Optimally, 8-10% of your website visitors should transform into potential deals for your HVAC business – “leads”. Does your website do that?
When people are looking for a contractor, 85% of consumers are doing an online search to find local businesses. Many of your future customers are looking at a website to learn about you, so does your website give them the information they need and want? You need an HVAC website that helps to build your customer base and increase sales.
The American Home Comfort Study did a study and found that HVAC manufacturers’ websites are cited most often as information sources for homeowners. 29% of consumers said they decided the brand of heating and cooling equipment they would purchase before choosing an installation contractor. Of this group, 77% of them use the Internet to research brands. I don’t think we need to dish out more statistics to convince that an awesome HVAC website is the way to go.
As a HVAC business manager/owner, you probably don’t have a background in online marketing, and since we don’t actually have a limitless pill available just yet you don’t have the time to learn it either.
It’s just not something you learn on the job, so you either hire someone to do it for you (and pay them well), or tackle the challenge yourself with the help of articles like this one.
Unofficial disclaimer: this post will not turn you into Gary Vaynerchuk. Sorry. But it will help you create an effective online presence that will generate leads and revenue for your business.
Website marketing 101 – fun with funnels
I think it’s time we had “the talk”. Where do sales come from? How is a sale born?
This may sound weird but a sale is born in a funnel, a sales funnel. We marketing folk call the process of converting prospects (leads) to paying customers a leads (or sales) funnel. This imaginary funnel is wide on the top, and narrow on the bottom.
How does an online sales funnel work?
Prospective clients come into contact with your marketing materials. Marketing materials can be your website, a landing page, a blog post (yes, like this one), an ad, you get the drift.
After initial contact is made a prospect can disappear forever or become a lead and move down your funnel. Some of these leads will exit the narrow end to transform into successful deals. Obviously, not all of your prospects will become leads and not all of your leads will become sales.
As potential leads and deals exit your funnel it becomes smaller and smaller creating the funnel shape. Ideally, you’d like your funnel to look as cone like a possible. Meaning that you don’t lose potential sales in the different funnel stages.
For example, a prospective client browsing their phone in the summer heat can come across your business in an ad on Google (check out our guide to Google Home Service Ads). That’s where he enters the funnel. Most of the people who see your Google ad will just ignore it, but this guy is just so hot (seriously, have you checked the weather lately?), he is likely to click on it and continue to your website. Because your ad targeting is just that good. Down the funnel he goes.
A small portion of website visitors, like this poor overheating dude, will leave their details through your contact form, or might even dial the phone and call you. Thus, moving further down the funnel toward the final sale. You’ll provide them with a quote for your services and some will take the quote make like a tree and leave. However, some will take you up on your offer and become customers.
Business website OR landing page
Maximizing conversions on your website is not about having a pretty background or fancy logo animations. The first step in creating an awesome HVAC website is understanding that the purpose of your website is to get as many visitors as possible to become leads (without being overly aggressive about it). How do you find that delicate balance? We’ll get to that but first:
You should have different types of marketing messages and design for different stages of the sales funnel. When a prospective client interacts with your website, don’t make it hard for them to find what they need to make a decision because if they need to make an effort, they won’t.
We, the people, are spoiled like that, especially when it comes to a competitive market with little differentiation between providers – like HVAC services. So that is exactly what you should do – spoon-feed.
Company websites are built to be informative, search engine index friendly, and representative of your business and its various services as a whole. Landing pages, on the other hand, are built for one main purpose: getting “visitors” to move down the sales funnel – contacting you to request a quote or to schedule an appointment.
Why you need both (or more)
“So I need to turn my business website into a landing page to get more customers?” The answer is yes and no. You should actually have both. Your prospective clients come across your website at various stages in their journey to conversion. Every time they do, you need to serve them the right information to steer them along down the funnel and toward a deal.
When it comes to landing pages, you have a lot of room for personalization and A/B testing. You can easily create dozens of landing pages aimed at different target audiences, and learn a lot from comparing how they perform. Not to mention marketing techniques like retargeting, traffic analytics for optimization, and other tools that meant to push leads down the funnel.
Landing Page: Top of the sales funnel, short and simple, multiple contact forms and CTAs (calls to actions). Traffic normally comes from ads. Most appropriate for use with visitors who have a problem and are looking for a solution – now!
