A steady flow of roofing leads is the holy grail for roofing contractors.
But for one Philadelphia-based metal roof installer, their lead flow was anything but steady. They found themselves knocking on doors, passing out flyers, and doing pretty much anything they could to try and win new business.
As a contractor marketing agency that specializes in lead generation for home improvement businesses, we were in a perfect position to help.
The following case study reveals the exact paid advertising strategy we used to set Metal Roof co. (not their real name) up with a reliable system that generates an average of 300 exclusive roofing leads each and every month (and no, that’s not an exaggeration or a typo).
If you’re a roofing contractor, are in charge of marketing for a roofing company, or just want to know how to get more roofing leads, then you’re going to want to keep reading.
Let’s dive in.
Disclaimer: This entire strategy revolves around paid advertising (ie: spending money on Google & Facebook to acquire new leads). Don’t let that turn you off to the idea. As long as you know your business numbers, you can grow your business profitably with paid advertising.
Step 1: Identifying the Maximum Cost Per Lead
The first step to getting more roofing leads for Metal Roof Co. (MRC for short) was to determine how much they could actually afford to pay for a new lead.
In other words, we needed to know how much they were comfortable spending in exchange for either:
- a form submission on their website, including the prospect’s name, phone number, and email address
- a direct call from an interested prospect during business hours
To determine that number, we looked at some of MRC’s important business metrics, like:
- the lifetime value of a customer
- the gross profit MRC generates from a sale,
- the closing rate of their sales team
- our marketing fees and other operational costs
All of these metrics affect the maximum amount of money MRC is willing to pay for a new lead. The higher their customer lifetime value, gross profit per sale, and closing rate on new leads are, the more they’re able to spend to acquire a new lead.
The opposite is also true—if they make a low gross profit per sale, have a low closing rate on new business, and only sell to a customer once over their lifetime, then their maximum cost per lead would be much lower.
After speaking with their team and taking all that data into consideration (luckily they knew what their gross profit, closing rates, and lifetime value were), we were able to come up with a maximum cost per lead, or CPL for short.
The CPL basically sets the break-even point and lets us know if we’re hitting the mark with our marketing campaigns (Google Adwords, Facebook Ads, etc.).
Tip: Establishing this maximum cost per lead metric is crucial. Once that’s done, you know exactly what marketing success (and alternatively failure) looks like, and you can spend money on paid advertising perpetually as long as you keep generating leads for less than your maximum cost per lead.
Let’s look at the numbers without getting too technical…
Stay with me here…(source: giphy)
With Metal Roof co., we determined that their maximum cost per lead was around $220 per lead (they specialize in metal roofs, so it’s a little higher than your typical roofing lead because the gross profit per job is higher).
To make things interesting, we told MRC we’d aim to get them new roofing leads for $175 a pop—aggressive, but we also felt it was doable given their large monthly budget and the speed at which we’d be accumulating data.
That would mean, with a monthly marketing budget of $40,000, we’d have to generate at least 229 roofing leads for it to make sense ($40,000/$175 = 229 leads).
In other words:
- success meant more than 229 leads in 30 days.
- failure meant less than 229 leads in 30 days.
With expectations set for both parties, we got to work and started setting up their PPC campaigns and structured them to maximize their marketing budget right out of the gate.
Note: Don’t be alarmed by the $40,000 per month marketing budget—many roofing businesses start with way less. But once you know your maximum cost per lead and can generate new roofing leads for less, then you don’t need to be a mathemagician to realize that spending more is a smart business decision.
Step 2: Structuring the PPC Campaigns
Here’s where things get both interesting and complicated…
MRC had 2 main service offerings (metal roof installation and window replacement) which they sold in 3 states.
As a result, they also had a different website for each service and state combination to better serve their customers (plus, it also helped their organic search engine rankings).
Knowing this, we wanted to make sure we had complete control over their advertising budget so that we could allocate the bulk of it to the service and state combinations that were performing best (new roofing leads for less than $175) while we figured out how to improve the service and state combinations that were lagging behind (new roofing leads for more than $175).
