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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.

Carpet Cleaning Lead Generation
Carpet Cleaning Leads

How Combining Google Ads with SEO Lead Generation Boosted Revenue for a Carpet Cleaning Business: A Case Study by 99 Calls

Does Adding a Google Ads Campaign Amplify Overall Lead Volume?

It is known in the online advertising community that running Google Ads does not increase the organic rankings of web pages. However, it is often speculated that running a Google Ads campaign gives a boost to organic results. 

The team at 99 Calls has often seen this phenomenon, and decided to highlight one example in a case study. 

Carpet Care Now is a carpet cleaning business located in Ohio. They are a  small business with under 15 employees and five work trucks on the road. Four trucks are for carpet extraction and one is used for carpet dry cleaning. They first approached the 99 Calls lead generation team in August 2020 because they wanted to increase their inbound lead volume and keep their crews busy. In fact, Danny, the owner of the business filled out an online form through the 99 Calls website and noted that he was looking for “real carpet cleaning leads”. He expressed frustration with the pricing increases of other lead sources and the diminishing value of the leads he was receiving. He also was looking to establish a personal relationship with an account manager who would be responsive to his questions and requests. 

When asked what his expectations were upon hiring 99 Calls lead generation, he didn’t have specific expectations, but did mention that he had done his research and noticed the large volume of positive reviews this company received online. 

Carpet Care Now chose to get set up on the Bundle program beginning August 1st with a total setup payment of $349.00. 

The bundle program includes the following:

  • Set up an organic website
  • Provide customizations of the SEO site
  • Set up Google Ads Campaign
  • Set up, manage, and optimize listings such as Google My Business, Facebook, Yelp, and others
  • Manage online reputation and respond to posts from customers

Google Ads Results – First Four Months

They had an initial budget of $1400 for Google Ads. During their first four months of service, Carpet Care Now received 175 total leads; 165 from their Pay per Click campaign and 10 from SEO / organic leads. 

During the first few weeks of a Google Ads campaign, Ads specialists review the account daily to update negative keywords and run A/B testing on the Ads to achieve optimal results. Inbound calls are listened to daily and results are reported in order to “train” Google to send leads from prospects with a high intent to buy. 

As with any new Google Ads PPC campaign, initially there are unwanted, or “low intention”, clicks received from people searching for carpet cleaning related information, but not necessarily looking to purchase a service, or from people searching for competitors and getting the business being promoted on Ads instead. An example of a “bad” click would be someone searching for carpet cleaning chemicals or stain removal chemicals. These people aren’t necessarily searching for a carpet cleaning company, but for advice on how to do the cleaning themselves. 

99 Calls Ads specialists work to minimize low intention clicks out of the gate and strive to target good results very quickly. Vigilance in these things results in customers receiving a higher lead volume for their budget and a high overall lead conversion rate, which is the number of people who call for a quote vs the total number of people who click on an ad. The chart below shows the process of refining the Google Ads account over for Carpet Care Now during the first four months of service. Notice that the cost per lead declined significantly over time.

Organic Lead Results – First Four Months

When we set up a site for organic lead generation and build and/or optimize listings such as Google My Business, Manta, Yelp and more, the first few months are usually quiet. We tell people to expect one to five organic leads during the first three months of service. Why so low?  With online competition for service contractors at an all time high, there are already pages and pages of contractors ranking online as a new site is built. Our job is to build an online presence and credibility over time so that new customers can overtake positioning of businesses already being featured. It takes time and vigilance to muscle in and gain some of that market share, often 10-12 months!

However, we’re noticing that customers who combine organic lead generation with Google Ads PPC start getting organic leads more quickly. Carpet Care Now is a great example of this phenomenon. In month one, they received their first lead. They received 2 leads the following month and one in month three. In the fourth month of service, they received six leads. Receiving 10 leads during their first four months was a great supplement to their overall performance.

Why Organic Leads Are More Desirable

Organic leads are less expensive than those received through Google Ads ($24.90 vs $30.00+) and are often higher quality because customers still strongly prefer organic results to paid results when searching for a contractor. We speculated that seeing the business on the first page at the top and then again down in the organic section adds an element of familiarity that results in more clicks (and therefore more leads).

Less expensive, higher converting leads make a big difference in overall return on investment. That’s why when people come to us looking to “get leads quickly”, we recommend a Google Ads PPC campaign, but also recommend that the customer get started on an SEO site that will help build inbound organic lead volume as a longer-term strategy.

