address in Google’s preferred format on your website, too. (e.g., 123 Main St, Corvallis, OR 97330)
  3. Phone Number – For businesses serving local customers, having a mobile-friendly website is advantageous. This ensures that customers can easily contact your business from both Google and your website. Pro tip: Avoid using different call tracking numbers across platforms; strive for uniformity in your online contact details.

Assign The Best Google Business Profile Categories

When configuring your Google Business Profile (GBP), choosing the most precise business category is crucial. With thousands of different categories available on Google, specificity is key.

After selecting the most suitable category for your business, exercise caution before adding more. Each additional category dilutes your business’s online presence slightly. If your business offers one main service and several secondary services, it might be best to focus on the primary one to attract more targeted search results.

Additionally, avoid categorizing amenities as separate business categories. For instance, if you run a hotel with a wedding venue, listing ‘wedding venue’ as a separate category could spread your exposure too thin, similar to adding multiple business categories.


Showcase Your Business with Exceptional Photos

The impact of compelling photos in drawing customers to your business is undeniable. To make your presence pop on Google Business Profile, enlist someone with a keen photographic eye and a quality camera to capture stunning images of your location.

Tip: Including people in your photos tends to be more psychologically appealing than featuring empty spaces.

Standing out in local SEO is a challenge. Get an edge over your local competition by regularly updating your GBP with fresh photos, especially as seasons change or during special events. With a modern smartphone, your photos will be geo-tagged, providing additional authenticity to your business.

A prime local example is Bo & Vine from Corvallis, Oregon, who have excelled in creating an impressive digital presence through their visual content. Kudos to them!

Enhance Visibility with Detailed Products and Services Listings

Google Business Profile encourages businesses to comprehensively list their products and services. This approach not only helps in categorizing your business accurately but also ensures that your business appears in search results for specific services, even if they fall outside your primary category.

For instance, if you run a carpet cleaning company that also offers upholstery cleaning, it’s beneficial to list ‘upholstery cleaning’ as a service. This way, when someone searches for “upholstery cleaning,” your business will be included in the search results, despite your main category being carpet cleaning. Such detailed listings help capture a broader audience who might be searching for the specific services you offer.

Crafting an Effective Google Business Profile Service Description

Creating a compelling service description for your Google Business Profile is essential for attracting potential customers. Here are some tips to help you write an effective description:

  • Be Clear and Concise: Your description should be straightforward and to the point. Clearly state what your business does, and avoid using industry jargon that might confuse potential customers.
  • Highlight Unique Features: Emphasize what sets your service apart from competitors. Whether it’s your years of experience, specialized techniques, or unique offerings, make sure these standout features are front and center.
  • Use Relevant Keywords: Incorporate keywords that potential customers might use to find services like yours. However, ensure that the use of keywords feels natural and does not compromise the readability of your description.
  • Address the Customer’s Needs: Tailor your description to speak directly to your customer’s needs and how your services can solve their specific problems.
  • Update Regularly: Keep your service description up-to-date with any new services, changes in operation, or other relevant information that could influence a customer’s decision to choose your business.
  • Follow Google’s Guidelines: Adhere to Google’s content guidelines. Ensure your description is appropriate, professional, and free from promotional language, URLs, or HTML tags.

An example of a good service description could be: “At Sunshine Carpet Cleaners, we offer professional and eco-friendly carpet and upholstery cleaning services. With over 10 years of experience, our certified team provides quick, affordable, and thorough cleaning solutions tailored to your needs.”

Strategically Soliciting Google Business Profile Reviews

Google reviews significantly influence your ranking and are an aspect you can actively manage.

In My Control? Absolutely.

While certain businesses naturally accumulate Google reviews frequently, most require a more strategic approach to encourage them. Implementing a system to request reviews both offline and online is crucial. Here are some suggestions:

  • Educate Your Team: Ensure that your staff understands the importance of Google reviews and how to encourage customers to leave them.v
  • Direct Ask: After providing a service, directly ask satisfied customers to leave a review. A personal request can be more effective than a generic one.
  • Email Follow-ups: Send follow-up emails to customers after a purchase or service, including a link to your Google Business Profile to make leaving a review as easy as possible.
  • Incentivize Reviews: Consider offering a small incentive for customers who leave a review. However, ensure it complies with Google’s guidelines, which prohibit offering incentives in exchange for positive reviews.
  • Leverage Social Media: Use your social media platforms to remind followers to review your services, providing a direct link to your Google Business Profile.
  • Response to Reviews: Actively respond to all reviews, both positive and negative. This shows customers that you value their feedback and can encourage others to leave their own reviews.
  • In-Store Reminders: For brick-and-mortar businesses, place reminders at the checkout or service areas encouraging customers to leave a Google review.

