8 More Website Mistakes Contractors Commonly Make
Originally published: 03.01.11 by
Think of your
customer — not
yourself or your
Last month I wrote about eight
mistakes that I commonly see
on contractors’ websites. (View
this article at HVACR Business’
digital edition archive, www.hvacrbusiness.
com.) Here are eight more mistakes,
for a total of 16 mistakes to avoid or correct
on your website.
Mistake 9: No tools that help visitors
to overcome their skepticism.
Consumers are extremely skeptical.
Specifically, we’re taught to be skeptical
of anyone selling anything. On the
Internet, skepticism is even higher.
Your biggest hurdle to making an online
conversion is overcoming your visitor’s
The following elements will increase
your credibility and instill a sense of
trust and believability in prospects:
- Provide full contact information
at the bottom of each web page.
On contractors’ pages, I frequently
see a phone number for each area
and even what area they service.
However, I won’t see a street address.
What would a skeptical visitor think
about a business that’s not willing to
say where it is located? They would
be more skeptical.
- Include an “About Us” page. My
“About Me” page is one of the highest
trafficked pages on any of my
websites. Why? Because people are
always curious to know who you are.
Having an “About Us” page tells your
visitor that you have no problem revealing
yourself and that you have
nothing to hide.
- Include photos of your brick-and mortar
site. If you have a brick-and mortar
store or office,
it shows that
you really do have a real business.
Just knowing that you do business in
an office building breeds credibility.
No one wants to get ripped off in a
fly-by-night deal, and the picture of
your office shows that you’re not going
- Include testimonials. Displaying an
endorsement from a customer and
using pictures will give a face to your
- Repeat names of reputable suppliers.
I know all of us use products
from reputable companies — just use
their credibility to your advantage.
- Provide a solid guarantee. One of
the fears online consumers have is not
being able to get their money back if
something goes wrong. Providing
a strong guarantee tells your visitor
that you stand behind your product
and that there is little risk in purchasing
your product or service.
- Provide a picture of yourself and
your staff. People don’t buy from
businesses, and businesses don’t buy
from businesses. People buy from
people, and people who work for
businesses buy from people who work
for businesses. The more you can include
about you and your credentials
and successes, the more people will
feel good about doing business with
- Provide case studies with successful
results. People want to know
how you can help them solve their
own unique problems. If they see
that you’ve helped someone else out
that had the same (or similar) problem
with successful results, it proves
that you can help them as well. Use
a problem/solution/results format to
present your case study.
Mistake 10: Content focused on
only you and your business —
not on solving your prospects’
NEWSFLASH! No one cares about
you or any of your awards. All they care
about is how you can help them solve
I see this mistake time and again —
website owners focusing all their content
on their company and how good they
think they are. The moment you start to
understand that people don’t care about
you, and that what they really care about
is how you can solve their problem, your
sales will begin to increase.
Why? Because, generally speaking,
people only care about themselves! Although you might find that hard to
hear, it’s true. (Why do you think capitalism
I’m all about education-based marketing,
so education is infused in these
tactics, which you can implement to
make your prospects’ self-interest work
for you rather than against you:
- State your prospect’s problem;
then agitate it. Make them feel
Step 1 — Strangely, people feel better
when others suffer anguish from the
same problem(s) that they do. They feel
that there is someone else out there who
really understands them. So start your
copy by confirming their feelings of anguish
so that they know that you know
what they’re going through.
Step 2 — Now that you have confirmed
their feelings of anguish, rub it
in by making them feel worse. You see,
people usually won’t do anything about a
problem unless they feel a great amount
To do this, explain the results of
the problem. Let me show you what I
Are you sick of spending money on
advertising that doesn’t get the results
Do you have a website that seems to
just cost you money and not bring in
I know how you feel. I, too, have suffered
from being promised results; but
all I got was excuses.
I was told — like you — that my business
needed a website, and had one built
only to see no real ROI.
- Address each potential objection in
your copy and an FAQ area.
