Running a service-based business can be undoubtedly lucrative, especially when you’ve got the experience, tools and skills to build yourself a lifelong customer base.
But in today’s highly competitive landscape, you need to do everything possible to maintain your edge.
You know that marketing and advertising are essential to your continued growth and success, and these days, there’s no marketing without the internet. But also know you’re no expert in digital advertising ‒ not to mention you’re busy providing essential services to your clients!
To cut to the chase, you need to get the most bang for your advertising buck. And that means choosing the best PPC advertising channel for your service business from day one.
I, for one, hate seeing time and money go to waste. So I’ve put together some points to help you get off on the right foot and choose the right ad channel for your business.
Read on to learn:
- Why You Must Spend Your Digital Ad Dollars (and Time) Wisely
- 5 Time-Saving Steps to Take Before You Decide On a PPC Advertising Channel
- 3 Digital Advertising Channels You Can Quickly Use to Get New Customers
1. Why You Must Spend Your Digital Ad Dollars (and Time) Wisely
Let’s start with the basics.
Even a well-written marketing message with a strong creative direction is wasted if it doesn’t reach the right audience. Focusing on the correct marketing channel is key.
That’s why you don’t overhear ads for HR software while your toddlers are watching Sesame Street clips on YouTube Kids; nor do you typically see display ads for Sesame Street while you’re browsing LinkedIn.
However, choosing the right advertising channel isn’t always so cut-and-dry.
Chances are your audience is a lot broader than something like, ‘kids age 2-4 who watch PBS’ or ‘tech-savvy HR professionals.’ Say you offer a service like plumbing or auto repair. Your customers don’t congregate on a particular channel at all – in fact, they’re practically everywhere!
On the other hand, your target audience could be also so specific that there’s simply no obvious, sure-fire avenue for reaching them. Say you’re trying to sell turnkey co-packing services for burgeoning hot sauce companies in the Northeast U.S. with between $200K and $750K annual revenue. Last I checked, there’s no such thing as Hotsaucebook where all the hot sauce aficionados congregate…and even if there were, they might not be the specific kind of aficionados you’re looking for!
Put simply, choosing the right online advertising channel can be tricky. There are dozens to choose from, and not all of them will bring in the client and customer leads your business needs to grow.
2. The 5 Time-Saving Steps to Take Before You Decide On a PPC Advertising Channel
To begin, here are a few of the basic steps you must take to be properly equipped to decide which digital advertising channel your business needs right now.
a. Familiarize Yourself with Forms of Online Marketing
You can’t advertise your business successfully without a basic understanding of the PPC landscape.
The only way to fully leverage the power of internet marketing by yourself is by taking the initiative to learn about it on an elementary level. When you lack this baseline comprehension, it’s far too easy to make costly mistakes (see: 5 Mistakes KILLING Your Google Ads Budget.)
If you haven’t got time to hit the books, do yourself a favour and find yourself a lead generation partner who’s already done the heavy lifting. You’ll save yourself dozens of hours of trial-and-error, not to mention potentially thousands of dollars in spending gone astray!
b. Thoroughly Weigh the Costs
Understanding the costs involved in digital marketing channels will allow you to shape a budget on what’s acceptable to spend. It’ll also help you temper your expectations on what kind of funds should be poured into each channel.
To illustrate, you could be earning $1,000,000 in revenue per week. If you’re spending $1,000,001 per week to generate those sales, you’re still in the hole $1.00! It’s Business 101, but easy to lose sight of when you’re still learning the ropes of a new advertising channel.
Here are a couple of considerations to ponder over:
- It’s possible to spend nothing on digital marketing and find some success, but the percentages aren’t high. You’d have to be online most of the time, not performing other vital functions for your company.
- Remember to weigh in time spent when you’re assessing costs. If you’re achieving modest results but spending all day milling through online marketing tasks, that’s not ideal.
- Outsourcing your marketing is the most time-efficient approach. But thorough due diligence will let you know what costs are fair, and if it will benefit your company.
c. Clearly Define Your Goals
For advertising to be profitable, and to decide the correct channels, you must know your objectives. Crafting an action plan is a must.
In an online marketing capacity, here are how goals align with strategies:
- If your goal is to build a reputable brand image, you will likely utilize a mix of social media marketing, display ads and SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
- Provide you want to come across as an industry expert, blogging, content marketing (e.g., writing free eBooks), and social media marketing are the most common approaches.
- Lastly, a lead generation strategy would necessitate online ads (PPC and social media), SEO, social media marketing, and content-based lead funnels.
d. Craft a Budget
At first, you might want to start with a smaller budget to get things started with your digital marketing. Understand that there’s a ceiling with how much success you’ll find with this approach.