Remember, authenticity is key. Encourage genuine feedback and use it as an opportunity to improve your services and customer experience.

What is so important about Google reviews?

Why are Google reviews so pivotal for local businesses? Google itself has stated that when ranking local businesses in search results, it considers the company’s prominence in the community. A key element of this prominence is positive customer feedback.

Consider this scenario: if your competitor has an average four-star rating but boasts 50 more reviews than your business, they are likely to dominate the market. This is because a higher number of reviews often leads to better visibility in search results, potentially placing them above you.

Positive Google reviews contribute significantly to building a business’s reputation and credibility. They act as a form of social proof, indicating to potential customers that others have had satisfying experiences with your services or products. Moreover, a substantial number of reviews can enhance the trustworthiness of your average rating, as it’s based on a broader customer base.

Therefore, actively seeking customer reviews and managing your online reputation should be a key strategy in your digital marketing efforts. Google reviews are not just reflections of customer satisfaction; they are powerful tools that can influence your visibility and attractiveness to potential customers searching online.

importance of reviews on google

How can you create a customer feedback loop for reviews?

There are several ways that you can create a reputation management system for your company. The best ways that we have found include keeping customer service at the forefront of what you do, matched with an incredible service experience.

After that, collecting your customer’s email and phone number will automate the process. However, person-to-person is an easy and cheap extra step.

You can train your staff to pass on information to the customer about how they can leave a review if they liked their service and contact information if they feel you did not meet there expectations. (This will deter negative reviews.)

The most powerful way to ask for reviews is by following up with the customer via text and email. This works very well for the businesses we work with because it puts less pressure on the customer and lets them immediately click towards the link to leave the review.

We set up fully automated reputation plans for small businesses. You can learn a little more about how to outsource this vital feedback loop in your business here.

Bonus: Make sure to respond to each review that is left, even negative ones. Always stay constructive and positive, never argue. Google will reward the two way communication effort.

Boost Your Google Ranking: Utilize the Posts Feature

Congratulations on mastering the essentials of Google Business Profile! If you’re eager to further amplify your online presence and outshine the competition, there’s another strategy to consider: leveraging the Posts section.

Using the Posts feature in Google Business Profile, you can share special offers, events, news, and even blog posts. Think of it as a complimentary advertising space that not only engages your audience but also sends a strong signal to Google about your business’s active status.

This feature is particularly valuable as Google increasingly prioritizes keeping users within its ecosystem rather than directing them to external websites. By actively using the Posts section, you can capture and retain the attention of potential customers browsing on Google. It’s a straightforward yet effective way to stay visible and relevant in your community and among your target audience.

In a digital landscape where staying active and engaging with your audience directly impacts your search visibility, the Posts feature is a powerful tool in your arsenal. Keep your profile fresh and engaging, and watch as it contributes to your overall online success.

Wrapping It All Together

The value you get from this article will be the actions you take after reading it. Currently, the Google Business Profile is arguably the most revenue boosting tool for small businesses online today that’s completely free.

We’re living in the “information age” and companies that chose to do business in modern ways will trend up, gain community awareness and ultimately meet their goals.

Along with a successful website, you’re GBP strategy can be added to your arsenal of web assets for your business.

Don't set it and forget it

I know, you’ve put in a lot of work reading this lengthy article and implementing these tips, but your work isn’t done.

The world of today demands fresh updates. Reviews within the last two week have the most impact, posting regularly tells people you’re still relevant, updating your hours serves your customers through holidays.

In its most simple form, your GBP needs to be part of your monthly tasks.

You can always outsource these tasks, it may surprise you how little it costs.

This article was written in partnership with our friends at Greatness Digital, who specialize in lead generation, digital marketing and relentless innovation.

