Inflation Has Hit Digital Marketing. Are PPC Campaigns Still Worth It?

by Diane Lovine and Devon Osborne

Contractors nationwide have noticed they are getting far fewer leads from their Google Ads monthly budgets. Why is this happening, and does it even make sense to continue running campaigns? The team at 99 Calls works primarily with service contractors, generating leads for them both via SEO and Pay Per Click and has noticed this trend has been building over the past 18 months. 

The primary means of measurement for Google Ads are cost per click (CPC) rates and cost per lead, which for our team means that contractors receive on average one call (lead) for every 5 – 8 clicks. Cost per click is measured in this way (Total Cost / Total Clicks). 

Causes of Increased Lead Prices

In early 2020, there was a pullback in contractor services in those “elective services” categories such as painting and home improvement. However, contractors who stayed busy throughout the pandemic include electricians, HVAC contractors and roofers when properties required repairs or sustained damages. 

First, the market is flooded with contractors willing, wanting, needing to get themselves found on the first page of Google to remain viable in their respective markets. The result is steeper competition than we’ve ever seen, which is driving prices up. Many contractors are seeing prices higher than they have ever been.

Getting cost-effective leads is even more daunting for those new businesses trying to get established with their first customers. 

Examples of Price Increase By Industry

The Impact on Service Businesses

HVAC contractors have seen a 50% increase in cost per click over the past 14 months. The cost of appliance repair clicks has increased by over 28% with rural locations taking a larger hit than urban areas. Painters and carpet cleaners have experienced 5% – 10% increases over the past year, regardless of whether in an urban or rural setting. 

Escalating prices mean a diminished return on monthly investment. Some contractors have discontinued their digital marketing, while others are looking at leaner profit margins. Larger businesses that have the means for healthy monthly budgets have been able to weather the price hikes much more readily than smaller owner-operated businesses. 

How to Win In This New Environment

  • Conversions matter more than ever. Not every marketing company is the same. In fact, the average firm achieves a 6%-10% conversion rate depending on the industry. Finding an above average marketing company that can achieve higher conversion rates will get you more leads for your budget. 
  • Time to Focus. Are there niche services that you provide that have solid profit margins? If you are a janitorial company, it might be floor stripping and waxing jobs. If you are a painter, you might do wallpaper removal or installation. Marketing niche services may lead to better performance because the competition isn’t as high, so your ads will be shown a higher percentage of the time with the same budget than it will when going after highly competitive search terms.
  • Size matters. Lowering your budget may seem like a logical way to save money, but if you decrease your budget too by too much, you just won’t have enough to work with on a day-to-day basis. On those days when people are searching most for your services, a small budget will drive you out of the spotlight and you’ll be missing opportunities.
  • Pair your Google Search Ads with a pay-per-performance SEO campaign. These campaigns take longer to rank online and to generate leads (sometimes many months longer). But planning ahead can yield big results in the long term because leads generated via SEO are less expensive than with Ads.
  • Stick with the Google Ads. If you are able, continuing with your Google Ads campaigns will yield a positive return on your investment, provided that you use a company with a high conversion rate and that you and/or your sales reps have high sales close rates. You may see slimmer margins in the coming months, but Google Ads search campaigns can still produce positive returns on your marketing investment. In fact, an article by Business of Apps stated that the Cost per Click with Google Ads (Search) marketing is still less expensive than Instagram, Linkedin, Pinterest and Facebook.

For more information on running cost-effective Google Ads campaigns with solid conversion rates, set up a free consultation with lead specialists at 99 Calls.

digital marketing, Lead Generation, Uncategorized

Women-Owned Businesses Spotlight

Debbie Robinson – JP Services

In honor of women in history month, this week we turn the spotlight on one of our partners located in New Hampshire. Debbie Robinson, of Debbie the JP, has worked full-time for over 28 years administering mental health services in many settings including inpatient psychiatry, corrections and transitional housing. She runs her own business on the side providing wedding officiating, document signing and notary services, which is what brought her to 99 Calls for lead generation.

Debbie’s part-time business of providing document signing and wedding officiating services has been a fun and challenging source of additional income that has funded travel and hobbies. This is Debbie’s first experience with running a business and working for herself and she enjoys having the ability to manage her own schedule and the direction of her work.

When asked how she got into this line of business, she noted that she has worked for years assisting people as they struggle through the most devastating moments in their lives. Conducting wedding ceremonies allows her to take part in couples’ best moments, which creates a much-needed balance. The idea of becoming a wedding officiant took off when a co-worker asked if she knew a Justice of the Peace; her son was getting married and they wanted a simple, intimate ceremony. It got Debbie thinking that this would be a perfect side business to start.

She has since conducted weddings of all types and has signed documents throughout New Hampshire as a mobile notary. She is proud of helping people during the COVID pandemic when in-person services were shut down. She met many people in parking lots armed with her JP stamp to sign titles, wills, loans and other important documents. Debbie has always been driven to help people during times of need.

We asked Debbie what challenges she encountered when starting her business. She said that becoming certified was not too challenging, and she enlisted the help of an accountant to navigate the taxes. The biggest concern initially was that she wasn’t sure how people who were searching for these services would find her. Those concerns were allayed when she forged a relationship with a wedding facility, Alpine Grove, in southern New Hampshire. The owners included her postcards in their prospective client packets, which really helped to launch her business. 

