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- Commercial Services
I overhear a lot of conversations in our office, and one recently caught my attention. One of our account managers was walking an HVAC contractor through their monthly report and suggested adjusting the plan to get more commercial HVAC leads.
He did NOT agree with that. He’d had a lot of success with getting residential HVAC leads online, but they had tried to get commercial leads online with their last vendor and he said the effort flopped.
In his mind, targeting commercial services online was akin to tossing money into a river.
I get his point of view. Traditionally, commercial HVAC lead generation was a long, face-to-face process. Logically, then, it makes sense that a lot of commercial contractors prioritize other means of offline marketing.
I respectfully disagree with that line of thinking. Here’s why:
The B2B sales and marketing funnel has changed, and everything revolves around your digital presence. Your new buyers? They’re at the last end of Gen-X and the very beginnings of the Millennial generation.
When your target audience needs a product or service, they go online to find it. The average buyer now makes an average of 12 online searches before interacting with a vendor’s website, and they are already 57% of the way through the buying process before they even want to speak with a sales representative. Even in industrial and manufacturing industries, 67% of purchases are influenced by digital, and 62% of buyers can make a decision based solely on digital content.
It’s not too late to get into the commercial online marketing game, and I can tell you the three key channels you’re going to want to invest in to get started:
- Your website
- Your content (SEO)
- Offsite amplifiers like LinkedIn and PPC
Let’s Start With Your Commercial HVAC Website
The majority of the sales cycle occurs online, even for commercial HVAC leads. A lot of commercial contractors ignore their website because they don’t see it as a primary driver of new business.
If you take away one thing from this article, let it be this: Your website will be your top marketing asset.
About 75% of buyers have admitted to judging a company’s credibility based on its website design, so you need to put effort behind it. For example, your website isn’t just a brochure, it’s also a tool for:
- Sales efforts
You need to step out of your CEO role for a minute and put yourself in your client’s shoes. Each type of client you target has specific wants and needs, and you’re going to need to address those all on your website.
I want to take a minute to discuss exactly what your prospective clients’ needs actually are in the digital world because they’re probably different than what you’re used to. These days, a commercial client expects a website to be:
- Easily navigable – When someone lands on a confusing page, it’s much easier to hit the “back” button and try again instead of figuring out the layout.
- Informative and rich with resources – consumers are more informed than ever, and commercial consumers are no exception. In fact, commercial clients are usually MORE informed than their residential counterparts.
- Fast – Today’s consumer, both residential and commercial—expect a web page to load in under three seconds. It’s a by-product of the I NEED IT NOW economy, and in order to keep a prospect interested in your product, you need to have a website that keeps up with their attention span.
- Attractive – Once your page loads, users form an opinion in .05 seconds, and 48% of people cited a website’s design as the number one factor in deciding the credibility of a business.
- Rich with valuable content – The fact-finding stage of the buyer’s cycle is mostly online now. Your website needs to contain the information your target client would find the most valuable.
To Get More Commercial HVAC Leads You Need to Invest In SEO
Not only does your website need to provide for all the needs above, but your target customer also needs to be able to find it. Think about the last time you needed something. Did you call around to various stores until you found it? No. Chances are you pulled out your phone—or tablet, or laptop—and went to the same place the majority of consumers go: a search engine like Google.
Studies show that between 70%-80% of people research a company online BEFORE visiting the small business or making a purchase with them. Not only that, 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine, and 55% of users click on one of the first three entries.
Getting in those first three spots is tough, but doable with the right search engine optimization (SEO) tactics. You not only need content, but your content also needs to be optimized for the keywords potential clients use when they search for you.
Landing on the number one spot in Google isn’t just about optimizing content, though. You also need to make sure that search engines can easily crawl, understand, and index your website. This involves things like improving your site speed, using a search-engine friendly site navigation menu, creating a well-structured XML sitemap, building a responsive site for mobile and tablet users, and more.
After Cleaning Up Your Website, Use Pay-Per-Click and Social Media to Amplify Your Message
Two valuable off-site channels your HVAC company will want to look into are pay-per-click ads and LinkedIn ads.
Funny story, I ran a highly-targeted LinkedIn ad campaign for a B2B speaking engagement, and we actually had a few business owners that were convinced we specifically targeted them by name. I didn’t—LinkedIn’s ability to target based on interests and professional demographics is just that good.
Another reason LinkedIn is great for commercial advertising? Four out of five LinkedIn members drive business decisions, and LinkedIn’s audience has 2x the buying power of the average web audience. Targeting those people is simple—you just choose from the following to create your audience:
- Company name
- Company industry
- Company size
- Job title
- Job function
- Job seniority
- Member schools
- Fields of study
- Member skills
- Member groups
- Member gender
- Member age
- Years of experience
- Company followers
- Company connections
For example, if you were targeting hospitals for HVAC, you could select senior-level operations managers and decision-makers in the health industry, or even narrow it down by listing specific hospitals you’d like to work with. You can even retarget LinkedIn ads to people who have already been to your website or given you their contact information.
Another way to make LinkedIn work for you? Recruitment. Most millennials are active on LinkedIn, and on average, people spend at least two hours per month on the platform.
Pay per click ads—ads you pay for when someone clicks on them—are the next amplifier HVAC companies will want to look into. Why? Take a look at the screenshot below. Everything highlighted in yellow is a PPC ad.
What makes the pot sweeter is that 41% percent of searchers click on an ad in the first four spots. The PPC ads that will give you the most results are the paid search ads—you bid on a keyword or key phrase, and when someone searches for that phrase or term in a search engine, your ad should pop up in one of those four spots. PPC ads work exceptionally well for commercial clients because you can control the keywords your company appears for, and you can reach people at the exact moment they’re searching for your services.
Tying It All Together for a Cohesive Lead Generation Strategy for Commercial HVAC Contractors
The main takeaway is that people are always connected to the web, so your customers and clients are better educated than ever before. Not only that, but their expectations for a fast, frictionless online experience are higher. Google is making a BIG deal of landing pages—speed, user experience, and conversion ability.
Yes, you CAN get commercial HVAC leads—good ones—online. All you need are the right tools and the right digital marketing partner.
We’d be happy to walk you through an analysis of your website, and you can request information here.
About The Author: Betsy is Blue Corona's Digital Content Manager. When she’s not directing Blue Corona's corporate digital content campaigns she’s urban exploring with her wife, diving into the latest marketing trends, or teaching horseback riding lessons. Twitter: @educatedbets
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