One thing I love about football season is watching the coaches. Each coach has a different playbook, but they all serve the same purpose—beat the competitors and win the game. A lot of the plays probably look similar, but they’re tailored to the players on the team.
It got me thinking about business, specifically digital marketing playbooks. That’s one thing I always hear from our clients:
“What’s your digital marketing playbook?”
It’s tough to answer, because just like the Redskins and Cowboys have different playbooks specific to their team, your company should have a strategy tailored to your players and your team.
I want to share with you a standard A – Z guide to our HVAC digital marketing playbook so you, too, can take back the plays you like and implement them within your own team.
If you love our stuff, we’d be happy to take you on as a client, but my goal here is to equip you with the best advice in the business so that you can think differently about your own strategy.
Step One: Size Up Your Competitors
Do you know how many tracking tools your competitors have on their website?
Or how much content they publish monthly?
How many have HTTPS sites?
If you don’t know, you’re like 90% of the business owners I’ve onboarded.
When we onboard a new client the first thing we do is perform a digital competitive analysis because, ultimately, the growth of your company depends on being able to pull ahead of your landscape.
A problem I regularly see at this stage of the plan is that business owners are only looking at 3 – 5 DIRECT competitors.
Think about it—you and your direct competitors should generally have the same problems. You have the same goals, you hire the same candidates, and you monitor each other, and your custom demographics are roughly the same.
It’s like the blind leading the blind.
What I mean by that is you shouldn’t just be looking at your direct competitors—you should also look at the broader industry landscape. What are the best service companies doing? How are similar companies across the nation approaching their marketing? What cool features do your manufacturers have on their sites?
Once you look at all the players in your broad landscape, you’ll have A) a better idea of where your company fits into the big picture and B) a whole new arsenal of ideas that your competitors haven’t necessarily thought of yet.
Draft a Strategy Based on Your HVAC Company’s Goals and Your Competitive Analysis
After you’ve scoped out your landscape, it’s time to start planning. Before you dive in, there are a few key pieces of information you need in order to make data-driven decisions.
Some of the website metrics I think every HVAC contractor should know before creating an online marketing strategy include:
- Visits inside service area
- Visit-to-lead conversion rate
- Total leads and leads by traffic source
- Revenue by traffic source
Once you have this core data, you can identify areas of weakness or areas that need improvement. Maybe you have a ton of traffic to your website, but nothing is converting. Or maybe you get a nice chunk of conversions, but they aren’t in your target demographic.
One of the beautiful parts of data analysis is that it gives you a broader picture of your company. By understanding your revenue by traffic source you can identify which marketing channels are going to give you the best bang for your buck.
Choose the Right Marketing Channels and Platforms
The next step is to pick your marketing channels. Different companies have different needs, which is why any digital marketing company that brags about having an overall winning formula is full of it.
Hear me out—I’ve heard dozens on dozens of business gurus say that every HVAC marketing strategy should be about getting more leads and sales.
But what about companies that have the leads and sales, but not the right infrastructure?
What about companies that have the leads and sales but are still experiencing a decline in revenue?
What about companies that have a plethora of customers, but none of them are repeat clients?
Your digital marketing strategy should relate to the competitive analysis and your individual company’s needs. After you’ve established where your weaknesses and strengths lie, you can effectively pick the best digital marketing channels for your business. Your choices include:
- Your website
- SEO (search engine optimization)
- PPC and display advertising
- Video marketing
- Social media
- Email marketing
Start Your Marketing Strategy with Your Website
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it until I’m blue in the face: the majority of CEOs don’t pay enough attention to their website. Period.
Think about it this way: Your website is your online sales representative and is the first place people go when they want to learn about your company. In fact, 81 percent of B2C shoppers and 94 percent of B2B buyers conduct online research before they make a purchase. Having a poor website is like allowing your sales reps to go on calls wearing flip-flops and swigging vodka.
Now, what I mean by a “poor” website is one that doesn’t serve a purpose or fails to meet the needs of HVAC consumers. By our standards, a “poor” site:
- Is unsecured or non-HTTPS
- Has a slow site speed
- Has few or sparse pages of content
- Is missing SEO optimizations on pages
- Is not mobile-friendly
- Does not have user-friendly design
- Is missing analytics tracking
If any of the above applies to your website, put it at the top of your list for things to correct in your marketing strategy.
Optimize for SEO
Think about the last time you needed something. Where did you start your research? I’m willing to bet you start where the majority of Americans do—on a search engine like Google or Bing.
SEO is what brings your customers to your website. When someone Google’s “AC repair near me” Google pulls a bunch of signals from millions of websites to produce what it considers are the best matching web pages.
A good place to start is to beef up the content on your website’s main service pages, optimizing the headings, images, and content itself for locality and keywords. Once you’ve made sure each page is fully optimized and filled with at least as many words as pages that are outranking you, you can move onto generating new content, like FAQs and blog posts, as well as local SEO.
HVAC companies will find the biggest money-making opportunities through local SEO.