A few years later, she relocated to the Lakes Region of NH and needed to establish her business from the ground up again. This time, she utilized the services of 99 Calls for lead generation. “I get more calls than I can handle from the lead generation site to support my part-time business and I turn quite a few jobs down. I’m notified when a call comes in, which allows me to quickly put on my business voice and get work scheduling a document signing or a wedding.”

What is Debbie’s advice for a young woman who is considering getting started as a Justice of the Peace? Debbie reports that although the field tends to be female-dominated, there isn’t a clear advantage to being a female. It’s an excellent part-time or potentially a full-time business that offers flexibility and the opportunity to assist people to solve problems with getting documents signed and provide a much-needed service to the community. She says that officiating weddings is an especially rewarding experience. If you are looking for a part-time side business that is rewarding and allows you the flexibility to set your own schedule, becoming a JP may be the perfect match for you too!

digital marketing, Google Ads, How much is online marketing, Lead Generation, Lead Generation for Contractors, online marketing, online marketing costs, Pay Per Click Advertising, service contractor leads, Uncategorized

What is a DBA and Do I Need One?

DBA stands for “Doing Business As”. It is not the same thing as an LLC or a Corporation. In fact, it’s not a business entity at all. Rather, a DBA is a label. It’s a filing with your state to get permission to operate under a different name than your own. DBAs do not provide any extra liability protection for your business. Sole proprietors and corporations often file a DBA as a means to get permission to operate under a specific name. If you own a sole proprietorship and plan to claim your Google business listing or run a Google Ads campaign, yes, you’ll want to file. The good news is that it’s quick and inexpensive. 

Limitations of DBAs

Filing a DBA will not protect you or your family from liability. A DBA is also not a business entity; you would need to file as a corporation or a partnership with your secretary of state (which is a good idea but not covered in this post). Last, filing a DBA will not block someone else from using the same business name. In order to keep your business name to yourself, you’d need to file a trademark or register your sole proprietorship as a corporation or partnership. 

Why Register a DBA?

So it’s not a separate business and doesn’t offer protection. Why should I file a DBA? There are several benefits to spending a few minutes and a few bucks to file your DBA with your state. Because we are in the lead generation business and work to optimize GBPs (Google Business Profiles) regularly, the team at 99 Calls will tell you that’s the biggest reason to register. Google’s requirements to verify a business profile have become much more stringent. They want proof that you are who you say you are, and showing your registered DBA is one of the documents that will meet their requirements. Keep in mind that the address that you use to register your DBA must be the same one you use on your Google Business Profile. Other benefits to filing a DBA include the ability to operate your business under a different name. DBAs give you an affordable way to increase your flexibility. For example, if you started your business under a different name, but you decided you don’t like it or it no longer fits your branding or you want to run a different service under a different name, filing a DBA is the means to get permission from your state to operate under a different name. Most states charge around $50 to file. You will need to maintain your DBA registration if you plan to continue using the name on legal documents and bank accounts. 

For more information on filing a DBA for your business, see this state-by-state resource or call the friendly lead generation team at 99Calls.com at 800-717-4669.


Women in Construction: How Females are Advancing in the Industry

by Danielle Giarrusso

Women make up 11% of the construction workforce and that number is steadily climbing. What are women doing in the construction industry? Everything! They are architects and engineers, building inspectors, project managers and construction site managers, as well as estimators, laborers, heavy equipment operators, and skilled contractors. For many reasons, women are a significant asset to industry growth. Though women face the challenges of being in an industry with a 9 to 1 male to women ratio, they are demonstrating the ability to thrive and grow in the workforce.

Women encounter considerable inequality, even in prominent leadership positions. Pay gaps, lack of advancement, gender bias, and exclusion have all been an uphill battle. What’s more, women are more frequently called to balance career and family responsibilities. Despite these additional challenges, women are persisting. Recent advancements to legislation, reduction of stereotypes and sheer grit are propelling women into male-dominated industries like never before.

The Impact Women Make In Business

Construction may be perceived as a man’s world, but women bring a much-needed balance in the workforce. According to a McKinsey & Company report, “gender-diverse companies are 25% more likely to achieve above-average profitability compared to companies with less diversity”. A diverse workforce is truly an innovative workforce. Women represent a valuable vantage point when it comes to growing, innovating, and realizing unique business concepts.

Women tend to shine in acquiring those soft skills necessary for successful business leadership, such as critical thinking, problem solving, career management, and intercultural fluency. A female point of view often adds depth and new perspectives that can increase consumer insight and lead to meaningful improvements. Additionally, according to a National Bureau of Economic Research paper, women are more likely to collaborate than men, and collaboration alone is a key component to project success.

Female Entrepreneurs Are On The Rise

Businesses owned by women are rapidly becoming a driving force in our nation’s economy. As of 2021, women-owned businesses have risen to 40%, which amounts to 12.3 million women-owned businesses. With 114% more female entrepreneurs than there were 20 years ago, women are continuing to make an impact – a big one.

As of today, 8% of 99 Calls’ business partners are women-owned!