This is a guest blog post by Coalmarch, the leading partner for growing home service industry businesses. From practical and innovative digital marketing to all-inclusive team management, Coalmarch’s recruiting management platforms are designed to help home service businesses surpass their goals.
A pest control company is hired to keep bugs from appearing.
A plumber is hired to remove a clog or a leak.
A lawn care specialist is hired to keep a lawn from becoming overgrown.
For many small business owners in the home services industry, you’re in the business of selling the absence of problems. You’re essentially selling “nothing.”
This means that your customers’ perceptions are the leading factor that determines the value your services have in the marketplace.
Many small business owners make the mistake of thinking that branding and lead generation live in separate spheres, when in fact, they go hand in hand! Investing in smart digital marketing tactics that build trustworthiness and credibility in your brand at each stage of the customer journey is essential to the overall growth of your business.
There are four main phases a customer goes through when they search for a local service business online:
The better you understand what customers are looking for as they search for a solution, and how they encounter your brand throughout their journey, the better you can deliver touchpoints that reinforce your reputation.
The first step in a potential customer’s journey is to become aware of a problem.
(“There’s water pouring out from underneath my bathroom sink!”)
In some cases, this problem may require some research to arrive at a suitable solution.
(“Can I watch this YouTube tutorial on how to fix my pipes?”) In others, the customer may already know what they need to solve the problem. (Search: “Best Plumbers in Dallas”)
In order to win their business, your first goal is to be in the right place, at the right time, as those customers are searching for a solution. While being visible at the top of the Google results, in a paid ad, or in a Local Services listing is essential, there are other digital marketing tactics that play into your success.
The digital marketing experts at Coalmarch, the leading partner for growing pest control industry businesses, recommend prioritizing the following to influence how brand and marketing work together to maximize performance:
- Reviews are fundamental to paid ad success. The Local Services by Google ad platform has been a game-changer for many local home service companies, allowing them to show Google guaranteed, pay-per-lead ads to qualified consumers in their specific markets. These ads are cost-effective and highly targeted, but they’re also stripped down to the bare bones – meaning customers only see a name, phone number, and Google review score.
- Dedicate a budget to awareness-focused social media or display ads. Studies have shown that consumers are more likely to choose a name that they recognize from paid search results, so investing in building awareness in strategic markets before a consumer has a need for the services you provide can directly impact the return you get when they start searching. Consider looking at the seasonality of your industry to determine how you spend your marketing budget as well.
Consistency is key
If every touchpoint with a customer is important for building your reputation, it’s just as important to make sure those touchpoints are cohesive and connected.
Start by creating simple design guidelines for your brand. These guidelines should inform consistency everywhere your brand appears, so it’s recognizable whether someone is looking at your website, a truck, a uniform, a door hanger, etc.
Once a customer has become aware of your solution, they begin looking for signals that they can trust you to deliver. A consumer looking for pest control services to get rid of bed bugs might be asking questions like: “Does this company service my area?,” “What can I expect from this company?” “Will they keep my family safe?,” and “Can I trust them to get it fixed on the first try?”
The more consistency they see in your claims, and the easier it is for them to find proof that backs up those claims, the more likely it is that they will perceive your brand as authentic, credible, and trustworthy.
Modern customers are becoming increasingly less likely to make a decision without verifying a local business’ reputation.
- For many local business searches, individual companies are often outranked in the organic results by local listing aggregators or review sites like Yelp or HomeAdvisor. Are your local business listings up-to-date and reflective of your brand?
- Showcase service awards or industry affiliations on your website. Positive press that reinforces your commitment to the community or thought leadership contributions to your industry can also show potential customers that you’re invested in what you do.
- Sharing testimonials on your website or on social media can bring additional attention to positive buzz, but it still doesn’t beat a real review. Download “The Complete Guide to Online Reviews” to learn which review sites to prioritize and how your business can generate more positive reviews.
Every experience your customers have with your company colors their perceptions. If successful digital marketing helped you make a great first impression, it’s just as important to make sure you’re delivering a positive, hassle-free experience as soon as they’re ready to buy.
1. How easy is it to contact you?
An optimized, conversion-focused website will deliver relevant information to a potential customer – making them aware of your solutions and then working to attract them to choose you over a competitor. But if you leave them hanging without a clear next step, you’ll lose out on business.
Effective calls to action should direct visitors to responsive webforms, click-to-call buttons, or chat/messaging make it easy for customers to reach out as soon as they’re ready to buy.
2. Does your customer experience align with expectations?
If you’ve invested time and money into digital marketing tactics communicating your reputation as a company that is passionate about serving your customers and delivering fast, effective relief, your incoming leads are anticipating that level of service. You can instantly tarnish your brand if your customer service processes and tools don’t support the promises you’ve made.
In many ways, it’s misleading to refer to retention as “the final stage” of the customer journey. This stage is focused on consistently delivering results, as well as communication that reinforces the value you provide throughout the full lifetime of your customer relationships. See how your results stack up against the competition in our FREE 2020 Marketing Benchmark Report.
One of the ways your digital marketing can support retention is by generating awareness for ways your business can do more for a customer.
- Email marketing serves as a valuable channel to tell your story, share helpful tips with the community, and call attention to new services or special offers available to current or repeat customers.
- Social media platforms are an effective way to share behind the scenes snapshots of the everyday practices, people, and efforts of your business to work hard and deliver results to your consumers.
When most business owners consider digital marketing, they tend to prioritize the obvious goal of generating a lead or closing a sale. But digital marketing also plays a fundamental role in creating repeat business, maintaining a loyal customer base, and fostering brand evangelism.
In today’s landscape, your happy customers can be your most effective marketing and branding tool. Having a plan in place to use digital marketing to capture and promote the brand affinity of your satisfied customers can help feed awareness, attraction, and action for future customers.
- Build a strategy to consistently capture new reviews from happy customers.
- Promote testimonials through various social media platforms.
- Make it you and your team’s everyday practice to build your brand through the customer experience you show to encourage happy customers.
Good branding isn’t just for multi-million dollar franchises—your small business can use digital marketing tools to not only reinforce but to promote your brand’s reputation and build greater affinity with your target market. As you work to grow your home service business, be sure to take advantage of the numerous ways to weave your digital marketing and branding efforts together to maximize success.