Does PPC Advertising Work for HVAC Companies?
by Aden Andrus • February 21, 2020
Running an HVAC business can be challenging. No matter how good you are at your job, waiting for word-of-mouth to get around or for a contractor to give you a call can be agonizing and frustrating.
Direct mail and billboards are an option, but they’re a huge upfront investment that often produces less-than-inspiring results. Things only get worse when you’re trying to keep an entire team of people busy and employed.
Wouldn’t it be nice if there was an easier, more consistent way to drive leads for your business?
Well, I’ve got good news for you: there is. And, since you’re reading this article, I’m guessing that you know what it is, too. If you want to get in front of potential customers when they’re on the hunt for HVAC help, you need to go to where they are. In other words, you need to get into pay-per-click (PPC) advertising.
PPC Advertising for HVAC Companies
Now, PPC advertising may be a bit intimidating, but trust me, it’s one of the best investments you can make for your business. Here at Disruptive Advertising, we’ve helped dozens of plumbing/HVAC companies use PPC advertising to generate steady lead flow and grow their business.
We know how to consistently produce 5% click-through rates and how to turn a quarter of those clicks into the kind of high-quality leads you’re looking for.
How do we do it? We won’t share all of our secrets, but here are three of our keys to success:
1. Picking the Right Keywords
Behind every effective PPC campaign is a great set of keywords. Unfortunately, most of the HVAC ad accounts that we’ve audited over the years have had serious problems with their keyword strategy.
You see, when you’re creating a paid search campaign on Google Ads, there’s a real temptation to add every HVAC-related keyword that comes to mind. After all, you wouldn’t want to miss out on a potential customer just because you failed to add a specific keyword.
But here’s the thing, most of those keywords are useless—worse than useless, in fact.
After auditing thousands of PPC accounts, we discovered that less than 10% of keywords actually produce conversions. The rest of them don’t produce anything of value…but they account for three-quarters of PPC ad spend.
Is it any wonder that so many HVAC companies struggle with PPC advertising? Most of their budget is going towards the wrong keywords, driving their costs up and their profit margins down.
As you can see above, the more money you waste on the wrong keywords and search terms, the more each conversion (form fill, phone call, etc) costs. That makes sense, but what’s surprising is just how big of an effect that wasted ad spend has.
As it turns out, every 10% increase in wasted ad spend increases your cost-per-lead by about 50%. So, if you’re paying $100 a lead on Google Ads and 70% of your budget is going towards the wrong keywords, adding a bunch of extra keywords that bump your wasted ad spend up to 80% could increase your cost-per-lead to $150!
Sure, you won’t have to worry as much about missing out on that random potential customer, but at what price? Are all those extra keywords really worth it?
In our experience, most of the HVAC companies we work with already know what their top keywords are. Often, they can name them off the top of their head. However, they’re still blowing most of their budget on other keywords “just in case”.
If you can focus your budget on the right keywords, though, PPC advertising can be a great way to drive leads for your business. Our clients have seen incredible results simply by reducing the amount of ad spend they’re wasting on the wrong keywords.
Targeting the Right HVAC Keywords
Here at Disruptive Advertising, we have a ton of experience with HVAC advertising. We’ve helped businesses all over the United States, we’ve tested countless campaigns and we know which keywords deliver the best results.
Most HVAC businesses, though, don’t have that kind of expertise. They’re figuring it all out for the first time, so they don’t always know exactly which keywords are producing value, and which ones are a waste of money.
Fortunately, there’s a pretty easy way to find out. If you haven’t run a PPC campaign before, you’ll need to give it your best shot for a few months to build up your own set of keyword data. Once you have it, though, narrowing down your keywords is just a matter of knowing where to look.
Finding Your Top Search Terms
To figure out where your ad spend is going, pop into your Google Ads account. Set your time frame to the last 2-3 months. You need this much data to make sure you aren’t missing important information. Otherwise, your data won’t be all that useful.
Next, click on “Keywords” in the left-hand sidebar, then click on the “Search terms” tab and create a filter for “Conversions > 1”.
