One of the highest-ROI activities you can do for your contracting business is to audit your online presence.
If you can figure out what causes people to call your competitors instead of you, it can help you improve your marketing and revenue significantly.
In this post, I’m going to walk you through the 9 steps homeowners follow when searching online for a home service contractor and how to make sure your business is front & center every inch of the way.
Starting from the top…
1. Homeowners need to be able to find you
First, homeowners need to be able to find you online.
This goes without saying, but you’d be surprised how many contractors pay top dollar for a new website and think they’ll suddenly start to get a steady flow of traffic and leads.
It doesn’t work like that.
Your website is just your storefront. You still need to get people inside.
Search engines like Google & Bing are the best way to do that because—other than asking a friend—that’s where most homeowners go when they need home improvement services.
In other words, you’ve gotta be there, and you’ve gotta show up on Page 1 for keywords related to your business.
Why? Because the first page gets over 80% of the clicks, that’s why.
And the higher you are on the first page, the larger portion of those clicks you’ll receive:
When it comes to showing up on the first page of Google, you have 3 options:
- Use Google Ads to show up at the top of the page
- Appear in the Google Maps section
- Appear in the organic (or free) section
To show up at the top of Page 1 without any SEO knowledge, set aside a monthly budget to invest in Google Ads. This is the quickest way to take up space on the first page and is a great way to get leads fast.
Shameless plug: Check out our contractor marketing system to learn more about how we help contractors get setup with Google Ads for their business.
To show up in the maps section on Page 1, the most important things you can do is make sure your Google My Business page is set up accurately and filled in its entirety with relevant information. The more information you can provide the better.
There are a ton of other factors that determine whether or not you’ll be listed in the maps section, such as:
- Number and quality of reviews
- Proper categorization
- Local telephone number
- Consistent local citations
For more information, check out BipperMedia’s Google Maps Optimization Guide.
To show up in the organic (or free) section on Page 1, you need to create website content that is both relevant and valuable in the eyes of Google.
This is known as SEO and is far beyond the scope of this article (check out this guide on how to rank your local business).
You can also create company profiles on other websites like HomeAdvisor, Thumbtack, and Angie’s List which can increase your odds of showing up on the first page when someone searches for a contractor in your area.
In any case, you’ll need to use either Google Ads, the map pack, or create content to show up organically if you want any chance at generating new leads for your business.
Recommended reading: Contractor Marketing on a Budget: How to Get More Leads Without Breaking The Bank
2. Homeowners have to feel like they’re at the right place
At this point, a homeowner has found your business on Page 1 of Google and has made their way over to your website in order to learn more.
So far so good.
But just like “buyer’s remorse” is real, so too is “clicker’s remorse.”
If you don’t convince a new visitor they’re at the right place within 3 seconds of landing on your website, they’ll hit the back button faster than you can say “WAIT!”
That’s why your ‘above-fold’—everything a visitor sees as soon as they land on your website—is crucial.
You need to call out your ideal customer, let them know what you can help with, and reassure them they’ve made the right choice by clicking over to your website (and not your competitor’s).
To do that, make sure you have:
- Clear & concise copy that describes the services you provide (not some vague statement)
- The areas you serve (so people know you work in their neighborhood)
- Imagery that is relevant to your service offering (not some random stock images)
- Some form of social proof (to start building trust)
- A call to action, such as a phone number, button, and/or form so visitors can take action right away if they’re ready
Other than that, be sure to use text that’s not overly technical. You don’t want to lose people within seconds of landing on your page.
Keep it light, and leave the technical talk to when you meet them in person.
Recommended reading: 7 Elements of a High Converting Landing Page
3. Homeowners have to trust you
So far, a homeowner has found your website and has decided—within 3 quick seconds—that your company is able to solve their problem.
But unfortunately, that’s still nowhere near enough to get them to contact you.
At this stage, it’s all about earning their trust.
You earn their trust through:
- The overall professionalism of your website (logo, branding, design, etc.)
- The accreditations and awards you sprinkle throughout the page
- The professional photos & videos of your team, equipment, recent jobs, etc.
- Having your physical address and phone number in plain sight (not hiding them)
It’s all about conveying to your visitors that you’re a legit business and not just some contractor that’s here one day and gone the next.
Do what it takes to work all of the elements above into your website or landing pages.
