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.

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Why One-Time Cleaning Leads Are Just as Valuable as Recurring Cleaning Leads

by Devon Osborne

In the commercial cleaning industry, getting inbound leads for recurring cleaning services are some of the most sought-after types of leads. What some business owners fail to realize is that one-time cleaning leads can be equally as valuable. 

Many commercial cleaners go to their lead providers requesting lead generation solely for recurring cleaning services. Unfortunately, doing so is not an easy feat. When prospective clients are searching online for your services, they are most commonly searching terms like “office cleaning” or “commercial cleaning near me,” and not “recurring office cleaning” or “recurring commercial cleaning.” For this reason, it makes it extremely difficult to generate only these specific types of leads via SEO and Google Ads Campaigns.

We can understand the preference for recurring cleaning services, from getting more of an initial return on investment to having a steady agreement with the client for the future. The lifetime value of your recurring jobs is very high compared to jobs that are one-offs, periodic or seasonal. However, if you look at all of the benefits of accepting one-time cleaning leads, you may just see them in a new, more appreciative way. 

There are many benefits of taking on one-time commercial cleaning leads, such as: 

  • Saying “yes” to the job gets your foot in the door to get called back for more! 
  • Often, companies are looking to try out a new cleaning service before signing on for a long-term contract. If you do an excellent job on that first cleaning, you may just land yourself a recurring deal.
  • Providing more one-time cleanings throughout the year will allow you to keep your good employees busy and on payroll. 
  • These jobs can keep bringing in a good flow of revenue, even during the slower times of the year.
  • Many seasonal or quarterly jobs such as carpet cleaning or floor stripping and waxing have high profit margins.

Sometimes waiting for the perfect job to come along causes us to pass on the great opportunities in front of us. Next time you receive a call for a one-time cleaning service, think twice before turning that job down. Make the best of the leads that come your way, you never know what can come of it! 

For more information on commercial cleaning lead generation, contact customercare@99calls.com.

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Don’t Freeze Your Leads This Winter:

3 Mistakes Contractors Should Avoid as the Slower Season Begins

Fall marks the beginning of the slower season for many contractors. The period between Mid November through the New Year yields far fewer consumers looking to remodel, move or expand. People are gearing up for the holidays and the new year ahead. Add to that the uncertainty that COVID has unleashed, and the supply chain issues that have slowed the market even further, and you may be looking at a lean winter. 

There are several common mistakes that contractors make when tighter times approach. It may seem to make sense to cut back, lay off and lay low to avoid any unnecessary expenses, but savvy contractors utilize these quieter months to build. This keeps revenue channels open and puts businesses in a prime position to enjoy exponential growth when the hot season begins.

Top Three Slow-Season Mistakes: 

  1. Scale way back on marketing – It might seem prudent to cut your marketing budget as the season comes to a close. However, when the number of booked jobs on the schedule begins to decrease, this is an excellent time to review your marketing strategy and trim out the efforts that aren’t yielding results. 
  • If you are losing money on print, it may be time to pause or halt that marketing.
  • If you are paying more for leads that you are making in jobs, it may be time to find a new lead company.  There are lead generation businesses that only charge for their performance, meaning the leads they actually produce. 
  • Google Ads may also be a viable short-term option for increasing lead volume into the winter. The team at 99 Calls is still seeing a 15 – 20% conversion rate on Google Ads campaigns. Google Ads marketing allows contractors to target specific services in selected areas so that you can get more done with a smaller budget. 

There are plenty of opportunities there to gain some leads, win new jobs, and keep your team on the payroll. 

  1. Cut back on labor – Because there is a general shortage of qualified, motivated laborers in the workforce nationwide today, if you are lucky enough to have them on your team, now is not the time to furlough or lay them off. 
  • Do what you can to keep those smaller jobs coming in, even if at lower profit margins to keep your valued workers gainfully employed.  
  • We all prefer the big jobs and/or recurring business, but those smaller gigs often lead to larger, more valuable jobs in the future.
  • Not only are you contributing to your employees’ livelihood, but you are building trust and loyalty. See #1 above for ideas on getting those smaller, one-off jobs to keep your calendar full and your people working.
  1. Take it easy and chill for the winter – It may be tempting to take a long winter nap, but here are a couple of things to do before you decide to take that much-needed vacation or rest after a busy summer. 
  • Take a look at your SEO efforts. Are you promoting the services that you offer in the winter months now? It takes time for new content to get indexed and start ranking on Google. Now is the time to promote the services you want to offer in February and March. 
  • Contact current customers and offer a discount when they book winter services. 
  • Plan your 2022 budget. What are your goals for the new year in terms of growth, revenue, advertising? 
  • Take time in the slower weeks ahead to review what’s working, what isn’t and see where you can trim the fat. 
  • Take some of your summer profits and invest them in some solid targeted online marketing. Remember, smart online marketing is an investment, not an expense!
  • Once you’ve got these things in place, take a quick break – you’ll be recharged and ready to reap the rewards of your efforts!

