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Has your HVAC company fallen into the trap of making costly, all-too-common digital marketing mistakes? Failing to answer a negative review on social media or upgrade to a mobile-friendly website design may not have harmed your company years ago, but times are changing—and fast.
If you’re serious about making 2018 a record growth year for your HVAC company, your digital marketing plan will have to change. Specifically, you need to avoid the following digital marketing mistakes at all cost:
- Investing your marketing dollars in the wrong place
- Having a slow, unsecured, or non-mobile-friendly website
- Targeting the wrong audience
- Going rogue on social media
- Not knowing—or advertising—what makes your business different
- Playing hooky on your digital marking budget
- Failing to measure results online
Keep reading to see each mistake in detail, as well as and how to avoid them in the new year.
The Worst Digital Marketing Mistakes You Can Make in 2018 and Beyond
1. Investing Marketing Dollars in the Wrong Places
Poor digital marketing is not only embarrassing to a company—it’s deadly. Your competitors are constantly looking for ways to poach customers, and everything from your reputation to your rank online is constantly at risk.
In the midst of so much consumer behavioral change, investing in the same marketing methods of the past is akin to hoping your 2005 Honda will one day run like a Mercedes-Benz. It’s just not going to happen.
Why? Think about this:
- 46 percent of Americans use mobile as their primary research tool (Search Engine Watch)
- 92 percent of consumers want to read online reviews before purchasing a product
- Consumers are much more likely to type a Google search than check a business directory
Even today it’s common for an HVAC company to spend over half its marketing budget on ads in the YellowPages. However, Forbes reports it’s become difficult to see a return on this type of investment, and already many investors never break even.
Is what you’re investing in today keeping up with what’s happening tomorrow? If not, this could be a sign you’re making a bad digital marketing mistake.
How to Avoid It:
HVAC businesses no longer have a one-size fits all digital marketing solution. Not only are traditional marketing forms outdated, but new online marketing methods continue to appear at a rapid pace. We suggest you:
- Keep tabs on how you invest your marketing dollars
- Diversify your current digital marketing portfolio
- Aggressively track which methods are working best
In 2017, the top channels HVAC companies invested in were pay per click (PPC) ads, social media, and review generation. All these channels will be necessary in 2018 and beyond.
2. Having a Slow, Unsecured, or Non-Mobile-Friendly Website
The most successful HVAC contractors in 2017 started the year by taking an aggressive look at their existing website. They used data to track and dissect their analytics, observing consumer behavior to reinvent their sites to be mobile-friendly, fast, secure, and offer a rewarding experience.
Eighty-three percent of mobile users say that having a seamless experience across all devices is very important. By testing your mobile experience online (such as with Google’s Mobile Friendly Test, as shown above), you can measure how responsive your mobile site is and how well it can function on a small screen.
You don’t have to rely just on the mobile-friendliness test, though. Whip out your phone and pull up your website. Then look for the following:
- Is your contact information clearly displayed at the top of the page?
- Are the graphics, links, and images formatted correctly?
- Can a user easily navigate the site from their phone?
- And most importantly—is it FAST?
Mobile site speed is crucial for HVAC companies to understand. Knowing how users navigate your website—no matter what device they’re on—can help you overcome even the worst digital marketing mistakes, such as wasting a user’s time on a poorly designed website.
Even if you have the most fascinating animations, videos, and high-quality images on your site, if your page speed is slow, it can negatively impact your bottom line.
As a budding HVAC company, don’t forget that page speed DOES affect your ranking online! If your page can’t load in time, users are put off and your site will rank lower because of it. The way to the future is to build your online presence by taking Google’s mobile-first approach.
Is your website secure? If it isn’t already, watch out—Google is taking no time to penalize websites by labeling them unsecure. As a result, consumers are much less likely to make a purchase on your site, and may avoid visiting it altogether. This is a common HVAC digital marketing mistake, and it can be costly.
How to Avoid It:
Do you have a bad website? Here’s how to check, and how to learn what to do to avoid more mistakes!
