Court Cunningham
Court Cunningham
In the time it takes you to eat lunch today, Apple is likely to sell thousands of iPhones. At that same time, a handful of other telecommunications companies will sell large numbers of Android devices. By the time you finish that cup of coffee, there will be a lot more people with a smartphone in their hands, which they will then inevitably start using to search the Internet wherever they go, whenever they want.

According to industry analyst BIA/Kelsey, by 2015, searching locally through mobile mediums is expected to exceed desktop searches for local business information. In the same way that the last decade has seen consumers predominantly searching for local business information via their PC, they are now massively turning to mobile devices — including smartphones and tablets — to find that same information.

Many contractors remain skeptical about the importance of mobile marketing for their own businesses. The prevailing wisdom is that people only use mobile devices to search for restaurants, bars, or movie theaters. In a nutshell, the prevailing wisdom is wrong. According to Google’s own data, every month there are several hundred thousand searches on mobile devices related to HVAC contractors, a/c or heating repair, and installation. These searches could mean a lot of new customers for your local business.

A number of HVAC contractors have already embraced the Internet as a key channel for marketing their businesses. A majority of HVAC contractors most likely have a website or maps listing of some kind by now; additionally, many of them work with an online lead generation company or perhaps even run a Google Adwords campaign.

The problem is that less than 10 percent of small business owners — a number that includes HVAC contractors — that have invested in a web presence are actually optimizing for the mobile channel. In other words, when consumers search on a mobile device, they sometimes can’t find an HVAC contractor’s website because it’s simply not present in mobile search properties. Additionally, consumers may find the website, but having to look at a desktop-optimized version on a mobile device can make it very hard to read and interact with.

Our data shows that the number of people who call or email an HVAC contractor after finding them on a mobile device is nearly double the rate of those located via a desktop website. In tomorrow’s world, not optimizing for mobile is the equivalent of not having a web presence today. It is essentially ignoring how potential customers want to find you and leaving money on the table.

Mobile Optimization

So, what should an HVAC contractor do to make sure that he is taking maximum advantage of mobile search trends for his business? Two important words to remember: distribution and conversion — or in other words, can consumers searching on mobile devices find your business, and once they find your business, will they eventually contact you? Here are a few tips to make sure you are optimizing for both of these areas:

1. Elect mobile distribution for search advertising campaigns. Many major search-engine platforms allow advertisers to opt-in to have their advertisements appear on mobile searches. Make sure you select this option. If you aren’t advertising your business on search engines, now is the time to start. Of course, if you are running your own campaigns, it’s important that you carefully monitor and optimize performance using an appropriate bidding strategy to make sure you are spending your advertising dollars effectively.

2. Verify business information on popular directories. Consumers aren’t just using popular search engines like Google or Bing to search for businesses on mobile devices. In-app searches on mobile applications of popular mobile Internet brands like Yelp and CitySearch are becoming increasingly popular channels through which consumers look for local businesses. As such, it’s more important than ever to make sure your business information is accurate on these and other directories.

3. Make sure your website renders properly on mobile devices. Given the smaller screen sizes of most mobile devices — unless you have a mobile-optimized website — visitors viewing your site from a mobile device are likely to have a poor, and perhaps confusing, experience. This can be very costly for your business. A Google study last year found that 67 percent of people searching on a mobile device are more likely to buy or convert after a visit to a mobile-friendly site, while the opposite is also true of a nonmobile-friendly site as 61 percent say they’ll move on if a site isn’t properly optimized.

4. Get to the point. Mobile searchers aren’t visiting your site to read about the long and storied history of your business. They want to know whether or not you can help them with their needs and how to contact you. Make sure that the mobile version of your website features your contact information prominently and doesn’t feature a lot of unnecessary text.

Although thinking about mobile marketing for your business may seem a little intimidating, it doesn’t have to be. There are companies out there that can partner with you to provide a mobile site and distribute it to the most popular places for mobile searches. At the same time, these companies can also ensure that all of your properties are consistent and built in an optimal fashion for search engines to secure inclusion in the first page of search results. Regardless of whether or not you use a vendor or go it alone, making your marketing mobile can offer your business a serious advantage over the competition and is definitely worth your consideration.