Here's what every contractor needs to know about online advertising!
In 2013, advertisers spent over $100 billion paying for online ads on millions of sites across the web including Google, Bing, Facebook, Yahoo, YouTube and Twitter. While it’s by far the fastest growing segment in media advertising, many contractors are still reluctant to spend on online ads. With limited advertising budgets and unfamiliarity with online ad platforms, on top of many other time quenching day-to-day challenges, it’s quite understandable why a contractor might prefer a more traditional marketing method. As a contractor though, if you’re looking for a way to precisely target your audience with ads and accurately measure results, online advertising is the way to go!
Where should I advertise online?
There are a number of great online advertising options for contractors. For starters, there’s Google Adwords. With Adwords, you can place text ads on Google’s famous search results page as well as display ads (ie images) across millions of different web pages known as the Google Display Network. When advertising with Adwords, you generally target people based on “keywords” (ie terms and phrases that people are searching for on Google) and location. You only have to pay when someone clicks your ad, and the user is taken to your website.
Bing Ads, which is Microsoft’s advertising network, is based on the same general principles as Adwords. You target people based on keywords and only pay when your ad is clicked.
Most social media sites have advertising platforms as well, such as Facebook Ads. Advertising on Facebook let’s you promote posts on your Facebook page or an external webpage like your website. With Facebook you can meticulously target your audience based on many factors including interest, age, gender, location, level of education, marital status and many other demographic scenarios.
Online video ads, being led by YouTube advertising, are growing with popularity. On YouTube, video ads appear before the selected video begins to play and are typically short and catchy. If you’re a handyman, consider creating and advertising videos where you offer a quick DIY home improvement tip followed by your contact information. With targeting, you can choose who you want to see your ad to ensure that you’re reaching the right audience.
Another advertising platform that is great for B2B companies is LinkedIn Ads. With LinkedIn, like Facebook, you can promote your company page posts or an external website like you blog or homepage. With Linkedin, you target users based on their industry, location, age and level of seniority at their workplace.
One of the most effective online B2B advertising solutions available is EZBZ Advertising. With EZBZ’s ad platform, labor contractors can promote their services to business owners based on industry and location. For example, a cleaning company based in Portland can target local Hair & Nail Salons and offer them their services. Ads on EZBZ show up alongside the real-time leads that get sent to business owners.
As you can tell, with people today searching, messaging, tweeting and watching billions of hours of YouTube, advertising is no longer simply banner ads across the web. Ads need to be dynamic and look well on mobile devices too. Features such as video ads and promoted posts are becoming just as normal as plain old display ads. Let’s discuss ways that a labor contractors with a small advertising budget can make the most out of these popular online ad platforms.
Focus on targeting!
As a contractor, you probably have a good idea as to who your typical customer is. For example, if you work in landscaping, your clients most likely won’t be college students but rather homeowners. Additionally, if you do commercial landscaping, you could seek out property managers at shopping centers and apartment complexes. Alternatively, if you’re a mover in a college town, a large percentage of your clients might come college students, especially in the spring and summer time. All these details will help you when deciding who to target with your ad campaign.
The more targeted and focused your ad campaign is, the less money you’ll end up spending on irrelevant clicks and views of your ad. You can use Google’s Keyword Planner to get ideas as to how many people are searching for your desired keywords and estimates as to how much it will cost you per click. Here are some great tips on how to get started with your keyword research: http://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2013/11/21/ppc-keyword-research-guide.
Another important tip to help save money and improve your ad performance is to exclude certain search terms by adding in negative keywords. For example, if you’re a handyman in Seattle, you’ll definitely want to be targeting people who search for the term “Handyman in Seattle” though you’ll definitely not want to target people who search for the term “Handyman job training in Seattle”. Therefore by adding “job” or “training” as a negative keywords you can make sure your ad won’t show up when those terms are searched. Here’s a list of 75 negative keywords that almost every Adwords campaign should include: http://www.techwyse.com/blog/pay-per-click-marketing/75-negative-keywords-that-every-adwords-campaign-should-include/.
Targeting with Facebook Ads is going to be much more personable than search ads like Adwords. If you’re a mover, you can easily have your ads target college students. You can choose the specific college you want to reach, the zip code where you want your ads shown, expected graduation year and so on. Here are some general tips on targeting your Facebook ads: http://socialmediatoday.com/jennifer-macdonald/1438616/7-things-you-need-consider-using-facebook-ads. Again, when deciding who to target, the more you know about your customer the better. If you remodel bathrooms, and you’ve found that women typically decide when and how to redo the bathroom, you can run a campaign targeting only women. If it’s men, then you can just target men. You could also target both men and women and see who responds better. This will give you great insight into your prospective client base and future advertising strategy.
Location, location, location!
Yes, location. While you might think we’re talking about the position of your ad on the page, which is quite important, we’re actually referring to the physical location in which you’re advertising. Meaning, are you running a worldwide campaign that will show your ads all across the USA as well as in China and Germany or are you targeting only a single zip code near where you live. If you’re looking to save money, focus on as specific a location as possible. Not only will you avoid clicks from people outside your service area, but typically, the more focused your ad is, the less you’ll pay per click.
By targeting different nearby locations with your ads, you can get some really neat data as well. For example, run the same ad in two different neighborhoods. See which one responds better and where you get the most leads. You’ll then want to analyze the data and determine why one location performed better or worse than the other.
Simplicity vs. keeping costs down
Admittedly, a lot of these ad platforms look quite intimidating and all the different targeting choices can be overwhelming. Therefore, whether you’re using Adwords, Facebook or LinkedIn, each network offers you simplified methods to post ads. For example, Adwords has a platform called Adwords Express which Google brands as “easy online advertising.” All you have to do basically is write a few lines about the services you offer and set a budget while Google handles all the rest. It is simple, but you won’t always get the most bang for your buck. Some advertisers claim that Adwords Express actually does more harm than good.
Similarly, if you’ve ever posted something on your Facebook or LinkedIn page, you’ll notice an option to “promote” your post straight from your page. While it’s super simple to do and only requires you to select your budget and some minimal targeting options, it won’t always bring you the best results. By promoting that same post from Facebook’s ad platform you’ll get a lot more control over who will and won’t see your post.
On the other end of the spectrum, you can hire an ad agency to manage your campaigns. While you’ll probably see good results, it might not be that practical with a tight advertising budget. Or in other words, after your done paying the ad agency to set-up and manage your campaigns, you might not have enough budget left to spend on the ads themselves.
The best way to really know what option is best for you is simply to get started. Sign up for an Adwords account, promote a post or two on Facebook and reach out to businesses with EZBZ Ads. There’s also a lot more information out on the web with tips and techniques that’s worth reading. Some relevant blogs include PPC Hero, Search Engine Land and the WordStream Blog. Also, most of the major ad platform have great help sections that are worth checking out too. Google has a great customer support system that let’s you contact their adwords specialists by phone, chat, email and even via Hangouts!
Have questions about Online Advertising? We’d love to hear them! Send them directly to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible. You can also contact us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn where we are always listening!