In 2018, lead generation for contractors is filled with opportunities and challenges. There are more ways to reach contractor leads than ever, but the technology requires more management. Here’s what you need to know to market your contractor business online and maximize the number of bids you put out to hot leads.
Contractor Marketing Idea #1: Develop a Sharp, Functional Website
One of the best things you can do for your contractor marketing is to have a clean, professional design that orients leads and communicates the value of working with you. This is the focus of the UXI® website templates. Here is an example mockup:
Here are more examples of contractor website designs.
What you want from a website is clarity, trustworthiness, and persuasiveness. It should be so easy for a lead to figure out what to do that a 4-year-old could do it. Leads want to see a gallery of your work, get a sense of your experience and specializations, and see reviews/testimonial content.
Also, your website must be mobile responsive so it looks just as good on a phone as it does on a computer. In 2018 and beyond, it’s likely that the majority of your traffic will come from mobile users.
Many contractors let outdated websites with weak content drag their lead-generation down. There is no reason to allow this to happen. A professional website design is no longer expensive, and we know enough about how people convert online to get you out the gate running with conversion-focused content.
If a Bush was president last time you updated your business website, give us a call today.
Pro Tip: Use Visuals
Images and infographics are helpful at communicating to fast-moving web surfers. Here is an example contractor infographic:
Also, try not to overdo the stock photos on your website design. Some real images of your work and crew give a more authentic feel than huge images of people that are clearly models.
Contractor Marketing Idea #2: Prepare for Google Local Service Ads
In 2018, Google will continue to roll out Local Service Ads, which is a new advertising platform that will substantially change how most contractors do paid search advertising on Google.
There are three big factors to consider for your business.
- First, this is a pay-per-lead platform, so you pay for leads that contact you rather than pay for traffic to your website.
- Second, this is a review heavy platform. The number of reviews and star rating affect your rankings.
- Third, you have to pass a background check to become a Google verified business.
This is what the results page looks like when you search for a plumber in LA:
LSA are still in beta in some areas, but by the end of 2018, it’s likely to be in full use for all markets. Start reviewing how you’ll do on the background check and get more reviews on your Google listing.
Contractor Marketing Idea #3: Get More Reviews and Manage Your Reputation
For LSA and for your contractor marketing across the board, we can’t overemphasize the importance of reviews.
Today’s consumers like to get the opinions and hear the stories of other consumers. We trust this content to give us a more accurate picture of what it’s like to work with a business.
This is why reviews are getting so much attention on LSA. It’s also why you get so many contractor leads through HomeAdvisor and Top Rated Local.
A great review profile starts with your service. Keep in mind that everything you do, from showing up on time for an estimate to properly invoicing the job, influences your marketing.
But even with exemplary work and service, you have to be proactive so your reviews reflect the happy middle of customers (unfortunately, those most motivated to review are the ones with complaints).
We’ve had a lot of success using email follow-ups with templates like this:
A positive links to a review platform, negative to a feedback form.
Also, use testimonials from your best clients on your website itself. The best testimonials are detailed and specific about the service. Include an image or even a short video when possible.
You can embed Google reviews into a review page on your website, where you can have the “Review Us On Google” badge and link. This contractor testimonial page is a good example.
What’s easier, however, is to have a Top Rated Local Page that gives you a rating score from reviews on sites like Google, Facebook, and Houzz. This contractor review page shows you what it looks like.
Contractor Marketing Tip #4: Create a Video Commercial
What is your unique value proposition? Why should leads choose you instead of another contracting service?
Your ads and web pages should make this case, but often the fastest way to get it across is to use a video. For example:
A pro video like this is a bit of an upfront investment, but you can get years of use out of it. Mobile searchers love videos. Optimize for search on YouTube, use it on social media, and embed it on your homepage.
Contractor Marketing Idea #5: Do SEO for Your Services
As Google Local Service Ads shape up, that will be where you rank at the top of the page for contractor searches.
But you can still drive a lot of traffic using SEO techniques, and what you rank for here comes from free clicks.
Start by making sure you rank for the base keyword “contracting service + service area” (for example, “Deck builder Eugene OR”). Optimize your homepage for this term by using it your title tag, description tag, and on-page content (including in a header).
For other services, create back pages for each, like this:
Optimize each of these pages the way you did the homepage. This way you can rank when people do searches for specific services in your area.
Note that you’ll have to include the service area as part of your keyword phrase to rank for organic searches.
Contractor Marketing Idea #6: Use Social Media
Many contractors still think social media marketing is of no use in their vertical. But the truth is social media is now so ubiquitous that leads you want to make a connection with are on social. Smart marketing goes where the people are.
For contractors, start with Facebook and LinkedIn. Facebook works best for home-based services, LinkedIn is best for making peer and professional contacts.
Both of these start with something pretty basic: activity. To start, create your business pages on each platform, making sure to add images of your work and all your contact information.
Then, start updating with posts about your work, news on jobs, and tips on things like home maintenance. Curate content from other sources, and share things from peers, clients, and industry experts.
With an active account, you’ll find people reaching out to you, including leads asking for estimates. Right now, you’ll probably get the most homeowner leads via Facebook messenger, but you can also get contacted by people in your LinkedIn network.
