How Trades Business Digital Marketing can achieve a Positive ROI

trades business digital marketing

If you’re reading this article, then you’re probably wondering- can my trades business make money using digital marketing and show a positive ROI? The short answer is yes. The long answer is you can make a fortune if you do it right. 

Many trade businesses, including painters, roofers, siding companies, landscaping companies, etc., have followed a similar path in digital marketing execution. Something that usually results in little to no success along the way and a negative ROI. It typically starts when a company decides to handle the digital marketing themselves or handle it internally. This approach ends up eating up more time and energy than was planned for and too much labor for the company to manage. Next, companies will typically hire someone they know, usually underqualified, and things do not normally end well. Finally, they hire a big expensive marketing firm, end up spending much more money than initially budgeted for, and have no idea what they got out of it, if anything at all. I’m here to tell you that regardless of which category you fall into or what you’ve tried before, digital marketing does work and will work on marketing your trades business successfully. The trick here (and it’s not much of a trick) is that success in digital marketing is predicated on strategy with sound execution. 

To understand how to show a positive ROI on your digital marketing campaigns, you must first understand how digital marketing works in relation to your trades business. 

Your Storefront – Website and SEO

Your website is your storefront, plain and simple. As most trade businesses are looking to sell high-quality services and products to their customers, any website representing your business should fall in line with the company’s branding or service. That is to say that if you are selling kitchen remodeling services, this is going to be a costly and detail-oriented project. Consequently, your website will need to express a high-quality, detail-oriented company. So yes, you can have your cousin make your website for $500, or create a free one using an online template, just don’t ask me to buy a $10,000 kitchen from you. The other downside to this is that many cheap and free websites are not searchable by Google, making them pretty much useless. While this may be what most of you think of when it comes to building and designing a website, this is far from the most critical aspect of achieving a positive ROI. 


SEO or search engine optimization is how your customers find you online. Google is, of course, the mecca that controls the searches, but you can control how customers find your business online. Start by determining which keywords and phrases are most important to you. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes and think, if someone is going to find me, what would they search for? Make a list of these words, and then think about how to integrate them into your website. Maybe write a blog, or post a video, or add a webpage that speaks to your specific keyword or phrase. These searches, and thereby clicks from the searches on Google, are tangible and trackable. There are many sites online where you can analyze your website concerning specific keywords you want to find and see how you rank. When thinking about the investment, an average website will cost about $5,000 – $10,000, with about another $150 – $300 per month in hosting and maintenance. With most trades businesses charging somewhere in the $1,000’s per job, you should easily be able to re-coop this cost quickly and show a positive ROI. Moreso, think about all the business you may lose by not having a website searchable by Google. When you do the math- it’s a no-brainer. 


To be successful here in showing a positive ROI for your trades business using digital marketing, you must also understand your trade area and what your competition is doing. For example, you may only want to target homeowners who live in the Milwaukee area. What you need to do is figure out what other similar trades businesses are going after the exact keywords you are in the same place. Then, look at each of their websites subjectively again, putting yourself in the shoes of the customer. Next, track the keywords you are gunning after, and create more and better content than your competitors. It is now straightforward to show a positive ROI because the cost of creating content for your website is probably going to cost somewhere between $250-$500 per month. And, if you are now getting more clicks to your site, and your site is outperforming your competition, you don’t have to score that many jobs to cover this cost. Gone are the days when you have to buy billboards at $5,000 per month or radio commercials at $25,000 per month. Sure, some websites can cost up to $100,000 or more, and some SEO campaigns can cost upwards of $10,000 or more per month, but this is all relative to the scope of your business. Relatively speaking, if you are outperforming your competition in the world of SEO, you have a great website, and you have a sound business model, you are going to achieve a great ROI. 

Use Google and Social Media for positive ROI

While it may be a little tricker determining the ROI on a website or SEO program, it’s much easier when running a Google AdWords Campaign (SEM or Search Engine Marketing) or Social Media Lead Generation Campaign. The reason? You pay per click or PPC. This way, you can create an ad and show it to your target audience, but only pay Google or Facebook for every click you get, and not by mere impressions. You can further track how many people who clicked on your ad bought your product or service. 


Buying direct clicks from Google or Facebook is also a great way to achieve growth no matter how long your business has been around. SEO takes time to develop and grow and is based mainly on what your competition is doing. SEM and PPC, on the other hand, work fast, is easy to turn on and turn off, and can send clicks to your website in no time. 

Many trade companies complain that when purchasing leads directly from lead generation sources online, they fight the masses. This means that while you are buying a lead, so is your competition, and the consumer is bombarded with phone calls and emails. It is easier to achieve a positive ROI on leads you generate yourself because the rate of closing increases dramatically.  This is because the average leads in the trades world cost somewhere between $50 – $250, and most of the ones you buy from a lead generation service are shared. You achieve a positive ROI by running your own lead generation campaigns on digital marketing channels, and then you alone are following up with prospective customers. 

Closing Thoughts

So yes, it is possible to achieve a positive ROI on digital marketing campaigns for your trades business, but it won’t come easy or cheap. When your website is optimized, and you are creating targeted online content, and you’re paying for clicks to your site; you now you have a marketing equation and business model. Sure, you’re probably not going to get it right the first time, but figure out your ROI by determining how much you are spending, dividing by how much revenue you bring in. Then, determine which channel in your digital marketing equation is working best, trim the fat, then wash, rinse and repeat!