Plumbing, Marketing

Google Ads for Plumbers: How to Target and Win Local Customers

April 15th, 2021
11 Min Read

Google Ads, formerly Google AdWords, represents the most commonly used paid digital marketing channel in the plumbing industry. The vast majority of plumbing contractors we work with devote part of their advertising budget to it. 

This is true whether they’re handling marketing themselves, relying on an in-house team, or paying an agency to manage it for them.    

The reason is clear: Google Ads work for acquiring new customers. 

But to get the most out of them, it’s important to understand the differences between three basic categories: 

  • Google Search Ads

  • Google Display Ads

  • The relatively new Local Services Ads 

Local Services Ads provide a unique opportunity for plumbers, in that you pay for leads rather than clicks. That makes them a great tool to use to make sure you’re getting the most from your marketing budget.  

At the same time, without the assistance of an integrated plumbing software like ServiceTitan, the process of scheduling jobs that come in through Local Services Ads — as well as Search and Display ads — can be cumbersome and confusing. 

As a result, plumbing contractors can end up devoting too many resources to administration, and on leads that never result in paying jobs. It can also cause plumbers to miss chances to capitalize on all of the opportunities that are available to them.       

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In this article, we’ll discuss: 

Looking to grow your residential or commercial plumbing business? Schedule a call to see how ServiceTitan can help you drive more leads while increasing efficiency across your company.

Local Services Ads: How to Pay for Leads (Not Just Clicks)

Unlike Search ads, which appear similar to organic search engine results, or Display ads (which take the form of graphics and ad copy on websites, social media pages, and apps), Google Local Services Ads appear in a separate category, above the results of a search for services in a given geographic area. 

For example, the screenshot above shows the Google Local Services Ads for local plumbing services.

Local Services Ads pop up when people use search terms like “plumbing services near me” or simply “plumbers.” By clicking the “More plumbers…” option, prospective customers can pull up a list of the plumbing contractors in their area. 

From that menu of options, they can click on the phone icon to call plumbing businesses directly, without ever navigating to a landing page on a company website

By removing a step in customers’ route to contacting your business, Local Services Ads connect plumbing companies with a larger number of homeowners who already know what they’re looking for, and who are ready to purchase plumbing services. This helps increase conversion rates.

With Google Search and Display ads, you pay for clicks — the possibility that a potential customer might give you a call after visiting your site. 

With Local Services Ads, you pay only for plumbing leads — prospects who actually make contact.

This model offers favorable returns on investment, in that it tends to generate high-quality leads. Local Services Ads also help ensure that the calls they produce are from customers in your service area.           

The Challenges of Managing Local Services Ads without a CRM

While Google Local Services Ads offer plumbing contractors some potentially big advantages, properly leveraging them without the assistance of a fully integrated Plumbing CRM (customer relationship management software), like ServiceTitan, can be challenging. 

For one, customers are limited in their ability to make contact. If a contractor isn’t pairing Local Services Ads with a high-quality CRM, customers’ only option is to call. 

Once a call comes in, without an advanced CRM, plumbing contractors must rely on the standard, often clunky manual process of creating and booking a job

  • Comparing calendars with the customer 

  • Scheduling a visit

  • Arranging for technician availability

  • Making notes on the specs of the job 

  • Inputting a time for a follow-up or confirmation call, etc.     

All of this makes things more complicated for the customer, and can create lag time between the call and the home visit. It decreases efficiency, while introducing an opportunity for the customer to hire a plumber who moves faster. 

The bottom line: many people these days prefer to book online, and shops who offer this via Local Services Ads win more jobs. 

In addition, while there’s no doubt that paying for leads is often a better bet than PPC, not all leads are created equal. Some calls that come in are bound to be from people shopping for a service that you don’t provide. Others might be from people who, because of a glitch or erroneous computer setting, aren’t actually within your service area. 

Google knows this and they’re pretty good about reimbursing Local Services Ads users for bad leads. But in order to recoup losses from those leads, contractors need to be able to keep very good track of them. And without a top-notch field service management platform, that can be extremely difficult to do. 

