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How Reviews Help SEO For Your Small Business

February 14, 2019 • As a small business owner, you know as well as anyone that reputation is an invaluable asset to your business. What is said about your brand is important--especially when it comes to what is said on the world wide web. Plain and simple, the internet is the main tool a consumer uses today to help with their purchasing decisions. Research indicates that 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations and 97% of consumers say that reviews influence their buying decision. We know that customers use reviews to influence their purchasing decisions. In order to use that information to your advantage, however, it's important to make sure that those reviews are seen by the customers so once they're ready to purchase. Let's take a look at the various strategies for utilizing your reviews to increase your SEO rankings and thus increase the overall success of your business. How do we know reviews matter? According to MOZ's 2018 Local Search Ranking Factors , "Review Signals" (Review quantity, review velocity, review diversity, etc.) ranked as the 3rd most important factor, accounting for 15.44% of how Google ranks a local business in its "Local Pack" search results. This is almost a 7% increase from 2015 when reviews were valued at only 8.4% for ranking a site in Google. What is Google’s local pack? The Local Pack is the box of local search and map results that appear at the top of relevant searches in Google. Needless to say, reviews are a key determinant in making sure your business ranks higher in localized Google search over your competitors. Now that we know reviews matter to SEO rankings. Let's dive into how reviews can help with your rankings and SEO strategy. SEO ranking factors You may be asking yourself at this point, "well I see that reviews are important when it comes to ranking higher with SEO, but why is that? Why is Google putting a considerable amount of emphasis on reviews and my ranking?" Well there are some pretty simple reasons behind why Google uses reviews to help with its rankings. With Google, it's all about "who you know" Well, sort of. When Google first started ranking pages back in the day, it was all about the "credible" links you had associated with your site and page. While this is still true today, there are also other auxiliary factors associated to your site--reviews being one of the main ones. Getting links from other sites is one of Google's ways of understanding how trustworthy your site is. The more links you have from other credible sites, the more Google will reward your site with increased visibility. Furthermore, reviews inform Google that your business really exists and how past customers have felt about their interactions. Google uses content to understand your business Google is the most proficient and powerful scanner in the world. It reads your site and every site on the planet in order to help it make sense of the internet. If it has more content to read about your brand, Google develops a better understanding of your site giving it the ability to determine when and how to rank it. Understanding this gives you a tremendous opportunity. By having more reviews on your business, you are inherently giving Google more content to consume around your business, which helps the search engine better understand your business. When Google understands your business more, it rewards this information with an SEO boost. Unpack a review for a moment. What are the contents of a review? Most likely, the review will talk about the following: How the customer felt during the experience Their interactions with your business The product or service that was purchased The reviewer is writing the review for other potential customers while simultaneously giving Google rich information to help further boost your SEO. Great reviews mean a higher star rating, which mean more clicks And of course more clicks means a better bottom-line for you in the end. Humans have always relied on one another for the growth of our species. This is clearly illustrated with reviews and referrals. Take for instance an individual making a purchasing decision between two electricians: one with a two-star average in reviews and another with a five-star average. The sensible and rational consumer will most likely go with the five-star review average and click-through to their site. It's common knowledge within the digital marketing community that a higher click-through-rates on a site result in an SEO boost. Research shows that if a high percentage of searchers choose your site from the search results , Google correlates higher click through with credibility and will reward your site with better rankings. Reviews, especially positive reviews, play a huge role with click through rates. When you attract more clicks with your positive reviews, you'll see a boost in ranking follow as a result. Crafting a review acquisition strategy Whether you're just starting out and looking to get your first online review for your small business or looking to enhance your overall review acquisition strategy, a lot of what is entailed remains pretty consistent. First and foremost, make sure you're asking your customers for a review. It seems almost too simple to be mentioned here but more often than not, this step is passed over. A customer will have no idea how important a review is to you unless you let them know. Make sure you're asking the right customers in order to get that positive review you deserve. All too often, small businesses send out mass email reminders to past customers prompting them for a review of their experience. If you send a reminder to the wrong customer, you may be presented with a negative review. Reputationbuilder.com suggests a negative experience is 3X more likely to leave a negative review than a positive. You don't want to shoot yourself in the foot here if you don't have to. Work to get reviews on all of the major review sites that help bolster SEO. If you have a review acquisition strategy, make sure you are using the right websites to get the right reviews. Google, Facebook, and Yelp are the top-dogs here. Acquiring Reviews Sound overwhelming? If all of this sounds overwhelming, rest assured it doesn't have to be. Thankfully, with tools like Review Booster from Housecall Pro, all of the work can be done for you. With Review Booster you can ask the right customers for the positive reviews you deserve. You can do all of this with the help of easy to use templates that are sent to your past customers and prompt them with writing reviews on all the top review sites. All in the name of increasing SEO. So take action now and be the first business your future customers see. If not, your competitors will.

Kindra K., Marketing Coordinator

TOPIC: Marketing

Angie’s List vs. Homeadvisor: The Ultimate Lead Gen Service Comparison for Home Service Businesses

