Hands typing on computer for blog

Housecall Pro blog

Everything you need to succeed as a Home Services company in a digital world.

TOPIC: Marketing

What to Know About SEO

August 1, 2017 • How many times have you heard someone refer to SEO and wondered, “What on earth is that?” Everyone always emphasizes the importance of SEO, but what is it exactly and why should businesses be using it?  We spoke with Organik SEO, a digital marketing agency located in San Diego, to learn all about SEO and how small businesses should be using it. When Organik SEO first started out, they focused exclusively on local SEO for service-based businesses. Since then, they’ve expanded into other aspects of digital marketing and offer SEO, Google Advertising, social media marketing and more.   Here’s what the team had to say about all things SEO: What exactly is SEO? SEO is the process of getting search engines to better understand and rank your website above your competition. SEO is really the foundation for any successful marketing campaign, since these days most of your customers are looking online to find a business.  Why is it important? It's important because, in this digital day and age, your website is the best way to get in front of your potential customers when they are actively seeking out your service. As technology continues to advance, today’s customer adopts new behaviors faster than ever and you need to arm your business with tools to keep up.  For your customer, making a purchase is no longer about picking up the yellow pages; it's about grabbing their phone, doing a quick search online and seeing which business comes up. Your customers are already looking for the services you offer, you just need to be able to show up at the right time. Who should be using it? If you own a business and have a website, you should be doing some level of SEO. You need online exposure to drive your business. Your website is your best sales tool and SEO is how you leverage it to its full potential. What are some must do basic SEO tactics? For a locally focused service-based business, you need to start with a great website that is: Mobile friendly  Easy to navigate Has strong “ ”  Has easy methods to contact you via phone, intake form, email etc. Additionally, the site should be built on a content management system (CMS) that makes it easy for you to update and add pages to your website so it can continue to evolve with your business.  These elements will help ensure that qualified visitors will have a good user experience when they arrive at your website. Once that’s done, it's time to look at what we call “on-page” SEO elements. These are items that the search engines are looking at to try and decipher: Who you are  What you do  Your unique differentiators Your primary service offerings The geographic locations where you offer your services Elements such as meta descriptions, title tags, image names, and headings are important indications to a search engine to determine your relevancy, yet are often overlooked.  Once you’ve established proper on-page SEO you want to begin developing a stronger local SEO presence. The first step is to claim, verify and optimize your Google My Business page with the proper name, address, phone number, URL, service offerings, images, etc. The next step is to work to establish listings and citations of your business on other directory websites such as Citysearch, Yelp, Kudzu, Yellow Pages, etc. Taking the time to properly build these out with robust information will help the search engines recognize that you are an established business within a local market.  Do you have any overarching do's and dont's for small businesses that are just getting started? DO: Earmark an annual budget and plan for digital marketing and SEO between $25-$100K - Think long-term, thrive long-term! DON’T: Build a website on a content management system that you don’t own (i.e. Wix, GoDaddy, or Website Tonight)  and avoid budget hosting providers (that can result in website downtime, hacking vulnerabilities, backup issues, site speed issues etc). DON'T: Work with a marketing company who seems to overpromise with lofty goals and KPI’s, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is (there is definitely no such thing as guaranteed organic rankings and they can not get you ranked #1 on Google tomorrow!). Be sure to hire someone that is transparent and wanting to educate you as to their process so you’re not just throwing money at something without understanding what you’re paying for.  DO: Find a marketing company that will act as an extension of your business or bring someone in-house. DO: Perform an SEO audit of your current site. Maintaining a website and your authority with search engines like Google is similar to maintaining a car, you have to perform routine diagnostics. If you can share anything specific to plumbing or service professionals who you've seen or helped benefit from SEO, we would love to hear examples of it helping grow their business. Our plumbing and service-based clients have benefited most from online review strategies within their SEO campaigns. This helps in two ways: When you have a lot of online reviews you give your local rankings a boost within the Google search engine.  Consistent online reviews lead to more business for you with trusting customers When it comes to local service industries, we’ve found that many users will research the credibility of the company they're looking to work with. Online reviews help you go beyond online web pages and offer a stamp of approval from many other individuals in a given market.  Our clients that have seen the most success from online reviews have made a point to use the review strategy across the business. We’ll consistently work with those clients on email templates, responses, and exploring all of the platforms available to get online reviews.  Having an SEO strategy is a key factor in boosting your exposure and driving more business. Now that you know what SEO is and why you should use it, you can begin doing some of the new tactics we learned from OrganikSEO to grow your business. 