In the next section, we’ll take a look at how ServiceTitan addresses these issues to allow plumbing contractors to make the best possible return from their investment on Local Services Ads. 

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How Our Google Integration Streamlines the Booking Process with Local Services Ads

By bringing an advanced CRM like ServiceTitan into the equation, plumbing contractors can begin leveraging Google Local Services Ads to the fullest, making the booking process easier and more efficient, and ensuring that they pay only for leads that have a real chance at producing business.

Though the one-click calling that comes standard with Google Local Services Ads is a step in the right direction, our integration goes further, allowing customers to book appointments themselves without having to use their phone or interface directly with a customer service rep.   

In the screenshot above, Red Lilly Plumbing, Shellback Plumbing & Drain, and NexGen HVAC and Plumbing are all using Local Services Ads. But only NexGen, a ServiceTitan subscriber, is able to provide for seamless online booking, beginning with a simple tap of the calendar icon.

From the next screen, customers can find the service they’re looking for — install toilet, unclog drain, repair water heater, etc. — and click the “Schedule” button to proceed to the next step.

Customers can choose a date and time for their appointment that is convenient for them. The availability that appears in Google Local Services Ads reflects the contractor’s calendar, and customers’ selections are automatically logged into the contractor’s ServiceTitan account, eliminating the need for time-consuming and potentially error-prone phone calls.

We know that many plumbing businesses, especially those on the larger side, like to book in excess of official capacity. They’ve learned from experience that they’ll generally be able to get to more calls than their block schedule might suggest. 

With our Local Services Ads integration, this practice is easy to preserve. Our software will book an “extra” appointment into a time slot that doesn’t yet have a tech assigned to it, adjusting in real time on the day of the visit to ensure that a tech covers the call.     

To finish their booking, customers enter their name, address, phone number, and other personal information into the Google form. That way, there’s no confusion about any of the details — the kind that can result in lost techs, delayed arrivals, unhappy customers, and fewer sales.   

Soon after they schedule their visit, customers will receive a confirmation email from Google. Depending on the business owner’s preferences, the customer might also receive an automated email, generated by ServiceTitan, from the contractor. 

Contractors can also choose to have our software simply notify a CSR of the booking and prompt them to follow up by phone with the customer to confirm. 

Whatever the case, no additional steps are required to schedule the visit: with ServiceTitan’s Google Local Services Ads integration, booking jobs becomes a frictionless, automated, near-instantaneous process.    

In addition to vastly improving the efficiency of call booking, our software makes it immeasurably easier to keep organized records of incoming leads; to sort the good from the bad; and to follow up with Google to make sure you’re paying only for leads with real potential — and not for lead generation that doesn’t have any chance to yielding sales. 

Rather than rely on a haphazard, DIY system of spreadsheets and reminders to recoup expenditures on bad leads, ServiceTitan users can simply refer to the highly detailed customer information that our software logs automatically — names, addresses, contact history, call recordings, and more. 

With such comprehensive records at your fingertips, it’s easy to track and categorize leads, and to follow up to maximize ROI from your ad spend.      

Key Use Cases and Best Practices for Search and Display Ads

In contrast to Local Services Ads, with Google’s Search and Display Ads, you pay for clicks rather than leads. However, these are still widely leveraged and relevant for marketing in the plumbing industry. 

In this next section, we’ll cover the basics of using both.

Google Display Ads for Plumbers

Google Display Ads are the banner ads that you see around the perimeter of websites all over the internet. They’re the ads that expose you to brands with various products and services that might be relevant to you. 

The core use case of Google Display Ads is brand marketing. This means that it’s mostly utilized to build awareness of your company with prospects. A big advantage of Display Ads is that because you only pay for them when someone clicks and visits your website, you can generate a lot of impressions and brand awareness without having to pay for it. 

The following are the key options and considerations to know when using Display Ads:

  1. Responsive Display: The latest and greatest. Instead of having to hire designers and make a dozen different ad sizes, you can leverage Google’s responsive ad type. This format has you upload a logo, up to 10 images, a video (optional), headlines, and descriptions, then automatically generates good looking motion banners out of it. Google then goes a step further and uses its algorithms to mix and match the asset combinations it thinks are going to perform the best. A simple best practices guide can be found here.

