The internet creates a unique opportunity for you to directly connect with your customers 24 hours per day.

Your website is your 24/7 receptionist and Google, Bing, and Facebook are the new Yellow Pages. Word of mouth is now captured in the infrastructure of the Internet through reviews on multiple platforms.

You’re going to hear over and over why a website, reviews, and digital advertising are crucial to your business, and it’s only going to accelerate as younger generations begin buying homes and contracting business through platforms they’ve grown accustomed to.

What you aren’t going to hear is that you need to raise the expectations you have with any agency or vendor who provides digital advertising services to help grow your business.


Many Agencies See Dollar Signs, Not Family-Owned Businesses

A recent HomeAdvisor market report pegs Home Services spending in the United States at $506 billion. We are a massive market that has long been overlooked, but the opportunities are too big for platforms like Amazon to miss the party (spoiler alert, we’ve noticed they’re spending money to rival some of our clients).

These dollars have also caught the attention of digital marketers who want to capitalize on the growth of this industry. Growth that’s been built by you, over many years.

If you’re getting an increased volume of calls or e-mails to sell you a website, SEO services, Google and Bing advertising, or reviews, it’s because this industry growth is no longer a secret. There’s no shortage of new agencies or consultants ready to spend your money.

Digital marketing is a necessary and critical component of your future success in the digital age, but you have to find a partner with your best interests in mind. A large part of finding that right partner is learning how to spot red flags to save your business time and money without missing opportunities.

We’re going to arm you with a few questions to ask a potential digital marketing partner so that you can feel confident in how you invest your dollars to grow your business.


What analytics platform are you using to track the performance of my campaigns? Can I have read-only access?

Most agencies use Google Ads and Google Analytics to track advertising performance.

If you haven’t been given read-only access to Google Analytics, or Google Ads, this is a major red flag. If you have a website, but haven’t been granted access to analytics, this might mean that you don’t even have one set-up!

An analytics platform allows you to see things like:

  • Website Traffic (how many people came to your site in a specific time period)
  • Website Conversions (forms and phone calls)
  • Referral Sources (how those people got to your website)
  • How much you’ve spent on digital ads
  • How many people clicked on your digital ads
  • How much it cost for those people to click on your digital ads
  • How many people submitted a lead after clicking on your digital ad
  • How much those leads cost

Step one is making sure you are aware of the analytics tracking platform your provider uses and asking for read-only access.

Even if you don’t understand analytics, or don’t want the headache of checking them each month, asking for read-only access to reporting creates more transparency and will keep your advertising provider more honest.

If you’re told “we send you our simplified reporting” or “our analytics platform is too complex” or any other line to prevent you access to that information, there is a major problem.

That’s like me asking for your retirement money to invest in stocks without sharing any of the performance data or details. Even if you aren’t a pro stock trader, access to my data will ensure I’m doing what’s best for you and your money. It creates accountability.

Advertising is no different.


Can you show me the Google Change History for my Google Ads account?

Many of the digital advertising dollars spent by contractors are to place ads on Google.

For example, when someone searches for “Furnace repair near me,” a Google ad placement gives you a chance to show up to that customer and earn their business. The Google Ads platform allows you to select searches to bid on, how much to bid, and displays text, a website URL, and a phone number to help win that customer’s attention.

It requires attention to detail to win the right customer’s attention. Without that detail, your performance will suffer and your dollars will be wasted. One common example of this (and something you can try at home) is showing up for irrelevant searches.

Google “Honda Accord AC Repair near me.” How many of those ads are for local HVAC contractors?

To keep your agency accountable and to avoid showing up on irrelevant searches, the Google change history will show you how often your agency is going into your account to make optimizations.

This is the easiest and most visible way to tell if they are doing work on your account.


How do you define a lead?

A phone call or a form submission is not a lead.

A customer with the intention of doing business with you is a lead.

This is not being talked about enough in our industry. For example, if you were told that you received 50 leads from your advertising spend because you received 50 phone calls, you aren’t getting accurate information.

At least some percentage of those phone calls contain the following on a monthly basis:

  • Existing customers calling to confirm an appointment, change an appointment, or cancel an appointment
  • Existing customers calling in to schedule routine appointments
  • Your service techs calling in to ask a question
  • Vendors calling to sell your their services
  • Job applicants calling in for more information or to check on an application status
  • Wrong number dialed

Based on data from Searchlight Advertising, it’s likely that 25% - 30% of phone calls and form submissions are from new customers with intent to purchase a product or service from you, or an existing customer looking to purchase a new service from you.

While this may be a reality check for many of you, asking how your agency defines a lead will help you understand how motivated they are to optimize your campaigns to drive customers, not phone calls.


Tying it all together

These questions will allow you to show an agency that you know enough about digital marketing to keep them accountable so they don’t waste your money.

If you find that they won’t give you access to your analytics and ad account (read-only is acceptable as you want to let them do their jobs), their change history shows few changes (you should see hundreds per month), and they define a lead as a phone call or form submission, it might be time to find a new provider.

As you begin your search, remember how powerful digital marketing can be with a dedicated partner. Searchlight Advertising reports that its national portfolio of clients sees an 8x to 10x return on ad spend (defined as revenue from new customers directly generated from paid ads) when a client is properly invested.2

Your customers want to find you and start the process of doing business with you online. Google, Bing, and Facebook give you that opportunity to establish a direct relationship with shoppers in your market so that you can both experience significant return on ad spend, and grow your customer base to pay dividends in the future.


Content provided by Searchlight Digital Advertising