If it seems like the internet is changing every six months and throwing your online marketing efforts into flux, you’re not imagining things. Between rapid changes in homeowner behavior, the proliferation of new mobile devices, and Google’s always changing algorithms, it’s difficult for HVACR marketing teams to keep up.
But fear not! We are going to discuss some key emerging trends that you can understand to benefit from all of these changes, and win more business from online homeowners.
Homeowners are using their mobile phones for HVACR searches, phone calls, and web form submissions in greater and greater numbers. Google even tells us that more than half of the queries on their search engine now come from mobile devices, not desktop or laptop computers.
A few years ago, it was easy to dismiss the movement to mobile as strictly a millennial phenomenon — teens, tweens, and twenty-somethings. No more. Now, homeowners of all ages are going to their phones first, especially when they have an urgent need, such as a repair or emergency call.
Mobile is now a fact of life for HVACR companies, both residential and commercial. At the very least, every company needs to have a responsive website that displays properly on all the different sizes of mobile phones, as well as tablets and other devices. Responsive sites are Google-friendly, and display in ways that are easiest for homeowners to navigate and understand.
Much as mobile has become an engrained part of homeowner behavior, so have search engines. The days of going to the yellow pages are gone. Google is the new default homeowner reaction to having an HVACR need.
But search is a hard game to win. Do you focus on organic search (SEO) or the pay-per-click advertising that has made Google its billions?
The answer is both. Many times, I hear that companies choose one or the other as a focus of their efforts. And if you’re a small HVACR company, it’s probably easier to just focus on one online channel versus another. But if you’re larger and looking to grow your business, you have no choice. Doing both paid search and SEO are critical to your long-term marketing plan.
Why is that? Simply stated — homeowners are making their HVACR choices at the top of Google’s search pages, both on desktops and mobile phones. In the time-constrained, point-and-click world that we’re in, Google offers homeowners a number of specific HVACR choices immediately. Being at the top of the page is a key driver that growing businesses can’t do without.
Search engine marketing can certainly be frustrating. And finding the right partner to help you navigate the online world can be difficult. But you need to be at the top of Google’s pages because that’s where your prospects are.
ONLINE APPOINTMENT SCHEDULING
Homeowners are embracing online appointment scheduling, and it’s easy to see why. With busy routines and packed schedules, many homeowners simply have limited time to solve their HVACR issues. Convenience and scheduling options often trump service quality and product offerings.
To that end, more and more service businesses are turning to online appointment scheduling. Letting the homeowner pick and choose an appointment time has a number of benefits for HVACR businesses. First, homeowners who see that they can schedule their own appointments are more likely to fill out your online form, rather than a competitor’s form that doesn’t offer scheduling. It’s simply more convenient and gives the homeowners a greater feeling of control.
Next, self-schedulers are much less likely to no-show when a technician arrives. No-shows are frustrating and costly. Letting the homeowner commit to a time that works for them also shows that you’re easy to work with and responsive to their needs.
Finally, online scheduling is a more serious issue for millennials. The 35 and under demographic loves to schedule everything online. Haircuts, spin classes, restaurant reservations, vacations, hotel stay — you name it, they are reserving it online. This is becoming an engrained behavior among the next generation of homeowners, so adding scheduling to your online efforts is going to become even more important in the years to come.
So you’ve nailed mobile marketing, search engines, and online scheduling. What now? The phone! Yes, the phone, where many HVACR companies win or lose with their online campaigns.
Even the best online leads are going to fail with poor phone work. There’s nothing more frustrating to homeowners than going to an HVACR website, liking what they see, dialing the number, and getting: no answer, a long hold time, or voicemail.
All of these non-responses drive the homeowner to do one thing: Call your competitor!
Online channels make it easier than ever to simply go down a list, contacting company after company until they get a response. HVACR companies that want to grow and scale have to have strong phone practices in place to make the most of online channels.
For example, when a homeowner submits a web form on your website, they aren’t just looking for you to call them back. They are looking (even subconsciously) to see how responsive your company is. If you call the homeowner back a minute later, you’re showing them how much you value their inquiry. Call back a day later? They’ve probably already moved on.
EMBRACE YOUR ONLINE FUTURE
Many HVACR companies are frustrated with the online world. It’s complex, confusing, and difficult to master. But so is the rest of running a business. If you embrace these online trends as part of your business future, you’ll learn to master them and drive more leads and more business to your company.
Publication date: 8/7/2017