You are probably among the billions of people on the planet who use the internet to research products and services before even picking up the phone to call someone. Society’s reliance on technology to find reliable information and help means you have to invest time and money in your company’s online presence. Here are some areas you need to consider.
- Why managing your online presence is important
- Where to manage your presence online
- Tips on responding to customer reviews
- Social media advertising basics
1. Your website
If you are creating a new website or thinking of a refresh, there are things to take into account.
Content management systems
Many of us are not web developers nor do we have the budget for one. Luckily, there is an entire industry of WYSIWYG (What you see if what you get) website creation platforms at your fingertips (SquareSpace, Wix, Wordpress, etc.*). These sites will help you create modern, mobile-friendly websites that can handle most content you throw at it including picture slideshows, videos, and blog posts. Also, these sites have integrations with e-commerce platforms or the ability to create landing pages to secure contact information for new customers. Many of these sites will help you find and secure a custom URL.
Your website URL seems like an unimportant detail, but it can go a long way. Try to avoid long URLs that are hard to share or remember. Secure a URL that has your company name in it or something that can be closely associated with you.
Company name: Raleigh HVAC Systems
Possible URLs: raleighhvac.com, nchvac.com, rhsystems.com
You want to make getting to your site as easy as possible.
Your site’s content is critical to securing potential customers. Customers want the information they need as quickly as possible. Your home page should absolutely include a little about you, the areas you serve, the services you offer, and your contact information. All of this information should more than likely be “above the fold” or the first thing people see when they visit your homepage.
If you have someone in your network who is a great writer, ask them to look at your written content. Typos and misspelled words are a surefire way to get someone to move on from your site. Make sure your site content is clear and to the point. Use industry keywords when discussing your products and services.
Finally, you need to have a clear call to action on your site from the homepage through all the pages you may create. If you want them to sign up for an estimate or consultation, create a button on all your pages and in your navigation bar. Make it easy to get their contact information by creating a contact us page and adding it to the navigation bar.
Promote monthly payments through Hearth on your website with the banners accessible in your member dashboard. These banners are easy to upload and can link to your custom pre-qualification application link. Promoting financing can increase your close rate and increase the ticket prices for your jobs.
Not everyone has the time or cash to spend on a new website. However, there are some alternatives. A popular alternative is using a social media page as your company’s website. There are some platforms that make this easier for you. The most popular platform is Facebook.* Facebook Pages are an easy way to promote your business and tap into your local community online. Contractors just starting out often make the mistake of using their personal Facebook accounts as their business accounts. We strongly recommend creating a separate page for your business. Not only does this make your company seem more professional, you gain access to analytics and other tools your personal account lacks.
2. Online profiles
It’s important that you secure all of your business profiles across the internet. Some important ones include Google, Bing, Facebook, HomeAdvisor, and many others.* While it’s up to you to determine which sites are important to your business, consistency across all the platforms is essential. Consistent information on these profiles is needed about your service area, hours of operation, services and products, and contact information. These profiles can serve as lead generation tools when people stumble across them during a search engine research session.
3. Reviews and rating sites
Why reviews matter
In 2020, a Qualtrics survey found that 93% of people are influenced by online reviews.¹ Online reviews can make or break your business, and it’s important you understand them and know how to ask your customers for feedback.
Choosing a platform
Asking a customer to leave reviews across several platforms is a tall order. Getting them to leave one review is hard enough. Choosing a single platform to request reviews is a better use of your time. But, how do you choose a platform? Check your website’s analytics. There you’ll find where organic and referral traffic is coming from on your site. If a platform like Google is overrepresented in your traffic sources, it’s probably a good idea to ask your customers for Google Reviews. Other review sites include Better Business Bureau, Yelp, and Facebook.*
How to ask for reviews
Many rating and review sites have business-friendly tools to help you generate reviews from your customers. They can provide everything from custom links to prepackaged messaging to texting services for your customers. The best time to ask for reviews is right after you’ve confirmed they are happy with the work you’ve done. Send them a link via text and email to share their experience with your company. Creating a template message will help save you time.
A friendly reminder that incentivizing your customers to leave reviews is considered a poor practice because it persuades customers to leave inaccurate reviews.
How to respond to reviews
Hopefully, all of your reviews will be positive. In the event of a poor experience and review, there are some steps you can take to remedy the situation.
1. Remain calm and professional in your response.
Not only is the angry customer waiting for your response, but current and potential customers will see how you handle the situation. Don’t get defensive. Acknowledge their pain and mention that you are not used to this kind of reaction. Keeping your cool is the difference between winning the interaction or losing business over your response.
2. Take the conversation offline.
Offer to have a phone conversation or email exchange with the customer. That way, any lingering negative commentary or responses can be taken off your social pages or ratings sites.
These two simple actions will show anyone checking out your reviews that you took the time to calmly and professionally answer someone’s review of your company. There are instances where the effort you put into speaking with an unhappy customer can convince them to change their review.
4. Social media
Don’t worry. You won’t have to learn any TikTok dances to sell more roofs or paint more houses. But, social media is an important part of owning a business. An active social media presence shows potential customers your company is vibrant and trustworthy.
Types of content you should share
If you have images of before, in progress, or after projects are completed, those can be a goldmine of content for your social media presence. People love to witness progress and behind the scenes content. You can also leverage the networks of your customers if they choose to share your post about their newly renovated home or landscaping project.
Employee success stories
Users love employee-centric posts. Millions of people work for small businesses, and they are the lifeblood of our communities and neighborhoods. Sharing content about the people that serve your community is a great way to engage customers.
Memes or funny thoughts
Owning a business can feel very serious and overwhelming, but remembering to post something fun can also help bring in more customers. Sharing industry-related memes or something cute and lighthearted can increase your engagement. Don’t get too political.
Tips and resources
Often homeowners feel helpless to find out if something is wrong with their HVAC or their plumbing. Successful companies use video to share tips and tricks for simple DIY projects around the house. Anywhere from rehanging a door to checking your A/C’s air filter, video content that provides a value or is a resource can really boost your engagement long term.
Social media advertising
Advertising on social media may seem redundant because you already have followers on your business page. The catch is that many social media sites will throttle your organic reach to your followers. The larger social media sites have become, they have limited access to your own audience. Therefore, you have to pay to advertise not only to your followers but everyone else.
Despite this development, social media advertising can provide a great opportunity. For years, users have divulged their demographic information and interests to these platforms. You can target the exact person you see as a potential customer using social media platforms. Targeting has become incredibly powerful. You can use this technology to drive leads to your business.
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Your online presence can fuel your company’s growth. Remember that every consumer touchpoint is an opportunity to offer financing for your services. Turn those researchers and curious observers into cash buyers using Hearth.
*The service providers mentioned in this post are not affiliated with Hearth nor have they compensated Hearth for this blog post.