For a millennial, full-time digital marketing professional who runs ad campaigns for the tech startup she’s employed for, learning AdWords seems quite feasible.
For an electrician, roofer, locksmith, or contractor, PPC might as well stand for party planning company… Why would people in small service-based trades like these be familiar with pay-per-click advertising? They may not have grown up with the internet, and they certainly did not attend school to become digital advertisers. They more likely attended a trade school to master the jobs they do now. Their priorities are fixing your pipes, repairing your roofs, and ensuring your televisions are installed properly.
This is what makes digital advertising challenging for many tradesmen and blue-collar professionals.
Typical lunch break
I recently had the pleasure of speaking with WordStream customer William Rusch, who refers to himself as the “master electrician” of Charleston Electric, a family-run electrician business in Charleston, South Carolina, that’s grown substantially in their last five years in operation. William is actually far too modest because he does much more than practice his craft of electrician; William is the founder of Charleston Electric, and also runs the company’s marketing campaigns, and is responsible for bringing in new clients to keep the business running. This of course includes paid search.
Marketing and Advertising Challenges Faced by Tradesmen
When William and I discussed some of the challenges he’s faced while running online ad campaigns through Google AdWords while also running his electrician business, two in particular stood out…
1) Allocating Your Online Ad Budget Properly
The world of AdWords is not an easy one to navigate. There’s campaigns, ad groups, keywords, match types, negative keywords, ads, extensions, mobile ads, bidding, budgeting, and the list goes on. As an electrician, understanding the strategy to spend money wisely in this crazy world of paid search isn’t easy.
“The challenge is knowing how to spend your money. It’s not easy to know how to use AdWords,” William said. “As electricians most of us are not marketers. We know how to do our job really well, but when it comes to advertising we are forced to pay someone to do it or do it yourself.” This leads me to the next challenge…
2) Having to Rely on Outside Help
When you’re in a line of work like William, your main focus is fixing the electrical issue at hand rather than advertising and marketing. This often leads to relying on outside help, which can lead to money being thrown down the drain.
“A lot of people I know in similar lines of work have been burned when paying someone else,” William said. “They end up spending thousands of dollars per month and not knowing where their money is going. In the past we’ve used companies to market with and I never felt like we got great results from what we did.”
So, how do you get around these challenges without hiring help? Well, if you’re a blue-collar professional trying to fulfill your long list of jobs while simultaneously getting new clients, you’ve come to the right place.
Follow these eight tips to run more effective online ads and grow your client base and revenue with paid search.
How to Run Effective AdWords Campaigns in Blue-Collar Industries
#1: Structure Your Ad Campaigns by Location
Location can make or break your chances of getting a client in the trades. For instance, if I’m looking for a plumber in Hingham, MA, I’m more likely to go with the one within a 3-mile radius of my location rather then one located in downtown Boston. Often enough the situation may be urgent when it comes to manual labor, so proximity is critical.
This is something that advertisers need to keep top of mind when configuring and structuring their campaigns.
“We use location-specific targeting to structure our campaigns around the three major cities where we operate and towns around them,” says William. “We then generate ads based upon location, and have those ads specific to that location. We also have a very good name that’s specific to the area that we’re in.”
An example of radius-based location targeting in AdWords
Make sure to get specific with your campaign targeting, even drilling down to a specified radius. Then structure your ad groups around keywords that pertain to that location. For example, if you operate in Boston, create a campaign for people who live in Beacon Hill and target that specific radius. Then bid on keywords like “electrician in beacon hill” and “beacon hill electrician near me.”
#2: Cater Your Ads to Targeted Locations
Bouncing off the last tip, it’s important not to forget to add in the location into your ad text. Regardless of whether your targeting and keyword strategy is spot on, if the location isn’t prevalent in the ad copy, then a competitor’s ad with more detail will likely win the click over yours.
Don’t leave any mystery around the location – being clear about this will lead to more actionable outcomes from searchers.
Take the example below. When I searched “roofer near me” these two ads popped up:
While it’s great that the first one includes information around price, what I’m really interested in is location. I know immediately that the second ad is located in Framingham where I currently am located. It’s not only broadcasted in the ad text, but it’s reinforced in the link as well, and luckily I can also get a free estimate before making a commitment to the roofer in my area.
#3: Encourage and Prioritize Phone Calls
For William, phone calls are essential, since this form of communication is the way that the majority of new and repeat customers contact Charleston Electric.
I imagine this is true for many others in similar lines of work, because when an individual needs someone to visit their home or workplace they want to ensure they’re booking an appointment with a real person. They also likely have a very specific scenario that is much easier to describe over the phone rather than through a form or email.
So how do you prioritize phone calls in PPC? Here are few tactics to mastering this:
- Set up call extensions
- Experiment with call-only campaigns
- Ensure you’re using call tracking so you know where your calls are coming from
- Broadcast your businesses phone number in your ad text and on your PPC landing pages
- Make sure your landing pages are mobile responsive
- Make use of call-specific CTA’s (calls to action)
William's home page
“We often encourage people to call now or save $25 with a phone call in our ad text,” says William.
#4: Run Competitor Campaigns
Staying ahead of your competition is important in any industry, but it can be especially helpful to have a competitive strategy in place when it comes to blue-collar advertisements. Often searchers will look for a specific electrician company, perhaps one that’s more well-known or was a referral from a neighbor. Here lies the opportunity to appear ahead of that company by bidding on competitor keywords.