January 31, 2019 • Online home service directories seem to be everywhere these days. Porch. Thumbtack. Bark. Houzz. And yes, even Google Home Services. Those are just five of the creatively named (one maybe less so) home service marketplaces where contractors and service providers can connect with the homeowners who are seeking them out. Amongst the crowd though, two directories rise above all others - Angie’s List and HomeAdvisor. For a service provider, these websites are both a blessing and a burden. Each provides the promise of connecting you with new clients. But is the time and effort to monitor your presence (and the peer review systems of each site) worth it to grow your business. Or could those resources be better spent elsewhere? Let’s take a closer look at the industry leader Angie’s List, and its primary competitor, HomeAdvisor, to see if either is a fit for your company. The Fine Print Before we get started on the Angie’s List versus HomeAdvisor comparison, there is one disclosure that should be made known - both websites share the same owner. New York City-based InterActiveCorp or IAC oversees ANGI Homeservices, which is the parent company of both Angie’s List and HomeAdvisor. Then current owner of HomeAdvisor, IAC, acquired a stake in Angie’s List in May 2017, thus creating the ANGI Homeservices brand. It’s not an uncommon pairing considering the current climate of corporate mergers and holdings. It is, however, an important distinction since the following comparison is really about the services each one offers. Yes, these are still both lead-generation tools for your business. While each maintains separate operations and run independently of one another, understand that any monetary investment you might make with either service ultimately ends up in the same spot. The Histories Recent acquisition notwithstanding, both Angie’s List and HomeAdvisor have long histories and are the clear 1A and 1B of localized service provider directories. Each has relatively humble roots, but their principal missions have remained consistent throughout their history: provide peer-based recommendations and reviews for homeowners and lead generation for contractors. Angie’s List As the oldest of the service provider directories, Angie’s List has weathered all competitors to remain atop the field for over 20 years. As a startup in Columbus, Ohio, Angie Hicks went door to door to sign up consumers for the Columbus Neighbors service that reviewed home and lawn services. Once the service reached 1,000 members, it acquired Unified Neighbors and moved its headquarters to Indianapolis. Since that time, the organization expanded to include contractors, home repair and general maintenance, as well as automotive service and health care providers. At the time of its 2017 acquisition, Angie’s List was valued at over $500 million with over 5 million members and more than 50,000 professionals as part of its platform. The site has also exceeded 10 million reviews. HomeAdvisor Originally founded in 1998, HomeAdvisor started its run as ServiceMagic, a service similar to Angie’s List with a few clear distinctions. First, it offered members estimating tools to help determine the costs of home improvement projects or repairs. It also provided free membership whereas Angie’s List required paid subscriptions. In 2004, IAC acquired the brand and a little over ten years later they had $300 million in revenue, with a total user base of 30 million. The site also claimed 3 million reviews and a network close to 100,000 service professionals. The Fees For contractors, finding viable leads and connecting with future customers is a challenge. It's made even more so when the promise of future business comes with a fee structure that is unclear. While both services offer relatively straightforward membership options to the consumer - Angie's List is a freemium service, HomeAdvisor is completely free - the provider investment is less simple. It's not overly complicated, but with both sites, you could end up paying more than you planned. Angie’s List Between each service, Angie’s List provider fee structure is the murkier of the two. A company listing on the site is free (but is owned by Angie’s List), and if you hope to achieve any level of visibility, there are a few necessary requirements. Similar to Google Ads, if you hope to rise above the organic search, you’ll have to pay for it. The benefit is that more of your company info is visible to potential clients, but the per click ad rate is market driven and can run anywhere from $4 to $8. This cost can quickly increase. The other consideration to posting on Angie’s List is discounts - the discounts you offer to a possible new customer. These are a big player on the site due to it being one of the perks of paid membership by a homeowner (paid subscribers get access to specials, free users don’t). Again, nothing earth-shattering, but it can drive up your costs. Beyond that basic structure, there is a catch to your listing that we'll cover in the pros and cons section below. HomeAdvisor With HomeAdvisor, the pricing is more straightforward, if a bit more costly. To list your company, there is a $350 annual fee. However, as a lead-generation site, if you want to connect to possible clients directly, it can start anywhere from a $15 to $20 per lead on up to $50 or more. In some markets, the number can get as high as $80 to $100 per lead. There are instances where you are granted a refund of the lead fees if they do not result in actual work, but you might have to chase those down. The Pros and The Cons It’s hard to avoid the fact that both of these websites are very much alike. Together they are the behemoths in the home service marketplace. Their extensive history and solid financial backing do not hurt either. Its little surprise they remain the preferred choice for the majority of homeowners. Both sites require a background check on their providers and offer some level of customer service when you are listed - even if the service itself leaves something to be desired (a common complaint amongst service providers). In addition, each service is well established within Google's’ organic search, which means if you type “HVAC repair near me” in Google, both Angie’s List and HomeAdvisor are at the top of the results. There are differences, however, and though each service has redemptive qualities, there are notable drawbacks worth considering before aligning with either service. Angie’s List Angie’s List is by far the most widely known marketplace, and it's "from the ground up" backstory endears it to plenty of homeowners looking for maintenance or repair services. It is free to sign up, and that does provide you with a reasonable listing from which to build your site presence. However, that is where things can turn sour for a provider hoping to raise their status to "preferred." As we alluded to in the pricing section, the big gotcha with your listing is that for it to advance in the rankings, you’ll need customer reviews. Lots of them. And they all better speak highly of your services. Your visibility can rise and fall with the reviews and ratings you receive, which it should be noted you have zero control over. Of course, if you are stuck down at the bottom of the rankings, you can overcome the placement by purchasing ads. For all its popularity with homeowners, Angie’s List, from a provider standpoint, best serves Angie’s List legacy companies - those who’ve invested time and money over many years in the marketplace to strengthen their rankings, acquire a ton of positive reviews, and spend money when necessary to ensure consistent visibility. HomeAdvisor It may not have equal billing or the notoriety of its competitor, but HomeAdvisor does have a loyal base of homeowners who swear by the service. The site also presents itself as a better fit toward larger scale projects like home remodels, which means those specific contractors can more easily find a ready and willing base of new clients. Overall, the site also presents a fairer field of competition versus the Angie’s List pay to play in the big leagues model. However, the lead-bid approach can unknowingly drive up costs without any promise of actual work coming from your efforts. That bidding also means a lot of competition amongst service providers for a less than comparable volume of work. With its skew to larger projects, HomeAdvisor is not always the best site to cultivate repeat customers. Plus, as a completely free site for the homeowner, there are plenty of window shoppers with hands in their pockets and only simple estimates on their mind. The Verdict With Angie’s List, you can create a free listing, have a few established clients post some positive reviews, and see what happens without spending a dime. For small startups, it could prove beneficial long term. If your business is well established without having used Angie’s List in the past, you’ll gain minimal benefit from it. Of course, if you throw tons of cash at it, you can develop a strong presence in the marketplace and do so in fairly short order. In HomeAdvisor, you get a level playing field. However, plenty of competition and an at times passive user base means you could be spending a lot of dollars and a lot of time for just a few actionable jobs. But if you're a large scale contractor or company with a few dollars and time to spare, leads can be found. So, will your business find success with either Angie’s List or HomeAdvisor? The answer is a resounding, maybe. Just don't put all of your marketing resources behind either service. Each marketplace - including the new upstarts we mentioned in the opening - should be viewed as a small part in your company’s broader marketing plan. Robust advertising that targets your specific client base, a healthy referral network and a reliable website that promotes customer engagement will do more to grow your business than anything else. That said, if you’re struggling to find new clients or want to try a new marketing avenue, each service is worth a shot as long as you read the fine print, understand their policies, and go into with reasonable expectations.

Stephen Altrogge, Author

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Reaping the Rewards of Referrals: How A Simple Referral Program Can Increase Your Customer Base

