Run Predictive & Branding Social Campaigns When Search CPC is TOO DAMN HIGH | Psychographic Targeting Hot House

Crystal ball among stacks of coins

Emergency home services such as plumbing and appliance repair are the bread and butter of search PPC for one obvious reason: intent. When faced with a burst pipe gushing near-freezing water, most of us aren’t hopping on Facebook for help. Nope, it’s straight to Google with a “plumber [city]” style search. As a service provider, you want to be at (or near) the top of the results for your service area, which — let’s face it — is gonna require paid search ads. But, holy wow, have you seen what it’ll cost? If the CPC is too damn high, consider social ads.

In this edition of Targeting Hot House, we’ll lay out a strategy for how to drive down the cost of paid search via branding and predictive campaigns in social. We’ll use plumbing as our example and focus on Facebook. Ready? Let’s dive in.

Wait, why not search?

A typical desktop result for a location-specific service provider search looks like this:


NOTHING above the fold is organic. If you wanna play ball, you NEED to be among those ads. Then reality sets in:


For small companies or independent contractors, it might not be feasible to compete, at least in the non-brand keyword space. Branded keywords are a different story, and yes, you WILL want to bid on your brand terms. Want a search for your company name resulting in a click on a competitor?


Your ad SHOULD appear at the top of that SERP, using call extensions to make it easy for potential customers. There’s just one itty bitty hurdle to get over first: People have to know your company name to search for it. Enter Facebook.

Facebook branding campaigns for home service providers

To get your name out there, run a branding campaign in Facebook. Set up a base audience to get started. Below are the parameters to play with:

  • Location: Change the dropdown setting to “People who live in this location” and specify the city in which your business is located plus the distance you’re willing to travel for a job. The minimum radius is 10 miles using this method. Got a smaller service area? Use the “Drop Pin” button, which allows you to target a radius as small as one mile.


  • Language: Unless you plan on running ads in another language, or are promoting the fact that you habla español, limit the audience to English.
  • Homeowners: Within Detailed Targeting, select Homeowners (Demographics > Home > Home Ownership > Homeowners).
  • Decision makers: Facebook describes its homeowners segment as “people in households that own their home.” With the default age setting 18-65+, this could mean adult children living at home are included. We advise raising the minimum age range to avoid targeting this group.
  • Home type: Narrow your audience to single-family dwellings, if it makes sense (Demographics > Home > Home Type > Single). Those living in condos and multi-family complexes often aren’t responsible for emergency repairs.
  • Home age: Facebook allows you to target decades in which a home was built (Demographics > Home > Home Type > Year home built). Because newer homes generally have fewer plumbing problems, you may want to limit your audience to older homes. We’ll go with homes built from 1900-1999.

Our resulting audience looks like this:


Creative that captivates

In terms of ad types, there are five options:


You might be inclined to use the single-image ad, given its simplicity. However, don’t write off other options, particularly the single video and carousel formats.

Video ads tend to garner more attention than a static ad. They also allow you to demonstrate your expertise by offering advice related to your business (how to fix a leaky faucet or remove hair from a shower drain, for example). A couple tips for video ads:

  • Don’t worry about production value — short, simple and low-tech is just fine
  • The first few seconds are critical for capturing attention, so don’t waste time showing your logo — let your branded profile image do the job or place your logo in the corner or at the end of the video
  • Since audio doesn’t automatically play in mobile, start with text telling the viewer what they’re watching and include captions throughout
  • Keep it short

Carousel ads are ideal for companies with multiple products/services and decent images. Try creating a card (image/text combo) for each service you offer. Facebook will determine which one performs the best and position it first. You could use this data to create single-image ads for top performers or even a new carousel dedicated to that service.

Keep in mind, these ads aren’t going to result in emergency service calls. The power lies in branding your company to residents of your service area, such that they’ll search for your company should something go awry and come across your click-to-call search ads.

