As you probably already know, marketing your HVAC company has dramatically changed in the year 2016. No longer can you rely on ineffective Yellow Page Ads, unscalable cold calling, or even radio and commercial advertising that falls on the distracted deaf ears of modern society.
The truth is, if your HVAC company isn’t adapting to the drastic changes in marketing, then there’s a very good chance you’ll be left behind. I’m not saying this because I want to scare you. I just want to inject some reality into your business!
The first step of your marketing approach in 2016 is accept that things HAVE changed and will continue to change. That statement within itself probably seems daunting or even makes you feel like your business is on a shaky foundation. That’s GOOD. I’m sure you remember a point when you started your business and had no idea how you were going to get customers. Yes, that was probably a gut wrenching feeling, but it was also a stronger motivator. There is no stronger motivator than fear.
Before I begin explaining HVAC marketing in 2016, I want you to know that the future is brighter than ever. Never in history has there been so much opportunity for small businesses to explode their revenues without needing massive budgets to compete with giants. The Internet has changed the marketing landscape. And you want to know what’s really cool…?
Most of your competitors WON’T adapt or will adapt, but they will have entered the online marketing game late and will then be needing to play catch up with your business. Since you’re reading this, I know you’re not one of those businesses. You understand it’s time to adapt and you will be a first mover. Now that my rant is completed, let’s jump into how you’re going to start marketing your HVAC company online.
Below, I’m going to explain several HVAC marketing strategies you can start implementing TODAY and start seeing inbound leads shooting in within months.
Like good wine, good online marketing continues to get better with age.
It’s all about the foundation you lay.
Before you get deep into the grunt work, you’ll need to have a clear understanding of your market. The best place to start is with keyword research.
Step 1: Keyword Research
Keyword research is the process of finding phrases (keywords) that your ideal customers are using to find solutions to their problems. The best place to find keywords is in the Google Planner. In most situations, the best keywords to go after are “your city + heating and cooling”, “your city + heater repair”, or “your city + air conditioning”. Within the Google Keyword Planner, you’ll be able to see how many searches per month each of these terms are getting.
With the strategies I’m about to show you, you’ll be able to boost your website to the first page of Google for all the keywords you find.
Step 2: Competition Analysis
Now that you have a solid list of keywords, you now have to analyze your competition. The goal of this exercise is to identify what your competitors are doing well and what they aren’t doing. The analysis can be broken down into a few important questions:
How are they performing in search?
Traffic coming from Google is the most profitable lead source there is. So, increasing your HVAC business’s visibility in Google and Bing is critical to your success online. With that being said, you have to analyze your competitors that are already doing well in the search engines.
So, right now, do a simple search in Google like ” heating and cooling”. At the very minimum, you should analyze the top three businesses that are ranking at the top. I’ll be writing a guide on how to analyze your competitors from an SEO perspective soon, but for now, just looking the surface level elements and the following questions.
Do they have a social presence?
Social is playing a huge role in SEO now and without it, your HVAC business will be on a shaky foundation. It’s very likely, that any of your competitors that are doing well in search have also have established some sort of social presence. Being established on social is easy, but are they actively engaging with the community and building relationships?
Are they producing high-value content on their blog that helps move buyers closer to making a purchase?
You may or may not have heard this before, but content is king. High-value content not only pushes your prospects closer to making a buying decision, but it’s also one of the most cost-effective forms of marketing available today. Look at your competitors blog and content on their site. Are they providing consistent value to their ideal customers?
Are they active on YouTube?
Many people don’t know this fact, but YouTube is the second biggest search engine in the world behind Google. Check to see if your competitors are active on YouTube because this is another important traffic source.
This is just scratching the surface, but it’s an important exercise because it can help you identify weaknesses in your competitors marketing. For example, one competitor may be dominating the search engines, but has no activity on social and isn’t producing any valuable content.
Out of all these marketing mediums, THE most important one is content.
