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How To Survive the Next Recession As a Local Service Business

It’s the nature of the economy to be cyclical – it’s a matter of WHEN and not IF that a recession will happen.

Given that the economy has been expanding for a while, many experts predict that there will be a contraction in the not-too-distant future.

In fact, nearly half of U.S. CFOs believe that the nation’s economy will head into recession by the end of 2019 and 82 percent believe that a recession will have begun by the end of 2020.

As a local service provider, the health of your business is largely dependent on the economy. For example, when consumers have less disposable income, they put home improvement projects or non-urgent repairs on hold (duct tape, anyone?).

In order to ride out the next recession, you need to plan to survive and prepare to grow. There are opportunities during recessions if you set your business up for success.

Here’s what you can do to recession-proof your local service business:

1. Focus On Cash Flow

Cash flow is king and also one of the biggest concerns that keep business owners up at night.

Don’t wait till money gets tight before you scramble to improve your cash flow. Start implementing strategies that’ll help you increase cash flow now and make them part of your operating procedures:

  • Sell or retire excess and obsolete equipment.
  • Require a deposit to be made on large projects that take longer to complete or require you to outlay more cash.
  • For some B2B customers that can’t enter into a contract with an initial deposit, negotiate payment terms so you get paid in installments as work is being completed.
  • Incentivize your customers to pay quickly by offering a discount or penalizing late payment.
  • Consider a subscription model if your services are recurring in nature (e.g., landscaping, housecleaning).
  • Review your loans to see if you can renegotiate interest rates.

2. Cut Expenses

Increasing revenue is important but so is managing your expenses – which are the two sides of the same coin when it comes to your profit margin.

Make it a habit to review your expenses regularly so you’re not spending money on products and services that you no longer need. The better you’re at managing expenses, the less pressure you’ll be under during lean times. Here are a few tips:

  • Evaluate your operating costs such as staffing, rent, and utilities to see where you can trim the fat.
  • Adjust vehicle expenses – e.g., by using vehicles that consume less fuel.
  • Monitor supply cost and renegotiate when necessary.
  • Keep an eye on the advertising expenses to make sure you’re spending your budget wisely and optimizing the ROI.
  • Keep an eye on your insurance rate and insurance requirements so you can shop around for the best deal.

3. Minimize Fixed Cost

Overhead cost can be a big burden when business is slow and every penny spent can impact your bottom line.

Look for opportunities to minimize your fixed costs while turning as much spending into variable costs as possible so if you aren’t generating revenue, you don’t have to pay for the expenses. For example:

  • Review all your recurring expenses to see if they’re necessary or priced reasonably.
  • Brainstorm with your employees – they can offer different perspectives that could help you cut unnecessary spending.
  • Consider a pay-per-lead marketing service so you don’t have to pay a fixed monthly fee if you aren’t getting as many leads, which is normal during a recession.
  • Consider cloud-services (e.g., for bookkeeping, invoicing, scheduling, etc.), which allow you to purchase as much capacity as you need without paying a big upfront investment.

4. Plan For Different Scenarios

While you shouldn’t be pessimistic about the future, you should also make plans for various scenarios that could impact the financial health of your business so you can put the necessary measures in place to mitigate the impact. For example:

  • Expect more customers to pay their bills much later or fail to pay them at all.
  • Have a process in place and be proactive about collecting for late payments, particularly from B2B customers. Squeaky wheels get oiled until the oil runs out – be the first in line to get paid!
  • Plan to readjust your expenses and staffing. For example, you may choose to move to a smaller space and let go of some employees. You should identify the best team members who are pulling their weight and make an effort to keep them.
  • Put away some money every month. Businesses should have at least 6 months of operating cash in the bank to help ride out any rough patch.
  • Consider putting your business up for sale while the market is strong if you’re thinking of retiring in the next five years.

5. Start Marketing Now

When the recession hits, lead volume will decrease and competition will increase. As more service providers will be competing on price, you need to stand out by offering something in addition to great pricing. Start differentiating your business now by carving out a unique positioning.

Online marketing, such as SEO and content marketing, often takes a few months to gain traction. Don’t wait until your leads dry up before scrambling to figure out how to market your business!

Start trying out different marketing methods. Get leads from multiple channels and learn how to generate the best results now while cash is less scarce.

Keep in mind that marketing helps you stay on your prospects’ radar and build trust with them. It’s an investment that’ll pay off in the long run, so take on this upfront cost while you have the cash.

Here are a few things you should be doing right away:

  • Establish an online presence and increase credibility with high-quality marketing materials, such as a lead-generating website and videos.
  • Optimize your website content and use online ads to help you get found by prospects, drive traffic to your website, and improve your SEO.
  • Get great customer reviews on third-party review sites and social media, such as Google, Facebook, Yelp, and the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
  • Grow your email list with high-quality prospects and existing customers so you can stay top of mind and cultivate trust.
  • Experiment with local email marketing and text message marketing. These strategies require low initial investment and can yield high ROI when done right. To increase their effectiveness, start building your list now to accumulate thousands of local contacts that’ll keep you busy over a year or two so you can ride out the recession.

Conclusion

“The darkest hour is just before dawn.” During a recession, competitors that don’t make the cut go out of business. When the economy emerges from a recession, service providers that survive can expect faster growth and more profits thanks to an increase in demand and less competition.

If you set yourself up to ride out the recession, you can bank on making the most of the recovery!

This means you need to be marketing and stay top on mind during a recession. Keep in mind that the number of leads will decline in a recession and you can eliminate high fixed cost SEO by using a pay-per-lead, performance-based marketing service to keep your spending in check.

Start now and set yourself up for success. Once things slow down, it could be too late to pick up the momentum. Check out 99 Calls see how our exclusive lead generation can help your local service area business grow.

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Myth: Low Cost SEO Is A Scam

99 Calls agrees that there are lots of ineffective SEO companies out there.

But we vigorously disagree that all low-cost companies are bad, or scams, and that all high priced companies are good.

We have heard many stories about small businesses being burned by high-cost SEO companies, and marketing companies in general.

However, 99 Calls has been very successful in promoting local service businesses online at low cost.

To understand how low-cost SEO can succeed and high priced SEO can fail, assume that it takes significant effort and time for SEO to succeed.

Effort is in the hands of people.

If the average person must put in 100 hours of effort to achieve a positive result, how can one do this work in 25 hours?

If the person doing the work is above average then, this is totally possible.

Research has shown that above average workers can outperform mediocre workers by a factor of 10 to 1.

So let’s look at above average personnel doing 100 hours of work in only 25 hours. How can they do that work in even less time?

Automation.

Even in SEO, many tasks are relatively the same across different customers.

With a programmer behind the scenes, an SEO company can automate repetitive tasks.

Posting a photo or article to a website, and social media?

One can login to each site separately and upload and post content and then send the customer an email to confirm the work was done.

Or our above average performer can do it in half the time by using software to automatically post content on the website and social media and send a confirmation email.

With sufficient automation, human effort is cut in half again.

Our above average SEO person is doing 100 hours of work in 12.5 hours.

Strategically, when cost is a concern, one will lean towards keeping things simple and streamlined.

Simple is economical.

Ferraris are fancy and cool, but Hondas are affordable, practical, and economical and both provide transportation just as well.

In fact, the Honda actually does a better job at transportation since it can hold 4+ passengers, get better gas mileage with lower maintenance costs.

The point being that with SEO and lead generation, many fancy and complicated things do not matter, or worse, have a negative impact on ROI.

Why pay for a fancy website for a new plumbing company with fancy video and appointment scheduling and elaborate graphics, when a relatively simple website will rank just as well or perhaps better.

Fancy sites load slower and Google likes fast sites.

High price SEO companies often excel at creating fancy websites, which helps justify a higher price but doesn’t result in higher rankings or more customers.

Assuming the high priced SEO company is billing for a fancy website and other non-essential features, let’s also assume that a more economical SEO company could produce a simple yet effective website in half the time.

This brings the 100 hours down to 6.25 hours.

What does this mean in cost?

Let’s say a high priced SEO company charges $100/hr, whether you know it or not, and probably not, being most companies like to charge by project than hourly.

They’ll charge $10K to do this project.

So how much does the SEO company with the above average performer using automation and focusing on essentials need to charge?

Well, they only need 6.25 hours and only need to charge $625.

Heck, they may even need to pay their above average personnel a bit more so it may cost $950.

Big difference between $950 and $10,000.

High priced SEO companies may be high priced because they are inefficient (or have high-cost salespeople, but that’s a different topic).

And a low priced SEO company may just happen to be highly efficient and cost-effective.

We’ve all heard “you get what you pay for”.

And we’ve all heard “a fool and their money are soon parted”.

In SEO, it can be hard to know which case applies.

How does one know?

Check reviews.

Talk to references.

Avoid contracts.

 

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How To Use Email Marketing To Promote Your Local Service Business

As a local service business, keeping in touch with your customers is the key to generating more revenue and retaining more clients.

But you may wonder, what’s the most cost-efficient way to promote your business without a large marketing budget?

Turns out, email is the “oldie but goodie” that can help you generate more sales without costing an arm and a leg.

The Benefits Of Email Marketing For Local Service Business

Did you know that 91% of consumers like to receive promotional emails from businesses they have relationships with?

