How Contractors Can Generate More Customer Ratings
How Contractors Can Generate More Customer Ratings
(And how to deal with negative ratings online.)
Feb 12, 2021
Facebook. Google. Twitter. Yelp.
Email marketing. Ads. Blog posts. Paid search. Organic search.
When it comes to marketing your home services business, the marketing options are overwhelming, causing some service professionals to throw their hands up in dismay.
But a new report sheds some light on the best path forward. With responses from 724 buyers of home services, an August 2020 survey looked at how homeowners approach finding a plumbing or HVAC contractor and reveals some key marketing actions service professionals should take.
Understanding a service buyer’s journey
It’s helpful to understand the process a customer goes through before they contact you—and what they do afterward. There are five phases to the journey:
Realization — the moment when customers recognize they have a problem to solve.
Education — how customers gather the information they need to make a decision.
Evaluation —the criteria customers use to see if a service provider is a good fit.
Decision — how customers decide on who to work with.
Advocacy —when customers feel compelled to leave a rating or review online.
Whether it’s an urgent matter like a frozen pipe or a routine issue like seasonal HVAC service, what customers do first when they enter the Realization phase is key. Most consumers surveyed reported that they either called a past provider (40.4 percent) or went online to find a business that could help (42.3 percent).
As a service provider, your goal for this Realization phase should be to turn people from the second group into members of the first. These buyers have a greater customer lifetime value, and their return business and online advocacy will drive your business for years to come.
The power of online reviews
Next up are the Education, Evaluation and Decision phases, in which the buyer gathers information and finds a provider that will be a good fit. How will you help a buyer find you and understand how you can help them? Online profiles with stellar reviews.
After first realizing a need, nearly 60 percent of buyers under the age of 55 went online to find a provider, and more than half of respondents (53.8 percent) reported using online reviews to select a provider. While TV and radio ads are common marketing investments for home service providers, building the right online presence is a more targeted approach that uses your customers’ experiences to draw in new ones. An added benefit of online reviews: Unlike radio or TV ads, online efforts offer more insight into who is finding you and how so you can do more of what works.
The Advocacy phase of a buyer’s journey can be a little tougher to manage. Unfortunately, consumers are less likely to leave reviews for their plumbing or HVAC contractor than other service providers – only 36.5 percent of respondents. But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can do a lot on your end to bring in reviews.
Getting more online reviews for your business
If your potential customers with the greatest lifetime value are likely to look for providers like you online, but buyers in your industry aren’t as likely to leave reviews, it’s up to you to nurture that activity.
To encourage online reviews:
● Be where your customers are. Forty percent of the respondents who did leave online reviews left them on Google, making it vital for you to have an optimized Google My Business profile. You should also have a business profile on Yelp, where 18.5 percent of respondents said they leave reviews, and on Facebook, where 71percent of respondents said they are active users. It’s free to create profiles on all these platforms, though you can pay for various enhancements if you wish.
The study showed that nearly 30 percent of buyers only talked to one service provider before hiring them. If you make an effort to create a robust profile on these sites, you’ll build brand awareness and have the first crack at a very eager audience.
● Respond to all reviews, especially the negative ones.
Dealing with negative reviews is essential. Many times, customers simply want to be heard. The worst thing any business can do is ignore negative reviews. Prospective customers pay attention to these negative reviews, but if they see that you took the time to respond and address the concern, they’ll view your brand more positively. Taking the time to respond to positive reviews as well shows buyers that you’re engaged and approachable, making them more likely to contact you.
● Ask your customers.
Don’t be shy—make sure you and your team are actively asking for reviews. Direct technicians to ask for a review at the end of a service call and provide a leave-behind card for customers that lists the sites where they can share their thoughts. Include links to your profiles on these sites in your follow-up communications such as emails or texts and ask customers to review you there. You can even offer an additional incentive when customers make the effort to help you out.
Build your online profiles and they will come
While marketing might not be your favorite part of running your business, it’s vital to your survival and your bottom line. Understanding the key phases of how a buyer finds a plumber or HVAC service provider like you is the first step to building a strong online presence. Once you make sure your customers know where to find you online and review their experiences, they’ll help make spreading the word about your business a whole lot easier.
John Tyreman is a seasoned marketer with experience conducting market research focused on buyer behavior. The data in this article is part of a broader study on consumer behavior across various service industries. John has appeared on webinars, podcasts, and authored hundreds of blog articles. Connect with him on LinkedIn .
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Home Services Marketing Trends for the New Year and Beyond
With a new year upon us, it's helpful to understand the emerging digital marketing trends.
Feb 05, 2021
By Lisa Thai
2020 was a year of tremendous change for the home services industry. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses had to adapt to new methods of doing business. While this naturally proved a challenge, home services professionals collectively rose to the occasion. As a testament to our field's innovation, substantial numbers of these changes are likely to remain in place long after the pandemic passes.
With a new year upon us, it's helpful to understand the emerging digital marketing trends so those in the home services field can best position their companies for growth in 2021.