Kindra K., Marketing Coordinator

whyisit

The ABCs of Marketing

August 27, 2016 • ABC, it’s easy as 123! Marketing, just like the alphabet, is complex, but can be broken down into chunks that make it easier to understand. Start by learning the building blocks of marketing. Soon enough you’ll become a master at growing your business! There are many more ways to market your business than there are letters. Below we’ll go over the different types of marketing to give you lots of new ideas for how you can promote your services. Types of Marketing For this lesson, we’ll focus on direct marketing, which is everything you can do to find new business, including: Direct advertising Google display: Google places ads on different websites Google search: Paid search ads, not to be confused with organic SEO AdRoll retargeting: Advertise to people who have visited your website while they surf the Internet (these are those ads that seem to follow you everywhere you go!) Print: Paid ads in a newspaper, magazine, or other print media Advertising on listings and directories Digital: Yelp, Angie’s List, Manta, etc. Print: Yellow Pages, etc. Social networking Engagement: Connecting with customers and potential clients by posting interesting content and engaging in conversations Advertising: Paid ads on social media channels, such as Facebook Communication & outreach Public relations: Editorial coverage in the press, meaning you must provide a story interesting enough to gain media interest Email marketing: A free, easy way to reach people Direct mail: Sending postcards or letters to advertise your business EDDM: A way to send direct mail to every house in   a desired   area SMS: Text messages are an emerging marketing channel because they are opened far more often than emails or direct mail Broadcast Radio: Running an audio commercial on a local radio station TV: A costly, yet effective way to get your message out to a wide audience Billboards: Requires a high budget, difficult to track, but can allow you to reach many new eyes Podcasts: A budget-friendly way to reach a more niche audience Hopefully, you are now inspired to try a new method for finding new customers. Now that we’ve covered the different ways you can expand your business, we’ll learn the ABCs! These are essential elements that you want to be sure to include in all your marketing campaigns. ABCs of Marketing A- ttention-Grabbing: However you choose to market your business, make sure you succeed in grabbing your audience’s attention. Think outside the box to set your campaigns apart from the competition. One way to grab attention is to make sure your marketing efforts appeal to your audience. Create a marketing person to really get inside the mind of your ideal customers. You can even ask some of your existing customers for their opinions when you are creating marketing materials to gain valuable feedback about how your target customer thinks. B- randing: What is a brand? It’s goes far beyond just a logo. Building a powerful brand allows you to create an emotional connection with customers. Imagine the emotion you want customers to associate with your brand. Channel that feeling in all of your marketing campaigns. For more tips on branding and how emotional branding can allow you to charge 200% more than competitors, check out this blog post. C- all-to-Action: What do you want people to do after they are exposed to your marketing campaign? Make sure the action you want them to take is clearly conveyed. It is pointless to invest in marketing if you forget to include a call-to-action. Stir people to take action by using action verbs in phrases such as “call today” or “book now!” Remember your ABCs to ensure the success of your marketing!

