In this episode, Michael and Chris talk with Bob Alesio to talk about paid search advertising, and how to use pay-per-click to build your painting business. Learn what makes it cost effective, and how PPC campaigns work.

In this episode, we cover:
What’s the difference between paid search and organic traffic?
What are the main Pay-Per-Click (PPC) format?
How does Pay-Per-Click (PPC) work? How does it show up on Google results?
How do agency experts build a PPC campaign?
Can you do PPC on your own?
How much should you budget for PPC?
How do Google and PPC agencies ensure PPC is fair and cost-effective?

For more information on the tools and resources mentioned in this episode, please visit:
SearchPrimer: https://www.searchprimer.com/
Industrial Clicks: https://www.industrialclicks.com/
A David Creation: https://www.adavidcreation.com/
Google Ads: https://www.ads.google.com/

Transcript

Bob Alesio: At some point, advertisers embrace both fronts, right? They recognize that having a strong organic presence and having a strong paid presence, it’s not one or the other, it’s how do they complement each other.

Michael Epps Utley: Welcome to Grow Your Painting Business, a podcast for commercial, residential and industrial painters to grow their businesses in their local or regional markets. We’re experts in digital marketing for painters and other trades, and this is a show to share our experience with you. Grow Your Painting Business is a free podcast from searchprimer.com, the experts in digital marketing for the trades.

Chris Raines: All right and welcome to episode 11 of Grow Your Painting Business podcast. My name is Chris Raines. I’m joined as always by the great Michael, I’m not going to give you a superlative this time ’cause you got on me last time-

Bob Alesio: That’s right, that’s right.

Chris Raines: … so I need to behave. I need to behave. I usually give a fake superlative, you have so many Michael. One of them is digital marketing expert.

Michael Epps Utley: Yeah that one is true, yeah.

Chris Raines: All right, Michael, what are we talking about today?

Michael Epps Utley: I’m excited. We have guests on the show from time to time, and today we’ve got a guest on, a man that I’ve been working with for a couple years. He’s based in Connecticut and of course we’re based in Nashville, but with the magic of the internet, we’ve worked seamlessly with a number of clients all across the country. We’re going to talk about paid search advertising today with Bob Alesio. Bob has a company, it’s called Industrial Clicks, he’s at industrialclicks.com, and they do pay per click advertising. I think the … if I had to pick out what makes Bob good at what he does it would be well I just know what I love. I love the calm demeanor, and the way he’s able to explain things to people without sort of confusing them. He’s able to sort of communicate in terms of really simple ideas like having a budget for a particular campaign or moving money around. It’s not a bunch of flimflam.

I think a lot of times with paid search it’s so technical, the work is so technical that people can get kind of hung up on how to understand what they’re listening to. At the end of the day, if they’ve got somebody helping with it, or they’re talking to somebody about doing it, they don’t necessarily know what they’re buying. Bob is really good at sort of keeping things simple and straightforward, so really, really excited to have him on the show today.

Chris Raines: Yeah me too. Hey, let’s stop talking about him and talk to him. We’ve got him on the line right now. Bob, how’s it going man?

Bob Alesio: It’s going good Chris yeah thank you. Thanks for the introduction Michael, I appreciate the invite here.

Michael Epps Utley: Good, glad you’re here. We’re going to dig right in, give us a little bit of orientation here, introduce yourself, who are you? What have you been doing? Who are you on a personal level? Give us kind of a 30 seconds to one minute on who Bob is.

Bob Alesio: Sure, sure, so I’m Bob Alesio. I’m the principle at the industrialclicks.com or Industrial Clicks PPC as you mentioned. Professionally, I’ve been working the paid search space since 2001, really kind of living, breathing Google, primarily Google and Bing up until a few years ago where I found myself Facebook and LinkedIn had become a lot more viable and interesting. Really I think the one thing I wanted to be out of the gate, and this goes back to 2001, is really just focused on paid media. Back in the early 2000s, the internet wasn’t in its infancy, but it was a lot younger right? From a digital marketing standpoint, there were a lot of people who were involved in website design, and you had some website designers, developers back when you still had webmasters guys, remember those?