Meanwhile, email is almost 40 times more effective than Facebook and Twitter combined in customer acquisition.

Email marketing can help you build trust, nurture customer relationships, increase credibility, stay top of mind, improve client acquisition and retention rates, increase brand awareness, drive website traffic, and get more referrals.

In addition, email marketing is relatively low-cost and easy to get started. It works on all devices and allows you to communicate with your customers so you can learn more about the market.

Not to mention, by promoting the right offer to the right audience, you can generate immediate results and get a revenue boost with minimum effort.

How To Promote Your Local Service Business With Email Marketing

Your email marketing should focus on building trust and relationships by delivering the right content to the right audience in the right place and at the right time.

Here’s what you can do to get the highest ROI:

Use Mobile-Friendly Templates

As more consumers are reading emails on their smartphones, you should make sure that your subscribers are able to read yours on their mobile devices and take action right away.

You can include a call-to-action with a phone number so recipients can call you with one tap. If you’re linking to your website, make sure it’s mobile-optimized to deliver a seamless user experience.

Most email service providers offer mobile-friendly templates so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Don’t forget to send out test emails to ensure they’re legible on all commonly used devices.

Include Local Keywords In Your Subject Lines

The subject line of an email is one of the most important elements. After all, if you can’t capture the attention of the recipients, they won’t open the email so no matter how good your content is, it won’t get read.

Unfortunately, cutting through the clutter in most people’s inboxes is becoming harder and harder. You need to communicate your message’s significance on the subject line if you want to capture the recipients’ attention.

To do so, use subject lines that are related to the local area, mention local events, or include local keywords so you can communicate the content’s relevance and increase the open rate.

Use Email Automation To Send Personalized Offers

Most email service providers have automation features that allow you to trigger email sequences based on different criteria. Such highly personalized content can help increase open rate by 29% and click-through-rate by 41%.

For example, if you provide a recurring service (e.g., landscaping, housecleaning) you can set up email reminders to be sent automatically a certain number of weeks after each client’s last appointment with a link to schedule their next service.

Share Relevant And Valuable Content

Email marketing helps you build trust with your audience so you can increase conversion, customer retention, and referrals.

Sharing helpful and timely information is a great way to add value, stay top of mind, and build relationships while positioning yourself as the subject matter expert to boost credibility.

In addition, sharing fresh content makes it possible send emails more frequently without sounding too sales-y or becoming a nuisance (nobody likes being sold to!).

Segment Your List

Segmentation can help increase email open rate by 14% and click-through rate by as much as 100%. It allows you to send the most relevant content and offers to different segments so you can increase engagement and conversion.

There are many different ways to segment your list depending on the market, the types of services you offer, your business model, and how the recipients interact with past emails.

For instance, you can segment your list so you can send special offers to new prospects or lapsed clients to generate some immediate sales.

Make It Easy To Join Your List

To increase the ROI of your email marketing efforts, you need to grow your list with high-quality leads.

Driving traffic to your website via social media, paid ads, or SEO is essential but you also need to ensure that your website is optimized to capture leads. For instance, the call-to-action should be highly visible and the web form should be easy to fill out (e.g., by minimizing the number of fields).

If you’re attending local events, you can use a tablet so prospects can enter their information directly into your email service. This can streamline the process while avoiding illegible information. (You could lose up to 20% of new subscribers due to bad handwriting!)

Ask For Reviews

Most consumers do their research on the Internet before engaging with a local service provider. Building a good online reputation by getting good ratings on third-party reviews sites, such as Google, Yelp, and Better Business Bureau, can increase your credibility and inspire more trust in prospects.

You can set up an automated workflow to send an email to each customer after a job is finished to ask for a review. Include links to your profiles on the third-party sites so it’s easy for your clients to submit their reviews.

Add a Personal Touch

As a local service business, you’re likely to be the face of your company. Your clients have interacted with you and trust you.

Take advantage of this personal connection and use it to strengthen your client relationships. For example, include a personal note in your email newsletters, use a conversational tone that reflects your personality, sign off using your first name, and add a photo of yourself (or your team) in the signature.

Be Consistent With Your Mailing Schedule

In order to stay top of mind, you need to maintain the connection with your audience by showing up consistently. Whether it’s once a week or once a month, set a regular schedule and commit to it.

The good news is, you don’t need too much content in your emails for them to be effective. A helpful article, a couple of announcements (e.g., events, special offers) and maybe an employee spotlight are more than enough to help you stay on the radar.

Encourage Sharing

Leverage the power of word-of-mouth marketing by encouraging your subscribers to share your newsletters with their friends and neighbors.

Most email newsletter services allow you to include forwarding and social share buttons in the footer area. Email messages with social sharing icons get 158% more clicks so make sure to include them in your template.

In addition, ask your subscribers to share the content or special offers with their friends in your newsletter content. If you don’t ask… you don’t get!

Make Your Subscribers Feel Special

Cultivating client relationships is the key to success for local businesses. Make your subscribers feel special by letting them know about your new offerings or special offers before everyone else.

For example, you can send out an exclusive coupon code to your subscribers or you can announce a special offer a few days ahead of time to your list so they get first dibs to book an appointment.

Conclusion

Every local business is different and it’s important to tailor your email marketing strategy to suit your target market.

The best way to know what works and what doesn’t is to analyze your metrics and A/B test your emails. For example, you can find out what kind of subject lines work best or what day/time of the week will get you the most engagement.

In addition, your email marketing strategy should be an integral part of your lead generation efforts. For example, you can use SEO tactics, online ads, and an optimized website to drive traffic and capture leads then nurture relationships with prospects using email marketing.

Ready to get your online marketing strategy dialed in so you can get more high-quality prospects and increase your email marketing ROI? See how 99 Calls can help you get found and generate more leads.

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How To Get More Clients With Local Services Ads (LSA)

Did you know that 97% of consumers search online for local businesses and Google accounts for over 72% of desktop search traffic?

Meanwhile, 92% of searchers will contact or visit businesses on the first page of local search results.

As a local service business (e.g., plumber, HVAC services, electricians etc.) getting found at the top of relevant Google SERPs is one of the best ways to generate high-quality leads and get more customers.

Now you may be thinking – getting onto the first page of Google searches! That’s quite a tall order!

Thankfully you don’t have to compete with electricians in the entire country or plumbers in the whole state.

By focusing your resources on getting found in local searches (e.g., when a user types in “plumber near me” or “electrician in [city]”) you’ll stand out from competition while increasing the chances of attracting qualified prospects that are ready to hire you.

Here’s the good news – you don’t even have to sweat the “how.” Google’s Local Service Ads program is designed to help local service businesses just like yours to get found in relevant search results.

Google Local Services Ads (LSA): How It Works And Why You Should Use It

Local Services Ads is a pay-per-lead advertising platform that connects local businesses with people who search on Google for the services they offer.

These ads appear at the very top of relevant search results above other text ads and the local pack. They’re also shown on all devices including desktop, mobile, and tablets.

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In addition, the ads are featured on Google Assistant’s responses to relevant voice search queries, which means you could get exposure to a large market since Google Assistant powers over 400 million devices while 58% of consumers have used voice search to find local business information.

LSA displays information such as phone number, star rating, reviews, and business hours. The information helps build trust while making it easy for customers to get in touch with the service providers.

Unlike Google Ads, you don’t have to worry about managing keywords or optimizing bidding strategy (more on that later). Simply fill out your profile information and your ad will be created automatically.

The ease of use makes LSA an ideal online ad format for local small businesses who have limited time and resources to test and optimize PPC ads.

Not to mention, there’s no cost to sign up for LSA. The priority ad placement and relatively low lead costs make it a cost-effective lead generation tactic for most businesses.

Local Services Ads Cost

LSA is a pay-per-lead advertising service. You’d simply set a weekly budget and be charged a set rate for each valid lead.

Lead cost varies based on the category and market, typically ranging from $5 to $139 per lead. If you receive a bad lead (e.g., a fraudulent lead or a poor match) you can dispute the charge and get a credit back.

Can I Stop My Local Services Ads?

You can pause your ads any time on the LSA dashboard or app. Your ad won’t be removed from the search results but it’ll appear below all other paid listings.

The “Google Guaranteed” badge will be removed but you won’t be charged for the leads generated while your ad is paused.

Since your listing will still be visible on the search results even after the ad is paused, joining the LSA program will give you more visibility than other non-participating businesses even if you pause the ad.

How Are Local Services Ads Triggered?

Unlike most other PPC ad formats, you can’t choose the keywords to target your ads. You’d simply select the “job type” or “category” to indicate what kind of services you offer.

Google’s algorithm will decide which keywords are relevant and your ad will appear on search results based on the service area and job type listed on your profile. However, Google doesn’t provide any keyword data so you won’t be able to analyze what’s triggering your ads.

Are Local Services Ads Same As Google Ads Or Google My Business Listing?

LSA is an independent product and does not share the same platform as Google Ads or Google My Business. For instance, LSA has its own dashboard and isn’t managed via the Google Ads platform.

You can run Google Ads campaigns and LSA at the same time. You can also set one to keep running while pausing the other one. However, a Google Ads account is required for billing purpose when you set up an LSA profile.

You don’t need a Google My Business listing to use LSA. However, LSA shows reviews from your Google My Business profile, which can help build trust and increase conversion.

