What is the impact of having more than one website?
Does it increase your visibility online? Does it confuse your customers?
There is conflicting information about whether using a multiple domain strategy (having two or more websites) will hurt or help a business. Often, the information is based on assumptions about the content and setup of the sites. Here are the facts:
Some lead generation companies say that a second site is a bad idea. Here are some of the arguments that have been made against having multiple websites:
1. “Having multiple websites produces duplicate content (a big no-no for Google rankings).”
Having two sites with very similar content (or the same content) is definitely harmful. You will almost surely suffer losses in your rankings for both sites.
However, if you have a lead generation site with entirely different content than your branded site, pages from each site have the potential to rank highly, which improves your odds for a more expansive online presence.
2. “Promoting multiple websites will confuse your customers.”
When people search for the services you provide on Google, they don’t know about you. A lead generation site is built to rank highly and present you as an option to them. Most branded sites don’t rank as highly as lead generation sites but are useful to your customers who are looking YOU up online.
Once you get that lead (probably through your lead site) and establish contact with the customer, you’ll hand out your business card which will take them to your direct phone number and branded site moving forward.
3. “Using multiple websites will divide your results, weakening your rankings.”
It is true that having one authoritative presence online is ideal. But if your one presence is minuscule, it pays to make a bigger splash. The 99 Calls team builds sites that rank for a variety of keywords in multiple locations, almost always outranking a business’ primary website. The expectation is that your lead site will rank higher over time, and your original site will stay the same.
Other instances when a second site is warranted include having multiple small offices within a state or region and having multiple products or services that aren’t quite related. In these cases, having a targeted site for each circumstance makes sense.
A second (and third or more) site would be beneficial when targeting various geographic locations if you have a physical address for each location. If this is the case, having a “microsite” for each satellite office is beneficial. Google loves to show businesses that are extremely local to the searcher.
A second site is also beneficial if you promote multiple unrelated services. For example, if you are a licensed remodeling contractor and you sell real estate on the side, it makes sense to separate those services into two sites so that you can better target each service.
4. “Promoting 2 sites for the same business will cause you to compete against yourself.”
If you have the same headings or are promoting the same keywords in the same location on two different sites, you are probably competing with yourself.
Would you rather compete against yourself or your competitors? Adding a lead site gives you the potential to dominate the first page of Google, knocking a competitor back to page 2!
5. “Having two websites will get you in trouble with Google.”
Not quite. Multiple listings in the same town for the same business is definitely problematic though!
If you build listings, especially a Google Business Profile that use the same address or phone number for the same business, you are putting your online presence in jeopardy. You can only have one Google Business Profile in a given geographic location.
The bottom line:
If your primary website is not generating enough leads, hiring a reputable lead generation company that uses a second site for leads can be a smart strategy for growth.
A multiple domain marketing strategy is more expensive, but if the ROI is high, you are maximizing your marketing budget and your potential to optimize your lead volume! You may own a larger slice of the first-page real estate on Google and enjoy more inbound leads as a result.
99 Calls has been selected as a Google Partner and utilizes a unique SEO strategy to get businesses highly ranked in their local areas for the services they offer.
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!
Most roofers set their sights on getting inbound leads for roof replacements, or commercial roof installations: the most sought-after types of roofing leads. What some business owners fail to realize is that roof repair leads can be equally as valuable to a growing business.
We get these questions a lot! “Why do I keep getting leads for roof repairs when I really want replacement calls? So many calls for cracked shingles or shingles blown off in a storm are a waste of time. How do I get more roof installation or full replacement leads?”
Limitations of Roofing Lead Generation
Is your goal to grow your roofing business? Are you hoping to hone in on niche areas such as commercial only or roof replacement jobs?
Focusing a Google Ads or even an SEO campaign to exclusively target people who have an insurance claim or those calling from a business is near impossible to get right 100% of the time. Why? Because people often don’t search that specifically for what they are after. They have a problem or question in mind and they type it into their Google Browser. Things like “Roof repair” or “Roofing contractor near me” or “roofing services” are commonly used search terms. Also, keep in mind that many people are wishing that their roof troubles will require repair work rather than a full-blown reroof job!