As mentioned above, the 99 Calls lead specialists have noticed that when organic and Google Ads campaigns run concurrently, customers benefit from a boost in organic lead volume earlier than expected with organic results. Often, we don’t see leads via SEO efforts for 2-3 months after starting service, but when Google Ads are run at the same time, organic leads are more abundant and arrive sooner than with SEO lead services alone. 

Why is this? Although Google states that using Google Ads does not affect the SEO of organic placement, there is a phenomenon of clicking on something you’ve seen prior. Being found on the first page of Google immediately using Google Ads allows customers to gain prominent first page placement very quickly. Often, though, that top Ad is not clicked. But as the eyes scan down and the business is also listed in the Maps section or below in the organic results, the consumer is more likely to click the link. In this case, they are more likely to click the less expensive organic result than the Google Ad above. Click here for more information on the benefits of combining SEO with Google Ads PPC advertising

So, What’s the Verdict? Does Adding a Google Ads Campaign Boost Overall Lead Volume?

We have demonstrated that the Google Ads campaign ramped up quickly for Carpet Care Now and that the lead cost was reduced month over month, from almost $37 down to about $29 per lead, which led to a total increase in return on lead generation investment with each passing month. In addition, during the first four months on the bundle program, Carpet Care Now achieved 3x the expected organic lead volume.

The image below shows were Care Care Now can be seen when searching for “carpet cleaning” in their service area:

After four months of service with 99 Calls. Carpet Care Now reported that they gained 150-160 new customers. They canceled the secondary lead source that they were using and plan to use the extra funds to increase their Google Ads budget this spring. Danny reported that he most liked that the calls delivered by 99 Calls are live and exclusive. Other lead generation services he has tried have required him to call leads back, which often ended in not connecting and wasting his time. Because he has a high close rate of 65 – 70% of his leads, he has enjoyed success simply by answering his phone and being ready to offer fair pricing over the phone. This has increased his bottom line, because he spends much less time on the road, providing live, in-home estimates. Carpet Care Now is an excellent example of a successful “bundle” campaign. They started an SEO site and a Google Ads campaign from the beginning. 

You May Be Asking, “So How Do I Get The Most Lead Volume for a Small Budget?”

We would recommend starting with a website that is optimized to rank on Google. At a minimum, the site should be clean and clear. It should state what you do and where you do it. Avoid flash and fancy apps that will slow download time. Google prioritizes site speed when ranking pages, as well as user experience. 

From there, try a low-budget Google Ads campaign. We recommend starting with a budget between $500 and $1000 for best results. Because of the normal issues with bad clicks, or low intent clicks, in the beginning, you will spend a portion of your initial budget on making adjustments and fine-tuning the ads. 

Sample Investment of a $650 per Month Budget for Lead Generation with 99Calls.com:

Month 1:

Set up a bundle program that generates leads via SEO efforts and a Google Ads campaign for one low price of $349. Budget $300 for a PPC account. The SEO leads will be billed per qualified lead and there is no monthly service charge for SEO/Organically generated leads.

Total Cost: $650

Month 2:

Google gives first-time Ads users a $150 credit to be used in their second month of advertising after they spend $150 on a campaign. We would predict that zero to two organic SEO leads will be achieved in month 2. 99 Calls’ Google Ads service fee is priced at $150 per month or 15% of the prior month’s Ads spend. Budget $450 and you’ll get $600 worth of Ads with your credit. 

Total Cost: $600 ($450 Ads budget + $150 Service Fee).

Following Months:  

$550 Each (Including your Pay Per Click Budget)

The SEO services offered include all necessary behind-the-scenes work to increase your online presence and get important keywords ranking on Google above the competition. This includes social media management, assistance with getting positive online reviews, lead generation site hosting and management and live customer support. You’ll pay only for the qualified leads you receive. Generally, contractors receive 1-3 organic leads per month during the first 3 months, and then we see an increase in volume from there, especially when contractors periodically send us content that can be used to promote their business (running specials, sending photos, etc.) 

At this point, the expectation would be that you’d have received a healthy number of leads through the Google Ads campaign and a handful of quality leads from SEO efforts. The lead volume for SEO results increases over time and Google Ads results can be turned on or off based on your needs and business goals. Budgets can be adjusted in real-time, allowing businesses to ramp up as slowly or as quickly as they desire.

Want to learn how our strategies for lead generation can help your business? Schedule a free consultation