Digital Advertising That Works for Small Businesses [Updated for 2024]

Digital Advertising That Works for Small Businesses

What Works and When to Use It

Small businesses that leverage digital marketing are seeing bigger success than those who aren’t, but with all the options available it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and want to give up.  It can be hard to narrow down the digital advertising that works for your small business.

In this easy to read article, we’re going to give you some solid guidance that will help you identify which digital platform to use at each step of your ideal customer’s journey and how to put it all together like a good wood fire pizza. (shout out to Krakelen Pizza!)

The Stages of the Customer Journey

Imagine for a second that you’re relaxing at a casual backyard BBQ with some new people you’ve just met.  It’s going well, people are starting to open up after a cold beer to two and you’re starting to make some new friends.

All of a sudden, a bearded man walks up to you and shouts 2 feet from your face that he thinks you two should be friends, because you both wear blue jeans that have slightly faded knees.

Are you stunned?

A moment later, he senses your uncomfortable posture and makes another attempt by asking if you’d like to come over after the party and watch Ozark on Netflix. (Great show by the way.)

If you’re someone who wouldn’t enjoy that interaction, you’re probably a normal human.

However, many businesses doing advertising seem to think it’s okay to jump on customers and ask them to buy from them in just as awkward of a fashion. It has to stop.

There is a better way and it involves knowing how to market to customers based on where they are at in the customer’s journey.

Customer Awareness

Name 5 different knife manufacturers…go!

If you can’t, you’re probably not in the awareness audience of people who are knife enthusiasts.

When you’re addressing your broadest audience, you’ll want to think about how you’d like to be marketed to if you had never heard of your company.

Remembering that the relationship between your business and your prospects is much like any other relationship, it starts off soft.

The three types of advertising that work very well in the awareness phase are Display, Social Media (Facebook & Instagram) and YouTube.

Facebook Ad

We chose these channels because they are natural interruption channels where people expect new things and are you can market to an interest. (Targeted)

If you’re brave enough to shoot a video or pay to get one done, YouTube is huge for local businesses right now, with Facebook being our more natural go-to for brand awareness.

Digital advertising that works for small businesses in awareness is making your marketing get noticed, stand out, provoke curiosity or inspiration.  Your goal is to get on their radar and get them to “learn more”.

If you need help identifying your customer’s pain points to address the broader audience, check out this article from WordStream.

Customer Consideration

You know that spark of energy that comes when you first realize that you have a problem and you immediately grab your cell phone to Google for solutions?

That’s consideration.

This happened to me yesterday, my wife’s birthday is coming up and I need a gift (problem appears), but what do I get her?

I immediately grabbed my phone and typed in “outdoor patio plant gift ideas”, as if that’s how anyone speaks normally. 😂

In this phase of your customer’s journey, they are aware that they need a solution but aren’t sure what would work for them.

It is at this phase that most channels open up for effective advertising. It depends on the industry, but our order of favorite goes SEO, PPC, Facebook, Email, YouTube and Display. (We offer all of these.)

Thrive Clinic Google Ad

If SEO intrigues you, check out our Small Business SEO Road Map.

We recommend that your advertising be a soft ask and an educational approach, don’t be a slick sales dude here.

For example, if someone is researching holistic ways to alleviate pain from nephropathy, you’d target them with an educational video or blog post that informs your potential customer and builds trust.

Customer Commercial Intent

Ok, now we’re playing in shark infested waters my friends.


However, this is where about 90% of your competition will enter the picture, because the return is quick, but the cost is higher.

In the phase of intent, your customers are searching the internet for options, pricing and reviews.  They know what they want and expect, but aren’t set on who or what they trust to deliver the results.

An example of this is when your customer types in Google the phrase, “kitchen remodelers +your city”.  Those folks are looking at the available options with a high probability they are ready to get down to business…with you?

The most effective channels to advertise here are PPC, SEO, Email and Display (re-targeting display).

McHenry Google Ad

At this stage in your buyers journey we start mentioning things like CTA’s (Call-to-Actions), irresistible offers and social proof.

Your advertising needs to send a clear message that you can deliver what they are wanting and why they should chose you…right now, not later.

This is the type of digital advertising that works for small businesses in the customer intention stage.

Customer Retention

Keeping in contact with your customers post-purchase is, from our experience, the #1 ball-dropping fault of the majority of small businesses we talk with.