- Check your website speed at PageSpeed Insights
- Check your mobile-friendliness with Google Tools
- Check your site security with Why No Padlock
- Check your domain authority using Moz Open Site Explorer
- Check your local listings using Moz Local
When you create or manage a website for your business, try to make the path from site visit to purchase as fast, easy, and positive as possible, because this has the potential to shorten your sales funnel and increase your ROI. In 2018, consumers want websites that meet their list of demands:
- Easy navigation – we saw a 5 percent increase in on-site goal conversions after improving our client’s site navigation
- Fast load times – 40 percent of users abandon a webpage that takes more than 3 seconds to load
- Mobile friendliness – 91 percent of mobile users want easy access to websites
- Site security – Over 30 percent of the sites found on the first page of Google are HTTPS
- Review & social media schema – 72 percent of consumers claim that positive reviews encourage them to trust a local business more
3. Targeting the Wrong Audience
It’s baffling how many HVAC contractors spend valuable marketing dollars on PPC ads, mailers, or even email campaigns to target just about anyone in their local service area—including renters, teenagers, and everyone in-between! The end result is reaching only a handful of viable leads who may cost too much per lead to be worth what you spent in upfront marketing.
Do you put all your trust in an outdated marketing funnel, expecting better outcomes? Banking on awareness alone means risking marketing spend on poorly defined targets – including people who never intend to make a purchase.
If your service is for a specific type of person (such as millennial homeowners, your largest home-buying demographic for four consecutive years!), you will need to understand exactly how that consumer goes from passive reader of an ad or web page, to the role of a loyal customer.
Their buyer’s journey (represented by the following images of marketing funnels) can help you understand what your potential customers are really thinking before they choose to buy, or not to buy, your product.
The marketing funnel you’re probably used to seeing looks a lot like this:
This traditional style marketing funnel is straightforward and calculated. It says: Person sees, expresses interest, wants, and takes action. If only we could all be so decisive!
Unfortunately, thinking about your target customer’s behavior along the buyer’s journey like one predictable, linear journey has proven to be more idealistic than what really happens behind the scenes.
Today’s marketing funnel shows that the way consumers behave before making a purchase is less defined. In the new model, the path consumers take from impression to purchase is complete with twists, turns, and winding roads.
One of the worst digital marketing mistakes you can make is forgetting how to target your audience correctly. The new buyer’s journey, featured above, shows that consumers are putting a lot of effort into research and consideration before making a purchase, and they may sit in that loop forever if they don’t have the right marketing approach to reel them in and make them loyal, repeat customers.
How to Avoid It:
To avoid the mistake of racking up wasted marketing spend, successful HVAC contractors study client behavior and demographics to define their target audience. Before you spend a dime more on marketing, ask yourself:
- How am I tracking consumer behavior?
- Where does my target audience spend their time?
- How does my target audience use the web to find my business?
- Do I know my target audience’s age, median household income, location?
- What social media platforms reach my target audience the best?
In 2018, HVAC companies are encouraged to focus heavily on analytics to understand organic search traffic and how to improve it. This way, their digital marketing strategy can hone in on their target audience and generate higher quality leads.
4. Going Rogue on Social Media
It is estimated that customers spend 20-40 percent more when companies actively engage with customers via social media. For businesses who know the value of forming one-on-one connections with customers, responding to positive and negative reviews, offering exclusive promotions, and providing real-time news, social media is not only important—it’s critical.
When upwards of seven out of ten consumers expect your business to have a flourishing social media presence, one of the most damaging things you can do to your business online is fail to show up in the first place. To potential customers, an outdated or missing social media account sends a signal that your company:
- Lacks resources
- Is difficult to find
- Is closed or outdated
- Has poor customer service
- Is unreliable
Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and even Snapchat can be used to advertise your company, observe consumer behavior, and build your following online—all in the hopes of generating more sales and building recurring customers.
In 2018, you can expect a heavy push from consumers to communicate on social media. New Platforms such as Nextdoor are taking reviews and word-of-mouth seriously, and it will be up to you to learn what social media platforms is right for your HVAC company.
