How to Market your Service Business Website for $100 per Month

by Jeremy Powers on August 5, 2011

New Website

New Websites are Exciting!

Now that you have an impressive new website for your service business, it is time to entice some prospective customers to look at it. There so many options to generate traffic to a website, let’s add some limitations to our conversation. For this program, I am assuming you have the following limitations:

  • You have a monthly web marketing budget of $100.
  • You only have time to write one new article or blog post each week.
  • Your social media presence is weak or non-existent. (Twitter? What is Twitter?)
  • You only want to spend, at most, 30 minutes each week managing the promotion of your content.
  • You are more interested in adding buying customers than adding massive amounts of traffic.

Successful web marketing is not a matter of time and money. Successful web marketing is primarily about knowledge and focus.

Weekly service business web marketing plan

The first eight weeks of the “$100 per month” web marketing plan are below. Based on your feedback, I will post weeks 9-16 soon. (If you find this helpful, please be sure to let me know in the comments.)

Month 1, Week 1: Pick a key phrase

Where to invest your 30 minutes:

Your budget, both in time and money, is extremely limited. Going for a key phrase like “flower shop,” with two million monthly Google searches and huge competition, is going to lead to extreme frustration. Targeting something like “florists in Cincinnati Ohio” is a better idea. (1,600 monthly searches)

Now, this is important, you are not going to limit your paid online advertising to just this phrase. You are, however, going to limit all of your writing efforts toward this one key phrase. For your paid advertising, list another 3-5 key phrases you think might want to try for.

This week’s article:

Your first article is going to go on your own blog. Hammer your targeted key phrase properly but aggressively. Put it at the front (the left side) of your article title, and use it at least twice in your first 250 words. Make this a long article, try for more than one-thousand words. You want people to spend a fair amount of time on your website the first time they visit. A long and engaging article is a good place to start. For our example, I would write an article titled “Florists in Cincinnati Ohio: 25 Ways to evaluate your local flower shop.”

This week’s advertising:

Your keyword research should have taken every bit of your 30 minute management budget. We don’t have any time left to create ads this week.

Month 1, Week 2: Creating advertising opportunities

Where to invest your 30 minutes:

If you want to spend that $100, you better get some advertising set-up. The two big places to start are Google and Facebook. Creating accounts in both places is fairly straightforward, and there are plenty of tutorials to help you with the process. You should be able to set-up accounts in both places in about 15 minutes. Create 3-5 different ads for each platform. Do not launch the ads yet, but put together some ads you think will grab the attention of your ideal customers.

This week’s article:

Your second article will also go on your own website. Keep your targeted key phrase in the headline, but you can move it deeper (to the right). A good “how to” article of 500-700 words should work nicely. For example, “How to thank your florist in Cincinnati Ohio,” while a bit awkward, could be a nice short article on how a customer of yours expressed his thanks for your outstanding service.

This week’s advertising:

You still are not spending any money for advertising, but not to worry, you will be soon.

Month 1, Week 3: Testing your Ads

Where to invest your 30 minutes:

This week you are going to launch some ads! Revisit the ads you created in week 2, and you will notice that many of them now seem ineffective. For Facebook, pick your 3 favorite ads and launch them. You will want to be sure they are pointing to a landing page or a popular article on your website. Since this article is about advertising for your website, we are not looking to send people to your fan page, so ignore that option. Set your total budget for $50. For Google, launch your best two ads, and set your budget for $50. If you have a promotion code as a new Adwords customer, raise your budget to use the promotion credit. (Google has been offering a $100 credit for new Adwords users.) Because your ads are already built, launching your ads will take 10-20 minutes.

Spend the rest of your 30 minutes listing some local blogs that you will contact about supplying a guest article.

This week’s article:

You will be adding content to your own website again this week. (Give it time, you will be writing for other sites soon enough.) An expertise article will help avoid a high bounce rate from the visitors coming to your website from your newly launched ads. Continuing with our florist example, I would write an article like “The Definitive Guide to Rosebush Trimming – From your Cincinnati Florists at X.” (See how I still managed to get the key phrase in the headline?) Be sure to include “deep links” to your other articles in the first few paragraphs.

This week’s advertising:

You have now launched your ads, and they are set to use your entire monthly budget. For the next two weeks, let your ads run, until the budget is exhausted.

Month 1, Week 4: Your first guest post

Where to invest your 30 minutes:

This week you are going to submit an article to Ezine Articles. You will need to spend most of your 30 minutes setting-up your account and familiarizing yourself with their requirements. With your remaining time, start contacting the webmasters or primary contacts of your list of local websites from last week. You want to know if they accept guest articles, will they allow a backlink to your website in the article, and do they have editorial guidelines. Not all of your communications will be answered, but you should be able to find at least one local website that is interested.

This week’s article:

You are going to be submitting an article to Ezine Articles, so you will want to write according to their guidelines. You don’t need to use your key phrase in the title of the article, but you will want to use the key phrase as the anchor text that links your biography to your website. Also, be sure to point the link to one of your earlier articles that does use your targeted key phrase in the title. Other than that, just write something relevant to your business that customers would be interested in. For our florist, I would write an article titled “10 Reasons Flowers will always be used in Weddings.”

This week’s advertising:

Your ads on Facebook and Google Adwords should still be running. Do not even look at the reports both companies will send you regarding “your weekly ad performance.” You will evaluate your ads on your schedule, not theirs.

Month 2, Week 1: Building your KPI report

Key Performance Indicators

KPI ?! What is a KPI?

