It takes a lot to run a successful HVAC business. You need the right people, work ethic and equipment to make the dream into a reality. That’s not enough, though. Business owners always want to take their AC company to the next level – and you already have enough on your plate just running the day-to-day operations. That means you’re going to need help with your HVAC marketing plan.
There are so many factors when it comes to marketing for HVAC companies, as you’re about to see. Here are a few of the most important things that will turn your AC company into a powerhouse.
Make sure your HVAC website is up to the task and mobile friendly
You already know you need a functioning website to have any chance in the AC world – but what does that mean? For starters, your HVAC website needs to be easy to use, easy to navigate and fast. Customers these days have no patience for watching a website take seconds to load on their screen.
More and more, however, the biggest factor is how your website performs on a mobile device – most importantly, a phone. Sure, it’s fun to sit at your desk and marvel at the beauty of your company’s new website on the giant monitor in front of you. That’s not how your customers are viewing your website, though. According to Merkleinc and Oberlo, more than 63% of Google searches come from a phone or tablet – and mobile searchers are way more likely to search for local keywords than desktop searchers. That means you should assume more than half – at the very least – of the traffic to your website is happening on a small screen.
Is your website up to the task on mobile? Google has a tool to find out. Just enter your URL here to see.
Optimize your website for SEO and local
By now, you know you need help with your HVAC website SEO strategy. The days of customers looking up a company in the phone book went away a long time ago. They use search to find companies these days – and you want to make sure your company is visible. At its core, search engine optimization is what makes your website rank higher when someone searches for “AC repair San Antonio” or “Phoenix air conditioning company.” A good SEO partner will understand how your customer is searching and make sure your website is up to the challenge.
With HVAC companies, there’s an extra level of difficulty to this challenge – your service area. That’s where local SEO best practices come into play. You’ll want to use your main address on your home page and location page, but you’ll also want service area pages on your website with a specific keyword focus on those towns or neighborhoods. This will give you a search presence when someone searches for AC repair in a suburb or specific part of your city.
One quick, but important, note about SEO: It’s not enough to go with any SEO company. Unfortunately, there are a lot of shady “SEO experts” who will make grand promises to you. They’ll cut every corner and break every Google rule they can, take your money and disappear. Then you’re left with the ramifications – sometimes even getting removed from Google search altogether. That’s the equivalent of the death penalty for a business.
What can you do to avoid this? For starters, do your due diligence in selecting a company to work on your SEO. (What do their reviews look like? How long have they been in business? Do they have testimonials and case studies with a proven track record of success?) Next, go with a company that is specific to your field. As an HVAC company owner, you’re going to want to partner with a company that specializes in the trades. Leadhub, for instance, only works with HVAC companies and other home service businesses. That means we live and breathe the ins and outs of your industry and know what matters for your HVAC marketing and customer needs.
Ensure your website forms are converting
One of the key components of your website is the form. A form is just a submission area for potential customers. It can help them do several things – request an appointment, ask for a phone call or submit their email address, among others.
Here’s the catch: It’s vital that the form on your website is converting into leads. Otherwise, it might be costing you money.
For example, we launched a new website for a new client in May 2021 – and one of the big changes was a small tweak of the call-to-action language on the website forms. Instead of “Contact Us,” we changed the text to say, “Request Service.” That might not seem like a lot, but it resulted in big business for the client. In the first five months after the launch of the site, the client saw a 68% increase in total conversions and a 181% increase in conversion rate comparing YOY. Six months later, the client more than doubled that increase in form completions – from 153 to 357 – and saw a 510% increase in goal conversion rate YOY.
If you have a form that isn’t converting or asking customers to do the wrong thing, it’s wasting real estate on your website and wasting the time of your potential customers. Even worse - if you’re not monitoring your form submissions, you’re actively ignoring leads.
Capitalize on workflow automation within your CRM
There are any number of CRM, or customer relationship management, tools out there. Here at Leadhub, we use ServiceTitan as the CRM for most of our HVAC clients. We've become one of their five Certified Marketing Partners after passing 27 exams showing our expertise within this software for the trades. It’s the workflow automation part of a CRM tool that is crucial. You want your CRM working on autopilot to generate and close leads for you.
Most CRMs, like ServiceTitan who has Marketing Pro, will have some sort of drip automation feature. Drip marketing is typically handled via email, but you sometimes see it done through text messaging. Regardless of the communication method, the thought process behind drip automation is the same. It’s a series of automated emails to segmented lists of leads or potential leads based on requirements that are still needed to close.
