Does your location have anything to do with how many online leads you get? Absolutely.
I had lunch last year with a couple who ran a good-sized home improvement company in Northern Michigan. I’m talking the deep north. Lots of ice fishing, but not a lot of people.
They asked me a good question: Does our location have anything to do with how many leads we’re supposed to get from the Internet?
My answer was “Absolutely.” And then they asked: “Why?”
From our perspective, the areas of the country that produce the most leads online share three traits:
- Higher than average household income. This is self-explanatory, so I won’t spend much time on it. Suffice it to say that homeowners who can afford it tend to invest more in their homes. No surprise.
- A major city, surrounded by densely packed suburbs. Why? First, the household incomes in these areas tend to be higher. See above. Next, there are simply more homeowners in and around the major cities than there are around smaller cities and in rural areas. Like figurative sardines, the suburbs of cities like Baltimore, Boston and San Francisco have a tremendous number of homeowners in a relatively small geographic area. Which leads to my Point #3…
- High household Internet penetration. Because the suburbs are packed with homeowners with above-average incomes, the cable companies and Internet service providers have invested huge sums of money to deliver high-performance Internet access to their customers. In these areas, old-school dial-up connections are rare, and high-speed broadband connections are the rule.
This last point is important to you for two reasons:
- Homeowners with high-performance connections tend to use the Internet much more frequently, and…
- These connections make it easier for Google and the other search engines to deliver targeted advertising to homeowners based on their location.
Here are some areas of the country that have all three of these characteristics, and should therefore get a significantly higher proportion of their leads from the Internet:
But what about Northern Michigan, the area of the country about which I began this post? Certainly there must be some Internet leads there. In fact, there are some…just not very many.
You see, when you consider the three characteristics above, Northern Michigan unfortunately has none. In fact, it offers average to below-average household income. There are no major cities in the territory, at least by any national measure. Although it’s a huge territory, its population is spread far and wide over vast expanses. And its Internet penetration—particularly for high speed Internet access—is extremely low.
So here are some areas in which home improvement companies should expect fewer leads from the Internet:
In these areas, homeowners have less money to spend. They use the Internet less. And their old technology makes it harder for the search engines to target them. It’s no wonder that home improvement companies in these areas see fewer online leads.
So why does all of this matter? While there have been a number of major home improvement success stories regarding Internet marketing, there have also been disappointments—particularly among dealers who can’t figure out why their buddy in Orange County does so much better than they do in Reno.
So, what that home improvement company in Northern Michigan should NOT do is to dedicate its important marketing dollars to Internet initiatives. They can spend those dollars much better on other media. The best Web site in the world won’t make any difference if no one visits it.
Location, Location, Location. It matters—even on the Internet.