That’s where the expertise of the roofer (like you) comes in. If you aren’t willing to accept that pesky call about roof repairs, you may miss the fact that the roof is 40 years old or that it’s leaking in multiple places. All of these facts would come out during the phone investigation, or when you’re on-site taking a look at the damage.
The purpose of online advertising is to put your company front and center, on the first page of a Google search for a good majority of times in the top position of searches in the paid ads section if you’re going that route, or in that coveted top position in the maps section or in the organic search results. A great online marketing company will get you there, positioned above your competition. They will include a compelling call to action, help you post social proof in the form of some great customer testimonials and include photos of your work – anything to build confidence in the potential buyer so that you are seen as the guy who can solve his roofing problem.
Why Take the Roof Repair Leads?
Once that call is made or email is sent (AKA you got the lead), the rest is up to you. You’ll use your professionalism to ask the right questions to determine the size and scope of the roofing job. You’ll want to know the age and status of the roof and what occurred. You can then decide if you’d like photos sent or whether it makes sense to go out and have a look. You’ll also be first in line if it is determined that the roof has served out its useful life and it’s time for a replacement. And if you’ve been easy to work with up to that point, you will probably land the job.
Why Waiting For Replacement Jobs Leaves Money on the Table
Of course, those re-roof leads are gold. The lifetime value of a replacement job is way higher than a couple of repairs. However, the ROI on your investment may be just as good.
For example, for a reroof, you’ve got to send a whole team, cover transportation and breaks for all of them. It’s big money and usually done within one day or two. Roof repairs can be done by one tech or a team of two, faster and with less down time and travel time. If charged appropriately, the return can be just as high.
Factors to Consider With Roofing Jobs
Lead Cost: The average lead for a roof installation is Roof repair leads are often far less expensive to buy than installation leads. For example, the nationwide average lead cost for roof repairs is between $42 and $64 each. The average cost of a residential roof replacement lead with most lead generation companies is $100 – $180. The team at 99 Calls generates exclusive organic roofing leads for a flat rate of $49 each, whether repair or replacement. Why the lower flat rate? We don’t expect you to trust marketing companies to develop customer relationships! That’s your area of expertise! We leave it up to the professional contractors to answer the live calls and close the deals.
Lead prices using PPC are far less predictable than with organic channels. The average cost of a roofing lead via Google Ads PPC campaigns with 99 Calls is $97.
Revenue: It is very true that roof installation jobs generate much more money than roof repairs. The average roof replacement brings in $12,000, where the average roof repair comes in at $980. And those small repair jobs generally bring in just $350. That said, you’d much rather handle a reroof a day than go out on 5 repair jobs, right? It all depends. Revenue alone doesn’t give the whole picture. What matters at the end of the day is the amount that stays in your bank account (AKA profit margin).
Profit Margin: By the time you pay your labor force and the cost of supplies, many contractors have little left. An article posted from roofing.com claims that the biggest problem roofing contractors face is underbidding jobs and not making enough profits. The average profit margin on a new roof is between 6% and 10%. There isn’t much room to raise pricing on a roof installation. The competition is fierce and many people underbid themselves because there’s always someone willing to bid lower to win the job. Many commercial jobs, especially if they are municipalities, are required to go with the lowest bid. When a roofer wins a job with a low margin, they’ve got to go very lean on labor and supplies and the temptation to make cuts is very real.
How to Win With Roof Repairs
The bidding for roof repairs is often different. According to Forbes, the price to complete roof repairs is often a fraction of the cost for installs. The cost of supplies is far lower. There are also many times more roof repair jobs available than replacement jobs, and competition is much lower. A professional roofing contractor who goes after roof repair jobs can often name his price, and it’s usually bid based on an hourly rate + materials. By charging by the hour (or at least basing your bid on an hourly rate), you get to set your own profit margin. You know what your labor costs are per hour, and you can add the cost of materials needed.