  2. Image/GIF Ads: The original ad style. Have some banners designed and let them appear across the internet. This style is only recommended if you are trying to maintain consistent imagery across all channels (ie. the same banner style that you are running in print, billboard, etc.). However, even if you run this format, it doesn’t hurt to test this alongside responsive. Follow these guidelines when creating ads.

  3. Display Text Ads: This is essentially the same as Responsive Display, but without any imagery. It may be worth running text ads alongside your Image Ads to get more reach (but never alongside Responsive Display).

Google Search Ads for Plumbers

Google Search Ads are the text ads that you see on the top and bottom of search engine results pages (SERPs). 

In contrast to Display Ads, Search Ads are considered to be a form of direct marketing, where the purpose is to elicit a direct response from people viewing the ad.

As such, Search Ads have higher conversion potential than Display Ads because they’re usually tied to specific keyword searches that indicate purchase intent. While these can’t currently compete with Google Local Services Ads in terms of profitability, they’re your next best option for generating jobs.

Here are the key elements of Search Ads to know:

Account Structure

Your Google Ads account is made up of Campaigns, Ad Groups, Ads, and Keywords. There are different parts of your business and marketing strategy that correlate with each of these structures. It’s necessary to define each of the following:

  • Campaign: The individual business units in which you create groups of ads for. For example, you should have separate campaigns for people seeking “Plumbing Installs” versus people seeking “Plumbing Repair”. They’re two different types of services and thus need different ads. 

  • Ad Group: A group of ads that focus on a specific portion of your market (known as a customer persona). For example, you might have one ad group for people who need “Emergency Plumbing”, and a different one for people searching “Clogged Toilet.”

  • Ad: The actual copywriting that communicates what that persona cares about (pain points, fears, hopes, expectations). For example, “24/7 Availability” or “Openings Today.”

  • Keyword: The specific phrase that’s typed into Google by the person searching.

Bid Strategy

Bid strategy is essentially telling Google if and how to use their own algorithms to automatically optimize your keywords for best possible performance. 

To understand this, check out Google’s article on How the Google Ads Auction Works.

Landing Page Strategy

Landing pages are the web pages that you send ad traffic to. An absolute must have is a separate landing page for each business unit. Better yet is a landing page for each job type. Best is a landing page per each ad group, as you want to be able to customize your messaging towards the target persona.

Negative Keywords

Negative keywords are keywords that you tell Google you don’t want your ads to show up for.

The importance of good negative keywords cannot be overstated. You can waste over 50% of your ad budget without proper utilization of negatives. 

You should have an Account-level negative keyword list, as well as some Ad Group-level negative keywords.


Optimization is the practice of monitoring your ads performance and making periodic adjustments. 

For example, in some cases you might reallocate more spend to campaigns that are performing better. Or you might check to see if you’re on pace to spend the full amount of your budget, and make adjustments if you aren’t.

Consistent optimization is essential for making the most efficient use of your ad spend.

Connecting Google Ads to ServiceTitan for Max Profitability

Google Local Services Ads provide tremendous opportunities to plumbing contractors. They create a funnel for local customers who know what they want and are ready to buy, while allowing plumbing businesses to pay for leads rather than clicks. In combination, these qualities make for a tool that’s both cost-effective and laser-focused.  

But for most plumbing companies, Google Local Services Ads, like other marketing channels, will represent just one important piece of an overall marketing strategy. 

Following best practices for channels like Google Search and Display ads are no less important to effectively leverage your marketing budget.

Trying to manage all of these elements manually can be tough. But a top-notch CRM like ServiceTitan makes things incomparably easier. With the help of our software, plumbing contractors can do things like: 

  • Streamline Google Local Services Ads job booking

  • Track leads to make sure they get the most from their investment

  • Systematize and enforce best practices for Search and Display ads 

Looking to grow your residential or commercial plumbing business? Schedule a call to see how ServiceTitan can help you drive more leads while increasing efficiency across your company.

Learn more about ServiceTitan Plumbing software.

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