Overspending is even worse, but that’s why you’ve performed the necessary cost research. You must coordinate those industry-standard prices with what’s affordable and makes sense for your current business model.
You’ll find that you’ll be able to steadily grow your marketing budget to reflect your company’s evolution.
e. Tune into Your Audience
Getting positive results with any marketing strategy or campaign necessitates a deep insight into your audience. Otherwise, you won’t know how to target your messaging.
Any knowledgeable lead generation partner will utilize industry and competitor research tools to help you round up essential data about your target market, such as:
- Where can they be found online (e.g., social media networks, blogs, or websites, etc.)?
- What content do they like?
- What online activities do they engage in?
3. Top 3 Digital Advertising Channels You Can Quickly Use to Get New Customers
Now that we’ve offered some criteria involved in choosing the right internet ad channel, it’s time to look at the channels you should be investigating.
When we launch a lead generation campaign for a new service client (HVAC, plumbing, contracting, etc.), we choose a combination of the following channels based on the client’s needs. Each of these channels offers a variety of audience targeting options, acceptable cost per lead, and (if executed well) a reliable return in the form of customer leads.
a. Google Search Advertising
Search ads are best utilized to leverage search-based intent. When customers need something ASAP, like a plumber for a burst pipe, they type something like, “Toronto plumbing” or wherever their hometown is. This is the most effective form of marketing for emergency-based services where a customer requires something immediately.
b. Display Advertising
When people see display ads online, they aren’t looking for something directly – they’re just browsing, going along with their usual web activities, and end up seeing a digital banner.
So, if your business is service-based and reliant on emergency calls, this might not be the best network for you.
But if the bulk of your revenue comes from renovations and rebuilds, this kind of brand awareness can really pay off. The use of display advertising is often more long-term strategy, and a way to ensure your business is top-of-mind for your target market.
Eventually, when they decide they want what you’re selling, your business will be who they contact—if you’ve executed correctly!
c. Social Media Advertising
Currently, 31% of people use social media as a primary research tool when they seek products. It’s playing more of a pivotal role than ever throughout the customer journey.
Ads on social media are more effective than other forms of marketing on the platform, including celebrity endorsements, updates on brands’ pages, and recommendations or comments.
Those who click on social media ads are 26% likelier to buy from the brands they see. However, these customers are more interested in signing up for a membership than purchasing a product or service.
Social media advertising is a wise avenue if you’re a plumber or electrician writing a blog and looking to grow an audience. This will help you establish yourself as an industry expert with a broader base.
Getting Started With Digital Advertising
Let’s be honest. Not all online marketing channels will profit your business.
Success depends on understanding the strengths and limitations of each channel.
At TrafficSoda, we specialize in determining the most efficient way to turn ad dollars into customer leads. We’ve worked with a broad range of service-based businesses including HVAC companies, builders, roofers, cybersecurity providers, data centers, car mechanics and dealerships to generate leads through targeted PPC ad campaigns.
We start by researching our clients thoroughly in what we call the discovery process. By understanding all aspects of your customer audience, market, competitors and sales process, we can help you choose the best PPC advertising channel for your business.
If you’re still not entirely sure which channel is right for you ‒ and you don’t have the time to invest in learning the ins and outs on your own ‒ feel free to drop us a line.
As a small business, it can be challenging to get noticed in the sea of other businesses. How can you make yourself heard and seen by your target audience?
Facebook announced during Small Business Week 2019 three new key features for small businesses to gain traction.
Facebook has always been a great platform to advertise businesses because of the 2.4 billion active monthly users. And now it’s even easier to use.
Here are the brand-new features for small business to take off with!
Instead of just making a regular ad, now you can automatically create multiple versions of an ad. Up to six different ads can run across Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and Audience Network.
How does it work?
Well, this new tool provides users with some questions regarding their business and the overall objective and goal of the ad. It uses this information and creates useful suggests for Call to Action (CTA) buttons, keyword text suggestions and other creative details specific to your company’s Facebook Page.
Automated ads will save people time and effort to change the advertisements for each platform.
Embedded Appointment Bookings
Across all Facebook owned platforms, you can now embed appointment booking software.
This feature allows for customers to automatically book your services without you personally having to talk to them!
It is completely customizable for your business’ services. You can display your availability and manage any and all appointments directly. This could even go hand-in-hand with the Facebook Messenger Bots. The bots can handle the bookings too!
It’s a free service already built into Facebook. This could be an excellent option for those who haven’t already invested in a third-party appointment booking service.
Video Editing Tool
Video is the biggest drivers of engagement by far for Facebook advertisements. These posts actually get about 59% more engagement than other types of posts.