What’s the “Google Guaranteed” Badge In Local Services Ads?

Google offers a screening process for the LSA program. Providers that pass the screening, which includes license and insurance verification, as well as employee background checks, will earn the “Google Guaranteed” badge.

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When customers hire a “Google Guaranteed” business through the LSA program, they’re protected by a satisfaction guarantee backed by Google. This helps attract new customers, build trust, and increase conversion.

How To Set Up Your Local Services Ads

Get started by visiting the LSA website. Follow the online prompts to determine your eligibility, estimate your ad spend and create your profile. Alternatively, you can call the number listed on the page for phone support.

Once you have set up your profile with information such as service category, business hours, and location, you can set the weekly budget.

Since the pricing structure is pay-per-lead (you only pay when prospects call or message you) you can estimate the budget based on your typical conversion rate and the number of new customers you want each week.

You can also control ad spend by turning the ad on or off on your dashboard. For example, you can pause the ad if you’re away or booked up for the week.

Optimize Your Local Service Ads Profile

In order to get the most out of your LSA, you should complete your profile and make sure to:

  • Add 2-5 highlights to call out unique attributes and special offers on your profile.
  • Submit your license and insurance details so Google can verify your information and add the “Google Guaranteed” badge to your ad.
  • Manage and complete your background check, which is provided at no additional cost so you can get the “Google Guaranteed” badge displayed on your ad.
  • Ask for reviews because your review score and number of reviews can impact the ad’s ranking.
  • Respond to inquiries and requests in a timely manner.
  • Monitor complaints since serious or repeated ones will impact your ranking.

How To Get the Highest ROI On Your Local Services Ads

LSA is a great way to get more leads but those leads aren’t booked jobs yet!

You still need to monitor these leads and follow up with the prospects in a timely manner so you can convert as many of these leads into paying customers as possible.

Simply go to the “Leads” tab on your LSA dashboard or mobile app to see the list of all your inbound leads and corresponding inquiries. You can then review the messages or listen to the recorded calls and respond to the prospects by:

  • Sending a reply via email or text message.
  • Call the customer using the phone number submitted.
  • Decline the request. You can send a message to the prospect to explain why you decline the request. You also have the ability to recover the request if something changes.

In addition, use the features available on the dashboard to help you keep track of leads, schedule your jobs, send confirmation emails, and gather customer reviews.

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You can also collect and analyze the metrics so you can determine the effectiveness and ROI of your Local Services Ads.

Conclusion

Google will be rolling out LSA to more markets and categories so more local businesses can leverage the benefits of this ad platform. Even if your business isn’t eligible at the moment, you should stay tuned for the latest updates.

While LSA is a great way to get in front of more high-quality leads, you shouldn’t neglect other lead generation strategies, such as using PPC ads, optimizing your lead generation website, and managing your reputation on review sites.

That’s why here at 99 Calls, we help you get listed, promoted, found, and reviewed on a variety of channels so you can optimize your online presence to generate more leads and make more sales.

Learn more about our local lead generation services and see how we can help increase your revenue and profit here.

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How To Increase the Effectiveness of Your Local PPC Ads

If you’re like many local service business owners, such as plumbers, painters, electricians, roofers, or house cleaners, you may often wonder – where to find more clients?

Most people turn to Google when they’re looking for local service providers. In fact, 97% of consumers search online to find a local business and 92% of searchers contact businesses that are listed on the first page of search results.

That means if you want to get in front of more prospects when they’re looking for the exact type of services you offer, you need to get listed on the first page of Google.

How to do that?

Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is a very effective tactic to get your business listed in the “local pack,” which occupies “position zero” (i.e., at the very top) of relevant search result pages.

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However, PPC advertising can be quite intimidating thanks to all the moving parts that could impact your results.

To help you navigate the world of local PPC, we’re sharing some “from the trenches” insights we have gained from working with numerous local service businesses to help you maximize your ROI:

1. Fine-tune Your Targeting

The many targeting options on PPC platforms (e.g., Google Ads and Facebook) allow you to get in front of the right prospects with the right messaging based on their search intent.

For example, you can target leads in a specific geographic region and/or direct prospects to a landing page with customized content most relevant to the keywords they use.

In addition, you can narrow your targeting with single keyword ad groups to increase the quality of your traffic. For local businesses, it’s often effective to create ad groups based on geographic regions or size of the market (e.g., county, zip code, city, or immediate local radius).

Don’t forget to utilize the robust analytics and reporting features to refine your targeting and bidding strategy so you can optimize your results.

2. Use Ad Extensions

Ad extensions, which are available on Google and Bing, give you the opportunities to include more information about your business in an ad with no extra cost.

Besides showing more relevant links to searchers, you also increase the “real estate” your ad occupies on the search results page – thereby attracting more attention and improving the chances that a searcher will click on it.

There are many kinds of ad extensions so use the ones most relevant to your business. For local service providers, location extensions, call extensions, review extensions, and dynamic sitelink extensions are often the most effective in attracting leads and driving traffic.

3. Optimize For Mobile Searches

Mobile devices account for more than half of all online searches while 88% of consumers who look for local service providers on their mobile devices would either call or visit a business within 24 hours.

Not to mention, Google prioritizes mobile-optimized websites, so you should make sure that yours is mobile-friendly.

For example, ensure that your site loads fast on mobile devices, displays all the content legibly on the small screen, and leverages mobile-specific features such as tap-to-call to deliver a convenient user experience.

4. Set Up Weather-Specific Ad Copy

If the demand for your services is partly dependent on the local weather, you can use a custom Google Ads script to adjust the copy of your ads based on the weather reported by Google.

For example, roofing professionals may get more business during the rainy seasons while landscapers may see an increase in inquiries after a severe storm.

The success of such weather-triggered campaigns often depends on the dynamic copy. Make sure to communicate a sense of urgency related to the weather condition so your ads are timely and relevant.

5. Respond to Inquiries Promptly

Getting searchers to click on your ad is only the first step. If you don’t pick up the phone when they call or reply to their inquiries via email or messaging, you’re just paying for the clicks but not getting the clients.

Before activating your PPC ad campaigns, implement a system to ensure that you can respond to requests for quotes in a timely manner.

For instance, make sure that there’s always someone available to answer the phone and check email messages. Consider using an answering service to ensure that nothing falls through the crack, especially if advertising during off hours.

6. Keep Up the Good Work

Just because an average of 1 in 7 clicks turns into a lead doesn’t mean you won’t have a “bad day” or even a “bad week” during which your ad gets many clicks but produces no leads.

Bad streaks can happen… but so do “good days” or “good weeks” if you stay consistent.

Let your ads run long enough so the data is statistically relevant before drawing any conclusion about the effectiveness of your strategy. Take into account factors such as time of the year or any holiday that could affect customer behaviors.

7. Know Your Numbers

PPC advertising is all about ROI so you need to get a good grasp of your metrics in order to make your investment profitable.

Most PPC platforms, such as Google Ads, offer in-depth metrics and analytics that allow you to understand your ads’ performance.

One of the most important metrics you should track is the lead cost. For example, if it takes five clicks to get one lead on average, then you should target the average click cost to be 20% of the lead cost in order to stay profitable.

8. Set Realistic Expectations

As much as PPC advertising is effective, it’s not a magic bullet. Simply put, there’s no free lunch – if you want more clicks and leads, you need to invest in getting your ads to the top of search results pages so more prospects will see it.

However, you should be aware that ads in the #1 spot often receive the most unqualified clicks. Users are more likely to accidentally click on the first result they see and you’d have to pay for that click.

The #1 spot typically gets the most clicks but spots 2, 3, and 4 are oftentimes more cost-efficient when it comes to optimizing your ROI.

Conclusion

Local PPC advertising is an effective tactic to drive high-quality prospects to your website.

The key is to tailor the ads so they’re as relevant to your target market as possible so you can show up in the right place at the right time and with the right message.

In addition, you should make sure that you’re driving traffic to a website that’s optimized for capturing leads and converting visitors.

That’s why here at 99 Calls, we not only help local service area businesses get onto the first page of Google, whether organically or paid ads, but also provide you with an optimized lead-generation website to capture the traffic and turn visitors into clients. Find out how we can help you optimize your online advertising budget here.

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Google E-A-T: the Key to Improving SEO For Your Local Service Business

For many local service businesses (painters, plumbers, electricians, cleaners, etc.) getting found on Google search results is one of the most effective ways to generate leads and attract customers.

However, Google’s constantly changing algorithms can be quite a challenge to keep up with. What are the latest updates and what do they mean for local service providers?

In Google’s recent Page Quality Rating Guideline, the term “E-A-T” was mentioned extensively. This guideline is used to train the Quality Raters who are responsible for assessing page quality, which affects a website’s search engine ranking.

In this article, we’ll look at what “E-A-T” is and how it impacts SEO for local service businesses.

 

What’s Google E-A-T and How It Affects Your Local Service Business Website

E-A-T stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. They’re used as indicators of a high-quality page in Google’s Page Quality Rating Guideline, which evaluates the creator of the main content, the main content, and the website.

For instance, advice pages on topics such as home remodeling will get better SEO ranking if the content comes from experts or experienced sources that readers can trust.