Step 3: Content Development
As challenging as it may be, developing highly valuable content for your blog and outside of it is key to establishing your HVAC business as the “go-to” authority in your area. The key is to remember that you’re not just creating simple 150 word pieces of content. Every single time you write, you should have the intention of creating a “content asset”. This means that the content will be evergreen or to plainly put it, will continue to provide value years after it’s been published.
I won’t get too deep into this topic because I’ll be writing about it more in future posts, but here are some quick tips to keep in mind when developing content assets for your business:
The content should be geared around solving a “problem” – every single piece of content you write should be designed to solve a problem or answer a question that your prospective customer may have. Examples of problem-solving content might be “7 Reasons Why You’re Overpaying for Your HVAC Service” or “The Complete Guide to Finding a Qualified HVAC Company”.
The content should NOT be about your business or self-centric – the only reason you should create content in the first place is to educate your prospects and move them closer to making a buying decision. The HVAC industry has many complexities that the average person will not understand. It is your job to make sure they feel 100% comfortable with the purchase they’re about to make and to “dumb down” the complexities of the job.
Now, you’re probably wondering, “how is producing content going to drive more sales for my HVAC business?”
If you’re expecting to publish a piece of content and watch sales pour in, then you’re going to be disappointed. The reason why you should spend time on developing high-value content is based on proven psychological principles of persuasion and influence.
Reciprocation: it’s proven that when someone gives you something for free, you feel obliged to “repay” them in one or another. Producing content that stands out from your competitors and actually helps someone will force the person to initiate an act of reciprocation. This will come in many different forms including the person sharing your content on social, or emailing the content to one of their friends, or even linking to the content from they website if they have. Each of these acts increase your HVAC business’s visibility.
Liking: people are more likely to buy from someone or an entity that they like. Giving away value and helping people is one of the easiest ways to get someone to like you or your brand.
Authority: people are more likely to buy from someone or a brand that is perceived as an authority in the industry. Producing content on your site and around the internet is the best way to build your authority in the industry. Authority = trust.
The moral of the story is that content is your most important asset to your HVAC business. Do not take it lightly!
In later posts, I’ll be explaining what types of content you should be produce that has been proven to perform the best.
Step 4: Content Marketing
Unfortunately, just publishing great content isn’t enough. People need to actually see your content and the only that’s possible is through content marketing. There are many ways to promote your content including reaching out to bloggers, sharing it on social media, using paid discovery techniques like Stumbleupon or Reddit ads, or simply guest posting on relevant websites.
Here are 339 sites that accept guest posts.
Often times, marketing your content is the hard part and you should be spending as much, if not more time promoting a piece of content than you did writing it.
Step 5: Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
After you’ve created some solid content assets, it’s now time to get eyeballs on your website. One of the best ways to do this is to use search engine optimization (SEO).
SEO is a topic within itself that I’ll be covering a lot, but in essence, you need to find keywords relevant to your business and service area, optimize your site for those keywords, and then build “votes” (backlinks) to your site to increase its authority and trust.
When done correctly, this process will increase your rankings in Google and start sending qualified, purchase-hungry traffic to your website.
Step 6: On-Site SEO
After you’ve found what keywords you’re going to target, you need to optimize your website around them. In most scenarios, it’s best to optimize your homepage for your main keywords and building additional landing pages for any secondary keywords. For example, you could optimize your homepage for Chicago-based HVAC terms and build landing pages for any cities outside of Chicago such as “Evanston heating and cooling”.
You don’t need to go crazy and stuff your keywords all over your pages. You just need to have them in the places that hold the most weight.
Those include your title, first sentence, header tag, and last sentence. Your keyword density should never exceed 1-3% for any page. Make sure you also optimize your META information each page you’re targeting as well.
Here’s how that would look:
- META Title: “Chicago Heating and Cooling | HVACcompany.com”
- META Description: “HVACcompany.com is the best heating and cooling company in Chicago, IL. Call us now at 123-456-7890 for more info.”
