Internet Marketing for HVAC Companies
HVAC Internet Marketing Success from Blue Corona
If you own an HVAC company and you want more leads and jobs from the web, you’ll want to read this! Traditional advertising methods aren’t working like they once did. Learn how to get more leads and jobs from the web and measurably improve your marketing ROI.
This case study was written for HVAC companies looking for the most effective ways to market and grow their business. Whether you’re building your HVAC business or you’re the owner of a mature heating and cooling company looking for ways to kick-start growth, get your pen and paper and read on!
The Media Revolution
Have you ever heard the saying, “if you always do what you always did, you’ll always get what you always got”? It would be easy to misapply this to your marketing and continue to invest in the advertising strategies that got you to where you are today. We’re in the midst of a media and marketing revolution. When it comes to your advertising and marketing, it’s adapt or die.
Consumers once had a handful of choices for consuming content; today, they have millions. We’ve gone from mass-media to micro-media. Whereas advertising used to be limited to TV, radio and newspaper, it’s now open to dozens of channels including computers (home and office), mobile phones, tablets, etc. Today’s media market is so fractured that it’s nearly impossible to get in front of the same number of people you once did without spending (significantly) more money.
The solution is to track everything and transform your website from a brochure into a virtual sales rep.
Measurably Improving Your HVAC Marketing Online
Learn more about our HVAC marketing services »
Over the past four years, we’ve created a system to help HVAC companies measurably improve their marketing performance and return on investment. Our HVAC clients receive more leads and book more jobs than they ever did in the past – often by a factor of four or more. The most amazing part, however, is we’ve simultaneously been able to lower their cost-per-lead and cost-per-job. Want to know what’s even better? We can do the same exact thing for your business. We’ve tested our process on a number of HVAC companies and similar home services companies and, so far, it has worked every time.
In this case study, we’ll highlight some of the key aspects of our system, leaving you with tips you can use to grow your business along with the way. Unforunately, we can’t give away all our secrets here for the world to see; but if you’re interested in learning more, we encourage you to contact us directly for a personalized demo we customize using real data from HVAC companies just like yours.
TRACK > TEST > TWEAK > REPEAT
The return delivered by many traditional advertising strategies is dropping like a rock. Don’t just take our word for it – take a look at this yellow page case study. The single biggest mistake made by HVAC business owners is not accurately tracking every single paid advertising and marketing strategy. Without accurate data, you’re forced to rely on gut – and sorry to burst your bubble, but when it comes to marketing, your instincts stink. For example, if you were to rely only on the yellow page case study linked at the beginning of this paragraph or poll people on the street whether or not they use the print yellow pages, you’d never renew your ads. But in many markets, this could be a major mistake.
Take a look at this:
One of the best ways to measure advertising performance is to track and monitor a metric called Return On Ad Spend or ROAS. ROAS measures the number of revenue dollars you receive for each dollar spent on advertising. The screenshot to the left shows tracked yellow page ads sorted by leads.
There are a couple things worth pointing out from this data. First, take a look at the difference between the Phone Calls (versus the number of Phone Leads). In many cases, the actual number of Phone Leads represents less than 70% of the total calls received. Tracking the gross number of phone calls may give you cost-per-call, but it will not give you an accurate cost-per-lead. Similarly, calls and leads are great, but what you’d really like to know is how many of the calls turned into jobs (business, revenue, profit, etc.).
This is where ROAS comes into play. ROAS allows you make an apples-to-apples comparison between various advertising and marketing strategies. In the screenshot above, we can see that YellowBook – Baltimore delivers more leads than YellowBook – Carroll, but YellowBook – Carroll has a much better ROAS – generating almost $16 in revenue for each dollar spent on the advertising versus $3.59 from YellowBook – Baltimore (which when you consider the profit margin, makes it barely worth it. Better data equals better results.
Takeaway #1: Better data equals better results. If you want to measurably improve your HVAC companies’ marketing ROI, you must accurately track every marketing strategy.
HVAC Companies Must Re-Think Their Internet Marketing Strategy
Aside from accurately tracking each of your advertising and marketing strategies (and your website counts as a marketing strategy), the next priority for improving your HVAC company’s marketing ROI is re-thinking your approach to web marketing. We’re an HVAC marketing company and we see a HUGE opportunity on the web right now for HVAC companies. Most HVAC contractors realize they need to invest more in online marketing, but the vast majority are still (grossly) under investing. What does this mean for you? They’re leaving a big opening for those in the know (which should be after reading this!) to establish what could become an insurmountable lead. Again, adapt or die.
If you want more leads and jobs from the web, you need to focus on two variables:
- Traffic (web visits)
- Visit-to-Lead Conversion Rate
HVAC companies should think of each of their websites as if they were virtual sales reps. If you want more sales from a sales rep, you have two options. You can get him or her to make more calls (increase website traffic/visits) or improve his or her close rate (comparable to your website’s visit-to-lead conversion rate). If you want more web leads and sales for your HVAC company, it’s as simple as increasing website traffic and improving your site’s visit-to-lead conversion rate – or do both!
Increasing Website Traffic
In a perfect world, you’d improve your website’s visit-to-lead conversion rate – make it as high as possible – and then invest in getting new people to your site. After all, what sense does it make to send visitors to a website that can’t “close the deal”? Makes sense, but taking this approach can be problematic for HVAC companies that don’t have enough website traffic to accurately determine their visit-to-lead conversion rate. It’s even more problematic for HVAC companies that don’t have tracking properly configured to determine their traffic numbers or their conversion rates!