Websites, on the other hand, are a bit more static and comprehensive in nature. Even if you have a frequently updated blog on your web page, it still remains more-or-less the same for every user browsing it. It contains information relevant to customers close to a buying decision, but usually useless (and often confusing) to the fresh leads at the very top of your lead funnel.
Website: Middle to end of the sales funnel, long and detailed, search engine optimized, and content heavy. Traffic normally comes from search engines, social media, and local service index listings. Most appropriate for visitors looking for more info or relevant content, comparing services, or doing research.
So what should you choose?
Breaking it down – making a website that sells
To make spoon-feeding us users a little easier, it is best to create chewable content that is easy to quickly digest, especially on mobile devices, also called ‘micro moments’. By serving the right content at every online interaction with each of your prospective clients, you have the best chances of converting them into customers.
So let’s break down the different components of a lead-generating web presence, and where they should appear for optimal performance.
Part 1: Value proposition
What is a value proposition?
The value proposition (VP) of your business is what it can do for people who become its clients. For example, as an HVAC professional, your company’s value proposition can be defined as “creating a comfortable indoor environment”.
The value proposition of similar local businesses can often be nearly identical. This is precisely why you should take the time to craft your value proposition to be clear, concise, and possibly even catchy (if you’re a particularly good copywriter).
Where and When?
Your value proposition should be one of the first things prospective clients see when they view your company homepage, regardless of where they are in the sales funnel. Before they know anything else about you, they need to know they’ve come to the right place to serve their needs.
On your landing page, your VP needs to be visible above the fold (before scrolling) on both desktop and mobile versions of your landing page. So it simply has to be short enough to consume in a single “bite” of user attention while fitting comfortably on the screen.
Part 2: unique selling point (USP)
What is Your USP?
A Unique Selling Point is your secret sauce. It’s what you brag about to friends and prospect clients. For example, your HVAC service is the fastest in your town. Or cheapest in the state. Or highest rated in Google’s service provider directory.
We the Internet users, prefer our information bites small enough to swallow without chewing too much. We choke easily. So be sure to pick just one (or two, at most). Yes, it’s hard, but you can’t present your business as the cheapest, fastest, closest, and as having the best looking techs in the industry. Even if it is all those thing, it’s too much to bomb your fresh leads with. Pick one or two at most, and use them to lead your advertising strategy.
Where and when?
Everywhere, and all the time. Well, almost. This is your differentiator, your eye-catcher and so it should serve as a powerful driver, pulling business leads down the conversion funnel. At any stage of the funnel, this is a powerful reminder of why the user should choose to do business with you.
On your company homepage this is second most important component right after your value proposition. With landing pages, it’s the other way around. Your unique competitive advantage needs to be, as the PoTUS says, “uge”.
Part 3: How you do what you do
Elaborating on your services
This is where you go into detail. What areas you service, what manufacturer brands you offer, what types of installations and clients you specialize in, your regulatory compliance, and other relevant information customers might have interest in.
Having more content is always good. For SEO reasons, for effective communication of company abilities and specializations, and saving your salespeople time on phone calls and meetings. But what role does this mass of data have on your sales funnel?
Where and when?
Describing, explaining and strengthening your positioning as a professional in your field can help move leads from the center of your funnel, closer to conversion. But when a user enters your conversion funnel, they can’t “chew” up all this information, as the majority of it is irrelevant to their buying decision. Al least, not yet.
In terms of placement, the best location for your service details is on a separate page on your website, or a number of pages under the services menu. If you want to give more details about what you do on a long, scrollable homepage, you can do that too.
Just remember to include information relevant to most visitors, but do your best to keep it short and to the point. Small bites, but quite a few of them.
Part 4: Trust Signals
What are trust signals?
Online reviews, ratings, testimonials, case studies, and user posts on social media are often as trusted as recommendations from friends or relatives. Most local businesses today understand that, and encourage customers and clients to rate them, write a review, or even give a shiny quote (and permission to use their photo) for their website and ads.
Where and when?
People look for reassurance and support of their choice, as well as social encouragement to make purchase decisions. While usually not the focus of attention on landing pages and websites alike, trust signals are important at all stages of your sales funnel.
