Tired of generic marketing advice that doesn’t really fit your company? Well in this blog post, we’ll be sharing business growth tactics specifically designed for those in the HVAC industry. While consulting with a team of marketing experts is certainly never a bad idea, the ideas in this post can all be executed with limited to no professional assistance. We expect you’ll find more than a few valuable takeaways from the five tips listed below.
- Take Advantage Of Local SEO
- Share Customer Success Stories
- Have Your Content Answer Your Customers’ Biggest Questions
- Send Out Emails And Direct Mail Before Busy Seasons Begin
- Create A Customer Referral Program
1- Take Advantage Of Local SEO
There’s a lot to know when it comes to search marketing, but before diving into any kind of paid Google strategies, you’ll want to make sure you’re doing everything possible to boost your local SEO efforts. For those unfamiliar with the term, local SEO is a search engine optimization strategy that helps businesses become more visible in local search results on Google.
Why should you make local SEO a priority?
Because there’s likely a lot of people in your area looking for a “local” HVAC company to help address their heating and air conditioning needs. In fact, according to WebFX, 46% of Google searches are for local businesses, and 80% of local searches lead to conversions. When people in your area search for phrases like “HVAC companies near me” or “local HVAC pros”, you want to make sure your company is one of the first results that comes up.
Ideally you’ll want your business to appear near the top of page 1 for these types of searches in a set of three boxes which is known as a “map pack”. You’ve probably noticed map packs before, even if you didn’t exactly know what they were. You may have even already found a few companies through them without realizing it. Here’s an example of what a map pack looks like.
If you want your business to actually get clicks in local search results, and don’t want to spend a fortune for sponsored ads, getting your company in map pack real estate is a must. Now let’s talk about some steps you can take to improve your local SEO standing.
Get setup with Google My Business
Having a Google My Business account is essential if you hope to be relevant in local search results and get map pack placement. These accounts also make key information about your company more easily visible in Google search results. For guidance on how to claim and verify a GMB account you can follow the directions laid out in this blog post. Going through this process may seem like a bit of a hassle, but this is a step you can’t afford to skip if you want your business to have any kind of online presence.
Review your NAP
In the online marketing world, NAP stands for name, address and phone number. Having these three things listed correctly across the internet is crucial for local SEO success. Google scans this information and uses it when determining search ranking. Incorrect information in NAP citations can lead to confusion for customers and a poor user experience.
No need to stress too much here. Just double check any place your company’s name, address and phone might be listed online (your website, GMB page, online directories) and make sure all of your information is accurate and consistent. You’ll also want to make sure your business’ website has a dedicated contact page with your NAP clearly laid out.
A directory is an online list of businesses within a particular niche, location, or category. They can be a very helpful tool for helping HVAC companies get found online, as search engines use citations from local directories to list your information in local SEO listings. There are a lot of listing sites out there you can submit data to, but it’s best to start off with some of the bigger name directories. This post by HubSpot offers a great breakdown of the online directories you may want to have your company appear on.
Get more reviews
There’s no denying that having a high number of user reviews for your company is essential for helping you improve your local SEO standing. According to a recent survey, review signals make up 16% of the search engine decision-making process when it comes to local map pack rankings. If your company has almost no online reviews to showcase, expect to have a difficult time winning over the trust of both Google’s algorithm and consumers.
Also make sure you’re publicly responding to the reviews you already have, no matter what rating you get from the review. According to Status Labs, 71% of consumers say they’re more likely to use a business that has responded to their existing reviews. For more tips on managing your online reputation, check out this post.
2- Share Customer Success Stories
Gaining consumer trust has become extremely difficult in the digital age. With endless options for help available right at their fingertips, people have the ability to be a lot more picky with the businesses they choose to work with than in the past, and are no longer forced to blindly trust whatever a company has to say about their own service. If you want your company to stand apart from the competition online, you’ll need some former customers advocating on your behalf.
Do statements from previous customers really have an impact on future ones?
According to data from Status Labs, 78% of consumers are inclined to trust peer recommendations, while only 14% trust advertising. So yes, customer case studies typically will have a much deeper impact on your potential customers than any of your marketing material. Think about it this way. When you go to purchase a product online, are you spending more time reading the item description created by the company or the collection of user reviews? If you’re like most people, it’s probably the latter.
Now let’s dive into what it takes to put together high quality customer case studies together.
Start by making a list of your best customers
While HVAC isn’t an industry that guarantees repeat business, we’re guessing you have a few customers that you’ve worked with a lot over the years. Assuming that your relationship with these frequent customers is still in good standing, you’ll want to consider asking them if they’d be willing to share their experience with your company publically. Ideally you’ll want to have at least a few customer case studies to showcase to new leads, so meet with your staff and collectively assemble a list of individuals who you think would be great candidates for a spotlight piece.
