SMB Marketing Q&A With Main Street ROI’s Phil Frost


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PHILThis is a SMB marketing Q&A with Phil Frost, Co-Founder of Main Street ROI, an online marketing, training, and coaching company based in New York City. Want more Google AdWords tips? Get your free copy of Phil’s Ultimate Google AdWords Checklist.

1. Can you tell us about Main Street ROI? What types of businesses do you work with?

At Main Street ROI, we provide training and coaching to help businesses improve their marketing results. We primarily work with small to medium sized brick and mortar and professional service businesses. Plus, we do work with e-commerce businesses and we have a handful of larger corporate clients.

We have found there’s a lot of confusion, frustration, and a lot of misinformation surrounding online marketing. The reality is there are new tactics popping up every day so it’s hard for SMBs to keep up with what’s really working. Our motto is “online marketing made simple” and our mission is to provide every SMB with an effective online marketing plan.

2. What are the biggest mistakes SMBs make with their marketing?

One of the biggest mistakes is focusing on the wrong marketing tactics. For example, one company came to me to get help with their search engine optimization (SEO) campaign. They had heard about SEO and figured they needed to “get into the game.”

However, we quickly discovered SEO was not a good opportunity. For whatever reason, no one was searching online for their product or service, so SEO was never going to drive significant sales. In about 5 minutes we ruled out SEO and search advertising and saved this company thousands of dollars chasing the wrong opportunity.

To clarify, I’m not saying SEO and search advertising do not work. I am saying those two tactics were not appropriate for my client and that’s a common mistake I see over and over again. It’s critical to focus your marketing resources and budget on the areas that will make an impact on your bottom line.

Another big mistake is focusing almost exclusively on website traffic. Traffic is only one component of online marketing. Your website conversion rate is another key component that’s often overlooked. Your conversion rate is the number of sales you generate versus all of the traffic to your website. So if you get 1,000 visitors to your website each month and 10 of those visitors convert to sales, then you have a 1% conversion rate.

Here’s why this is so important: If you can double your conversion rates, then you can double your sales with no more investment in website traffic. You may want to read that again so it sinks in. Many of the websites I review are not optimized for sales and that’s one of the biggest reasons their online marketing is not generating return on investment (ROI).

3. You talk about how important it is for every business to use a ‘lead magnet.’ What does that mean?

Many businesses do not have an effective ‘lead magnet’ and this could easily be included in the section above about biggest mistakes to avoid. A lead magnet any piece of content (usually a free report, video, or online tool) that you offer for free on your website in exchange for contact information. For example, if you go to, then you’ll see we offer a free report in exchange for your name and email address.

The reason this is so important is because the vast majority of all website traffic is not ready to buy. Typically only about 1% of your traffic is ready to buy right now. That means 99% of your traffic is going to visit your website, read about your business, and then leave without contacting you. If you’re not using a lead magnet to capture contact information, then that also means you have no way to follow up with 99% of your traffic.

By offering a lead magnet and collecting contact information, you can now follow up with more of your website visitors. Most people already know the importance of follow-up and how it helps you close more sales so I won’t go into detail about why follow-up is so critical. The whole purpose of your lead magnet is to attract your ideal lead with a compelling free offer and then collect relevant contact information so you can follow up.

4. What percentage of a marketing budget should SMBs spend on PPC?

As I mentioned in the “biggest mistakes” section, my gut reaction to this question is to make sure pay per click (PPC) advertising is even the best opportunity. Next, I would replace “spend” with “invest” because all advertising needs to be an investment with a positive ROI.
There are two types of PPC advertising: Search and Display. For search advertising to make sense, your ideal customers must be going to search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing to find your products and services. If they are not, then the answer to this question is to invest $0 in PPC Search ads.

For display advertising to make sense, you need a way to target your ideal customer while she is surfing around on other websites. There are many different targeting options, but for some businesses it’s not easy to laser-target customers. For example, one of my larger private clients wanted to target restorative dentists with a display campaign. After some research, we discovered that it’s very difficult to target that particular customer, so PPC Display ads didn’t make sense for us.

Now if you go through this analysis and you see that either Search or Display or both are good opportunities, then your test budget will be determined by the CPCs (cost per clicks) for your target keywords and websites. The more keywords and website you target and the higher the CPCs, then the higher your budget will need to be.

5. Can you talk a little bit about the role of phone calls and call tracking for SMBs?

Phone call tracking is one of the 5 critical tracking elements we teach. Insufficient tracking is yet another big mistake I could have included in the section above because it’s a problem I see over and over again.

I had a call recently with one of our Marketing Breakthrough members who was really excited because he confirmed one of the calls from his Google AdWords campaign converted to a sale. This was his first confirmed sale in this new ad campaign and he said it will pay for about 8 months of AdWords ads. Armed with that info, we now know the campaign is profitable so we can get to work optimizing the keywords, ads, and landing pages.

Unfortunately, many businesses do not track phone calls and therefore, cannot match calls to the ad campaigns. If you can’t match calls to the ad campaigns, then there’s no way to accurately calculate the ROI for each campaign. And if you can’t calculate ROI, then there’s no way to optimize the campaign.

Another client I worked with did not have tracking and once we had the tracking installed we discovered an entire campaign was losing $1,600 each month. That’s $19,200 per year!

Obviously we shut that campaign off right away. The point is, if you’re not tracking calls, then you’re likely wasting money every month on unprofitable marketing campaigns and missing out on an opportunity to reinvest where you are actually driving sales.


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