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Google Ads for Limo Companies

In this episode, Kyle interviews the owner and founder of, Mark Petree. He shares the story of how he got started with Google ads and the fundamentals of Google ads for Limo companies. He also reveals what his most valuable asset is in his business.

Kyle:    Hello, and welcome to the Google Ads Strategy Show where I answer your questions about Google Ads. But today, I’m not going to be answering the questions I’m going to be asking them because I have a guest with me. And with me today is Mark Petree. He’s from a company called Limo Marketer. It’s his company. And as the name suggests, he focuses on marketing for limo companies. Mark’s been doing this specifically, exclusively now, for about three years. And he actually has over 80 clients, just from the limo industry.

So just a side note, if you think it might be too hard to niche down and still get enough clients, I’m just looking at what Mark’s doing because he’s just crushing it, just focusing on limo companies. But we’re not going to be talking about getting clients today. We’re actually just going to be talking about Google Ads for limo companies. So if you’re running a campaign for a limo company, if you are a limo company looking to get into Google Ads, this is going to be for you. So Mark, welcome. Anything that I left out there?

Mark: No, no, you pretty much covered everything. I appreciate you having me on here.

Kyle:  Yeah. Great. So how did you get into Google Ads?

Mark:  So yeah, in 2000s, I think my first real job was working for a company that rented large video screens to events, that was in 2006. I started out cold calling all these people and it’s a very very niched industry. I shortly discovered (because I was in charge of all the marketing) that cold calling wasn’t the best way to get these guys. It was online marketing, and specifically Google Ads. And so I started with Google Ads around 2007/2008. And I ran (ads) for that company for about eight or nine years. And so that’s kind of how I got into it.

Kyle:   Yeah, I guess I didn’t even realize that, that you’d had that much experience with Google Ads before kind of going out on your own. What are some of the things you learned early on that might be different about doing this on your own versus how you got started with it?

Mark: Yeah. So early on…I mean, you know, it’s so funny, like the same fundamentals still apply: getting your ads in front of the right people. Not, you know, paying too much per click, sending them to a page that speaks to their customer avatar. 

For instance, I know in my industry if  you have someone searching for party bus rentals, you want to send them to a page about that. They’re searching for you know, wanting to run a stretch limo, you send them to a page about that. And that’s how you’re going to convert the highest number of these visitors. 

But fundamentally, Google Ads really hasn’t changed. It’s making sure we put our ads in front of the right people. Because if you put your ads in front of the wrong people, they will click on them. And then you know, just making sure we’re not paying too much for that traffic, you know, and depending on the market, you might want to be bidding very low. And if it’s a small market, you might have to bid higher to your budget goals. 

Kyle:   I’m having you on because I know you do good work with Google Ads. But I think you also do other services for these limo companies. So what other services are you offering them?

Mark:  So right now I’m offering Google Ads. I also do Bing Ads. I think that’s very underutilized. In the right markets, it can be very powerful. And usually, those markets are going to be the larger markets. For Topeka, Kansas, you might not even be able to spend $50 a day on Google. You’re not going to be able to spend hardly anything on Bing. But in large markets like Los Angeles,  Chicago, New York City, markets like that, Bing Ads works really well. So that’s another service I offer. 

And then I also offer CRM. For the past year, I’ve been using Active Campaign, and I’ve kind of built it out with pre-made automations. And it’s really easy to duplicate. Just like I think a lot of these other CRM’s are, and so they’re pretty much pre-built automations. 

And so I’ve got a couple different packages. My largest package, I offer Google Ads, Bing Ads, retargeting, and then Active Campaign with all these, you know, pre built automations. But I never got into doing websites for SEO. I never wanted to, because I found, well for one, that’s not what I started doing. It’s not what I know. And I found you can be most profitable if you stick to exactly what you know. And then really try to machine that and make it as efficient as possible.

And so I’ve been really trying to not get distracted with all these other “Oh, why aren’t you offering SEO? Why aren’t you offering Facebook Ads and all these other things?” Because I can guarantee results with Google Ads. Whereas with SEO, as you know, Kyle, you know, it’s depending on the website, depending on the backlinks they have, and all this other stuff. You know, one website you might rank in a few months and other website might take years.