If possible, get customers to talk over video
While blog post case studies are no doubt valuable, recording a case study interview over video allows you to share the story through multiple platforms. You can publish video interviews on YouTube, make them available for viewing on your website and still transcribe the dialogue from the video for a written case study blog post if you’d like. Filming interviews has become easier than ever these days thanks to video chat technology. You can simply record your interview over Zoom (or a similar platform) with your customer, and neither of you ever has to leave their home.
When interviewing customers, ask them about every step of the process
A great case study will help give future customers a peek beyond the curtain of what it’s actually like to work with an HVAC service, and ideally wash away any concerns they have about the experience. With this in mind, you’ll want your case study interviews with customers to cover every part of their experience with your company. You’ll want to find out why they decided to reach out to your company, what they thought of the staff members that were sent out to their homes, what they thought of the service your team provided and what the end result of their time with your company was. Ask as many questions as you have time for, and try not to cut the customer off when they’re telling their story. You can always edit lengthy or unnecessary material later.
Take time to make your customer success stories look professional or hire someone who can
Once your customer interviews are completed, it will be time to turn them into a blog post or video to share via your website, emails and social media pages. If you’ve never assembled a case study before, you may want to turn to the internet to find some inspiration. This post from HubSpot has 25 case study examples to look through. These are of course elite examples of what a case study can be, so don’t be stressed if you can’t quite reach the same level of quality with yours.
If creating content and storytelling isn’t your strong suit, consider delegating the job to a member of your team who is more experienced with content creation or find a writing or video editing professional to help you complete the task.
3- Have Your Content Answer Your Customers’ Biggest Questions
By now you’ve probably been told countless times about the value of creating blog content (and video content too), and how large a role it plays in helping your company not only being found in online searches, but in convincing prospects to actually want to contact your business. And while that’s all 100% true, it’s important to note that creating blogs and videos just for the sake of having lots of content on the internet won’t really do you any good. You need to focus your content on topics your prospective customers will actually care about, which is why you’ll want to dedicate a large portion of your blogs and videos towards answering some of their biggest questions.
Why should this be the focus of your content?
While your first instinct for a blog or video post may be to discuss how great your service, or list out some of your many accomplishments, you should know that these types of posts rarely move the needle with prospective customers. Instead your posts should focus on two things: 1) Educating your target audience on things they want to know about, 2) Showcasing your company’s expertise by sharing valuable insight.
A lot of companies are hesitant to give out information for free to those who are not yet paying customers and this is a big mistake. You should be looking to give your target customers as much insider information as possible, knowing that whatever HVAC tips you provide will almost always require the help of professionals to execute. By answering the questions your potential customers have, you’ll simply be showing them that you really know what you’re talking about, and providing them with an easy to follow path to get help from your company.
Now let’s go over ways to identify what it is your customers care most about.
Check in with past customers to get informed
Finding the right questions and topics to address in your content can be tricky. So instead of guessing what your customers want to know about, why not ask them. Take the time to reach out to some of your former customers and ask them what some of their biggest concerns were heading into their experience with your company. You may be surprised by how much some have to say, and how much they enlighten you on the HVAC customer’s mindset.
If making phone calls to past customers feels a bit too awkward, consider sending out an email survey. You may find that customers are actually a lot more honest in survey responses, since they don’t have to worry about what you might say back to a particular comment.
Check in with your staff members too
The technicians who are actually out in the field for your business will also be great people to speak with before formulating new content ideas. They can let you know if lately a lot of customers have been asking about a particular subject or expressing a specific concern. Receiving staff input will help you get right to the heart of the issue of what customers actually care about most, rather than just making assumptions. This is also just a general good practice for improving your company’s customer service experience.
Use the information you learned to create valuable content
Once you’ve done a fair amount of research on what it is your prospective customers want to know, it’s time to start creating new blog posts and videos in which you provide in-depth answers to their questions.
Here are some examples of blogs or videos you might want to create:
- How do HVAC systems work?
- What are the advantages of having an HVAC system in my home?
- Which HVAC brand is best?
- How many years will my HVAC system last?
- Should I be worried about carbon monoxide in my home?
While not all of your blog and video titles need to be in the form of a question, you should aim to provide some form of education and value in every piece of content you create.
Don’t get frustrated by a lack of immediate results
One of the most important things you’ll need in order to achieve content marketing success is a lot of patience. It can take months, and in some cases over a year, before you really start seeing consistent results from your content creation. But, if you stay consistent with releasing new content, and continue to answer your customers’ most pressing questions, you should see tremendous long-term benefits for your business.
4- Send Out Emails And Direct Mail Before Busy Seasons Begin
When working in HVAC, there’s little mystery behind when your busiest times of year will be. Typically the winter and summer seasons will be your opportunity to really make hay financially. With this being the case, your company should be at its most aggressive with advertising during the two months leading up to winter and summer, and look to reach customers through both digital and traditional mailing methods.