Which is crazy talk.

Customer’s that are happy with your service or products are like your marketing soldiers in your marketing army.

If you want you business to see huge and immediate jumps in revenue, focus on your past clients.

We are advocates of a robust and engaging outbound messaging system, such as:

Our favorite is email, simply because it’s easy and cheap.

What do you say in your messaging?  Do I try and up-sell them or cross-sell them?

Yeah!  But, do it naturally and as an adviser would.  Here’s the secret:

  • Send emails consistently at a rate that feels natural.
  • Make them personable, put your personality into them.
  • Re-purpose, send an email off of a FB post you just did or a blog post.
  • Always include options to buy or learn more.
  • Stay on topic, don’t talk about things that aren’t relevant to your people.

We believe that you’ll be ahead of the game simply by starting a retention campaign.

We included Facebook (social media) and YouTube in the retention section because some of your fans will stay on those platforms.

I would also like to mention that an advanced approach to advertising for retention can include PPC, Social Media and Display by re-targeting techniques.

If You Skimmed, That's Okay, Read This

Alright folks, if you grazed the contents of this article, that’s okay, the graphic above should give you good direction on the digital marketing that works for your small business.

We hope to encourage you to look at your customer’s journey, from discovery to purchase and beyond.

Implement something, even if it’s a very low cost or free technique, at every stage is very beneficial.

When your business is operating from a 360 perspective like this, you’re going to start understanding why some businesses thrive and other’s do not.

If you want to open the conversation with a Clark Five web strategist, all you need to do is reach out.  We’re looking for new partners.

This article was written in partnership with our friends at Greatness Digital, who specialize in lead generation, digital marketing and relentless innovation.

A Complete Local SEO Checklist for Small Businesses

A Complete Local SEO Checklist for Small Businesses from Clark Five Design

The last 5 years has really shown us that when a small business embraces an online strategy, they’re better positioned to achieve success and win their local market.

In our last podcast, with Shawna from Homegrown Oregon, we talked about how important getting traction was online to the quick accelerated growth she has seen.

A local SEO strategy means putting your company’s offers and answers in front of local customers at the moment they are searching for what you offer.  The value of being seen at those times can be incredibly lucrative for a small business.

What Is A Local SEO Strategy?

A local SEO (Search Engine Optimization) strategy is fundamentally different than a broad SEO approach.  A locally focused plan for SEO includes gaining trust from search engines like Google on a localized level of internet activity.

The benefits of creating an SEO strategy at the local level means that you’re less likely to be competing with larger businesses who have spent years and large budgets to rank high in search results.

By following the advise in this blog post, you’ll be ahead of the 90% of other SMB’s that do not put in the full effort, and you’ll start to be rewarded with more eyes on your business.

