Leapfrog is doing the BEST online marketing in the Culligan system

Yes, you read that correctly… They are the best in the system. Well other than what I’ve been doing…

For those of you who don’t know me, I have owned a couple of Culligan dealerships and members of my family still do… 

Additionally, I have no real incentive to be for or against leapfrog. I’m for all great lead-generating programs and have focused a lot of my energy on becoming a black-belt at doing that online. If leapfrog can do that better than I can, then so be it. The competition just makes us all better. I’m up for it.

This is why Leap Frog’s online marketing is the best I’ve seen (other than mine of course)

  1. They buy a narrow band of specific keywords. This is also a weakness but overall this helps them target keywords that they can direct to their landing page that they know will convert a high percentage to leads and then appointments. If they were buying every keyword under the sun they would get a lot of clicks but return few appointments. This, however, is also a weakness as I explain below in #3.
  2. They have a targeted, SIMPLE landing page (not a full website). Ever notice how we Americans and Canadians are always in a hurry? Google gives us, as marketers, the ability to know what our prospects are THINKING and then respond with an ad and then a website once they click. Most busy Google searchers just want a solution to their problem… And they want it quickly… They don’t want to read your last 20 Twitter posts or 6 blogs. Leapfrog understands that and so built a page designed to convert the “potential buyers” to leads. Admittedly, leapfrog is missing out on building a relationship with the “browsers” utilizing social media and other online marketing tools but that’s not their goal. They want to generate appointments and they want to do it today. And the best way to do that is NOT with a website.
  3. They are getting better and better over time. If you’ve been watching leapfrog as closely as I have (as I said, they’re good at what they do) you’ll notice that they have expanded the key words they’re buying. For instance they originally didn’t buy “water test” and now they do. They also have had several site redesigns (based on what converts best I’m sure) and I’d be very surprised if they aren’t constantly A/B Split-Testing. All great marketers do these things. Leapfrog does them, I do them, you need to be doing them. Don’t tell me your web designer built an entire website for you without ever testing it’s conversion rate. That’s so 2005.
  4. They keep within budget. If all they are getting is $150 per appointment simple math shows us they have to be doing some things very well. Let’s look at some rough calculations.
    1. Let’s say they’re paying $3/click on average.
    2. Their landing page then converts 5% of those (about double the average Culligan site) to inquiries.
    3. Of those inquiries they convert 50% (again a healthy percentage) to appointments.
    4. Their raw cost per lead in JUST Google Adwords expenses is $120. It doesn’t take a genius to see that with overhead, there’s just no way they are making money. So they are either underbidding on keywords, their landing page is converting better than 5%, and/or they are ninjas at converting inquiries to appointments. Without at doubt it’s the first 2, which is further proof that they are indeed experts at what they do.