January 22, 2019 • As a home service business, one of the most critical aspects of continued success is acquiring new customers. But even with a professional, well-trained team, top-notch customer care and expertise that rivals any of your competitors, generating new business is challenging. Of course, advertising can get costly, and much of the ROI from your ad dollars is less than stellar. There is however a marketing approach that will plug you into an untapped customer base while also making the most of your marketing time and money. We are talking about referral marketing. What is Referral Marketing? Referral marketing is the promotion of your company through word of mouth, typically from existing customers. No major ad buys, no direct emailing or mass mailers, no major marketing team - just the influence from others who’ve used your service and liked what they received. Certainly, this marketing approach makes sense. Think about all the recommendations you get from friends, family, and even just acquaintances for all manner of things. Restaurants, movies, tv shows, trips and hotels and things to do. And yes, home services. While the concept is relatively simple, plenty of businesses ignore this fundamental aspect of customer growth. Why? For most, it’s the misconception that referral marketing takes a lot of time and effort, which is untrue. Sure, it’s slightly more involved than merely purchasing advertising space and AdWords, but only slightly. The critical difference is that static advertising is, well, static. Not to mention the returns could take weeks or even months before gaining any benefit. With referral marketing, you are actively engaging with current customers to help generate new business. The payoff can be both immediate and immense. Why Referral Marketing? Before touching on a few key strategies to get your referral marketing off the ground, it's important to understand why it's so effective. It comes down to two basic tenets and a straightforward equation: excellent service plus trust equals referrals. You provide a customer with a high-quality and valuable service. Your work generates trust with that customer. Since they trust what you’ve provided to them, they, in turn, recommend your services to people that trust and know them. Great Service This is the number one catalyst for all customer referrals and falls squarely within the control of the business - your business. For any referral program to be successful, you first must provide quality services. It may seem obvious, but to truly generate a reliable stream of referral business you have to give your current customer base a reason to refer you. Even if your services are the least expensive in your area of expertise or come with extras and add-ons, few consumers will recommend you if the actual product is subpar. This means being responsive to their needs, consistent with your services, and engaging in your interactions. If you are in the early stages of developing your business, devote plenty of resources to ensuring quality, accuracy, and professionalism. If you’re already at that high-quality level, do everything you can to maintain it, and find new ways to enhance the client experience. Don’t be afraid to tout the many satisfied customers you have. If you’ve experienced tough times and your business’ satisfaction ratings are less than stellar, don’t get discouraged. Focus on core values and the basics of your business, and you can reverse past negative experiences. Redemptive referrals are quite powerful in their own right. Regardless of where you find yourself in the evolution of your business, a focus on quality is the foundation of a strong referral network. Trust If excellent service is what puts a referral in motion, then trust is ultimately what compels the customer - more specifically, the satisfied customer - to spread the word about your company. If it seems that confidence is hard to come by these days, it’s because it is . When a consumer finds a brand or service they believe in, they tend to hold tight to their loyalty. The benefit for an organization is that consumers often want to share their great find with others. According to a 2015 report from Nielsen, this peer to peer to recommendation far outweighs other forms of advertising. So with that evidence in hand, how then does your business take advantage of a happy client base ready to spread the word? Crafting a Successful Referral Plan There are many ways to build a referral marketing program, but the most direct and effective manner is through engagement. Your established client base provides you with a built-in advertising platform. As you provided the service they loved and instilled the trust they were wanting, all that is left for you to do is engage them in sharing it with others. Here are three critical strategies for engaging them directly (and one that goes beyond your current clients) and raising your referral marketing to the next level. Incentivize and Reward If yours is like most businesses, when you first started, building your initial customer base was challenging. As you grow, these early fans turn into your legacy customers - you are on their list of go-tos whenever the need arises. So why not incentive and reward them for helping bring in like-minded people? Whether it's through service discounts, loyalty rewards, or similar promotions, tee up your early adopters with specials designed with them in mind. The “look what I got” crowd will no doubt tell everyone what they got. Then reward them again with referral incentives that further thanks them for their commitment. Of course, your referral incentives should be open to all customers that bring you new business and tiered offerings will help appeal to those that have a knack for drumming up those new clients. But don’t hesitate to spotlight your long term patrons. They are after all some of your biggest influencers, so make sure they stay that way. Get Social The power of social networking is undeniable. Just as you use Facebook as an individual to keep in touch with those important to you, leverage it for your business as well. Not only does social media widen your firm’s reach, but also helps you create a narrative about who your company is, what it can do, and how it can help new consumers. Perhaps most importantly, social media platforms promote sharing, i.e., referrals. To capitalize on these efforts, set up your website to promote easy sharing with social media buttons and special incentives or rewards and encourage others to find you online. Make sure also to employ current customers to build up your online presence. Don’t be afraid to ask current clients for reviews and recommendations and to put their kudos on your Facebook page and your website. Move Beyond Your Customers Referrals from current clients will undoubtedly prove a top source, but that doesn’t mean it's the only one. As an active part of the community that your company calls home (or has an operational presence in) you will put your brand and services in front of potential consumers you may not have otherwise touched. Non-profits, churches, community festivals or related volunteer or sponsorship opportunities offer countless promotional opportunities that can drive your referral business. We should mention that with several of these outreaches, some costs may be involved. The buy-in (or time or resources) however is typically very low and is more than worth the large number of people you’ll connect with. And, of course, those individuals know other individuals, thereby organically growing your referral base beyond the initial investment. Make It Permanent Although it may sound like a method to achieve a bump in new clientele, referral marketing is much more than a temporary effort. Incorporating referrals as a key part of your marketing and advertising efforts are vital to maximizing all potential new client sources. Even as other advertising sources ebb and flow, a referral program provides you with a consistently low cost, high-value marketing channel that never turns off. Each new client is a new referral opportunity. Now that doesn’t mean it can be left alone to manage itself - far from it. But with regular reviews of the data points your efforts create and minor tweaks as necessary, your referral program will far outlive any advertising campaigns. Final Thoughts Consumers are always looking for companies in which they can believe. Whether it's a product or service, they almost always find those brands through recommendations from peers they trust. Taking advantage of this mindset should be a core focus of your marketing efforts. Remember, create a positive customer experience, then engage those happy clients in promoting the benefits to others.  Doing so will ensure your success on two fronts - a satisfied client base already full of praise and a new set of clients ready to sing the same tune.

Stephen Altrogge, Author

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The Value of HVAC Maintenance Contracts: How to Generate More Revenue from Your Existing Customers