Local SEO Checklist infograph

Complete Local SEO Checklist

  1. First you’ll need a website with a built-in CMS or Content Management System.  Unlike a website created like a brochure, a CMS enabled website allows you to continually shape and update the contents of your website quickly with tools like blog posts, photo galleries and special offers. (We use the WordPress platform.)
  2. Verify your Google Business Profile (Google My Business) ranking.  Super simple, super essential.  You can do this by logging into your GBP account and verifying via phone or postcard.
  3. Build out key and relevant citations. Frankly, it’s so much easier to pay someone like Clark Five Design to build these out versus the time/effort to do them.
  4. Add optimized images to your GBP account.  3 interior photos, 3 exterior photos, 3 team photos and at least 1 for each service.  Go professional and don’t use stock images. (See this post.)
  5. Make sure to have you business NAP on each page. (Name, address, phone #.) Also, embed a Google map with your business address on your website.
  6. This might be more technical, but add Schema markup to your website with “local business” being cited. Neil Patel has a great post on this with help. Read it here.
  7. If you’re using WordPress, install the free version of Yoast SEO plugin to help structure pages to rank.
  8. Install WPSSO plugin to make your website and content look great on all social media outlets.
  9. Set up Google Search Console for your website and submit your site-map.xml.  If you don’t know what this is, contact us.
  10. Set up Google Analytics for invaluable information.  Additionally, set up goals within analytics so you can measure success with data.
  11. Get Google Reviews!  Getting reviews for your business is a huge factor in showing up #1 locally.
  12. Make sure that all your images have an alt tag attribute that describes the image.  Pro tip: use keyword variants to really give yourself a boost.
  13. Build out location pages for your service areas.  This isn’t necessary, however, it’s easier to rank one page for one service area rather than ranking your homepage for 5 service areas.
  14. Set up anchor text links throughout your website.  Example, “check out our blog for more information.” See the link to another page?
  15. Take a deep breathe, you’ve got this. 😉
  16. Research your competition using free resources. Semrush, Moz, Ahrefs, Brightlocal.
  17. Create links to authoritative websites within your industry.  An example of this would be a dentist linking to the National Dental Association.
  18. Do guest post outreach.  There is almost no better way to gain rank in Google for your site than doing a great blog post on a website that already has a lot of visitors.
  19. Videos are becoming big online and although it can be super nerve racking, shooting explainer videos for key pages on your website has a magnitude of value.
  20. Use your CTAs, or Call-to-Actions.  Stick to one or two of them per page and always make them visible right upon screen load.
  21. Conversion tracking is critical if you’re doing any form of advertising online or offline.  Why? because how do you know if your business dollars are gaining business unless you track it smartly?
  22. You’re an expert in your field right?  Prove it to your audience and give away something for free that demonstrates your expertise and tells others why they should give you their money.
  23. Next, give that something away by offering it in exchange for an email address so that you can keep in contact with all your potential customers.
  24. If you’ve got reviews on Google, Yelp, Zillow, Angie’s List, HomeAdvisor or anywhere?  Showcase them on your website with a WordPress plugin that keeps the reviews credibility intact. We also provide this as part of our monthly hosting plans!
  25. Write a killer press release and send it personally to local sources with a few great photos. Then, send it out nationally and see who picks it up.
  26. Synchronize your GBP services with those on your website.
  27. You’ve probably already done this, but create profiles for your business on all the social media platforms, even the ones you don’t think you’ll use.

Our Finals Thoughts

I hope that the list above is helpful in giving you a solid direction for local SEO growth for your small business.

As a company that specializes in short and long-term small business growth, we know that SEO is a longer term play but almost always sees the biggest financial return for small businesses willing to put the time and money into it.

If you need help or would like for the experts to partner with and take the tasks off your hands, Clark Five Design is ready to start the conversation.

This article was written in partnership with our friends at Greatness Digital, who specialize in lead generation, digital marketing and relentless innovation.

How Much Do Small Businesses Spend on Digital Advertising?

How Much Do Small Businesses Spend on Digital Advertising?

Over the past few years, things have started changing for small business owners. They’re ready to get dealt a hand in the game of big profits.

Creating a budget for starting a digital advertising campaign is a smart move for those that want to mitigate risk and retain control of their ad spend. Not sure where to start?  We’re here to walk you through and hopefully give you a solid foundation for your new launch pad.

Who should use digital advertising?

Marketing your business is a necessary function to engage your customer audience on a long-term basis. Digital marketing enables you to conduct that marketing in a more meaningful and measurable way. Some industries seem to benefit more than others:

  • Home services industry (HVAC, plumbing, electrician, construction.)
  • Medical and wellness/fitness practices, clinics and studios.
  • Restaurants and other food establishments.
  • Home-based businesses.
  • Legal firms and accounting firms.
  • Auto dealers.
  • Entertainment companies.
  • Moving companies.
  • Real estate agents.

The list is not exhaustive, however, the trend we are seeing is that a growing number of small businesses are seeing big profit turning benefits by upping their digital game.

Why allocate dollars for digital?

If your business is running off of the steam of referrals and you still have a positive cash flow…do you even need digital marketing?

Well, we’re not here to tell you what you do and don’t need. We can just express our fear of relying only on word-of-mouth to run a business.  It’s a double edged sword with referrals being the easiest sell ever and completely unpredictable.

It’s that unpredictability that drives us to look towards paid marketing strategies that offer more control.

One benefit of digital marketing is the control you have over your ad spend dollars.  This offers people the ability to track the pulse of your marketing from week to week, so you can make changes to campaigns by either cutting ineffective ads or accelerating the winners.

Another great ability offered by the digital world is the “omnipresence” that your company can achieve for a relatively small budget.