What does all this mean? That you can earn more money with less time and a leaner labor force by working those roof repair leads. Completing 4 roof repair leads can bring in close to $4000. Completing one roof installation can bring in $10,000. But what if your profit margin is 25% on the repairs and 10% on the installation (which would be typical)? Your profit on the repairs and on the installation is $1000. In the end, roof repairs offer less revenue by higher margins.
Additional benefits of taking on roof repair leads:
Saying “yes” to the job gets your foot in the door to get called back for additional work. This will build your customer base and work pipeline.
Roof repair jobs can keep bringing in a good flow of revenue, even during the slower times of the year.
Profit margins may still be robust if you’ve got smaller, more agile crews
Keeping great workers on your payroll by filling days up with roof repairs will keep them happy and gainfully employed.
Roof repairs are great for the bottom line of a growing business
Is your team equipped to install gutters, siding or windows? If you provide other kinds of exterior remodeling this is your chance to upsell the customer or give them the benefit of your expert services.
Sometimes waiting for the perfect job to come along causes us to pass on lucrative opportunities in front of us. Next time you receive a call for a roof repair, think twice before turning it down. Give those less than idea leads that come your way a chance; you never know what can come of them!
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
The owner of CSK Appliance Repair, Shawn Thompson, initially called 99 Calls lead generation through a Google search in July of 2021. He had an appetite for a high lead volume to support his goals for business growth. Shawn found 99Calls.com when he searched for appliance repair leads in Georgia and called to learn more about the program.
Shawn was hesitant at first, and rightly so. He had tried several different companies and none performed to his expectations and objectives. He felt they were not listening to him and not willing to consider his input and suggestions. As the owner of CSK, he understood that no one knew his business better than he did. He was looking for a partner who would work with him to help him achieve his goals.
We tracked CSK Appliance Repair’s performance after six months of using the 99 Calls system. We recently reviewed those results with Shawn to gain his perspective on how pleased he was with the quality and quantity of leads generated, as well as any other feedback. He mentioned that 99 Calls’ superior customer service in applying his feedback, following up on performance updates, and actually performing to get him results is what kept and will continue to keep Shawn as a customer.
Google Ads Setup and Campaign Development
Shawn has owned and operated CSK, an appliance repair company in Atlanta, Georgia for 13 years. Because he has an established business and directory listings in place, as well as SEO efforts from elsewhere, Shawn decided to have the lead generation team run an “Ads Only” campaign, rather than adding lead generation via SEO as well, (which produces leads much cheaper at $9.99 each, but takes longer, often many months, to ramp up).
The primary services he offers and chose to target are refrigerator repair, dryer repair, washer repair, oven and range repair, and all premium appliance brand repairs. To test the waters, he set his initial monthly advertising budget to $500 and raised it to $1500 after the first month, when he was already seeing results and gaining trust with his lead team.
Initial Obstacles and Challenges
Early challenges the team had to overcome were to work within a small monthly budget but also get the volume Shawn was hoping for. Once we established a reliable estimated cost per lead we were able to realistically set an accurate daily budget that could hit the maximum number of leads he was wanting to receive. One other small challenge that required frequent communication and a keen ear was to pinpoint the towns that Shawn wanted to target while staying within 20 miles from home.
Results: Measurement of Google Ads Performance Over Six Months
Shawn began his lead generation with a small monthly budget of $500, but quickly raised the budget to $1500 in the second month and continued raising his budget as high as his growth rate would allow. The chart above demonstrates normal fluctuations that we see as we set up and refine a campaign. Notice that the lead generation metrics have evened out in the most recent six months.
Performance Metrics for CSK Appliance Repair between March 2021 and August 2021 are as follows:
Total Investment: $17,152.97
Total Conversions” 982
Conversion Rate 30.20%
Average Cost Per Click: $5.27
Average Cost Per Lead: $17.47
Shawn is now working with his 99 Calls Google Ads specialist and has trusted him with an unlimited monthly budget and a $250 daily spend, which holds the maximum monthly spend to under $10,000. Shawn worked up to this budget after seeing his lead volume increase steadily month over month while his cost to acquire new customers (CPA) has decreased to a very desirable cost.
