The sheer number of Internet marketing options draws HVACR contractors into one of the biggest traps possible: dabbling in everything and succeeding in nothing.
A far better path to generating revenue and retaining customers is to focus full attention on two or three Internet marketing campaigns and execute them better than the competition.
Here are three of the best options for your company, and seven key tips for executing each one.
Mobile Internet access now exceeds desktop access. In particular, people seeking and doing business with local companies frequently use their mobile phones to check out potential service providers, schedule appointments and gather information. Here are some keys to creating a great mobile website:
1. Implement a responsive website rather than a separate mobile website. Responsive websites adjust automatically for optimum display on any size screen.
2. Use "sticky" navigation at the top so the navigation menu is always in view as the user scrolls down the page.
3. Keep your phone number in view at the top of the page — either with a phone icon or numeric display — so users can always call no matter where they are on the website.
4. Keep content brief and factual, with informational headlines and subheads. Mobile users like to scan.
5. Use plenty of white space in the design. Ample white space conveys efficiency and expertise; cluttered pages convey disorganization.
6. Incorporate two special offers — one for new customers and one for existing customers. Make the offer valuable, and create easy-to-use response forms with minimal required fields and limited text inputting.
7. Use customer reviews (testimonials) to convey the quality and professionalism of your work — you are asking strangers to let you into their homes. In addition, list certifications and awards to further boost credibility.
Local SEO is a complicated subdiscipline of SEO, and it's something local HVACR companies need to engage in to be visible on Google for organic search. These are seven critical elements of local SEO that will put you ahead of competitors:
8. Have a responsive website. Google is placing more and more emphasis on mobile-friendly websites.
9. Make sure your name, address and phone number (NAP) are displayed exactly the same way — on every page of the company website, in off-site directory listings (e.g., the Yellow Pages) and everywhere else online. Always use a street address.
10. Obtain customer reviews for your website and on review sites, especially Yelp, Google Plus, Angie's List, Yellow Pages and credible, industry-specific sites. Some websites, such as Yelp, prohibit solicitation of reviews, so learn the ground rules of each site before developing your approach.
11. Obtain mentions of your company name in online media, especially local media. Accomplish this by joining local business organizations, being active in the community, and supporting fundraising/charitable causes.
12. Make sure your website is properly optimized for SEO. Important elements: keyword selection, title tags, page loading speed, inbound link profile, unique and relevant content.
13. Embed a Google Map of your location on your website (this is also handy for users.)
14. Select keywords with strong buying intent to attract the best pool of organic search traffic. The keyword "HVACR" is quite broad and will attract people searching for things other than service. Keywords with greater buying intent include "HVACR services", "HVACR services in Toledo," "furnace inspection," "emergency furnace repair," etc.
An email newsletter continues to be an affordable and effective means of staying in touch with customers, and is especially useful for retaining customers and selling them new services. Here's how to execute to near perfection:
15. Never buy mailing lists — all you will do is annoy strangers. Concentrate on your house list of current and former customer email addresses.
16. Provide useful information, such as DIY tips for HVACR. Especially effective: seasonal tips such as winterizing your home. This type of content shows customers you care about them, and thus builds loyalty.
17. Speaking of loyalty, incorporate loyalty rewards/offers in your emails. For instance, a 10 percent discount coupon or $25 cash for referring a new customer keeps your company top of mind.
18. Use a solid online email management platform to manage your campaign. Advantages include a professional-looking design, the ability to manage and segment your mailing list with ease, and easy-to-understand campaign performance data.
19. Write email subject lines with great care. A poor subject line deters recipients from opening the email; certain words in the subject send the email directly to the spam folder.
20.Get personal. Let customers see photos of employees and your facility; these images build a personal connection.
21. Get the email frequency right. Too many emails annoy even the most loyal customers; too few emails fail to make any impression at all.
With a solid mobile-friendly website, local SEO and email marketing, your company will have an affordable and effective plan for building revenue and improving reach and image.
Don't be discouraged if results are not apparent immediately. SEO can take months to take hold, and email marketing requires at least six mailings before a company can begin to evaluate performance. Give your plan time, and solicit feedback to make improvements. Results will come.
Brad Shorr is the Director of Content Strategy for Straight North, a Chicago-based Internet marketing company that offers SEO, PPC and web design services. For additional information, visit straightnorth.com.