Average % spent on digital advertising

We’ve uncovered that businesses that dedicate at least half of their marketing budget towards digital advertising, digital content, email marketing and online reviews see their business grow much faster than those that don’t.

Print advertising is not dead, it can be used in conjunction with digital marketing, but for those that still put all their money into billboards, magazines, shopping carts, and newspapers, they are getting less engagement and exposure every year.

Those methods are nowhere near as effective as Google and Facebook that currently dominate local buyer intent.

Of course, these figures vary greatly based on your company, however as the world of digital continues to grow year after year and with big companies like Walmart and Target shifting their business models online, it is a sign to come that if you don’t have some type of digital marketing plan will fall behind.

Invest in your business and its future.

What services should I spend my money on?

If you’ve been a business owner for more than one minute, you have probably heard people pitch you about 25 different things you should be doing online to grow your business , by the end of it you just want to do none of it.

So, let’s breakdown what we believe is the most important services to focus on and give you an idea of how much it costs to be competitive.

* Disclaimer: This information will be based off of businesses that serve a local area of clientele as opposed to national brands and eCommerce brands.

Search engine optimization (SEO)

SEO is one of those types of digital marketing that tends to see incredible return on investments because nobody is willing to play the game for as long as it takes to get results.

When it comes to this type of digital service, the most crucial factor of your success is the research that is performed prior to spending money. It can take 3-12 months to see the big pay days so you want to make sure your plan is on point the first time around.

The most common SEO services we provide are to rank a company for [service] + city.

For example, acupuncture Albany Oregon, was the goal of one of our clients, Valley Health Clinic, who wanted to be found online in the best position possible when people are looking for his exact services.

However, depending on your competition in the area, this can be an expensive task but worthwhile for long term customer in generation.

Not all keywords need to be as precise, many of your customers have questions about the services you provide and will ask those questions on Google.

How much is SEO going to cost you? Best guess is $299 per month in low/mid competition areas with lower-end sales. ($under $250 purchase) $1,500 per month for high competition areas with high ticket customers. (+$1000 purchases)

pie chart seo vs ppc

Pay Per Click Advertising (PPC)

Pay per click is a very popular form of digital advertising because it allows your business to be at the top of Google search results without doing all the heavy lifting required to get there. (but it will cost)

Pay per click advertising works by putting down words that you want to have your advertisement triggered for in search engines like Google and then paying for people to click on that advertisement.

Many companies are transitioning to this type of advertising because it is more intention based, engaging and traceable.

The real gold of PPC advertising can be found when you are working with a professional that goes outside of the common advertising mindset.

Running an ad for a construction company in [xyz city] is competitive and expensive, however if you run ads for specific types of construction, such as deck construction, you get much more specific interests an less competition .

A good pay-per-click manager will be knowledgeable in creating ads that target the right people, in the right location, with the right information they are looking for.

If you’re interested in growing your business with PPC, you can look to be spending between $500 and up.

a google ad analytics graph

Content Creation

Content for a small business needs to be focused and have a goal to it.

Most small businesses get told that they need to be producing content every single day to make an impact, but it’s about creating effective content on a regular basis, even if that means once a month.

The easiest form of content is writing a short article.  We’ve never met an owner with ample time on their hands to sit and write engaging articles multiple times per week, so doing so routinely is your best bet.

Video is arguably the most engaging form of content you can produce, but requires a little practice and calm nerves.

You can make it all easier on yourself by integrating activities, such as taking pictures or shooting short video, into your day to day business.

One strategy for small businesses centers around creating content about your service’s benefits, not features.

For example, a yoga studio would publish content regarding the benefits of yoga, such as anxiety reduction and improved focus and community.  These types of content get shared and inspire people to interact with your brand.

Don’t sell in your content…it’s implied.  (your customers aren’t dumb.)

In summary,  the price of content for a small business should not be a huge expense.  However, outsourcing your content curation is a good idea so that it looks professional and clean.

Here are some average prices based on our research and our own pricing :

  • Average price for content editing in curation: $25-$75
  • Average price for video production: $250-$1000 (based on quality)
  • average price for graphic design: $50-$250

Content is a very effective form of digital advertising, however if the goal is to get more customers, each piece of content needs guide the viewer to take a “next step” action towards becoming a customer.


