By Justin LaRosa
In today’s digital economy, catching the attention of potential customers is evolving faster than ever before. Up until roughly 10 years ago, there was nothing wrong with simply buying ad space in local newspapers, pennysavers, yellow pages, and calling it a day.
In 2020, using traditional print advertising exclusively is no longer a viable and cost-effective way to get the attention of new homeowners. The fastest growing segment of homeowners are millennials, who prefer to spend their free time on the internet and also use it to research products and services.
The New Kids on the Block
Internet companies are now the new dominant gatekeepers of information and entertainment for consumers, which means they are also the best place to advertise. Our number one favorite for plumbing advertising is Google, but there are definitely other valuable channels out there such as Facebook, Instagram, and Bing.
Setting a Goal
Before spending a single dollar, we recommend you define goals for your ad campaign. These pre- defined goals will help determine how you approach audience targeting and writing ad copy. The three major objectives to pick for a particular ad campaign are 1.) raising awareness, 2.) Influencing consideration for your services, or 3.) Driving sales.
Key performance indicators, also known as KPIs, are used to track the effectiveness of ad campaigns. Listed are particular KPIs you should focus in on broken out by advertising objective and the best platforms to run each campaign on.
Awareness: You should be tracking increases in website traffic & number of ad impressions. When you’re trying to raise awareness for your business, the goal is to get your brand in front of as many people as possible, regardless if they have shown intent to book your services.
Ideal channels for raising awareness: Google, Facebook, and Instagram
Influencing Consideration: Ideally with influencing consideration, you also want to see an increase in website traffic, but we also want to see how many unique pageviews visitors are viewing on your site. This shows visitors are educating themselves on your business and getting an idea of what services you offer.
Ideal Platforms for influencing consideration: Google, Facebook, and Bing
Driving Conversions: Driving conversions through an ad campaign takes a little more precision. Ideally, you have a proper website built with analytical capabilities that captures website visitors. Ultimately, the best indication of success in this type of ad campaign is consultations booked.
This collected data from your website can then be turned around and used to retarget those same website visitors on Facebook or through a Google display ad campaign. I’ll expand on the concept of ad retargeting more in part II.
Be sure to check out part II of this blog to find advice on choosing an ad channel, ad targeting, designing your ads, and tracking their effectiveness.
Targeting your Audience
Improper ad targeting can be extremely expensive and highly ineffective. These digital platforms are not going to coach you through how to properly target your ads. In fact, it’s in their best interest to have you unsure of how to properly run your ad campaign because it’s better business for them. Without a strategy you’ll end up spending more money with less results.
Although every ad channel is going to have a slightly different method for deciding who sees your ad, let’s dig into some basic principles for ad targeting.
Social Media Ads
Facebook and Instagram (if you didn’t know they are actually the same company!) offers three ways to target audiences.
Core Audiences—This traditional targeting option allows you to define an audience based on several criteria including age, gender, interests, job title, and even their behaviors on the platform and who they’re connected to.
Ideal objectives for core audiences: Raising awareness.
Lookalike Audiences—This option requires a data source of people you already know, like your current customers or previous website visitors. All you have to do is upload your external data, and Facebook targets your ad at people that shares important features/attributes. Lookalike audiences are a more sophisticated targeting option, as it requires you to have database of current customers available.
Ideal objectives for lookalike audiences: Raising awareness, influencing consideration
Custom Audiences—Targeting a custom audience is very similar to using a lookalike audience in the fact that you need an external data source, but with custom audiences you are directly targeting your current customers or past website visitors. There’s a good chance this audience already recognizes your
brand and has considered booking your services. This strategy allows for you to write more compelling ad copy as you know your audience is already familiar with your brand.
Ideal objectives for custom audiences: influencing consideration, driving conversions
Search Engine Ads
Advertising on search engines like Google and Yahoo! are personally my favorite channel to advertise home services. If executed properly, your ad is only shown to people that are interested in researching or hiring you.
