Effective online advertising tips and techniques?

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by Blade Runners, Jul 30, 2012.

  1. Blade Runners

    Blade Runners LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,021

    Right now I am advertising on every free local business advertising site I can think of. From what I have noticed, some are a complete waste of time and some actually do bring customers on a regular basis.

    The ones that seem to bring customers are Thumbtack.com and possibly my Google plus webpage (local business). Craigslist brought in quite a few in the beginning but I am trying to get away from advertising on there.

    What online advertising sites have brought you customers?
     
  2. tonygreek

    tonygreek LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,405

    Out of curiosity, why are you trying to get away from advertising on Craig's List? I'm going to assume it's lead quality and price shoppers, but I'll let you tell us before going down that road with suggestions.

    This might be of interest as well:
    http://getlisted.org/resources/local-citations-by-category.aspx#LawnServices
     
  3. Blade Runners

    Blade Runners LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,021

    I have read on here that you will attract price shoppers or bottom feeders on CL. From my personal experience, I don't see much difference in the CL leads or the thumbtack leads but I still have limited experience. maybe all of my customers are price shoppers and I just don't realize it:laugh:

    Basically what I am trying to do is determine if what I read on here about Cl is accurate and if there is a better (more productive) way of advertising online.

    edit: Thanks Tony, just checked out your link and that is good info to know. I was aware of all of the sites and advertise for free on almost all of them but I didn't know which ones brought the best results for our specific field. now I have to take a look at paid adv. on the top ones.
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2012
  4. tonygreek

    tonygreek LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,405

    If you implement CL advertising as most do, yes you will likely increase the likelihood of price shoppers and probably be disappointed with the lead gen, or lack there of. The key is to be different. Tweaking, refining, and testing your CL ad is the best way to turn it into something useful. Doing so creates layers of qualification for that lead. I actually like CL advertising because of it's cost (or lack of) and definitely because of it's ability to act in concert with your web site as a multi-layer lead qualifier. Here's what I mean by that...

    1.) Joe Homeowner searches CL for lawn mowing providers.
    2.) Joe clicks your ad and sees your professional appearance.
    3.) He can now easily qualify himself by recognizing what you are and proceeding down the path, or bale out and find the guy in the minivan he probably really wants to hire. Sure, you'll still get shoppers, but so does everyone else.
    4.) Take them from your CL ad to your web site. Getting them to take this action creates another layer of lead qualification, and they can see that yes, you are in fact, a professional lawn/landscape company.
    5.) Their visit to your site (and a landing page tailored to your CL ad or inbound marketing efforts) should direct them to either call or email you, creating yet another layer of qualification.

    CL --> Website --> Phone/Email = three steps they've gone through the effort to take, which means they've actually pre-qualified themselves without you ever actually having to take the time to interact with them.

    Here's what I highly recommend...

    1.) create a CL ad that mirrors your brand quality and appearance. If you have a web site, create a CL ad that looks very similar. Since the code you can use on CL is probably too minimal to effectively mirror your site, create a static image of it, combining the visuals of your site with the information of a flyer. Doing so shows that you are, in fact, a professional company and not an inexpensive guy with a Craftsman riding mower shoved in the back of his minivan.

    2.) create an inbound landing page on your site. this accomplishes a couple of things... you can very easily track this specific traffic. you can offer up multiple pages for them to potentially land on or tweak and test the content on that page. try one with an incentivized ad and one without, or test varying levels of incentives until you find your sweet spot that works within your pricing structure and customer acquisition budget.

    3.) communicate with those customers as quickly as you can. (i'm amazed at the laid back attitude many take on this one. if you're a solo, force yourself to squeeze in at least a "quick touch" email or call back between stops.)


    Sidenote: in terms of the various profiles/local pages/etc you fill out for your business, it is imperative that your business name/address/phone be exactly the same across all.

    Tony
     
  5. Blade Runners

    Blade Runners LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,021

    thanks again

    Creating a Cl ad that is similar to our website is a very good idea that I am going to start working on right now. My site is done in flash so I guess I could get a screenshot or somehow capture it and link back to my website with it. It would primarily be used as a visual to establish an image of the business more than anything. You have me thinking on this one!!!

    Just FYI, I do try to be different than the standard CL boring text ads by adding my business card on there and some pictures and linking them to our website. I try to do anything that stands out from the norm, yet still maintains a level of professionalism.
     
  6. kirkmbrown2001

    kirkmbrown2001 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 265

  7. Ben Bowen

    Ben Bowen LawnSite Bronze Member
    from PNW
    Posts: 1,053

    Other than the personalized landing page, I use all the methods listed above. I get very few bottom feeders. I have sold $17K of installs in the last two weeks off CL. I use vFlyer to create my ads and manage them with an ap.

    I have had great success with Redbeacon.com for the maintenance side of our biz. Yelp has been great this year. I am now asking for reviews only on Yelp and Google plus. I believe the Yelp will pay off even more when the iPhone 5 comes out. Yelp is going to be one of the primary sources for results and reviews for Apples map ap- which will be replacing the current google map ap. I think it will pay off to get a head start on Yelp.
    Posted via Mobile Device
     
  8. tonygreek

    tonygreek LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,405

    If you can, you really want to scale solid Google+ user reviews as well as you can. The weight those carry, especially with a certain search engine, is quickly becoming a borderline antitrust violation. lol

    As a hint...you want at least 5 google+ reviews and then 5 more.
     
  9. CarolinaWater.org

    CarolinaWater.org LawnSite Member
    Posts: 198

    We have had great success with Google places & AD Words. Google places is free & automatically brings you up in search results if you are local to the customers location when there searching. Ad words is where 90% of our business comes from, cost depends on how many others your competing with. In my area we pay between .25 & .50 per click, however you can set the account up to be prepaid & have a daily limit, say $2.00 per day. Out of 10 clicks 8 contact us & we sale 90% of them.

    The great thing about Ad words is that you can see how many people actually search for specific keywords in your defined area & you can create custom ads for specific key words. I cant tell you how important it is to set the location that your ad appears to only the zip codes of the areas you service, I see new guys using Ad words & competing with my ad only to find out there in another state & simply have there settings wrong, that has to cost a small fortune & is a complete waste of advertising dollars. I average about 20 clicks a week & get a weekly report that shows how many clicks I received, & what ad & keyword the customer clicked on. I get the most hits off of using the city name as a title, say Clemson Irrigation, because the customer knows your local & not one of the chain contractor referral services such as service magic that pop up in searches.

    You need to be there when they need you & there ready to buy, Yellow Pages used to be the place for this years ago but not the case anymore. I had a Yellow Page ad from 98 to 04, & the cost per customer vs. Ad words is no comparison. High end customers search online & most via smart phone, when they actually want / need that service. We usually never speak to a customer until the day of service, as high end customers love email!

    Any ad is only as good as the website it directs customers to, the first page you direct them to has to catch there attention. Business card generic websites just don't do it. We manage our own site & customers always tell us how much they like it & its the reason they choose us ( www.carolinawater.org ). We use yahoo web hosting that runs about $12.00 a month. CL always brought us low ballers who were interested in price, not quality, but for some CL works great. I think it all comes down to your geographic area when it comes to CL performance.

    Hope this helps some, it might not work for everybody but for me & my area it brings in 90% of my work.
     

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