Business Smarts: Pros and Cons of Digital Lead Gen Methods - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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Business Smarts: Pros and Cons of Digital Lead Gen Methods

While digital marketing can be used to cement your brand or reach potential new hires, it is also effective for lead generation. It informs customers about your business and what services you offer.

Digital lead gen differs from traditional advertising as it requires more touch points to convert customers. It includes everything that goes into attracting and converting a visitor on your site into a prospect for your business. It can also be tied into traditional forms of advertising such as vehicle wrapping.

“Companies can assign dedicated website URLS and dedicated phone numbers to vehicle wrapping, allowing them to track and integrate that effort into a real time dashboard,” says Corey Halstead, co-owner of HALSTEAD Media. “This means that leadership can login to see their marketing data all in one place and it can include off-line strategies as well. So how many calls came directly from truck wraps, how many forms came from the job yard sign — this is an amazing way to measure success.”

Below are the pros and cons of some the various digital lead gen methods.

Paid Search

Tony Ricketts, owner of Lawnline Marketing, advises using paid search at the beginning of your marketing journey to get the phone ringing. Paid search can be used to bridge the gap until your SEO strategy starts to bring results.

“Paid search is best used for anyone wanting to spend money for immediate results, that can then be turned off just as quickly,” Alain Parcan, vice president of operations and financial administration for Market Hardware. “It’s a good short-term strategy, but can become prohibitively expensive if done long-term.”

Halstead adds that paid search is a tool for capturing search traffic when you don’t rank organically for the keywords that are critical to your business.

“It’s a fill-in-the-gap tool,” Halstead says. “It’s a spend, rather than an investment like SEO is. Once you turn it off, it stops driving traffic.”

Pay-Per-Click

Pay-per-click (PPC) take paid search one step further and you only have to pay if a person clicks on your ad. Google Ads are a form of PPC that offer instant results, hyper-local geographical targeting, and very targeted keywords.

Chad Diller, director of client success for Landscape Leadership, says it works well for certain types of services more than others.

“There’s a few key components that I think work really well,” Diller says. “Services that have a high sense of urgency, also ones that have a lower ticket price. Those are those are the ones that I see working really well.”

The main con is PPC is expensive and once you stop spending you fall off completely.

“Pay-Per-Click is like starting a fire with gasoline,” Ricketts says. “You’ll get instant results, but you’ll need to continue pouring more on to keep the fire going.”

Ricketts adds that PPC requires an expert to run them and they don’t build a sustainable lead generation machine. If you decide to use PPC, you need to have a nurturing sales cycle that will keep these leads from dropping off the map.

“Everyone must understand that no one clicks on a Google Ad and purchases a $200K backyard project,” Halstead says. “Consumers take much more time to make a decision, they do much more research than one click. So, Google Ads is one tool that works best together with organic search (SEO) efforts and social retargeting. So many landscape companies live and die by Google Ads alone. They spend thousands of dollars a month, with no cross-platform retargeting and little thought to the message they are putting out. It’s almost always a better choice to reduce that ad spend budget and diversify efforts across multiple strategies — retargeting along the way. The ROI is drastically improved.”

Retargeting

Retargeting helps you keep your brand in front of bounced traffic after they leave your website. Retargeting ads are low cost and can be effective with the right strategy.

Ricketts says you shouldn’t follow your visitors around with sales ads, but rather follow them around with educational blog articles, trends/ideas, project case studies, and cultural insights.

“Retargeting is the x-factor to successful digital lead generation,” Halstead says. “Many landscapers think people click on an ad once and buy. That does not happen at a sustainable quantity.”

Halstead says stats show that consumers research large purchases for almost 80 days before they contact a company.

“No matter whether we are selling commercial land and snow maintenance packages, residential lawn care subscriptions, small design/build projects, large-scale outdoor living projects, or foundation planting overhauls, retargeting is critical to driving people down the sales funnel digitally,” Halstead says. “Think of it like this — consumers used to call a company to learn more about the options from a sales rep or the owner. Now they research online. That means that retargeting is basically your sales team in today’s world. Stop retargeting, stop selling.”

Parcan doesn’t advise using retargeting as a standalone marketing service, but it works well in tandem with other marketing methods. Diller says that while they are cheap to place if you aren’t investing in your SEO and content, it’s a waste of money.

Paid Social Ads

The benefits of using paid social ads is there is great targeting potential and the advertiser has a visual opportunity to connect with their audience.

“Unlike PPC on Google, you can use social ads to market through education, project case studies, and follow your website visitors (remarketing),” Ricketts says. “You reach people by targeting audience profiles that include geographics, demographics, buying habits, behaviors, interests, job titles, and more. Paid social ads are also typically more cost-effective than search PPC ads.”

Halstead says paid social ads are an essential part of any marketing efforts. He says the targeting possibilities and the cost at which you can reach more of the right people is undeniable, if you use the combination of the platform potential, the creative, the messaging, and retargeting properly.

“Many landscapers run two Facebook Ads, or worse boost a couple posts, and deem it to ‘not work,’” Halstead says. “But Facebook Ads is no different than operating a piece of equipment. Just because you hopped into a mini excavator for the first time and couldn’t do more than dig a sloppy hole, doesn’t mean the mini is flawed. It means you don’t know how to use it.”

One con to paid social ads is it’s not a platform you own so the rule can change quickly. Paid social ads also tend to have lower conversion rates, lower contact rates and more tire kickers.

Ricketts and Diller say this is due to the intent of the person when they are on social media. Not many people go to Facebook or Instagram to find a landscape company, instead they do their searching on Google.

“I still think of social media more as a digital branding method, possibly even recruiting,” Diller says. “To keep awareness and to defend your position in the market and stay top of mind.”

Jill Odom

Jill Odom is the content manager for NALP.