From 2017 to 2022 the landscaping market grew at a rate of 5.3 percent annually, a more than double growth rate from the historic rate of 2.5 percent, according to a research survey from Zippia.
However, as the industry has grown so have operating costs. Operating expenses increased by 11.9 percent in 2021, according to market research by Kently Insights. And we all know inflation has only made the problem worse since.
Now is the time to focus on reigning in your marketing costs; and search engine marketing is one of the cost-effective strategies in your toolbelt. Still, there are a lot of myths about search that lead to many mistakes and waste your money. Some of the most common search marketing mistakes are as follows:
1. Not properly tracking results
How can you wisely spend your money if you aren’t tracking the results?
Search marketing is a complicated task that most landscaping companies don’t have time to do or aren’t qualified to do. Hiring outside help is often needed to get results. The problem is that landscapers will hire marketing firms who often do not track results properly and your team often does not do enough to ensure the digital marketing company is being transparent and communicative.
Chances are your search marketing firm is not keeping good data about where results are coming from. This means tracking phone calls, online forms, chats and email open rates. Marketing companies that go the extra mile are those who actually record and listen to the calls that are made, or read the form and chat transcripts. The marketing company you hire should be able to tell you where the leads are coming from and where you need to stop spending money.
Holding your digital marketing team accountable is part of properly tracking results. Too often a digital marketing company will sit back and send you a monthly report and just assume you won’t care about the process. In their mind, if you aren’t complaining, then everything is fine. Show your marketing agency that you care about the process and hold them accountable.
Questions to ask your marketing firm to better hold them accountable are as follows:
What changes have been made to my account this month?
What search terms are getting me the best results?
What terms are wasting my money?
A good digital marketing agency will regularly ask questions about your company. They should want to know the net results of their work, and will be interested in your assessment of company growth.
2. Bidding on your own brand name
Agencies often recommend that you bid on your own company’s brand name when running Google Ads. After listening to thousands of calls, we know this is a waste of money.
The argument for bidding for your own brand is that if you don’t do it your competitor will. To that, I say let them. Ninety-nine percent of the time, the client who is looking specifically for you will realize they called the wrong company and will hang up the phone. Realizing their mistake, they will find your actual number and call you.
If your competitor starts bidding on your name, they are wasting money. Better them than you.
This also means you need to avoid the reverse. Don’t bid on your competitor’s name. A person searching for their name on Google wants to talk to them, not you.
3. Throwing money at Google
There are a limited number of people in your area searching for what you do. In fact, the most recent Google trends data shows this number has decreased slightly from the highs in 2020.
In most cities in America, you do not need to throw several thousands of dollars to attract clients. Additionally, there are so many tools Google has in Ads to ensure you are reaching your demographic – from ZIP codes to homeowner status to household income. Ask your marketing agency how they are using these tools in your campaign.
Agencies will often happily increase budgets when you tell them to. “It takes money to make money” is a truism that leads to this kind of thinking. In reality, it is possible to spend too much on Google as a single marketing channel, and your marketing agency should be able to provide guidance on what that amount is. Any marketing dollars you have above that should be allocated to other marketing channels.
4. Following hot trends without a long-term strategy
Hot new marketing trends are exciting to try, but they can easily become traps for business owners without a long-term digital marketing strategy.
We’ve seen it happen many times over the years. A new technique might improve results in the short term, but then Google penalizes you later on for using this strategy. Less severe are the examples of jumping on the bandwagon and wasting a client’s time or money.
AI tools such as ChatGPT are also good examples of the latest hot trends. They might benefit your company now, but you should approach them with caution because you don’t know how search engines are going to think about AI in the future. Some tech companies have begun labeling content as AI-generated, which can negatively impact your results.
Avoid using AI as a crutch. Use sparingly in your digital marketing plan and stick to tried-and-true methods such as hiring talented copywriters.
Search marketing can be a huge boon to your landscaping company, but it will hurt you if you don’t have a sound digital marketing plan. Avoid the usual pitfalls such as throwing money at your own brand name, blindly spending on ads, following hot trends and not holding your marketing team accountable for proper tracking. Not making these common mistakes will save your company from wasting money, and send the right leads to grow your business.
Hernan Charry is director of marketing at Split One Technologies a search engine marketing firm in Phoenix, Arizona. For more than a decade, Split One Technologies has created unique SEO and digital ad campaigns for landscaping companies.