Unlike products, which typically have SKUs and easily distinguishable characteristics, services can be more ambiguous. The nuances between service offerings and providers often requires more explanation that a short text ad will allow. Furthermore, restrictions, in the form of geographic service areas and technical project requirements, complicate matters even further. For these reasons, many local service providers opt to forgo online advertising and rely primarily on word of mouth referrals and offline advertising to increase brand recognition.
However, national service providers understand the value in paid search (PPC) advertising and often invest heavily in building and maintaining online advertising campaigns tailored for different markets.
The result is that national providers typically dominate markets where local providers should be thriving.
For instance, one of our local clients provides specialized equipment rentals across the state of Michigan. Their prices are reasonable, their service is impeccable, and they know the local community far better than their national competitors. However, the big national companies they’re competing with were running sizeable online advertising campaigns and taking business away from them (despite charging a premium for doing nothing more than contracting with the local company for their equipment). We were able to catapult this local provider to the front of the industry using strategic local advertising at a cost far lower than they had anticipated.
How do you find the same success for your service-based business? A three-pronged approach to online advertising will give your business an advantage!
Keywords are at the heart of any PPC account, but service providers often have trouble selecting keyword phrases. Use these helpful tips to select the right keywords for your account:
- Services Rendered
Frequently, the way providers describe their own services can differ substantially from what people are searching for online. For example, we worked with a disaster restoration company a few years ago that was bidding on terms like “water restoration services” but the bulk of the traffic coming to their site was entering from searches like “flooded basement” and “flood cleanup service.”
Bridge this gap by not only bidding on technical service terms to appeal to better informed searchers, but also layman’s terms to get your brand name in front of a wider audience. This strategy will increase exposure across different stages of the purchase process from research to appointment scheduling, increasing your chances of getting the sale.
While searchers may not know how to phrase exactly what you’re selling, they’re great at expressing their needs. By using your audience’s common pain points and the corresponding solutions as keywords, you can get to the root of your audience’s needs.
In the previous example, bidding on terms related to a flooded home is a great way to get exposure at the exact moment when a potential customer needs information about restoration services. Using solution-oriented terms like “basement dry out” and “basement water pump out” achieves the same outcome in a way that’s approachable.
Many service providers just assume that search engines like Google will prioritize local results for searchers because they’ll be the most relevant. They forget that searchers often include a geographical component in their searches like a city, county name, or zip code. These geo modifiers provide an opportunity for service providers to get highly targeted traffic at a bargain price. Long tail keywords like “flood restoration services grand rapids” will almost certainly be less expensive than more generic terms like “flood restoration services” while resulting better qualified visitors. That’s the ultimate PPC win-win scenario!
The right keywords are the cornerstone of any PPC account, but they can’t carry paid search efforts on their own. Quality keywords need great ads to drive ROI.
- Promotional Offers
Including promotions or coupon codes in your ads is sure to attract more attention. Increase ad competitiveness by highlighting high-value, easy-to-understand promotional offers within your ad text. Offer a discount, complimentary gift, or free upgrade to encourage searchers to click on your ad and follow through with a call or quote request submission.
- Competitive Advantage
Tout your biggest competitive advantages both within the ad text itself and through callout ad extensions. Tell searchers what your business does best and how it sets itself apart from other service providers.
It’s always helpful to quantify your advantage (i.e. “guaranteed 2-hour response time”), but a subjective competitive advantage (i.e. “the most trusted restoration company in West Michigan”) can be just as successful.
Test ads with different value propositions to determine what resonates best with your audience. It may surprise you to learn that the benefits you thought weren’t as important actually attract the most traffic.
If your business has won any local awards, include a reference to them in your ads. Searchers do not need necessarily need to be familiar with the specific award to be impressed by hearing that your business received it. The social proof of knowing that an organization recognized your business is often enough to ease purchase apprehension and win the sale.
All PPC campaign settings are not created equal. In fact, certain settings are specifically geared towards helping local businesses succeed online. Ensure that these settings are adjusted to make the most of your advertising budget:
- Location Bid Modifiers
Bid modifiers allow businesses to increase how much they’re willing to spend on clicks that result from searches closer to their location. The logic behind this setting is the assumption that searchers prefer to do business with companies that are closer to their location.
By allowing businesses to adjust how much they spend on clicks based on where searchers are located, service providers can alter their bids to bring in clients that will be more lucrative to acquire. This is especially important for service providers that have high overhead costs like equipment rentals and fuel costs, which increase the further away the job is located. Using location bid multipliers can not only generate more sales, but also bring in higher margin sales.
- Ad Scheduling
Scheduling ads to show when your business is open is a shrewd way to ensure that you’ll provide a smooth customer experience by being ready to answer the phone or reply to an email and get an appointment scheduled quickly.
You can also choose to run some ads 24-hours a day while running other ads during certain times when you want to increase business. Running ads that offer special promotions during specific business hours allows service providers to fill in slow times more effectively (ex. 20% off for same-day appointments from 2-4pm). This is a popular strategy among food delivery services, hair salons, spas, and other rapid-response service providers that can schedule appointments and provide services with very little turn-around time.
- Call Extensions
Including a business phone number in your ad through a call extension allows mobile searchers to call your business directly from the ad. The result is a much faster response time for inquiries, quote requests, and appointment scheduling.
Find out more about how we can help your service business succeed online! Our local approach is tailored specifically for your customers, resulting in more leads and more sales. Contact us today to discover why we’re West Michigan’s best small business digital marketing company.
Kate Pierce is the owner of LionShark Digital Marketing LLC, a West Michigan internet marketing company. Her areas of expertise include Paid Search, Search Engine Optimization, Business Blogging and Web Copywriting. She lives in the Grand Rapids area with her husband and son and enjoys cooking, watching sports, and spending time together as a family. Like a true digital marketing expert (i.e. geek), she loves talking about current marketing trends… so don’t say you weren’t warned!