Since budget is controlled at the campaign level on Google Adwords, we initially set up 5 campaigns—one for each combination—as follows (note: MRC doesn’t offer window replacement services in State 3):
- Campaign 1: Metal Roofing – State 1
- Campaign 2: Metal Roofing – State 2
- Campaign 3: Metal Roofing- State 3
- Campaign 4: Window Replacement – State 1
- Campaign 5: Window Replacement – State 2
Other than budget control, structuring the campaigns this way allowed us to include longer keywords and key phrases made up of state and/or city combinations.
To see how much of an impact this initial setup had on our results, we’ll need to fast-forward to today (2018) so that we have more data and context (4 years of data to be exact).
Roads? Where we’re going…we don’t need roads. (source: giphy)
The keyword ‘metal roofing‘ converts at 5%, which means 5% of the traffic we send to their website now becomes a lead. If you’re not familiar with roofing lead conversion rates, that’s pretty good. What’s more, after 4 years of optimizing their campaigns, we’re now hitting a $98 cost per lead—way below the initial $175 cost per lead we agreed upon initially.
Now, look what happens if we take the same keyword (ie: metal roofing), but tack on a city modifier at the end:
- Metal Roofing NJ: 14% conversion rate – $40 CPL
- Metal Roofing New Jersey: 15% conversion rate – $29 CPL
That’s a massive difference!
But that’s not the only reason a proper PPC campaign structure was crucial to MRC’s success…
It also let us make full use of the negative keyword lists we’ve built over the years from working with other roofing businesses, allowing us to send nothing but targeted, quality traffic that converts right out of the gate.
For example, keywords like how to, what is, cheap, DIY and more simply don’t indicate an intent to purchase, so you don’t want to be showing up in the search results when people use those types of non-buyer keywords.
Unfortunately, many people don’t take negative keyword lists seriously, and their budget gets eaten up by useless clicks as a result. If you’re running ads yourself, this is one of the easiest and most effective things you can do to improve your ROI.
Case in point: when I conduct a search for ‘roofing marketing‘—a keyphrase that clearly means I need help marketing my roofing business, not a new roof—I get shown these results:
If I were to click on one of those looking for marketing tips to grow my roofing business, I’d probably hit the back button within a few seconds, and the advertiser would have to fork out some cash for a useless click (in some cases, we’ve saved customers hundreds of dollars per month with solid negative keyword lists alone!).
Don’t be these guys.
Long story short, an effective PPC campaign structure is crucial to overall success when it comes to generating roofing leads because it allows for maximum budget, keyword, and negative keyword list control.
Once we finalized the overall campaign structure, the next step was to determine how we’d break out the ad groups and create the individual ads.
Setting up the ad groups
The way the initially structured the campaigns made organizing the ad groups and ads really simple.
First, we did extensive research to uncover the keywords and phrases we felt would drive quality traffic to MRC’s websites. We knew from experience which roofing & window replacement related keywords would convert well out of the gate, but we also found new opportunities using tools like Google Keyword Planner, SEMrush, and SpyFu:
From there, with our list of keywords and city/state modifiers all fleshed out, we grouped all the closely related keywords together to create our ad groups.
Tip: Proper keyword research is crucial to the overall success of a PPC campaign. If you’re just using the same old keywords as everybody else to market your roofing business, you’re probably not getting the best results. Use the tools mentioned above to find new keywords no one is targeting.
We also made sure that our ad groups were closely related to the web pages we would be sending the traffic to (also known as a landing page).
Usually, we’ll create custom landing pages for our customers in order to match them to the keywords and ad groups we choose to use (this tends to increase Quality Score on Google Adwords which reduces cost per lead), but being that MRC’s websites were already well put together, there was no need for us to design new landing pages from scratch (although it’s something we’re currently testing against their existing websites).
Finally, it was time to create the actual PPC ads—the first touchpoint between MRC and their prospects—that would generate new roofing leads for their business.
Creating the PPC ads
We started off by creating 3 ads per ad group, each with different ad text and a unique marketing angle. For example, we tested ads that:
- included the benefits of working with Metal Roof co.
- addressed the pain points of their ideal prospects
- informed prospects about an existing limited time promotion
We then had these ads compete against each other over time in order to find a winning angle and ad text combination.
This is a long, ongoing process that leads to better and better results over time (there’s no such thing as set-and-forget when it comes to generating roofing leads).
Tip: Always leverage as many ad extensions as you can so that your PPC ad takes up as much space as possible on the search engine result page.We leveraged call, callouts, and review extensions to increase ou click-through rates and bring our costs down.