Part 5: call to action (CTA)
What is a call to action?
The call to action is probably the most important thing on your website and landing page. It moves the lead down the conversion funnel, driving the user to action that will (hopefully for you) result in a conversion and successful sale.
Where should you display it?
There are many good places for a CTA (call to action) on your landing page, and you should offer a number of options, and experiment with them. Remember not to overegg the pudding by creating too many CTAs that flood your landing page with buttons, forms and popups.
With your company website, it’s important to include a CTA that is visible at most times. You can do this by placing a CTA between content sections on your homepage, giving users the ability to slide easily down the funnel at any stage.
What should it be?
Calls to action come in numerous, ever-evolving shapes: contact forms, call-us-now buttons, subscription forms, chatbot interactions and more. My recommendation is to choose the CTAs you’re most comfortable with, but experiment with alternatives.
Long, complicated forms are bad for lead conversion, causing leads to drop on the very last stage of the funnel. Some people can’t do without a phone call, while others prefer most communication to be done over chat or email. The more alternatives you offer, the more likely you are to get those leads down the funnel.
The space on your website and on your landing page is limited, so use it wisely, and don’t be afraid to try new things to see how it affects your lead conversion efforts.
The secret to a lead-generating HVAC website
The not-so-big secret about successful HVAC company websites is that they are not very different from other lead-generating websites for local services, or services in general.
In fact, the theory behind the components of a lead-generating web-presence are so similar, that we’re chosen our own website and landing page to show you where we, after careful experimentation, chose to place the different sections I described in this post.
Don’t try too hard
This cannot be over-emphasized – Don’t try too hard. One of the most challenging questions small business owners must answer is: “If you had to choose only one thing to tell a prospective customer about your business what would it be”?
Instead of answering this question many HVAC websites try to do too much and answer every possible question for any given scenario. Just remember, you can please some people some of the time but you can’t please all the people all the time. The Call-To Action example from above is a good example of trying to cover all the bases and confusing your visitors along the way.
Now that you’re familiar with “the big picture” of what makes awesome websites and landing pages, let’s focus a bit on strategies and components that are specific to local service providers like HVAC businesses.
Mobile first and last
Most Internet traffic today comes from mobile, especially when it comes to searching for local services. People prefer the medium when searching for local service providers as it almost always offers a click-to-call option. Something a bit more tricky with desktop browsers, when all you want is a quick quote.
Your customers are mobile, you’re mobile, and so are your employees. This is the logic behind the Connecteam collaboration app for deskless employees that offers some added goodies for HVAC companies. Just check out this case study.
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Don’t forget to dedicate a section of your website to display certifications, regulatory compliance information and other such relevant data. Some clients are looking specifically for that when narrowing down potential service providers.
Vendor and brand logos
The whole point of logos and brand names is to be recognized at first sight. Luckily for you, the brands whose products you work with do a good job at advertising themselves, and you can benefit from it.
For example, a client who sees the same logo on your website as they do on their air conditioning unit, is more likely to continue down the funnel than one that has to seek out familiarity on your website. Truth be told, they’re probably looking for a tech that is certified to work on the unit they own so make it well known asap.
Of course, you should only put the names and logos of brands you are certified and allowed to work with, and have granted you permission to use their brand and logo in your advertising.
Keeping it Local
Area-specific service providers differ from global or online businesses. Your target audience is usually physically located in a very specific area of this world of ours. This doesn’t only mean that your ad targeting should be geo-targeted to be effective, but your proximity and availability should be communicated throughout your website and landing pages.
Include components like maps, street address, phone number and the names of towns you service, and find creative ways to make visitors to your homepage feel at home.
We the People
Another important component of a local business marketing strategy is to give the brand a face. Or a multitude of faces. By showing off that handsome team of techs and service-people you have on board, you create a friendlier, homier feeling to your online brand. In addition, employing local community micro-celebrities to praise you, and posting it on your landing page can be a great way to get people talking about your brand, online and off.
Putting it Together
Now that you have the puzzle pieces, and some suggested placements for a few of them, you can start planning a website to deliver leads. Understanding the components, knowing your audience and complimenting your website with other communication channels (like telephone and social media) are key to reaching those 8-10% of visits, and transforming them into sales leads.
Connect with Your Employees in the Field
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