If the thought of laser-focusing your marketing dollars and finding low-cost, high-value leads seems out of reach at the moment, consider trying the bundle program with 99 Calls. For a $349 price tag, you’ll get set up on SEO marketing which will grow over time, and a Google Ads campaign that can start working for you immediately. 

Get Started Here

digital marketing, Lead Generation, Lead Generation for Contractors, online marketing, online marketing costs, Pay Per Click Advertising, PPC, Roofing Advertising, Roofing Leads, service contractor leads

How to Maximize Roofing Leads: A Case Study of the First Three Months of Lead Generation for a Roofing Contractor in Ohio 

by Kerri Wilkinson and Diane Lovine

Background Information and Presenting Problem

The owner of Northcoast Roof Repair, Tabetha Pierce, found 99 Calls in April of 2021 during a Google search of roofing lead generation providers. After reading about the company and checking out the positive reviews, she decided to call and learn more. Tabetha reported frustration with other roofing lead companies she tried in the past. She had not found success with any of them and felt that her direct needs were not being addressed. Her goal was to maximize the number of quality inbound roofing leads for her company as quickly as possible. 

After discussing her goals and concerns with a roofing lead generation specialist, Tabetha decided to try the less expensive SEO lead generation services, for roofing leads, knowing that it would likely take several months to rank on Google and other searches and begin to receive leads. 

SEO and Organic Lead Site Development and Setup

Tabetha decided to give SEO Lead generation a try in early May and was very excited for help with growing her Ohio business. We reviewed her service offerings, business hours and specialties. From there, a site was built (https://northcoast-roof-repairs.com/) and made live within a couple of days. 

They wanted to focus on roof repair services in Ohio for all kinds of roofs including shingle, flat, and slate. They also offer 24/7 emergency repair services. The SEO site was customized around their goals with service pages that reflect their offerings, and a design to incorporate their brand. A logo, photos, and reviews from happy customers were placed on the site and within a couple of days, the site went live. 

99 Calls also took on managements of her listings, such as Google My Business, Yelp and Bing in order to fully optimize her total online presence and help the business rank highly on Google searches. Within just a few weeks, Northcoast Roof Repairs received 3 organic leads, which is rather uncommon, but can happen. Tabetha was so pleased that she called her lead specialist to inquire about the 99 Calls Google Ads PPC program in the second week of June. 

The organic lead generation performance between May 1 and August 30 are as follows: May: 3 leads, June: 1 lead, July: 2 leads and August: 3 leads. As of this writing, they have received 8 leads so far in the month of September. These results are just a bit higher than typical for an SEO lead generation program. It is our experience that over time, rankings increase and lead volume follows. 

Google Ads Setup and Campaign Development

After seeing the quick results of 99 Calls’ SEO campaign, Tabetha signed up for Google Ads as well in hopes of ramping up even faster. She started with a modest budget of $500.00 and wanted to specifically focus on roof repair leads for shingle and slate roofs. We set out to build a highly targeted campaign to focus on her goals and because of the low initial budget, had to be very careful to construct a comprehensive negative keyword list. Northcoast was thrilled to receive a lead on the very first day that the campaign was launched. Throughout the rest of the first month, they were able to garner 17 leads. They achieved this by increasing the budget several times as it was hit and had the confidence to do so once they were able to confirm the high quality of the leads and close several jobs. 

Initial Obstacles and Challenges

During the first month of the PPC campaign, Northcoast quickly received roofing leads and hit their $500.00 budget within the first couple of weeks. When customers reach their budget limit, the Ads campaign is automatically paused and they have the opportunity to keep the account paused or add more money to the budget. Once a positive ROI was established, Tabethy became more and more confident that she could safely increase the budget, but there were stops and starts as trust was established initially. 