Step 7: Usability
Google is starting to give a lot of weight to user metrics or in Laymen’s terms, how people interact with your site. It’s critical that the “user experience” is a good one. Fortunately, this is pretty easy. First, make sure you’re answering all the questions/concerns completely. Secondly, make sure your site loads quickly, is mobile friendly, doesn’t have broken links, isn’t full of 404 errors, and doesn’t have duplicate content. Thirdly, routinely analyze your Google Analytics to make sure that your bounce rate is low and the average time on your site is high.
Step 8: Google + Business Page & Business Listings
Your Google + business page is the foundation of how you will rank in the local pack. It is critical that the information on your Google + page aligns with the information on your website. This is referred to as your NAP-W information or Name, Address, Phone, and Website. If both your Google + page and website have this information correct, then you can go out and start building business listings on other authoritative websites. Accuracy of NAP-W information across the Interest is by far the #1 factor when it comes to local SEO.
The second biggest component of your local pack ranking capability are your reviews. Try to get reviews on your Google + page from customers who loved your service.
Step 9: Social Media
Please don’t tell me that “your customers aren’t on social media”. Any HVAC business that makes that statement, is simply being resistant to change. Social media is a goldmine for building relationships and trust with people who actually WILL use your service. Facebook (1.19 billion active users), YouTube (1 billion active users), Google + (540 million active users) Twitter (284 million active users), LinkedIn (187 million active users), Instagram (300 million active users), and Pinterest (70 million active users) are in the top 30 most trafficked websites in the WORLD.
I really hope you don’t believe that out of 3 BILLION people, there isn’t a single person who would use your service.
The moral of the story is that your business needs to engage with your customers on social. Not only is it a great way to increase the visibility of your brand and build massive trust, it’s also highly cost-effective because it’s FREE to sign-up and start building relationships.
Social has become such an important piece of any marketing campaign, that Google now analyzes social activity and uses it in how they rank websites. There are over 200 different ranking factors in Google, but social presence and activity is now something that is given a great deal of weight.
So, not only is social great for your business within itself, but it can actually increase your visibility in the search engines as well.
Step 10: Link Building
If you’ve taken all of the measures above, then your site should have already seen some improvement in the search engines. However, links are still a very strong piece of the ranking puzzle. For how much longer will they matter? It’s hard to say, but they matter now and you need to get some in order to reach your organic capacity.
The best types of links are from relevant authority websites. Relevancy can be on the topical level like HVAC blogs or home improvement blogs, HVAC directories, or it can be on the city level like Chicago chamber of commerce or local directories. The key is to always focus on relevancy.
Google and other search engines give the most weight to links that are within relevant, high-quality content.
And remember one important thing:
It’s always best to earn backlinks, instead of build them.
Step 11: Anchor Text
Teaching you link building without giving you an understanding of how to use anchor text is like me teaching you how to skydive, but not showing you how to use your parachute. To bluntly put it: using anchor text incorrectly can get your website penalized. Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to do things right.
The majority (50-60%) of your anchor text should be branded. A branded anchor text is “Joe’s HVAC Company” or “joeshvaccompany.com”.
20-30% of your anchor text should be generic like “click here”, “go here”, etc.
5-10% should be variations of your main keyword like “HVAC companies in Chicago Illinois” or “Chicago IL heating and cooling company”.
Keep your exact match anchor text below 1%.
“Exact match” means the anchor exactly matches the keyword in your title tag. So, if your title is “Chicago HVAC Company | Website.com”, then “Chicago HVAC company” would be an exact match anchor text.
It’s a Multifaceted Effort
The Internet has transformed the way every business does marketing, but it’s amazing because even the smallest companies can make a huge impact. This is unlike the past when big businesses could just outspend the smaller ones. Times have changed and it’s time for your marketing to change with it.
Marketing your HVAC business online isn’t easy and it requires great planning and effective execution.
We’ve been in this game for a long time and continue to prosper because we are able to put all the pieces together and execute in a timely manner.