In the lifetime of your business, over 90% of your customers will visit your company’s website first, before stepping foot in your physical office, if at all. Yet, for some reason, it is one of the most neglected resources for many HVACR contractors. In today’s digital world, your website represents your company’s home base online—the one place that’s always open and available to greet a potential customer. So, what is your website saying about your company?
Here are some of the most common mistakes contractors make with their websites:
• Too many stock photos. Using too many stock photos and no real photos of your team makes your site inauthentic and impersonal. Stock photos are a dime a dozen, especially in this industry. Don’t be stuck using the same smiling yellow, hard-hat guy. Potential customers want to see your face and your people if they are going to invite you to their homes.
• Heavy focus on equipment. Now, the equipment you sell is important but, no matter how much co-op funding you get from your manufacturer, it should never take center stage over your brand. Focus instead on selling the destination (i.e., comfort, peace of mind, integrity, and safety) rather than the plane. You should still have the equipment you sell on your site, but it should be secondary to the story your brand tells.
• Outdated content. If your website hasn’t been updated in years, it’s time for a refresh. Check the dates on your offers and coupons. Finding outdated content on a site gives the impression the lights are on, but no one’s home and visitors will question the accuracy of everything else on your site.
• Misspelled words and grammatical errors. Typos and grammatical errors make your website look unprofessional. Take the time to proofread your content before you publish it.
• Inconsistent branding. Make sure your website uses the same branding as your other marketing materials. This will help create a cohesive brand identity. Check your colors, fonts, taglines, and guarantees. Your customers should never second guess whether they have the right company.
• Too much content. No one wants to read a novel on your website. Keep your content concise and laid out in bite-sized, easy-to-digest sections.
• Not enough content. On the other hand, don’t be afraid to provide enough information to potential customers. They need to know what you do, who you are, and why they should hire you. More importantly, content is paramount for how Google indexes your website in search—you must feed it what you want it to know about you.
• Too many bells and whistles. Don’t overload your website with too many features. Keep it simple and easy to use. Your website should be professional and informative, not overly sales-y. Keep use of pop-ups and gimmicks restrained. No one appreciates a “used car salesman” approach.
• Outdated web design. If your website looks like it was designed in the early 2000s, or more than 2-3 years ago, it’s time for a makeover. Like fashion, web design is constantly evolving and changing. Consider your site a visual first impression in a job interview because, in many cases, it’s exactly that. Dress for success.
• Poor mobile usability. More and more people are using their smartphones and tablets to browse the web. Make sure your website is mobile-friendly so potential customers can easily view it on their devices. The mobile-friendly design needs to be a priority, not an afterthought. Anything that is on your site (designed for a desktop) should convert well if someone opens it on a mobile device.
• Missing the basics – who, what, when, where, and why. You would be surprised how many companies forget the purpose of their site and leave out things like their service area, services offered list, contact information, and hours of operation. Most importantly, talk about your company and why you do what you do.
In my years interacting with hundreds of contractors regarding their websites, I’ve found that some view their sites as a hub that connects and supports all their marketing efforts. They understand its role as synergistic. On the other end of the spectrum, I find contractors whose attitudes often fall into another one of the following scenarios.
1. “The Field of Dreams Belief – Build it and they will come….”
The first and most common myth contractors believe is that after they launch a website, visitors will just magically appear. So many companies launch a website to go live on the Internet with the hope that homeowners will flock to their site just like turning on a bug zapper. That isn’t how it works. You must actively market your site to point visitors there.
2. “That Dog Won’t Hunt!”
The second most common misconception concerning business websites. The age-old “My phone is not ringing – what’s wrong with our website!?” Your website, if utilized correctly, is built for trapping (aka conversion) it’s not out there actively hunting leads for you. My follow-up question is always, “What types of advertising or outside efforts do you have running that are sending people to your site to be trapped?”
3. “Where are you located again?”
Make sure Google knows where to find you. About now you’re probably like “Wait—what about SEO?!?” Search Engine Optimization is a very important part of your website’s functionality. However, with Google’s ever-changing algorithms, search page landscape, and paid advertising, the places where organic search results are displayed are shrinking. And the local map pack is locked down to your location and proximity. That’s not to say that proper SEO isn’t a vital piece of your website but it cannot be your sole strategy. Consider that the percentage of homeowners who choose their contractor through open searches like “AC repair near me” is less than 20%. These are people who have no experience or referrals from friends and family to lean on.
Are you doing these steps to drive traffic to your website?
• Pay-per-click advertising. Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is a great way to get your website in front of potential customers who are actively searching for HVAC services.
• Search engine optimization (SEO). SEO is the process of optimizing your website so it ranks higher in search engine results pages (SERPs). This is a long-term strategy, but it can be very effective in driving organic traffic to your website.
• Content marketing. Content marketing is the process of creating and sharing valuable content that attracts and engages potential customers. This can include blog posts, articles, infographics, and videos.
• Social media marketing. Social media is a great way to connect with potential customers and promote your website. Be sure to post interesting and informative content on your social media channels and interact with your followers – consistently.
• Email marketing. Email marketing is a great way to stay in touch with potential customers and promote your website. Be sure to send out regular emails with updates about your company, special offers, and blog posts.
• Community engagement. Support causes with which your customers engage. In other words, go with the flow of your site traffic, not against it.
• Use your site to highlight and bring awareness to charities, local organizations, school sports programs, etc. Doing this helps bring local traffic to your site on a more regular basis. It’s even better to trade links between your site and that of the charities and organizations.
• Product Information. Make sure your website has clear and concise information about your products and services. This will help potential customers be able to use your site as a resource to make informed decisions and sets you up as the expert.
• Financing Options & Online Payment Portal. Setting your site up as a convenient portal where customers can take care of their needs 24/7 will bring traffic to your site. Customers who work with you already are more likely to purchase other services. Your site is a great place to make them aware of all the problems you can solve.
The appearance of your company's website is very important to future employees. When visiting your website, they are essentially getting their first impression of your company. If your website is outdated, poorly designed, or difficult to navigate, it will reflect poorly on your company and make it less likely that potential employees will want to work for you.
Here are some of the reasons why a company's website appearance is important to future employees:
• It shows that the company is professional and up-to-date. This is important to potential employees, as they want to work for a company that is successful and that values its image. Prospective employees are more likely to trust the company and believe that it is a good, stable place to work.
• It provides information about the company and its culture. A well-designed website should include information about the company's history, its mission, its values, and its culture. This information can help potential employees decide if the company is a good fit for them. You could include testimonials from satisfied customers, photos of your work, and information about your team of experts.
• It makes attracting top talent more appealing. The application process should be clear and concise, and it should be easy to submit a resume and cover letter. This shows that the company is organized and efficient and that it is serious about hiring the best possible employees. Also, offer a clear category to do that – either career, contact us, or openings – so that submitting a resume is an easy task. If you want to attract top talent to your HVACR company, it is important to make sure that your website looks its best. A well-designed website can make a big difference in the number of quality applications you receive.
Ultimately your customers today are constantly bombarded by online media and make many of their decisions very quickly using very irrational filters. Staying vigilant about the message your site portrays about your business and what first impression it gives to visitors, should be a priority. After considering the points above, look at your website and ask yourself: What is my website saying to customers?
Colleen Keyworth is the Director of Sales and Marketing for Online-Access, an HVACR web marketing company located in Michigan. Keyworth regularly trains contractors around the country and has served on the board of Women in HVACR for the last eight years – an organization that has grown from 100 to over 500 members during her tenure.