If you’ve sold your product or service
for a while, you’ve probably heard all
the objections that your prospects could
give. List any and all objections and address
the most common ones in your
Create a Frequently Asked Questions
(FAQ) section on your site to address
potential objections. Envision yourself
selling your product or service in person,
and just write down your answers.
You might even want to record yourself
as you stand in front of your product and
verbally address each objection — and
then transcribe your recording.
Read your copy and circle every time
the words “I” or “we” are used. Now go
back and rewrite the sentence using the
word “you” or “your.”
Bad: “We have won multiple industry
awards for our customer service.”
Good: “You will receive the personal
attention you require and deserve from
a team of professionals that care about
you and your specific needs.”
Mistake 11: Links, banners, and
pop-ups that pull your visitors
away from your offer.
Over-using links, banners, and popups
can distract visitors and stop them
from acting on your “MWR” (Most
Wanted Response). However, that
doesn’t mean you should do away with
Here are a few hints to using links,
banners, and pop-ups so that their distraction
- Put the resource links that you’ve
swapped with other sites on one
page. Don’t hide the page (to me
that’s unethical), but don’t make it
pronounced either. I’ve seen sites
that say, “Visit our partners,” which
is O.K. if you’re promoting affiliate programs, but it’s a free invitation to
leave your site if it’s not. As I said before,
you want to avoid anything that
causes your visitor to leave your site.
- Don’t put any links or banners on
your sales pages, only on your
content pages. Your content pages
should drive your visitors to your
sales pages. Remember, each of your
“pathways” should lead to a sales
page, and then to a closing page. It’s
O.K. to have links on your content
pages, but you shouldn’t include anything
that will distract your visitor
from buying once they’ve made it to
your sales page.
- Try to use pop-unders or exit popups
instead of entrance pop-ups.
Pop-unders and exit pop-ups are
presented upon leaving a site. This
means that a visitor has already seen
or done what they wanted to do on
your site and only then are they presented
with another offer. If you do
use an entrance popup, use a program
that limits the popup to only one pop.
- Use “fake banners” and text links
to drive visitors to your sales page.
Text links have higher conversion ratios
than banners or pop-ups.
Mistake 12: Slow-loading site.
Even with today’s broadband systems,
you still have to watch the load
time on your pages. Your visitor will
give your site no more than 10 seconds
(sometimes less) to appear. If it doesn’t,
they’re gone. With all the new advances
in graphics, it’s hard to resist the temptation
to place a lot of graphics that slow
down your site.
Here’s a myth: Having video on your
site slows it down. Wrong! It’s large pictures
and files that auto open that slow
down loading sites, such as flash intros
and videos that AUTO START.
Don’t do it.
Mistake 13: No tracking of website
You can’t improve what you don’t
measure. Only through tweaking, testing,
and measuring will you be able to
improve your website’s effectiveness.
The following are just a few metrics that
you need to measure the effectiveness
of your site. Think of them as the “vital
signs” of your website. Not only do the
following metrics help you improve your
website, but they also let you know how
much you should be willing to spend on
- Sell-through or conversion rate.
Your conversion rate is measured by
taking the number of visitors to your
site, and dividing it by the number of
visitors that purchased from you.
- Visitor value. Visitor value measures
how much each unique visitor that
comes to your site is worth to you.
- Opt-in signup rate. Your opt-in rate
is the percentage of people that sign
up (give you their email address)
when they visit your site.
- Traffic stats. Traffic stats could
consist of any number of metrics.
However, knowing how many daily
unique visitors came to your site is
an important metric.
- Source of visitors. Knowing where
your traffic came from is also important,
especially if they were driven to
your site through a paid promotion.
Your web stats package should be
able to tell you which search engines
your visitor originated from, in addition
to the URLs of the websites your
visitors came from.
- Average visitor time. Knowing how
much time your visitor spent on a
certain webpage this lets you know
to what degree your visitor finds your
site interesting. It can also tell you
approximately where your visitors
are jumping off. This metric is important
to know for each webpage.