Kindra K., Marketing Coordinator

Blocks that say ABC

How Stories Make You Money

May 10, 2016 • Are you taking advantage of email marketing? If you you need ideas to get started or to up your current campaigns, this is for you! The secret is telling a compelling story... Email is the most effective marketing tool you have in your arsenal. It reaches the largest audience, leads to more purchases than any other marketing method, and is the medium through which most customers would prefer to receive promotional content. However, if you don’t give your email campaigns enough attention, you may not get the best response from customers! So, how can you make your emails stand out? Let’s think about it from the customer’s point of view. You probably receive emails all... the... $%^&... time! You probably take a quick glance at the subject line, sender, and the first few sentences before deciding whether or not it’s even worth your time to read. More than half of readers spend less than 2 seconds looking at an email. Two seconds?! That’s all the time an email recipient is going to give you to get your message across, so what do you do? How do you grab their attention and make them want to read more? The answer is simple: tell a good story. Storytelling is the basic foundation of communication and the backbone of word-of-mouth marketing. For your service business, that story can extend far beyond a personal tale. You can craft a narrative around how you care for your customer’s homes, through holidays, seasons, or even generations. You can share a unique experience shared with a customer. You can gather testimonials from happy customers and spread the word about the value of your services. No matter where you start, you can use stories demonstrate how your work solves problems and lives up to (and hopefully exceeds) expectations. How to Get Started When you’re coming up with the story to tell your customers, you should ask yourself three questions: Who is the target audience – are you reaching out to all of your customers, or are you only reaching out to some, like new customers, or families? How do they like to communicate? What sort of tone should you be using? (ie. professional, humorous, etc.) What promotional offers will benefit them the most? Once you’ve narrowed that down, you can select the type of story you want to tell! A good marketing email will do three things: Entertain, Educate, and Earn. Entertain your readers with a story or metaphor. Provide some type of content or education connected to the story. Finally, use your story to earn the trust and loyalty of your customers. Timing is Everything You could have the most interesting message in the world, but if your customers don’t open your emails, it won’t make a difference. The pattern that you send your emails in (such as how many, how far apart, etc.) can have a huge impact on how well your message is received. Send too many emails, and you risk annoying your customers. Send too few, and your message can slip through the cracks. This pattern depends on the type of email campaign you want to run. Here are some guidelines: Repeat business:  If you are trying to remind your customers about your company's services in time for them to book you again, the spacing between your emails depends on your industry. For example, carpet cleaning might be every three months, whereas maid services might be every other week. You just want to be sure to catch your customers early, before they might start searching for a service on their own! Branding:  If you just want to stay top of mind, try sending out a biweekly or monthlynewsletter, with updates about your company, community news, new hires, or other fun facts! Reviews and Referrals:  Campaigns based on your company's performance should be tied to jobs themselves. For example, you could send out one email the day after service is completed, asking for feedback on your customer's experience, one email three days after that with links to review sites if they were satisfied, and one email the following week offering a discount for referrals. The time of day you send your emails is important too. Most messages land in inboxes in the morning, so those sent in the afternoon have a higher chance of being noticed, opened, and clicked. Additionally, emails relating to homes and finances are most likely to be opened between 3-5 pm, when your customers are starting to lose focus at work, and are thinking about their personal lives, so take advantage of that window! Other Tips: ✔ Use attention-grabbing subject lines! For some tips on subject lines, check out this post. ✔ Set the stage. The first two sentences of an email are the most important, so you want to make sure your email is captivating write off the bat! ✔ Less is more. Keep your message clear and concise, and stick to ONE call-to-action per email. If you are the customer, do you really want to read through long paragraphs in order to get to the point? Keep it simple and short! ✔ Make it emotional. The key to positive attention via email is enticing content. Make your story is one that excites, empowers, or tugs on your customer’s heartstrings, and it’s sure to be unforgettable! We know this is a lot of emails to keep track of,  which is why we're here to help! HouseCall Pro can help you automate your email campaigns to help you stay organized without sacrificing your free time. We can’t wait to hear what stories you have to tell!

Kindra K., Marketing Coordinator

HouseCallPro Storytelling

