This post was originally published on Street Fight on March 26, 2015.
The devil is in the details. When it comes to running pay-per-call marketing campaigns, taking the time to select the most appropriate business categories is crucial for identifying high-quality leads and maximizing return on investment. In many cases, the more granular the category level, the higher the expected conversion rates in a PPC campaign.
More than $64 billion is spent annually on local ads that generate calls to businesses, and call volume from mobile search is expected to increase to 73 billion by 2018, according to BIA/Kelsey. One of the keys to taking advantage of this increase in call volume is selecting the right business categories for a PPC campaign.
Determining which categories a business should be listed under is a balancing act, and choosing a category that’s neither too broad nor too narrow can be difficult for businesses that aren’t familiar with the finer points of PPC marketing. For example, some restaurants may find that they generate more calls by being listed in the “Italian restaurants” category than the more general “Restaurants” category, simply because the latter is too heavily populated with competing establishments. Ads have the tendency to get lost when businesses are listed exclusively in the most populated categories, and the ROI goes down as a result.
By the same token, it can also be detrimental to a PPC campaign when a business selects categories that are too narrow in scope. Businesses have to consider, for example, how many consumers are really searching keywords like “European facials,” and whether they would be better served by selecting broader categories, like “Facials” or “Spas.”
In determining category granularity, here are some more questions worth asking.
When is specificity crucial?
The more detailed the category level a business selects, the better the ad matches. Unfortunately, businesses that are too granular in their approach may not find enough call volume to derive significant value from their PPC campaigns.
Some of the most successful PPC categories for businesses have been restaurants, automotive, movie theaters, and beauty services. As a result, those categories have grown quite large, and businesses in these industries would be best served by getting very specific with which categories they’re listed under. For example, a Chinese restaurant may want to be listed under both the “Restaurant” category and the “Chinese restaurant” category. Similarly, an auto shop could be listed under “Automobile Repairs” and also “Mechanic.”
Businesses in niche industries, and those that perform services that are very narrow in scope, should also consider getting specific with the categories they select. An esthetician who focuses exclusively on eyebrow threading, for example, would not be well served by listing her services under the general “Spa” or “Beauty” categories, since doing so would result in inquiries about services that she does not provide. In this case, the business owner needs to get very granular with the categories she selects to maximize the number of qualified leads she receives.
How detailed should a business get?
The answer to this question is determined by the incremental cost that businesses incur when fielding low-quality calls. The more specific a business goes, in terms of category selection, the higher the quality of the calls it will receive. For organizations that can handle the increased volume without taxing additional resources, broader business categories may be beneficial. Thus, the balancing act is in play once again.
Although home services is one of the most popular verticals in the PPC industry, this is also a category in which businesses can get lost in the folds if they’re not careful. Because home services is such a large category, businesses that fall into this group would be better served by selecting categories that are narrower in scope, like “kitchen remodeling” or “drywall installation.”
Matching consumer intent should always be the goal when selecting categories for a PPC campaign, which means that a business should never place itself into categories that do not accurately represent the services it offers. While doing so may result in a higher call volume, it will not lead to an increase in conversions.
Which categories are best served by using general terms?
The more granular a business gets with its category selection, the fewer unwanted calls that business will receive. However, not all categories produce enough leads for a successful PPC campaign.
Businesses in extremely niche markets would be best served by expanding their category selections and using more general terms. Larger businesses that offer an array of services, such as full-service beauty salons or automotive dealerships, are better suited for using general category terms in their PPC campaigns.
Using the data provided by the PPC vendors, businesses can determine which keywords and categories are currently leading to the highest value conversions in their industries.