At the time, before paid search was as familiar and I think as prevalent as it is today, I saw an opportunity. I said, “That really interests me, kind of passionate about it, so I’m going to set my sights on paid”, that’s really how Industrial Clicks came together.

Michael Epps Utley: Well just so people are oriented, let’s start at kind of a 30000 foot view here. I’ve been kind of involved in pay per click since before Google AdWords, back to Overture before they were bought by Yahoo. For people who might be sort of making sure that they’re oriented to what we’re talking about, what’s the difference between paid search and what you and I would call organic or natural search engine website traffic?

Bob Alesio: Sure. Let me start with organic. I think that would probably be an easier tie in to paid. People think about Google for example, and they go there, we all do it, we search products, services, and then you see the results page. You have a whole string of links, results if you will that you can choose from depending on your query. Now, if you look closer, the majority of those links, the meat of that page, those are what we refer to as organic. Those links, they’re Google determines which links to show when we’re talking about organic based on how a website’s developed, the content on the website, and a whole myriad of other factors. The point is, you’re not paying as a business to be found on that page, you’re making investments in your website and in other places, Google recognizes that, and then because of that, they show the result because they think it’s relevant, and the people going to Google will find value in it.

Michael Epps Utley: Right so for SEO, you might be investing in an SEO program that includes content, inbound links, the sorts of things that you’re doing to make sure your website is working correctly and converting well, but that’s not money going directly to Google. For that, we’ve got to talk about paid search.

Bob Alesio: Correct, yeah thank you perfect segue. With paid search, it’s a direct relationship right in a lot of ways between the advertiser and Google. With paid search, the advertiser identifies different keywords and phrases that they think their prospects or their target customers are going to be searching on when they’re looking for the products or services that they offer. What happens is that the advertiser identifies those keywords, next, they put together some advertisements which are the results we’re talking about, and then when somebody goes to Google, and they query a service or product, that’s when you see those paid results. Each time one of those results is clicked, a charge is applied, and the advertiser pays Google, so that’s really the distinction, the breakdown there.

Michael Epps Utley: If you’re looking at a search results page, typically those would be indicated right now by a small little image that says Ad, and it’s tiny. Google used to distinguish those with a slightly different background color. That background color got lighter and lighter until it was the same just white background, now they’ve got a tiny little note there. Then there are a couple of other formats for advertising. We’re going to talk about one of these on our next episode. This is part of a two part series with Bob, so we’ll talk about video advertising next time. Paid search includes a couple of different formats. Tell us what these are, text ads, retargeting ads, and display ads. How would you sort of describe those three categories?

Bob Alesio: Yeah so I think the text ads, those are the results you and I just discussed. Just like they sound, it’s copy, there’s no images there. It’s a headline, there’s no…,it’s a description copy, and really it’s geared around the search engine results. People go, they search for something, and the ad is displayed. Now with the remarketing, and I kind of lump remarketing and display together, not exclusively but when we say display, we’re talking about graphics right, banner ads. I think with the remarketing, it’s a Google ad product, but instead of being found in the search engine results, what happens is it’s a different targeting mechanism, so if you’re really targeting people who have already been to your website, but they see the ads as they make their way around the internet browsing, not in search.

Michael Epps Utley: I go to a website, then suddenly I’m seeing this company everywhere, those are retargeting ads.

Bob Alesio: You got it, that’s right, yep.

Michael Epps Utley: Good so yeah all of those sort of fall into the category of pay per click, because the charge is paid to Google, and it’s when someone clicks not just for the ad being shown, but for when the click happens, so that’s a really different sort of different business model than attracting as many eyeballs as possible to your website.

Bob Alesio: Yeah it is and I think you hit on a really important concept when it comes to pay per click, and if we think about it, just the act of somebody searching, I should say actively searching for a product or service is important, right? When somebody is actively looking, we know to some extent that they’re semi qualified, they’re ready, they’re looking to make a purchase. Then, if you take it a step farther like you said, pay per click becomes very cost effective because if the person doesn’t have interest in your ad and they don’t click, well then no money changes hands. In that way, it’s both very targeted and very efficient.

Michael Epps Utley: Yeah so we think of that as ads being written to avoid errant clicks. Typically, with some sort of old broadcast medium like a billboard or a TV or radio, you’re trying to get as many people in the door as you can, and you’ll sort them out after the fact, but with paid search, you’re really trying to create a gate where only the people who click on the ads, the only people who click on the ads are going to be those who have what we would call intent.