Email Marketing

We can confidently say that email marketing is one of the “no-brainers” on this list. It is the cheapest form of digital marketing listed and the software is relatively cheap.

It might seem archaic to you, but most working adults still check their email at least once a day.

How can you build your email list? Well, if you’ve got customers coming in, you’ve got an email list.

There are many ways to grow your email list , including online an offline methods.

Email allows a business to put out promotions, events and incentives to people that have already done business with you.

Another great use for email is sending potential customers valuable information to allow them time to warm up to you before they make a buying decision.

At a whopping $9 – $50 per month, you can have an email list of thousands of people at your fingertips.

Growing an email list is one of the most underrated skills in our opinion.

To make it more of an enticing digital effort, you can write 12 emails in January that go out to your list all throughout the year on autopilot.

You can expect to pay from $9 to $50 per month depending on what email service you go with.

You could also choose to get professionally written emails that drive sales and engagement from $35 and up per email.

email roi

Bonus: Reputation Management

With so many companies competing for attention on the Internet, the world has turned to on-line peer reviews of your business in order to determine who is worthy of being placed on that golden front page of searches.

Online reviews have become one of the most precious commodities on the internet. recently did a survey and revealed some surprising statistics.

  • 86% of people read online reviews for local businesses.
  • 40% of people will only take into account reviews within the last two weeks.
  • 91% of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
  • 57% will only do business with a 4+ star rated business.

Taken into account the psychological and technical benefits of online reviews, it makes a lot of sense for a small business to take advantage of happy local customers.

Programs for reputation management vary greatly but you can expect to have some sort of monthly fee associated with them.

Most of the software available online seem to run in the range of $99 – $199 for small businesses depending on how many features you want to add.

directories for reviews


How much should your small business spend on digital marketing?

This is definitely a question that you’ll want to answer going into 2024 and beyond.

“The future is not digital, its digital right now.” 

How much of the budget should be traditional marketing versus dollars in digital depends on a few key factors:

  1. What are your profit margins from the average new customer?
  2. What is your average customer life time value?
  3. Do you have a calculated digital marketing plan?
  4. How competitive your local area is.
  5. The industry that you are in.

Based on some of some of your answers, you’ll be able to expect to allocate 50% of your marketing budget on digital.

If you would like to fully explore your digital marketing capabilities, please contact us.

This article was written in partnership with our friends at Greatness Digital, who specialize in lead generation, digital marketing and relentless innovation.

How To Create An Incredible Digital Marketing Strategy For Your Small Business

How To Create An Incredible Digital Marketing Strategy For Your Small Business by Clark Five Design based out of Albany & Corvallis, OR

Create a small business marketing plan

Ready to get started with creating a digital marketing plan for your small business but don’t know where to start?

Today we’re going to break down the steps you’ll need to execute your plan so that you can say hello to leveraging the revenue growing power of the internet.

Is Advertising Online Right For You?

Let’s cut right through the fluff that is the internet marketing game and get real with each other. Digital marketing is the most strategic growth focused arena when it comes to spending your businesses hard earned dollars. Odds are, you’re having trouble figuring out how to harness its power to get results.

It’s a fair assumption because only about 25% of smaller sized companies have a plan for their digital advertising and even fewer have a full plan developed. But, there is a bright side!

The good news is, this means your competitors are most likely falling short, so let’s get started.

A infograph showing screen time

Half Your Success Is Based On These 3 Questions

Making the decision to start a online marketing campaign means the possibility of massive success for your business, however, it also has been known as a black hole for your money.

So, how can you make sure that doesn’t happen?

We recommend doing your homework on this one.  Whether you’ve been in business 50 seconds or 50 years, you’ll need to have a solid foundation for this to succeed.

Things to know before you go gung-ho (with digital marketing):

  1. Can you clearly state what your business does for people in 10 words or less? The internet is a scary place where attention is often in scarce supply. We need to take full advantage of the images and headlines that we use.  Most people won’t make it past them if they aren’t captivating.
  2. Describe the people that your product or service best helps. This might feel like you’re generalizing but it’s quite the opposite. Your ideal customers have characteristics, traits, habits, and lives. The more you know about the people that best enjoy your business, the better you can craft a marketing message that resonates.
  3. Why should someone chose to do business with you over your competition? Knowing what makes you different helps you highlight your uniqueness and people are searching to be a part of that.