This will pull up a list of all of the search queries users typed in before they converted. To see what percent of your ad spend goes towards these search terms, scroll down to the bottom and divide the filtered ad spend by your total ad spend.
Multiply that number by 100% and you have your useful ad spend percentage. If you’re like most of the clients we work with, that percentage is probably around 20-40% of your total ad spend. The rest of your ad spend is being wasted on the wrong searches.
Reducing Your Wasted Ad Spend
Once you have this report, you can start doing something about all of that wasted ad spend. Take a look at the terms that are actually producing value. Are there any opportunities to redirect your budget to focus more on these terms or keywords?
Then, reverse your filter to read “Conversions < 1”. This will show you all of the search terms that aren’t producing conversions. What keywords do you need to get rid of? Do you need to add negative keywords? Do you need to rewrite your ads or landing pages to better match the search intent of your audience?
Most of the time, when we take on a new client, we have to go through this process several times. We take a look at their keywords, refine their strategy, test our changes and see what happens. After a few months, we discover new opportunities to improve their keyword strategy and do it all over again. It takes some time and patience, but the results are worth it!
2. Tracking Everything
Of course, for the strategy we just discussed to work, you have to be tracking conversions properly. Unfortunately, this is another big area where HVAC companies struggle.
Some companies don’t track conversions at all. Others are technically tracking conversions, but they only track some of them, like form fills—even if most of their leads come in via phone calls. Still others track all of their conversions, but don’t follow through to see if they turn into actual jobs.
In fact, less than 30% of the PPC accounts we audit are effectively tracking conversions—let alone actual deals closed. That’s a big problem, because you can’t improve what you don’t track.
Some campaigns produce a lot of clicks, but no conversions. Or, they might produce a lot of conversions, but no sales. Either way, if you aren’t tracking everything, you won’t know which campaigns are a good investment…and which ones are a waste of money.
Setting Up Tracking
Fortunately, setting up conversion and sales tracking really isn’t all that difficult. We won’t get into all the details here, but to get you started, check out this video on how to implement Google Tag Manager (free):
Once you’ve got Google Tag Manager set up, it’s easy to connect Google Analytics and Google Ads (also free).
Tracking all of your conversion actions (form submissions, phone calls, chats, etc) will get you part of the way there, but what you really care about is new contracts, not new conversions. To optimize for those, you’ll want to use a CRM like Salesforce to track your PPC clicks all the way through to the revenue they generate.
Once you’re effectively tracking conversions and sales, you can use that data to truly set your HVAC campaigns up for success. It will still take some trial and error, but at least you’ll have the data you need to learn from your mistakes.
3. Spending Enough Time in the Account
So, why don’t most of our clients solve these sorts of problems on their own? To be honest, it’s because they’re too busy. Managing PPC advertising takes a lot of time and work—time that most HVAC companies simply don’t have.
The problem is, when you don’t spend enough time on your PPC campaigns, you don’t get the results you need. When you don’t get the results you need, you have to work even harder to keep your business moving forward. If you aren’t spending time in your account on a daily or at least weekly basis, you aren’t going to get great results.
This is one of the main reasons why so many HVAC companies have hired us to help them out. They really don’t have the time or expertise to manage it on their own, so they lean on us to make the time investment for them. It’s a great way to solve a tricky problem, but it’s not your only option.
If hiring a marketing agency isn’t on the table right now, you’ll just need to set aside time on a weekly basis to check in on and optimize your PPC marketing. If you’re launching a new campaign, you should be checking in on things at least once a day.
Over the years, we’ve learned a lot about how to create great PPC campaigns for our HVAC clients. We have a few secrets that we save for our paying clients, but in our experience, most HVAC companies will see a big improvement in their campaign performance simply by using the strategies we just discussed.
As long as you’re focusing your ad spend on the right keywords, tracking everything and making time to optimize your campaigns, PPC advertising can be a very profitable way to grow your HVAC company.
Oh, and by the way, if you’d like help with PPC advertising for your HVAC company, why not let us know? Reach out to us here or in the comments and we’d be happy to show you what we can do for you.
How do you approach HVAC marketing? Have you tried PPC advertising? What has your experience been like? Leave your thoughts in the comments.