Founded in 2003, I-TAP is a Sacramento vocational school that provides classroom and hands-on training to students who wish to become licensed commercial electricians.
I-TAP was investing heavily in their marketing, but their efforts were hampered by the quality of their website. Our goal was to drastically improve both.
Growing a business requires investing in your marketing. But sooner or later, you’ll have to rework your strategy.
There are some businesses that do themselves a disservice by failing to adequately invest in whatever marketing channels are appropriate: Internet marketing, television, print, or real life (billboards, vehicle wraps, etc.). They carefully preserve what money they have, but starve themselves of cash flow because they don’t do what’s necessary to get in front of potential customers.
I-TAP, a local Sacramento trade school that trains the next generation of commercial electricians, was most certainly not one of those businesses. Since the business launched in 2003, they had invested heavily in their marketing efforts, which helped to grow the business from a 3,600 square foot educational space in 2004 to a footprint of 15,000 square feet in 2015.
However, their growth had started to stall out, and the ROI of their marketing dollars was diminishing. Furthermore, changes in state regulations had put a damper on some of their recruiting efforts, and so the time had come for them to radically rework their marketing efforts.
Marketing is about getting people to make the journey to your website, and then the front door. That means you need a website that can compel them to take that next step.
I-TAP approached Post Modern Marketing about reworking their online presence and improving the performance of their marketing efforts.
Their business’s website was badly out of date and had some significant SEO issues, so this was priority #1. In addition, they had created a second unbranded website on Weebly some time ago which had excellent background information on the benefits of signing up with an electrical school and becoming a licensed electrician. The problem with this strategy—which is a common one, as we discussed previously in another recent case study focusing on the merits of combining multiple websites—was that the second website was doing nothing to bolster the performance or overall success of the I-TAP website.
All in all, the current state of their website was undermining their potential success. The quality of their marketing efforts far exceeded the quality of the website, which made it more difficult to convert. Their business itself was excellent, hence their success, but their website wasn’t communicating their value and quality.
Sitting down with I-TAP, we developed a year-long marketing plan. The first order of business would be to modernize the website with an eye towards a more compelling call to action right on the front page, while bringing in the content from the secondary website—complete with necessary 301 redirects—and adding entirely new educational information to improve the value of the website.
Only once the site was in place could we then shift to improving their marketing campaigns.
Building a successful website involves both art—using good design aesthetics in combination with great imagery—as well as all manner of technical nuts and bolts.
I-TAP’s old website did nothing to show off their actual business and the people who make it tick. To address this, we sent our go-to photographer, Felipe Silva (@the_lost_coast), out to photograph I-TAP’s operations so that potential new students would be able to see and appreciate the quality of I-TAP’s operations. We made sure to capture images of current students in the process of participating of both classroom and hands-on training. These sorts of in-the-moment photos would allow visitors a chance to see people just like them participating in I-TAP’s classes, helping to cultivate a sense of, “Hey, I can do that too.” The images aren’t just there to make the site pretty; they’re an integral part of the sales pitch.
We took the written content from the old websites and edited and reorganized it for use on the new website. We also created fresh new descriptive content, and even whole pages, by working closely with I-TAP’s teams to get the information and insight necessary to build the content. We made sure to implement redirects where necessary, so that link equity from old site pages wasn’t lost in the transition.
We did run into a snag where there was some difficulty in recovering access to their old domain registrar. This isn’t an uncommon issue, especially when a business hasn’t updated their site in several years. Personnel come and go, and contact information and account logins are lost. Thankfully, we were able to suss out who had admin access to the account, and obtained the account login.
Finally, it was time to shift gears to marketing.
Even as the site was still in development, we were working hard on reworking their marketing campaigns. One thing we looked closely at was how they were currently spending their marketing dollars.
Much of their spending was focused on daytime TV advertisements. This was a rational choice, as their target market, 20- and 30- somethings who are ready to improve their job status, are often at a point where they’re out of a job, and thus watching TV during the day.
However, this segment of the population is dwarfed by the number of retirees and other groups outside the scope of I-TAP’s needs. Consequently, their ad spends were very high, with only middling results.
In addition, even many of the people ostensibly falling into their target market could be a bad fit for I-TAP, which unlike many other businesses really has an extremely narrow margin for error in finding, identifying, and on-boarding suitable clients. I-TAP’s business model requires their customers/students to make a long-term commitment of significant amounts of time, money, and effort, which can be a major challenge.
This is why we made a hard push to shift resources towards Internet marketing. The online marketing tools provided by Google and Facebook make it possible to target audiences in a way totally unfeasible for television. With Google, there is the benefit of creating ads that will display for people who are at that very moment searching for keywords that suggest they’re interested in electrical training.
On the other hand, while Facebook doesn’t have this advantage, their decade long campaign of harvesting endless amounts of user data has allowed them to create marketing tools that can craft incredibly effective Facebook advertisements. We developed several Facebook campaigns that were carefully targeted at an audience with the combination of age range, education, job history, interests, behaviors, and shopping habits that would be most likely to be interested in what I-TAP has to offer.
We’re still in the early days of these efforts, but we’re already seeing significant results. I-TAP has reported that not only are they getting many more leads than they had previously, at a fraction of the cost, but the quality of their leads has improved markedly as well. The people who are contacting them after interacting with our online marketing efforts are a much better fit than those who had contacted I-TAP after seeing a TV ad or other form of non-interactive advertisement.
Things are already looking great for I-TAP, and we’re extremely excited to see just how far our partnership with the organization can take them. We look forward to continuing to work with I-TAP in the future, and helping them in any way we can to become the most successful electrical training program in our region and beyond.