Let’s say you have an unclosed estimate in your system. Instead of a human needing to go through and check all estimates to find that, you can use your CRM to automatically email the potential customer who may still be on the fence. You can use drip emails for several situations, such as automated reminders for customers who have a system that just passed the 10-year mark. Perhaps the most time-saving drip campaign is to send an email when it’s time for bi-annual maintenance appointments. You know what it’s like having to call every customer in your system to schedule these appointments every six months. Drip automation through your CRM can handle it in a matter of minutes.
Most HVAC companies have no idea they’re sitting on a gold mine of remarketing data. It’s time to get smart with it and convert that data into revenue.
Be aggressive with Google reviews
Let’s be clear – monitoring and promptly responding to reviews on all platforms (both positive and negative) is of utmost importance. Customers who leave negative reviews expect a response and a solution, and how you handle this publicly goes a long way with potential customers who are reading reviews to help make decisions on which company to trust. Likewise, saying thank you to customers who shared positive experiences is a nice show of professionalism and goodwill for your business.
But that’s not enough.
HVAC businesses can leverage software like Podium and Birdeye, among others, to make it easier to obtain positive reviews. These platforms remove barriers for the customers to post their review. Podium specifically targets customers who have already been part of a happy call, so you know the experience was positive. Birdeye will ask if the customer had a positive experience or not – and then request a review or filter it to customer service, depending on the answer. Some of our larger HVAC clients have become review powerhouses with our help and the help of these platforms. One has a perfect 5.0 average on more than 8,500 reviews!
Remember, there’s no magic way to generate positive reviews – even if you use these platforms. In the end, it comes down to your company and customer service. Software like the ones mentioned here simply make it easier for happy customers to tell positive stories about your business.
Use call-tracking software to constantly improve campaigns and customer service
Here’s the rub with customer service – business owners oftentimes don’t learn about situations with a customer until it’s posted as a negative review. That means you’re already playing from behind. It’s easy to assume your team is doing a good job with customer service, but you know that doesn’t always happen. As a business owner, you need to know how they’re communicating with customers.
Again, there is help with this problem.
HVAC businesses should always use call-tracking software. (ServiceTitan now has a built-in feature for this called Phones Pro.) For each of our clients, we have specific, tracking phone numbers for each campaign on Google or other marketing channels (billboards, etc.). This allows us to go through the call logs, break down the data and listen to each interaction. It helps us answer questions like: Are there calls coming in? Did they come from a Google campaign? Facebook? A billboard? It helps us catch issues with campaigns, as well. If one source is outdriving the others, there might be a problem internally with the campaign. We also listen to calls to monitor the quality of calls from each source. This helps us know if one source is producing more relevant and profitable calls than the others.
As we listen, we’re also on the lookout for how each customer service rep is handling interactions with the customer. Sometimes the approach or bedside manner is off and preventing conversions. Leadhub created an internal rubric to grade call quality. We bring any issues to the attention of the business owner and provide the hard data needed to have these difficult conversations. In the end, this is about making sure as many calls as possible are turning into revenue for your company.
Be consistent with your branding
This is a relatively simple piece of advice. The marketing rule of 7s is still as valid now as ever before. The rule states that it takes seven times for someone to experience your brand before it sticks. If you’re inconsistent with branding – if your billboards look one way, your vehicles look another and your TV ads also look different, for example – the potential customer never gets to that needed number of seven to do business with you.
Your HVAC company branding might get old to you because you breathe it every day, but it’s not old to the market. You must be consistent to help capture what you’re going after.
Determine your HVAC marketing budget
Once you begin to dip your toe into HVAC marketing, you obviously need to know how much you can afford to spend – and how much you should spend to make an impact. In short, a good rule of thumb is to spend 8-10% of your revenue on marketing. That’s recommended industry-wide to give your brand a competitive edge.
Of course, the answer for your specific HVAC company should be individualized. The experts at Leadhub always look at the historical data – if there is any – of a client when helping with this equation. We examine our three main KPIs (key performance indicators) – revenue, cost per acquisition and leads – broken down month-to-month over the course of the previous year. We also want to know the client’s revenue goal for the year, taking that goal and the previous year’s revenue to figure out the percentage growth they are looking for. That data allows us to figure out “growth goals” for the month of the year to come. For each month, we will take the previous year’s revenue and calculate what that percentage growth will look like. For example, if an HVAC company wants to grow by 55% YOY, and their January 2022 revenue was $313,440, the growth goal for January 2023 will be $486,772 to stay on track with that 55% YOY growth. (One note: This would be based on your company’s current average ticket price. One of our goals is to increase your average ticket price in the future, as well, which creates more revenue and more opportunities for HVAC marketing.) We will do the exact same thing with leads. If the same client had 242 leads in January 2022, they would need a minimum of 376 in January 2023 to grow 55%.
