Profitable Trends in Web Marketing for HVAC Contractors
Let’s get the unprofitable parts of business out of the way first.
In regards to websites, some used to say, “Build it, and they will come.” That might’ve been good enough for a field of dreams, but in today’s reality, seemingly everyone over 11 years old has a website.
Building it and getting traffic that converts are as different as building a store and having paying customers.
Others like telling you, “Content is king,” wrongly assuming that more content equals more findability and longer visits from the lost masses. Also false.
In Google’s current opinion, high content and low traffic actually reduce your relevance — and thus rank — because it confuses customers who cannot leave the tangled confusion fast enough.
Today, coordinated, focused, and changing content based on search criteria is the new reigning king, but there will be more on that later.
We still see contractors build a site as if it were a static collection of billboards. It’s just disconnected pages of material created by some dude with a goatee four years ago, and no one has ever updated it.
But, if you ignore your site, Google ignores you. This is based on the reasoning that if you don’t care enough to maintain your site, Google doesn’t care to send its searching and needy customers to find a decaying mound of old material.
Now that you feel rotten about your site, let’s applaud one thing — you can clean it up now and change it into a lead magnet that outranks, outpulls, and out-converts your dated competition. Here’s how.
BIG WINNERS TODAY
You can no longer get away with random content piled to the ceiling. Today, you must laser focus your content according to three things: search, traffic, and conversions. So, the first one produces the second, which produces the third, and it all starts here:
- Search bait, tagged content — Organic search traffic is based on your answers to the most pressing questions asked by your prospects. This is so much easier than most would make you believe.
You can probably guess the top five searches that lead customers to you. Compare that to the top five searches in the Google search console, which is available to you for nothing.
Merely add content relative to those searches by using the most popular search phrases, and watch your rank rise. I don’t care how ugly it is or how much longer your web designer needs to fiddle with it. Tell him he’ll be more likely to get invited back if traffic comes and actually buys something.
You can also buy your way in using AdWords. If you do this right, you can bump your rank in both organic and paid (which are now connected, by the way; Google likes and rewards revenue).
- Reward the searchers — The search query must land on a page that answers the search. Relevance, help, response, and easy navigation are imperative.
Remember who the customer is — they’re a guest in your house. So, consider this …
The old site architecture was built on bragging. Think about the inwardly focused old pages: “About us,” “Who we are,” “What others say about us,” “Why we’re more awesome than those other losers,” and all that.
Today’s content is correctly turned outward, toward the searcher: “How you benefit,” “Ways to save,” “Customer comments,” “Our services to you,” and “Before you buy,” which are all related to this next step.
- Truth, exceptions, and credibility builders — The old method played off of a binary world; people either liked your site and stayed or didn’t like it and kept searching. Nope. That’s a big ol’ fail.
The smart contractor knows the second group can become the first group if you raise trust, confidence, and credibility. So, as you’re selling — and, to me, all sites are selling sites, unless you prefer to refer to them as persuasion or influence sites — you must plant credibility builders.
This can include licenses, affiliations, awards, testimonials, reviews, guarantees, etc. So, do not hide these on some separate tab; they are part of the package. They can be displayed along the footer, customer comments can be peppered throughout each page, and your star rating can be shared.
Don’t forget that today’s desire for transparency means the occasional negative review or honest limitation is stated openly. This is why we always recommend having a stockpile of positive reviews (received by requesting, not by hoping) to offset the single infuriated homeowner who cannot believe your tech left a wire nut behind. Furthermore, your response to the negative review has the power to turn it into a positive for potential future customers.
- Convert the traffic — Ask any salesperson what precedes an order, and the answer is, you have to ask for it. Most sites fail miserably here. They just place content and hope for the best. “Maybe people will like us,” says the hopeful contractor writing another check to his web designer, who has sold nothing to homeowners.
You can do much better in two ways:
First, offer a low friction item to a prospect to build rapport and gain contact info. This is called a lead magnet. It’s a video, report, e-zine, chart, quiz, or quick survey the prospect sees as valuable to furthering their initial quest.
For example, a prospect searches “most reliable cooling systems,” and the geo locator sends them to a page on your site. Since you already know this is a popular search, your page offers your services along with a three-page report, “Comparing the Most Reliable Cooling Systems — Know this before you buy.” You can ask for first name and email to read it (called an info capture). Obviously, you’d build reliability around installation, repair work, warranties, your brand, and more.
Each page should have a “Schedule an Appointment” or “Click to Call” link on it, which is the second part. This direct contact is often left off sites. A photo of your friendly CSRs and skilled techs with testimonials near the direct contact request will raise your lead count.
Warning: Do not send prospects off site — never, ever, ever — not even to HGTV, Good Housekeeping, or Consumer Reports … never. If you do, you are encouraging their dysfunctional inability to focus, and in 10 minutes they’ll be watching a pie-eating contest and will have forgotten all about you.
Now for the big ones.
• Integrated content programs — This trend is delivering a smackdown to the likes of which old sites and marketing can’t match. It uses our distractionable traits as an advantage by making your site match your look and messaging in other marketing, on and offline.
For example, an offline offer on your billboard matches the offer to customers via email, the posts on Facebook, and the offer on your homepage. Your most targeted prospects get the offer by real mail (our top direct response media for the last two years, by the way).
The offers are integrated. Think Dilly Dilly or the Geico Gecko. The sales messages are massively overlaid throughout media, driving the point home inescapably and unforgettably. As contractors begin doing this in our current testing, the old “fragmented” messaging looks silly by comparison.
Contractors who use integrated messaging get an instant boost in image, recognition, name recall, and lead counts. This is how marketing should always work. It’s simpler and less costly than the old random approach. It has another benefit, too, if you want to see your results soar even higher.
• Get automated — Yep, the “Auto Responders” of old have taken on a new life. Now, the savviest contractors are pre-planning their promotions with content that’s already built and ready to be launched automatically.
Just think … your emails, social posts, direct mail, and even web content gets refreshed with a new campaign automatically, launched just prior to increasing seasonal demand. These contractors are ripping low-hanging fruit off the vine, winning customers before their competition has decided which ad to run as opposed to which ad campaign to promote.
Google eats it up as prospects to your site. Your rank zooms. Your staff is less burdened with “Which of the 14 ads are these people responding to?” because it’s one campaign! It’s easier to manage, and it is the coming trend. You can be early or, ultimately, get left behind.
So those are the coming — and going — marketing trends. Give this list to your web designer or marketing director, or let us help guide you along, so you can use your website for what it was intended for — to sell your services.
Publication date: 3/26/2018