You can’t improve what you don’t measure. Only
through tweaking, testing, and measuring
- Most-viewed pages. Knowing which
of your web pages are popular and
which ones aren’t will tell you where
your visitor’s interests lie. How well
your visitor stays on their pathway to
the closing page, and what web-pages
should be dropped (or tweaked).
With the metrics that I just mentioned,
you’ll be able to answer several
key questions about your site’s performance.
But perhaps the most important
is, “How much is each unique visitor
worth to me?”
This key metric will drive all your decisions
about how much you can spend
to profitably acquire new customers.
Mistake 14: No focus on a niche.
In the offline world there is an old
saying: “If everyone is your target market,
no one is your customer.” What this
means is that if you try to target a large
segment, you’ll appeal to nobody in particular.
The most important question is
still the same on or off the web:
Why did you choose this niche?
Maybe one of these answers fits you:
- The tighter you focus the niche,
the more you can specialize your
content. Example: Are we addressing
service, replacement, upgrade for
energy savings, or adding A/C
- Because you have 30 years as a
contractor in this niche, which
should give you solid credibility.
- There are a lot of homeowners in
this geographical area with homes
older than 10 years.
- This demographic: Homeowners
usually have the money to invest.
- Most of these homeowners are
paying high energy bills.
- I can increase both my service base
and replacement sales.
Mistake 15: The wrong domain name.
When discussing why some retailers
are so successful, you’ll often hear the
phrase, “Location, Location, Location.”
If you’ve got a great location, people
can find you easier, and you’ll get more
exposure. If your store is hidden away
in some obscure neighborhood, the
chances of you being a success are slim.
It’s no different online, and it all starts
with having a good domain name. The
No. 1 rule when getting a domain name
is that the closer the domain name to
your business name — with no hyphens
or abbreviation — the more likely you
are to be found by a customer surfing
Here are some common domain name
mistakes and tips on how to choose a
correct domain name. There are still
a lot of great domain names available.
With some creativity and research, you
can land yourself a great name.
- Using an extension other than a
“.com.” There are several top level
domain extensions such as .org,
.gov, .net, .info, .biz, .us, .co.uk, and
.cc. The .com was the first extension
to become popular and today — because
of its popularity — it’s the first
domain that people will use to find
your company. It’s better to have a
less-than-desirable name with a .com
extension than to have a great name
that is a .biz, or .info.
- Using hyphens in your domain.
Hyphens are used to separate words
in some domain names, but they
also confuse people because most
Internet users are not expecting
hyphens in a domain name.
- Using unnatural abbreviations.
Many times people will want to abbreviate
their business name to use
as their website address. When you
abbreviate your business name, you
inject an element of confusion. It’s
better to just spell out your entire
business name in your domain name
than to abbreviate, even if your name
- Not using a keyword in your domain
name. The search engines will
match the keyword in the domain
to the title of the page and give it a
- Not making the domain name easy
to remember. Let’s suppose your
business name is taken. What will be
your next move? Mine would be to
find a catchy phrase that people will
remember easily. You want to be able
to just quickly shout out your domain
and have someone understand it and
remember it. A good test is if you can
do a radio commercial and give out
your domain name and have it be
remembered, it’s more than likely a
good name. If not, change it.
Mistake 16: Myopia
Myopia has two meanings:
1. A vision defect in which objects are seen
distinctly only when near to the eye.
2. Lack of foresight.
I’m talking about No. 2: Not taking
time to develop a plan that has a target
for results. If your vision is in your head
and not written down in a plan for action,
then you’re just running by the seat
of your pants.
You’ve heard this before: “If you fail
to plan, you already have a plan, and that
plan is to fail.”
Rich Friedel is the former owner and general
manager of Total Comfort Heating & Cooling
Inc. He has more than 30 years of experience
as an owner in the HVACR industry, starting
as a helper for his father. Currently, he
shares his insights on marketing through training and speaking. His company is
Practical Marketing Solutions,
Articles by Rich Friedel
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