Now that we’ve established the goals, we need to establish our actual budgets. We’ll want to analyze what platforms the client is already advertising on and audit which ones are working – and which ones are not. You should prioritize spending to the ones that work, but we like to keep our marketing platforms as diversified as possible. Seasonality has a massive impact on the HVAC industry, so we typically ramp up our budgets in the summer to keep up with competition and slow them down in the winter.
Again, this equation is a bit more convoluted than the standard “8-10% of revenue” piece of advice you’ll often hear – but that’s a good rule of thumb to begin thinking about marketing for HVAC companies.
Keep your focus on leads that generate money
What metrics are you going to measure to gauge your HVAC marketing success? You can count just about anything you want to when you start running campaigns, but you must determine what matters. For most business owners, it’s fairly simple to assume the most important thing is determining which leads are making money for your business.
“Lead” is a term that gets thrown around a lot with different definitions, so we want to be clear with what we mean when using it. At Leadhub, the only things that qualify as leads are form submissions, phone calls and chats. We do not track clicks, impressions or any other sort of vanity metric as a lead. We track these leads through Google Analytics by creating tracking phone numbers and specific landing pages customers must land on after submitting a form. This allows us to quantify the performance of specific campaigns and compare them.
Lead quality is also very important. If we bring an HVAC company a bunch of leads for automotive AC repair, we’re just spending their ad money on the wrong service. To counter this, we set up what are known as “negative keyword lists” on Google, Bing or whatever search ad platform is being used. These negatives prevent our client’s ads from showing up for irrelevant keyword search terms. Additionally, we set borders around our ads so that they only appear in the proper service areas. If an AC company in Dallas is getting calls from people in San Antonio, then there is a problem with the ad targeting.
To summarize, a qualified lead is someone:
- in the service area
- looking for one of your company’s services
- can pay for the service/is the homeowner. Most companies will not accept jobs from tenants renting a home.
Invest in Google Local Services and PPC (Google ads)
When you decide to start marketing your HVAC business, Google Ad campaigns are likely going to be the top priority. Depending on which source you trust, Google dominates search with anywhere from 80-92% of the market share. So you know where your potential customers are searching for help – now you just need to figure out which type of Google ad to run.
There are two main types of Google ads: Google Local Services and pay-per-click, or PPC. PPC ads are probably what you think of first when you hear the phrase “Google Ads.” These involve keyword bidding, where you (or your HVAC marketing partner) determine the keywords your potential customers are using and bid on your ad being placed when that keyword is searched. These ads typically appear toward the top of the search results, and they look similar to organic search results – beyond the “Ad” designation next to the URL. You pay for every click on the ad, which is why they’re called PPC ads.
Local Services ads, or LSAs, are a newer part of Google’s offerings, but they are quite different. They’re still keyword based, but they show up as three options right underneath the search query. Being part of the LSA results means your business is featured in the first area of real estate on search results, assuming you’re one of the top three. How do you get in the top three? There are several metrics Google is looking for with placement, with the number of reviews and your level of activity in the LSA dashboard being the most important factors.
LSAs also show the Google Guaranteed designation, which a business applies for. You’ll need to show proof of licensure, proof of insurance and whether you require background checks, among other things. One of the main differences with LSAs is you pay for each lead instead of each click – so you won’t get charged until a potential customer does something with your business (calls, emails, fills out a form, etc.). Then it’s on you to convert. Because of this type of pay structure, LSAs allow you to dispute robo-calls or faulty leads, which PPC ads do not.
Google estimates the ROI of its ad platforms to be 200%, meaning your business can make $2 for every $1 spent. It’s big business – and it drives big business. From an HVAC marketing partner standpoint, how much work goes into PPC management? Leadhub’s PPC team has several responsibilities, but each expert spends roughly 60-70% of their time modifying keyword bids in client accounts. In other words, a lot.
Write keyword-specific articles for your blog
Content marketing is a key part of any digital marketing strategy these days and can take many shapes: keyword blogs, native advertisements or email newsletters. We’ll get to email marketing in just a second, so let’s focus on keyword blogs here.
As part of a healthy SEO strategy, your HVAC business website needs to regularly feature new content. This is one of the main reasons so many businesses maintain a blog – to send positive signals to Google. You might as well make your blog worth your time and effort, though, with keyword-rich articles. All it takes is some keyword research, topic research and time spent writing to bring this to reality.
For instance, say you’re about to enter the heating season. You know your audience searches for information about carbon monoxide poisoning during this time of year – so you can write a keyword blog answering a question like this:
Or maybe it’s your slow season, and you’re looking to generate business with air duct cleanings. This is a great topic to write a keyword blog about:
Beyond sending positive SEO signals to Google, these blogs may also begin to rank for keywords in the search results. (You’ll have more success with ranking when you use long-tail keywords and natural language phrases as your base.) Even better? These blogs make great posts on social media or can be highlighted in your email marketing.