With campaign structure, ad groups and ads out of the way, the last thing we needed to do before hitting the launch button was to set up call and conversion tracking.
Step 3: Tracking Our Way to Success
There are basically 3 ways to generate roofing leads once prospects are on your website (or landing page)—phone calls, form submissions, or chat requests.
From past experience, phone calls tend to make up the bulk of roofing leads. That doesn’t mean form submissions never happen, but for the most part, it’s usually people calling in to ask questions about pricing, availability, etc.
That means tracking every single phone call is critical for both gauging the quality of the roofing leads AND reporting on campaign ROI.
For MRC, we used CallRail, our trusted call tracking partners, to record calls from new leads (with their permission of course):
Recording calls lets us learn which keywords drive quality leads, and which drive tire-kickers.
It also lets us work closely with MRC’s sales team to help them improve their lead-to-sale conversion rate, boosting their return on investment significantly.
Tip: In the service industry, it’s very important to have all incoming sales calls answered by a human right away rather than having them go through an automated messaging system. From experience, we’ve seen lead-to-sale conversion rates skyrocket when there’s someone dedicated to answering phone calls and booking appointments on the spot.
That’s how we tackle phone call leads.
For form submissions, all the information we collect from the lead gets sent off directly to the client via email as-it-happens, which allows them to jump on the phone or reach out via email within the hour to increase the odds of winning the job.
Here’s an example of what a ‘New Lead Notification’ looks like:
This is for a customer in the kitchen renovation space, but it’s the same idea—the only thing that might change is the information we decide to capture from the lead.
We also made sure to set MRC up with ApexChat, a live chat software, in order to make the most of the traffic we were sending to their websites.
Statistics show that adding live chat to your website can increase online leads by an average of 40%, and in this case it was bang on (source: ApexChat).
We kept transcripts of all chat conversations so that MRC could attribute any new jobs to specific chat requests that came in throughout the month.
Last but not least, we aggregated all of this lead and tracking data into our PLACE IT™ real-time reporting dashboard, where Metal Roof co. could easily login whenever they wanted to see how their new roofing leads were affecting their bottom line.
With tracking installed and out of the way, the only thing left to do was hit the launch button and brace ourselves.
Within the first 30 days, Metal Roof co. was up to 81 new roofing leads at a cost per lead of $170. With more confidence in paid advertising as a way to drive business growth, and with the cost per lead right where they wanted it to be, MRC was ready to start spending more in order to get more leads and book more roofing jobs.
Over the next few months, we slowly increased their advertising spend while always respecting the $175 cost per lead threshold. The more data we gathered over time, the better the results got.
Fast forward to today, and MRC gets anywhere from 400-600 exclusive roofing & window replacement leads each and every month!
They’ve had to hire more staff and build out a call center just to deal with the added number of phone calls and online leads.
As a home improvement business owner, that’s a good problem to have!
The important things to remember when it comes to generating home improvement leads with PPC are:
- Take the time up front to understand your business numbers, and ultimately what your maximum cost per lead is. This will be your guiding metric moving forward.
- Plan out your PPC campaign structure beforehand so you can keep maximum control over things like budget, keywords, negative keywords, and destination URLs. This helps you scale faster.
- Track everything so that you can leverage each dollar you spend as much as possible. A visitor that doesn’t turn into a lead is still extremely valuable—it can shed light on an unprofitable keyword (keyword tracking), a badly designed landing page (A/B testing), or even a problem with the way your salespeople address certain customer concerns (call & chat tracking).
These three things, along with the strategies & tactics that make up our PLACE IT™ system, allowed us to build a reliable lead generation system for Metal Roof co. so that they no longer have to worry about things like low-quality leads from shady websites, complicated technology, or wondering where their next job will come from.
Note: Want to scale your roofing business? Need more roofing leads to make it happen? Our PLACE IT™ system was designed specifically for home improvement contractors to help them establish a reliable flow of leads. To learn more about our contractor marketing system and how it might work for you, click here to book a hassle-free 15-minute demo).
Ben is our Facebook Ads Specialist and is responsible for generating thousands of quality leads for our customers in the replacement & remodeling industries. When he’s not busy launching new campaigns, he squeezes in time to write helpful posts on the Webrunner blog.