PPC Roofing Lead Results

As Northcoast Roof Repairs found their footing and realized that their ROI was solid they decided to continue their progress throughout the month of June with an increased monthly budget of $1,000. Knowing that August is often a busy month and feeling solid about having enough help to handle the uptick in new customers, Tabetha decided to trust her instincts with 99 Calls and increased her budget to $1,600.00 for the month of August. This decision yielded a  total of 27 exclusive qualified leads in August and “raised the roof” for her expectations of what 99 Calls was able to do for her company. From 15 qualified leads with a late start in June to 21 exclusive leads in July, their August month was the best yet. 

Google Ads Performance Metrics for Northcoast Roof Repair June 9 – Sept. 11, 2021

  • Total Investment:     $4,755.17
  • Total Conversions:     63
  • Conversion Rate:     34%
  • Average Cost Per Lead: $75.47

For more information on Google Ads typical and exceptional conversion rates, see this article: https://blog.99calls.com/?s=conversion+rate

Summary of Results and Plan for Business Growth

During her first four months of organic lead generation services and her first three months of running Google Ads, Northcost received 9 organic leads and 27 leads from Google Ads. 99 Calls charges just $49 for exclusive roofing leads and was able to achieve PPC leads at $75 each. At these prices for qualified roofing leads, they would love to increase the budget and double, even triple results. However, the biggest obstacle at this time is labor. Tabetha states that she is constrained by the number of qualified roofing employees she can hire. Her immediate plan is to continue to service the leads she has while building her workforce. Once armed with enough roofers to service the leads coming in, Tabetha states that Northcoast Roof Repairs will be ready to increase their budget even further, and the lead team at 99 Calls is looking forward to the challenge!

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Are You Just Spending, or Investing in Your Business?

Effective Lead Generation is an Investment – Not an Expense

Are you treating lead generation costs or prices per lead as monthly expenses? If so, you haven’t found the right company to partner with!

Does thinking about setting a “marketing budget” make you cringe? Do you immediately imagine your bank account balance going down, down, down? If you see your lead generation budget as a regular monthly expense, you may be wasting a lot of money! Expenses are car payments, electric bills, and internet costs. Good lead generation is an investment. Something that GENERATES revenue for your business, not an expense.

Most lead generation companies charge a flat rate per month and don’t promise anything in return. Yes, that’s probably an expense. But there are a few pay-for-performance companies out there that can prove their value to you month after month. In addition, many companies no longer require contracts, so you are free to take your investment elsewhere if you aren’t seeing the returns you were lead to expect.

If you want my team to just take care of your online marketing click here for a consultation.

Most Lead Generation May Cost You

The budget you set aside each month for online marketing is probably being considered an expense if you are lumping it in with your other costs. When times are tight, you might think your marketing “costs” should be the first to go. Then you trim other costs to save money. If you could generate reliable leads each month that turn into profitable jobs, your lead generation budget would become a necessary investment (and a sound one, at that!) If you are constantly trying to keep your monthly costs low by cutting into your lead generation budget, you are missing out on the potential to turn your service business into a cash cow. When leads become expenses are when they don’t produce measurable results.

Example: Say you have allotted $500 each month for online marketing of your remodeling business. If you hire a lead generation company that charges a flat rate of $500 each month and tells you they will promote your business online, get you onto the first page of Google and get calls coming in, but then doesn’t produce, this would be an expense.

If you hire a different company and they tell you that you’ll only pay for qualified leads that come in and you get to determine what a qualified lead means to you, you won’t be paying an expense, you’ll be investing in those customers who call you for a quote. And the higher your close rate, the more money your business will make from that marketing investment!

Return on Investment is the way businesses measure the net increase or decrease that comes from investing money. Return on investment, or ROI is the amount of revenue you bring in, minus the amount of money you invest to make it. So if you invest $500 in lead generation, and that turns into 6 qualified leads, and you win 4 new jobs, and each job is worth $1000 in profits, Your return on investment is $4000 (profits) – $500 (investment), or $3500. Imagine if you could invest $500 every month and watch it turn into $3500. Now that’s a solid investment!