For many local businesses, publishing high-quality content is one of the most effective ways to improve SEO ranking and gain exposure to prospects that are actively looking for a service professional online.

By improving the E-A-T of your website content, you’ll increase the chances of ranking higher in relevant search results.

 

How To Increase “Expertise” and “Authoritativeness” Of Your Content

The rater guideline prioritizes website content created by subject matter experts. Here’s how you can boost your SEO ranking by positioning yourself and your business as an authority in your areas of expertise:

  • For blog posts and other informative content, make sure the authors have a good online reputation (e.g., having online profiles and being published on reputable sites) and their information is readily available so raters can evaluate their expert status.
  • Moderate user-generated content (e.g., blog comments) to ensure that the information is accurate. Encouraging constructive discussions in your community, which leads to the generation of relevant and valuable content, can help improve the E-A-T of your website.
  • Define your niche and position your company as the “go-to” expert in your geographic area. Then, create relevant content that caters to the needs of your target audience.
  • Share personal experience and success stories to position yourself as the subject matter expert.
  • If you’re the face of your company, invest in personal branding to augment your online presence since raters are encouraged to research reputation information from sources outside of your website.
  • Improve your personal brand by fleshing out your social media profiles, getting published on trusted platforms, and creating content that is helpful to your audience.
  • Generate buzz to improve your business’s online authority. For example, by using traditional PR and getting mentioned in authority sites.
  • Whenever possible, link to authoritative sources to back up the claims in your content. These external links can boost your SEO ranking while improving trust in your site.
  • Build backlinks from authoritative websites to demonstrate that others in your industry trust your content as well.
  • Minimize spelling and grammatical mistakes in your content, which can diminish your expert status and project an unprofessional image that could damage the authority of your website.

How To Improve “Trustworthiness” Of Your Website

When Google sends users to a website, it wants to ensure that they’re getting accurate information and a satisfactory user experience. As such, its page quality guidelines require raters to evaluate if visitors can rely on your website’s information, trust the quality of your services, and have a good browsing experience while interacting with your content.

Here’s how to improve the trustworthiness of your website as a local service business:

  • Monitor your reputation on BBB (Better Business Bureau) since poor ratings could cause Google to assess your business as low quality. If you come across negative comments, be sure to respond in a timely manner but not in haste or anger.
  • Resolve negative online reviews by reaching out to the reviewers. Be professional in your response and focus on resolving the issues. Flag reviews that violate the site’s policy and ask others to do so as well.
  • After you have resolved negative reviews on third-party sites, ask the reviewers to either remove the reviews or write a follow-up comment that indicates your effort in addressing the issues.
  • Be transparent about your business’s information, such as company name, physical address, terms and conditions, etc. Make sure that customer support and contact information is easy to locate on all pages, e.g., as persistent elements in the header or footer areas.
  • Include an easy-to-find “about page” with information about the company, who’s responsible for the site, and those who contribute to the content.
  • Foster trust by improving your website’s user engagement. For example, simplify the navigation so visitors can easily find what they need, include multiple ways for visitors to provide feedback (e.g., a web form), and focus on providing high-quality and relevant information.
  • Invest in technical security, e.g., by installing an SSL certificate so your website will show up as “Secure” on the Chrome browser address bar.
  • If you process payment on your website (e.g., visitors can purchase services packages) include trust seals on the transaction pages to give customers the peace of mind.
  • Ensure that your content – whether it’s on your blog, about page, services page, or ads – is not deceptive or misleading. In addition, be transparent about any affiliate relationships, business associations, commissions, and other monetization information.

Conclusion

It’s important to keep improving the E-A-T of your website so it can rank high in relevant Google search results.

Focus on making your content informative and helpful instead of simply funneling visitors into sales (e.g., to fill out a form or call a number) based on the nature of each page.

You should also periodically remove or rework pages with low E-A-T and minimal traffic since those pages could negatively impact the overall reputation of your website.

Building E-A-T isn’t just for ranking high in Google. For many local service professionals, your website is your storefront. When potential clients perceive you as an expert and trust your business, you’ll get more clients in the long run.

Uncategorized

How To Generate Leads For Your Local Service Business on Craigslist and Nextdoor

If you have been marketing your local service business (e.g., contractor, painter, electrician, plumber, etc.) on platforms such as Google, Facebook, and Yelp, you might notice that it’s quite difficult to cut through the clutter and capture your prospects’ attention.

On the other hand, sites such as Craigslist and Nextdoor can be quite effective for reaching a local audience that’s actively looking for service providers.

The “marketplace” set up of Craigslist and the “neighborhood” environment of Nextdoor both offer a unique user experience of which you can take advantage by tailoring your ads to speak to the target market.

In this article, you’ll learn why you should consider using these two platforms and how to set up your ads to get the highest ROI.

Marketing Your Local Service Business on Craigslist

Craigslist is simple to use and free to post, making it a great platform for new businesses to get started.

Not to mention, the number of people using classified ads websites has been steadily increasing. In 2018, there are approximately 16.27 million Internet households with users who visited Craigslist within a one-month period.

You can target your ads based on each specific location to reach the right prospects with the right offers.

Here’s how you can maximize the effectiveness of your Craigslist ads:

Define Your Market

The first step is to define which regions you want to target. For example, if you service Orange County, CA, but you also work in nearby cities like Los Angeles or San Diego – you should be posting on Craigslist for all those cities.

You should create an individual marketing message for each city and set up a posting schedule so you can increase your exposure and reach as many prospects as possible in all the areas that you serve.

Follow the Rules

It’s important that you adhere to the terms of use to avoid getting your ads flagged or ghosted. Craigslist put these rules in place to deter spammers and scammers from abusing the system. However, you could get caught if you aren’t careful.

  • Don’t post identical content – vary your ad copy and images every time you post.
  • Don’t post back-to-back ads – the ideal interval depends on your market. In more active markets, you may wait an hour or two. In less active ones, you may post only once or twice a day.
  • Don’t post the same ad within 48 hours and make sure to delete your old ad when you post a new one.
  • Don’t use “spammy” words – Craigslist’s algorithm flags words that are frequently used by spammers (e.g., “free,” “credit card,” or “weight loss.”) Also, avoid using all caps.
  • Don’t get too “fancy” – in an attempt to make their ads look “nice,” some advertisers use too many HTML tags or photos, which could trigger the site’s algorithm to flag the ad.
  • Submit the ads manually and by yourself. Craigslist’s terms of service forbid advertisers to pay a third party to post ads or use any automatic posting mechanisms.

Create Effective Ads

Craigslist ads are easy to create as they’re mostly text ads. You can use a few HTML tags (e.g., bold, italic,) but that’s optional.

A direct approach that includes important keywords often works best since Craigslist search results are simply displayed first by date posted, then by keyword. In fact, the most effective ads tend to be simple text ads that get to the point.

Besides strong copy, incorporate a few images to help increase your ads’ effectiveness. For example, a couple of photos of your projects or your team can give prospects a better sense of your company and increase trust.

Last but not least, don’t forget to include a call-to-action. You can add a link to a landing page on your website (e.g., one about the specific service you’re advertising) or a phone number prospects can call.

Post At the Right Time

As mentioned before, ads on Craigslist are displayed first by the time posted and then by keywords.

Post a unique ad every day at a time that your target market would most likely be searching for your specific type of service. (E.g., commercial cleaners might consider posting between 7 to 10 am, so the ad is near the top in the morning, when people get into the office and find the current cleaning crew didn’t do a great job.)

Track Your Results

Since you’re posting an ad with unique content almost every day, you have a great opportunity to test different copy and see what works best for your market.

Unlike many other platforms, Craigslist doesn’t provide any demographic or tracking data so you’ll have to design a tracking mechanism that works for you.

When you post each ad, create a unique phone number, extension, email address, unique URL, or discount code you can use to identify the traffic source. There are also some Craigslist tracking services you can use for this purpose.

Marketing Your Local Service Business on Nextdoor

For many marketers focusing on the local aspects of online advertising, Nextdoor is definitely an up-and-coming website that’s not to be ignored.

The platform gets the “neighborhood” special sauce just right – over 75% of neighborhoods in the US are already on the platform and the user base is rapidly growing.

The “hyperlocal” and social aspect of the website creates a sense of instant trust among users. In addition, one in four of the conversations on this platform revolves around local business recommendations.

As more and more people are using Nextdoor to look for reputable service providers, it offers a great way for you to gain exposure to new prospects.

Here’s how you can effectively market your local service business on Nextdoor:

List Your Business and Complete Your Personal Profile

Claim your business page so users can easily find your business when they’re looking for recommendations. Fill out all the information, upload a high-quality photo or logo image, and select the relevant business categories. Then, follow the simple instructions to verify your business.

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Next, add this business affiliation to your personal profile. Make sure to complete your personal profile with as much information as possible and use a recognizable profile photo to build trust.

Participate In Discussions

Using your personal profile, participate in conversations on the platform. Be helpful and friendly, just like you would interact with your neighbors in real life!

When you join discussions, people will notice the information on your profile and it can help spark conversations. Also, take this opportunity to network with other local business owners so you can refer clients to each other.

You can also respond to requests for recommendations. It’s acceptable to promote your business to neighbors who are seeking recommendations as long as you’re upfront about the affiliation.