Is it time to roll of the DSLR cameras and sound board? What if you don’t have these things?
Small businesses might not have the budget for a whole production team to shoot and edit advertisements. And that’s okay, Facebook now has you covered!
The new video editing tools released by Facebook now gives the opportunity to crop, trim and add overlays to videos. For each ad, it automatically crops and trims to the correct lengths for different platforms.
While the features don’t replace the flexibility of editing software, such as Adobe Premiere, it allows for small edits to be made quickly. Some text or logo overlay may just be all you need.
The Future of Facebook for Small Businesses
So why should we care about this new update from Facebook?
Facebook is really pushing for accessibility to the resources they offer. In 2019 alone, Facebook plans to run over 200 training events.
Their goal is to train as many small entrepreneurs’ digital skills needed for the business world today. There will be online and offline events hosted to educate the masses.
Combined with Facebook’s other tools, such as the Pixel, businesses with smaller audiences can get a farther reach. An example would be using the Custom Audience tool for retargeting viewers who have watched your videos. You can provide different ads to those who watched more than 50% of the video. It allows for a better conversion rate at a lower cost.
Facebook hopes that this update, as well as the additional Blueprint courses, will help those who lack the technological resources and the budgets to get off their feet.
Facebook advertising is a complex landscape where even the most experienced users can get lost amidst the expansive data and constantly changing features. To simplify the process, we offer this article, which breaks down the benefits of the three main campaigns we like to run on Facebook. This will allow you to understand the “why” behind every dollar your business spends.
A Page “Like” Campaign
The concept behind this one is simple: the more followers you have, the larger the audience you can reach. This is the main premise all social networks are built upon, but let’s take a detailed look at why you would consider paying to gain more followers.
The average organic growth rate for a Facebook business page is 0.64% per week or 39.34% per year. So, if you began with 100 followers and your goal was to get to 1000, it would take about seven years.
Now, let’s see how that growth rate changes when you spend some money. The following data is gathered from actual page “like” campaigns we have run for previous clients.
If you were to spend just $150 on a one-time page “like” campaign when you were at 100 followers, it would take about half the time for you to reach your goal of 1000! What’s even more impressive is the total your following should be at by the seven-year mark: about 6450! That’s just with $150, so imagine if you had a whole strategy!
If that sounds impressive, spending $150 per year on a page “like” campaign should get you around 13,480 after seven years!
The campaign works through the power of compounding. The sooner you can gain a follower, the sooner you can leverage their network and grow your own. These campaigns are most important for pages that have a small follower base, as the value of a new follower is more impactful to the overall growth rate. The concept is a bit like the old notion of starting to save when you are young; in this case, you start spending when your base is small.
The takeaway: a page “like” campaign can have an exponential effect when it comes to growth. It’s a must for companies with a new page or a relatively small follower base.
Engagement campaigns gain value from their ability to promote original content on user’s news feeds. These campaigns “boost” posts, allowing you to cut through the millions of pieces of content on Facebook and get your company in front of the right eyes. When users engage, they become attached, interested, and invested in your brand, coming back time and time again for relevant material. This is the modern iteration of top-of-mind advertising.
How does engagement compare to traditional methods of advertising? We will break it down by each medium.
First, let’s start with the three main outlets: TV, Radio, and Print. Generally, they are quoted in cost per 1000 people reached, so we followed that metric throughout this comparison.
TV is the most expensive. It costs $34.75 for a 60-second spot, not including the production costs.
Radio is more cost effective. It averages around $12-$16.
Print is more difficult to calculate because you pay for ad size. A small ad in a local paper is around $24.50.
Using real data we have collected from our clients’ engagement campaigns, Facebook sits at about $3.00 per 1000 people reached.
In addition to running campaigns optimized for people reached (known as “impressions”), Facebook allows us to optimize ads for action. Instead of simply showing your post to as many people as possible, Facebook will show your ad to those most likely to engage. When running an ad based on this metric, Facebook sits at about $18.00 (per 1000 people reached). We prefer this style of campaign.
Now you might not be seeing specifically why a Facebook engagement campaign is a clear winner over ‘traditional’ methods. After all, as we saw, radio is cheaper, but consider the following:
- Facebook numbers are fact. You know with 100% certainty how many people saw your post and how many people acted. With ‘traditional’ methods, the numbers are very “wishy-” Think about how many times you’ve changed the station or picked up your phone when commercials are on. There may not be as many people seeing your ad as they claim, which makes their cost-per-view much higher.
- You can have very targeted audiences on Facebook. This will ensure that only people fitting your buyer persona see the post you are paying to promote. How many times have you seen a commercial where the product didn’t relate to you at all?