Online Marketing and Lead Generation as an Investment

Customers use online searches more than any other means to find service businesses they want to hire. If you’re not there, front and center, with a great reason for them to call you for the quote, you probably won’t get called.

Good marketing entices customers to call you for a quote, which results in jobs, which means revenue for your business. When online marketing in the form of lead generation works in this way, it is considered an investment in your business. Even when times are tight, you don’t want to stop investing in good marketing, because it’s probably your best chance to build your revenue stream back up. Instead, start slow and build as you land more jobs. And don’t spend your excess profits. Keep investing in your business and watch it grow.

How to Increase Your Lead Generation ROI

So how can you spend less money per contractor lead? What is the best way to lower online marketing costs? Get seen and called more often and win more sales from your monthly lead budget!

  1. Improve Your Visibility and Get More Calls

The more phone calls and emails you get from your monthly marketing budget, the higher the return on your marketing investment will be.

When you sign on for services for online marketing and lead generation, be sure to find a company with a complete package: Highly optimized lead generation sites that will rank well on Google, Bing, and other search engines and the ability to customize the lead generation site and listings with your unique branding.

As important as getting found is for getting calls, making your business attractive to potential customers is also critical. Entice your customers to pick up and call you by displaying high-quality photos of your work and pictures of yourself or your team on the home page. Offer a special promotion to motivate them to call you rather than your competitors.

For other tips on improving visibility and making waves with an online presence, see this article: https://blog.99calls.com/2021/03/16/maximize-digital-marketing-returns-on-a-small-budget/

  1. Improve Your Close Rate

The higher your close rate, the lower your costs per lead and the more leads you can get for the same monthly investment.

Here are the top 5 things you can do to increase your close rate, and thereby increase your returns:

Always Answer Your Phone: It seems so simple, but we see it all the time. Customers are impatient. They identify a need, search online and call the first contractor they see who looks legit. If that’s you and your phone rings, you are LOSING MONEY every time a call goes to voicemail.

Quick Quote: If you’re able to give a ballpark figure over the phone, go for it. Otherwise, schedule a visit within the next 48 hours to see the job and give a quote. Get in there before your competition.

Professionalism Pays: No, you don’t need to show up in your Sunday best, and actually, arriving in some work clothes lets potential customers know you’re a busy person who other customers already trust. Just change into a clean shirt to change and be prepared with pen and paper to take notes. Listen to what they are asking you to do, and repeat it back so they know you heard it right.

Offer Options: When you offer 2 or even three options for getting the work done, you’ll asking your potential customer not to choose between you and someone else, but between two or three price points from YOU. Offer a budget option, which less expensive materials and less expensive detail, and then one with the best quality. This also lets them know you are versatile and can work with different budgets.

Follow Up: Don’t drop an estimate and run. People appreciate a friendly reminder that you are available to schedule their job. Maybe even give them a discount if they can fill an opening you have in a given month. Persistence pays!

For more information on improving return on investment, learn why combining SEO with pay per click gives contractors the best bang for their buck: https://blog.99calls.com/2020/07/20/benefits-of-combining-seo-lead-generation-with-ppc-advertising/

Summary

If you’re ready to really start growing your service business, start viewing your marketing budget as a smart investment, rather than a monthly expense, then find a quality lead generation team to make your monthly lead generation investment work for you. For more information on getting the most from your online marketing investment, give the team at 99Calls.com a call at 800-717-4669.

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What is PPC Conversion Rate and Why Does it Matter?

Are PPC Leads Worth the Expense?

Turns out the cost per lead varies widely depending on the effectiveness of the marketing company you hire to run your campaigns.

Utilizing Google Ads PPC campaigns is the fastest, most versatile method of achieving a high volume of leads for service contractors. However, buyer beware; not all PPC marketing firms produce equal results. In fact, differences in performance are alarming and could mean the difference between enjoying a robust return on investment and blowing your advertising budget with little to show for it. 

There is an enormous gap between average and superior Ads performance. According to a recent article by Wordstream, a trusted authority in measuring PPC conversion results, a full 25% of PPC users report conversion rates under 1%.

Unlike SEO, or organic lead generation, which takes many months to ramp up and achieve first-page placement on Google searches (and let’s be honest, if you aren’t being found on the first page, you most likely will not be found), using Google Ads PPC to generate exclusive leads yields much faster results.