This is where Leap Frog is falling off the boat

  1. They are trying to set appointments for you. Do I really need to explain that in any more detail? Didn’t think so. They should just be directing the inquiries to your office… But then you can’t just pay them “per appointment” because your office may have botched the inquiry and then told leapfrog “that wasn’t a lead” or “it was out of territory” or “it was a current customer.” So the real question is, are you willing to pay say $60-$75 per inquiry (lead, billing question, service request, etc.) versus $150 per appointment.
  2. They are marketing nationally. Has anyone else noticed the “anti-corporatism” sentiment in America lately? I’m not saying whether it’s right or wrong but it’s there. People want to deal with other PEOPLE. Not corporations. People can see right through a corporate advertisement. Local ads with local wording, local phone numbers, and local addresses convert anywhere from 2-6x higher than nationally branded ads based on my testing.
  3. They aren’t bidding on crucial key words. Go to your browser and type in “no salt softener” (one of the most searched for terms in most markets). Leapfrog (culliganwateroffers.com) doesn’t show up anywhere. (Note: In November 2011 LeapFrog vastly expanded their keyword buys to include these and many other items. For this reason you may now be experience more low-quality leads which I explain in the next few sentences.) This is actually by design. Leap Frog’s landing page isn’t designed to respond to questions about “no salt softeners” so they know they’ll just spend money on clicks but never generate any leads. So they don’t even bid on the word. However it’s bad for you because SOMEONE needs to be telling people no-salt gimmicks are a scam. But do you really want to put that on your main website thereby giving it credibility? No! There’s a much more effective route. Contact me if you don’t know where to start.
  4. They are underbidding on the most important keywords. Open another browser and do a Google search for “water softener.” Where is culliganwateroffers.com? Do that same search 5 different times. In a competitive market, leapfrog will show up somewhere on the page about 3 out of 5 times. The other 2 times they will not. The 3 times that they are in the results they are probably at position 7 or lower. Why? They can’t afford to deliver appointments at $150 each and pay for clicks at the top position for highly competitive words like “water softener.” It’s very simple math. Other words, like “culligan” are cheaper so they can afford to pay for the top positions. So the result is, they get top placement for words like “culligan” and very poor or NO placement for words like “water softener.” The bottom line is that leapfrog missing out on lots of potential leads.
  5. They aren’t providing you with any feedback in your local market. I don’t know how many times I need to scream this from the rooftops (ask my clients how hard I pound this into their heads). The true value and POWER of online marketing is utilizing it as a test bed so we can take the lessons we learn online and apply them to all of our other marketing. In most markets right now your online marketing budget should be 10-15% of your total. However, if you are spending that wisely with someone who understands the industry AND the power of testing online, that 10-15% can be used to improve the conversion of the other 85-90%. Am I making sense? Keep in mind EVERY LOCAL MARKET IS DIFFERENT. Contact me and I’ll be glad to review the proof that the best ads in central Texas are not the best ads in central Illinois or western Arizona.
If all of this is true, I just lifted up my skirt and exposed all of their weaknesses that they can now fix. True. But are you going to forward this along to leapfrog?
In reality, these guys aren’t idiots. They know what they’re doing and I assure you they know everything I’ve just mentioned – strengths and weaknesses. Remember where I said they are getting better over time? Given enough time and money, they’ll fix all of these problems. It’s also taking more time because they need to learn our industry and that’s not something you can pick up over night. Since my family has been in the business since 1947 and I have owned my own dealerships separate from theirs, I do have a slight advantage in that regard.
The real question becomes, “Is there a cheaper, simpler way that provides a better experience for prospects?”
Yes, of course. But before I explain what the solution is, let’s address a question I ALWAYS get when talking with dealers.

My ad agency is the bestest in the business and they do a great job for me! You’re just a third-generation Culligan Man, adrenaline junky with a bad haircut… So why haven’t they told me this and you have?

The simple answer is, they don’t “get it”. Pure and Simple (Am I allowed to use that?).
If you saw the volumes of material I’ve consumed over the years about online marketing you would wonder how I have had enough time to put 10,000 miles per year on my motorcycle. If you saw how much I continue to read and test and measure on a daily and weekly basis your eyes would go cross-eyed. I’m not trying to be arrogant but when you are able to focus a MAJOR portion of your time on one dedicated yet very complicated niche, you can become very good at it. (Besides I don’t own a TV or have a wife so I have more time than most).  
Online marketing is NOT SIMPLE. Unless you can afford to put in the time and effort to STAY EDUCATED you’re going to fall behind very quickly. It’s kind of like the plumber who thinks he can sell water treatment equipment. He’ll never become the water expert. It’s not a big enough focus for his business. It’s just an extra revenue stream.
The second part is that it’s not financially beneficial for them to know all of this. The fact of the matter is they don’t need to know this. They just need to know more than you do. Since none of the ad agencies are paid based on their performance, what is their incentive to deliver actual results? The fault lies more with you as a dealer who doesn’t force them to get better. Didn’t mean to punch you in the gut with that one, but you asked.
Here’s the point. I’m not picking on Ad Agencies. I had one for my dealerships and if I still owned dealerships I’d have one today. You need your ad agency. You just can’t expect them to be an expert at everything. Just like you can’t expect a plumber to be an expert at water treatment. Sure he can install a softener. That’s the easy part. Anyone can install a softener. Just like anyone can market online…

Which brings us to the solution

And to get it, you’ll have to contact me.

Quite frankly I’ve probably put too much information into this blog for my competitors and others to use against me. That’s the problem with being an engineer who loves marketing and taking risks… Some times I just go too far and give too many details.
At any rate, Contact Me so we can setup a time to chat or Skype and I’ll lay out the most elegant, powerful, and cost-effective solution to your online marketing in about 15 minutes.
To your online marketing success,
Bryan Trilli

P.S. When you contact me let me know the area you cover and your current website so I can run some preliminary tests to evaluate your current online presence.