Collect Recommendations

The best way to increase your reach is to gather recommendations for your business page. Simply click on the “get recommendations” button and you’ll get a pre-written email, facebook post, and tweet that you can use to ask for recommendations.

1Image source

As you accumulate more recommendations, more people will see your business page and your reach will increase.

Post a Classified Ad or Event

You can post a classified ad about your service or an event hosted or sponsored by your business in the respective sections.

Include relevant details, a call-to-action (e.g., call a number or visit a URL) and add some photos to your post. Just like posting on Craigslist, you can use a unique URL, phone number, extension, or email address to track the effectiveness of each post.

Never make unsolicited posts about your business on the newsfeed and always disclose the business affiliation when posting a recommendation, an ad, or an event.

Honesty and transparency are key when posting on Nextdoor. Interact with your neighbors in a genuine manner and you’ll be rewarded with more leads and recommendations.

Keep Your Eyes Peeled For New Advertising Opportunities

Nextdoor is still new to the online advertising game and currently only offers a pilot advertising program for medium and large businesses.

Most of the advertisers are in the home improvement industry (e.g., Nest, Lowe’s) and the platform seems to be quite effective for promoting this type of products and services.

Many marketers are expecting Nextdoor to roll out a more robust advertising platform for small businesses soon.

Currently, businesses that want to advertise on the website are required to fill out a contact form. If you’re interested, it probably doesn’t hurt to fill out the form so when the opportunity becomes available, you’ll get notified.

Conclusion

Both Craigslist and Nextdoor are great platforms for reaching a local audience that is actively looking for service providers or recommendations.

However, these platforms are quite different in nature so you’ll have to adjust your approach and messaging to suit the “environment.”

While copy that’s direct, “to the point,” and rich with keywords tends to do well on Craigslist, Nextdoor users look for service providers that others recommend so cultivating trust and interacting with your prospects is critical to building traction.

No matter which platform you use, including a call-to-action that directs prospects to your website, is key to generating leads.

Uncategorized

Top 10 Lead Generation Services For Landscaping Contractors

Running a landscaping business isn’t a walk in the park.

Besides servicing your clients, you have to handle personnel, stay on top of regulations, and distinguish your service from your competition – all of which can take up a lot of time and energy.

Not to mention, you need to be constantly generating high-quality leads, pursuing the best opportunities, and growing your customer base if you want to be in business for the long haul.

Unfortunately, most contractors find marketing and lead generation quite a challenge. After all, landscaping is your expertise and nobody can fault you for not being a marketing guru!

Sure, you need to deliver high-quality work and provide great customer services. However, being the “best-hidden secret” won’t get your more jobs.

Today, most people look for landscaping contractors via online searches. In order to get in front of more potential clients who are actively searching for a landscaper, you need an online presence that can help attract clients and generate leads.

The good news is, you can outsource lead generation so you don’t have to spend hours trying to figure out how to market online or attract high-quality prospects.

Some of these vendors work on a pay-per-lead or pay-per-call basis while others set up and manage the entire marketing funnel (e.g., SEO, website, etc.) for a flat monthly fee.

Now, you may wonder – where to start? Which type of service will work best for your business?

We have done the legwork for you and put together a list of top 10 lead generation services for landscaping contractors:

Exclusive Leads

Lead Verification

Lead Source(s)

Craft​Jack​.com

No

Yes

Prospects submit requests on vendor’s website

Connexion​Solutions​.com

Yes

Yes

Prospects visit contractor’s website

Yard​Hookup​.com

N/A

Yes

Prospects visit the vendor’s website to search for contractors

TitanPPC​.com

Yes

N/A

Prospects visit contractor’s website

Landscaper​marketing​360​.com

Yes

N/A

Prospects visit contractor’s website

Home​You​.com

Yes

Yes

Prospects submit requests on vendor’s website

Home​Advisor​.com

No

Yes

Prospects submit requests on vendor’s website

Disruptive​Advertising​.com

Yes

N/A

Prospects visit contractor’s website

PBTP​Leads​.com

No

Yes

Prospects submit requests via vendor’s system

99calls.com

Yes

Yes

Prospects visit contractor’s website

Figure 1: How each lead generation service handles lead generation, verification, and distribution

Selecting a Lead Generation Service For Your Landscaping Business

To get the most out of your marketing budget, it’s important to choose a lead generation service that suits your business model, budget, and market.

Here are some key differences among the various services:

Lead Distribution System

Some vendors provide “exclusive leads” while others send one lead to a few contractors.

Shared leads are typically cheaper. However, since they’re distributed to several contractors, the chances of getting the job will be lower. In addition, the competition may lead to a price war that impacts your profit margin.

Because of the lower cost, shared leads typically work well for landscapers who are rapidly expanding and have the resources to pitch new businesses.

When you get exclusive leads, you’re the only contractor receiving the prospects’ contact information from the vendor. The chances of winning the job are higher and you’re more likely to get paid at your desired rate.

Even with the higher cost, exclusive leads often generate better ROI for landscapers who are relatively new to the business or don’t have the resources to spend on client acquisition.

Lead Verification

Lead verification means either the vendor or someone in your team will review the information submitted via a web form or call the prospects to make sure that the scope and budget meet certain criteria before you provide a quote.

Working with vendors that deliver verified leads can save you time and effort if you don’t have the resources to contact each prospect. However, if you already have the personnel in place, this may not be of high priority.

In addition, you also need to understand the trade-off between getting verified shared leads (e.g., via a pay-per-lead service) and direct exclusive leads (e.g., prospects submit information on your website.)

Using verified shared leads take the verification process off your plate and saves you time but you’d be competing with other landscapers.

On the other hand, the competition is lower when you get direct exclusive leads but the quality of the leads could vary depending on the traffic source and the lead capture mechanisms.

If you use a vendor that verifies a lead on your behalf (e.g., pay-per-lead or pay-per-call) inquire about its lead-screening process and make sure there’s a frictionless way for you to dispute bad leads.

Lead Sources

Most contractors get their leads from a variety of sources, such as online ads, organic search results, online directories, third-party review sites, referral, or offline promotions.

Some of these sources may drive higher quality traffic than others. You should keep track of the conversion rate from each source so you can invest more in those that work for your business.

Vendors that implement marketing funnels for their clients often provide a dashboard or monthly analytics as part of the service. You can review the data and find out what tactics generate the best results.

Pay-per-lead vendors drive traffic to their platforms using online marketing techniques and their sources vary. You should experiment with a few vendors to see which one delivers the highest-converting leads so you can get the biggest bang for your marketing bucks.

Pricing Structure

Using a service that suits your business model can help maximize your ad dollars.

Some vendors charge per lead or per call while others offer their services for a flat monthly fee.

If you have a rather steady client base and only need new leads once in a while, a pay-per-lead or pay-per-call service is often more cost-efficient. If you want to have a consistent flow of leads, using a vendor that charges a flat monthly fee can help you better control your budget.

To maximize your ROI, you need to take into account a vendor’s pricing structure, your conversion rate, and the number of new clients you want per month so you can get the right amount of leads at the optimal price.

Here is the pricing information for some of the vendors on our list:

Cost Per Lead

Craft​Jack​.com

Ranges from $5 – $37 per lead

Connexion​Solutions​.com

$499/month for unlimited exclusive leads

Yard​Hookup​.com

$250 sign-up fee. $30 referral fee for jobs under $300. Tiered fee schedule for jobs over $300.

Titan​PPC​.com

Varies based on service package

Landscaper​marketing​360​.com

Varies based on service package

Home​You​.com

Depends on the type of service and location

Home​Advisor​.com

$45-$75 per shared lead plus $28.99 per month

Disruptive​Advertising​.com

Varies based on service package

PBTP​Leads​.com

Starting at $10, depending on the type of service and market

99calls.com

Intro offer: $199 setup and $99/month for first 10 months of unlimited leads. $29.90 per exclusive lead after the intro period

Figure 2: Pricing structure comparison

Top 10 Lead Generation Services For Landscaping Contractors

How do you know if a lead generation service is right for you?

You should consider a vendor’s method, its fee structure, as well as the pros and cons of its offering. In addition, look for customer reviews to see if the vendor has a good track record of generating results for businesses like yours.

To help you get started, here’s an overview of the vendors on our list:

1. CraftJack

Cost per landscaping lead: $5 – $37 per shared lead.

Lead distribution system: Leads are shared among up to four contractors.

Lead source: The vendor uses SEO techniques to drive traffic to its website, on which prospects fill out a web form to request a quote.

Lead Verification System: The vendor’s automated system calls prospects to verify their information.

Pros:

  • The vendor offers a “speed-to-call” discount. When you call a prospect within 30 minutes of receiving it, you’ll get a 20% off that lead.

  • The lead management tool allows you to ask past clients for reviews, which will be posted on your profile.

  • You can easily request a credit for any bad lead via the lead management tool.

Cons:

  • Getting shared leads means you’ll be competing with other landscaping contractors for the same jobs.

Reviews:

1

 

1

1

Source: Better Business Bureau

 

2. Connexion Solutions

Pricing structure: Inbound lead generation packages start at a flat monthly fee of $499.

Lead distribution system: Direct exclusive.

Lead source: The vendor uses SEO tactics to drive traffic to your website, which will be built for you as part of the service package.

Lead Verification System: Prospects fill out a web form on your website to request quotes.