Tighten Up Your Local SEO
Local SEO is the process of optimizing your website to maximize your search visibility within a specific geographic or geo-targeted area(s). This includes local directories. As part of your HVAC digital marketing campaign you can optimize your website for local SEO by:
- Claiming and optimizing your Google My Businesspage
- Editing your optimized heading tags on every web page (H1s, H2s, etc.) for local search
- Optimizing meta data (title tags and meta descriptions) for local search
- Adding business schema markup to your website
- Claiming and optimizing your business’ online directory profiles
- Optimizing your website content for local search, including city names and geo-targeted content specific to an area
Yes, you need social media profiles for your HVAC company, but before you take that and run with it, let me clarify something:
Social media is not a huge lead-driver for need-based service companies. Think about it—when you need something, whether it’s new shoes or your house painted, you don’t immediately pull up Facebook.
But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t add value to your company. While it’s not a huge lead-driver, social media is still important for another reason—customer care and retention. Consumers nowadays don’t just want the best service, they also want a company with a strong sense of corporate social responsibility. Your social media profiles are what will give consumers that peek behind the curtain into “who” your company really is.
Another reason to invest in social?
Take a look at this:
Yes, social media is a place where people go to not only be social, but also crowd-source recommendations for everything from babysitters to—you got it—HVAC contractors.
By nurturing your customer base with interactive content relevant to them you’re building your presence in their minds as well as upping the chances of continued exposure. One tip for social media success for HVAC companies is to invest heavily in visual imagery. Encourage your techs to snap photos of service calls. Keep your phone handy for any office photos that would tell your story.
Beware: Social media for HVAC companies is pay-to-play. Organic viewership of corporate posts hovers around 2 percent, which means if you want your target audience to actually see what you’re posting, you need to invest in paid social marketing.
Invest in Paid Ads
While SEO is a long-term strategy, PPC is a great way to get your company on page one of Google FAST. Why? Because on average, 41 percent of clicks on a search engine results page go to the top 3 paid ads. What adds more icing on the cake is that businesses make an average of $2 for every dollar they spend.
PPC advertising is an outstanding way to get your company in front of the homeowners (and commercial property owners) at the exact moment they’re searching for you. Take a look below. Every single listing below is a PPC ad. The organic search results are so far down on the page you have to scroll to see them!
There are three main types of PPC campaigns:
- Display ad campaigns—In addition to showing ads in the search results, Google shows ads on the Google Display Network (GDN). This network spans over two million websites that reach over 90 percent of people on the Internet.
- Search ad campaigns—Search ads appear next to Google search results when people look for products and services you offer. You only pay when people click to your website or call your HVAC company.
- Remarketing campaigns—Remarketing (often called retargeting on social media advertising sites) shows ads to people who have previously visited your website. You can tailor your bids and ads to these visitors when they're searching on Google and search partner sites.
Get More Leads with Email Marketing
Every morning, the first thing I do when I wake up is check my email. I guarantee I’m not the only person who does this.
Did you know that 7 in 10 people have used a coupon or discount they got via marketing email in the past week?
If your number one goal is to increase leads, email marketing is a highly effective way to do it. Think about it—your audience has already opted-in to receive your content. They’ve shown interest in your company, so give them what they want! Sending a regular email newsletter is a cost-effective way to ensure your company is constantly in the minds of your customers—which is right where you want to be.
Not only can monthly email newsletters with valuable tips and information help build your authority in the HVAC industry, but they can also help drive more traffic to your website and generate leads! The more leads you get, the more sales you’ll make. And this this where email marketing can really make an impact.
Incorporating email marketing into your company’s digital marketing campaign can:
- Grow your lead base
- Keep you in touch with your customers
- Generate more sales by including specials, coupons, and rebates
- Improve your brand awareness
Track Your Leads and Sales
There’s no point to doing any of the above if you can’t track the results and use the data to make better decisions in the future. If you show me an HVAC contractor who’s ranking well and has a thriving business, I’ll bet they have at least one piece of tracking installed on their site. I can even show you EXACTLY what type of tracking it is.
These days, we can track just about anything, but if you don’t have a data analyst, it can get tricky to keep track.
Choose the Right HVAC Digital Marketing Partner
Finally, if you want to win, you need a coach that can work with your team. I’ve heard plenty of horror stories from clients about their former vendors (I’m not going to name names, but there are a few repeat offenders in the digital marketing world). When choosing a digital marketing partner, you want one that:
- Understands your industry as well as you do
- Has an emphasis on client relationships—this is probably the most important thing to look for
- Has a track record of outstanding results for clients in your industry
I’ll skip the part where I tell you Blue Corona matches all those qualities for HVAC contractors, but I do encourage you to check out our website and blog. We regularly publish content on digital marketing in the HVAC industry, and I guarantee there will be something in there that will give you that “a-ha” moment for your strategy.
Until next time!
After starting his career in online media, recruitment advertising, and software sales at HotJobs.com, Ben spent time in the telecommunications industry and later went on to become the East Coast regional manager of an advertising and marketing agency. Shortly thereafter, Ben met Bob Perini. Together, they developed the concept that would become Blue Corona.
Latest posts by Ben Landers (see all)
- An HVACR Contractor’s A-Z Digital Marketing Guide - October 9, 2017
- Using Digital Competitive Analysis to Measure Your Success - August 9, 2017
- How Online Reviews Can Get You More Leads - July 26, 2017