Adopting digital marketing trends has become increasingly critical as consumers utilize the internet more and more. Digital marketing encompasses many different strategies for lead generation from SEO and PPC to content marketing and email marketing campaigns. Utilizing different aspects of digital marketing together allows you to connect and communicate with your potential clients throughout all stages of the sales funnel. In 2023, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Social Media Marketing (SMM), video content, lead nurturing, pay-per-click (PPC) and pay-per-lead (PPL) are all fundamental pieces of digital marketing.
SEO Is Still At the Core
The aspects of digital marketing intertwine and work with each other. Take SEO as an example. Gone are the days when you could create a website and listings with minimal content and start seeing results in a matter of weeks. Now, in order to see your website ranking organically, creating quality content is crucial.
Social Media Marketing Builds Brands
Social media marketing is often used to build brands and does generate leads for businesses with a strong visual aspect or a longer sales cycle. Over 80% of adults use social media in one capacity or another which makes social selling another excellent way to connect with prospective customers. Social media is prime real estate for building brand awareness. You can connect with more potential leads just by keeping your business’s social media updated.
If Pictures Say 1000 Words, Videos Speak Volumes!
One of the most effective and popular methods of digital marketing is videos. Why say everything you want to in text form when there are so many more effective options? Videos are an excellent way to connect with your potential customers and inform them about your business and the services you provide. Some of the most popular video types include explainer videos, video testimonials, and “behind-the-scenes” videos. Each of these videos has its way of engaging potential customers and showing off more of your company for a more personalized feel.
Start Nurturing From The Moment of Contact
Missed calls will hurt you. If you’re not answering your phone when it rings, your potential customers will move on to the next business on the page. With advances in digital marketing, you can engage those customers instantly. Some businesses are sending instant texts when they miss a call. Some send an audio message to their callers. From here, businesses can craft a nurturing campaign to keep potentials engaged and stay on their minds. You’ll want to be careful to find a “just right” frequency of contact. If you’re annoying, customers will opt out.
Nurturing Builds Relationships
Email nurturing is one of the biggest trends in marketing. Meeting potential customers where they are in the buying stage and keeping up with them along their journey is an economical and productive way to grow a business. You want to keep your business at the forefront of potential buyers’ minds. This is accomplished through short-term nurturing. The prospect may already know what they need or they may still be weighing their options. Either way, sending them informative, targeted emails will help guide them further in the process. Sometimes it takes longer than a few weeks for they’re ready to take action and commit which is why having a long-term nurture sequence is also essential. Long-term nurturing allows you to keep in contact with potential customers and to continue building relationships with them.
PPC/PPL Has Become Essential
With SEO competition higher than ever, securing a spot on the first page of search results is difficult for even the most experienced marketers. You know the saying “Don’t keep all of your eggs in one basket”? This applies to online marketing as well. SEO alone is no longer the most substantial option for generating a steady flow of leads each month. The organic real estate on the first page of Google has shrunk over the last several years making pay-per-click and/or pay-per-lead marketing a much-needed, additional method for lead generation.
How Will You Utilize Digital Marketing?
Digital marketing has become an essential part of any business’s marketing strategy in 2023. By utilizing SEO, SMM, video content, lead nurturing, PPC, and PPL, businesses can effectively reach their target audience and build relationships with potential customers. The future of digital marketing is bright and businesses should strive to stay ahead of the curve by utilizing the latest trends. Not sure where to begin? Call the lead gen pros at 99Calls!
If you are a small business owner with an online presence for at least 5 years, you have seen the first page of Google searches change dramatically. The amount of space for SEO or organic search results is rapidly shrinking. What is causing this shift and how can small businesses generate leads on small budgets?
When we opened our doors in 2010, it seemed as though there was plenty of room for anyone who wanted to establish a presence online. 99 Calls began as a team of 4 professionals. We built websites for service area businesses, and within days, our clients would start to receive leads. We earned our first 50 customers by offering a free 30-day trial. Once contractors saw the number of leads they were receiving from their organic presence, most were more than happy to sign on for ongoing services.
It didn’t take much to get pages ranking back then. The main components were well-written content, stating the contractors’ service offerings and the areas served and building listings for online directories such as Google, Bing, Manta and Yelp. Almost all sites ranked highly within a month or two and often much more quickly.