January 11, 2019 • What’s the best way to guarantee you’ll have more revenue down the road? Get your current customers to agree to future work today. Finding new customers is one of the hardest things about running a home service business. Not to mention the cost of marketing and bringing in new leads. In fact, it’s anywhere between 5 to 25% cheaper to retain an existing customer than to land a brand new one. The key to a sustainable HVAC business is recurring revenue, both from customers you already have and new ones who hire you in the future. So, how can you ensure your current customers keep coming back to you consistently – while also providing great value as thanks for their loyalty? With HVAC maintenance agreements . What is an HVAC Maintenance Contract? An HVAC maintenance contract is an agreement between your business and a customer who agrees to pay a set monthly fee for ongoing maintenance and preventative care. Your typical HVAC maintenance contract includes bi-annual checkups at the start of winter and summer. Some contracts also provide discounted rates for other services, free parts for anything that needs to be replaced, and priority treatment that allows the customer to get faster service in the case of an emergency. When Should You Use One? The most obvious time to suggest a maintenance contract is when you install a new unit. By offering maintenance agreements to customers during installation, you can lock in your business as the customer’s go-to choice for everything HVAC. You should also offer service agreements to any existing customers who want to protect themselves from unexpected repairs or breakdowns on an older unit. The Benefits of HVAC Maintenance Agreements for Your Business Let’s take a look at the importance of using HVAC maintenance contracts, including the benefits for your business and for your customers. Recurring Revenue and Guaranteed Future Income Arguably the biggest benefit for your business is that HVAC maintenance contracts secure future income. By signing customers on for a long-term contract, you can rest assured that you’ll have recurring revenue for the duration of the contract. Recurring revenue is safer and more reliable than the project revenue model. The more customers who opt for an HVAC maintenance agreement, the more guaranteed income you’ll have coming in. Higher Customer Lifetime Value If your typical customer only calls you when they need repairs, you’re not making money off of them most the time. This means even if you retain customers long-term, you’re still not maximizing your customer lifetime value (CLV). And HVAC businesses with a low CLV are forced to rely on incoming leads to generate more revenue – and their margins are thinner as a result. HVAC maintenance contracts allow you to inspire customer loyalty, ensure you’re the first person they call with HVAC concerns, and increase your CLV with recurring payments. The Work is Straightforward Performing routine maintenance checks for long-term customers is generally an easier gig than trying to figure out a new customer’s system for the first time. With an HVAC maintenance contract, you get to know what to expect at each checkup or service call. So, not only are your technicians receiving more work on a regular basis, but the jobs are actually easier. The work is more predictable, requires less troubleshooting, and is an all-around better experience for your team members. HVAC Maintenance Contracts Are Great for Your Customers, Too HVAC maintenance agreements aren’t just a great deal for your business and your technicians – they’re also beneficial to your customers. Here’s why. More Affordable HVAC Service These agreements typically provide bi-annual intensive maintenance checkups as well as a reduced rate for any other service needs that pop up. Though fees vary based on your business, location, and services provided, most HVAC contracts are typically less expensive than scheduling two service calls per year. Customers can also save money long-term. There’s less likelihood that they’ll have to spend a ton at once to repair or replace a damaged unit, because they’re paying you a smaller, steady fee for ongoing maintenance. Preventative Care Keeps Their Unit Up and Running A HVAC maintenance agreement allows homeowner to ensure their HVAC system is kept in good condition. They’re less likely to experience a breakdown that leaves them without air conditioning in the summer or heat in the winter, because their units are checked at the start of each season. Their Warranty Remains Intact Many warranties on HVAC units are only considered valid if the unit receives regular maintenance and care. By entering into a service agreement, your customers are able to keep their warranty intact. 5 Bonus Tips for Maximizing Customer Lifetime Value Here are a few other things you can do to boost revenue and provide more value to your loyal customers. 1. Keep Track of Your Customers The first step to better customer relationship management is gathering intel. The more you know about your customers, their service history, and their HVAC needs, the better you can connect with them and inspire loyalty. It helps to create a database or use a CRM platform to organize information about your leads and customers. Start with the basics: their contact information. It’s important that you can easily find a customer’s phone number, address, and email address all in one place. The more details you include about the customer (like the size of their home, unit type and age, as well as service history with your company), the easier it will be to manage your customer list and offer appropriate services and estimates in the future. 2. Build Stronger Relationships The nature of the job is that you spend more time ‘getting to know’ your customers’ HVAC systems than actually interacting with your customers. That said, a personal touch can go a long way in any type of home service industry. Personalized emails, thank you cards, and even phone calls to check in throughout the year are easy, low-effort ways to build stronger customer relationships. 3. Send Out Personalized Offers You can also strengthen your customer relationships by offering custom promotions to thank customers for their loyalty. Since you already have your customers’ emails, you can break your list of contacts into groups based on different factors. Look at things like the types of services they typically need, their location, and how long they’ve been a customer. Then, you can send out emails tailored to each group. Remember to further personalize each email with the customer’s name. 4. Create a Loyalty Program It can be tricky to encourage loyalty in customers you only see a few times per year. So, you need to give them a good reason to hire you again, rather than some other local HVAC business. In addition to the tips above on how to build stronger relationships, you can incentivize customers to hire you again with a loyalty rewards program. Even a simple points-based rewards program shows your customers that you value their loyalty. For instance, your customers could earn points for every maintenance checkup they schedule or gain points based on how long they stick with you on a service contract. 5. Keep an Eye Out for Cross-Selling Opportunities Cross-selling is another way to increase profits and provide more value to your customers. If some of your customers aren’t taking advantage of all your services, you might have an opportunity to increase the amount of value you provide for them – while also increasing your revenue. Lock in Future Revenue Today HVAC maintenance contracts might just be the key to increasing your revenue and keeping your schedule full all year round. To make transactions and payments even smoother for your customers, it’s a good idea to automate payments and scheduling. Find out how you can start automating your HVAC maintenance contracts with Housecall Pro.

Emily Bauer

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The 7 Best DIY SEO Tools For Small Businesses in 2019

December 19, 2018 • If you run a small business, then you already know how important it is to establish a strong brand presence in your community. When customers are looking for services like plumbing, HVAC, electricians, or other home services, they search the internet to find them. Having a website that ranks well on search engines like Google ensures that it's your services they turn to. But to get your website to show up at the top of search engine results, you will need to develop a strategy that uses appropriate content, backlinks, and more. That's where do it yourself search engine optimization tools come into play - they can help you find successful keywords and monitor your progress, even if you aren’t an SEO expert. Like any software or tools, the hard part is finding the right tool for your business needs. That’s why we’ve reviewed some of the top tools out there. Check them out below and see which one makes the most sense for your business. Moz Pro Cost:  Free 30-Day Trial | $99/mo Moz Pro is a software product that allows you to manage most aspects of your site's SEO. This tool isn’t too technical and allows small to large businesses to boost their organic website traffic. They have a pretty user friendly interface that’s nice for those new to SEO Key features: Tracks your ranking efficiently Keyword research and analysis On-page optimization Visualizes your data Search engine results page (SERP) analysis On-page grader Compares links and competitors Overall this software has features that are user friendly, with easy to read metric charts letting you know how you rank, how your competitors rank, what SEO techniques are working and where you can improve. Ahrefs Cost: 7-day trial for $7 | $99/mo If you’re serious about improving your SEO and out-ranking your competition , Ahrefs might be the tool for you. With a website check for over 100 pre-defined SEO issues, their comprehensive competitive tools, and visual SEO progress reports, you can stop guessing and find out exactly what’s holding your website back from ranking. Key features: Site Explorer Gives an in-depth look at the organic search traffic and backlink profile of any website or URL See what keywords your competitors are ranking & which pages bring in the most traffic See which website are linking to your competitors and gauge the quality of their backlink profile Keywords Explorer Discover thousands of great keywords to rank for, analyse their ranking difficulty, calculate traffic potential Accurate “search volume” Keyword difficulty score Content Explorer Discover the most popular content for any topic (by backlinks, organic traffic and social shares) Research top content and discover new content opportunities Filter by: Language, social shares, domain rating, backlinks, traffic, word count Rank Tracker Monitor your rankings over time and chart your performance against your competitors’. Site audit to see under the hood of your website's on-page SEO performance. Alerts for new & lost backlinks, web mentions, and new keywords. Overall, Ahrefs has the tools that will give you an extensive look at your SEO standings and what keywords you can use to improve. SEMRush Cost: $99.95/mo SEMRush is another comprehensive SEO monitoring tool that really stands out for bloggers and businesses . In addition to the expected SEO guidance, this tool also helps you manage your social media, PR, and paid ad strategies with a hub where you can schedule posts, analyze your traffic, and identify the best opportunities to reach your target market. Key features: Site Audit Tool Check your site’s SEO health Domain vs. Domain comparisons Analyze Google ranking factors affecting your website’s performance Track SEO optimization progress Ensure the security of your website with HTTPS checks Keyword research Find the right keywords for your SEO campaign Find keywords with less competition Use keyword grouping to segment your keywords by topic Keywords position tracking Backlink Audit Tools Find all your backlinks using SEMRush’s search console integration Check backlinks’ types Spot your links’ geolocation Organic Traffic Insights Unlock the ‘not provided‘ keywords Merge analytics and search console data Analyze keyword potential You can use these tools together and take a holistic look at the results of each report to create an complete digital marketing plan that helps form your SEO strategy. Screaming Frog Cost: Free (With Limitations) / £149.00 per-year Screaming Frog developed the SEO Spider Tool , which is one of the most popular SEO tools on the market today. The free version is a great option for technical SEO audits . When you’re ready to dive into your websites’ SEO health you can opt for the paid version that includes features like unlimited crawling , integration with other SEO tools, and much more. Key features: Crawl your full site and lists Audit redirects Crawl path reports Plug into APIs Custom extractions and configurations Analyze internal linking Find orphaned and broken pages Identify missing & duplicate titles Identify missing & duplicate meta descriptions Find images missing alt text Housecall Pro Seo Grader Cost: Free Housecall Pro is known for helping field service professionals go from good to great. That’s why we built our SEO grader specifically for small service businesses to help customers easily find them when searching for a home service. Key Features: Instant score for: Keywords SEO Mobile Social Comprehensive report Actionable recommendations Competitive comparison Industry specific Keyword analysis BuzzSumo Cost: Free 7-Day Trial | $79/mo If you are looking for a tool that is easy to use and gives you a visual look at your site's SEO progress, BuzzSumo is a good option. The program gives you intuitive content insights that you can use to determine what content is working and what isn't by seeing which keywords are showing up in search engines. It also gives you an inside look into the performance of successful influencers and companies in your field. Key features: Discover the most shared content across social networks Find influencers for any topic Setup keyword mention alerts Track your competitor’s content performance Get up to 12 months of data Discover interesting and trending content Export data Overall, this software has tools that look at influencers and competitors in your industry to find the keywords that are drawing in visitors for them, so you can find new strategies that are going to work for you as well. Google Analytics Cost: Free If you are familiar with SEO then you’ve probably heard of Google Analytics. While Google offers an entire suite of SEO tools, Google Analytics is their original one, and it's one of the most popular because of everything it analyzes . Key features: Measure traffic by device type Sitespeed by page Setup conversions / goals Identify your user’s demographics Look at new & returning visitors Real-time reporting Group traffic by channels Campaign tracking Add custom alerts Add annotations Automate reporting Build conversion funnels Use regular expressions (REGEX) Calculated metrics Site search Google Analytics has a lot of tools to help drive your SEO strategy. It can be overwhelming in the beginning so If you’re new to digital marketing you’ll want to start off by prioritizing the key metrics that are important to your business. This SEO tools list features just a few of the many programs that are available to help you track your site's visibility online. As a home service professional, you can leverage your website to gain new customers and build brand recognition in your area. With the help of these DIY tools, you can start managing your site’s SEO presence on your own.