Bob Alesio: Right, that’s right. Well I think I might just loop back for a quick moment, we were talking about where the click ads show up in the Google search results, and how over time Google’s kind of blurred the line right between the paid ads and the organic listings. On it’s face it sounds kind of nefarious almost, like Google wants to just make more money, but in practice, Google really to your comment about intent, Google really holds the advertiser to a higher and higher standard every year. What I mean by that is they want to make sure the keywords and the ad itself and where you’re sending the person that it’s a very useful experience for the person. That’s why in the same way that organic listings have to be associated with a website that has good content and is a very again useful experience for the person who needs to learn about a product or service, well Google is applying the same philosophy to the advertising too.

It’s kind of interesting that way, and I think over time, Google is basically saying some people who need to kind of rush to the front of the line, maybe they don’t have an SEO strategy yet, maybe they’re still working on it, here’s paid search. It’s another way to still be relevant and useful, but we know that SEO is a different type of investment, and the advertiser might be at a different place with it, so here, use paid search. I think too, what I see a lot of and I guess you do too Michael is, well I know you do, is the idea at some point, advertisers embrace both fronts right? They recognize that having a strong organic presence and having a strong paid presence it’s not one or the other, it’s how do they complement each other, and they do.

Michael Epps Utley: Yeah and just in full disclosure to anyone listening, like I said at the beginning, Search Primer and Industrial Clicks work together. We always talk about sort of our network of friendships in the industry that include A David Creation, and we have sort of a team of people where each group has their expertise. Bob is sort of the paid search team lead, and I’m sort of the SEO team lead. Yeah so we’ve seen in practice just to be direct about it how these work together. Keyword research works well. We find things that convert better with special offers that get rolled out to both channels at one time, so yeah, so these things work together. What you’re talking about there is quality score. Google is not going to let somebody throw some ads up and drive traffic to something when they can’t verify that it’s going to be a good experience for their audience.

They’re really protecting their audience experience right Bob?

Bob Alesio: They really are. Yeah I mean at the end of the day, and the genius in the model right? I mean so many people use Google, and we keep using Google because it does give us what we need, information very quickly, very efficiently and everybody kind of jokes around how Google is just magic right? I plug something in, and it gives me all these results. It’s really not magic obviously. It’s a lot of engineering, and it’s a lot of development over many, many years. You’re actually right Michael, I mean that’s what it boils down to. If we think about it on a more basic level, Google is a business. They need to also make money. One of their primary revenue streams is search advertising. If they ignored the organic results, and then they just started putting paid search front and center all the time, that would compromise the product being search, because then it would be nothing but advertisers. That’s why it’s kind of a genius model, they have a nice balance right?

Michael Epps Utley: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Bob Alesio: You have to have a balance of websites that have developed really deep content, that add a lot of value, and then you also have the paid flairs who are still being held to a higher standard today, but then you get that nice mix of new companies, older companies, smaller companies, larger companies, and I think that’s what makes it work.

Michael Epps Utley: Yeah I was listening to Jack Dorsey CEO of Twitter recently. He was talking about how their environment allows both hashtags and handles, and they sort of balance things out between sort of a structured point to point system of tagging and interacting, versus more of a free for all with hashtags. There’s really a kind of a bicameral effect that happens in search engine results pages with the paid search ads. You know, “Okay, these are service providers, somebody wants to sell me something”, and then the organic is sort of up for grabs. There, you might often get more government links or .edus. Now with all the changes with healthcare in Google search results and them become sensitized to the danger of bad information spreading around, the natural search results are a place for more authoritative searches the people can trust. I don’t think the audience necessarily knows how to distinguish between the two yet. I don’t think everyone sees the little ad link and sort of distinguishes.

As marketers, we sort of I guess go out and try to catch all of them right?

Bob Alesio: Yeah agreed. I think you’re right. I think most people don’t make that distinction. I think most people and again this goes back to Google and their product which is relevant results, good information, I think you’re right. I think people go to Google and quite frankly, the people using Google, they don’t care. They don’t care if it’s paid, organic, they just want to find good information, right? I think that’s kind of where we are today. Yet, if we will look back in time, going back 10 maybe even 15 years, I’m still not sure people cared too, too much. I think to your comment Michael, I think Google was a little bit more, I think it was a little clearer where the ads were versus the organic.

