Joined: 06/17/2014 09:32 PM EDT
Location: Carmel, IN
I get the question all the time..."Should I be doing Google Adwords?"
My answer to 99.5% of home inspectors: Probably Not, but if you do keep it light.
I like to start with the positives of just about anything in business, so let's start with some of the benefits of an online campaign.
"Direct to Consumer"
For many home inspectors, the idea of going direct to consumer has been a fantasy. It wasn't too long ago that it was pure fantasy (before the days of internet advertising) but now we can have a digital conversation via a well written ad and a great website. Many inspectors would be quite satisfied to avoid what they see as a conflict in referral from an agent. So there's a "feel good" aspect to this.
Overall Market Presence
If you're looking to be at the top of search engines, you can be for a fee. When someone is looking for an inspector you want to be visible and this is somewhere people look. In some markets the searches are in the thousands monthly, others in the hundreds. You can be everywhere and it doesn't have to cost too much.
In contrast to hiring a marketing rep, Adwords have the appeal of being scalable to some extent while also being something you can pause when you're seasonally busy or cashflow is tight.
1 - 1 = 2
What happens when you "win" an inspection? It's one less for your competition. If you have a competitor doing adwords and it is keeping them in the game, just selling a few may have them looking to come work for you or seek other opportunities. It's a weird equation but a benefit none the less if you can take a long term view.
The Learning Curve is Steep - Even if you hire it done.
Which words, phrases, times of day, budgets, etc.? The answer is nobody knows. It's all trial and error and you will spend thousands if not tens of thousands getting it to 90% right. Then everything will change. If you're looking for ROI and you're selling some consumer product on Google, that's a somewhat known quantity. What will work for buyers searching for home inspections in your area is a great deal more challenging and the numbers are too small for the industry to have developed good resources to solve this issue.
The ROI is tough.
We work with thousands of inspectors and a couple hundred of them have reported back the click through costs. Sometimes it's not too bad at $8.00 or so but when you look at how many times that happens before an inspection is booked, it can get pretty brutal. There's a reason companies like HomeAdvisor sell leads for $25 a pop to 3 different providers...because they have to. Their margins aren't crazy either (in fact, you can get that information online right now).
Management is Expensive
Whether you hire it out or have a staff member manage an Adwords account, you're going to be spending at the very minimum hundreds of dollars per month on this venture. That's before your first click. The challenge there is in many areas the number of searches for "home inspection" and related phrases couldn't possibly overcome this cost even if you had the $2000+ monthly budget it would take.
You Want a What?
The #1 complaint I get from inspectors when they launch a big adwords campaign is all of the calls from people searching for something other than a home inspection. Usually its something related, like a Section 8 Housing inspection or something, but it does become a nuisance.
It's a different kind of client.
When a consumer calls direct, that's a different conversation than a referral from their agent. Most inspection companies don't have the scale to have a department for those kind of calls like the companies that utilize Adwords bigtime do.
So let's assume you don't have a staff of inside sales reps with operators standing by. Let's assume the search volume for "home inspection" in your area is something less than impressive. (It probably is). Let's assume that most inspection volume comes from agent referrals (and it does, see the survey at http://www.homeinspectionsurvey.com ). Let's also assume you're not ready to commit $2000+ per month for a year to test things until you can get a reasonable ROI out of it.
Does that mean you shouldn't do it? NO. Just do it a little and track some basics.