Generating leads in the home service industry isn’t what it used to be.
While word of mouth advertising from happy customers is still one of the strongest factors in attracting clients, digital marketing has changed the entire industry over the last few years.
Traditional methods of advertising are slowly dying out, as Pay-Per-Click (PPC) marketing, social media, and content marketing is killing them.
To that end, Google is attempting to corner the wild west of business services with its roll out of the new Google Home Service Ads for contractors. With each new release, both digital marketers and businesses across the country have to adapt to learn how to best generate leads.
To give you a head start, we’re going to be taking a look at what exactly the Google Home Service Ads are and why they need to be on your radar.
What are the Home Service Ads?
Over the last few years, Google has been hard at work on beta testing for the new Home Service Ads Program. As of now, the program is relatively small and has only been released in seven cities across the country: Phoenix, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Seattle, San Diego, Baltimore, and Los Angeles.
Despite the small sample size, it’s clear that the program is growing and can be expected to be coming to your city in the near future.
The basis of the program is that it is meant to connect its users with home services providers (think, gardeners, plumbers, electricians, etc.).
However, that’s not all.
Google is going to great lengths to ensure that the companies who are advertising on their platform are reputable. Not just any company can sign up with the Home Service Ads Program.
To be considered for the program, every single service provider has to first be approved by Google. Google is doing background checks, license checks, insurance checks, ‘advanced verification’, and reputation assessment. You can read about it in Googles own words here. Once qualified, customers will be able to see a “Google guaranteed” badge and review score next to every company on the platform.
The plan behind this is to connect users and companies through these “micro-moments” where customers are looking to make a purchase and come across the right advertisement at the right time.
From a business perspective, the setup will look like this:
- In this program, you pay only for leads from the customers that select your business
- Your weekly budget limits the amount of leads that the program generates for you each week
- Although you may get varying amounts of leads each day, you will never spend more than your designated weekly budget.
When a user clicks a lead or requests more information, Google will bring them to a page that features three different companies for the customer to choose from.
What Google is trying to do is to compete with other providers like Angie’s List that provide customers with access to pre-qualified service providers at no cost.
After the customer selects their three potential service providers, Google then takes them to a page to help them work through the quote process.
Again, the biggest difference between the Home Service Ads Program and traditional advertising through Google is that you cannot simply pay-to-play in this arena. Whereas basically anyone can get airtime with Google in traditional advertising (being an online authority is just a small perk), your business ranking in the Home Service Ads Program is of paramount importance.
In this new platform, the placement of your ads is determined more on how strong of a company you are and less of who is paying the highest price for a well-placed ad. Since they have a $2,000 insurance plan in place for these companies, it’s important to Google that they only feature top-notch businesses.
Here’s the kicker, as I mentioned earlier, you pay google for the lead…. But Google will also sell the lead to the other three companies the user selects as well. So you will have some competition, BUT the other service providers must meet the same standards as you. This means you won’t be competing with the ‘Chuck and a Truck’ fly-by-nights.
While I do see Google Home Service ads as a potentially game changing advertising platform, it won’t make an awesome content marketing plan obsolete. Nothing can ever replace getting your content out there and building trust through education.
Why it Matters to You
After reading all this, there are going to be plenty of small businesses out there wondering what this all even means for them.
Let’s get into that.
For those who have been using traditional methods of paid advertising up until now, there are a few things that you need to start considering before the Home Service Ads Program rolls out in your city.
Primarily, businesses need to be concerned about:
- The status of their online reputation
- The amount (and quality) of reviews that they have online
- The systems that they have in place to provide their potential customers with quotes
For those who have relied on organic traffic over the years, they may be in for a rude awakening, as the ads are in prime attention grabbing territory on the page, and don’t look like ads.
When people Google “gardeners in Cincinnati, Ohio” right now, they are presented with search results that feature a list of what are clearly ads before you scroll down to the organic search results.
However, the Home Service Ads Program changes that. In cities where the program is already in place, the businesses that are advertising through this program are placed above both the ads and the organic search results in a way that doesn’t even make them look like ads, and they feature the ‘Google Guaranteed’ text and trust icon.
Finally, home service companies need to be sure that their presence has been optimized for mobile. When people search on mobile, organic results will be getting pushed down even further than they were before. What’s more is that the companies featured in the Home Service Ads Program also have the “call now” button built into their search result.
If you aren’t currently in a city that has put the Home Service Ads Program into action yet, you have time to prepare for the eventual roll out in your city.
Although it may seem like an insignificant change to some, your company might be in a bit of trouble if you don’t optimize your presence for the coming changes. Think about this, Google is one of the largest and most reputable companies in the world. People trust Google with everything from directions, their online security, and planning their next trip. I feel the general public, our customers, will find the ‘Google Guarantee’ a powerful symbol.
By taking care of your online presence and reputation, learning about how to become part of the program, and optimizing your site for mobile users, you’re taking a big step forward in terms of ensuring that your company takes advantage of these new features.
You can find out more about the new program and keep up with news that is relevant to you at the following link.
Comment below, and let us know what you think.