What do you expect from the process of establishing an online service business? Many newcomers imagine setting up a website with basic content. They can then sit back and just wait for customers to discover their amazing website and plug in their credit card numbers.
Not so fast.
If you take that approach, you will likely spend the rest of your life waiting for customers who aren’t going to show up. Why not? It’s simple: They don’t know your website exists.
Creating a website and/or landing pages is just the starting point. Once that’s done, you get down to the hardest part of selling services online: connecting with paying clients.
How do you successfully sell your services online if building a website isn’t the entire process? There are many ways to do it, and you will find your unique approach once you get started. To give you a boost in the right direction we have some tips that can get you started.
Build a Recognizable Brand Online
It takes a bit of time to come up with a brand identity, but we encourage you not to skip the process. Look at your competitors and determine what differentiates your services. What can you offer that is difficult to find elsewhere? What are the advantages to working with you?
Finally, what do you stand for as a business? Even if you’re one person offering virtual services from your living room or kitchen table, start thinking of yourself as a reputable business. If you don’t take yourself seriously, how can you expect anyone else to consider you seriously?
Branding isn’t about coming up with a catchy jingle or slogan. Those things can help, but it’s mostly about defining your business and standing out in a crowded marketplace.
There are many ways to stand out, but it starts with deciding your voice and remaining consistent in all of your online content. You can start spreading awareness of your brand in the following ways:
- Establish social media accounts in your business or brand name. Determine two or three social media channels where your target audience is active, and post on your accounts consistently. Start with just one social media site if you find this overwhelming. You can grow in this area with time.
- Create a blog or resource database on your website. Fill this section of your website with insightful posts that are informative for anyone interested in your industry or niche. Use well-researched keywords to help your website show up in search engine results, but make sure every post is accurate and helpful. Show your expertise here.
- Add testimonials and customer reviews to your website and/or social media accounts. Showcasing what other clients think of your service is a great way to encourage other people that you’re authentic and worth the investment. Think of ways to encourage your first customers to create reviews and testimonials to help you create a stronger online presence as you grow.
- Fill out your Google Business Profile. This is a free profile that increases your chances of getting featured in Google search results. Many consumers now check these pages for company information before signing up for services or buying products. You may also want to create a presence on Yelp and any other site where someone in need of your services may look online.
- Create videos that support your brand message. There are ways to create engaging videos without using your own face or voice. Videos are becoming integral to online marketing, so it helps to have a YouTube channel or take advantage of TikTok and Instagram marketing. Facebook videos may help as well, depending on your target demographic.
- Offer a lead magnet on your website or landing page. A lead magnet is something of value that you can give away in exchange for an email address. You may create a detailed report, share some insider tips in a guide, or offer a template that will help a target market create something on their own. This magnet must attract your ideal clients, so choose something that they will find valuable enough to leave an email address.
As your online presence grows, make sure you show up when promised. For instance, if you gain a following on TikTok and promise to go live every Friday to answer questions, make sure you go live on Fridays. When members of your target audience start looking forward to seeing you online, your on your way to gaining more clients with less work.
Don’t get overwhelmed on this step. Start by identifying what sets your services apart from others and coming up with ways to express those unique selling points through online content.
Make Scheduling Fast, Easy & Convenient
Creating your brand voice, generating content, offering a lead magnet, and showing up on social media are all great ways to generate leads for your online service business. But what happens when you grab a potential customer’s attention?
You better have a solid landing page ready to convert them into paying customers. You may actually have a series of landing pages or pages on a larger website that walk your leads through a sales funnel. A funnel is simply a series of pages, each taking your lead closer to signing up for services, leaving an email address to join your mailing list, or taking other actions that will eventually lead to service signups.
All of that brand building and marketing leads to this online sales process. While you may do some phone calls or spend time personally emailing potential clients at some point, you ultimately want to automate the process of onboarding new customers.
Once you pull in a lead, you want to make it fast and easy to sign up for services or request a personal consultation. Booking pages are the simplest and most effective way to get more online signups. These pages work like landing pages but are connected to a calendar and scheduling system. They allow interested customers to quickly get on your schedule or request more information from you personally.
A short sales funnel that goes from links on social media to a landing page or booking page can get results for many online service businesses. It’s fast to set up, and you may see quick results if you’re getting your brand out there through social media and/or paid ads.
Do You Even Need a Website to Sell Services Online?
This is a commonly asked question for new eCommerce businesses. If you can set up landing pages and/or booking pages quickly, why take the time to create a full website with a blog? For starters, that blog can serve as a powerful resource to provide free, high-value content to your target audience while getting your website listed favorably on search engine results pages.
Second, a website can serve as an example of your quality of work. It can help you build a reputation as an established and trustworthy expert in your field. It will take its place in your sales funnel and is a great place to grab those emails in exchange for your lead magnet, but the value goes far beyond marketing.
Your website can become virtual real estate. A true asset for your growing business. With time, it becomes more and more valuable.
Technically, you can sell services online without a website. You simply use booking pages and landing pages created on website builder sites to push leads through a funnel. There are just so many other benefits to seriously consider incorporating a full website.
Network and Team Up with Other Service Providers
Sometimes the best way to create your own client base is to tap into someone else’s client base or online audience. Why do you think so many businesses are now using social media influencers to spread awareness of their products and services? They’re gaining access to their target market through an existing audience.
You also can reach out to social media influencers to see if they’re willing to help you promote your services. The catch is to make sure you only work with influencers who blend well with your brand. You don’t want to alienate part of your target market by having your services promoted by a controversial influencer. Find people who are connected to your industry in some way and who have a natural way to plug your services to their audience.
That doesn’t mean you should avoid potential controversy at all costs. If your brand stands for something that others find controversial, you may gain a lot of attention from the right clients by having a controversial influencer plug your services. You just have to tread more carefully when doing that.
What if You Don’t Like Social Influencers?
If you just don’t want to dip your toes into the influencer marketing sandbox, you have other networking options. Start by identifying other service providers who complement but don’t directly overlap your services. You may share a target market, but your services are different enough that someone could work with you both.
Reach out to those service providers to see if they’re interested in promoting together. Don’t think of it as marketing for someone else and vice versa. Ideally, you will partner up to run ads or do some social media and podcast appearances as a team. You may also agree to refer customers to one another if you’re unable to meet someone’s needs on your own.
You can also network through LinkedIn and other sites specific to your business. Simply introduce yourself and strike up conversations with others. Introduce yourself to local business owners as well because they may trade exposure to your online audience for some access to their in-person customers.
You will find connections where everything just seems to click and you can help one another out. Give it time and network away.
Create a Multi-Faceted Marketing Strategy
We stroked the surface of marketing your online service business when we discussed building your brand. We’ll go a bit deeper into it right now. It’s important to create a full marketing strategy that takes advantage of different online opportunities. If you focus all of your attention on one marketing channel, you’re leaving a lot of paying customers for your competitors.
If you find marketing overwhelming, you can start with just one simple idea. Find a way to automate most of the work for that marketing idea, and then add something new. Eventually, you will have a dynamic marketing strategy that serves your growing online business well.
Let’s look at some of the best options for marketing a service business online.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Research keywords often used by members of your target audience when they search the internet for services you provide. Implement those keywords into your online content, allowing your site to pop up in their search engine results listings. Just don’t stuff keywords in unnaturally. Keep your content readable to humans as well.
Social Media Marketing
Establish a strong presence on social media platforms where your target audience hangs out. Provide informative and inspiring content rather than directly selling. You have to show up consistently to make social media work.
Pay for advertisements on social media platforms, search engines, and other places online. Research and strategize well so that your ads are precisely targeted to your ideal client.
Collect email addresses and send insightful, engaging messages at a tolerable frequency. You don’t want to bombard your targets with a lot of messages or send unwanted messages. Automate this process and include it as part of your sales funnel.
Phone & Text Message Marketing
The marketing world is expanding into the mobile marketing arena quickly, but you have to research the laws before you jump in the pool. Sending any type of marketing message to a cellphone is more restricted and monitored than email marketing, but it’s a great way to market some service businesses.
Use Retargeting in Your Marketing Strategy
Now that you’re familiar with the many options for marketing your online service business, we want to mention retargeting briefly. The concept is to revisit people who have visited your website or social media platforms. You can use social media or search engine paid advertising services to identify people who have visited you in the past and then target your ads so that they see them.
You can improve your conversion results significantly by retargeting your marketing efforts. Most people won’t buy the first time they encounter a brand. Retargeting is a great way to reappear in their social media feeds or search engine results, keeping your services in front of them until curiosity leads the right into your sales funnel.
The best way to start selling services online is to create your brand and the flow for an effective sales funnel. Identify how you will market your business because that often serves as the foundation of your funnel. It gets people to notice you, and then you can move them to your website, landing page, booking page, and other online resources.
Put it on paper as a plan first. Then start implementing, one step at a time.