Step Up Your Email Subject Lines!

May 3, 2016 • “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” This old saying warns against assuming the value of something based on its exterior alone. While this phrase may be helpful in some cases, just know that it absolutely does NOT apply to email subject lines! Everyone judges an email by its subject. If someone fails to see value in your email’s subject line, they will not open your email at all. Pay extra attention to your subject lines to ensure the success of your email campaigns! So, what can you do to make your emails enticing enough to open? First, we will take a look at what NOT to do. After we learn how to avoid subject line pitfalls, we will then cover what you can do to make your email marketing initiatives thrive! Subject Line DON'Ts: 1. DON’T make it too long! Example: Thank you so much for your business! It was such a pleasure to serve your needs.  Keep subject lines under 50 characters! This is the commonly accepted rule for email marketing best practices. To test your subject lines, highlight the text and do a word count. The example above came out as 80 characters, which is 30 too many. Long subject lines will lose your recipients’ attention! The shorter, the better, as long as you are still conveying your message.  2. DON’T make false promises. Example: FREE Carpet Cleaning Only make this the subject of your email if you are truly going to deliver on this promise. Your customers will definitely be annoyed if they open this email and you were actually just offering one free room. False promises might get your recipients to open the email, but they likely won’t be happy to find out they’ve been duped. If you’re misleading, it can definitely do more harm than good. 3. DON’T go crazy with CAPS LOCK! Example: SPECIAL DEAL ON PRESSURE WASHING! While this subject may be attention-grabbing, it comes off as spammy. Getting too cozy with the caps lock button may prompt your customers to mark your messages as spam, decreasing your delivery rate and preventing them from receiving further messages from you. As a rule of thumb, if you want to make your subject line stand out, make 1 word maximum in all caps. If your entire subject line is capitalized, not only will it look spammy, but your customers will also feel like you’re YELLING AT THEM! See? Nobody wants that. 4. DON’T keep repeating the same subject line. Example: Mike’s Cleaning Service If you use the same subject line for all of your email messages, such as the name of your business, it might get opened the first time. After receiving many messages with the same subject, your customers will begin to ignore them or even send them to the trash bin. Give your recipients an idea of what the messages’ contents will hold with your subject line. Using the same subject line over and over will not accomplish this goal. Subject Line DO'S: 1. DO let your recipients know how they will benefit. Example: Tips to Lower Your Electricity Bill Offer your recipients value in a clear and concise way. In the example, an electrician could send energy efficiency advice to his customers, who will be happy to hear about how they can save money on their monthly bills. Before writing your subject, imagine you are on the receiving end of your email. Ask yourself “how does this benefit me?” Think about why they should open the email, and then clearly state that reason in the subject. 2. DO create a sense of urgency! Example: 15% Off Upholstery Cleaning - Offer Expires Today! Provide a deadline in your subject line to get an immediate spike in business. That way, your recipients will see that they need to act immediately or else forego the deal, according to Hubspot. Include some of these keywords in your email to establish urgency: Book today Today only Special offer Act now Limited-time deal 3. DO ask questions to spark interest. Example: What Makes Green Cleaning Different? Adding a question mark inspires your readers’ curiosity. Pose a question so that their curiosity will get the best of them, and they will be very inclined to learn more. This example would work well for a green cleaner to explain what differentiates their services, which will then serve as a reminder for customers to book appointments. No matter what industry you are in, gain the interest of your audience by asking questions in your email subject lines and offering helpful explanations in the body, or else linking to a blog on your website with this content. 4. DO personalize it! Example: Melanie, We Miss You! Include as much personalization as possible in your email subject lines. If including the recipient’s name is not an option through your service, personalize the email based on location, such as the name of your city, or time, such as the last time you did business with a customer. Personalizing email subject lines makes the recipient feel as though the email is just for them, even though the message may be automated. Subject lines that are personalized make for more successful email marketing campaigns, reports Hubspot. If you haven’t already started using email marketing to increase your repeat business and customer loyalty, now is the time to start. You’re already well-versed on what to avoid in your subject lines so that your emails don’t go ignored, as well as what the best methods are to spike interest in your emails. Enticing subjects are essential to hitting a home run with your email initiatives. Stay tuned for future blog posts with plenty more email marketing ideas and strategies!