To get your search ad campaign up and running, you first have to define what geographic locations your ad will be shown, and what keywords your ad will show up for. As an example, a high-intent keyword phrase for plumbing services would be “Plumbers near me.” Each keyword you select will have a different cost-per-click price associated with it. The CPC price based on the competitiveness for the keyword and the amount of intent that is expressed in the query.
The keyword “plumber” commands a high CPC price due to the number of advertisers that bid on this particular keyword. More niche keyword phrases like ‘plumbers that specialize in sink replacement in Rochester, NY’ will likely have a lower CPC based on the uniqueness of the search query. Additionally, the name of your main competitor would be considered a high-intent keyword as the searcher in this case is looking for a specific service provider.
As a starting point for keyword research, you can enter different keywords into Google Trends and once you are ready to create you ad campaign you will find better insights into keyword volume and CPC prices.
Google Local Service Ads
Although traditional search engine and social media ads are effective, there are several key advantages to advertising your plumbing services through a local Google service ad.
1.) You’re placed above traditional paid ads on the page. The top result slot on the Google search page is prime real estate that will drive more clicks and leads to your business.
2.) With local service ads you only pay Google for leads and not for clicks. Once a prospect clicks on your service ad, they are asked what type of service they are looking for. If you do not offer the specific job a prospect is seeking, then you aren’t charged. Be aware though, leads DO NOT mean booked customers. You will be responsible for following up with these leads yourself. We know home service business owners are always strapped for time, that’s why SureQue handles lead follow up and books more jobs and revenue for their customers.
3.) No keywords to manage. Service ads are automatically displayed for thousands of different queries that Google has already tagged as relevant. This means you don’t have to go through the tedious process of optimizing the keywords you are bidding on.
4.) Be included in voice search responses. Often times customers that are dealing with water damage or an urgent plumbing issue are going to ask a voice assistant to find them a plumber. These high intent voice queries only give users limited results so it’s important to have your company show up here.
5.) Highlight positive Google Reviews. Granted you have a solid repository of Google reviews built up, you can pick your favorite positive reviews to show up on the ad. If you feel like you are struggling to build up your online reputation, SureQue’s client communication hub can help you build credibility for your business in a short amount of time.
Note: Service ads are still only available in major metro areas, but advertising experts expect Google to roll these out to the rest of the United States by the end of 2020.
Writing Ad Copy
With each advertising objective comes a different approach to writing your advertisement.
Awareness: When trying to raise awareness, you should mainly focus on showing off your brand, contact information, certifications & credentials, along with a value proposition that sets you apart from your competition. With awareness-based ads I advise you to keep the copy high-level. The focus here is to get people to your website where they can take further action to get in touch with you.
Influencing Consideration: With search engine ads or lookalike audiences on Facebook, you can write more targeted ad copy that catches the attention of potential customers. Since you know these prospects have a higher likelihood of needing your service, you can get into more detail about the services you offer. I would suggest highlighting the services you struggle to get word of mouth referrals for, or your highest margin services.
Driving Conversions: Equipped with your website visitor data, you can write highly targeted ad copy that pulls prospects back into the specific pages they were looking at on your website. For example, if someone looked at your website page on bathroom remodeling, you can target them with an ad that showcases a testimonial from one of your bathroom remodeling clients.
Lastly, you’ll want to check back in frequently with your ad campaign dashboards to see how well your ads are doing. It’s very important to set up daily budget limits that you are comfortable with, or else you will see hundreds or even thousands of dollars spent in the blink of an eye (for reference, I recently ran an ad campaign for less than 30 minutes on LinkedIn and spent over 50 dollars).
If you don’t see your ad performing how you want it to, pause the campaign, rework the targeting and/or copy, and give it another go. You might find it takes several iterations before you see the results you want.
Time, skill and patience are all necessary to succeed in digital advertising. This guide should be viewed as a starting point for you on your journey towards running effective ad campaigns.