The First Page Begins to Shrink
Although Google claims that they never accept payment from customers to rank well organically, they have shrunk the available playing field, especially for small businesses. The natural, or organic section became less achievable for owner-operated businesses as they made way for large national chains and huge marketing firms.
Beginning in 2013, we began to see major national businesses claiming the first positions on searches. Companies like Yelp, Yellowpages.com, Home Advisor and Service Pro mysteriously showed up at the top of local organic searches all over the country, knocking small owner-operated local businesses down on the list. This marked the beginning of a trend where smaller businesses were struggling to achieve prominent placement on Google search.
Google Ads – A Game Changer
Although Google introduced Adwords in October of 2000, there were very few early adopters. Adwords was their self-serve paid advertising platform, and their first solid step toward monetizing the first page of search. Between its inception and the end of 2012, the playing field on the first page of searche made a significant change.
The playing field was reduced by 30%. Instead of showcasing 10 companies in the organic section, the number shrunk to 7 to make room for 3 prominently placed paid Google Adwords results at the top of each page. An article from wordstream.com explains the changes seen during that time.
Free Organic Placement is Threatened Again by the Emergence of LSA
In 2015, Google introduced its newest venture; Google Guaranteed, also called Google Local Service Ads (LSAs). LSAs were first tested in small markets for a select group of industries. By the end of 2019, many cities across the United States had access to paid Google Guaranteed campaigns in industries such as carpet cleaning, house cleaning, and handyman services.
The image below shows that Google Guaranteed/LSA paid ads are shown at the very top of local searches:
Google’s verification process is more stringent for those who run LSA campaigns than for those running Google Ads. It requires providing documents such as drivers licenses, business licenses (where applicable) and proof of insurance insurance. Background checks are also often run on the company owners and their employees.
Those companies that are able to successfully complete the verification process often reap great rewards. LSA is a pay-per-lead service, as opposed to the pay-per-click platform of Ads. LSA has a bit of a ranking process that makes it more similar to organic than paid Ads as well.
Those companies that are well-established and have lots of 5-star reviews on their Google Business Profiles and/or their LSA Profiles benefit from being shown much more often than other companies. Although LSA has its benefits, it has also contributed to the shrinking space available for organic results.
The image below shows how one business trended downward in placement on the first page of a Google search through the years.
As The Giant Grows, What Happens to the Little Guys?
In 2020, more than 80% of Google’s worldwide revenue came from their Google Ads platform, and that number is still climbing, according to an article posted by CNBC.
The page layout is as follows. When you search for a service in your area, you’ll see three or more Google LSA advertisements, followed by three or more google Ads advertisements, followed by Google Maps with three entries (which they are also beginning to monetize), and finally, a small organic section with three or more results. This is followed by more paid ads.
Where there were 10 opportunities for a small business to be shown on the first page of a local search, there are now just three, and often the first one or two is a large national company.
Although there are usually only up to three organic results showing on the first page of a search, there are also three Google Maps listings, and for now, these are still free. In order to claim a prominent spot with Google Maps, your Google Business Profile must be complete, follow Google’s best practices and have lots of 5-star reviews.
That and a little luck might make your business visible here (outlined in red):
Google has made it all but impossible to be found without investing in one of its paid services. That said, small businesses will no longer be able to build a site or pay for SEO services and expect to receive a sustainable number of inbound leads. You’ve got to pay to play. That isn’t in question.
The key now is to find a way to play with ROI in mind. Online marketing, when done right, isn’t an expense. It’s an investment in your business. Every dollar you invest will ideally result in at least $5 in return. The good news is that there is plenty of return to be had when you use Google’s services. However, if you are unfamiliar with bidding strategies and optimizing campaigns, you’ll want to invest in a business that can deliver profitable results.
What to Look for In a Digital Marketing Company
Given that organic lead generation takes much, much longer to produce and delivers fewer results, and Facebook ADs are a good option for some businesses but not as effective for service contractors, the two best bets for lead generation are the paid lead platforms on search; Google Ads and Google LSA.
If the name of the game is getting found online and getting leads coming in at a cost that will generate revenue for your business, you’ll want to do your research.
