Our team at RYNO has the opportunity to talk to HVAC contractors across North America every single day. Although every client is unique, we tend to see trends & reoccurring patterns within our space. When contractors reach out to our team for help, we generally run in to three major issues.
1. Renting Your Website
One of the more frequent issues we see, is that many contractors do not actually own their website, or the content contained within. There are probably hundreds of Internet Marketing agencies that will collect a fee between $500 – $2,500 for a “package” of digital products with no upfront cost, or cost at all, for the design, development and hosting of the website. It really sounds like a turnkey, low maintenance way to ensure that your website is modern, secure and relevant. This can make it very challenging for the contractor if they want to leave this agency for a different agency, or to take the functions over in house. Oftentimes, they will lose the content and sometimes even the URL that they were essentially renting from the former agency. This can be avoided by simply asking, who will own the website and content. Although it is probably buried in the terms and conditions, it is better to ask.
2. Not Knowing Where You Marketing Dollars Are Going
This is probably the most common situation we encounter. Contractors have a lot to keep track of, and they want to pay someone to “handle” all things digital. Just like we pay maintenance agreements to keep our HVAC systems in top shape, contractors want someone who knows what they are doing to just “handle it”. One of the challenges here, is that they may not know exactly how much of their budget is being allocated towards the different channels of if advertising or disciplines of internet marketing. They may know that it is $2,500 per month, but they do not know if that is being allocated toward Ad Words, SEO, Facebook, Banner Ads, etc. It is very important to have a line by line breakout of your internet marketing spend, along will all of the fees associated with each channel. A good internet marketing company will operate with a “fee based” approach vs. a “commission based approach”. We will cover the differences in a separate blog post.
3. Having an Unclear ROI
There are a lot of nuances to operating in today’s digital world, and Google does not make things easy sometimes. However, one thing Google does make easy (with the right tools & discipline) is knowing EXACTLY how your internet marketing dollars are translating in to actual revenue to your business. You should know exactly what it takes to generate a new customer at any given point during the year. Yes it is important to know the basic analytics like impressions, visits, clicks, click-through-rate, bounce rate, conversion rate, and so on, but the most important number you should know is “How much revenue did I generate from budget X”. This requires listening, transcribing and categorizing every single phone call that comes in through your website and clearing out the calls that cannot be considered a new bookable service or installation leads. From there, it is simple as associating revenue to those specific customers. It sounds overwhelming, but it is worth it to know with absolute certainty if your internet marketing dollars are giving you a positive return. Gone should be the days of “not knowing”.
4. Having a Portfolio Mindset Instead of a Conversion Mindset About Your Website
Yes, content is and always will be super important for your website. It is a major component of SEO. However, it is important for your website to be designed in a way in which favors the users path toward converting into a lead. It is important to tell a good story about your company and express that through design, but some contractors completely overthink the design and miss giving the consumer what they are there for. A good response to the question, “What should I have on my home page?” is “Exactly what your customer is searching for”. This can be answered easily if your agency or employee understands the consumer journey in residential HVAC.
The Good News
The best part of doing business in today’s age, is that transparency is available to everyone. Many of the things that the best digital marketing agencies do, are available to you at your fingertips. A good agency will show you exactly what they are doing to drive revenue toward your business, and overtime you may be able to pick up some of those disciplines yourself and bring it in house. If you prefer to outsource your digital strategy, be sure to apply the following three guidelines:
Search For Industry Specific Agencies
Depth and breadth of knowledge in residential HVAC is very important as we all know that it IS different than other home service categories. If an agency has successful with car dealerships or law firms, that may not necessarily translate over in to the volatile residential HVAC market.
Seems obvious, but request reviews and personal referrals of HVAC business owners in your region or throughout the US.
Be very weary of “lead programs” for a fixed fee per month. Request a line by line breakout of all services & fees. Review the average “cost per new customer acquisition” by month for similar contractors. Ask the agency to share the number verified service and installation leads that came in as a result of their efforts each month. This will give you a sense of your expected ROI.