Michael Epps Utley: Let’s switch gears. A lot of people out there, we work with a lot of painting contractors, roofing contractors, commercial and residential, these are not small companies. A lot of them are owner plus a crew, but some of them are multi million dollar multi state regional entities. They’re always having to decide between a handful of options. Depending where they are on the spectrum, they’re asking themselves, “Is this something I should do on my own, or do I need to hire someone to do this in house, or do I need a partner?” What are the pros and cons of these different approaches? How do you benefit from having your hands in a lot of different campaigns, a lot of different markets? When should somebody experiment and do this on their own? When should they think about trying to build a team? When should they work with an agency?

Bob Alesio: Yeah it’s funny, I’m thinking about this because I don’t think it’s a one dimensional approach or answer. I will say this, I think in general I think it’s kind of economics really that’s what it boils down to. The economics are going to be different for every business and every sized business. When I say economics, I’m talking about your return. When I say return, I don’t necessarily mean your return on, well I do, your return on investment, but I’m not talking about dollars, we’re talking about time and opportunity cost. I think if you think about a small business for example, and I could make a case for small, medium and large on either side of the fence, you could do it in house, what the benefits are. You could look to a partner with a specialist or an agency. I think a lot of it boils down to your in house resources, but then also kind of what your goals are, and what track you’re on.

Let me back up. If we think about a small company, right? We’ll use a small business as an example. I’m going to talk about the trades. You brought them up and you’re right, you work with a lot of painters, roofers, construction. A lot of these companies like you said some of them might be classically on the small side, even though a small business today doesn’t mean small. Even if we’re talking about some of the larger ones, the fact is they’re busy. They’re busy running the business. Their craft is not marketing. It might be obviously painting, it’s got a heavy operational focus. I think the challenge too is, how much do you bring in house in terms of marketing? If you have a marketing manager, and I think a lot of the clients that we both work with, they’ve identified marketing as a key element in their growth and in their success, and that’s why they have hired a dedicated resource in house.

If I talk about that a moment, the space we’re in, things change fast. There’s a lot going on, there’s a lot of layers. One person who that’s a lot to ask from one person, to go ahead and be the marketing and communications manager, and be an expert in this space, email marketing, be an expert in social, be an expert in paid, expert in organic. It’s a lot, and the truth is, if you have one person, maybe even two, and you’re asking them to be a point person for all these things, in many cases, it’s not possible to achieve that expert level. When you don’t achieve that expert level, it doesn’t mean you can’t make a positive impact, but I think it’s kind of weighing the pros and cons and saying, “Well what kind of impact can you make, and how much can you expect from one person in a 40 hour week?”

Then conversely, if you were to bring the right partner in, could that partner go ahead, still collaborate with a marketing manager or resource, achieve even stronger results, but still keep everybody whole, and then also be able to scale up and down as the business needs right, versus having a fixed resource?

Michael Epps Utley: Yeah and I think timing to sort of ramp up a campaign, I mean if someone’s going to hire and build a team, they’re looking at a few months of sort of finding the right people. For you, if I came in to you with another painter tomorrow, how many days would you need to ramp up a campaign?

Bob Alesio: Yeah I’d tell you probably two, my default would be two weeks, but in a lot of cases, we can move things around to get that done faster. In some cases, it’s as little as four or five days.

Michael Epps Utley: To be on the safe side, you’re talking about really 30 days is a comfortable sort of ramp up going from zero to 60?

Bob Alesio: Oh yeah absolutely. Yeah and I think you’re spot on Mike, that’s a really pointed way to frame it up, you’re right. I think I alluded to it, the idea of being able to scale right up and down right? You and I both know that we work with clients, and I think especially not with just painters and construction, but there’s a lot of businesses that have seasonality right? I think that’s part of it too, is sometimes the clients are looking to make a heavier investment in paid, sometimes they’re looking to really bolster and beef up what’s already in play for organic. I think that’s the other challenge too, is how do you not just scale your marketing efforts, but how do you stay flexible and nimble both with the technology, but also with your investment? I think that is one of the advantages of working with agencies and partners, so that is a plus.