Pros:

  • Packages include a lead generation website that can benefit your business in the long-run.
  • A comprehensive online marketing approach dials in all the pieces in your funnel.
  • The vendor guarantees minimum lead calls and form-fills each month.

Cons:

  • It’s more expensive than most pay-per-lead services.

Reviews:

1

Source

 

3. YardHookup

Pricing structure: $250 sign-up fee. $30 referral fee for jobs under $300. Tiered fee schedule for jobs over $300.

Lead distribution system: N/A.

Lead source: The vendor drives traffic to its website, on which prospects can search for contractors using a list of criteria.

Lead Verification System: Prospects can review your information and photos of your past projects before getting in touch with you.

Pros:

  • There’s no lead fee. You only pay the referral fee after you get the job.
  • You get a profile page with a photo gallery to showcase your projects.
  • You only get contacted by prospects that are interested in your services and meet your budget requirement.

Cons:

  • The vendor only services the Dallas Metroplex area.

Reviews:

No review available at the time of publication.

4. Titan PPC

Pricing structure: Varies based on service package.

Lead distribution system: Direct exclusive.

Lead source: The vendor develops your search engine strategy and drives prospects to a lead generation landing page, which will also be created for you.

Lead Verification System: Prospects will get in touch with you via the landing page.

Pros:

  • The vendor is a Google Partner with expertise in Google Adwords and Google Remarketing.
  • You also get custom call tracking so you can assess the ROI in your monthly report.
  • Custom ads and landing pages will be set up on your behalf for precise targeting, e.g., types of services or geographic area.

Cons:

  • The full-service approach can be more expensive than many other pay-per-lead services.

Reviews:

1

Source: Titan PPC Website

 

5. Landscaper Marketing 360

Pricing structure: Varies based on service package.

Lead distribution system: Direct exclusive leads generated from your website, built using the vendor’s marketing software.

Lead source: The vendor uses online ads to drive traffic to your website.

Lead Verification System: Prospects fill out a web form on your website to request information.

Pros:

  • The vendor offers on-demand marketing services, such as website design and development, content creation, online advertising, and video production.
  • You have access to the vendor’s online lead management tool, which is part of its marketing software.
  • The vendor’s software allows you to manage ads on various platforms (e.g., Google, YouTube, Bing, Facebook, Instagram, etc.) all in one place.

Cons:

  • The full-service packages can be more costly than pay-per-lead models.

Reviews:

1

1

Source

 

6. HomeYou

Cost per landscaping lead: Depends on the type of service and your market.

Lead distribution system: Both shared and exclusive leads, varies by package.

Lead source: The vendor drives traffic to its website using online marketing techniques (e.g., SEO.) Prospects then submit their requests for quotes.

Lead Verification System: The vendor verifies the prospects’ information before distributing the leads to contractors.

Pros:

  • Many contractors are satisfied with the quality of the leads from this vendor.
  • You get a profile page on the vendor’s website to showcase your services.
  • The vendor offers a rather frictionless refund process for bad leads.

Cons:

  • Price per lead may be higher than some other pay-per-lead websites.

Reviews:

1

 

1Source: Better Business Bureau

 

 

7. HomeAdvisor

Cost per landscaping lead: $45-$75 per lead, plus $28.99/month.

Lead distribution system: Leads shared among several contractors.

Lead source: The vendor drives traffic to its website, on which prospects fill out a web form to request a quote. The vendor also uses third-party data sources.

Pros:

  • HomeAdvisor is one of the largest contractor-matching services and popular among homeowners.
  • The vendor has a strong online presence so building a good profile on its website can help you rank high on search engine results.
  • Some contractors indicated that they have purchased good leads from this vendor.

Cons:

  • Shared leads are distributed to multiple contractors so competition is high.
  • Since it’s free and easy for visitors to submit requests for quotes, some leads may not be ready to start a project.
  • The vendor’s customer service hasn’t always been satisfactory. Some users encountered problems when trying to cancel a subscription or request a refund.

Reviews:

1

 

1

 

 

1

Source: Better Business Bureau

 

8. Disruptive Advertising

Pricing structure: Varies based on service package.

Lead distribution system: Direct exclusive.

Lead source: The vendor uses online marketing techniques, such as PPC ads, SEO, and social media marketing, to attract prospects to your website.

Lead Verification System: You’ll capture and verify leads using your current system.

Pros:

  • The vendor is a Google Partner and an accredited professional for Bing ads.
  • You have access to its software to monitor your campaigns and receive a weekly report on their performance.
  • An account manager will help you improve the campaign results.

Cons:

  • Agency model tends to be more expensive than many other pay-per-lead services.
  • You need to have a website with an effective lead capture mechanism. Otherwise, you can’t take full advantage of the increased traffic.

Reviews:

1

 

1

Source

 

9. PBTP Leads

Cost per landscaping lead: Shared lead starting at $10.

Lead distribution system: Leads are shared by up to 3 contractors.

Lead source: Clients submit requests to the vendor’s system.

Lead Verification System: Leads are phone-verified.

Pros:

  • It’s an affordable pay-per-lead service with no contract or additional fees.
  • You can easily control your budget by adding funds to your account.
  • The mobile app allows you to purchase leads on-the-go.
  • The vendor offers leads for both commercial and residential jobs.

Cons:

  • Buying shared leads means you’d likely be competing against other landscapers.

Reviews:

1

 

1

Source: PBTP Leads Website

 

10. 99 Calls

Pricing structure: $199 setup fee. $99 per month for the first 10 months to get unlimited leads. $29.90 per exclusive lead after the intro period.

Lead distribution system: Direct exclusive.

Lead source: The vendor builds an SEO optimized website for your business so it shows up at the top of relevant search engine results. You’ll get found by prospects looking for landscaping service in your area and they’ll call you directly using a tracking number.

Pros:

  • You’ll receive exclusive leads that are ready to hire a landscaping contractor in your area.

  • You get an optimized website that will rank high in organic searches, boosting your SEO and generating long-term results.

  • The vendor will also get your business listed on various local directories. These profiles, along with a Facebook business page, will be properly set up to help you promote special offers that attract potential clients.

  • The vendor guarantees a minimum number of leads per month or your bill is prorated. Calls are recorded so it’s easy to dispute bad leads.

  • Monthly reporting helps you track results and maximize ROI.

Reviews:

1

Source: Better Business Bureau

Also see:
Google reviews for 99 Calls
Facebook reviews for 99 Calls

Conclusion

Most homeowners have ongoing landscaping needs and for most contractors, jobs from recurring clients represent a majority of their income.

Not to mention, the cost of retaining a client is much lower than that of acquiring a new one.

It’s therefore worthwhile to invest in a good lead generation service, which can help you find high-quality leads that will turn into long-term clients.

In addition, many landscapers face the challenge of having to compete with “fly-by-night” landscaping services (aka a man with a van and a lawnmower) that lowball their fees just so they can get a job.

To distinguish yourself from these competitors, project a professional image and provide outstanding customer service when you respond to prospects’ inquiries so you can build trust and turn those leads into happy clients.

Uncategorized

How To Leverage Online Reviews To Grow Your Local Service Business

As a local service business (e.g., contractor, electrician, plumber, painter, landscaper, etc) you have probably experienced the power of word-of-mouth marketing.

When a client is happy with your services, he’d tell his friends and neighbors about your business and those people will be more likely to hire you because of the recommendation.

What if you can scale this up so more potential clients can see what your raving clients say about your services?

With more consumers searching online for local service providers, online reviews should be an important component in your marketing and lead generation toolkit.

The Power of Online Reviews

If you’re wondering whether it’s worth the effort to gather customer reviews online, take a look at these statistics:

Displaying reviews have been found to increase conversion rates by as much as 270%.

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Image source

In addition, when your business is listed on third-party review sites, which often have higher domain authority than your own website, your profile can often rank high in relevant search engine results so you can get found by more prospects.

Boost Your Reputation With an Online Review Strategy

When it comes to online reviews, the more is indeed the merrier. On average, potential customers read 7 reviews before trusting a business while having five reviews can increase conversion rate by as much as 400%.

Here’s how to maximize the power of online reviews to improve your reputation and attract more clients:

Establish Your Presence On Review Sites

Most potential clients will research your business on third-party review sites before visiting your website or calling your business. Make sure people can find you no matter where they look.

BrightLocal found that Yelp and Facebook are local consumers’ most trusted review sites, followed by Google and BBB.org (Better Business Bureau.)

Register your business or claim your listing on these sites. Make sure you fill out all the profile information, add photos or videos, and include a link to your website.

Be Responsive

Responding to reviews is more important than ever, with 30% of consumers considering this as key when judging local businesses.

Monitor comments on the review sites to make sure you respond to feedback in a timely manner.

Many of these sites highlight a business’s average response time and response rate. Most consumers use this information to gauge the quality of your customer service and decide whether to contact you for a quote.

Ask Your Clients To Leave a Review

Writing a review for your business is probably not top of mind for your clients. However, 68% of consumers would leave a local business review when asked.

Make it easy for your clients to share a review by including a call-to-action and links to review sites on your website and email newsletters.

In addition, create a system to ask for reviews at the right time (e.g., when you just finish a project and the client is happy with the outcome). You can make it easier for your clients to post reviews by providing them with suggestions (e.g., ask some open-ended questions) and before/after photos they can upload.

