It’s Tuesday and I’m in a great mood. I’m currently a visitor at Blue Corona’s Charlotte office, it’s 80 degrees and sunny, my belly is full of $1 tacos, and we’ve got plans to go to an awesome beer garden for happy hour. But the other reason I’m in a great mood is because three of my coworkers are representing Blue Corona at the ACCA tradeshow in Texas, and—fingers crossed—hopefully will bring us back lots of new HVAC leads.
Blue Corona specializes in data-driven online marketing for a variety of home service industries, but HVAC is definitely our bread and butter (we’re one of the top HVAC SEO companies out there). We’ve worked with dozens of heating and cooling companies over the years, and probably everyone on our team could explain to you how a heat pump works, why and when you need to schedule air conditioning maintenance, the average life span of a furnace…you get my point.
To put it simply, we consider ourselves HVAC marketing experts, and I’m pretty sure our clients (and probably our friends over at ACHR!) would back us up on that. So because I’m in such a great mood, I decided to share answers to some of the most common HVAC marketing questions our clients and prospects ask us.
How Do I Know if My Marketing Is Working?
Almost every single one of your HVAC company’s marketing and advertising strategies can and should be tracked. In fact, this is how Blue Corona was born—as a tracking and analytics company.
One of the barriers that prevents HVAC business owners from accurately tracking their marketing strategies is time. Putting analytics systems in place, gathering data, updating spreadsheets, and analyzing it takes time.
But it’s worth it, I promise.
At Blue Corona, we connect your marketing campaign performance to your financials. To us, the ultimate measure of your campaign success can only truly be told in terms of revenue and return on ad spend—not with rankings, clicks, visits, or even leads.
Better data = better results. To know if your HVAC marketing is working, you’ve got to start by tracking everything—from your billboards to your mailers to your SEO and more. For each of your marketing channels, you need to know:
Cost per lead
And cost per sale
And when I say marketing channels, you have to think granularly. It’s not enough to just say “I know how many leads I’m getting from the Web.” You need to how many leads you’re getting from Google organic, PPC, Facebook, etc.
How Can I Generate More Business from My Website?
Allow me to introduce you to three of my favorite acronyms:
Let’s start with SEO (search engine optimization) and PPC (pay per click)—the ones you’re probably the most familiar with. If you’re new to these terms, check out this short Blue Corona video:
Now that we’re caught up, we’ll get to the good stuff. Our HVAC clients always want to know—should I invest in SEO or PPC? The truth is, the most effective search engine marketing (SEM) strategies take advantage of both SEO and PPC. Think of the web as real estate—you want to cost-effectively maximize as many listings on the first page of search results as possible.
But that’s the answer everyone always gives you, isn’t it? Well here’s another way to look at it: if you want leads for your HVAC company fast, look to PPC. If there’s a heat wave coming and your HVAC company is nowhere near the first page of organic results for common air conditioning keywords, I’d recommend you create an air conditioning pay PPC campaign.
But if you’re interested in a long-term strategy, invest in SEO. After all, as soon as you turn your PPC campaign off, you can kiss those leads goodbye.
So while PPC and SEO focus on getting new traffic to your website, CRO (conversion rate optimization) focuses on getting more leads from the traffic you already have.
For example, in this case study, our client saw a 73% increase in website conversions after we added a sidebar contact form to their website.
Is Home Advisor/Angie’s List/Thumbtack Advertising Worth It?
Like we mentioned above—all of your marketing strategies can and should be tracked. Our motto at Blue Corona is
track > test > tweak > repeat.
But before you do that, think about this:
Building lead generation assets you own and control—your primary website, marketing microsites, opt-in email lists, etc.—is like buying property vs. renting it. It’s a long-term strategy. It takes quite a bit of time and effort invested before you start seeing the dividends. In some situations, waiting isn’t an option. If you need leads yesterday, joining a directory with a large, established base of traffic and/or signing up with a pay per lead service is an option.
Getting listed in targeted high-traffic directories can deliver short-term leads, but whether or not the effort is worth it depends on your execution. With directory sites like Angie’s List and the Yellow Pages, you’re not building any long-term equity in a lead generation asset you own. Keep this in mind as you develop a strategy for testing such sites.
Neglecting your website is a common mistake among business owners in the HVAC industry, when in reality it should be one of your best assets. Your website should act as an extension of your sales team, driving in leads and sales even when your staff is off the clock. Think of it not as an online brochure, but rather a sales rep with a built-in sales funnel.
As much as I love looking at a pretty HVAC website, aesthetics play just one role in determining whether your website is virtual sales rep material. Here are the other considerations:
1. Findability. There’s no point in having an awesome site with awesome content if people who are searching for your services can’t find it. Search engine optimization can help with this!
2. Accessibility and content. Fewer and fewer people perform searches on their desktop and laptop computers these days as tablet and smartphone surfing are on the rise. This means that your website and its content should load and be easy to use across multiple devices. We refer to this as a “responsive” website.
3. Identity and trust. There’s a difference between Web reality and the real world, and consumers know this. Go above and beyond to show that you’re a real HVAC company. You can do this by putting your physical location on your site (along with pictures of your staff). If you’re on Angie’s List or a member of the ACCA, put those badges on the site to establish trust, along with any testimonials you have.
How Much Should I Invest in SEO/PPC/Insert Other Marketing Strategy Here?
Most HVAC companies want to triple their leads—tomorrow. However, their investments aren’t always in line with their expectations.
If you want to grow quickly (especially if you’re starting from scratch), you’re going to have to invest more money, or more of your time. For an average HVAC contractor doing $1 million or less, spending between $500 – 1500 a month to invest in your web presence is reasonable.
It helps if you keep in mind the average lifetime value of a client. In the HVACR industry, it’s likely that you will do repeat business with many of your clients for HVAC repair, replacement, and maintenance jobs. You should know how often they call you and how many referrals you typically get.
Why is this important? It makes all the difference in determining whether $10 per click is a great deal on PPC or whether it’s a fast track to running out of cash. Can’t you just use industry standards? Not necessarily. Some HVAC companies convert 30 percent of their calls into sales and others convert 80 percent. Those who get 80 percent can afford to pay more per click and per lead.
About The Author: Lexie serves as Blue Corona's Content Marketing Manager. She's also the author of our soon-to-be famous, and someday to be written white paper, "Horse Hat SEO: Giddy-Up Your Google Rankings."
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“Our phones are ringing more and our guys are busier ever since we signed up with Blue Corona to handle our marketing. We look forward to our monthly updates and are excited to see the numbers each month of how we are doing. It is especially nice to see now when we are experiencing a lot of pressure from our competitors to try and take our customers. It’s nice to take these amazing numbers to our manager and show him that the money we have been spending is paying off. ”