Kindra K., Marketing Coordinator

SEO tools for service professionals

Which Review Sites Matter Most for Your Home Service Business? Start by Focusing on These 4 Websites

December 17, 2018 • Online reviews play a huge role in building a successful home service business. After all, homeowners want to hire professionals they can trust to come into their home and get the job done right. Whatever your field of expertise, every home service business owner needs to think about where and how to get customer reviews that matter. That’s why it’s so important to establish a presence on popular review sites. The more reviews you get, the more people will discover your business online and read reviews that convince them to hire you. Which sites should you start with? While it’s good to diversify, there are a few key players that deserve your focus. But before we talk about which specific websites matter most for your home service business, let’s talk about why you should care about online reviews in the first place. Why Online Reviews Matter So Much for Your Business 1. Reviews Help Customers Find You Online Reviews help build your online presence. The more customer reviews you get on popular websites, the more visibility you receive and the easier it is for new customers to discover your business online. 2. Reviews Build Trust Customer reviews are the ultimate form of social proof. It always sends the right message when your customers are willing to publicly vouch for the quality of your work and professionalism. In fact, 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as recommendations from friends and family. 3. Reviews Drive Sales By the time someone is checking out your customer reviews, they’re actively looking to hire a home service business. BrightLocal found that 92% of customers read online reviews when researching local businesses and 68% trust your business more after reading positive reviews. 4. Even Bad Reviews Have Benefits It’s always a bummer to get a negative review. But here’s a silver lining: people view positive reviews as more believable when there’s a negative comment in the mix. Leaving up bad reviews shows readers that your reviews are unbiased, which instills a greater sense of trust in potential customers. The Top 4 Trusted Review Sites for Home Service Businesses There are tons of places to ask for reviews online, so how do you decide where to focus your efforts? Start with these four review sites that matter most for home service businesses. (Note that these are listed in alphabetical order, not ranking.) 1. Angie’s List Over 6 million people across the country use Angie’s List to connect with trusted local service providers. The site collects and displays detailed customer reviews for over 720 different services. Angie’s List goes out of their way to ensure the legitimacy of their reviews. For instance, reviews cannot be made anonymously as users must create an account before they can participate. To protect businesses and customers alike, each user can only review a particular business once every six months. In addition to leaving reviews, customers can assign your business a grade from A to F. So, even if someone is just skimming reviews, they can get a sense of how previous clients feel about your business. 2. Facebook There are plenty of reasons to create an official Facebook page for your business – including the opportunity to collect tons of customer reviews. The site is a marketing goldmine for home service business owners, especially because most of your customers likely already have accounts. It’s easy for homeowners to ask for recommendations, research, and contact local businesses directly through Facebook. So, it’s important to encourage happy customers to write reviews and rate your business. And since anything posted on Facebook is attached to the user’s account, there’s an extra layer of credibility and transparency built into customer reviews. 3. Google My Business For most of your potential customers, Google is the go-to search engine for just about everything. That means they’re turning to Google when they need to find local home service professionals like you. So, not only do you need to create and claim your Google My Business profile, but you should also encourage customers to leave reviews here. 4. Yelp We can’t talk about customer reviews without mentioning Yelp. The site publishes a whopping 26,000 new reviews per minute. So, it’s no surprise that many homeowners use Yelp as a trusted source of information about local contractors and businesses. In fact, 82% of the people who visit Yelp do so once they’re ready to make a purchase or hire a service provider. You can also reply to customer reviews on Yelp, either privately or publicly, which makes it easier to address negative comments and thank positive reviewers for their kind words. This helps you build stronger customer relationships and prevent readers from being swayed by unfair comments. Honorable Mentions: What Other Review Sites You Should Care About? Once you’ve established a healthy presence on the core sites mentioned above, you should consider expanding your focus to even more review sites. 1. Thumbtack Not only can you grow your business and connect with customers on Thumbtack, but it’s also a good place for home service businesses to collect reviews. After a job is completed, customers can leave public reviews on your profile – which can boost your credibility and help you land new work through Thumbtack. 2. Your Business’ Website Another option is to ask your best customers for testimonials that you can share on your own website. You should also pull and display reviews from the sites listed above. This allows anyone who checks out your site to see what customers are saying about you across the web. 3. Local Review Sites Do a quick Google search to see what sites show up when someone looks for local HSBs in your area. For example, you can search for “Sacramento plumber” and see what comes up. The top results give you a good idea of where your business needs to be listed and which review sites you need to build a presence on.

Emily Bauer

Housecall ReviewSites Header

Electrician Marketing Strategies: 22 Proven Ways to Get More Customers

November 12, 2018 • Home services businesses don’t often have the resources of larger companies that have departments dedicated to sales and marketing. But does that mean you shouldn’t be marketing your business? Absolutely not. Whether you work alone, within a small family business or own a larger electrical company, there are some basic marketing strategies you can employ that won’t take up too much of your time and resources. And they’re proven to reach more customers and get you more jobs. Establishing community relationships can be great marketing When people think “marketing,” they often conjure up images of TV commercials and Yellow Pages ads. But marketing can be so much simpler than that. If this is your first time developing a marketing strategy, you should start with your community. Networking is one of the best ways you can market your business. First, lay the groundwork Before you employ any marketing strategies at all, you need to do some research and planning. Create goals for your marketing strategy, decide how you’ll measure whether your marketing efforts are meeting those goals, and set a budget for what you want to spend on things like advertising and branding (but more on those later). Identify the type of work you want Different electricians look for different kinds of work. Are you hoping to bring in work in the form of new construction projects? Replacement of electrical in existing buildings? Maintenance and repair work? Decide what kinds of new customers you’re looking for before moving onto the next step. Identify your target market Once you know what kind of customers you’re looking for, figure out where you can find them. For example, if you want to increase your work in new construction projects, contractors and architects might be the best market for you to focus on. If you’re looking for repair and maintenance work, your target market might be homeowners and property managers. Reach out to your target market Once you’ve identified who your target market is, it’s time to start planning some outreach. Are there any industry events for local construction companies and contractors that you can attend? Maybe a homeowners association would allow you to drop in on a meeting to introduce yourself to neighborhood homeowners, if they’re your target market. Network with other electricians An often overlooked way to market your business is to network with other local electricians. Sure, they’re your competition. But if you develop a friendly relationship with them, they’ll be more likely to refer jobs to you if their schedule is too full to take new work, or if they’re offered jobs that aren’t within their specialty. Network with other businesses Similarly, you should try to network with other local businesses, especially home services businesses. A family or contractor that’s doing a major renovation might get your information referred from their painter, carpenter or plumber. Your existing customers are your best marketing tool Home services businesses rely on a lot of word-of-mouth business referrals. That’s why your existing customers can be some of your most valuable assets when developing a marketing strategy. Use your existing customers Satisfied customers are a gold mine of marketing potential for your business. Don’t be afraid to reach out to them and ask for their help Organize your customer information An often overlooked part of a good marketing strategy is collecting information on all your customers, including their contact information, services done and feedback, and keeping it organized in one central place. An electronic database is a good bet,because it will help streamline any outreach marketing you choose to do later. Reach out to your customers regularly If you have any customers in your database you haven’t heard from in a while, reach out and ask them if they have any service needs they’ve been putting off. Calling an electrician may very well be a to-do list item they’ve been putting off. Offer a free annual check Send a yearly email or postcard to your existing customers offering them a free electrical “health checkup.” This will create goodwill with your customers, because they’ll know you’re looking to catch issues for them before they arise. And if they have any electrical needs, it’ll be convenient for those to get done at the same time. Ask your existing customers for testimonials If your customers are happy with your work, ask for their help in spreading the word. More than likely, they’ll be happy to give you a testimonial you can put on your website and other marketing materials to help show new prospective customers that you do quality work. Ask for referrals, too Similarly, you can ask happy customers to refer your business to their friends, family and other contacts. If they’re pleased with your work, they’ll likely be glad to share you with the people they care about. Use your equipment to help market your services You already have to invest in things like an office space, vehicles and uniforms. So make that investment work for your marketing, too. Here’s how. Keep your fleet and building in good shape When your service vehicles and office are clean and tidy, it sends a message that your business is professional and put together. Don’t let them fall into disrepair and send the wrong message. Host an open house at your office If you’re going to keep your office clean and professional, why not use it to host an open house?  Invite existing customers, industry contacts and peers to have drinks while you give a presentation on electrical health — or just mingle and try to drum up new business. Invest in good design With every business card, shirt, hat and vehicle, you have an opportunity to share your business with your community. Hire a good designer to create a series of logos that can go on display so everyone who sees you working knows exactly who you are. Build name recognition Think of creative ways you can use your new logos. Put them on pens and coffee cups to give away  to customers in drawings. Emblazon them on custom hard hats. Putting your logo on as many things as possible will build name recognition for your business in your community, so when potential new customers have electrical needs, they’ll think of you. Get online So much of marketing these days happens in the digital space. Here’s how to take advantage of simple technology to reach as many potential customers as possible. Have a website — and optimize it First things first: You need to get online. If you don’t have a website, get one now. Free website builders like Wix and Squarespace have templates that are designed for home services businesses. Once you’re online, optimize your site to appear high in the rankings when people search for electrical services in your area. Start a blog Once you have a website, start writing a blog. Post articles about topics your customers might find useful. When they’re searching for information related to their electrical needs and find your blog content, the natural next step is to hire you. Employ pay-per-click advertising One of the most powerful forms of paid advertising for small businesses is pay-per-click advertising. This places ads for your service within Google search results for terms and keywords that are related to your business. Be on social media… and use it Your customers are using social media, so why aren’t you? This is a great way to engage with current customers and reach new ones. And social networks like Facebook and Twitter allow you to pay to “boost” your posts so more potential customers see them. Get on review sites Sites like Yelp and Google Reviews can be powerful marketing tools. People in your area who are looking for an electrician will likely include reviews in their search, so make sure you’re on those sites and asking your happy customers to leave you five-star reviews. Learn the basics of email marketing If the customer database you’ve already compiled includes email addresses, start a newsletter! You can offer your customers discounted services for subscribing, and sending a regular email blast is a great way to keep your business at the front of customers’ minds for when they need electrical services. The world of marketing may seem daunting to a beginner. But as you can see, it’s actually not that hard to get started. Put these 22 tips into practice, and you’ll be seeing new customers in no time.

Paul

Electrician Marketing Strategies

6 HVAC Marketing Strategies to Help You Stand Out in a Digital World

October 27, 2018 • Did you know that 80% of all sales require at least five follow-ups to close? That means it can take five interactions from when a customer becomes aware of your HVAC business to the point that they’re ready to hire you. Whether a lead first learns of your business through a traditional advertising method like direct mail or they discover your business on Facebook, it can take up to four more interactions with your business before they decide to hire you. The second and third time a customer encounters an ad for your business, they’ll begin to recognize the name, earning you valuable brand recognition. This helps develop trust and build your reputation as a reliable HVAC business. By the time your prospect is actually in the market for a new air conditioner, hopefully your business will come to mind first. Or they’ll Google “AC replacement” and select your website from the list of results – because they know your brand and trust your reputation. Standing out in a digital world For local home service businesses, the competition is fierce. In order to build your reputation, attract new customers, and grow your company, it’s crucial to adapt to modern digital marketing strategies. Learning about the fundamentals of digital marketing will allow you to get found by local customers searching for HVAC services online. Let’s take a look at six of the core digital marketing strategies HVAC professionals should use to grow their business in 2019 and beyond. Download Field Guide: How to Hire & Grow HVAC Your HVAC Business Without the Headache 6 modern HVAC marketing strategies to grow your business 1. Use local SEO best practices to stand out in search results Local search engine optimization (SEO) is all about making it as easy as possible for local customers to find your website when they search online. When potential customers need an HVAC professional, many of them use a search engine like Google to find local businesses. Your SEO affects where your website ranks in local search results. The higher your site appears in the list of results, the better – because more people will see it and click on your site. Good SEO for HVAC services includes a range of practices, such as: Making sure your website is easy to navigate and understand. It should offer useful, relevant information that helps Google understand what you do. Optimizing the URL, meta data, and content for each page by including targeted keywords and phrases (like “ [Your City]   HVAC”). Ensuring your NAP data (business name, address, phone number) is consistent across your website as well as any third-party listings or websites where it appears. Linking between related pages on your website. For example, if you publish a blog post on the importance of replacing old air filters, you should include links to other pages on your site about seasonal HVAC maintenance and the services you offer. 2. Make a better first impression by taking control of your Google My Business listing An accurate and complete Google My Business listing is crucial for your HVAC company. By optimizing your listing, you’re helping local customers find your business in search results and making the best first impression possible. If you haven’t already, your first step should be to claim your Google My Business (GMB) listing. Claiming ownership of your listing gives you the power to control what customers see when your business appears in Google search results. Once you’re verified as the listing owner, you should check that your business name, address, phone number (NAP), and website address are all correct. You should also set your service area, so customers know whether or not you make house calls to their location. These steps are vital if you want to build credibility and make it easy for customers to get in touch with you. Next, you can further optimize your listing by selecting 2-3 of the most appropriate categories, uploading high-quality photos (including a profile image, cover photo, logo, and pictures of your business location – ideally both the interior and exterior). Try to choose photos that are clear, well-lit, and at least 720 by 720 pixels. 3. Switch to responsive web design to keep visitors on your site longer When your future customers look for a local service business, most of them don’t sit down at a computer to do their research. In fact, 87% of smartphone users reach for their mobile device first when searching for a product or service from a local business. This is the biggest reason why your website needs to be mobile-friendly – so you can connect with the large chunk of mobile customers who are searching for you. It won’t matter how many people visit your website if they don’t stick around long enough to learn about your company. You want to make sure your website is easy to use and navigate, regardless of what device a potential customer is using. So, if you hire someone to update your website, remember that a responsive or mobile-friendly website design is the way to go. Responsive design means the web pages will automatically adjust to perfectly fit whatever screen size is being used to the view the content. Another option is a standalone mobile website designed for mobile screens specifically. In this case, your main website would redirect users to the mobile version whenever they use a smartphone. If you’ve ever stumbled across a non-responsive website on your phone, you know how frustrating it can be. The buttons are often too small to press, the text runs off the screen, and the image sizes are all out of whack. It’s no wonder most people leave a website immediately if it’s not mobile-friendly. A mobile-friendly web design will ensure your website looks great on screens of all sizes and is easy to navigate on a mobile device. 4. Build brand awareness and customer relationships on social media Social media’s not just for socializing anymore – it’s a powerful marketing platform for local services businesses. You can use social media to build awareness about your business, find new leads, and engage with potential customers. Facebook and Twitter are excellent places to start for HVAC businesses. You can create a business page that lists your hours, contact information, address, and links to your website (which can drive traffic and is also great for SEO). Whether or not you choose to run paid ad campaigns, you can use Facebook to reach your target audience by engaging with other home service pages and groups. If you have a lot of photos and videos you can use to promote your business, set up an Instagram account to showcase those visuals. You can use Instagram to feature customer stories, show off before-and-after installation pictures, and to introduce team members to your audience. Here are a few other ways to incorporate social media into your HVAC marketing strategies: Participate in industry-related Facebook groups where you can share your knowledge and establish a reputation as a local professional. If you create promotional videos or blog articles, share your content across each of your social media channels to get more views and exposure. Host a giveaway on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and ask participants to comment, share, or tag friends to get more entries. Use Facebook ads to market your business to specific types of customers within your service area. 5. Create videos that grab customers’ attention One of the best ways to stand out on social media is to create and share marketing videos. Think about it: when you’re scrolling through Facebook, a video is more likely to grab your attention that static text or even a photo. Not only do marketing videos allow you to convey a message quickly and effectively, but they can also drive traffic to your website and encourage potential customers to take specific actions. It’s good practice to include one strong call-to-action near the end of your video – whether it’s asking viewers to go book an appointment online, call your office, share the video with friends, or leave a comment with their thoughts. Not sure what to create videos about? There are a wide range of HVAC topics that would make for engaging video content. Everything from maintenance tips to behind-the-scenes looks at how your technicians tackle common issues to answering customer questions in a Q&A-style video. You could also talk about the benefits of working with your team of professionals or highlight the ways that your HVAC services save customers money in the long-run. Now, you might assume that good marketing videos are expensive to produce - but that’s really not the case anymore. There are a variety of cost-effective tools to help you create professional-quality videos on a budget. For example, a video-creation platform like Promo by Slidely gives you access to all the tools, video clips, and music you need for an eye-catching video. Plus, you can easily add text, so viewers can tell what’s going on even if they’re watching on mute. Another option is to experiment with live video. It’s free to broadcast using Facebook Live (aside from recording equipment – which can simply be your phone or computer – and anything you pay to promote it in advance) and you can drum up quite a bit of engagement with this type of content. 6. Build credibility by asking happy customers to write online reviews For better or for worse, customer reviews affect your bottom line. A survey by BrightLocal found that 92% of customers read online reviews when researching local businesses – and another 68% of consumers trust a business more after reading positive reviews. So, it’s important to reach out to satisfied customers and ask them if they’d be willing to leave a brief review on Google and Facebook. Once you start receiving reviews, you should reach out to customers who leave positive reviews to thank them for their kind words. You should also take this opportunity to ask if they would mind being quoted on the testimonials section of your website. Be consistent and diversify your marketing efforts for best results Digital marketing requires dedication if you want to see major results. So, be consistent and diversify your HVAC marketing strategies to include a healthy mix of the tactics listed above as possible.

Emily Bauer

8 Ways To Get Free Exposure For Your Home Service Business

October 8, 2018 • When you’re a small company it’s not easy to put money into advertising. You want to grow, but you need that money to pay the bills. So how do you get customers on a shoestring budget? You get creative. Here are eight tactics to get free exposure for your home service business. Join Local Facebook Groups Look for active local Facebook groups. Just search the names of cities, towns or neighborhoods in your service area. If you have trouble finding one, ask your customers what groups they use. In these local groups people will ask for their neighbors’ recommendations, and your service is sure to come up. Be available to answer there questions and offer to help. Create A Facebook Group If you’re not satisfied with the choices of local Facebook Groups, why not create your own? I’ve seen several businesses do this successfully. It could be a general discussion page, or one specific to homeowners and home service providers. When you provide the place for recommendations and connection, you become a valuable member of the community. Join Nextdoor Nextdoor is a social network for neighbors. Many Pros have reported getting work through Nextdoor. Members can recommend local businesses, and ask for recommendations from their neighbors. I recommend setting up both a personal and a Business account. The Business account is not neighborhood specific, so you can see your recommendations across your local area. Your personal account will allow you to proactively post or reach out to neighbors who ask questions. Cross-Promotion Connect with other businesses who serve your customers, and cross-promote each other's business. Send out an email or postcard promotion, or pass out business cards to customers. By giving your customers a recommendation for another trustworthy service provider, they’ll trust you even more. With Housecall Pro, you can even provide direct referrals using the Send-A-Job feature! Instagram Of all the social networks, Instagram makes it easiest for a business to build a network and reach new customers. Post quality content with local hashtags, and watch as the likes and follows trickle in. Or seek out and follow your potential customers to like and comment on their posts. Build that relationship before they’re ready to buy. Better yet, use Gary Vaynerchuk’s $1.80 Instagram Strategy. Choose 10 hashtags your customers are following, and leave a thoughtful comment on the 9 Top Posts each day. In this way, you’ll build connections with influencers, and you’ll also be seen by your customers when they view and comment on those posts. Create A Local Resource One huge source of untapped potential is what I call the local resource. For one company, I created a list of the Top 30 local plumbers. For you, it might be a guide to good fishing spots, best coffee shops or 10 local people you should know.  The key is to provide valuable insight into something that your customers care about. Post it on your website or blog, then share it with your friends, neighbors, and customers. Interview With Local Media A lot of business owners think of media coverage as getting lucky. In reality it’s much more straightforward than that. Your local newspaper, radio or TV station needs to fill space and airtime. They’re hungry for interesting, local stories. However, just because they’re hungry doesn’t mean they will come to you looking for the story. By doing a little work up front, you can provide them with a story that writes itself. Whether you’re new in town or the old guard, booming or struggling, give local journalists a story that will catch their imagination. Reach out to your local paper today and offer to be interviewed. You might be surprised at their response. Your Email List Last but not least, you’ve got your current customers. They already know you, and (if you’re doing your job right) they love what you do. All you need to do is give them an excuse to talk about you. If you’re a Housecall Pro user, you can sync your customer database to your email marketing software with Zapier, and start by asking for a review. If you want to reach a specific group of people, ask them for referrals to that group. “Do you know any real estate agents who I should talk to?” tells the customer who you’re looking for, and helps to bring those people up in their head. These are only a few of the many options available to your home service business. Marketing doesn’t always require big budgets and complicated systems; sometimes it’s as simple as asking your customers for help.

Isaac Holmgren, CEO at Labtorio

8 Content Marketing Strategies For Home Service Businesses

May 10, 2018 • Every home services company needs good web content, but most get discouraged because they don't have the budget to hire an expensive content marketing agency. Fortunately, you don't need an expensive blog to drive web traffic. You already have all the tools to make a good blog all on your own, you just need to use them. When brainstorming new ideas for publishing content to drive traffic towards your website, companies often miss the mark. Companies will start by brainstorming topics that they find interesting.  However, in order for fast-moving, innovative companies to drive the right traffic, they need to create content with their customer in mind. Getting started is often the hardest part. These eight easy content marketing ideas are great starting points for any home services company. 1) Sneak peeks at new products and services A hard sales pitch is a huge faux pas when publishing content. People hate sales pitches, that's why the strategy behind content marketing is to inform first, then gently nudge customers where you want them to go. A good way to do this is to focus on the products you work with or by talking about the services you provide.  If a company claims to be an industry leader, its content has to back them up. One example of doing so would be giving a sneak peek at a new innovative product or service. You might even consider giving a video demonstration of it. This reminds your customers of the services you provide and shows them that you're ahead of your industry, making them more likely to book you without having to give them a hard sales pitch.   2) Company stories Creating content about services you offer isn't the only way to promote your business through content. Creating content about the history of your company and your accomplishments is a great way to connect with your customers. Most companies don't realize it, but content tells a story from start to finish. Everyone has a life story, and good content is the life story of any successful brand. Giving historical facts about a company's founding is a good start, but it's the company narrative that matters most when driving traffic. The idea is to tell a story that draws in your audience, sharing where your company came from and the motivation that drives it.   3) Team profiles Building a successful home services staff is a journey, so why not share it with your customers? Content marketing is most effective when readers genuinely empathize with brand. By sharing your employees' stories your customers will feel a more personal connection to you and your company.  Q&A articles are good examples of how to write team profiles that truly entertain. Keep it simple. You don't have to get their entire life story. Focus on questions about their hobbies, family, and any industry related skills or accomplishments. The home services industry depends on building long-lasting relationships with customers, and showcasing each team member is an easy win (plus your employees will be excited to be featured).  4) Blog lists You don't always have to create a full blog from scratch. Many content creators will publish blogs that are simply a compilation of other blogs. For example, a company might have 'maintaining your tile floor' as their topic and will write a list of the best blogs for DIY tile floor maintenance. You just have to write a short intro for your list and explain what each one teaches. Make sure to link your copy to the right blog. Often those bloggers will return the favor with similar posts resulting in more exposure for you both and an ongoing relationship for future opportunities to work together. 5) Frequently asked questions Effective content can also be writing a series of posts on frequently asked questions (FAQs). Try to get creative in your FAQs. You don't just have to stick to questions about your company, go outside the box and answer common questions you've been asked about your industry. By giving your customers a little more insight into what you do, you're presenting an opportunity to connect with them even more.  By creating content on FAQs you're also giving your company the chance to differentiate your brand from your competitors, by explaining any common misconceptions and sharing what makes your company unique.  6) Tutorials Good content can also be as simple as informative tutorials. A couple of options for formatting this are to create a video demonstrating a home improvement tutorial or you could create a list of tips and tricks from your industry. For example, if you're in the carpet industry you could create a post about preventing stains on different types of carpet flooring. Or if you're in the plumbing industry, you could share a tutorial video on how to fix a leaky faucet.  Website visitors will appreciate a company that shares a few trade secrets with them. By doing so you're driving traffic to your website, while also building up your reputation and gaining your customer's trust.   7) Contests The best content is both informative and fun. Companies can differentiate their brands by giving website visitors a fun, entertaining read, and contests are a good example of how to publish entertaining content. Contests are a good way to drive traffic to your blog, promote your services, and create more engagement with your customers.  This is your chance to get creative. Think outside the box to create fun, entertaining contests. For example, if you're in the carpet industry, you could hold a contest for the dirtiest carpets. Ask your customers to send you photos of their carpets and award the winner with a free cleaning. Each contest entry becomes a new lead, you'll be able to show before and after pictures for the winner, and you'll gain more engagement with your customers. Plus, your customers will be looking to your blog for future contest opportunities.  8) Events Trade shows, networking events and business roundtable discussions are ripe content topics. If you go to any industry-related events, make sure to share what you learned. This gives you and your company more credibility and authority. The idea is to support your brand's claim of professionalism by showcasing your company's knowledge base.  Overall, content marketing is about driving the right traffic from the right readers in order to further grow a business. While you want to produce the right content for your company, it doesn't need to be perfect. The biggest mistake you can make is overthinking it. Use these nine content marketing ideas as your foundation, get writing, and start publishing. Once you do, you'll begin to gain new customers, drive more engagement, and direct traffic to your website.

Kindra K., Marketing Coordinator

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