Use email marketing to reach potential customers and leverage your database
Remember that treasure trove of remarketing data we talked about? One of the most valuable ways to use it is through email marketing. Like those automated drip campaigns, email marketing campaigns are low cost and highly targeted, which is a win-win for your HVAC company.
Email is specific to the buyer’s journey of that specific customer – so it’s specific to their needs and interests. Email campaigns can take several different shapes: newsletters, alerts and special offers to name a few. According to HubSpot, email marketing generates $42 for every $1 spent – and yet only 60+% of small businesses are taking advantage of it. Need more proof? Check out these results from one of our client’s email newsletters over an eight-month span:
- 4,483 calls generated
- 2,616 jobs converted
- $1,115,285.08 in revenue
This particular HVAC client is located in a couple dozen cities across the country. Here’s a look at one email blast about severe weather in one market – and the business it generated.
There are plenty of resources to help with email marketing for HVAC companies. Your CRM likely has an email component – like ServiceTitan’s Marketing Pro email service. There are also platforms like Mailchimp that focus exclusively on email campaigns.
Consider OTT advertising for your HVAC company
First, let’s answer this question: What is OTT advertising? OTT stands for “over the top.” At its core, OTT is streaming video content coming in over the internet through a standalone platform or smart TV. There’s a big audience in OTT. Strategus, an OTT ad agency, reported there are already nearly 200 million people engaging with OTT content in 2022.
Many OTT platforms offer advertising opportunities. Think Hulu, for example. If a Hulu customer doesn’t pay for a premium subscription, they are served video ads during normal commercial breaks of network shows. Hulu then sells that inventory to local businesses. These types of ads are big on brand awareness, so they’re essentially a new generation of your old-school, national TV ads.
There are other opportunities in this realm, as well. You can do audio-only ads on a streaming platform like Spotify. These wouldn’t exactly count as OTT ads, but they’re close enough to group them in the same category. You can also run static, display ads through OTT. The difference here is these display ads have a much bigger playground to operate in – they’re not limited just to Google’s network like traditional display ads.
Don’t forget to be social
Let’s be honest – your potential customers expect you to be active on social media whether you want to or not. Social media activity builds trust and can help a homeowner feel more secure in which AC company they call to fix an AC or buy a new one.
Saying that, it’s often difficult for mom-and-pop companies to find the time and/or people power to knock it out of the park on social. This means you must be smart with your strategy. The best option for most companies is to partner with an agency to handle social media management. If that’s not in the cards, you need to develop three, key criteria to form your own social media strategy.
Where to post – You’re going to see advice all over the map on this criterion, but you do not need to be on every social media platform. Ideally, where to post would be determined by knowing which social platform your audience uses most. For the HVAC industry, this is still likely going to be Facebook. According to Sprout Social, 93% of global businesses are on Facebook. (Instagram is second at 78%, if you were wondering.) You may find opportunities to branch out onto other social platforms, of course. Starting small, however, helps make your social goals more reachable.
What to post – Once you figure out where to post, now you need to decide what to post. Again, stop to think about your audience. What’s most likely going to turn them from a potential customer to an actual customer? The HVAC industry (and home services, in general) requires a team member to enter a customer’s home. Anything your social media channel(s) can do to humanize and familiarize your employees may make someone feel comfortable enough to choose you over the competition. Leadhub prioritizes these types of posts with our clients. It might come in the form of a review with the technician’s photo attached to it. Maybe it’s a funny moment out in the field. Or it could be your company’s efforts to be part of the community.
How often to post – The final part of this simplified strategy is to calculate how often you should post to any given platform. Again, you’re going to get advice all over the map here. For most HVAC businesses, 1-2 posts a week on Facebook are more than enough to accomplish your goals there.
Find the right HVAC marketing partner
We get it – marketing for HVAC companies is a lot. These ideas are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what the right marketing partner can do for your HVAC business. That’s why companies like Leadhub are here to lead your HVAC marketing efforts.
Deciding on the right HVAC marketing partner is a process you shouldn’t take lightly. You want to get it right – because your bottom line depends on it. The HVAC industry is unique in its marketing needs, so you need to find a marketing partner who knows HVAC marketing inside and out.
How can we say this with confidence? It’s in Leadhub’s DNA. Our founder owned an incredibly successful AC company – and other HVAC business owners came to him for marketing advice. That was the genesis of Leadhub back in 2011. For more than a decade now, we’ve worked exclusively with the trades and help HVAC businesses around the country with their marketing efforts.