Last month 22,200 people searched online for “Home Improvement contractors New York” and 33,100 people searched for “Contractors New York” indicating a strong demand for home improvement related services. The fact is another Contractor in your local area is ending up with this business. Most Contractors entered into the profession thinking that they would open up a business and the business would generate from word of mouth and referrals. This may be true for a select few Home Improvement businesses, but it is more likely that if you want to compete, you need to market your services.
Traditionally, Contractors are not marketers! But if you do what I recommend in this article, you can not only stay competitive, but you can also potentially blow away your competition. According to the Wall Street Journal, only 4% of Contractors market their business, and most are NOT doing it effectively. The key to Home Improvement marketing is to acquire, retain, and re-market. If you do all 3, you will have a steady stream (or even a flood) of leads coming into your Home Improvement business.
The best way to grow your Home Improvement business is by using Internet marketing. Forget TV ads, expensive Radio, or Newspaper advertising. We know very few Contractors for whom these marketing mediums have actually ever worked for. In fact, their lack of accountability, measurability, and limited geo targeting capabilities will leave you wondering where your investment went. You need to be where your prospects and clients are, which is online searching for the products and services they need.
Conversion Focused Web Design
To effectively market on the internet, you need a conversion focused web site. What you DO NOT need is a website that collects dust. Think about it, just about every home improvement business has a website of some kind. Most are poorly conceived by graphic designers or stock templates, and were implemented with no strategy, no calls to action, and are basically just like brochures. A brochure is not going to cut it as we move forward into a more competitive marketing space on the internet. Most of your competition has a brochure, but to convert traffic into prospects and then into customers, you need a much stronger pull to get the prospect to want to do business with you.
An internet marketing consultant can help design and organize your site to move you beyond a simple brochure to a highly productive lead generation machine. Also, an effective web solution should put you in control of your site and content. Make sure your site is built with a Content Management System (CMS) that will allow you or your control staff to make simple edits without having to hire your designer at $100+/hr for each little web change needed.
Organic Search Marketing
Organic or Natural Search Marketing is similar in concept to Pay Per Click, but for organic search marketing results you do NOT have to pay per click. It is a much longer and slower process, but it is where 80% of your prospects are going to find you. Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is a process by which your site is engineered to show up for certain keywords in the search engines. Organic search results can lead to a consistent stream of leads for your practice, but patience and time working on your site (and off of your site) is required to take advantage of this strategy. Make sure if you outsource your SEO work, you deal with someone who understands your business, will not spam the search engines, and is someone you can trust with your message and reputation. One wrong move here could leave you black listed by Google and the other major search engines.
A solid SEO strategy is rooted in delivering good quality keyword rich content to your site. Writing content for the web is a lot different than writing content for a brochure or off line marketing collateral. Make sure you work with an SEO team that understands the complexities of search engine optimization, can create a realistic plan, understands your business, and can measure the results.
Pay Per Click Marketing
Thousands of potential customers are searching online every day for Home Improvement contractors and related services in your local area. With the right message and a conversion focused Pay Per Click marketing campaign, you can get immediate leads and new clients into your practice. Pay Per Click marketing delivers ads in the search engines to prospects that are not only local to your business, but looking for exactly what you are offering at the exact time they want it! It is highly targeted, and a highly measurable marketing technique unlike anything else in existence.
The problem is Pay Per Click marketing, or PPC, is extremely competitive and you really need someone who knows what they are doing to make it successful. If you are going to invest in PPC, you need to make sure you track conversions (emails, phone calls, web forms, downloads, etc.). Without tracking this data, you will not know how effective the campaign really is. Also, PPC marketing needs to be constantly monitored and optimized every day to avoid stagnant and lack luster results. If you do this, you will not only compete in your market, you will dominate.
Internet marketing for Home Improvement business is competitive, and if not done correctly, you can squander your marketing dollars pretty quickly. Developing a custom landing page is a technique to develop a small 1 or 2 page website focused around a very specific service (Plumbing, Roofing, Kitchen Remodeling, etc.), and developed around a strong call to action.
By utilizing a focused page to send targeted traffic to, you are properly aligning what someone is searching for in the search engines with the exact result they are expecting to see when they click on the pay per click ad or organic search result. Conversion rates can increase 100% or more using a landing page strategy. Landing pages tend to work best when used in conjunction with a Pay Per Click marketing campaign. When it comes down to it, effective marketing is all about doing it better than your competition. Landing pages, when used correctly, can dramatically accelerate your lead generation efforts and squeeze more out of your Pay Per Click budget.
Social media sites are where your prospects and customers are spending a lot of their time. So how come most contractors are not utilizing this marketing strategy? It is most likely due to a lack of time and lack of knowledge on how to use Social Media to your advantage. Get on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook, and at least start engaging with your prospects and customers. Post relevant articles and quick tips on troubleshooting your AC unit, or post excellent bathroom tips for remodeling and renovating your bathroom. You can realistically post whatever you want to talk about that helps present you as an expert. Social Media is all about engagement. Also, Social Media can help your organic search results, build your email marketing database, drive more traffic to your website, and help with reputation management.
Email marketing is a great strategy to use for retention and re-marketing, and a way to present yourself as an industry expert. You need to stay in front of your existing customers and potential prospects every month. The average prospect needs 6-7 touches from a business before they actually do business with them. Mailing out letters is not the answer and it is very expensive. Email marketing is quick, measurable, and extremely effective. Keep your customers engaged and aware of all the services you have to offer and any new exciting breakthroughs in the field of home improvement.
When developing an email marketing strategy, you need to plan it out carefully and make sure every campaign is created with a strong offer or call to action. Don’t be too pushy or overburden people by sending out more than one email campaign per month. Email marketing is a key piece to the internet marketing puzzle and can help maximize all of your marketing efforts.
If you are a Home Improvement contractor, I encourage you to implement all of these proven marketing strategies into your business today. The longer you wait, the more your competition will gain a larger share of the market (and their friends, family, co workers, etc.). All of these strategies need to be worked on and improved upon over time, so do not think that what worked today will always work tomorrow. Create a clear strategy to maximize your internet marketing investment and set realistic expectations. With the right plan and execution, internet marketing will not feel like you are taking a risk by spending your money on it, and hoping for something in return. Internet marketing is a tried and true investment that will deliver consistent returns for your business.
Bradley Eisner is a Certified Internet Marketing Consultant (IMC) with WSI and has a passion for helping Home Improvement professionals market their businesses more effectively using the internet.