5. Not Knowing—and Advertising—What Makes Your Business Different
Which company would you go with: “Local HVAC Company in Houston” or “Houston’s Leading HVAC Company Since 1998”?
How you market your business online shows potential customers your unique values, authority, and even the personality of your employees and workforce. It tells the story of what it will be like to hire your company’s services, even before your customer has met you in person. Most importantly, digital marketing is an opportunity to show customers what sets your company apart from competition.
Businesses often advertise two of three core selling points: cost, convenience, and quality. The following differentiators can help you discover what sets your business apart from others:
- How long have I been in business for?
- What locations does my company service?
- Do our employees hold special certifications?
- Does our company have special awards or recognitions?
- Can we reward customers who find us through social media?
- Do we offer specialized services, coupons, or special offers?
- How do my customers get a better experience with our company?
When it comes to your business, avoid the mistake of advertising your business generically. Treat your digital marketing efforts like they are all a part of your first date with someone very special. The more effort you put into presenting your business well online, the better your chances are of winning a phone call!
How to Avoid It:
HVAC digital marketing mistakes often hedge on not knowing how to manage your business’s presence online. Your business is unique, and you should advertise it as such. If done correctly, you can build trust, gain authority, and form relationships with potential customers online.
To advertise authority and gain trust, consider taking the following steps:
- Place positive reviews on your site with review generation
- Advertise recent awards, certifications, and achievements
- Insert popular industry affiliations on your homepage
Relationships build when consumers see that you stand by a network of trust, authority, and endorsement. Some digital marketing mistakes are easy to make, but failing to build credibility shouldn’t be one of them.
6. Playing Hooky on Your Digital Marketing Budget
Spending on digital marketing can be intimidating, especially when you don’t have a physical product like flyers or brochures to hold onto, or when things like SEO strategy can take months to prove their value. For small businesses entering the digital marketing world, crunching the numbers for the first time can be intimidating!
In an effort to save money, many businesses fail to invest enough in digital marketing to see valuable results. Whether it is the perceived risk, the wait to see results, or the false safety of having never had to have a digital marketing budget before, many businesses stop short of developing a marketing budget that will bring truly valuable results.
How to Avoid It:
A good rule of thumb for planning your digital marketing budget is to set goals in advance for what you hope to achieve, monitor your results each month to test what is working and what needs to be improved, and expect gradual results that gain momentum over time. Most digital marketing won’t produce overnight results, but with the right strategy you can find yourself experiencing serious growth!
If you want to learn more about the cost of digital marketing, you may be interested in:
- How much does inbound marketing cost for my small company?
- How much do Facebook ads cost?
- How much do YouTube ads cost?
- Is PPC worth it for small HVAC companies?
- How are small businesses using digital marketing to thrive?
7. Failing to Measure Results Online
Do you know how much revenue was generated from your last advertising or marketing campaign? What about the number of impressions of people who visited your site in the last month, or who clicked through your ad to see your site? Have you installed call tracking?
Analytics are critical for understanding how well your HVAC business is performing, but many small businesses avoid it. Studies have shown that less than 30 percent of small businesses use Web site analytics, call tracking, or even coupon codes—and some don’t track anything at all! When 85 percent of consumers now turn to the internet to find their local business, you can’t afford not to glean data-driven insights about their behavior online.
As an HVAC company, you may be interested in using Google Analytics, Google tag manager, or other analytics reporting tools to track and measure your success online. Measuring your results online helps you to refine your digital marketing budget and spend only in areas that best serve your business.
The Number One Digital Marketing Mistake: Hiring the Wrong Digital Marketing Company
Digital marketing mistakes are easy to make, but with the right help they can be avoided. If you would rather focus on the day-to-day of your business but still want to keep ahead of competition and stay relevant in today’s market, hire a digital marketing company that has specific industry knowledge and a portfolio of success stories that can be openly shared and discussed.
About The Author: Sophia is a Content Marketing Specialist out of the Blue Corona Charlotte office. Outside of work you’ll often find a cat in Sophia's lap and book or journal in hand. She also loves to travel, explore nature trails and attempt to fish.
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