Just about every business owner I know understands that to maximize the results of his or her advertising and marketing programs, he or she must set measurable goals, articulate a written strategy (to achieve the goals), and put in place the tools and reports to track success. However, there’s another ingredient required for marketing success, and it’s one frequently overlooked by business owners and marketers alike. That ingredient is an Always Be Testing (ABT) mindset.
HVAC companies experiencing the greatest advertising and marketing returns on investment (ROI) share the ABT mantra. In this article, I’m going to provide a simple framework for adopting an ABT advertising and marketing mindset and a guide to identifying some easy things to test.
UNDERSTANDING THE MARKETING FUNNEL
As I’ve mentioned in previous articles, successful HVAC companies see their websites as giant sales funnels. For the purpose of this article, the modern marketing funnel features five distinct parts: impressions, visits, leads, sales, and reviews.
Let’s start at the top of the marketing funnel with impressions. One of the primary goals of a website and overall online presence is to generate sales. But, sales can’t be generated if people don’t know the company exists.
Using tools, such as Google Analytics, Search Console, and AdWords, to measure impressions is a great way to quantify the number of people who know a business exists. I recommend company management monitors this metric monthly. Also, be sure to filter out people living outside a geographic service area from the number of impressions.
The second part of the marketing funnel is the number of visits, which refers to people visiting a website. Like impressions, the number of visits is an easy metric to monitor using modern marketing tools (many of which are totally free). But, also like impressions, company management needs to filter out online visits conducted from people living outside a geographic service area. Too many unscrupulous marketers and Web marketing companies show business owners marketing reports suggesting thousands of monthly website visitors, when, in reality, only a fraction of those visitors are within the company’s service area.
The third part of the funnel is leads. These are the people who visit a website and either fill out an online contact form or call to inquire about the company’s services. Measuring leads is a bit more difficult because it requires combining data from multiple website measurement tools, but it can — and absolutely should — be done. It’s also important that management distinguishes between new customer leads (new business) and existing customer leads (repeat business).
The fourth part of the funnel is sales (booked jobs). Like leads, this metric can be a bit trickier to track, but any decent online marketing company specializing in the HVAC industry can assist management or do it as a service. It’s absolutely imperative that management see exactly how many jobs and how much revenue is booked from marketing channels, such as direct mail, email, Facebook, Google organic search (Search engine optimization), google AdWords (pay-per-click advertising), etc.
The fifth part of the modern marketing funnel is often overlooked. It’s the number of people posting and/or sharing reviews about the company. Today, every consumer is connected to the Web — 24/7. The Web is social. Customers are talking about the company. The only question is: Are they helping to build the business up, or are they trying to tear it down? By monitoring reviews — both the quantity and if they’re positive or negative in nature — business practices can be adjusted to optimize organic growth.
IDENTIFYING TESTING OPPORTUNITIES FROM THE FUNNEL
So, how does any of this relate to testing? Good question. Let me give you a few examples.
Situation 1: Low Visit-to-lead Conversion Rate — Visit-to-lead conversion rate is a critical metric. It is to online marketing what gross margin is to a company’s finances. The representative Web guy (or gal), must track and know this number on a monthly basis. If a company’s doing its own online marketing, it has to be the keeper of this metric.
The visit-to-lead conversion rate for a residential HVAC company should be greater than 5 percent, and, ideally, it should exceed 10 percent. If the visit-to-lead conversion rate is lower than 5 percent, there’s an opportunity to improve.
Things worth testing include:
• Putting the phone number in the top right-corner of the site (if it’s not already there);
• Making the phone numbers on the site larger;
• Changing the color of the phone number to make it stand out more on the page;
• Adding a website contact form to every page of a website; and
• Adding urgency to a website’s call-to-action text.
Situation 2: High Leads, Low Sales — When a company’s getting a lot of leads but it’s not converting into sales, it could mean:
• Leads exist, but they’re the wrong type of leads;
• The company’s customer service reps (CSRs) need training; or
• The company’s sales team needs training.
If management investigates and determines a lead quality issue, the test should be created by the company’s marketing team. Maybe the firm executing the company’s SEO is focused on the wrong keywords? Maybe the person managing the contractor’s pay-per-click program is using ad copy focused on the wrong strategic differentiators?
If the quality of leads is good, the next thing to investigate is how the company’s CSRs are handling phone leads and website contact forms. Are they following industry best practices for handling each call? Are they responding within an hour to all website contact forms? Virtually every marketing-savvy HVAC company I know has a specialized company listening to their marketing generated phone calls and training their CSRs. If the company is lacking this, implement it.
Finally, if the lead quality is good and the CSRs are kicking butt and taking names, maybe the company’s sales team needs to improve. Perhaps it’s time to test flat-rate pricing or a discount program.
Situation 3: High Sales, Low Reviews — The final example I’ll offer is relevant when a company’s getting a lot of leads and sales, but doesn’t have many reviews online. Countless times, I’ve hired an HVAC company to work on my house, and their guys did a fantastic job, which set the stage perfectly for them to follow up with me for a review, but I fail to hear from them.
If the company’s sales are growing, but the business is failing to obtain reviews online, encourage follow-up appointments and add reviews into the business process. This should happen at every customer touchpoint — from the CSRs to the sales team to the techs to the executive team. Everyone in the company needs to play a part in making sure every job is done to perfection. Make sure the team is asking people to provide feedback and leave reviews.
There are all sorts of tests that can be implemented to turn more happy customers into leads.
LIVE AND LEARN
Part of the ABT mindset is understanding there’s no such thing as failure. Sometimes a business will launch an advertising and marketing program, everything goes right, and it generates a ton of new business as a result. Everyone loves it when this happens. Management feels like the business is on top of the world. Company leaders are heralded as business and marketing geniuses.
Unfortunately, most marketing campaigns don’t play out this way, despite what most advertising and marketing vendors preach. Most marketing campaigns generate mixed results. Maybe the company gains a lot of leads, but the revenue generated from them hardly covers the cost of the campaign. Maybe an advertising program attracts thousands of people to the company’s website, but the vast majority of them leave without making direct contact. An advertising rep will brag about the branding and name recognition the company received from the campaign. Unfortunately, businesses can’t pay payroll with branding.
The right way to think about advertising, marketing, and the ABT mindset is sometimes you win, and sometimes you learn. The lessons, while often costly and painful, become the wisdom that will help elevate the HVAC company above the small-minded folks who can’t discipline themselves to operate this way.
Publication date: 3/14/2016