Questions to ask potential lead companies so that you can do your due diligence include:
What are your monthly service fees?
Do you charge a monthly fee plus each Google Ads or LSA lead I receive or are they included?
If the company is charging a flat fee for leads plus a management fee, ask, “What is your markup?”.
What is your conversion rate for my service offerings/industry?
How many other companies do you work with like mine?
What kind of reporting do you provide so that I can measure my ROI?
Once you get your answers and compare them, a clear winner will hopefully emerge. Remember, sales reps get a commission when they sell you. If you feel you’ve made a good connection, that’s great, but the sales rep probably isn’t going to be the person who sets up your account or continues to support your business in the future. Try to stick to the facts.
For questions or more information on how to win with Google’s LSA or PPC campaigns, call 800-717-4669.
3 Mistakes Contractors Should Avoid as the Slower Season Begins
4 Strategies to Implement in 2023
As colder weather rolls in, many contractors begin to pull back on their marketing efforts, but the winter is a great time to do just the opposite! While the demand for many services slows down between November and February, there are still many benefits of holding your marketing efforts steady.
1. The winter months may not bring in the highest volume of leads each year, which will allow you more time to focus on other aspects of your business, including marketing.
The winter months are a great time to beef up your SEO!
Add fresh content to your website like photos, videos, and blog posts.
Confirm that all information on your website and online listings are up to date and make any necessary updates.
This will help your website rank higher when warmer weather comes back around, making it easier for potential customers to find you.
This is also a great time to figure out your game plan for your Google ads campaign for the upcoming year.
Think about what budget you would like to set, what services you want to target, and what areas you want to focus on marketing in.
Google Local Service Ads, or Google Guaranteed offers an additional avenue to show off your business on the first page of Google. LSA is a pay-per-lead program which offers the benefit of a lower lead cost than pay-per-click advertising. If you begin now, your campaign will be further optimized for your busier months!
If you have a database of “old” leads that you aren’t doing anything with, you’re missing out on potential revenue! Reactivation campaigns are a great, low-cost way to book more jobs at a fraction of the price of a new lead.
Get ahead of your competitors and utilize your winter months wisely by focusing on your marketing efforts while you have the time. Using multiple methods of lead generation may seem daunting. Luckily, companies like 99 Calls can help you manage your marketing efforts and get a return on your investment!
3 Marketing Mistakes to Avoid
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.
Email leads are just as valuable as phone leads. In today’s day and age, technology is king. More and more people are turning to the internet to get things done, including fielding quotes from contractors.
Time is of the essence with email leads. It is important to keep a close eye on your inbox so that you can respond to those email leads as soon as possible. One of the biggest complaints we see about email leads is that by the time contractors get back to a prospect, they have already chosen another company. Studies show that 75% of prospective leads will do business with the first company that contacts them back! If you’re not keeping up with your email leads, you are missing out on a large chunk of potential customers.
If you are a one-man show, you likely don’t have the time to sit and watch your inbox throughout the whole day. 55% of companies take at least five days to respond to sales inquiries. However, responding to an email within 5 minutes increases a contractor’s chance of closing the sale by 400%! We have identified a few action items that you can put in place to try and capture these leads as quickly as possible!
Almost everyone carries a smartphone these days. If you have your email on your phone, you can set up notifications to alert you each time you receive a new inquiry. If you always keep up with your text messages, another option is to have email leads forwarded via text. Setting this up is a fairly simple process, you just need to know your mobile phone number and provider.
If you’re getting overwhelmed and feel like you’re already wearing too many hats at your company, there is no shame in hiring some additional help. Having a designated person to handle incoming calls and emails can increase your response time and your bottom line more than you may realize.
The journey doesn’t end after the first interaction. In addition to being one of the first companies to respond, you’ll also want to touch back in with them regularly. The sales cycle for many industries is not instantaneous. Staying at the top of the mind for your potential customers can help you close even more jobs. Not only is there the possibility of closing new leads that didn’t convert the first time, but you may also re-convert returning customers. Lead nurturing allows you to build trust with your potential clients over time and be at the top of their minds when they are ready to buy.
We understand that the majority of business owners don’t have the time to personally send emails to each and every previous inquiry they’ve received. Instead, wouldn’t it be nice if there were some kind of technology in place to do it for you so you can focus on other aspects of your business? Lucky for you, there is!