What Platforms to Use

Let’s not over complicate this, because there are literally 100’s of platforms you can select and each one looks shinier than the last. The last thing that we want for you is to become overwhelmed with options and give up.

We recommend you stick to three platforms at most, and develop a good understanding of those before you explore any others.

So, which ones should you chose?

If you’re a service based business that serves predominately local clients?  You will probably start with these three:

  • Google – This is by far your heavy hitter to dominate your local market. Set up a Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business) account.
  • Facebook (possibly Instagram) – This platform is known for it’s high engagement in the local community. Add Instagram if you have a business that is very photogenic.
  • Email & Text – If you don’t currently have a way of gathering your customer’s email and phone number, you’re missing out on the highest ROI (return on investment) platform.

Of course, at the center of your efforts, you will need to have a fast, functional and stunning website.  If you don’t have one now or what you do have is not good enough, contact us for advice and potentially some services. Contact us here.

How to Use Each Platform (generally)

Now Lets Bring It All Together

Now that you have a solid foundation of what your marketing message will be by answering the questions above, you have a direction for where to put that message and how to approach each platform.

This is how you bring it together.

Tools That Will Help You Finally Start Marketing Online (and how to use them)

Google Business Profile account: Optimize your listing for success.

  • Link your business information with all the major verifying directories, which boosts your position in Google.
  • Show your best side with photos and videos that encourage people to contact you or learn more.
  • Get as many customer reviews as possible! This can’t be understated.
  • Keep it updated.

If you don’t have an account, get one here today.

Facebook for business: Many business owners have set up a Facebook page for their business and might be posting updates occasionally and at random. Unfortunately, that’s not going to grow your business, at least not at the speed you probably want.

  • Plan on posting 3-4 times per week, spread them out and set them at targeted times. If you run a restaurant, target those posts for 10am.
  • Take high quality images that focus on your product or service’s benefits and have people’s faces in them. A close up of a lunch special is less impressive than the chef holding that lunch special smiling at the camera.
  • Use up to 3 emojis in your posts, they humanize your posts and provoke people to comment by asking questions or making bold statements.
  • Give away free stuff.  Depending on your business, giving stuff away over social media in exchange for a follow or email is a great PR opportunity in a non-threatening way.
  • Post non-business related topics that are politically neutral and highly relevant to what your business does.

Email & Text Marketing: We use a service called Active Campaign. We like how visual it is, beginner friendly, and it has ability to make complex campaigns as your business needs evolve.

  • The headline of your emails matter. Go back to the questions we asked ourselves and speak the lingo of your people so they will open up your letters.
  • Use images and talk naturally in your emails. We encourage businesses to use email as either a personal letter to each customer or a teaser for something on your website.
  • Always give your customers a call to action (a button or link to do something further with your business). Example: If you’re suffering from lethargic energy moods and need advice, contact me HERE.
  • Sending a text to someone’s smartphone is highly personable and gets opened the majority of the time, which is gold for businesses. However, you’ll want to use it sparingly (1-2 / monthly). That said, use it, it works wonders. *Let us know if you want to know what to say in those texts.

Create a Content Calendar

A calendar of tasks will keep you on a straight line towards success. Digital marketing is not a strategy that works well with inconsistency.

Businesses that keep their message inline with bringing consistent value to their customers, making non-threatening offers, showcasing not selling, and engagement are the ones that see real growth in their numbers.

Look at how advertising dollars are quickly turning away from traditional advertising and focusing on the quality of online.

Formulating a Conclusion

If you just read our article and seem overwhelmed by the amount of work that goes into a “beginners” journey with digital marketing for small business, you’re not alone.

Most businesses do not have the time or the willingness to do it all. I mean, you already are an expert in what your business does, why would you be one in marketing too?

…but the exponential growth in revenue and return on investment are too big to ignore! 

We’ve met business owners that have successfully orchestrated a great digital marketing plan independently, but it has come with a large time commitment and steep learning curve.

We urge you to consider implementing a complete digital marketing plan for your small business, especially as the digital era continues to grow. If you need help, our advice is always free or get started working with the Clark Five Design team today.

This article was written in partnership with our friends at Greatness Digital, who specialize in lead generation, digital marketing and relentless innovation.