If you ever tried operating a Google Ads search campaign for plumbing, you will know that it’s incredibly competitive. If you're finding it hard to make a positive return on investment, what else can you do?

In this blogpost, I describe how you can use another of Google’s advertising tools to generate plumbing leads for your business.

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What's The Problem With Plumbing Google Search Advertising?

Google search advertising is very competitive particularly in the main cities in Australia.

It’s gotten to the stage where many plumbers are having to operate almost bait-and-switch type advertising to maintain a reasonable quality score and a position in the Google auction.

Here are some examples of ads the plumbers are having to use. Note the use of discounting in the ads. 

There's no doubting that Google search advertising is very good for plumber's lead generation.

That’s because a potential customer with a plumbing problem searches on Google and look for a solution.  Basically, someone with an overflowing toilet has a clear issue they need to resolve ASAP.  The search has high commercial intent.

Google search has become increasingly competitive because it's the easy button for all plumbers to get leads. 

To some extent, everybody can see your ads and the keywords you are targeting and the landing pages. So there's a high level of transparency.  Everyone copies each other and there’s only so much you can see.

Note how hiding the domain name and phone number on these ads shows how they could be any plumbers ads. 

Google also operates the auction for clicks very much like the stock market and they regularly encourage people in the ad account to increase the bids to maintain their position.

The result is that for many plumbing later keywords the costs are $15 to $20 a click in the major cities.

And here is what the cost per lead dynamics look like.

Losing Money From Google Search Ads

Clicks

01

You pay for 1,000 Google clicks @ $20 a click. 

Leads

02

15% of people who click on your website contact you about a plumbing job.


Customers

03

40% of the people you talk to "convert" to customers and your average profit (not revenue) from a job is $300.

Click Costs

04

The cost is $20,000 in click costs plus $1,000 in Google Ads Management costs

Profit From Jobs

05

You book 60 Jobs. 

(1,000x15%x40%)

At $300 a job, you $18,000 before you pay for Google's ads


Lose Money

06

$18,000 - $21,000 is a loss of $3,000 from Google search ads

What Does The High Cost Of Google Clicks Mean?

If you're paying $300-$400 a lead, this has a whole bunch of implications on how much profit you need to make from the job or how long you need to keep the customer for.

Perhaps like many plumbers, you have to offer a range of solutions and prices for the customer to choose from. This would include offering up-sells as well to make a profit from the lead.

Perhaps you don't know or fully understand the cost per lead data that Google search advertising is giving you. 

Are you just just paying for the leads anyway because you hope to up sell or make a profit out of the customer in the long run. You might be able to do that but, it's not great for cashflow.

How Can You Use Other Google Advertising Instead?

You don't always have to advertise at the bottom of the funnel in the high search intent area via Google Search advertising.

There are other places where you can reach potential customers who are searching for plumbing solutions. One of these is what Google calls in-market audiences.

What is an In-market audience on Google display?

Let's assume that you have an old ute you need to replace. 

All of a sudden, you start looking for a new ute and most people do a lot of this online.

  • You would research car-buying sites like Cars Guide.
  • You would be visiting car dealers websites to look at what they have.
  • You might be looking at bank sites about vehicle finance.
  • You could be reading reviews of utes in online car magazines or the auto section of newspapers.

Now because Google has access to a lot of data from your phone, your web browser and your search behaviour, they are able to see that your behaviour has changed.  They use their algorithms to classify you as in-market for car buying.

This process also happens what some plumbing related activities.

Here's how Google defines in-market audiences

"..they're researching products and are actively considering buying a service or product like yours.
These audiences are designed for advertisers focused on getting conversions from likely buyers. In-market audiences can help drive remarketing performance and reach consumers close to completing a purchase."

What In-Market Audiences Exist That Plumbers Can Tap Into?

These are the main in-market audiences you can tap into as a plumber. You would need to test each one because some will work better than others for your business in your location.

  • /Home & Garden/Home & Garden Services/Plumbing Services
  • /Home & Garden/Home Improvement/Plumbing Fixture Hardware & Parts
  • /Home & Garden/Home Improvement/Plumbing Fixtures
  • /Home & Garden/Home Improvement/Kitchen & Bathroom Cabinets

You can get a full list of in-market audiences in this CSV file.

Clicks for in-market audiences cost significantly less, expect to pay $0.10-$0.50 for a click. That’s compared to $20 for a search click. The buyer intent is lower, but these are people who have demonstrated by intent that they are ‘in the market’

What Else Do You Need To Do To Make This Work?

Because the searcher does not have a bleeding neck problem where their toilets are overflowing, they are less likely to respond to your advertising immediately.

They also see your advertising on display sites rather than in Google search, so it's more like awareness building and connecting activity.

As a result, you need to connect with the customer and nurture the relationship and there are two key tools that you can use for this.

Adapt your ads

Your ads need to reflect the fact that you are targeting a specific segment of the market.  It's not likely you will be as successful if you just use the same ad copy you usually do.

Ad copy benefits from testing to work out which messaging is best at converting viewers to contacts. 

Using remarketing

When a searcher has clicked on your display ad, they will be taken to a specific page on your website. And if you have enough traffic from the display ads you can use remarketing or retargeting in both Facebook and Google advertising to remind the customer about your business and your plumbing solutions.

You should do remarketing if you can because this is the most positive return on investment advertising you can do.

In remarketing on Google, you can continue to use the relevant in-market audience to target advertising by remarketing to people who have visited your website and continue to be in the in-market audience. 

Using lead magnets and nurturing

Furthermore, because of the type of search that is being carried out, it’s often a good idea to offer the searcher lead magnet relating to the search that they do (for example Bathroom Plumbing Options) and then deliver that to them by email.

You can then use email marketing to nurture the relationship with them on an automated basis so they can contact you when they're ready to buy and you keep reminding them that you're around ready to help them.

Try using an in-market campaign today

So if you finding that Google search advertising for plumbers is too competitive , try using Google display advertising with in-market audiences and remarketing.

Have a chat with your existing Google advertising agency or contact us and we can help you.

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