Where to invest your 30 minutes:

You are going to start monitoring your key performance indicators (KPIs). It is easy to become overwhelmed with marketing metrics. With the small amount of time you are dedicating to online marketing, you will want to keep your dashboard simple. You need to be knowledgeable with your analytics package. List each of your traffic sources: search engines, Google Ad #1, Google Ad #2, Facebook Ad #1, Facebook Ad #2, and Facebook Ad #3. Now, being a service business, it is likely your sales are not happening online, so you can’t directly measure sales. For each of your traffic sources, though, you can note how much time a visitor is spending on your website. How many pages are visitors looking at? Lastly, how many visitors are making it to your “Contact Us” page? If you look closely, you should see visitors from one or two sources are spending more time on your website. You want more of these visitors.

You don’t need a fancy spreadsheet or database to track this; personally, my web KPIs fit on a one page dashboard. One last thing for your KPI report: where are you ranking on Google for your targeted key phrase? If you are in the first 30 listings, note what position you are in. If you are not in the first 30 listings, make a note that you are not ranking yet.

This week’s article:

You should have at least one local website that has agreed to a guest article. Follow any editorial guidelines you were given, and write an article that aligns with the audience of the website you are submitting to. Let’s pretend I have permission from a local dirtbike club to submit an article for my florist client. I’ll need to find an article that matches both my expertise and their interests. For my florist, I would submit an article, “How you can aerorate your flower beds with your dirtbike.” Be sure to include a backlink in your author biography, and if permitted, include a link to one of your articles in the first paragraph of the article. Be sure to use your key phrase as the anchor text in at least one link to your website.

This week’s advertising:

If you have any ad funding left from last month, let the ads keep going. Otherwise, be patient, we will be using your month two funds next week.

Month 2, Week 2: Dropping weak ads, Deep-linking your content

Where to invest your 30 minutes:

Update your KPI report with data from the last week. You might notice you have some visitors coming from your guest articles; if the number of visitors is more than 5% of the total, add those traffic sources to your report. Your report converts data into information. You, as a business owner, are now going to turn that information into knowledge. What ads are working well? Why do you think those ads work best? Are you getting phone calls from any of these visitors? Cancel your two weakest advertisements. It might be that both of the weakest ads are from Facebook, what does that tell you? Fund your strong advertisements, with your full $100 budget. (Feed the strong, kill the weak.)

This week’s article:

It has been two weeks since you added new content to your website. Google wants new stuff, and if you want to rank for your key phrase, you will need to keep feeding the beast. With this article, you will want to achieve two things:

1) Reduce your bounce rate – You will never rank for your key phrase if the major search engines see most of your visitors for that phrase bounce without looking at deeper content on your website.

2) Improve your time on site – The more time a visitor spends on your website the better. Your brand is in front of them longer. Your credibility with them grows. They become comfortable with you.

Your article for this week needs to be engaging and tactically effective. Pick a topic that people constantly ask you about when they find out what you do for a living. Write a lengthy explorative article about the topic. Make it an essay, not a summary. Consider 800 words a minimum length. Include well-anchored links to your other articles and website pages within this article. You should be able to include at least 4 “deep links” to your other website content within this essay.

This week’s advertising:

You are launching your ads again this week, but you are only investing in the strong ads you determined to support above. Put the entire $100 budget out there.

Month 2, Week 3: Your second guest article

Where to invest your 30 minutes:

Refresh your KPI report with last week’s data. If anything sticks out, investigate. Based on what you have learned so far, create 3 new advertisements. At least one of these new advertisements should market your long essay from last week. If the essay is well received, you will have an ad ready to drive more traffic to it. Do not launch the new ads, but keep your existing ads going.

This week’s article:

Write another guest post. If you have another local website that has agreed to post an article, prepare an article for them. If not, submit another article to Ezine Articles. In either case, be sure to use your targeted key phrase for as the anchor text for your backlink.

This week’s advertising:

If your KPI report indicated a problem with one of your advertisements, fix the problem. Keep your “old” ads running, and leave your new ads for later.

Month 2, Week 4: Reality Check

 

Make it stop

Make it stop, I wanna stop!

Where to invest your 30 minutes:

You are now at the end of your second month in the program. You have written 7 articles, spent many hours, and invested $200 so far. With your updated KPI report in hand, how are you doing?

  • Have you gained business from your web marketing?
  • Are you ranking in the top 30 on Google for your targeted key phrase?
  • Is your ranking improving each week?
  • Do you have a high bounce rate for visitors?
  • Can you continue to write new articles each week? Are you stuck?!

Two months is the minimum commitment required to discover if web marketing on an extremely small budget is for you. Is it?

This week’s article:

List posts are quick to write and visitors love a quick article. Write a list post for you website. It should be 400-600 words, and you will want to format each item on the list as a “header 2,” with the details below. Include at least two deep links to other articles or pages on your website.

This week’s advertising:

There probably isn’t any of the $100 budget for month two left.

End of part 1 – How to Market your Service Business Website for $100 per Month

After reviewing the first eight weeks above, are you finding this guide helpful? Are there any parts that are confusing or unrealistic? Would you like to see the next two months of the plan? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

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{ 4 comments }

Peter Haigh

A good guide. Thanks,

Jeremy Powers

Thanks Peter. We know not every small business can afford to partner with Winding Staircase, but we still want to see those businesses grow. If enough people find this guide helpful, we will work to create an e-book, with illustrations and examples.

Thanks again for the comment.

@sandyhubbard

This is a great step-by-step reference article, Jeremy. I will be sharing this with clients who need a systematic yet affordable plan for promoting their website and attracting the right kinds of prospects.

Jeremy Powers

Sandy – Thanks for the feedback. I know not everyone wants to work with a professional internet marketer, and this article is meant to help those that want to bootstrap for a few months.

I am glad you found it helpful.

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