Hey Roofers! Avoid this Google Ads Deathtrap

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Ignacio Falco
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Google Ads is arguably the best marketing tool for Roofing Contractors. A $500 credit is surely a nice incentive to start your first campaign but be mindful of how you spend it.

I recently had the opportunity to audit a Google Ads account for a roofing company. The owner was a bit disgruntled because they had spent over $1,000 on Google Ads in about 3 weeks, but they were not seeing any results.

It turns out there was not much to audit at all.

They had created their first campaign through Google Ads’ express setup which prompted a “Smart Campaign”.

Google Ads is a powerful advertising platform for roofing contractors. It can drive targeted traffic to your website from homeowners in your area searching for roofing quotes, increase brand visibility, and ultimately generate sales.

However, as a new advertiser, it can be overwhelming to navigate the various campaign settings and bidding strategies.

To help ease the transition, Google often offers new advertisers a $500 credit when they spend $500 on advertising. This may sound like a great deal, but there’s a catch. When you start building your campaign, Google will prompt you to create a Smart Campaign. While this may seem like an easy and quick solution, it can be a deathtrap for your advertising budget.

Smart Campaigns have very little control over what you bid on, and they show your ads all across the Google Search & Display network, but not necessarily on Google Search.

In this article, we’ll explore why using expert mode is a better option for your ad campaigns, and why you should avoid the Smart Campaign deathtrap.

An image showing hands chasing a dollar bill in a fishing line to demonstrate what the author means by Google Ads offering a $500 credit which can then turn into a trap if not used wisely.

The Smart Campaign Deathtrap

Building a Smart Campaign seemed like an easy solution for this roofing company, however, it ended up costing them their $500 credit + the $500 advertising dollars they had to spend to earn the credit.

Here are some reasons why:

Limited Control Over Bidding

When I first flipped open their dashboard and saw their overall metrics, there were days in which the Avg. CPC was below $3.

This was the first red flag, as the roofing industry is highly competitive.

I have seen clicks well into the $80 mark and above in different campaigns.

Smart Campaigns have very little control over what you bid on. Google’s algorithm sets the bid for you, based on your budget and other factors. This means you have no control over how much you pay for clicks, and you may end up overpaying for low-quality traffic.

But in this case, they were underpaying for each click, so isn’t that a good problem to have?

In theory, it could be, however, was the quality of that particular click worth it?

Ads Across the Google Search & Display Network

Smart Campaigns show your ads all across the Google Search & Display network, but not necessarily on Google Search. This means you may think your roofing ads are showing at the top of every Google search for roofers, but in reality, you may show up on irrelevant websites or apps, like when your kid is playing games on your phone, and you may end up paying for clicks that have no chance of converting.

No Customization Options

Smart Campaigns have very limited customization options. You can choose “keyword themes” which in Google’s defense, they may do their best to match your business to relevant searches, but you can’t exactly get sophisticated with your keyword strategy or placements to target.

No Experiments or A/B Testing

You’re simply stuck in a one-size-fits-all approach that may not work for your business.

In this particular case, the owner of the roofing company wanted to learn if he would generate more leads for repairs or new installation quotes. The truth is that he was never going to get that important answer for his business through Smart Campaigns. With the “Smart” mode, you can’t create ad variations or bidding experiments.

A mock up image of a Google Maps showing results for a roofing business.

Why Use Expert Mode?

For starters, it would be unfair if I do not give you a warning: You should assume that the top roofers in your area are already using Expert Mode.

They have likely been around for a bit and have the opportunity to optimize their campaigns for better performance.

Expert mode is simply a better option for roofers because the industry is very competitive and each click can mean a meaningful new job that everyone wants to earn. Here are some of its benefits:

Full Control Over Keyword Targeting

Would you rather pay for a click for a search for “roofers” or “roofing estimate near me”. Now, I’m not suggesting a search for “roofers” has 0 chance of converting, but my experience tells me that the user searching for an estimate is a much more high-intent click.

When you have control over your keywords, you can be more sophisticated with your campaign strategy, what’s more relevant for your business, and ultimately, what you are willing to actually bid on.

Bidding Options

From a basic Manual Cost-per-click to an advanced and fully automated bidding strategy, you can choose how you want to play the game. But you only have a choice when using Expert Mode. We’ll delve into campaign bidding strategies in a different post, but for now, just know that the more sophisticated players in the roofing industry are likely using fully-automated strategies in order to leverage machine learning.

Campaign Structure

Some roofers like targeting “emergency roofing repairs”, while others like targeting “roofing cost calculator”, and some like targeting them all.

I know other roofers in the industry that also do gutters and siding, so if you were to do a Smart Campaign with “keyword themes” then you will not have the ability to indicate Google Ads the difference between them.

With Expert mode, you can always create different campaigns for different offerings, different ad groups for different “keyword themes”, and different ad copy for each type of service, thus increasing your relevance and your chances of getting more roofing leads for that specific service you are offering.

Did You Know You Can Still Claim Your $500 Credit AND Use Expert Mode?

That’s right, you can always claim your $500 credit when signing up for a new Google Ads account and then prompt the platform to switch to Expert Mode.

If the Google Ads expert-mode dashboard seems like a bit of an airplane cockpit to you, do not be discouraged. Simply hire an expert pilot for your Google Ads campaign management and fly toward your desired results.

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