Impact of Performance on Business Growth
Shawn is thrilled that he can achieve a high lead volume each month and pay under $18.00 per lead. The rapid increase in leads, paired with expertise and professionalism that allows him to enjoy an extremely high close rate has allowed him to grow his business substantially. Since starting with 99 calls six months ago, Shawn has then hired 6 additional service technicians. He has also increased his territory to 30 miles and has established a closing rate at 90% of all leads generated from his Google Ads.
We asked Shawn in retrospect why he decided to try 99 Calls back then. Shawn said, “If you want a good suit you go to a tailor, and that is what I did, with all the research I did on companies I knew 99 Calls was my tailor”.
For more information about Google Ads for Appliance Repair businesses or for another service area business, contact the 99 Calls lead team at 800-717-4669 or visit 99Calls.com.
Diesel on Demand is an ASE-certified mobile mechanic business located in Nevada. Its owner, Corey, found 99 Calls through an online search of lead generation companies. He offers niche services that required custom content writing and a creative approach to building a Google Ads campaign to generate highly targeted customers.
Corey explained the heart of his business in this way, “We have experience working on commercial equipment of most models and engines. We offer on-site services at customers’ facilities. This saves time and is more cost-effective than having them drop off equipment and wait in line. We also offer preventative maintenance services for fleet vehicles, such as oil changes.” The ASE certification means he is fully equipped with tools and knowledge to work on a wide range and variety of vehicles.
Corey’s goal of generating more business for recurring commercial fleet services was a fun challenge for the content writing team at 99 Calls as we originally thought his business was more similar to AAA or another roadside assistance program. We learned that the primary target market for Diesel on Demand was a bit more focused. Corey strives to earn the business of repeat customers for fleet services and serve as an “on-call” diesel engine expert for contracted fleet services.
Research and Development of the Campaign
After careful research, our Google Ads team discovered that “fleet service” and “commercial vehicle mechanic” are low-search-volume terms. “Diesel mechanic” is a medium/high volume search term as it is a specialty trade and is fairly competitive. “Mobile mechanic” is a high-volume search term that may be used by people who don’t want to pay for a tow truck or by people in search of a unique experience with a roadside mechanic.
Las Vegas is an ideal location as there are many major trucking companies and a robust market for large commercial vehicles needing fleet services.
The Ads team chose the keywords most appropriate for the campaign and sent a request for our content team to write unique page sets around the chosen keywords. In this way, the pages written were expected to have high relevance because we wrote the content specifically with the target audience in mind.
We built the campaign on June 24th of this year and initially also targeted the broader “mobile mechanic” keywords so that Corey could begin to receive calls very quickly. After just a few days, we turned off the keyword group because the calls were not helpful in terms of building the repeat recurring business that Corey was looking for. It is interesting to note that the CPC on “mobile mechanic” clicks was surprisinglylow ($6.43 per click) for this small pool of data.
Given the typical conversion rate of other 99 Calls Google Ads Campaigns, we would expect that the average cost per lead would be well under $30 for mobile mechanics. We’ll use this data to work with mobile mechanic businesses in the future as the ROI on these one-off personal vehicle mobile calls, would likely be favorable.
July Google Ads Performance
Ad Groups: Diesel Services & Commercial Fleet Services
Conversion Rate: 24.62%
The total spend for the month was $440, which reflects the very niche market we targeted. The percentage of time that the ad was shown was actually quite high, indicating that we achieved maximum visibility within the market. Very few undesired clicks were recorded, which means that the goal of hitting the highly targeted audience was successful and resulted in generating the desired exclusive leads.
The Ads team achieved 16 conversions at a conversion rate just under 25%, with an average cost per conversion (CPC) of $27.50. This number represents the CPC after removing the high volume of mobile mechanic conversions and the total price increased just $6.77.