SEO: Staying at the Top of the Search Results
While it may seem to be an overly technical concept, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is simply about making sure the words and information presented on your company's website are likely to appear in relevant search results. The act of optimizing your site can lead to substantially higher traffic volume. With that, of course, comes more leads and jobs.
Moving forward, we can expect SEO practices to play an increasingly crucial role in a home services company's ability to thrive in their local market.
SEO refers to more than just keywords—many elements, such as user intent, quality of content, links, or your site's technical setup, can impact its position in the search results. Since most searches happen through Google, well-optimized sites usually focus on displaying information through the lens of Google's best practices.
Google picks up on inconsistencies between the content on websites and the information found on your Google My Business (GMB)—and having mismatched information can even result in a suspension of your listing. Because of this, it’s necessary to ensure your data—such as your business name, address, phone number, and hours of operation—is kept current and matches what is on your website.
Additionally, the industry is seeing a spike in searches made on mobile devices. In response, Google has switched to a mobile-first index, meaning they prioritize sites optimized for mobile use. This new trend requires your site to be responsive across all electronic devices and mobile-friendly. The information published on your website should still be educational, but simple enough to digest on handheld devices.
Voice Search, the Next Big Thing
Along with the popularity of mobile devices, voice search is also becoming mainstream. According to Google, people have increasingly incorporated voice searches into their daily lives since it allows them to multitask, receive information instantly, and simplify daily routines. This is why including an optimization strategy for voice search will be increasingly important in the coming year and beyond. More site traffic leads Google to believe your page is relevant, which can potentially result in ranking higher overall on a search page.
Knowing there is a growth in voice search means home services professionals must learn how and when people use it as a tool. Because it is much faster to talk than type, long-tail keyword searches are becoming more common than the usual short-tailed keyword searches made when typing. Additionally, people using mobile devices want immediate search results that are direct and to the point. This makes it extremely important that your website's content is not only accurate but concise.
For any home services company looking to grow, tailoring the information to a potential client's needs and search platforms will become more and more vital for your success.
Start Bidding on LSAs
Since their introduction, Local Services Ads (LSAs) have become a popular form of advertising for home services businesses. This is likely to remain the case in the new year, especially considering that Google is adding a new bidding feature to LSAs that will make them even more effective.
The bidding feature changes the way LSAs function and makes the platform far more competitive. However, it is helpful to remember that changes in structure usually require changes in strategy.
This new tool allows you to set your account up so Google automatically sets your bid for you and decides how to allocate your money to bring in as many leads as your budget will allow. Alternatively, you can pick from a range of cost per lead choices for your bid as well. Bidding will be a factor in determining your ranking on search results, and Google will also take into consideration your online reviews, your proximity to the person searching, and the rate of your responsiveness. Providing accurate information on your profile regarding the services you provide, your physical location, service areas, and hours of operation all feed into the optimization for your ads and overall customer experience.
Video Content is King
Google's focus is on providing searchers with as much useful information as possible. This means the search engine is always adapting to how people are searching to stay helpful and relevant. One of the biggest trends we are seeing is a shift in the way people consume content. Audiences are moving away from the written word and becoming more interested in engaging with video, which opens up new opportunities for your business's marketing strategy.
Evidence shows that by 2022, online videos will take up more than 82 percent of all consumer internet traffic. From a business perspective, if you are not incorporating video into your campaign strategy, you are missing out on capturing a large share of the market. In the future, staying current will mean including videos in your marketing campaign and creating content that adds value to your business and appeals to your customer base.
Utilizing video can give your brand exposure in the online spaces where people are consuming content. Platforms such as YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok continue to surge with user engagement, while Facebook plans on transitioning to a more video-heavy structure. With more eyes on video content, you should maximize over-the-top advertising, which allows you to take advantage of sites such as Amazon and Hulu. These platforms are based solely on providing video content for consumers and can be a great channel to reach your customer base.
Creating Trust Through Content Marketing
The Rule of Seven says a prospective client needs to see your brand at least seven times before buying from you or utilizing your services. It takes a high volume of advertising to build that degree of trust, and historically that comes with a hefty price tag.
Fortunately, social media's popularity allows home services businesses to boost their visibility and establish trust with potential customers at a minimal cost. Platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and TikTok can serve as advertising channels with a direct line to prospects in your local service area and even beyond.
The method for engagement can be simple. By posting original video content, memes, before and after pictures of jobs, and staff highlights, you can communicate your business's unique character and help stand out from local competitors.
Some companies use their social media accounts to blog about issues relevant to the home services community and their customers, which helps establish your brand as experts in the field.
No matter how you choose to use it, social media can provide a steady avenue to reach potential customers and help attract attention to your business.
In marketing, the goal is to be found and stand out amongst our competitors, and the emerging digital landscape allows many opportunities to do just that. By understanding the trends affecting the home services industry, you can build a strong digital marketing plan to generate better leads and more jobs in the coming year.
Lisa Thai is an Internet Marketing Manager specializing in the Home Services Industry. For the past six years, she has been putting her focus on creating strategies and campaigns to achieve businesses’ overall goals. Scorpion is a premium provider of marketing and technology solutions for the home services industry. To learn more, visit ScorpionHomeServices.com .