99 Calls is now offering lead nurturing and lead reactivation services. These services allow you to effortlessly and automatically check in with your contacts on a regular basis. Once we gather a bit of information from you, our team will come up with a strategy for your database reactivation.
Updating your website and listings regularly with unique content plays a large role when it comes to lead generation. With online competition growing more year after year, businesses need to find more ways to set themselves apart and outrank the others.
How Does Adding Content Actually Help?
Having an attractive website is only a small step when it comes to SEO lead generation. Google’s goal is to provide users with the most relevant and valuable search results. Therefore, it is recommended that content should be informative, valuable, credible, high-quality, and engaging. More information on the types of content Google values can be found here. Consistently creating relevant content is an incredibly important piece of the puzzle if you want to easily be found by prospective customers. 91% of people will not search past the first page of results. Therefore it is of utmost importance that your website is ranking highly on that first page.
Google rewards businesses that are regularly updating their website and listings with fresh content with higher rankings. When you add new content, Google will crawl your website, giving you the opportunity to increase your rankings each time you update it with quality, relevant content. This is not to say that you should go and make unnecessary, irrelevant changes or updates to your site, that is not what search engines are looking for. Adding relevant content also allows you to add more search keywords which is another great way to improve your rankings.
Search engines are not the only ones that want to see fresh content on your website, consumers do as well. Stock photos alone may look nice on your site, but before choosing someone to do the job, your customers want to know what kind of work you do. Content is a great way to show off your expertise and feature the awesome work that you do. When customers see this, it will help you stand out from your competition.
Examples of Good Content
When it comes to creating relevant content for your website, you may not know where to begin. We have identified a few simple ideas to help you out!
Photos of your work: Help showcase the great work you do with before/after photos.
Customer testimonial videos: Show potential customers why they should call you.
Running a promotion: Who doesn’t love a deal?
Adding an “about us” section to your website: This is a great way to share your story and gain trust with prospective customers.
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.
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.
If you ask most website companies or SEO consultants, they’d tell you not to have two websites for the same business.
They’d tell you that having multiple websites would hurt your SEO, get you penalized by Google, and increase the resources needed to maintain your online presence.
These reasons would make sense in the ideal world in which your website is doing what it’s supposed to do – driving traffic and generating leads.
However, if you have an underperforming website, you may need to reconsider whether having a single website is going to benefit your business the most.
Google Doesn’t Care If You Have Multiple Websites
What Google doesn’t like is websites that are slow, have useless content, are not user-friendly, have poor navigation, use unencrypted HTTP connections, or provide poor mobile user experience.
Google doesn’t care how many sites your business has. All it does is crawl the websites, decide what’s most relevant for users based on a variety of factors, and rank those that are most useful highest in the search results.
If you have one website but it’s not optimized for a great user experience or delivering the content that’s helpful to your ideal customers, it won’t rank high in search results.
How can you know for sure what kind of website structure, content strategy, and SEO tactics are going to work best for your business and target market?
Here’s one way to find out…
If you have been using a vendor for over 10 months to help you with lead generation, SEO, and other online marketing tactics yet your website isn’t ranking well, attracting organic traffic from Google and Bing, or generating enough leads, then you should consider creating a second website.
While a 10-month period is often long enough to test out an online marketing strategy, some tactics may take longer to generate results.
By creating a second website, you can let the strategy for the first website run its course while bringing in a second agency or consultant – essentially a competitor of your current SEO vendor – to test a different approach.
You should even be transparent about this and let the two SEO providers duke it out. Sure, you’d probably be spending more during the next 6 – 12 months to determine which vendor is more effective – but in the long run, there’ll be one sure winner…
The competition keeps the vendors honest and gets them to do their best to generate results for your business.
You see, many SEO vendors talk a good game and tell you they’re doing all the fancy stuff for your site. However, results talk louder than words. If their tactics aren’t placing you on the first page of Google, then they’re wasting your time and money.
Having a second website and letting your SEO marketers know that you’re putting their strategies to the test helps make sure they are doing everything they can to keep your business by producing maximum results for your business.
Yes, the SEO companies may complain. They’ll likely try to dissuade you from having two websites. There will be finger-pointing.
