PPC (pay-per-click) advertising offers HVAC companies a lot of potential benefits. First, PPC on Google (through the Google platform, AdWords) allows small companies to get immediate visibility on Google. Second, it can produce high-quality leads and service requests. Third, it provides credibility and brand awareness — two things independent HVAC companies can never have enough of. Here are the key elements in crafting a winning PPC marketing strategy.
For PPC advertising, a great deal hinges on the offer. You must give people a strong reason to click on the ad. Then, when visitors click, they must arrive at a landing page that persuades them to schedule service or inquire further. What are the three critical elements of a strong offer?
- High value. The prospect probably doesn’t know you, so they are skeptical. A $5 off coupon may not be enough incentive to risk hiring you, but 50 percent off the first service call just might.
- Time sensitive. Open-ended offers give prospects no reason to act now. Fifty percent off the first service call, good through the end of the month, is likely to generate more inquiries than the same offer without an expiration date.
- Complicated offers with a lot of fine print, even when legitimate and well-intended, are liable to confuse and/or raise suspicions. In addition, people scan quickly online rather than read carefully. With all of that in mind, a strong simple offer beats a strong complicated offer every time.
Now that you have a great offer (actually, a few great offers; we’ll talk more about that shortly), the next strategic challenge is to get that offer in front of the right people on Google. This is accomplished through keyword research. For PPC, keywords are the phrases people use when conducting search queries on Google. When they search for your target keywords, you place a bid, and if your bid wins, your ad appears to the searcher. Three key elements of a good strategic keyword include:
- Keywords such as “HVAC services” are more relevant than “home improvement.” “Air-conditioning repair” is even more relevant. The more relevant the keyword, the more likely qualified prospects will be interested in your ad and click on it.
- “Air-conditioning repair” indicates high user intent that someone who is interested in getting service. “Air-conditioning HVAC” could indicate an interest in service, or it could be a student doing research, or something else non-relevant. Keywords with high buying intent are much more suitable for PPC.
- Search volume. Targeting keywords that only generate a handful of searches a month may never deliver enough clicks to generate a sale. On the other hand, super high-volume keywords may generate irrelevant traffic or be too expensive to bid on. For independent HVAC companies, the winning strategy is usually to target mid-volume terms that are affordable and meet the first two criteria noted here.
Keyword research is important and rather involved — here is more information to help in your keyword research.
Once keywords are identified, they should be grouped together, probably according to service area. There will likely be one set of keywords around air conditioning, another around furnace repair, etc. The reason: Each grouping of keywords should have a customized landing page designed to be totally relevant to each service area. The more relevant the landing page, the more likely people will be to inquire. After all — someone interested in air conditioning wants to know you are fully dedicated to that service, rather than it just being one among many.
Another important campaign structure element is geography. With PPC, you can set up your ads to display in a particular town, state, etc. If you go too narrow, you may not have enough search volume to generate enough leads; obviously, if you go too broad, you will get leads outside your service area.
Offers, keywords, and campaign structure can be tested over the course of a campaign, and indeed must be to have any chance of success. Therefore:
- Before launching the campaign, have several offer ideas lined up. You can test one against the other to see which converts better. By systematically testing offers, your campaign should improve month after month.
- Review results to see which keywords are drawing clicks. As time goes on, you can emphasize those keywords more, eliminate poorly performing keywords, and try new keywords. Again, this leads to continuous improvement.
- Review results to see which landing pages are delivering the most leads. Again, you can put more emphasis on winning landing pages, and either eliminate poorly performing ones or test different content and design to improve their effectiveness. Similarly, other campaign elements such as geography can be evaluated and tested, to zero in tighter and tighter on areas of your market delivering the most leads.
In closing, budget enough money to sustain a PPC campaign over at least six months. It will take that long, possibly longer, for testing to make its mark and bring what appears to be a slow campaign up to speed. Many companies think they fail at PPC when success was right around the corner. Don’t give up too soon — your reward for patience may be very big!
Brad Shorr is the Director of Content Strategy at Straight North. Headquartered in Chicago, they are a B2B Internet marketing company that offers SEO, PPC and website design services to businesses across the nation. With his many years of industry experience, Brad’s work has been featured on sites such as Moz, Forbes and Smashing Magazine.