Do Not Offer Incentives For Reviews

Avoid offering rewards or incentives to customers for leaving reviews.

Doing so is at least a gray area and at worst a violation of review site policy.

You may get away with it for a while, but you risk losing all your reviews.

Instead, provide great service and ask for reviews.

 

Encourage Reviewers To Use Their Real Names

Research has found that purchase likelihood improves by 15% when potential customers read verified buyer reviews over anonymous ones.

When you ask your clients to leave a review, encourage them to use their real names and general locations (city) so the reviews are perceived to be more trustworthy.

Encourage Reviewers To Be Descriptive

Google sometimes shows reviews on local results that contain words that match words used in the search query.

This makes sense because users are most interested in reviews of work that is similar to their needs.

Increase your odds of being visible and capturing a lead by asking reviewers to mention the service you provided. The more descriptive, the better.

Instead of the usual: “Smith’s Plumbing provides great service. I highly recommend them.”

Ask for something like: “Smith Plumbing arrived within 2 hours of calling them and was able to quickly repair my water heater. The service was quick and professional!”

Share Positive Customer Reviews

Social proof is a powerful tactic for marketing a local service business. Make the most out of positive customer reviews by sharing the links or screenshots on your website and social media profiles.

For example, you can format a screenshot of a positive review and post on Instagram or re-share a positive Facebook review as a post on your business page. You can even tag the clients and thank them for their support.

How To Maximize the Impact of Your Online Reviews On Google, Facebook, and Yelp

Google, Facebook, and Yelp are the three most popular review sites for local service businesses. Here’s how to optimize your presence on these platforms:

How To Get More Google Reviews

Google reviews can help you attract more clients and improve your SEO ranking. In addition, searchers are more likely to click on links with good star ratings.

First, claim your Google My Business listing and optimize your profile by filling out as much information as you can.

Next, make it easy for your clients to submit a review by sending them a link that’ll take them directly to the review form:

  1. Google your business name.
  2. When your business shows up on the right-hand column, click on the “write a review” button.
    1
    Image source
  3. A review box will pop up. Copy the URL in the address bar – that’s the URL to send to your clients when you ask for a review. (You can use a URL shortener, such as bitly.com, to make it more user-friendly.)
  4. Alternatively, click here and enter you business name and address in the box provided, get your Google Place ID, and use it to create a write-a-review link that works best on both mobile and desktop devices. This URL will look like this: https://search.google.com/local/writereview?placeid=<place_id>

How To Optimize Your Facebook Reviews

55% of customers use Facebook to learn about new products or services while 77.3% of people are influenced by reviews when making their purchasing decisions.

To get reviews displayed on your Facebook page, you need to add the “Review” tab by going to Settings > Edit Page > Add a Tab. The star ratings will be prominently displayed on your page and serve as a powerful social proof to help you attract more clients.

Make sure you’re getting a notification every time a review is posted so you can respond in a timely manner.

Although you can’t remove bad reviews from your page, you can report those that are inaccurate or violate Facebook Community Standards to protect your reputation.

How To Leverage Yelp Reviews

A study by Harvard Business School has found that a one-star increase in Yelp rating can lead to a 5-9% increase in revenue.

The first step to getting Yelp reviews is to claim and optimize your business listing by completing your profile.

While Yelp discourages businesses from asking customers directly for reviews, there are a few things you can do to optimize your Yelp presence:

  • Follow Yelp’s terms of service and guidelines.
  • Place a Yelp badge on your website and link it to your Yelp profile so visitors can click through to check out the comments or leave a review.
  • Include a link to your Yelp listing in your email signature so your contacts can click through to read the comments or post a review.
  • Share your positive Yelp reviews on the social web.

It should be noted that Yelp uses an automated system to choose which reviews are considered credible and which are not.

Many have complained that Yelp is not fair as sometimes it will choose to not show your best reviews and instead show less favorable reviews.

If this happens, flag any suspect reviews and complain to Yelp. They probably will not remove any less desirable reviews, but they might start showing more of your good reviews, thereby increasing your overall rating.

Conclusion

While it’s important to cultivate your presence on third-party review sites, keep in mind that you don’t own the content on those platforms.

Profiles can get deleted and reviews can disappear for a variety of reasons. Keep a record of all your reviews by taking screenshots, printing them out, posting them onto your website, or copying the content into a Google doc.

There are many ways to leverage online reviews to boost your reputation and attract more clients. Optimizing your presence on Google, Facebook, local directories, and third-party review sites should be an integral part of your lead generation strategy.

That’s why 99 Calls does way more than build your business website and optimize the content for SEO. We’ll also create a Google My Business listing, a Facebook business page, and a Yelp listing if needed.

Each website also includes a “Write-A-Review Widget” to help your customers leave you great reviews for your website, Google, and Facebook.

See how 99 Calls can help you generate more local service leads – request a free demo of the 99 Calls Lead Generation System.

Uncategorized

Top 10 Lead Generation Services For Water Damage Restoration Businesses

Having your home flooded isn’t an everyday occurrence. Unlike plumber or handyman services, most people don’t have the contact information of a water damage restoration specialist taped to their fridges.

When there’s a flood, they’d most likely panic and bring in the first water damage restoration service they can find. They may read a few online reviews but won’t spend hours researching every service provider available.

Water damage restoration work is all about speed – your clients need to get their houses dried out as quickly as possible. In addition, most of the work is covered by insurance so prospects are less likely to spend hours looking for the “best deal.”

The challenge is – how can you be the first water damage restoration business they come across when they need help? What can you do to be the first to show up on the scene so you can get the job?

The secret often lies in getting your business found in online searches.

Did you know that 78% of location-based mobile searches result in an offline purchase?

If you want to get more water damage restoration leads, you need to make sure your information shows up in relevant search engine results by using the appropriate online marketing and SEO techniques.

However, for most local service businesses, it’s quite challenging to get ahead in online marketing due to all the moving parts and constantly evolving new tactics.

Thankfully, you don’t have to spend a fortune on hiring a marketing team. There are many lead generation services to which you can “outsource” your prospecting efforts.

Some of these vendors drive traffic to their platforms where they match prospects with service providers. Others set up your marketing funnel and attract visitors to your website.

In this article, we’ll review 10 popular lead generation services for water damage restoration companies. You’ll learn how they generate leads and price their services to help you find one that works best for your business model, market, and budget.

Exclusive Leads

Lead Verification

Lead Source(s)

33Mile​Radius​.com

Yes

Yes

Prospects contact the vendor’s network and the calls are routed to contractors

Service​Direct​.com

Yes

Yes

Prospects visit contractor’s website

eForce​Web​.com

Yes

N/A

Prospects visit contractor’s website

Hope​Media​Group​.com

Yes

Yes

Vendor generates leads using SEO and PPC techniques then route phone calls or emails to contractors

Water-​Damage-​Marketing​.com

Yes

N/A

Prospects visit contractor’s website

United​Restorers​.com

Yes

N/A

Prospects visit contractor’s website

Lead​Amigo​.com

Yes

Yes

Vendor generates leads then route phone calls to contractors

Connexion​Solutions​.com

Yes

N/A

Prospects visit contractor’s website

Lead​Snap​.net

Yes

Yes

Prospects visit contractor’s website

99calls.com

Yes

Yes

Prospects visit contractor’s website

Figure 1: How each lead generation service handles lead generation, verification, and distribution

 

How To Select the Right Lead Generation Service For Your Water Damage Restoration Business

There are various kinds of lead generation services and they attract, verify, and distribute leads differently. Understanding how they work will help you identify the method that works best for your business.

The Difference Between Shared Leads and Exclusive Leads

Some services advertise “exclusive leads” while others may indicate that leads are shared among a few contractors.

When you purchase shared leads, you’ll likely be competing with other water damage companies. The chances of winning the business will be lower and you could get sucked into a bidding war that could lower your profit margin.

The advantage of buying shared leads is that they’re typically cheaper so you can reach more prospects with the same budget. This strategy works for companies that are rapidly expanding and/or have the resources to go after a lot of new businesses.

When you pay for exclusive leads, you’re the only contractor to get the prospects’ information. The competition is much lower and you’re more likely to get the client.

Exclusive leads work well for companies that are relatively new in business or don’t have the time or resources to pitch a lot of prospects. Even though the cost per lead may be higher, it’s often a more cost-effective way to get new clients.

Understanding Lead Source(s)

Lead generation vendors attract prospects from different sources, such as online ads, organic search results, online directories, third-party review sites, referral, or offline promotions.

Many of these services use online marketing techniques, such as SEO or PPC, to drive traffic to a dedicated landing page on which potential clients submit a request.

Pay-per-lead or pay-per-call services gather leads from different sources, depending on their lead generation methods. You may have to try a few vendors to see which one delivers the highest quality leads.

If you use a service that drives traffic directly to your website, you can review the metrics to see which sources are sending you prospects that are most likely to convert. Many reputable vendors provide monthly reports and some even help you analyze your metrics.

You may encounter some pay-per-lead sites that offer a large number of leads for a relatively low price. Be cautious because often times, these vendors are simply buying and reselling information from third-party sources without verifying the quality of the leads.

