It was 2013 before Mark Higginson decided to create a website for his successful landscape design and construction business. But within weeks of launching naturalstonescapes.ca, the website had generated $200,000 in new business for the Meaford-based company – an impressive 4000% ROI. Here’s how the right approach to website content marketing can generate high search engine ranking, attract qualified customers, and deliver sales.
Mark grew up in the Southern Georgian Bay area, but moved south to study landscaping. In 1993, armed with six years’ experience with major landscaping projects, he returned home to launch Natural Stonescapes. From the start he had an advantage over many of his competitors. His understanding of the geography and geology of the area prepared him for the unique challenges posed by the Niagara Escarpment. As Mark says, “The best way to hire a landscaper is to look at work he did five years ago.” Natural Stonescapes quickly established a reputation as the go-to landscape company for challenging sites in the Collingwood, Thornbury, Meaford and Owen Sound areas, with a specialty in major hardscaping and swimming pools.
Early in 2013, Mark decided a website aimed at homeowners could save him time by answering many of the questions clients asked in initial meetings; showcase the portfolio he’d normally carry along to meetings; and keep one crew busy while he focussed his attention on a significant long-term project near Collingwood.
To kick off, Mark presented myFavoriteMarketer with a helpful point-form breakdown of the design process and the various services he offered. He had also paid a professional photographer to capture some stunning images of many of his high-end projects. We were off to a good start.
Understandably though, Mark approached his services and expertise from the landscaper’s point of view. Our first challenge was to step outside and determine what homeowners wanted – and needed – to know about what Mark could offer, and to translate his services into benefits, features and real information that would attract and intrigue qualified leads.
I’m plain curious, and I wanted to learn about Mark’s business from the perspective of a homeowner. During interviews, I learned about Mark’s background and how he approached a landscaping project. In his notes, he’d mentioned that he had a real understanding for the area’s unique geography and understood how the Escarpment impacted landscaping projects. I dug further and learned more about those challenges and how Mark approaches them.
Next, we looked at how to attract the type of customers Mark was looking for – owners of high-end properties with major landscaping projects. Landscaping is a competitive field in the area surrounding the Southern Georgian Bay shoreline from Owen Sound to Collingwood and Wasaga Beach. We needed to stand out from the crowd, and at the same time make sure that the people Mark eventually met with were well-qualified prospects.
Multiple landing pages increase search engine visibility and leads
Rather than including a page listing the various services Natural Stonescapes offers, we devoted individual pages to at least a dozen key services and project types. This allowed us to optimize a page for each service with information about the service; informative articles; photos; and search-engine friendly headlines and tags. By increasing the number of landing pages and potential search terms, we increased the chances that people looking for a particular service, such as “concrete pools collingwood” would quickly find that particular page and enter the website there.
Informative “magazine-style” articles attract and intrigue visitors
We wanted to create a website that visitors would linger over, arriving on one page and delving deeper, learning more and growing more confident about Natural Stonescapes expertise. Mark’s high quality photographs were a big help. Beyond that, we wrote interesting “magazine-style” articles about a few projects. These articles demonstrate the company’s expertise more effectively than a page that simply declares it. (This is a logical extension of testimonials; if you have testimonials already; consider expanding these into more thorough case studies and articles.)
Teasers to these articles appear randomly in the sidebar with each refresh, so visitors discover new articles as they navigate through the site.
We also characterized landscaping services as “landscaping ideas” to further inspire visitors accustomed to reading publications about fine homes and landscaping. (Magazine ads included the call-to-action “Discover natural landscaping ideas at naturalstonescapes.ca”)
(As with any sites we develop, naturalstonescapes.ca is mobile-friendly – “responsive” to the size of the device you’re viewing it on.)
Content marketing delivers qualified leads further along in the sales cycle
“The inquiries I’m receiving from the website are the kind of clients I’m looking for,” says Mark. “It certainly makes my job easier.”
The quality of the projects described and the accompanying photographs filter out time-consuming calls and inquiries from those who might not have the budget for the major projects Natural Stonescapes focuses on. Those who do call in are more likely to have the “right” kind of projects, and the site has already answered many of their initial questions.
“People know a lot about me before we have our first meeting,” says Mark. “With referrals from builders, every client checked out my website before they even met me. They liked what they saw, and I got every one of those jobs. And the website saves me two or three business meetings each time.”
New business represents 4000% ROI within months
Eliminating wasted meetings is money in the bank. But what about new business generated by the website?
“I got a call for a water feature project the very first week,” says Mark. “The second new business lead direct from the website turned into a big job. The owner has a double lot on the water and he’s a golfing nut. We did a swimming pool, a water feature, a sunken firepit, a boardwalk, and in the spring we’re going to build a little golf course.”
Individual landing pages for specific projects and services helped capture searches on less common, but more targeted and therefore relevant, keyword searches such as “landscaping waterfall installation Collingwood”. And developing landing pages for such specific features as driveways paid off when specialized searches for these terms brought Mark’s website to the top. “These are smaller jobs, but they’re great – you’re in and out quickly,” says Mark. “I got a call every three weeks because of the website. I’m as busy as I want to be for the spring coming up, that’s for sure. I might need to think seriously about running another crew.”