Whether you’re planning to spend ad dollars on generating leads, or you’re already buying leads, consider the current state of your online presence.
Regardless of how aggressive you plan to be with generating leads online, your prospective customer will inevitably search out your online presence.
Are you ready for them to hit your website?
The First Salesperson Your Prospect Meets
It’s common for business owners, especially contractors, to cut corners on their website. This is a huge mistake. Often, your website is the first salesperson your prospect meets, and if they are turned off for any reason, your chances of winning the appointment, much less the sale, are likely dead.
It doesn’t take a huge investment to put together a quality mobile friendly website, a decent logo, a few before and after photos, descriptions of the services you offer, as many testimonials as you can gather, and if you’re serious about winning, a few pages of educational content.
The most successful contractors we meet are using a live chat tool on their website. This creates additional interaction with prospects visiting your website. It also projects a personalized touch which can help start the sales conversation sooner. It’s a low cost, high reward add-on.
We all know how first impressions work. Don’t cut corners on your website. It’s a key ingredient to success with leads generated online.
Pay Per Click (PPC) Advertising – Search Ads
The best way to drive high intent leads who are interested in working with your company is by using search advertising platforms. Google ads and Bing ads are the only options, and both work.
The best thing about using Google Ads and Bing Ads is the ability to generate leads who are actively searching for a contractor, at the “bottom of the funnel.”
Although running Pay-Per-Click (PPC) search ads is successful for many contractors, you’ll want to make sure you’re prepared before entering the shark infested waters of Google Ads.
It’s critical to have an expert on your team to guide and implement your strategy. This could be an inhouse media buyer, or a 3rd party, or agency. The reality is your competitors in the online advertising space for home services are mostly seasoned pros, and if you don’t bring your “A” game, they’ll surely eat your lunch.
This article isn’t an exhaustive list of do’s and don’ts when it comes to running PPC campaigns. Here are a few keys to success to help guide you to success:
Expect click costs and lead costs to be on the higher end. CPCs can run in the $10-$40 per click range, and cost per lead can run in the neighborhood of $50-$200 per lead.
Instead of paying per click and hoping to convert a high percentage of visitors to your landing page, Google Guaranteed offers a pay per lead model for high quality leads.
While we believe this is an arrow most contractors should have in their advertising quiver, Google Guaranteed is not a silver bullet.
Google Guaranteed ads display at the top of Google Search Results for high intent searches such as, “Roofer near me.” These listings have the “Google Guaranteed” green check next to your business listing, giving the homeowner confidence in doing business with you.
While most contractors should have no problem passing Google’s screening process, there are other challenges. Your Google My Business listing’s reviews are a major differentiator when it comes to homeowners choosing who to contact. If your competitors are far ahead of you in terms of quantity of positive reviews, you may see a low volume of leads coming through this channel until you get your review numbers up.
The hottest platform for driving online leads is Facebook, hands down. Facebook’s advertising platform while robust and flexible, is nothing like Google’s
With Google’s search ads mentioned above, you’re able to pay when people click on your ad after searching a high intent term, like “contractor to replace my roof.”
Facebook on the other hand, has a completely different set of advertising tools, allowing you to target your ideal customer based on location, demographics, interest, and more.
Similar to Google Ads and Bing Ads, we do not recommend you try running campaigns without expert guidance, we can provide you with a few tips based on what’s working today.
One approach is to create ads going straight for the jugular. These ads are geared toward people who are homeowners, actively considering doing some work on their home. There’s no education about roof materials, or how to know when your roof needs to be replaced. Just straight to the request-a-quote page.
Another approach which is quite a bit more nuanced, is to think of your Facebook Ad strategy as an overall brand building campaign, with multiple offers people can respond to, each indicating a different level of interest. In this strategy, the idea is to build your brand as an authority on related home improvement topics that give your potential customer real value. There are many (self serving) ways to do this.
The result is establishing an audience that is familiar with your brand, associates you with being a trustworthy expert, and when they need a home improvement contractor, you’ll be one of the first companies they call.
Purchasing Shared Leads
A shared lead is one that is sold to multiple contractors. No lead should be shared or sold to more than 4 contractors, but that is not always the case.
Home Advisor, Angi, Modernize, Quinn Street, Thumbtack are among the 800 pound lead gen gorillas. While they have a bad reputation among the majority of contractors, many of the most successful contractors we know buy heavily from them.
It’s tempting to trash shared leads, and pile on the constant criticism flying around from contractors who don’t see ROI. But in our experience, contractors with proven follow up processes, well trained sales people, and dedicated staff to customer service and appointment setting, can find tremendous success with shared leads.
There are valid reasons why many contractors are critical of the leads they produce. The biggest complaints are:
These lead gen behemoths are an easy target for criticism, but in reality, they can drive significant volume, and they are the lifeblood of some of the most successful contracting companies.
Purchasing Exclusive Leads
An exclusive lead is generated and sold to only one buyer or contractor. By definition, the supply of exclusive leads is smaller than shared leads. As a result, it’s more difficult to get high volume exclusive leads, compared to shared leads.
On paper, an exclusive lead seems like it would be less competitive since the lead isn’t shared with multiple contractors. While that’s true to a degree, most homeowners seek out multiple bids for major renovation projects. Competition is always present.
That said, exclusive leads are not quite as competitive when it comes to beating other competitors to the punch by being the first to contact the lead. In addition, homeowners are not being slammed with their phone ringing off the hook from 4 contractors all trying to reach them at the same time. So in that respect, exclusive leads carry quite a bit less competition out of the gate.
Typically, lead quality is higher with exclusive leads, but that usually comes with a higher price tag. It doesn’t cost less to generate an exclusive lead vs a shared lead. A shared lead is usually sold 4 times, so quite a bit more income can be generated. On a per lead basis, exclusive leads are generally more expensive, but not 4x more expensive.
Exclusive lead providers tend to generate leads through paid media like Facebook Ads and Google Ads. Pricing can vary dramatically depending on the tactics they use. If leads are extremely cheap, then there is a high probability they are leads with a low level of interest.
We choose to provide our clients with exclusive leads only based on the overwhelming evidence our clients are more successful overall with exclusive leads over shared leads.
If you would like to learn more about our pay per lead service, check out this page.
Which lead generation strategy is right for you? There isn’t a right or wrong answer here. It truly depends on a number of factors. For example, your existing infrastructure for lead follow up, including how well trained your appointment setting team is and how fine tuned your following calling, texting, and email follow up systems are. Additionally, your sales reps must be well trained to win in a competitive environment.
We encourage contractors to run advertising campaigns in-house or through an agency, and bring in new business through strong brand building. Any business that wants to get to the “next level” needs to build a brand.
However, the pay-per-lead model fills a unique role for different contractors. For those without established branding, it’s an immediate shot in the arm that can drive consistent profitability. For contractors with an established brand, pay-per-lead is the primary way most companies scale their number of crews, sales reps, and revenue numbers.
Whatever your situation, our goal is to partner with contractor companies to help achieve their short term and intermediate term goals. Schedule a call to see if we’re a fit for you. If we’re not a fit, we’ll let you know, and provide you with an honest assessment of your best options to grow your business.