But here’s the thing – you don’t need to keep both sites once you have identified the winning formula that works for your business and target market.
Ignore the “cons” your vendors may be telling you for the next 6 – 12 months. If they’re complaining endlessly, then they simply aren’t confident about their ability to deliver outstanding results.
Losers complain while winners see opportunities, offer practical advice, and take action. Your goal isn’t to babysit marketers who whine but to identify the winner that will make your website profitable.
Let the results speak for themselves.
It may seem cruel but you’re in business to make a profit. You’re not here to get your SEO vendors to like you. If you stay with underperforming marketers, your competitors will squash you like a bug and laugh all the way to the bank.
You own your business and you call the shots. Set up the competition, find the best players, and let the champion take the spoil.
Make sure you track all the results, learn from both approaches so you can create a website that optimizes your ROI.
When re-evaluating lead generation services for the painting industry for 2022, we found that there are several components that have remained the same with the lead generation vendors over the years while others have changed.
We’ve identified a few factors that have remained constant during the past three years. The first, is that painting contractors continue to express an overall goal of having a steady flow of quality painting leads and the companies reviewed below offer painting lead services. We also know that pay-per-lead services continue to be an excellent means of lead generation for painters, and are being used more frequently in conjunction with SEO or other lead services. The third factor is that painters can still count on many of the same lead generation companies that we evaluated back in 2018 with just a few exceptions. For example, the team at 99 Calls reports the same pricing for exclusive painting leads and the addition of Google Ads PPC to provide more leads faster. A couple of the companies we reported on in 2018 appear to be out of business, but almost all are providing similar services and with similar pricing.
The whole world was shaken by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Everything we once knew was suddenly completely different. Homeowners suddenly had to take additional precautions when it came to who was in their house, some even opting to take the DIY route. Thankfully, many businesses were able to make it through the hardships and consumers are once again calling contractors for house painting.
As we continue moving towards a post-pandemic world, the revenue of the painting industry is expected to grow 3.2% over the next year. (“Painters Industry in the US – Market Research Report”) In order to make the most out of the market growth. You will need to determine what lead generation company is right for you.
There are several different pay-per-lead providers for painting contractors, but the ways in which they operate differ. In order to ensure that you get the highest return on investment (ROI), you’ll need to do your research to find which lead generation company works best for your business model. We took a look at several reputable pay-per-lead providers to help you get started.
Figure 1: How each pay-per-lead website handles lead generation, verification, and distribution
What To Consider When Selecting a Pay-Per-Lead Vendor
To select the best pay-per-lead vendor for your painting business, you should consider the following:
How does the vendor generate painting leads?
Does the vendor verify each lead before selling it to a contractor?
How many contractors are sharing each lead?
What is the price per painting lead?
There’s a lot to consider. Here’s what you should know about these specific terms:
If you have heard of contractors complaining about getting bad leads, then you’d understand the importance of lead source.
Some pay-per-lead vendors deliver higher quality leads that are more likely to turn into clients so you’d want to focus on getting prospects from those sources.
There are many lead sources – some from third-party data sources or come directly from homeowners while others are referrals.
Keep in mind that vendors who offer leads from third-party data sources are essentially buying and re-selling leads, which could mean an increase in cost.
You may need to experiment to see what works best for your business. Keep track of where the leads come from so you can focus on sources that send you the highest quality leads.
Lead Verification System
No smart business owner wants to waste his marketing dollars on bad leads. That’s why having the ability to verify leads before you pay for them is a smart way to make sure you’re spending your money on prospects that are most likely to turn into clients.
Look for vendors that have a lead verification system in place, or provide an easy and fair way to dispute bad leads, so you can be sure that you’re spending your marketing dollars most efficiently.
In the case where a lead vendor has prospects call you directly, find out how to dispute a lead. Often direct leads are recorded and reported. This allows you and the lead vendor to post-qualify leads. You should not have to pay for unqualified leads.
Exclusive Leads vs. Shared Leads
When you share leads with other contractors, the likelihood of winning a client will decrease. You may also get into a bidding war, which can negatively impact your profit margin.
The ROI of shared leads is often not as high compared to exclusive leads, which may cost more but give you a better chance of closing a sale at a higher profit.
