By Welton Hong
Did you grow up going door to door each Halloween, showing off your adorable costume and begging the neighbors for candy?
It’s a time-honored tradition with more than 40 million children participating annually in recent years. It’s also a fun opportunity for around 122 million households to dress windows, doors and other exterior areas with fun and spooky decorations.
Whether you remember trick-or-treating fondly or still participate by decorating your own home and handing out candy, you’re probably wondering what this tradition has to do with online marketing. As summer fades into autumn, leaves change colors and kids take to the streets to fill sacks with tasty treats, local news channels and other media usually bring out the Halloween tips. Turns out some of those tried-and-true Halloween tips—whether for safety or general fun—can be applied to online marketing to help protect your business’s reputation and bottom line.
Indulge me for a few minutes as I give you the online marketing version of trick-or-treating tips—and maybe indulge yourself in a piece or two of that candy you’ve got earmarked for Halloween while you read.
Stick Together in Groups—Or Targeting the Right Audience
You’ve likely heard it or said it: Stick with a group when trick-or-treating. A single child wandering the streets on Halloween night can run across all manner of dangers.
When you’re marketing home improvement services online, you also need to stick with a group. Except here, I’m referring to the overall group of people you’re advertising your goods and services to. It’s called your target audience.
Many businesses start marketing before they take the time to truly understand who their target audience is and that’s a mistake. It leaves you open to dangers such as wasting marketing money on content that doesn’t convert or offending potential clients because you don’t understand what your target audience needs, wants or believes.
Before you invest in any marketing, ask yourself questions such as: What problems do your products solve? Who has those problems and is likely to be interested in a solution? Where are those people, geographically and online? What can you find out about the age, income level and interests of your target audience?
These questions all help you dial in your marketing so you can stick with the group most likely to become clients.
Don’t Eat the Unwrapped Candy—Or How to Protect Your Clients Online
Halloween might be a magical night for young children, but adults know the world isn’t so magical. Unwrapped candy could have been tampered with, so you throw it away.
You know what else might be tampered with? An unsecure website. Modern consumers are growing increasingly aware of the dangers that lurk online, and many are learning how to identify whether a website or business is taking appropriate precautions.
For example, if you haven’t invested in an HTTPS site—that means it’s encrypted—potential clients might leave as soon as they arrive. They certainly are less likely to enter personal information, including their names, email addresses or payment information, without seeing signs of security and encryption.
The takeaway here is that if your candy (aka your website) isn’t wrapped, people are going to throw it away. And that means you wasted any marketing effort getting them there in the first place.
Have Candy for Trick-or-Treaters—Or Follow Through on Your Promises
If you leave your light on during trick-or-treating hours and don’t show up at the door bearing candy, tradition supposedly says you’re in for a trick. And that can be bad for your house, depending on how mischievous it gets.
When you create titles and meta descriptions and add keywords to your site content, that’s akin to leaving the porch light on. You’re inviting people to click your link in search results with the implied promise that when they arrive on your page, you have something of value for them. If your content doesn’t follow through with that promise, visitors feel tricked. They’re not going to egg or toilet paper your website in response, but they’re also a lot less likely to check out your services or return when they’re ready to make a purchase.
Wear Reflective Clothing or Carry Lights—Or Make Sure Your CTA Shows Up
While many locales have moved trick-or-treating to daylight hours, especially for younger children, plenty of Halloween activities take place after dark. It’s just common sense to ensure that kids or adults who will be on the streets when the sun goes down can be seen by motorists and others.
And it’s common sense to ensure that your call to actions (CTA), value proposition sand buy buttons can be seen by people who visit your site. If they’re buried well below the fold (that’s the imaginary line that divides the webpage between the part you see immediately and the part you have to scroll to see), people are usually less likely to click. Likewise, if your CTAs or offers are hard to decipher, people will become frustrated and leave your page.
We live with a culture that prizes instant gratification. After all, what kid didn’t sneak at least one candy out of his bag on the way home to taste? So, it’s important to do what you can to make your site easy and safe to access and your marketing messages clear and concise.
That way, when potential clients visit your page, they’re more likely to find what they need. That brings them back for the candy (your expertise, goods or services) more often.
Welton Hong is the founder of Ring Ring Marketing and a leading expert in creating case generation from online to the phone line. He is the author of “Making Your Phone Ring with Internet Marketing for Window Covering Companies.”