Why is timing so important?
If you wait till winter and summer actually begin to reach out to potential customers with your marketing, you’ll find that a large majority of them have already addressed their heating and air conditioning needs with another company. Sending marketing material to prospective customers six to eight weeks before a busy season actually begins is a much better approach, as a lot of your target audience will be starting to think about their existing heating and cooling situations, and may feel inclined to take action.
So what are the best ways for HVAC companies to let new leads know they’re ready to help?
Create professional looking emails to send out to prospective and former customers
Email marketing is a strategy every growing HVAC company should be participating in. If you aren’t already participating in it, you may find this step-by-step guide from optinmonster valuable.
While some types of companies may benefit from sending out new emails weekly, HVAC businesses need to be more savvy with their timing. Instead of overloading your target customers’ inboxes with constant emails throughout the year (which may result in them marking you as spam), you should save your heavy email campaigning for the months of April, May, October and November.
One key stat to know is that welcome emails have an 82% open rate, which is significantly higher than the average email open rate of 21%. So make sure when reaching out to new leads for the first time you provide them with lots of great information and make the most of your first impression. You may not get the chance to make a second one.
Don’t abandon direct mail advertising just yet
While the future of marketing will largely end up being accomplished digitally, HVAC companies should still dedicate a portion of their marketing budget towards sending out direct mail. Recent studies show that 79 percent of consumers will open direct mail immediately, and that some businesses see response rates as high as 50-60% and ROIs of up to 2,655% with HVAC marketing postcards.
Stats like this serve as a reminder that growing businesses should always be looking to diversify their marketing efforts. You’re likely serving a large range of people, from people in their late 20s who are buying their first homes to people in their 70s who have owned the same home for several decades. If you want to reach all of them, you’ll get busy sending out postcards in addition to your email marketing efforts.
Create a sense of urgency with your email and mail content
While you don’t want to come across as too aggressive with your marketing material, you shouldn’t be too passive either. Remind your customers that extremely hot or cold weather is just around the corner, and that they really can’t afford to wait much longer to address their heating or air conditioning needs. Let prospects know that they could end up being really uncomfortable and stand to lose out on a lot of money this upcoming season if they don’t address their HVAC needs through your company right away. Most importantly, make it clear that your business is ready to help and can make the process super easy.
Attach limited time offers
Providing customers with special discounts that expire by a certain date can be a great way towards pushing them to take action. Offering a monetary promotion will not only add to the sense of urgency you want new leads to feel when opening your mail, but could help your company stand out from the several other pieces of marketing mail being sent to them. As much as we may hate to admit it, price can often drive our marketing decisions a lot more than quality of service, especially when we’re choosing between several businesses we don’t know much about.
5- Create A Customer Referral Program
While there’s a lot a company can do to boost its marketing efforts, results are never guaranteed. In order to achieve sustained success in the modern business world, you’ll ideally want to have new leads coming from a lot of different places. Assembling a referral program for your customers is one of the best ways to create new customer opportunities without having to do additional marketing work.
Why are referrals so valuable?
Well aside from the fact that they require no marketing spend on your part to connect with, they tend to be more excited about using your services than the average new lead would, because they’ve already heard all about your business from a family member or friend. Data shows that referred customers are 18% more loyal than non-referred ones. Getting lots of incoming referrals will help your company get by during slow marketing periods and help increase your new lead conversion rate.
Incentivize customers to share your company with people they know
You may find that some customers will naturally just want to tell all their family and friends about what a good experience they had using your business. Most probably will forget or not care enough to. However, if you provide financial incentive for people to refer your company, you’ll be amazed by how many new business requests you get. Let customers know that a discount on their service is waiting for them if they’re willing to bring new people to your business.
Get creative on the offers your provide
Providing discounts for HVAC can be somewhat tricky, as once a customer ends up receiving help from your company, it could be awhile before they need help again. Giving customers the opportunity to get money back from their previous bill with your company may motivate them to find more people to refer to your business. Giving money back to customers may feel strange, but once the people they refer start spending money with you business, you’ll end up making a lot more in the long run.
Allow past customers to take advantage of referral offers
If you’re looking to create even more referral traffic, reach out to people who have used your business previously. Sending out an email or piece of direct mail in which you thank a person for being a loyal customer, and let them know about referral offers, is a great way to spark new business opportunities.
Make sure the people your customers refer get a quality experience
Your referral program will fall apart pretty quickly if your referred customers end up getting much worse service than they were expecting. Monitoring the performance of your intake team and technicians is a must, as the experience they deliver towards your customers will play a large role in your ability to bring in new customers in the future.
Using the above marketing ideas could end up generating a lot of phone calls for your business. Investing in a 24/7 answering service like Ring Savvy can help ensure that your new lead opportunities never go to waste, and that your company ends up working with as many new customers as possible.