by Diane Lovine
If you are like other small service businesses that depend on inbound leads, you likely have some experience with Google Ads, whether from your own efforts or working with a marketing company. Many business owners report having negative experiences with running Google Ads on their own. Other experiences have been downright traumatizing. The most common issue was low return on investment. Contractors overwhelmingly complained that they spend a lot of money on Ads but did not gain many new customers.
The DIY Ads Campaign
If you are not running a Google Ads campaign yourself, chances are you are buying leads from a third party. And chances are they are running an Ads campaign to generate those leads, and then selling them to to you at a huge margin. Buying leads this way can be very expensive for a small business. But so can the DIY Ads campaign if you aren’t optimizing your ads.
Running a PPC campaign on your own can be overly expensive as well. Although Google goes to great lengths to convince people that running ads is simple and lucrative, that is not always the case. Running Ads is not for the novice or the risk-averse. Online marketing is a career path that requires incredible amounts of knowledge and ongoing learning to stay abreast of the ever-changing advertising climate. That said, it is possible to learn the skills to manage your own Google PPC campaign.
There are several things that the average business owner can do if they are determined to run an online PPC campaign for their business.
Here are 11 proven points to review when working on your Google Ads campaign
1. Determine your goals. Some businesses use Google Ads to increase customer awareness of their product. Some are working to build a contact list. If you are a small service-oriented business, you probably have a very specific goal: Get the greatest number of leads possible at the lowest cost per lead. Once you have set your goal, you’ll have a better chance of achieving it because you can focus on the efforts that will get you there and ignore the noise. If you are a service business, you probably will not be investing in display ads, as search Ads produce more consumers who are ready to buy now. You’ll have to determine for yourself the definition of a lead, but the team at 99 Calls defines it as a consumer who contacts you for a quote for a service you provide in an area you service.
2. Build a solid Ad. Make sure you highlight what makes you stand out from your competition. Use compelling verbs that showcase the benefits of calling you. Google recommends creating 3-5 ads. Over time they will show the one or two most often that resonate best with your target audience. Be sure to follow Google’s policies in order for your ad to get shown.
3. Research what search keywords to use. Although it may seem like a great idea to add as many keywords as possible to bring in as much traffic as possible, that is not the case. Instead, it is better to add in high-quality, relevant keywords. Remember that this is a case of quality over quantity. Pay attention to your quality score, as the higher your quality score, the lower your cost per lead will be. The goal of each keyword is to bring in clicks from people who intend to buy services you provide. Bad keywords bring in bad searches and lead to money spent without a return on investment.
4. Determine your target pricing. Learn how much leads are going for in your area for your service. If you are a roofer in Miami, do the legwork to determine how much roof repair and roof replacement leads typically cost on Google searches. Knowing what a lead should cost will help you determine your budget.
5. Set a monthly and daily budget you can live with, but remember, you’ve got to invest money to make money. Setting your budget too low is likely to end in a loss because your ad will not be shown frequently enough to generate the lead volume you’re after. Setting a daily budget too high will burn through your monthly budget very quickly. A high budget and keywords that are too broad will result in lots of impressions and clicks, but few legitimate leads. You also should know your close rate before getting started so you can determine your actual cost to acquire a new job. For example, if you know that the going rate in your area is $50 per lead and you close one in every three leads, you will spend $150 on average to acquire each new customer. So if you want to obtain 10 new jobs this month, your budget should be $1500. You’d expect to get 30 inbound leads and close 10 jobs.
6. Remove negative keywords. You will learn a great deal by reviewing what users searched for to come to your ads. It will help you to identify keywords that are generating clicks those that don’t show intent to buy your service. You’ll want to continually review your keywords and add those “bad clicks” to your negative keyword list. In addition, decide whether you should remove your competitors’ names as negative keywords. Some contractors choose to allow, or even promote the names of competing businesses as keywords. There is some logic to this. Some business names are so universal that they are used as household names. For example, people say they are going to buy a Coke, meaning they are going to buy a soft drink. Serve Pro is a name commonly used in the restoration industry. When someone has experienced a water damage emergency, they may search “Serve Pro” because they know they need a restoration professional. They may be just as happy speaking with Joe’s Restoration Service, but that name probably doesn’t immediately come to mind. So, should you use a competitor name as a keyword? If you or your answering service have solid sales abilities and are able to turn that call into an appointment, then it makes sense to include those keywords. If this isn’t the case and you are uncomfortable receiving calls potentially intended for a competitor, then enter all competitor names as negative keywords. You’ll want to do a search of all of the competitors in your area that people may search for. As an example, the team at 99 Calls includes at least 100 names in a negative keyword list after doing research in each locale.
7. Keep it relevant. Your ad must match the page where searchers land. If you are advertising your HVAC service and are talking about AC repairs in your ad, be careful not to send users to a heating page or a general home page. If you have a landing page about AC repair services, you are presenting a highly relevant Ad and your chances of it being shown more frequently will improve.
8. Provide an easy experience for your consumers. If someone is searching for a roof repair, send them to a roof repair page. It should be visually appealing. The consumer should instantly recognize that they found the information they were looking for. They should feel confident in your abilities. They should also have easy access to you, either by a simple form or highly visible phone number to call. If you are able to further entice them with a promotion or special price, you’ll likely experience a higher conversion rate (the percentage of people who contact you after landing on your page).
9. Give them a reason to call you. Once a consumer clicks your ad and ends up on your landing page, it should be easy for them to call you with a simple and accessible phone number or form. What’s more, you’ll want to give them a reason to call. If you have images of your great work on the page, you’ll give them confidence that you can handle their job as well. You might also add one or two excellent testimonials that people have written about your service.
10. ANSWER the call! We are always amazed at the number of contractors who go through the time and expense of setting or paying to have a Google Ads campaign set up, only to not be available to answer when leads call! If you don’t answer the phone, or at least call the customer back very quickly, your efforts are for nothing. You’ve already paid Google for that click, and the potential customer is already calling the next contractor in their search. If you are not regularly able to answer your calls, having a receptionist is worth the investment. Another excellent solution is to employ a lead company to provide a system of 2-way texting, auto-responses and nurturing so that your potential customers are acknowledged instantly when you aren’t available.
11. Know when to hire an expert. Across the board, the average conversion rate for Google search campaigns is 3.17%. This includes everything from the sole proprietor carpet cleaning business owner to the top lead generation firm in the country. However, top-performing online marketing pros can garner 10, 15, or even 20% + conversion rates for service contractors. If you’ve given a DIY campaign an honest try but can’t seem to bring in the return on your investment that you hoped for, calling a reputable lead generation company can help. Check online reviews, ask your colleagues, and be sure to hire a firm you trust can deliver.