- There’s a lot more flexibility in what you can spend and that makes scaling easier. You can spend $25 and get results on Facebook. Try running a commercial for $25!
The takeaway: Facebook is a great and highly cost-effective way to achieve a more engaged form of top-of-mind advertising.
The last style of ad we like to run is known as click-to-website. This one is all about driving customers to your website and converting their clicks into sales. Generating sales is the main reason anyone runs advertising, so maximizing your leads while minimizing your costs in this area is key!
Click-to-website falls within the pay-per-click style of advertising. Google AdWords is the largest player in this field, so let’s see how they compare.
|Cost Per Conversion
The only area where GAW has an advantage is the click-through rate. However, note that these numbers are industry averages. The average click-through rate that we get with our clients for click-to-website ads on Facebook is essentially the same at 1.90%.
In every other category, Facebook is a huge winner (especially if you consider TrafficSoda’s average cost per click of $0.42). There are a lot of reasons for why there is such a difference in cost, but essentially, Facebook is much more complex than AdWords, as it gives more possibilities for targeting, ad creative conception, and styles of campaigns.
The takeaway: Facebook should be a part of most pay-per-click campaigns because of its cost-effectiveness.
- Page “like” campaigns can have a dramatic effect on your online growth. It’s a must for companies with a new page or a relatively small follower base.
- Engagement campaigns are a great and cost-effective way to achieve a more engaged form of top-of-mind advertising
- Facebook needs to be part of most pay-per-click efforts due to its cost-effectiveness over Google AdWords
Let’s be honest: deciding where to allocate your marketing budget is a daily struggle.
When it comes to social media, the decision is often split between Facebook and Twitter. So, how do you decide which makes more sense for your money?
In this blog, we’ll be analyzing three aspects of those platforms: reach/budget, targeting, and reporting.
Although it’s amazing for large companies, if you’re a small business with a somewhat small budget, Facebook ads are also ideal for you.
Organic Facebook posts have an extremely low reach due to the platform’s ever-changing algorithm. So, running a Facebook ad is almost expected, but it’s worth it for growing your fan base, gaining engagement, clicks, or a larger reach than 30 people.
On Facebook, targeting is limited to location, gender, age, demographic, interest, and behaviour. You can also exclude people from viewing your ads, which can be key depending on your campaign strategy.
One great targeting feature is Custom Audiences. This feature allows you to target audiences based on your existing connections. This means you can serve up ads to your current customers/fans rather than looking for new ones. This is done by uploading a list of customer data (e.g. purchaser email addresses), and Facebook will aim to reach them (and don’t worry, this information will be encrypted).
Another impressive feature Facebook offers (that Twitter does not), is the ability to save your audience and re-use it for other ads. This could save you and your business some valuable time if you are regularly targeting your ads to the same audience.
Facebook reporting is quite intuitive: it’ll give you the information you need based on your objective, and more. That said, it’s sometimes simpler to collect data right from the platform as opposed to exporting it into an Excel file, because it’s visually easier to gather.
You can also create a custom metrics dashboard so it only provides you with the numbers you care about, and not the extras.
In conclusion, Facebook Ads are best for…
- Video view campaigns
- Growing your followers
- Re-targeting for retail businesses
Let’s not beat around the bush: Twitter is expensive. However, with Facebook’s algorithm changing regularly, it may not stay this way forever.
With a larger budget permitting more than just Facebook, your reach can be quite extensive. The benefit here is that Twitter allows you to get very specific with your targeting, and reach those who are more invested in your band.
Twitter allows you to target more effortlessly and with more detail than Facebook. Other than the usual details (location, gender, and language), you can target based on hashtags, key words, interests, and specific accounts and their followers. This means you can directly focus on your competitors, and that’s a marketer’s dream.
Twitter is where people go for news, trends, and immediate world updates. This is a major advantage for large companies. Take Google, for example.
On October 4, 2016, Google announced their new product, Pixel. If you weren’t watching live, you probably first heard the news on Twitter. That’s because the hashtag #MadeByGoogle was immediately trending and everyone was talking about it (in 140 characters or less).
Now imagine how easy it would be to target all those people if you are a competing tech company. You could take advantage of that massive reach and serve them your own ad.
Twitter reporting is a little more renowned because it allows you to break down the metrics by audience segment (keyword, gender, handles, language, interests, platform, location).
This lets you see which fans are the ones engaging with your posts. As takeflyte puts it, “Being able to pinpoint exactly which segments of your audience is working and which ones aren’t is a simple task that will help you improve your ROI.”
In conclusion, Twitter Ads are best for…
- Product launches
- Holiday campaigns
At the end of the day, testing is key. If you have the budget, try both platforms to see where your audience is most engaging with your brand.