Whether it’s air conditioning, plumbing, or any other service, all home service providers want to be listed first when it comes to search engines. Can your customers find you quickly and easily? Are you using social media to the fullest? Could your analytics be working even harder for you? Here are some basic tips to ensure that your marketing campaigns are not only getting your company discovered, but are driving the right customers to your website as well.
Target Your Marketing: As a business owner, you’ve probably been advised to think big but stay local. The same goes for your marketing plan. Don’t waste money advertising in remote regions you simply can’t service. Instead, focus on targeted marketing to your service area only. Consider advertising through Google Adwords and on Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, and LinkedIn — these avenues can be very helpful and cost-efficient, and can align your ads to specific locations, job titles, etc. And don’t forget to optimize online community sites like Yelp, HomeAdvisor, Angie’s List, and even Craigslist. Most of these sites allow customers to review your services, and reviews bolster any viewer’s trust.
Go Local: When devising a local marketing strategy, it pays to obtain endorsements from other local businesses or municipalities. Becoming a member of your local Chamber of Commerce or the Better Business Bureau both serve as stamps of approval for your company. From there, consider joining a city committee that relates to your business — for example, if you’re promoting your services from a “green” angle, consider becoming active in an environmentally-focused committee. Conduct some research for local networking events, fundraisers, and panels — all opportunities for community participation and grassroots marketing.
Consider placing ads in local publications to reinforce your position as a trusted community member. Offer sponsorships for community events, like races, walkathons, or charity auctions. Provide discounts to community organizations, including schools, museums, libraries, and other nonprofits. Let your community know you care.
It’s easy to think big picture, but don’t overlook the power of a handshake, so to speak. Carry business cards everywhere you go — sometimes the most informal chance encounters are the ones that can reap the most benefit. And make it a priority to follow up with anyone who reaches out — even if you end up having to say “no.” Be straightforward, prompt, and clear in follow-up correspondence, and remember to take the time to spell check. Every impression counts.
Think Seasonal: Understanding your business’s seasonal highs and lows, when they happen, and how to plan in advance are critical to all of your marketing campaigns. Home heating providers know that their customers are searching online for pricing starting right after Labor Day to lock in the best service at the best price. Ultimately, paying attention to when customers are making decisions is a must. For example, it’s unnecessary to spend thousands on direct mail pieces in November for air conditioning. Customers are not in a summer mindset as they are getting their furnaces and boilers cleaned and tuned up for the long winter ahead. Planning for a March direct mail piece is a smarter choice. Determining the seasonal timing of your business will ensure that you plan to spend your marketing dollars exactly when your target customers are looking for you.
Remember, you want your customers to feel appreciated. Consider offering discounts for customers who commit to a contract in advance or sign up for scheduled maintenance long-term. Be creative with your outreach, even when the season is quiet. Sending a note at the holidays or posting community-related news on social media are simple, cost-effective ways to stay in touch, even in the off-season. Ultimately, the goal is to let your customers know they’re valued, even when they’re not calling for service.
Track and Analyze: Whether your acquisition strategy starts offline and ends online or vice versa, one goal should always be to track your efforts. Let’s take direct mail, which offers great benefits to many business owners. If this is a preferred marketing medium for you, remember to use a unique phone number and to create a unique landing page on your website so that you can monitor how your marketing is performing. By tracking, you can more easily attribute sales to a direct mail effort. Plus, you can easily determine an exact ROI. This also goes for television or radio ads: promotional codes will greatly enhance your post-promotion analytics.
Once you’ve got the data, you need to know how to analyze it. Is your marketing performing the way it should? Nowadays, it’s easy to track website visits over the course of days, weeks, and months. Determine which keywords and websites are directing traffic to your site — and which aren’t. Are your promo codes going unused? Check your analytics as frequently as possible to be sure you aren’t wasting money on useless promotions — and make a note when a seasonal promotion is working, so you can do the same thing next year.
Consider making Google AdWords work harder for you. Google AdWords helps you to target customers according to their search terms. You can set your marketing as local or global as you want — you define the budget and parameters. AdWords has a cohesive website and user-friendly software. Plus, Google offers useful tutorials to get you started.
Spend Smart: Before you make a big marketing investment, take the time to track your visitors. It’s crucial to understand how much you’re spending for each customer you gain. Decide how much you’re spending on advertising — both organic and in print — and then divide that by the number of new customers you gain. Focus on just a few metrics — page views, email subscriptions, online sales, etc. — to keep it simple and easy to gauge marketing success. Over time, you’ll understand the value of every dollar you spend.
Stay Informed: Pay attention to your competitors. How are they reaching out to their customers? What are they offering? Understanding what other companies are doing can inspire you to tailor and improve your marketing efforts. Don’t be afraid to browse companies nationwide for new ideas.
And, follow industry trends: Find blogs, forums, and member organization websites you like, and bookmark them. If you’re up-to-date within your industry, that will shine through in your outreach efforts. Start with a Google search for blogs, journals, forums, and magazines related to your service area, then spend some time sifting through until you find a few you really like. Make sure they’re current, credible — and most of all, readable. Staying current on trends and techniques helps your business at the service level, but it also allows you to share news and information with your customers via your website or social media.
Customer Service Counts: Offering conversion enhancement tools, like live chat and shopping cart abandonment software, will make your customers feel recognized. And don’t forget — it’s not just about new customers. Decide how to funnel current customers, too. To retain customers, make it easy to enroll in online billing, and develop a user-friendly account center so both you and your customer can easily monitor use. Consider implementing Live Chat software — many offer free trials with signup. Some customers find that Live Chat offers quicker service and feedback, a clearer method of communication, and a convenient way to get questions answered when it works for them. Consider LivePerson, Olark, or LiveHelpNow.
Taking the time to improve your site will boost every customer’s experience. Your website is one of your company’s greatest tools, and these steps will ensure that you’re putting your best, most professional face forward.