Examples of July Conversions (Leads):
Church Bus Broken
Billboard Truck Repair
Mercedes Sprinter Diesel Van Repair
Moving Box Trucks
Diesel Pickup (transport company)
Ram Truck Dealership (manager)
Ford Diesel Pickup
Food Truck Services
These are just the calls where we can make a clear analysis of the nature of the call. Our team records all calls for verification of the quality of the leads. However, when potential customers don’t leave a detailed message, we are unable to capture the nature of the lead. Corey’s relatively small initial budget yielded at least 16 qualified leads, averaging $27.50 each. Corey was quite pleased with the results from his first month of lead generation services and has made back his initial investment for setup and then some!
We will continue to follow Diesel on Demand (https://diesel-on-demand.com/) and report on Google Ads ROI as well as on the organic lead generation service that we are providing simultaneously. Spoiler alert: Month two lead volume is shaping up to be 50% higher than month one.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
“I’ve got $750 budgeted for marketing, but I need to see real results. How can I grow my business on a tight budget?”
Which gives the best value in lead generation; SEO or Pay Per Click?
Don’t Limit Your Revenue Channels. Here’s How to Get the Best of Both:
Start With a Well-Optimized Website
Organic inbound leads through SEO generally give you the best return on your online advertising investment because the leads are exclusive and delivered in real-time. Potential customers see your page and call you directly. When SEO is done right, businesses are showcased in front of customers who are ready to buy. When landing pages are optimized for user experience, well-placed calls to action (CTA) entice people to call for a quote or submit a form. Consumers, whether homeowners or businesses, search online for the services they need. They generally click the top businesses that come up on the first page of the search results.
Contractors who answer their phones and are professional and knowledgeable will get the call and provide a bid. If they are great at sales, they will often exude confidence and competence and win the job on the spot.
Exclusive organic leads are generally more expensive (usually twice the price) than those shared leads that are sold to 4-6 contractors, such as by Homeadvisor or Thumbtack. Paying for exclusive leads is usually worth the extra cost because the quality of leads and the potential for closing them are much higher. Therefore, your customer acquisition cost may actually be lower than getting them through shared leads. You won’t be as likely to deal with tire kickers to have to enter the bidding wars that drive down revenue and diminish your closing rate, either.
So why not just stick with SEO for lead generation if they are the highest quality leads? Ranking highly online has become more difficult in recent years. The competition to take those coveted top spots on Google’s first page is tighter than ever, and Google has designated more of the 1st page real estate to feature their own paid ads. There are still ways to get to the top, but it’s more complicated and time-consuming. That’s not to say it isn’t worth the effort.
Choosing a reputable online marketing company to help you navigate Google’s ever-changing algorithms is key, and there are a few stand-out lead generation companies that specialize in working with small businesses with lean budgets. Do your research, and check to make sure you won’t be locked into lengthy contracts or be hit with hidden fees or uncovered expenses. Find a company that charges for their performance, rather than a flat fee (whether they produce leads or not).
How to Build an Online Presence
Here are the first steps in enhancing your online presence and getting inbound leads:
1. Start with a professional website with the following attributes:
Keep it clean and simple (flash and movement cause pages to load much more slowly, which will negatively affect rankings). Load times have recently been identified as a major factor ranking highly on Google. The benchmark is getting pages to load in less than 2 seconds.
State what you do and where you do it. Sounds pretty basic, but try to avoid excessive stock photos and “catchy” phrases.
Know your keywords. What are the primary services you offer? What are the locations within your territory?
2. Build andSync up your listings (All online listings and directories should use the same company name, address, phone, etc.) Utilize the free directory listings with Google My Business (GMB), Houzz, Yelp, Manta, etc.
3. Get great reviews (It’s not enough to be on the first page of Google anymore. Those who hold the best positions usually have lots of positive reviews. Send your happy customers a link to your GMB listing and ask for positive reviews after a job well done.)
4. Keep your content fresh by adding content such as more in-depth information and original photos of your work to your website, your listings, and your Facebook Business page and post special offers to entice potential customers to call you. You can also post your specials on your Google My Business listing.
