Paid Search vs SEO vs Social Posts: The Best Way to Generate More Leads in a Multi-Channel Marketing Universe

If you’re looking to generate more restoration, fire damage, or water damage leads, you will need to market your business in some way. While you may think only one channel is the best option, most restoration businesses find that using multiple channels is the best way to generate more leads.

Paid Search Basic Introduction for Contractors

In paid search, you are targeting customers using search engines by buying ads based on specific keywords. As customers search for keywords you in your campaigns, your ads will appear above organic search results. While this gives you a competitive advantage, it obviously comes at a cost. Paid search ads on mobile devices also allow customers to call you directly from your ads. Whether you’re looking to get started or make improvements to your campaigns, our Paid Search Basics for Contractors guides will help.

SEO Basic Introduction for Contractors

Search engine optimation (SEO) involves optimizing your website and content so that it appears higher in non-paid, organic search results. This requires both technical enhancements to your website, as well as creating or revising your content to perform better in search results. It also may involve writing additional content to target long-tail keywords or keyphrases that you cannot effectively target through other marketing channels. For a deep understanding SEO and tips on getting started, review our Search Engine Optimization Basics for Contractors guide.

Social Media Basic Introduction for Contractors

Social media platforms allow both users and businesses to post a variety of content. Ideally, your content will entice customers to hire you or at least build brand awareness. They also allow customers to interact with you, including leaving comments, posting reviews, and sending you a direct message. While social media is considered a free service, you will likely need to pay to promote your content in order to reach your customers. Our Social Media Basics for Contractors guide has a complete outline of social media and recommendations for making your social campaigns perform.

Which Generates the Most Restoration Leads: Paid Search, SEO, or Social Media?

The short answer is… it depends. Marketing is not one-size fits all, so what works for one business might not work for your restoration business. In order to find out what method generates the most restoration leads, you should try them all out and rely on the data.

Whether you use a call tracking system or keep your own notes on the origin of your leads, knowing where your jobs come from is critical to measuring your marketing performance. Then consider the price associated with each lead, including how easy they are to set up, skill level, the amount of time they take to manage, the cost of each campaign, and the quality of leads.

Setup Time

One factor to consider when comparing marketing channels is how long it takes to get started. Social media typically has the shorted startup time, taking only a few minutes to sign up for an account and make your first post. Paid search takes slightly longer, but you can usually launch your first campaign in an hour or two.

Determining how long it takes to start an SEO campaign depends on what you consider starting. You may be able to write your first article in a few hours, but making technical improvements to your website could take days or weeks. It could be months before you start seeing rewards.

Skill Level

Another thing to consider if the level of skill required. Social media requires the lowest skill level. If you can write a few words and post a short video or photo, you’ve got the basics. Plus, most social platforms make posting, tracking engagement, and viewing statics reasonably easy.

Paid search takes more skill, as you’ll need to continue to refine your keywords, add negative keywords, revise your ads, and manage your campaigns. SEO requires the most technical skills, including website improvements as well as writing content and measuring performance.

Time Commitment

When it comes to the amount of time running your marketing will take, social media again has the advantage. You can successfully manage your social media channels in just a few minutes each day. It’s harder to define the amount of time you’ll need to spend on your SEO and paid search marketing efforts.

Paid search could take you a few hours a week or more depending on the number and complexity of the campaigns you’re running. The amount of time required for your SEO campaigns depends largely on the amount of content you’re writing, how frequently you are publishing.


While it does take more time to become effective, SEO may be the cheapest form of marketing if you do it yourself. But it can get expensive if you need to hire a website developer or a content writer.

Many people may assume social media is completely free, but you’ll likely need to promote content to effectively reach your audience. Paid search will likely be the most expensive marketing channel.

Call Volume and Lead Quality

Measuring the success of your marketing channels in terms of call volume and lead quality is another way to compare them. Whether you track performance yourself or use call tracking software, you should wait several weeks, if not several months, before comparing your campaigns.

Weather events, seasonal fluctuation, and the quality of content and ads will all impact your success. Just because you get a couple of good restoration leads from your paid search campaigns in the first few days doesn’t mean that SEO or social media won’t perform for you in the long run.

What About Traditional Advertising Methods

While traditional advertising does work, your average customer has a smartphone within reach 24-hours a day. Unless you are tracking your calls or using a call tracking system, it can be harder to attribute leads to those advertising sources.

Think about your own behavior. If you had an urgent water event or fire, would you recall a billboard, TV commercial, or radio spot you encountered? Do you know where your phone book is? Even if you answer yes, you still probably have that smartphone in your hand already.

If you choose to use traditional methods to market your business, you should focus on brand awareness. Market your name and your services above anything else. This way when a customer needs your services, they search for you by name.

Which Marketing Channel is the Right Way to Generate More Leads for You

When it comes to generating leads, you should use the right marketing channels for your skill level, time, and budget. This will likely mean more than one if not all three methods we’ve outlined here.

An effective marketing strategy takes time to work, so allow your campaigns to run for at least a few months. Test different ad copy, social posts, and SEO content and dial in the right formula that works for you. Remember to track the calls you get and calculate your cost per lead.

If you do phase out one channel, consider testing it again after six months or a year. As you already know, restoration and disaster mitigation can be affected by seasons and weather conditions. Perhaps your initial test campaigns performed poorly because it was particularly dry that season.

Skip the Marketing And Still Generate Leads

Generating leads in a multi-channel marketing universe means you will need to constantly keep working to make the phone ring. If you want to grow your restoration business, but don’t want to continually manage your marketing campaigns you should consider our lead generation platform.

At 33 Mile Radius, we focus on the marketing so you can focus on the job. Our marketing team uses paid search, search engine optimization, and social media marketing to generate more leads for our partners. We keep up with the latest changes and trends and are constantly testing and reevaluating our marketing.

All of our leads are sent exclusively to one partner, giving you the best opportunity to close the job. We only bill you for leads on the services you provide in your agreed-to service area. If you’re ready to skip the marketing, our lead generation platform will reliably help make your phone ring.

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