If you have tracking properly set up (review this tracking setup checklist) and receive less than 500 visits per month, you have a traffic problem and you need to address it immediately – before you even consider working on your visit-to-lead conversion rates.
To increase traffic, you have two primary options: pay per click (PPC) advertising and search engine optimization (SEO). At this point, most HVAC contractors are familiar – at least a little bit – with each of these online advertising strategies. If you’re not, please review the Internet marketing resources section of our site.
With PPC advertising, you decide how much you’re willing to pay per click and select the keywords for which you’d like your website to appear in the paid search results (highlighted in yellow in the screenshot at right). PPC offers control and immediacy. If you have accurate tracking set up (i.e. you’re tracking the phone and web leads you receive from your PPC campaigns), you can manage your PPC campaigns to a specific ROI. A PPC campaign set up this morning will typically begin to display later the same day. If you set up your PPC account in the morning, you could be getting leads later the same day!
The second effective method for increasing website traffic for your HVAC company is SEO. The clickthrough rate (CTR) for the average PPC ad might hover in the .05-1% range (for a non-branded keyword phrase). Contrast this with the top organic listing, which has a clickthrough rate exceeding 15% (several studies claim that the CTR for the top organic listing on Google ranges from 18-40%). Why the massive difference between PPC and SEO? The general thought is organic search results are seen by consumers as more relevant and trustworthy than paid ads. There are ~10-15 organic listings on the first page of Google and fewer than 15% of searchers ever venture beyond the first page of results, so being on the first page is critically important if you want a realistic opportunity to attract qualified visitors to your site.
There are a number of mistakes HVAC companies make related to PPC and SEO. If you can avoid these, you’ll leap-frog your competitors. For starters, don’t assume just because you don’t click PPC ads, your prospective customers don’t either. Roughly 40% of searchers either don’t know about PPC ads or don’t care. They click the listings they find first and/or those that are the most visible (highest on the search results page). Getting more qualified visitors to your site is about one thing: cost effectively maximizing your company’s first page real estate. To do this, you should (strategically) invest in PPC and SEO for your HVAC company, but you have to focus on the right numbers. For example, don’t make the mistake of focusing on stupid metrics like cost per click (CPC). CPC only matters within the context of a bunch of other numbers like your max cost per sale, max cost per lead, visit-to-lead conversion rate, etc. Whether $10 per click is a homerun or a rip off depends on these secondary numbers.
Manage your PPC and SEO campaigns based on ROAS, leads and your max cost per lead.
Take a look at this screenshot (this is real data from a local HVAC company):
This HVAC company is (wisely) investing in both SEO and PPC (roughly $3,000 per month dedicated to each strategy). They get more leads from SEO – at a lower cost per lead, but total leads increased considerably when they began also investing in PPC (Note: PPC ads do not cannibalize clicks from organic listings and you can prove this if you test both and have tracking set up correctly).
Look at this screenshot (same company, slightly longer time period):
The orange line in the graph represents Paid Search Traffic and the green line represents Non-paid Search Traffic. This HVAC company’s PPC campaign was set “live” in March 2010. You can see that organic traffic continues to climb (as does PPC). If you own an HVAC company and you’re really serious about increasing the web leads you receive, you want to maximize your investments in both PPC and SEO; however, you need to focus on better metrics. Most of your competitors are still focusing on the wrong numbers (and making stupid decisions as a result). Use this to your advantage!
Takeaway #2: PPC and SEO are the two most cost-effective ways to increase traffic to your HVAC website, but you can’t make the most intelligent decisions or manage things properly unless you focus on the metrics that really matter (NOT CPC). Do this and you’ll leap-frog your competition.
Increasing Conversion Rates
As mentioned above, it doesn’t make sense to send traffic (visitors) to a website that can’t close the deal. At the same time, if you have less than 500 visits per month or you don’t have website tracking properly configured, you’re going to need to tackle these issues before you set out to improve your site’s conversion rates. At Blue Corona, we’ve done a detailed analysis of the HVAC industry to determine that if your website is converting less than 12-14% of visits into leads, you’ve got a serious conversion problem (and a big opportunity to get more leads from your site).
What can you do to improve your HVAC website’s visit-to-lead conversion rate? We can’t give away all of our secrets, but you can start by making it very easy for people to contact you. It’s simply unbelievable how many HVAC companies bury their phone number at the bottom of their website. You should also think twice about putting Facebook, Twitter and YouTube icons at the top of your site or embedding a YouTube video on your site. If your website is a retail store, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are flea markets – filled with distractions.
Why shouldn’t you embed YouTube videos on your site? Look at this:
If you’re going to put videos on your site, make sure you upload them to a service like Vimeo.com or Brightcove. If you upload them to YouTube and then embed them on your site, you’re going to run the risk of other people’s ads displaying during or after your video plays! From a conversion rate standpoint, this is a disaster.
Find out how to improve your website visit-to-lead conversion rate.
Get More HVAC Internet Marketing Insights
If you’ve enjoyed this case study so far and you’d like to learn more about how Blue Corona can help your HVAC company generate more web leads and measurably improve your marketing ROI, please contact us.
We can provide you with data-driven insights for your HVAC website to answer questions like:
- Should you have a mobile website?
- How much should you invest in PPC vs. SEO?
- What are the best keywords for HVAC companies?
- Which keywords should you avoid?
- Which website layouts work best for converting visits into leads?
- What’s the best way to track your advertising and marketing?
- Do you need a Content Management System (CMS)?
- Is blogging worth it and much, much more
Still not convinced? Get a free SEO for HVAC analysis of your website.
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