Kyle:  Yeah, absolutely. Now, you’d mentioned that Google Ads is about fundamentals. If someone might be used to running Google Ads for dentists or some other type of company, and now they want to set up a campaign for a limo company. What’s going to be different about that? What do they need to know and keep in mind?

Mark:  Yeah, yeah, of course. Really, it depends. So one thing is really getting to know your clients with limo companies. There’s typically three different types. There’s ones that focus on like corporate, and airport transportation services (those are typically sedans and SUVs, and sprinter vans). There are retail limo companies that focus on stretch limos and party buses. And then there’s companies that focus on like motor coaches and those very large buses that you see. 

It’s all in the keyword selection. Let me give you an example. If you use the keyword limo service, you’re going to get people that are searching for stretch limos and then people that are also searching for just like a high-end car service. I’m sure you’ve been to the airport before when you’re exiting and it says “Limos are this way”. Does it mean stretch limos? No, it doesn’t, right? It just means like a car service. And so that’s why you really need to get to know your niche because it’s all in the keyword selection

So for the companies that use or mainly wants sedan and SUV work, you can use limo as a keyword, but you also need to have some sort of like airport or airport code in the keyword. So, for instance, limo service wouldn’t be a good keyword for these corporate-focus clients because that’s going to get stretch limo clients. It would also get other people looking for airport stuff as well, but a keyword that works really well for these corporate limo companies is just like airport limo (you know, broad match modified keyword: airport limo). Because then, that’s someone looking for more like a black car service.

So when a generalist agency tries to compete, a lot of times they don’t know these little details that matter a lot, because these guys are typically looking for a certain type of lead. They don’t want leads of people looking for stretch limos if they don’t own a stretch limo because then they have to, you know, find an affiliate for that. They can still make some money on it but really want to focus on booking their own vehicles first, and it makes the most sense, right. 

So really, I found the number one thing is understanding your client, keyword selection, and then a massive list of make negative keywords that include city, states state abbreviations, airport codes that your clients don’t service, airport names that your clients don’t service. And obviously, using your Negative Keyword Pro tool, that thing is hugely helpful. The ad copy, that can help, but the 20% that drives the 80% of results are the keyword and keyword selection and having a long list and negative keywords. Once you have that in order, your ad copy doesn’t have to be perfect. And obviously, you want a good landing page. But if we’re just talking traffic, that’s really the most important piece.

Kyle:  You squeezed a lot in there. So you kind of mentioned having these big lists of negative keywords. You mentioned just kind of knowing the industry and knowing how these keywords trigger different types of searches.  And you mentioned being able to build out custom campaigns in Active Campaign. These are all obvious benefits to just focusing on one niche, right? How does having so many clients, any other things you could think of, where having almost 100 clients in the same niche benefits every client? You know, you’re able to use one thing over here and apply it over there. How does that synergy work? From your perspective, how does everyone come out a winner in that case?

Mark:  Yeah, great question. So a lot of my clients think it’s a negative thing. Because I tell all my clients, I have multiple clients in the same markets. I use different ads, I use different landing pages, but typically I’m using somewhat similar keywords, similar negative keywords. The data I build from, really just running so many campaigns, I’ve got a master negative keyword list, that is probably one of the most valuable assets in my business, just from running all of these campaigns for so long. It’s got to be 3,500-4,000 negative keyword list. And then each client has to have their own kind of special negative keyword list, depending on the area they service.  That’s what’s really helpful. All of this data really allows me to make each new campaign that much better from the get-go. 

I’m sure you know, Kyle, if you start in a brand new niche, and you’re figuring it out, it’s costing your client a lot of money because you’re kind of figuring out what works. You’re figuring out what search queries convert the best. That’s what I tell people. I charge a premium because I get them results pretty much right away. I cannot even kind of guesstimate approximately how many leads are going to get a month based on the budget they have to spend, in the city they’re servicing. Obviously, leads in New York are going to cost more than leads in Kansas City. That’s kind of why it’s so valuable. If you run an agency, you should focus on one niche, or, you know, two or three at the most, but it just makes everything so much easier.

Kyle: Yeah, now, you’ve been focusing on limo companies for about three years. Have you noticed any changes to the general marketing landscape in that time? Did things get easier or harder? How have you had to adjust, if at all?

Mark:  You know, so Uber and Lyft had a pretty big impact on the corporate and airport work. If anything, I’ve noticed that side of the limo industry is almost even more competitive. I found most companies are getting away from stretch limos because they they are inconvenient. They break down, they have issues. But I found, you know, there’s a ton of people that still are searching for those. I just interviewed someone the other day, who’s grown massively in the past 22 months, only spending 1,500 a month on ad spend. So not a ton of money. Grown from 5 to 25 vehicles, and in that timeframe, and he saw that there was a lack of stretch limos in his market, All the companies were selling them because, “oh, I want to focus on corporate, corporate corporate”, and there’s only so much of that work out there. 

I think just kind of figuring out what is lacking in your market and what are people looking for, you know, the leads that are coming in, what are they requesting, what sort of vehicles are they requesting? I think many times people are trying to-they want their client to want something, where really the clients in one city might be more looking for stretch limos. And there might be a massive amount of competition for corporate airport stuff but they’re so focused on “That’s the kind of business they want to build” without thinking that “Look, you’re going to be the hundredth car company offering this the same exact product. Really? How do you differentiate yourself?” 

And so I would say in the past few years that’s changed lot. Companies going away from stretch limos, which the ones that are winning now are the ones that are actually keeping theirs and and getting better ones, because they just there aren’t as many. And you know, it’s basic economics. You know, when the supply drops, and the demand stays constant. You’re going to be booking up more jobs.

Kyle: Interesting. I was thinking the other day that I actually have never ridden in a stretch limo. Have you?

Mark: Yeah, a long time ago. Yeah. Not recently, but I think it’s, you know, a lot of like brides and a lot of people still are looking for them. I see because, you know, I see the leads are coming in, what they’re the types of vehicles they’re requesting. You know, working with 90 companies, I don’t even know how many leads a month I’m providing but you know, probably, I don’t know, maybe 10,000-15,000 leads a month or more. You really get a lot of data on what is getting more popular. What’s getting less popular, what are people looking for? And I think that also gives you a competitive advantage.

Kyle: Yeah. I know you take on a lot of clients, where they probably have never done Google Ads. You’re setting them up from scratch. And I’m sure you also are talking to people who’ve been doing it themselves, right? And they’re coming to you because they just heard about you or they’ve gotten frustrated trying to do it themselves. When you look at a campaign from a Limo company owner who’s been doing it themselves, what’s the biggest mistake you see these people making?

Mark: They don’t understand the different keyword match types. And the most common mistake I see is overuse of broad match keywords, or I should just say, using broad match keywords. Because I only think someone who’s very experienced with Google Ads should even use broad match keywords. And so that would be the number one mistake I see is: overusing a broad match keywords.

Not having enough ad groups, having maybe two or three ad groups with you know, a hundred broad match keywords that aren’t even related to each other. Which means, you know, people are not going to be seeing ads that are relevant to their search query, which means that’s going to reduce your click-through rate, which is gonna increase your cost per click. So that would be the number one mistake I see. 

Number two is actually not the Google Ads campaign at all. It’s just not using a landing page. You know, you go on a website and they can’t find a phone number. They’re going for aesthetics instead of function. So I would say that’s probably the second biggest mistake is they have this beautiful website, but you can’t find how to contact them, which makes it pointless to run an online marketing campaign if you’re looking for leads.

Kyle: Are you including landing pages? 

Mark: Oh yeah. It’s almost a requirement at this point. I would say 95% of my clients, I use a landing page because it’s just so much easier to control the result when you have control of the full experience.

Kyle: But you’re not charging extra for that. That’s just kind of part of your premium. 

Mark: Yeah, it’s just part of that. It’s part of every package. Yes.

Kyle: Now, what are the top three things that, you would say, limo companies should be doing with their Google Ads?

Mark:  Well number one is your keyword selection. So if you’re doing a corporate-focused limo company, understand that your best keywords are going to be car service. You can use limo services as keyword but you have to have an airport or airport code in the keyword as well. So number one, I would say keyword selection. 

Number two, massive list of negative keywords because you’ll waste a ton of money on irrelevant traffic if you don’t have a good negative keyword list.

And then number three is, you know, is landing pages. It’s not necessarily a landing page. You can use your website. I’ve seen the best results when you have a quote request form above the fold, when your number is in the upper right hand corner, plainly visible. You want your all your calls to action, which are you know, like you’re getting quote now buttons or your or your phone number, you know call now you want those to really have a lot of contrast with the background, you want to make it very simple the next action you want the visitor to take.

And so if we can get the right people clicking on our ads, which that’s done through keywords and negative keywords, pay as little as possible per click, you know, so not bidding too high, and then send them to a page that shows them the action you want them to take. That’s how you get consistent leads every day at a relatively low cost.

Kyle:  Yeah, and so Mark mentioned, having a contact form above the fold. In case anyone is not familiar with that term, that just means it would be at the top of the page, someone would see it before they had to scroll down anywhere. Really just making things as frictionless as possible, giving people the information they need, without distracting them with what they don’t need. Pretty much how a good landing page works.

Mark:  Exactly.

Kyle:  I think this is going to be super helpful for people who are looking to run limo company campaigns. Yeah. So thanks for that. Is there anything that I’ve haven’t asked you that I should have asked you?

Mark:  I think many times people make Google Ads more complex than it needs to be. It’s about showing your ads to the right people, not spending too much per click, and sending them to a landing page that’s going to convert them from a visitor into a lead. That’s all Google Ads is made to do is send the right people for the lowest amount of money to a page, and you do that through proper keyword and having the right negative keywords. I’m not saying ad copy isn’t important. You should probably include your keyword somewhere in your first or second headline. You know, you should talk about benefits, instead of features.

What I like to do is I go on Yelp, I’ll read reviews, and I’ll say, “what is everyone saying?”, read maybe 20 reviews, what are people saying that what keeps coming up over and over that they liked about the service of this company? And then I talked about that in the ad. And it’s not about, “Oh, we have the largest fleet”. Maybe they care about, “arrived relaxed”, or  a “worry-free travel”, “punctual”, “on time”. Yeah.

Other than that, I mean, it’s pretty simple. All those different little things like bid modifiers, all this other crazy stuff, to this day, I don’t use a lot of it. And I still can get good results. And so yeah, that’s pretty much it, I think.

Kyle: Okay, great. Now, where should people go, Mark, if they want to get in touch with you?

Mark: Yeah. So you can go to I also have a YouTube channel, “Limo Marketer” and you can get in touch with me there. You can connect with me on Facebook; Mark Petree, you should see me. I’ve got I think a public figure page too. And so yeah, that’s where I’m at.

Kyle:   Yeah, I see some recording equipment behind you. Are you putting out a lot of content for limo company owners to watch?

Mark:  Yeah, yeah. So, well, in the last month, I haven’t, but I just moved from an office back to a home office. And so yeah, this is all my lighting. I bought a $2500 camera I don’t even use. I’ve been using, my new iPhone is really all I need. Really, I’ve found people get too wrapped up in production value, you know, and really, it’s the content. It’s what you’re saying that matters. Having everything perfect isn’t as important.

But yeah, once I started creating content and putting it online You know, people start coming to you, instead of having a cold call, which is kind of like beating your head against the wall.

Kyle  So yeah, anyone looking to get in touch with Mark, check out his website, his YouTube channel. You’ll be able to learn a lot more about him there. Obviously he knows what’s going on when it comes to Google ad campaigns for Limo companies. He’s the guy. So thanks again, Mark, for coming on.

Mark:  Yeah, great. Thanks, Kyle.