“We have lots of competitors so we’ve geared up our competitor campaigns to market against them,” says William. “For different competitors I create campaigns and I target their company name, and make it specific to what they’re doing. Competitors don't seem to be spending as much, so if we spend a bit more we can beat them in the SERPs, generate calls at cheap CPC’s, and gain customers that are actually looking for them.”
#5: Create Authentic and Trustworthy Ad Copy
Ad copy can make or break your chances of getting site traffic or even a direct phone call from your ads. Especially in an industry where customers are typically making close comparisons to your competition nearby, thinking strategically about ad copy becomes even more critical.
This isn’t something you have to tell William twice. When writing his ad copy he decided to use the emotional aspect of the fact that his business is family owned and operated.
“I always like to add ‘family-owned’ company because we are family owned and operated,” said William. “I also talk about the amount of experience we have because these two components provide a sense of trustworthiness.”
Taking a tip from William’s book, I think it’s important to be transparent and honest in your ad copy, and let the best things about your business sell it to your customers.
#6: Let Your Customers Speak for You
In a situation where a contractor or electrician is coming to your home to make a repair, consumers are always cautious about being scammed. We’ve all heard the nightmare stories of someone who pays hundreds or even thousands of dollars to get their chimney fixed when the next week the same problem arises. Yet, the contractor who made the repair has managed to drop off the face of the earth.
This is why customer testimonials are more important then ever.
“Testimonials are very important to us. People want to know what they’re getting into. Luckily, we have almost 80 reviews on our Google page,” says William. “Overall we have a positive reputation and that helps to persuade people that they should give us a shot over someone else who maybe doesn’t have testimonials.”
If you’re company is lacking testimonials, don’t be afraid to ask your happy customers for them!
Here are a few ideas for how you can incorporate more customer testimonials into your digital marketing efforts:
- Configure review extensions in your search ads
- Encourage customers to review you on multiple platforms (Yelp, Google, Facebook, Angie’s List, etc.)
- Publish testimonials on your AdWords landing pages
- Create a dedicated area of your website to highlight customer testimonials
- Invest in video testimonials for your homepage
#7: Open Your Wallet
Don’t roll your eyes just yet! Often enough, business owners hold their wallets far too tight to their lockbox. But when it comes to paid search, the word “paid” is in the title for a reason.
If you want to get a high return you need to be willing to invest. Yes, it’s important to know what you’re doing before dumping your money into a bunch of poorly structured campaigns running on highly competitive broad match keywords. But once you’ve nailed down a solid strategy, put a reasonable amount of money towards your PPC campaigns to ensure you’re being competitive enough to appear in the top spots.
“If you are in a service-based business, advertising is extremely important. If you do not advertise you’re not going to bring in new customers on a daily basis,” says William. “You’ll get referrals, but to generate new business you need to advertise to grow. While it may be scary to spend $1,000/month, if you want to grow and get new business there’s only one way to do this and that is to spend money.”
In my opinion, William has the perfect attitude. “I spend a lot of time focusing on our marketing, and I’ve made a goal to maximize advertising dollars. I’m always willing to try new things, and spend the money to try it.”
Follow William’s advice and invest in market research! It could substantially pay off in the end.
#8: Always Be Identifying Negative Keywords
If you’re wary about wasting money, then you should be proactive about identifying negative keywords. Negative keywords – the searches that you DON’T want your ads to appear for – will ensure that your ads don’t show up for irrelevant searches.
They are especially important when bidding on broad or phrase match keywords, and unnecessary to configure for exact match keywords since ads will only appear if the exact term is matched with the keyword search. For more on negative keywords check out this resource.
William found that adding negative keyword research to his PPC workflow not only saved him huge amounts of money, but it also improved his AdWords ROI.
Big-budget advertisers know how important negative keywords are for ROI
“I found negative keywords like ‘electrician shoes,’ ‘electrician gloves,’ ‘electrician knives,’ and ‘electrician tools.’ Since we do repairs and installations, every time we get a click for something like that it just wastes money,” he says. “For us it was thousands and thousands dollars per year we were wasting. It’s one thing to spend money and get relevant clicks, but another to spend money and get unqualified traffic.”
After realizing how much money William was wasting he decided to streamline his process, and began using QueryStream, a WordStream Advisor tool that shows the exact keywords individuals are typing into Google to find his ads.
Those “Milwaukee” and “Wisconsin” search terms probably aren’t converting well
“QueryStream is the most helpful tool. I simply go on there every night, go through each campaign and go through the clicks we’re getting,” he says. “Then I go through and add in negatives throughout the whole campaign or even our whole AdWords account. It makes it so simple to do, and it’s so much easier than trying to do it through AdWords. Before we were wasting our budget. WordStream has allowed us to streamline our account, and really make our advertising budget work for us.”
While yes, managing online advertising can be quite difficult for people in this line of work since their main responsibilities lie elsewhere, the investment can significantly grow your business.
If you’re currently advertising on Google and curious as to how you’re doing, try our AdWords Grader for a free report!
About the Author:
Margot is a Content Marketing Specialist at WordStream and nutrition graduate student at Framingham State. She loves all things digital, learning about nutrition, running, traveling, and cooking. Follow her on: