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Are HVAC Marketing Postcards Still Effective? Here’s What the Data Says

March 19, 2019 • We live in an increasingly digital world. You’re more connected to your customers (and future customers) than ever, but it can still be tricky to cut through the noise to ensure your business stands out. That’s why it’s important to consider a range of marketing strategies, including more traditional methods like sending postcards out in the mail. Direct mail marketing like HVAC postcards delivered to your customers’ door might seem a bit old school – and it is – but there’s a reason this method has stuck around for so long. Sending postcards via old-fashioned snail mail can help your business stand out and build brand awareness over time. (Picture a postcard with your coupon stuck to a customer’s fridge vs. a promotional email that goes straight to junk mail). However, direct mail is only a good investment if you do it right. So, today we’ll compare the pros and cons of direct mail marketing and look at the potential impact of HVAC postcards. Plus, we’ll discuss tips to make your HVAC postcards as effective as possible. We created digital postcards like the one above available to anyone. Download the Free Template Now If you're a Housecall Pro customer, these postcards are already available in your account and can be delivered automatically to your customers' doorsteps. Not a customer? Try Free for 14-days and start managing your home service business in one-place , including direct mail marketing. The Pros and Cons of Direct Marketing As with any form of advertising, there are pros and cons to using direct mail to market your business. It’s important to have a solid understanding of both before diving in to create your own HVAC postcard marketing campaign. The Benefits of Sending HVAC Postcards Sending HVAC marketing postcards allows you to: Get Noticed: A recent Canada Post study found that more people notice and read direct mail (53%) than email messages (26%). A promotional email might end up in someone’s junk folder or get deleted before they even open it. Alternatively, with physical mail, the recipient must collect and sort each item by hand. Build Brand Awareness: How many times have you received a coupon or promo code in the mail and stuck it on your fridge? When potential customers get your postcard in the mail, there’s a good chance they’ll hang on to it for future reference – especially if it includes an attractive promotion. So, even if they don’t end up calling you right away, you’ve still made a lasting impression. Drum Up Repeat Business: HVAC postcards aren’t just something you should send to potential customers. By sending postcards directly to your existing customer base, you can encourage them to call you for seasonal maintenance. Building Stronger Customer Relationship: Postcard marketing can also help businesses build a stronger customer relationship. Even if the postcard is not promotional, it would still be helpful to send your customer a thank you note or to remind them for another service in the future. The Drawbacks of Using HVAC Postcards OK, we’ve seen that direct mail can be a powerful method for marketing your HVAC business. Now let’s take a look at the other side of the coin, so you can make an informed decision about whether HVAC postcards are a worthwhile investment for you. The drawbacks of marketing postcards include: Higher Cost than Email Marketing: Cost is probably the biggest reason business owners hesitate to experiment with direct mail marketing. You don’t need to spend a ton to run an HVAC postcard campaign, but there are a few extra costs involved. Namely, you need to design and print your cards – and pay for postage. Tracking Results Can Be Tricky: You need to get creative about how you track the impact of your HVAC postcards. Whereas email marketing allows you to see how many people receive, open, and click on links within your message, tracking with direct mail is a bit more complicated. However, you can combat this by including unique promotional codes that are associated with a specific postcard campaign. So, when someone calls and says they received a discount code in the mail, you’ll know exactly which postcard they’re talking about – which means you’ll know which pieces generate the most leads. Want Better Bang for Your Buck? Make Your HVAC Postcards as Effective as Possible On average, direct mail campaigns have a return rate between .5% to 2% . So, if you send out 100 postcards to local homeowners, you should get a response from up to two people. To maximize your potential ROI, follow these tips for creating impactful HVAC postcards. 1. Know Your Target Market Done right, direct mail allows you to decide exactly who sees your marketing (unlike many digital ads that are more loosely targeted). So, when building your mailing list, it’s important to only include people who are potential customers. For instance, you wouldn’t want to send postcards to people outside of your service area or renters without the power or need to hire you. You should also consider creating more than one list, so you can target different homeowners with different offers. As an example, an HVAC business might create separate lists for existing customers, new local housing developments, and homeowners in older neighborhoods who might need more in-depth services now or in the near future. 2. Keep Your Design Simple and Easy-to-Read Don’t try to squeeze too many visual elements onto a single postcard. After all, the point is to communicate value and build brand awareness at a glance. So, unless the recipient can look at your postcard and instantly know who you are and what you’re offering, your ad won’t be very effective. You should use color and font size to draw attention to key elements. This creates an information hierarchy that tells people what they should look at first. In most cases, you want to make sure your headline and call-to-action are larger than the details of your offering. 3. Include a Clear Call-to-Action To avoid information overload, focus on one promotion per postcard. Whether your goal is to drive people to visit your website, generate referrals, or simply build brand awareness, include a clear call-to-action to make it happen. For instance, if you want future customers to have your number handy when they need an HVAC pro, try out CTAs that encourage them to hang on to your postcard. Something as simple as “Save this card!” or “Keep this code to get 10% off in April” can help get your postcard pinned to the fridge. 4. Get the Timing Right Not sure when should you send out your HVAC postcards? The ideal timing for your campaign depends on your strategy. For targeting existing customers, for example, you could send out bi-annual postcards reminding them of the importance of seasonal maintenance. If they receive your postcard every spring and fall, it’ll become second nature for them to call you to help winterize their home. On the other hand, for targeting potential customers who have never hired you before, you can try sending postcards more frequently. Use different CTAs and deals for first-time customers until you find something that hooks them. 5. Remove Addresses from Your Mailing List If any of your postcards fail to deliver and are returned to you, that’s a sign you should clean up your mailing list. Remove old contacts from your list to avoid wasting future postcards (and postage) on outdated addresses. 6. Track Your Results Add a unique tracking number or promotional code to each run of postcards. This helps you determine which postcards are most effective at bringing in new customers. You can use this knowledge to make improvements and test different designs and messaging until you find the perfect formula. Receive free digital postcard templates to use for your own marketing. Download the Free Template Now If you're a Housecall Pro customer, these postcards are already available in your account and can be delivered automatically to your customers' doorsteps. Not a customer? Try Free for 14-days and start managing your home service business in one-place , including direct mail marketing.

Kindra K., Marketing Coordinator

TOPIC: Marketing

How to Get HVAC Leads: Strategies to Grow Your HVAC Business

March 18, 2019 • Everyone needs HVAC services, whether it's to warm up their homes or cool down their refrigerators. Finding customers should be easy, so why does it feel so hard? Unfortunately, the reality of owning an HVAC business means that you’ll always need more customers in order to grow. Sure, you can install an air conditioning unit and service it regularly, but that’s not enough to keep you floating above your bottom line. Maybe when summer hits, you get dozens of phone calls with the need for cold air ASAP but when that rush dies, the crickets start to chirp. Constant customer acquisition has to be the name of your game. You can’t wait around patiently for people to pick up the phone and give you a dial; you need to take action. Even if you’ve been in the HVAC business servicing your local area for decades, in the famous words, “if you’re not growing, you’re dying”. Finding new customers can be tricky, but it’s all about strategizing new ways to land hot leads to increase your revenue. We’ll give you the rundown on our best tips and tricks to boost your business by generating leads that convert to customers. Best ways to get HVAC leads Boost your online presence Build your social media platforms Strategize your SEO Run paid advertisements Build your online review portfolio Offer referral incentivization Outsource the heavy lifting Create and plan for realistic goals Best Ways to Get HVAC Leads There are plenty of strategies you can use to increase the number of HVAC leads you receive. Check out our top seven tactics and get ready to start answering a lot of phone calls. Boost your online presence It’s no secret that the digital age has made us pretty dependent on the internet for finding information lightning fast. Keep this in mind, when it comes to accessing a larger market of HVAC customer leads. Building a stronger and more intentional online presence will benefit both you and your potential customers. Put yourself into their shoes: if you were on the hunt for specific information because you need to schedule service as soon as possible, you would probably do a quick Google search to see who’s available in the area. Become an online resource Being an online resource for immediate answers and service solutions will attract HVAC leads and enrich customer experience from the get-go. To make your business stand out, incorporate a blog section on your website and grab HVAC content marketing by the horns. Writing informative blog posts about common home HVAC issues and fixes will solve the needs of your readers, draw potential leads to your website, and boost the probability that they will contact your business for a consultation or repair. You’ll establish yourself as an expert in your industry and your clients will be far more trusting of your HVAC brand. Next time they need to get a job done, you’ll be the first one they call. Build your social media platforms An online presence is essential for generating HVAC leads, but go one step further by creating a presence on social media , too! Younger generations in particular (we’re looking at you, first-time home buyer) use social media platforms to get a feel for companies—whether they know it or not. A lot of it is actually subconscious with endless and mindless scrolling until users come across a post that catches their eye. And that’s why so many businesses use social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to share digestible content such as photos, statistics, and industry news with potential clients. Create profiles for free in just minutes Creating social media profiles are usually free of charge, plus you can get access to data that allows you to track who’s visiting your profile and the impact their traffic is having. If you shake your head at social media, think again. Research shows that 50% of business owners reported that they were able to grow sales through social media marketing. If you’re wondering how to get HVAC leads and aren’t already on social media, you’re not doing it right. Facebook is home to over 2 billion users, so it’s almost guaranteed that locals in your town and neighboring cities leverage this tool to find people, locate services, and read reviews. We recommend maintaining an active status on Facebook to interact with customers and answer questions. Setting up a free business page on Facebook can be done within minutes and the payoff can be pretty big. With this tool in your toolkit, you’ll be able to use Facebook’s analytical insights, reach your targeted audiences, and capture the desired HVAC lead sources you’re searching for. Strategize your SEO Search engine optimization (SEO) is probably a term you’ve heard thrown around in the business world. SEO is an essential piece to drawing in online traffic and nailing down how to get HVAC leads. When people search for information about a heating repair or a local HVAC servicer in their area, you want your site and company name to be one of the first results they see on Google. In order to capture one of those coveted top spots, you’ll need to optimize your website to strengthen your online authority. This means incorporating relevant keywords pertaining to your services, location, and various HVAC solutions. Some keywords related to your business that you might want to target include: “HVAC near me” “A/C repair” “How to fix thermostat” If you’re not sure which keywords to go after, there are plenty of free, online tools that can help you. Optimized content copy shows higher up in those search results, gives you greater visibility and draws more potential HVAC leads to your website. Run paid advertisements Adding paid advertisements to your HVAC content marketing strategy is another trick to boost online traffic to generate more leads. Whether you’re a new or a long-established business, running online ads is one of the best ways to get HVAC leads. Paid ads grab users attention quickly and give you the exposure and traffic needed to boost your business. Google and Facebook both offer paid search and paid social services that will ultimately maximize your business visibility and increase overall leads and sales. Build your online review portfolio There’s no doubt that many small businesses have love/hate relationships with online reviews. However, building a portfolio of glowing, happy testimonials can create a ton of HVAC leads. Ultimately, customers want a professional they know they can trust in their home who can get the job done quickly and without errors. Feedback from happy customers is your ticket to convincing them you’re the one who’s right for the job. How to improve your online reviews and get more jobs for your HVAC business? Housecall Pro has a solution . Make sure you ask for reviews After servicing a client, ask them if they wouldn’t mind leaving a review on Facebook, Google, or Yelp (these three sites are some of the most frequented for business reviews). The more positive reviews, the better. But hey, you can’t please everyone. If you don’t get a 5-Star rating, it’s not the end of the world. You just have to learn how to respond to negative reviews to retain those leads. Get more 5-star reviews for your HVAC business with Housecall Pro. Learn more . Offer referral incentivization In addition to asking clients to leave reviews, you could also ask them to refer a friend . Referrals are one of the easiest methods of gaining new HVAC leads! People tend to trust their friends and family when it comes to business recommendations, so when you service one home, you could gain a whole community of loyal customers through word of mouth. Creating an incentivized program encourages clients to spread your company brand name. You can extend your network by offering discounted service rates to those who successfully refer a family member or friend. It’s a win-win for all parties. Outsource the heavy lifting Strategizing how to get HVAC leads and pinning down reliable HVAC lead sources takes a lot of planning, organizing, writing, and financing. If you and your small business would rather leave it in the hands of experts to boost your visibility and smooth out those painstaking kinks, outsourcing to a marketing team is an easy fix. Search for marketing companies online that specialize in your industry and look for successful case studies of businesses they’ve helped grow. You might have to pay anywhere between a few hundred and a few thousand dollars, but you’ll be able to work with a team of experts who can make your marketing vision a reality. Meanwhile, you’ll be able to kick back and let the marketers do their thing while you take care of the rest of your business. Smart marketing companies might suggest utilizing HVAC software to better organize your business. From online booking to follow up email marketing, this specialized software presents a number of simplified advantages. Housecall Pro is the all-in-one software to run your HVAC business. From online booking, custom text, schedule & dispatch, invoicing, payment processing to follow up marketing, this service can help you grow revenue by 30% in your 1st year. Start your free 14 day trial with Housecall Pro today . Create and plan for realistic goals Running an HVAC business requires plenty of hard work, planning, and problem-solving. Running a successful HVAC business takes all of the same attention, but with a keener sense of target goals and a thorough understanding of your company’s position within the market Before tackling how to get HVAC leads, you should have a firm grasp on what your business is capable of and what your financial goals are. Consider the following: How many service calls will be needed to fulfill revenue goals? How many technicians will you employ? How many installers will you employ? How many salespeople will you employ? What adjustments must be made for the holiday season? Which months are your busiest? Which are your slowest? If at all, how will you modify your service price list? Planning with these questions in mind will give you a sharpened understanding of your labor requirements and expectations—making future planning less abstract and more rooted in bottom line costs. Once you have a sure grip on labor as well as your company blueprint expectations and expenses, you can launch your plan of action. The HVAC market is full of hungry entrepreneurs like yourself, but in order to nab new HVAC leads, research will go a long way when figuring out how to grow your HVAC business . Customers who have exceptional experiences with you, your technicians, or your company are far more likely to dial you up again the next time they're in need. Giving them a reason to believe in your company and have faith in your services is a marketing strategy within itself. A company that looks, feels, and performs as well as it promises is already on a clear pathway to success.

Kindra K., Marketing Coordinator

HVAC leads reviews yelp

9 HVAC Marketing Strategies That Can't Fail

February 27, 2019 • It can be hard to stand out in a field like HVAC. As most home service business owners know, competition is fierce. Unfortunately, making a sale isn’t as simple as pitching a prospective customer and scheduling an appointment (trust us, we wish it was, too). In the crazy world of selling, studies show that up to 80% of all sales require at least five follow-ups to close. That means it can take five interactions with a customer—which may include five refusals—until a customer may be ready to close the deal. Annoying? Yes. Essential? Also yes. If you’re looking to stand out in the digital world but aren’t sure where to start, you’ve come to the right place. Read on for HVAC marketing strategies that deliver results , to help you get a leg up on the competition and drive HVAC leads who will turn into lifelong customers. Our 9 HVAC Marketing Strategies Build a Website Make Sure Your Website is SEO-Friendly Start a Blog Build an Optimized Google My Business Page Build Credibility With Customer Reviews Create Useful Video Content Build Brand Awareness and Foster Relationships On Social Media Expand Your Social Media Reach Even Further Through Facebook Advertising Drive Repeat Customers With Automated Marketing #1: Build a Website In today’s digital age, there’s one truth:  if you don’t have a website, you don’t exist. Today’s digitally-savvy customer looks to company’s website for legitimacy. The proof is in the facts: 85% of consumers use the internet to find a local business—which leaves you in the dust if you’re not online. Teach your customers about your business Think of your company’s website as the digital HQ for your HVAC marketing. It’s your centralized place in the digital world where prospective customers can come and learn about your business. That means it’s your opportunity to speak directly to potential clients and show them why you’re the best choice for their HVAC needs. A well-designed website educates prospective leads, but also provides them a contact phone number and online contact form on each page of the site, so that an appointment with you is right at their fingertips. Do it yourself While building a website once required the help of a professional web developer, these days anyone can do it using all-in-one website builders. It’s as simple as choosing your domain name (URL), selecting a site template, and filling it with content about your HVAC business. However, it’s also important to optimize your website for mobile users. If your site won’t load on a potential customer’s smartphone, guaranteed they’re going to head elsewhere and book someone else’s services. It’s also important to make sure your site loads quickly; 53% of mobile website visits are abandoned if a mobile site takes longer than three seconds to load. #2: Make Sure Your Website is SEO-Friendly Google is the new Yellow Pages. Those in need of HVAC services once turned to that big yellow book for answers; they now turn to Google. It was once enough to simply purchase ad space in your local Yellow Pages—but those days are over. Today, Google receives tens of thousands of searches per second. Now, putting your business in the faces of potential customers is an entirely different beast. You have to obtain great rankings on Google, and that’s a bit more complex. That’s where the next HVAC marketing strategy comes into play: optimizing your site for SEO. What is SEO? SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. Here’s the basic principle: make your website as search engine-friendly as possible.  The better your SEO, the more likely it is that your website will appear when someone Googles “HVAC services”.   SEO sounds technical and intimidating, but for a small business, it’s fairly simple. Here’s what you need to do to make your website SEO friendly: 1. ) Select your keywords and phrases In order to reach potential customers, you must first think like potential customers. Make a list of all of the different phrases that users who need your services may search for in Google. This will become the list of words you want to “rank” for, meaning that when a user searches these phrases, you want to appear as high up as possible on their Google search results. That may include things like: Heater repair Los Angeles Best heater repair company Same day heater repair Compile a list of keywords like this for the most important services you provide. 2.) Incorporate your keywords and phrases into your site content Every word on your website is an opportunity for you to improve your Google ranking. Once you’ve compiled your list of keywords you’d like to rank for, it’s time to start incorporating them into your site content. That includes your headers, title tags, and page copy. Be sure to write naturally. Overuse of keywords in your site copy in an attempt to rank (known as “keyword stuffing”) is a big Google No-No. One simple way to incorporate a lot of keywords in a single place is to build a Services page. Here, you can list all the services you offer, allowing you to improve your ranking for a variety of keywords. Remember that improving your SEO does not happen overnight. It’s a gradual and ongoing process. The sooner you begin, the sooner your rankings will begin to improve! If you already have a website and want to see how optimized your SEO is, use our tool for FREE . #3: Start a Blog While customers who are ready to move forward with their HVAC service are searching for phrases like “heater repair Los Angeles”, there are plenty of potential customers who are still in the discovery phase. They’re wondering things like which heater suits their needs the best, whether they should go with energy efficient products, or how much they should expect to pay for an installation. As an HVAC professional, you’re chock full of answers. That’s precisely why an HVAC blog is an invaluable HVAC content marketing strategy . By maintaining an HVAC blog, you can attract customers with articles that rank for keywords those customers are searching, and win them over with your wealth of knowledge and expertise. Hello new bookings, and hello more money! To begin your HVAC marketing blog: 1. Select your keywords and phrases Unlike users who are ready to get moving on their HVAC project, users in the discovery phrase will utilize Google and other search engines for research. That could include phrases like: Best heating system Heating options for large home Cheap heating systems Again, compile a list of keywords and phrases for your most important services. 2. Write blog articles based on these keywords and phrases These keywords and phrases will dictate the topics of your blog articles. You can write a top 10 list of your favorite heating systems, or an article on the best heating systems for small, mid-sized, and large homes. The best part about your blog is that you have knowledge to write the content all on your own—no research required! #4: Build an Optimized Google My Business Page Google My Business is a tool offered by Google specifically for local businesses. It allows you to build a profile for your business that will appear in Google searches and on Google maps. If you’ve ever searched for a gas station or restaurant on Google or Google Maps, you’ve likely interacted with a Google My Business profile. Google My Business is a totally free opportunity to improve your HVAC digital marketing. Building your Google My Business profile is simple. Here are the steps to building an optimized Google My Business (GMB) page: 1.) Create an account at google.com/business Fill in all requested information, including your NAP (name, address, phone number), website, hours of operation, and more. Be sure to include your service area, so customers know whether or not you make house calls to their location. 