Trying DIY vs. Hiring an Organic Lead Service Provider
If you are tech savvy, have plenty of time to devote to marketing and already have a solid website, you may be able to manage these steps on your own. If you need assistance, shop for a service provider that offers low introductory specials. There are specials to be had. Some lead companies offer deep discounts to get you in the door for a low price and will work to prove their value and earn your business. Check online reviews, ask for references and go with one that has a good track record for delivering on promises.
Patience is Key with organic lead generation. It takes months to rank on the first page of Google for the keywords that pay, and even longer to see a steady stream of inbound leads. Starting with a budget-friendly lead generation program is a great way to get started on low-priced leads. This process will build over time, but it won’t be enough to grow a new business in the short run.
Another option is to find a low-cost lead generation company that can deliver leads at low prices. There are a few companies that offer a pay for performance structure, meaning you’d only be charged for the qualified leads you receive each month.
Supercharge Results With Smart Google Ads Campaigns
While you are waiting for your SEO lead site to begin delivering consistent results, you can supplement with a conservative Google Ads (pay per click) campaign. Be very careful here. Contractors’ #1 complaints with Google Ads or the companies that manage them is that they burn through cash much too quickly without seeing a return on investment. Choose a company that cares about your budget and will watch it like a hawk!
One suggestion for promoting your business as cost-effectively as possible is to begin an organic campaign in conjunction with running a conservative Google Ads campaign. This will allow the SEO component to begin to ramp up (takes 4-8 months to reap the full benefits) and will get some targeted leads coming in sooner. The trick is to have a well-managed pay-per-click campaign. If working with Google Ads sounds too expensive, take a look at this case study done by our team at 99 Calls. They helped get a carpet cleaning business found on Google searches and supplemented their long-term strategy with a low budget, well-targeted Google Ads PPC campaign to give them the best bang for their buck.
Showing in both the Ads section and the organic section on the first page of a Google search is a highly coveted prize. When people see the paid ad at the top of the page and don’t click it and then see the same company name below in the organic section, they are more likely to click that less expensive organic link. See the example here:
DIY for Google Ads?
Can I run Google Ads on my own? Sure, you can. But there are many intricacies to setting up an Ads campaign that can be very costly if not done properly. If you want to go it alone, our recommendation is to take the time to complete Google’s free online training course. Another option is to choose a company with a great reputation and low service fee (yes, they are out there, really!)
How to Allocate a $750 Online Advertising Budget
The team at 99 Calls recommends starting with organic lead generation and then supplementing with a low-budget Google Ads campaign. Another option is to begin a low-budget LSA (Local Search Advertising), but we’ll save this for another presentation.
As an example, the cost to set up both organic advertising and Google Ads PPC as a bundle package with 99 Calls is $350. We’d then recommend using the remaining $400 for your Google Ads budget. Depending on the service you offer and the area where you are located, this budget should be enough to gain solid results within the first few weeks of advertising.
Month two will allow you more funds to use for your Google budget. Once you have spent $150 in Google Ads, you will be eligible for a $150 credit to apply toward your second month. As an example, the service fee at 99 Calls is $150 or 15% of your prior month’s spend. So with that same $750 budget, you can apply your $150 credit, pay your service fee and still get $750 worth of clicks. Our expectation is that you’ll receive a healthy volume of leads over your first two months and will be prepared to use your new earnings from jobs won toward future months of advertising. Google Ads offers the flexibility to ramp up slowly or as quickly as your business can manage.
You will also notice that the cost per acquisition will decrease over time. This is because your Ads team will review all leads each day and feed results back to Google on the quality of the clicks. We’re essentially “training” Google to send you only the clicks with a high intent to purchase your services. In addition, negative keywords will be added and ads will be refined. You will benefit from these actions because as the clicks become more accurate, your conversion rate will increase, which decreases the price you’ll pay to acquire a new customer.
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:
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
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).
$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.
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.
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.
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!