With the warmer months upon us and quarantines keeping people at home, customers are ready to get their home projects done. However, while businesses are excited for some normalcy, contractors like roofing and HVAC businesses that advance their marketing strategy for the “new normal” will get significantly more business than the competition. This is a guide on how contractors can improve their marketing strategy for the new normal and why it works.
Platforms with Spikes in Traffic
Through this pandemic, we saw the effects of stay at home orders and social distancing through new trends and spikes in traffic for a number of platforms like social media, YouTube, new searches trending on Google and more people went online to check the news. With a number of families still working from home and the sports freeze of 2020 not yet thawed, these trends will continue as people look elsewhere for entertainment and socializing. As traffic and engagement on social media and YouTube increases more than ever it is important to use this as part of your marketing plan. In addition, your PPC or SEM campaigns should research new search terms related to your industry that have started to trend in the last 30-60 days.
Social media has always been known for the ability to target your ideal audience and engage with them on a personal level. While this is not as strong for direct response as SEM (Google Search Ads), since the start of state shutdowns, there has been a huge spike in traffic and engagement on social media. If you do not currently incorporate social media ads in your marketing strategy, now is the time you need to or revise and increase your current efforts. Ads should target your ideal audience for your popular services or most visually appealing services. When ad campaigns are set up correctly with multiple ad variations and multiple audience targeting for each campaign, you can optimize ads and do more A/B testing to get the most out of this surge.
SEM (Search Engine Marketing like Google Search Ads), is a marketing staple for any home service business like heating and cooling, roofing, door and windows, or remodeling. However, where most SEM campaigns miss out is regularly optimizing existing keywords and researching new keywords as seasons and the economy change. Looking at recent keyword trends for your industry opens up new search terms caused by current events or the season that may have lower cost-per-click and a higher click-through-rate. As an example, there was the largest spike compared to the last 12 months for “in home estimate” in April and May of 2020. As a contractor, if you are not adding “in home estimates” to your keyword groups, you are missing out on potential customers. Good digital marketing agencies will optimize your existing keywords based on performance. The best digital marketing agencies will watch for trends and add new keywords alongside the regular optimizations.
It can be hard for some businesses to approach YouTube as they are less familiar with how to utilize it for marketing and what an effective ad campaign looks like, but with more users and more time spent on YouTube, contractors should consider it as part of the marketing plan. YouTube has become one of the best resources for the homeowner, and because of this, it is also an effective place for contractors to reach the right audience. When someone searches “air conditioner not blowing cold air” or “When to replace your roof” it is pretty clear that they have a home service need and are researching their options like most consumers do today. With the right targeting and the right message, contractors can influence local homeowners with their own 30-second ad before or in the middle of the searched video and be the first company homeowners see, before they even look for contractors.
Homeowners Will Shop Around More
One of the most notable effects the pandemic had was on the economy. Millions of people filed for unemployment, some businesses had losses and some closed their doors entirely. While not everyone was laid off or saw a change in their income, the uncertainty and caution created by the pandemic spread to many more people. Keeping in mind that homeowners are more likely to compare services before purchasing, contractors should adjust their marketing strategy to be more competitive and lower the number of potential customers that drop from the sales funnel.
Staying competitive doesn’t always mean offering the lowest price. Typically if the cost of the same service is significantly lower from one company to another it is because the cheaper company is not performing the same quality of work. This could be less time spent on the job, lower quality of materials, or cutting corners on the extras that can have an impact in future years. Knowing where your strengths are in the market, what people are looking for, and matching those in your message can quickly change your approach from “Free Estimates” to effectively getting more of the right customer. During economic uncertainty, it is more important to communicate value in your marketing such as warranties, next day service, or in home appointments. Find where your company is competitive and use it.
Contractors among many other industries often make the mistake of losing customers by not retargeting effectively. They set up campaigns on a few platforms and spend more on the most effective ones, but leave money on the table by ignoring site visitors that did not convert. Retargeted audiences that showed interest by taking action on your ads or website, but didn’t convert by asking for an estimate or making a call are 4x more likely to click on an ad and 3x more likely to purchase. Good marketing strategies based around a sales funnel outlining the customer experience and all the touch points in their shopping journey highlight the areas where retargeting is needed. It is important to recognize that not all shopping journeys are the same and marketing needs to create specific strategies to stay in front of the homeowner as they shop around.
Your Message About Safety and Availability
Ignoring the obvious could be one of the greatest mistakes of 2020. There is a varying degree of concern from the general public about how important social distancing is and that is reflected in how and where they spend money. While some people have little or no concern about social distancing, others will need reassurance that contractors invited to work on their house are taking reasonable steps for the health of staff and customers. Leaning toward the side of caution and communicating how you are addressing the safety of customers is now expected from businesses. This includes your marketing, and contractors that haven’t included this in their marketing will lose out to the competition.
While the generic message of “we care about the safety of our staff and customers” is pretty common, contractors especially have some unique options to take it a step further and create an impact with marketing. Offering touchless services or virtual estimates can be a deciding factor for some people. Many contractors offer free estimates that sometimes involve visiting the home, but by changing the position of your message to reflect free in-home estimates that are personal and safe a common service transforms into extra value for safety. Just changing the wording of your ads to focus on the customers concerns and needs will highly improve the response from marketing.
Separate Groups For Updates
For the contractors that are already investing in marketing it is important to apply these new changes to your campaigns correctly. Customers’ needs and concerns will change over time, and as you update your campaign you do not want to reset the data or lose historical data. We highly recommend adding additional ad sets or keyword groups under the existing campaign with the new images, text, targeting, keywords, etc. to avoid this. While it is a lot of extra work, setting up a new ad set or ad group under the existing campaign will give you more ability to optimize, A/B test, and flexibility to make changes without sacrificing what you have already optimized.
Each platform has a different way for you to do this, but it goes back to quality of work. If ad campaigns are set up correctly in the beginning and as changes occur, your business will get a much better response. Depending on the type of business you should also segment ad groups by service. As an example for HVAC, one ad group might target locally for summer tune up and another ad group targets a wider geography of people looking for a new AC unit to be installed. Within these ad groups you should already have multiple ads or keywords based on targeting. Ads that address current trends would also be in a separate ad groups and segmented by service as well. Proper structure to campaigns may take longer, but doing it the right way will prove value with the results.
If you want to see how your marketing efforts compare and areas that can be improved for better results, take the digital analysis here. It is a free review of your marketing and gives you expert advice on how your business specifically can get more business.