Michael Epps Utley: We’ve had just thinking back over the last year or two, we’ve had a lot of instances of seasonality and adjusting things. We’re typically going into the winter with the mantra of killing winter, not having a dip. I know you and I were on the phone with a client yesterday, and they mentioned that this was the first time all of their reps stayed busy all the way through winter pricing projects, that was gratifying to hear. I think being able to shift gears and move money around to repairs, and the types of projects that were more appropriate to sort of seasonal challenges, in that case as a roofing company. Yeah, I think being able to move things around, having somebody who can think on their feet and isn’t learning the stuff for the first time, that’s a pretty big deal in addition to the ramp up. Okay so yeah so another question here, we’ll wrap up our episode with this one, in general, what are just some ball parks on media spend and management fees that somebody should be ready to get into?

You’re not going to spend two or three dollars a day on this, but it’s also not millions. Where’s sort of a frame of reference? If someone’s out there, their business is going well, they’re kind of ready to professionalize some things that they maybe haven’t actively managed in the past like marketing, maybe they’ve just been driving around and visiting job sites, and now they’ve got enough managers that they’re not doing that anymore, or maybe like some of our residential painters who have transitioned into doing a lot more commercial work with our help, or some of our commercial clients who have been expanding by purchasing other locations, moving into additional states and markets. I mean these are all sort of scenarios that we’ve touched probably even over the last two weeks. What are some sort of big round numbers that people can think of? What’s a simple way for them to think about how to build this into a marketing budget for next year?

Bob Alesio: Sure, yeah. I think from the paid standpoint, we’re talking about Google Ads in this example, I think there’s really I think better from two standpoints right in terms of the cost, you have the cost to manage the advertising after its built and then what not, and obviously you have the ad spend cost, the cost for the clicks. If we think about it from that standpoint, as a baseline for a business that’s ready to take their advertising to a professional services level, kind of the next level in some cases, you can expect to pay I’d say probably somewhere around $400 a month for a professionally managed and optimized campaign. Then I would probably go ahead and budget approximately $1000.

Michael Epps Utley: Those are management fees, yeah those are management fees.

Bob Alesio: Management fees.

Michael Epps Utley: Sorry, and then I talked over you, what did you say on the second number?

Bob Alesio: No correct yeah, the first being management fees, the second number being about $1000 for the media, for the actual ad spend itself, those click costs.

Michael Epps Utley: It can clearly go up from there. If somebody wants a really, really simple way to know if they’re ready to get started with this, those are some numbers. Of course every market is different, every situation is different. Let’s wrap up with that, but if someone is ready to have a conversation, and think about doing some advertising, how would they get in touch with you? Do they need to go to industrialclicks.com? Is that a good way to get you?

Bob Alesio: That’s a great way to get me. If you go to industrialclicks.com, learn a little bit about the agency, our focus, our capabilities, and then they can reach out right to the contact form, they can call the number, whatever is good for them. Always happy to answer questions and talk through what’s possible with different comps.

Michael Epps Utley: We kept it kind of high level today. Of course, if someone wants to chat with you about their unique situation, you could dig into much more detail, on sort of whether it’s creating a new campaign or taking over an existing campaign, you could get into more detail on advancing the state-of-the-art for what they have going on in their situation.
Bob Alesio: That’s right, absolutely.

Michael Epps Utley: Okay well good. Well Bob this is a great episode. I’m really excited. I’m real excited for the next podcast episode. We’re going to be also be talking to Bob. Chris, why don’t you preview that for us and get us out of here?

Chris Raines: Yeah this one’s really exciting. For me, I have a video background as a video producer, so we’re going to be talking about video advertising, particularly YouTube, which is a part of Google as we know. We’ll be talking to Bob, our PPC expert about that. Look forward to that coming up. Yeah we’re out, we’ll see you next time Bob, thanks a lot for joining us.

Michael Epps Utley: Thanks Bob.

Bob Alesio: Thanks guys.

Chris Raines: The Grow Your Painting Business Podcast is a free service of searchprimer.com. Visit us today for more information on how you can grow your business using the latest tools in digital marketing, searchprimer.com.