Shared leads can work well if you’re looking for an immediate influx of new businesses and have the time and resources to compete (e.g., when business is slow).
Exclusive leads are particularly effective for established painters who have a solid reputation. Many consumers now use the internet to research painting contractors online and pick a winner based on quality reviews rather than price.
It’s not one or the other. Painting contractors can get painting leads from multiple vendors. For instance, an established painting business is likely to use 99Calls.com to generate exclusive painting leads throughout the year and use HomeAdvisor to provide shared leads during slow periods or for select high-value jobs.
Ultimately, you want to make sure that the money you invest in lead generation is paying off. Price-per-lead is an important piece of your customer acquisition cost, and you need to take it into consideration to properly optimize your ROI.
Here is the price per painting lead from our top 8 vendors:
Price per painting lead
$45-$75 / shared lead
$35 / shared lead
Small leads are free
$12-$75 / shared lead
$30-$70 / shared lead
$7-$68 per lead / Varies by location
You are only charged for the leads you receive
Appears to no longer provide leads
Varies based on package
Included with monthly subscription
Packages start at $497/month. You arealso responsible for your Google Ads monthly budget
$20-$45 / shared lead
Plus $35/month profile pro subscription
$29 / exclusive painting lead
Pay only per qualified organic lead, PPC with Google Ads is also available as a separate service
Figure 2: Price-per-lead comparison
Top 8 Pay-Per-Lead Services for Painter Contractors
After reviewing the information above, you likely have a good sense of which vendor is the right fit for your business. Below you can find more details about each vendor as well as the pros and cons of working with them to help you make the best decision:
Lead distribution system: Leads shared by several contractors.
Lead source: Forms on the website and third-party data sources.
It’s the largest and oldest contractor-matching service.
It has the largest number of contractors doing business on the platform, compared with other services.
It has a strong online presence.
It offers a user-friendly interface.
Shared leads … you’ll compete with other contractors on every lead.
The refund policy isn’t the most satisfactory. May get some bad leads and not be credited.
They have a strong online presence, but they won’t help you build yours.
You may pay for more leads than you can handle.
Advice:For every lead that you receive, the corresponding amount will be charged to your account. Manage your profile carefully and remember to turn off the paid leads feature every 14 days if you can’t accommodate clients to avoid paying for too many leads.
Introductory Price: $100 to start receiving leads.
Lead distribution system: Shared by 1-4 contractors.
Lead source: Homeowners submit a request on CraftJack website.
Lead Verification System:As soon as homeowners submit their requests to CraftJack, the system gives them a call to verify that they are in fact real customers. Any lead that contains an invalid or disconnected phone number is automatically rejected.
It utilizes a patent-pending Speed-to-Call discount. When you call a lead within 30 minutes of receiving it, you’ll get 20% off.
Shared leads … you’ll compete with other contractors on every lead
You will often have to be the lowest bid do win the job
Additional Cost: None. Only pay per qualified organic lead (SEO)
Lead distribution system: Exclusive live leads, sent directly to contractor.
Lead source: 99 Calls creates a proven Google optimized website for your painting business that gets you in front of local customers searching for your services.
Expected leads per month: Lead volume is low in the first couple months but steadily increases over the next 2 years. Customers who follow the 99 Calls system can expect 50-150 leads in the first year, and 100-300 leads in the second year.
Exclusive painting leads – customers call you directly.
Additional complimentary services such as managing online listings and reputation management. Your business is listed on prominent directories including Google My Business, Facebook, Yelp, Bing Places, Yellowpages.com and more.
Free call tracking and monthly lead report to prove you are receiving quality painting leads.
Simple and easy to dispute unqualified leads.
Now offers Google Ads PPC for faster results for an low montly fee. Contractors set their own budgets.
Lead volume is low in first few months while SEO builds up
Selecting the best pay-per-lead vendor for your painting business can take some trial-and-error. While some painters get great results through one lead provider, others may have a less-than-satisfactory experience with the same vendor.
It’s therefore important to understand the needs of your business and find a painting leads vendor that meets your criteria.
Don’t forget to monitor your marketing metrics to ensure that you’re getting the highest ROI for the resources you invest in lead generation. A reputable vendor should be able to provide you with lead reports to prove you got the painting leads you paid for.