Where do you think consumers go when they’re considering something new for their home? Where do you go? If you’re like most people, you fire up your laptop, go to Google and search for whatever is on your mind. Looking for new appliances or cabinets for your kitchen? Google it – or better yet, do a Google Image search. Search engines are one of the most popular destinations for homeowners in the market for remodeling or home improvement services. As a result, search engine marketing (SEM), which is comprised of search engine optimization (SEO) and pay per click (PPC) advertising, has become one of the top marketing strategies for growth-oriented remodeling companies.
Remodeling Companies Want to Maximize First Page Real Estate
With nearly 90% of search traffic going to a website listed on the first page of Google, Yahoo or Bing, competition for first page real estate amongst remodeling companies is fierce. Most savvy remodeling companies know that their best strategy is to maximize their first page search engine real estate by investing in both search engine optimization (SEO) and pay per click (PPC) advertising.
SEO is a long-term marketing investment. Getting a remodeling company to rank well organically for competitive terms almost always takes at least a few weeks to achieve (and sometimes it can take years!). PPC, on the other hand, produces near immediate results. You create your account on Google AdWords or Microsoft’s AdCenter (for Yahoo and Bing), select the keywords for which you’d like your ads to display, create some ad copy and set your campaign(s) live. It’s easy… and this is part of the problem.
Pay Per Click Success Is Determined by the Account Setup
Other online marketing companies have likened the Google AdWords control panel to the instrument panel on an airplan. There are hundreds of knobs and dials and each setting affects several other settings. Remodeling companies that take a “set it and forget it” approach or worse, hire a company that rushes through the set up (to minimize costs and maximize their own profits), end up wasting thousands of advertising dollars.
Important PPC settings include (but are not limited to):
Rotate evenly or “optimize” ad rotation
Accelerated ad display or spread throughout the day
Content/Display network vs. search vs. search and search partners
Keywords and keyword match types (don’t forget negative keywords)
Conversions (must be enabled)
Call tracking (if you get phone inquiries at your business, you must track your calls!)
Day parting (when you want your ads to display)
Of all of the settings, day parting is easy to overlook. By default, Google sets your ads to run 24×7. Now, think about it for a moment… if you were a consumer looking for remodeling services for your home, when would you be most likely to search? Sadly, a lot of people have jobs they hate so they end up searching during the day while they are on the boss’s nickel. Others do the right thing and wait until after work. For larger ticket items, it’s not uncommon for someone to search during the day and then return in the evening to look some more or submit an inquiry.
As an advertiser, you need to think about this and adjust your budget and day part settings accordingly.
Small PPC Budgets Require Special Considerations
A lot of remodeling companies, especially those not accurately tracking their websites, see PPC as a necessary evil. As such, they often “test” PPC advertising with a small initial budget. What’s a small budget? $1,000 – $1,500 per month (if you’re in a major metro market). There’s nothing inherently wrong with testing advertising strategies; in fact, we always recommend tests to our clients. Our process (our mantra) is track, test, tweak, repeat! There’s also nothing wrong with testing strategies with a small initial budget.
The problem is when you combine the small budget with a less than optimal PPC campaign set-up OR lack of accurate tracking tools in place. Most remodeling companies have no idea when they get most of their online inquiries or that inquiries from their PPC campaigns drop off throughout the day while inquiries from organic rankings increase.
Take a look at this:
Notice that, overall, online leads increase from 9am until 2pm. Then, they decline throughout the afternoon before a distinct spike around 9pm… as American Idol ends 😉
Notice how online leads from non-paid search traffic (SEO) increase steadily from 6-7am through 2pm and continue somewhat steady until the final spike at 9pm, while online leads from paid search (PPC) decrease.
Why do you suppose this is?
For this account in particular, it appears to be because the remodeling company’s PPC budget frequently runs out in the middle of the day.
When you’re running a pay per click campaign and you have your account settings on “accelerated”, Google will show your ads as fast a possible from the start of the day until your budget for the day is exhausted. But it’s not like the searches cease just because your budget is expired! The remodeling company above has fairly strong organic rankings, so they continue to get leads even though their PPC budget is exhausted. That having been said, they’d be getting considerably more if they also turned their PPC budget UP.
Now, they could change their account settings from “accelerated” to “show evenly throughout the day”, but there’s a great benefit to keeping a campaign in “accelerated” mode – the primary one is that this setting allows you to see exactly how much larger your budget could be. By examining the gap between leads from paid search and the leads from organic search and the time of the day in which you receive the leads, you can also speculate as to how many more leads you could be getting if you increased your budget.
How to Change Your Day Part Settings in Google AdWords
Changing your day part settings in Google AdWords is easy. Go into your account, click on a campaign, click on settings and you’ll get something like this:
In this area, you can tell Google when you want your ads to display. You can also adjust your bids based on the time of the day – now that would make for some cool tests! What would happen to online leads if you were to increase your bids to 150% of your normal bids at 2pm and 9pm?
This is the beauty of PPC advertising. You have an incredible level of control, but as always – having the right tracking tools in place is critical.
For example, look at the picture when we include phone inquiries:
Similar to online leads, phone leads from Google Organic increase throughout the day. You don’t see a spike at night, but this is probably because the office is closed and your average consumer assumes this.
Now, look at the phone leads from Google PPC (from non-branded terms):
See the difference! The phone leads from Google pay per click peak at 9am and then decline throughout the rest of the day.
What would you do if this were your remodeling company’s account?
Do you know what these pictures look like for your remodeling company? Wouldn’t it be helpful if you did?!
If you own a remodeling company or handle the marketing for one, pay per click (PPC) advertising should be one of your top lead generation strategies; however, if you want to maximize your ROI, proper account set-up is critical.
You must have proper tracking tools in place – things like Google Analytics and call tracking. There’s just no way to properly manage a paid search campaign without these two tools.
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About The Author: Ben Landers is the President and CEO of Blue Corona, a data-driven, inbound internet marketing company. Submit an inquiry to book Ben to speak at your next conference or event.
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“Blue Corona measures and tracks my website and all my advertising. Before I hired them, I was getting 3 property management leads per month. Today, as a direct result of their work, I receive over 25 leads per month! ”