2.) Verify your business A verified business tells Google that your page is legitimate. There are a number of ways to verify your business with Google, including via postcard, phone, email, and more. 3.) Optimize your Google My Business page The more information you can provide Google about your business, the more legitimacy your business will have with Google. In addition to your NAP and website, add categories (i.e. services you offer) and a description of your business. Be sure to utilize your SEO keywords and phrases whenever possible. Finally, add images and videos if available. #5: Build Credibility With Customer 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 . When it comes to building credibility, customer reviews are king. According to a 2018 survey, 91% of 18-34 year old customers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. That’s up 15% over the past 5 years, and that number is expected to continue growing. If you run a business with lots of happy customers, there’s no reason not to incorporate them into your HVAC marketing strategy. Here’s how to build a customer review strategy into your HVAC marketing plan: 1 . Build profiles on popular customer review sites You’ve already mastered Google My Business, so building profiles on other review sites should be a cinch. Besides Google My Business, Yelp is the head honcho when it comes to local business reviews. Yelp profiles are built quite similarly to GMB, so you should be able to repurpose most of what you’ve compiled for your GMB profile. Other must-haves include Angie’s List, Home Advisor , and more! 2. Ask customers for reviews While it may feel a bit awkward to ask, satisfied customers are often more than happy to put in a good word for your business. Note that it’s against the rules to incentivize reviews, but a simple ask can go a long way! Provide links to your Yelp and Google My Business pages from your site, so that happy customers are just a click away from a rave review. 3. Respond to reviews, no matter the rating Responding to a positive review is simple. It’s a matter of thanking your customer for their patronage and expressing your gratitude to them, which isn’t hard work. But what do you do when you receive a negative review? The fact of the matter is that bad reviews happen—even to the best HVAC companies. The smallest mix-up may drive an unhappy customer to leave a negative review of your business. But even the most scathing review can be helped by a response from the business owner. A study by the Harvard Business Review showed that by simply responding to customer reviews—positive or negative—businesses saw their overall rating increase by 10%. Don’t make excuses Remember that when responding to a negative review you’re not here to make excuses for their bad experience—you’re here to make it right. A simple response that acknowledges and takes responsibility for the experience, plus a request for them to contact you and give you the chance to right the situation, is all that’s needed. Will the customer follow up? Perhaps. But what’s more important is that prospective customers who read the reviews see a company that’s honest, hardworking, and responsible.   #6: Create Useful Video Content Though you may know it best for funny animal clips and viral videos, YouTube is a search engine just like Google, Yahoo, and Bing, with 149 million active users every month. Just like websites and blogs, YouTube videos are searchable by keyword and show up in Google search results. That means that a well-made YouTube video can show up not only to the 149 million monthly YouTube users, but also in the 105 billion monthly Google searches. That’s a lot of people! Think of it like building a blog Incorporating YouTube content into your HVAC marketing strategy works just like building blog content, though the final product is a video rather than an article. Think about what your potential customers might be searching for videos of. Tutorials are a great option. Create YouTube videos that show how to complete simple repairs that any DIY-savvy homeowner can do (and may not be worth your time). This will help establish you as an expert in HVAC and the go-to repair service when a more technical issue arises. If your lack of professional videography skills has you doubting yourself, push those fears aside! YouTube tutorials don’t need any pizzazz or frill. Your smartphone camera is surely sufficient in terms of quality, and your tutorials don’t need to appear professionally produced. They simply need to be clear and easy to follow.   #7: Build Brand Awareness and Foster Relationships On Social Media Social media isn’t just for keeping up to date with your ex’s latest adventures. It’s a powerful marketing tool for local businesses to build and connect with potential leads. Through your company Facebook page, you can grow awareness of your business, find new leads, and engage with new and long-time customers. Building out a Facebook page is just like building our your Google My Business profile. Be sure to fill your page with relevant information like your NAP (name, address, phone number), services, business hours, and more. Some other benefits of using social media You can also enable reviews on Facebook. Not only will this be helpful to potential customers, but your reviews will also appear in Google searches for your business. Potential customers will see a result from Facebook that includes your company name, address, and star ratings. Facebook is also the perfect place to highlight any images you have of your company. This could include team photos, before and after images of various projects you’ve done, or any other photography related to your business. Even more free ways to incorporate social media into your HVAC marketing strategy include: Participating in industry-related Facebook groups where you can share your knowledge and establish a reputation as a local professional Host a giveaway on Facebook that encourages users to interact with your page to get more reach and exposure #8: Expand Your Social Media Reach Even Further Through Facebook Advertising With more than 1 billion users, Facebook is ripe with opportunity for your HVAC marketing strategy. While organic social media is a great start at reaching prospective customers, the key to unlocking a steady flow of leads is through Facebook advertising. With a small monthly budget, Facebook advertising will allow you to reach thousands of users potentially in need of your services. Facebook advertising seems complex, but it’s really a simple addition to your HVAC digital marketing strategy. Here’s how to set-up a Facebook advertising campaign: 1.) Set up a Facebook ad account and connect it to your business’s Facebook page 2.) Create a traffic campaign This tells Facebook that you’re aiming to get as many potential leads to your site as possible. Set a daily budget that you feel comfortable with. As small as $10/day can reach more than 1,000 people daily! 3.) Build your target audience Building your audience is your opportunity to reach the users you’d like to connect with. With the magic of Facebook advertising, you can build and target the precise audience you’d like. For an HVAC marketing campaign, you may want to target: Users within your service area Users within a defined age range Homeowners   Landlords Business owners 4.) Design your Facebook ads Facebook ads contain 3 different elements: text, an image, and a link. Your Facebook ads should clearly and concisely explain who your business is, what services you provide, and why prospective leads should choose you over the competition. Some examples of compelling copy points may be: Servicing the community for 25 years 5-star rating on Yelp Family owned and operated First time customer discount Your images should convey your business’s personality, for instance: A team photo of your smiling service technicians A technician shaking hands with a happy customer A before and after of a particularly compelling project When it comes to links, always link back to your website. Be sure that the page users land on includes a contact form and a phone number, so they can easily make an appointment with you. 5.) Launch your campaign! Simply turn your campaign on to get the traffic flowing to your site. Test various different audiences, as well as several different ads featuring different combinations of texts, images, and links to see what performs best. You’ll begin to reach prospective customers in no time! Make sure their experience is great - 71% of consumers that have a good social media service experience are likely to recommend a brand to others. #9: Drive Repeat Customers With Automated Marketing Experts estimate that it costs 5x more to earn a new customer than it does to retain an existing customer. In an industry like HVAC, customers are bound to need your services more than once over the course of a few years. So how do you ensure that your customers keep coming back? HVAC automated marketing services help you do just this. By setting up an automated email campaign, not only will you be able to send service reminders and thank you follow-ups automatically, but you’ll be able to do so much more. Some ways to use an automated email campaign: Incentivize email signups by offering a small discount to users who sign up for your email newsletter Set up automated reminders for heating maintenance in the Fall and air conditioning maintenance in the Spring Automate a “We’ve missed you!” coupon for a discounted service to customers who haven’t booked an appointment in over a year    Send a bi-yearly recap of the latest and greatest in HVAC technology to incentivize upgrades Digitizing your HVAC marketing strategy is an essential step to get a leg up on your competition. By incorporating the above tactics into your marketing plan, you’ll be driving a steady pipeline of leads with little ongoing effort. Happy marketing!

Emily Bauer

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

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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