Google PPC is an auction-style platform for showcasing businesses on the first page of searches. Rather than showing in the maps (GMB) section, or the highly regarded organic results section, Google PPC ads are displayed at the very top and the very bottom of the search page.

PPC Explained

Ads are about scarcity. There is only room for 3-6 PPC ads on a page, about half posted at the very top and half at the bottom, under organic results. In order to achieve first-page placement on Google, you’ve got to be one of the top bidders. A high conversion rate is achieved when a large percentage of people who click on an Ad call for a quote (a lead). The more leads you receive for your monthly budget, the better your return on investment. 

With Google Ads, contractors are bidding per click, meaning, they are telling Google what they are willing to pay each time a potential buyer clicks on their Ad. The goal is to pay the lowest Cost Per Click, or CPC that you can but high enough to make it into a top 3 position, at least for a decent percentage of the time. Google doesn’t place 3 companies there and then walk away. The top 3 are rotated throughout the day. What gets companies up there? First and foremost is being a top bidder. 

Achieving visibility on a search is just one piece to the puzzle though. Equally as important are your click-through rates (CTR) and your conversion rates. Click-through rates are the percentage of times someone clicks on the link in your Ad to visit the landing page compared to the number of times your Ad is shown (aka impressions). If the Ad is compelling and relevant to what the person is looking for, the click-through rate will be higher. If your CTR is low, you will likely also have a low conversion rate. 

And finally, let’s talk about conversion rates. A conversion for some industries may be the collection of information (email or phone number) from a potential buyer that can be added to a telemarketing or email nurturing list. In service contractor industries, a conversion is a lead. Better, with 99 Calls, it is an exclusive lead that is delivered either through a live phone call or email. The better your conversion rate, the more leads you will receive for your monthly budget or advertising investment.

Average Conversion Rate and Why it Matters

The average conversion rate for service contractors using Google Search PPC advertising is 2.35%. This means that out of every 100 customers who click on your Ads, only two to three will actually call you for a quote. 

The worst-performing (bottom 25%) campaigns receive a 1% or lower conversion rate. One in four campaigns falls into this bottom category. In fact, nearly half of all people who use Google Ads have a conversion rate lower than 2.5%. Included in these numbers are the do-it-yourselfers who don’t think it’s worth paying the service fee to have a marketing team manage their accounts.

Imagine that your monthly Ads budget is $1000. If the average click for your industry costs $5.00, at a 2.35% conversion rate, you’d get 4-5 leads with your budget if you hire an average marketing company. 

The best performing marketing businesses, those in the top 10% of all companies, are averaging an 11.45% conversion rate. If you were using one of them to manage your Ads campaign and had the same $1000 budget and click cost at $5.00 each, you’d achieve 23 leads. That’s over 5x the lead volume for your marketing dollars! That’s why conversion rate matters.

How to Maximize Your Conversion Rate

There is a bright side to Google Ads marketing. People and businesses in the know are able to achieve excellent results with PPC advertising. The best performing marketing businesses, those in the top 10% of all companies, achieve an 11.45% conversion rate. This is far better than the average performer with 5x the lead volume for the same budget.

A small study looked at 124 customers using Google Ads campaigns managed through 99 Calls with a monthly budget of more than $300. The Google Ads specialists at 99 Calls were able to use their in-house PPC advertising system to achieve an average conversion rate across all service contractor (restoration contractors, carpet cleaners, painters, landscapers, appliance repair technicians, electricians, plumbers, HVAC, etc.) industries of 20.43%. Using the same scenario above, these contractors would have achieved 40 leads per $1000 budget, 10x the average PPC customer.

Conclusion

With the increases in online competition, SEO alone often isn’t enough anymore for a growing service business. Many service contractors have turned to PPC advertising to increase their customer base and their revenue. However, with the huge discrepancy between top-performing PPC management firms and low performers, it’s no wonder that many companies have become frustrated with PPC. They have lost trust in Google Ads. They complain that they have burned through their budgets too quickly without results. When every dollar counts, it is crucial that contractors find a top 10% company to handle their Ads campaign. Using a trusted, experienced Google Partner to manage an Ads campaign can literally make the difference between getting one lead for every 100 clicks on your Ads or 20 or more! 

Want to learn how our strategies for maximizing Google Ads PPC conversion rate can help your business? Schedule a free consultation