Not enough immediacy? Want more out of your campaign? Include a call to action within the ad creative and/or landing page encouraging users to:

  • Add you to their phone contacts (AIMCLEAR did this for a criminal defense attorney based in Hollywood)
  • Download a coupon (or “mention this ad”) for their next service call
  • Sign up for your email list, which could offer home maintenance tips, special offers, etc. (Bonus: This keeps your company top-of-mind without further expenditure.) Alternatively, develop a resource section on your website containing helpful articles on such topics

There’s power in sending clicks to your website, even for a branding campaign. It allows you to cookie and add the user to a remarketing list for search ads (RLSA). You can also cookie users via Facebook video ads in mobile, even if the viewer DOESN’T click through to your site. Should you decide to bid on non-brand keywords in search, RLSAs make it possible to serve ads ONLY to those who’ve visited your website and are actively searching for services you provide, using a target-and-bid strategy. Note that if you expand your non-brand campaign down the road, you can target everyone at a comfortable CPC while raising your bid to target users in the RLSA audience using a bid-only strategy.

Facebook predictive campaigns flag a future fix

Predictive campaigns allow you to sell specific products or services by identifying an issue before it becomes a problem. Think about the emergency services you provide:

  • Is there a certain time of year the service is in demand?
  • What type of customer generally requires the service?
  • What’s the typical lifespan for appliances or devices you repair or replace?

Let’s look at a couple examples. Ad creative geared toward frozen pipe repair turned on just before a bitter cold spell could be an interesting test. People who cook a lot might put food scraps, grease and oil down the drain, so try narrowing your audience by cooking-related interests and serving clogged-drain creative.

Furnaces your thing? Target homeowners living in your service area whose homes were built between 1990 and 1999. Furnaces typically last 20-30 years, so this is a sweet spot of folks who’ll need a replacement soon, if they haven’t already bought one. Check out how focused your audience could be:


A variety of services may be required or recommended with larger home renovation projects. Galvanized pipe, for example, is common in older homes, but only lasts about 50 years. Contractors generally recommend replacing such piping during a major renovation. To target those who could be embarking on such a project, alter your base audience by:

  • Excluding newer homes
  • Adding home improvement/home renovation purchase behaviors as a qualifier
  • Adding income as a qualifier

Pro tip: If you tend to work in high-end homes or your bids are often higher than competitors, you might be tempted to target home values above a certain threshold (Demographics > Home > Home Type > Home value). Be careful, marketers. This could exclude people who purchased fixer-uppers or lower value homes, but have the money for renovation. Use income as the qualifier instead (Demographics > Financial > Income).

Here’s what our renovation-focused audience looks like:


Facebook power segments for home services

There’s a number of interesting Facebook segments ripe for home service providers’ picking. Think about branding to first-time homebuyers (Demographics > Home > Home Ownership > First time homebuyer). These folks probably don’t have preferred service providers in their contacts — yet. Offer some kind of new-home service? Even better.

A couple other noteworthy segments:

  • Recent homebuyers (Behaviors > Residential profiles > Recent homebuyer)
  • Home size (Demographics > Home > Home Type > Square footage): 13 size ranges are available, from less than 750 sq. ft. to 6,000-6,999 sq. ft.
  • Property size (Demographics > Home > Home Type > Property size): Facebook offers 11 options for property size targets, from 0.01-0.59 acres to 40+ acres
  • Length of residence (Behaviors > Residential profiles > Length of residence): There’s four options here, ranging from less than one year to six years or longer

To sum things up, direct response paid search could cost a boatload in highly competitive spaces. If you can’t (or don’t want) to pony up, circumvent by running branding and predictive campaigns in Facebook, paid search campaigns on brand terms and, for previous site visitors, non-brand terms via RLSA.

Have you had luck with predictive campaigns? Got a tip for skirting the high cost of paid search? Share it below for karma points!

Image credit: Meesiri/

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