Matt B., Marketing Coordinator

EmailMarketingGraphic

The Ultimate Secret Weapon: Trade Shows

March 10, 2016 • “What’s the point of going to trade shows?” you might wonder. Many service professionals believe they are a waste of time and money when they could otherwise be working and earning income, but we are here to tell you that expos are your business' secret weapon! Still don’t believe me? I’ll tell you why they will give you super powers! Since there are is so much to gain from trade shows, I'll break it down for you. Here are the top 8 reasons to attend trade shows: 1. It doesn’t have to break the bank When you belong to a trade association, you can attend trade shows at a discounted rate. If you don’t already belong to an association, you may want to consider it! Membership with associations often comes with other benefits such as training discounts, licensing, marketing tools, sponsorship opportunities, insurance discounts, supplier discounts, and more. Examples of associations include the ICRA for cleaning and restoration, PHCC for plumbing and HVAC, and the WCRA for window cleaning. Many associations also host other industry events that are free to attend, which may be purely focused on education, without an exhibition. Check with your association to see if there are any upcoming events near you! 2. Keep up with industry regulation Maybe you haven’t heard about new rules or regulations that impact your business yet. Trade shows are the perfect place to get caught up with all of the news that affects you. Stay on top of trends in your trade so you can take pride in offering superior service to your customers. Trade shows are an exciting atmosphere where industry professionals gather to share ideas and expertise. Be a part of this buzz by attending! You might just feel a renewed excitement and passion about your profession, which will give you a boost later on during those long days of work.  3. Attend classes and workshops to learn best business practices Trade shows and expos almost always offer the chance to attend classes and seminars. Listen to keynote speakers as they offer their insights on your industry. At these educational sessions, you will gain useful information about new methods for performing your service, managing employees, marketing your business, and various other industry-specific topics. Often, expos will even host workshops or competitions, where you can get hands-on experience working or competing alongside other professionals. These valuable training opportunities will help you become the best at what you do! 4. Learn about new equipment and tools Your tools and equipment are key to performing at the best of your abilities. Check out everything new on the market so that you can continue providing the highest quality to your customers. See the newest gadgets in action and try them for yourself so you can get an idea of how they would work for you. You might even come across an all-in-one digital tool to help you run and grow your business! In this article for cleaning business owners, trade shows are named as the top place to discover new products that can help your business run more efficiently. In fact, the concept of efficiency is named as by Cleaning Business Today as a top priority in considering new products, since your time is more costly than any supplies or tools you can buy. When at trade shows, be sure to consider how you can maximize the efficiency of your business with advanced technology such as Housecall Pro! 5. Gather intel on your competition to stay ahead of the game Some of your competitors may attend trade shows to discover tips and tricks from experts in your industry. Missing out means falling behind those who do choose to gather and share advice. Get a leg up over the competition by attending trade shows and absorbing all of the knowledge that you can! If you are encountering issues in running your business, it’s likely that other owners in your industry are facing the same challenges. Trade shows spark open discussions where business owners can share common problems and solutions they have found to be useful. This wisdom is priceless! 6. Network with the best of your industry At trade shows, you are in the perfect position to create connections with leaders and trend setters of your industry. With notable speakers, open discussion panels, and training sessions, the opportunities for networking at expos are endless. You will undoubtedly gain  from the expertise of those around you, even if you have been in the industry for years! Networking with possible competitors may not seem like a plus, but seeing how your technique and business management differs from others will give you a greater understanding of what makes your business unique. Differentiating yourself from your competitors will help you in marketing your business! At trade shows, you may even find potential partners or collaborators, who you can work with to expand your offerings. Opening new doors is just one of the many benefits of expos! (Insider tip: bring plenty of business cards to give out at the event!) 7. You can participate in fun group events To make networking even more enticing, trade shows often host social events, such as bowling or open mic nights. These casual meetings offer an easy way to break the ice and get to know more people in the industry - all while having a blast! This will also establish you as a regular trade show attender, opening up new friendships and inner industry networks. Staying on the radar with the inner circle of your industry can result in tremendous new opportunities.  8. Free giveaways and raffles  Sure, you will walk away with new ideas and knowledge no matter what, but free prizes are definitely a bonus! Trade shows frequently feature giveaways or raffles that put you in the running toward winning sought-after products or services that can majorly benefit your business! In all of our trade show involvement, we have seen service professionals walk away with thousands of dollars worth of free products, tools, and services. At Housecall Pro, we frequently raffle free full-year subscriptions at trade shows (a $1,200 value). There are typically hundreds of prizes to be won, and a lot of attendees walk home with a prize.  Maybe you haven’t heard about new rules or regulations that impact your business yet. Trade shows are the perfect place to get caught up with all of the news that affects you. Stay on top of trends in your trade so you can take pride in offering superior service to your customers. Trade shows are an exciting atmosphere where industry professionals gather to share ideas and expertise. Be a part of this buzz by attending! You might just feel a renewed excitement and passion about your profession, which will give you a boost later on during those long days of work.  Are you convinced now that trade shows are advantageous for your business? Let’s note that they might not always produce a positive return on investment: if you travel too far away and pay an arm and a leg just to attend, that strategy probably is not the best way to gain from the experience. For example, traveling to a different country for an international expo is unlikely to be beneficial for you unless you plan on doing business there. We recommend doing your research to find trade shows that are economical and reasonable for you to attend! See if there are any local events for your industry so that travel expenses can be minimized. Remember, attending trade shows should be valuable for your business, but not too costly for you! Hopefully you are excited about the prospect of attending trade shows to enhance your business! You can find the Housecall Pro team at trade shows all across the country just about every month. We love being able to meet our pros and show service professionals how our all-in-one digital tool can benefit their businesses! Maybe we will see you at the next show!

Matt B., Marketing Coordinator

iceexpo

Housecall Pro Launches Free Plan for Single User Owner/Operators

December 22, 2015 • Housecall Pro is excited to announce our new FREE plan for single user owner-operators! We are happy to offer our all-in-one digital tool for you to run your entire business on the go at no cost to you because we want to help your business grow. Our free plan for single-user accounts offers many of the core features of our premium plan, including: Access to our award-winning mobile app and web portal Job scheduling Automated receipts and invoicing Payment processing, including our standard credit card processing rates of 2.69% plus $0.30 per transaction Ability to be featured in the HouseCall Booking App, where customers can schedule you at the push of a button “Housecall Pro is on a mission to bring efficiency and convenience to the lives of all service professionals, so we have launched our free version to ensure that our platform is accessible at every stage of their success,” said Ian Heidt, CEO of HouseCall Pro. Since the free version is designed exclusively for owner-operators, service professionals with technicians are encouraged to upgrade to a premium plan. If you switch to a paid account, you will get all of the features offered with the free plan, PLUS: Technician job dispatching and separate employee accounts Custom email marketing campaigns Premium postcard marketing capabilities Quickbooks Online integration and MORE… We are committed to supporting you as you expand your operation, so when you are ready to start marketing to your customers for repeat business, we will be there for you.

Matt B., Marketing Coordinator