How Vendors Verify Leads

Most reputable lead generation services verify the leads to make sure they’re ready to hire a water damage professional before sending the prospects to you.

This is important because you don’t want to be paying for and spending time on bad leads.

When selecting a lead generation service, you should inquire how it verifies leads. Here are some examples:

  • The vendor drives organic search traffic to a landing page on which prospects fill out a web form with details about their requests.
  • After prospects submitted their requests, the vendor will contact them to ensure that the information is accurate.
  • The vendor will verify that the prospects meet your criteria, e.g., budget, service area, type of service, etc. before sending the leads to you or setting up a call on your behalf.

How Pricing Structure Affects Your ROI

While choosing a vendor, you’ll encounter a variety of pricing structures. For example, some vendors charge per lead or per call while others offer their services at a flat monthly fee.

Pay-per-lead or pay-per-call typically works well if you only purchase leads once in a while. However, you may have to manage your account carefully so you don’t get charged for leads that you won’t be able to handle.

On the other hand, if you want leads sent to you on an ongoing basis, services that charge a flat monthly fee can help you better control your budget.

At the end of the day, you want to make the most out of your marketing dollars. Understanding the pricing structure, cost-per-lead, and your conversion rate will help you determine which service can bring you the optimal number of leads in the most cost-efficient way.

Here are the pricing structures of some of the vendors on our list:

Cost Per Lead

Notes

33Mile​Radius​.com

Depends on service area

No setup or monthly fee

Service​Direct​.com

Depends on service area, size of business, years in business etc.

eForce​Web​.com

Offers both pay-per-call leads and flat fee programs

Get $100 free leads when you sign up

Hope​Media​Group​.com

Depends on service area

Pay-per-call, no monthly fee

Water-​Damage-​Marketing​.com

Depends on the service package

United​Restorers​.com

Flat monthly fee plus AdWords budget

Lead​Amigo​.com

$450 per lead

Pay for verified calls only

Connexion​Solutions​.com

Flat rate programs start at $499 per month

Lead​Snap​.net

Cost per call varies. Typically under $100 per call

Get $100 free leads when you sign up

99calls.com

$89 per exclusive lead

$299 set up fee

Figure 2: Pricing structure comparison

 

Top 10 Lead Generation Services For Water Damage Restoration Companies

To maximize ROI, you need to understand how each lead generation service works so you can select the one that works best for your market and business model.

Here’s an overview of our top 10 vendors:

 

1. 33 Mile Radius

Pricing structure: Depends on the service area.

Lead distribution system: Exclusive leads.

Lead source: Vendor drives traffic to its website using digital marketing techniques such as online ads.

Lead verification system Prospects call into the vendor’s network and the calls are routed directly to you.

Pros:

  • You get exclusive leads for your service area.
  • You only pay for valid leads.
  • You’re assigned a dedicated account manager.
  • According to the vendor, top partners close up to 90% of the leads.

Cons:

  • Cost per lead can be higher than some pay-per-lead sites.

Reviews:

1

1

Source: Better Business Bureau

 

2. Service Direct

Pricing structure: Depends on service area, size of business, years in business etc.

Lead distribution system: Exclusive leads.

Lead source: Vendor uses local SEO techniques to drive traffic to your website, which is included as part of the service package.

Lead verification system You only pay for valid calls.

Pros:

  • You can control your spending by pausing your campaign any time.
  • You can adjust the number of leads you get by adjusting your price per lead.
  • You only pay for valid calls so you won’t be spending money on bad leads.

Cons:

  • Full-service approach and pay-per-call pricing may be higher than most pay-per-lead services.

Reviews:

1Source: ServiceDirect.com

 

3. eForceWeb

Pricing structure: The vendor offers pay-per-lead and flat fee programs.

Lead distribution system: Exclusive leads.

Lead source: The vendor uses targeted local ads on Google and Bing to drive traffic to your website.

Lead verification system: Lead verification method on your website.

Pros:

  • The vendor limits the number of contractors they work within each geographic location to ensure that its clients are getting enough exclusive leads.
  • Local SEO and online ads are targeted to prospects in your service area.
  • If you choose the pay-per-call program, you only pay for qualified sales calls.

Cons:

  • Flat fee program may be more expensive than other pay-per-lead websites.
  • You may not get the intended results if your website isn’t set up to capture leads effectively.

Reviews:

No review is available at the time of publication.

 

4. Hope Media Group

Pricing structure: You pay for each billable call. Pricing depends on the service area.

Lead distribution system: Exclusive leads.

Lead source: The vendor drives traffic to its websites on which your business will be featured.

Lead verification system: You only pay for billable leads that meet certain criteria.

Pros:

  • The vendor manually reviews each call recording to ensure it’s a billable call.
  • There’s no monthly fee and you can cancel any time.

Cons:

  • Pay-per-call pricing can be more expensive than most pay-per-lead websites.

Reviews:

1

Source: HopeMediaGroup.com

 

5. Water Damage Marketing (by Stellar eMarketing)

Pricing structure: Depends on the service package.

Lead distribution system: Exclusive leads.

Lead source: The vendor drives traffic to your website using SEO techniques.

Lead verification system: Lead verification method on your website.

Pros:

  • The vendor uses highly targeted SEO techniques to get leads that are likely to convert.
  • Optimizing your website for SEO helps create long-term results.
  • The vendor claims to have extensive knowledge of the water damage restoration business.

Cons:

  • Like most SEO tactics, there’s a period of trial-and-error and results may vary.
  • You may not get the intended results if your website isn’t designed to capture leads effectively.

Reviews:

1

1Source: Google

 

6. United Restorer

Pricing structure: Flat monthly fee plus AdWords budget.

Lead distribution system: Exclusive leads.

Lead source: The vendor drives traffic to your website using online ads (Google Adwords.)

Lead verification system: Lead verification method on your website.

Pros:

  • You have complete control of your monthly budget.
  • AdWords tends to generate more immediate results that put your website on the top of Google search results than SEO.

Cons:

  • You may not get the intended results if your website isn’t set up to capture leads effectively.
  • The service doesn’t include optimizing your website for SEO so you may not get the long-term benefits of being ranked for organic searches.

Reviews:

1Source: United Restorers Website

 

7. LeadAmigo

Cost per water damage lead: $450 per lead.

Lead distribution system: Exclusive leads.

Lead source: The vendor generates leads through online ads and sends calls directly to your phone.

Lead verification system: You only pay for verified calls.

Pros:

  • You can view all the leads on your smartphone and see the lead sources as soon as the calls come in.
  • Flat fee and no long-term contract make it easy to control spending.

Cons:

  • Some customers have trouble getting responsive support from the vendor.

Reviews:

1

1

Source: Google

 

8. Connexion Solutions

Pricing structure: Lead generation service starts at a fixed rate of $499 per month.

Lead distribution system: Exclusive leads.

Lead source: The vendor drives traffic to your website using online marketing techniques.

Lead verification system: Prospects fill out a web form to request quotes.

Pros:

  • The vendor builds your website and takes care of the advertising, SEO, and social media marketing.
  • Packages include the development of a mobile-optimized website that can benefit your business in the long-run.
  • The vendor guarantees minimum lead calls and form fills each month.

Cons:

  • The service may cost more than other pay-per-lead websites.

Reviews:

1

Source: Facebook

 

9. LeadSnap

Pricing structure: Cost per call varies, typically under $100. You get $100 free leads upon sign up.

Lead distribution system: Exclusive leads.

Lead source: The vendor drives online traffic using paid ads and SEO techniques to generate calls through mobile-optimized websites.

Lead Verification System: Ads target local prospects that are looking for a water damage restoration service and the vendor sends the call to you in real time.

Pros:

  • The vendor offers exclusive leads based on geographic territories so the competition is lower.
  • The vendor claims that clients typically start receiving calls within 24 – 48 hours.
  • The vendor offers tracking phone numbers for inbound calls so you can analyze metrics and improve results.

Cons:

  • Price per call is typically more expensive than shared leads from other pay-per-lead sites.

Reviews:

1

Source: LeadSnap Website

 

10. 99 Calls

Cost per water damage lead: $89 per lead plus $399 setup fee, which includes a highly optimized website.

Lead distribution system: Exclusive leads.

Lead source: The vendor uses SEO strategies to drive your website to the top of search engine results so it’ll get found by high-quality prospects that are looking for a water damage restoration specialist in your local area.

Pros:

  • You get exclusive leads that are looking for water damage restoration service in your area.

  • You get an optimized website that will rank high in organic searches, boosting SEO and generating long-term results.

  • Your company will be listed on prominent directories. These profiles, along with a Facebook business page, will be properly set up so you can promote special offers to attract potential clients.

  • The vendor guarantees a minimum number of leads per month or your bill is prorated.

  • Packages include monthly reporting to help you track results and maximize ROI.

Reviews:

1

1

Source: Better Business Bureau

Also see:
Google reviews for 99 Calls
Facebook reviews for 99 Calls

 

Conclusion

With the increasing occurrences of storms, fire, and flooding, the demand for water damage restoration service has been raising in the past few years.

Even though water damage restoration is a rather competitive business, there are a lot of opportunities for growth if you can get in front of those who have an immediate need for such a service in a timely manner.

For these prospects, time is of the essence. Using a lead generation service can help you respond quickly to their requests so you can win the jobs and increase your revenue.