Likewise, people use Facebook recommendations to find services like contractors.
Today, many people check these social media profiles the same way they do a website. They want to feel your business out, evaluate your work, check reviews (you can also gather reviews on Facebook) and make sure you seem trustworthy.
Facebook is also a good place to give your construction business some personality. Show your crew and have some fun with your content. Funny, odd posts are the ones that get the most shares.
Pro Tip: Get On Houzz
For home improvement projects and contractor work, Houzz is another important social network you can engage on.
Houzz is a place you display your gallery, interact with people researching home construction ideas, collaborate professionally, and generate leads for your business. It’s virtually a micro-internet for home decor, design, and project work, with search features, advertising, and direct response conversion tactics.
Most established building contractors are on Houzz. Here are a few tips on marketing your contracting business.
Have an interactive profile. Houzz has discussion boards, polls, and forums you can participate in to share your expertise and expose your brand. In fact, people checking out your images can share them on Facebook or Pinterest, email them, or ask you a question directly (be responsive!).
Submit projects to be featured on Houzz. You can get articles and projects featured on Houzz which will give your brand major exposure.
Optimize your profile for search. Make sure you complete your profile with all types of design work you do and your location. On Houzz, you’ll get a lot of traffic and interaction from people outside your service area, but it all helps draw in people who are in your area.
Set-up social conversions. You can set-up click to calls and contact forms right on Houzz. You also have a link to your website. Take advantage of letting leads contact you directly through Houzz and be responsive to inquiries.
Partner up. You can link to, interact with, and leave reviews for partner businesses (furniture sales, niche designers, interior designers, painters) to help each other get more traffic and business. You can also connect with fellow construction contractors who are not in your service area and share ideas.
Build up your review profile. Houzz is another place you’ll want to get happy clients to write you reviews. You’ll rank better in search and get more conversions with a lot of 5-star reviews.
Contractor Marketing Idea #7: Have a Strong Intake Process
One of the sadder things we ever see as a marketing company is a contractor who has us do a great job at lead generation for them, only to see them squander the lead because of a poor intake process.
Your intake process is being responsive to leads by taking phone calls and responding to website forms. It’s communicating clearly on the phone and doing a good job of selling your service. It’s showing up on time for estimates and being fast, fair, and professional when you meet a lead.
Never answering the phone and not returning messages doesn’t get it done. Being curt on the phone will cost you. Showing up two hours late for an estimate is largely a waste of time since you’re already sending a message that you’re not reliable.
Too many contractors are great at their job – once they get the job. But many flub initial dealings with leads. If you’re sharp during the first part of the relationship, you’ll have an advantage over every contractor out there who’s great with a hammer but terrible with people.
Contractor Marketing Idea #8: Have a Client Retention Strategy
Contractors who stay in business for years do one thing differently than those that fail within a year or two. They have a retention strategy.
It’s cheaper to market to people who already know you and appreciate your work. Homeowners and general contractors love to find reliable, capable people they can hire when the need arises.
Your good work will carry you far in this regard, but don’t take anything for granted. There’s always some new competition lingering, ready to aggressively advertise and low-ball on price just to steal your business. You may think your customers are loyal, but when somebody starts dangling huge discounts in front them, they’ll think twice.
Keep in touch with clients. Establish connections on social media. Create a quarterly newsletter that you send via email and snail mail. Update people and have some seasonal offers.
Most of all, keep your name in front of them and never let them forget you appreciate their business. Your name should be all but automatic when their next job comes up.
Contractor Marketing Idea #9: Develop a Specialization
Just a few years back, you might have been the only game in town when it came to contractor work. Somebody needed construction work in the area, they called you. There was no other choice.
Today, local scarcity is not enough. With the internet, there’s always an alternative.
The question is, what do you do that gets your business to stand out? What’s your specialization or unique value – the service for which you’re the go to?
All the marketing we’ve discussed will do better when you have a clear edge over your competition. What can you provide clients that’s makes it unlikely that they’ll click for an alternative?
Develop a unique value proposition and highlight it in your marketing and advertising. Be the best in a particular type of construction or repair work and use that as your lead into other work.
Trying to be good at everything means you’re not great at any one thing. That’s a hard place to sell from.
Contractor Marketing Tip #10: Use Marketing Software
For all the advantages of digital marketing, it has one disadvantage. It’s complicated.
You used to be able to run a yellow pages ad and track things on a ledger. Now you have half a dozen marketing channels, multiple modes of communication and more data than you know what to do with.
This is where marketing software comes in. Platforms like Marketing 360® pull all of the resources back together so you can get a handle on what your marketing is doing. It tracks the different channels, budgets, and conversions you get from each.
All of this with one login.
You can’t do excellent marketing for your construction business if you don’t even know what’s going on, but that’s exactly what will happen if you don’t have a system in place to track your campaigns.
Marketing 360® is easy to use and affordable. It will save you time and give you confidence in what you’re doing.
And, as you improve your marketing materials, it will give you a competitive edge.
Learn more about how Marketing 360® works for contractors in these case studies.