Recommended reading: Why Your Home Improvement Business Needs More Google Reviews (and how to get them)
4. Homeowners want to hear it from someone other than you
In his book Influence, Robert Cialdini describes the term social proof as:
“A psychological and social phenomenon wherein people copy the actions of others in an attempt to undertake behavior in a given situation.”
It’s an extremely powerful concept, and it’s one that great marketers use all of the time.
You can tell your website visitors how great your company is until you’re blue in the face, but it doesn’t even come close to the impact a few words from a recent customer can have.
The more you can “tout your own horn” through the words of others, the more people you’ll get to actually pick up the phone and call you.
Nobody likes a showoff, but having others show you off is fair game.
And the best part is, it’s easy!
You can add social proof to your website in the form of:
- Written reviews from happy customers
- Video testimonials
- Before & after progress reports, either in photo or video format
- Interesting statistics like total jobs completed, jobs completed in a given area, current open projects in a given area, etc.
All of these social proof examples create that “fear of missing out” feeling which causes homeowners to copy the actions of others, which will inevitably lead them directly to you.
But don’t forget—it’s always more powerful coming from someone else than from someone within your organization.
5. Homeowners need a reason to reach out now
By now, you’ve got someone hooked.
They’ve found you, they know they’re at the right place, they’ve been reassured that you’re a legit business, and they’ve read enough social proof to know that you’re a big player in your area.
All that’s left for you to do is to convince them to take action.
You need to convince them to reach out to you NOW in order to learn more.
They need a reason to pick up the phone or fill out a form NOW instead of hitting the back button or getting side-tracked by the latest episode of their favorite show.
The key is to use a compelling offer, matched with a sense of urgency and a cohesive call to action.
You can learn how to create & use compelling offers effectively in my other blog post, Advertising for Contractors, so I’ll skip over that one for now.
To create a sense of urgency, use tricks like:
- Limited time offers (which expire on a set date in the near future)
- Additional discounts (ie: 10% off) if people call or submit a form within 24 hours.
- Special discounts when people try to leave the page (using exit-intent pop-ups or chat applications)
- On-page timers to display the need to act now as opposed to later
Some people believe using urgency comes off as pushy or spammy, but there’s a reason big players like Amazon use it extensively—it just plain works.
And when it comes to call to actions, you need something both simple and specific.
ConversionXL states that there are generally two questions that help you write effective call to actions:
- What is my visitor’s motivation for clicking this button?
- What is my visitor going to get when (s)he clicks on this button?
If you can answer these questions, you’ll have a quality call to action button that drives leads for your business.
Recommended reading: How to Book 5X More Jobs With Compelling Offers
6. Most homeowners will leave to do more research
Even if you’ve done everything right so far, truth is that more than 95% of your visitors will leave your website or landing page without taking action.
They typically leave for one of two reasons:
- They’re too busy to call or fill out a form right this moment
- They want to do more research
We’ll cover the first point soon, but let’s focus on the second point for now:
Homeowners will leave to do more research.
In other words, they’ll head back to Google and type in your business name to see if everything you’ve mentioned on your website is accurate.
They’ll browse through Google Reviews. They’ll check out your Yelp profile. They’ll view your recent work on Houzz, read your ratings on HomeAdvisor, and see what people are saying about you on Facebook.
In other words, they’ll be looking for dirt.
And if they find dirt, they’ll start their research process all over again, but with your competition instead.
If you don’t think your customers are doing this, think again.
It literally takes 3 seconds to assess whether or not a business is as reputable as they say they are.
Now, I’m not saying you need 5-star reviews across the board. That’s not realistic.
Some people are just negative by nature.
So while you can’t control every single word that is said about your business, you can do your best to address customer service issues in person or over the phone before your unhappy customers take to the web.
Bad reviews, especially those that go unanswered, can have long-lasting negative effects.
Especially when people look for dirt.
And they are.
7. Homeowners need to be lured back in
At this point, you’ve either captured a lead during a first visit (yay!), or someone has left your site without taking action.
I’ve already touched on the fact that most visitors will leave to do more research, but the other equally-important reason why visitors leave is because they “get busy.”
They might have kids jumping all over the place. They might have to rush off to work. They might just want to wait until they’re at home and can browse your website from their desktop.
There are a million and one possible reasons why your website visitors don’t do what you want them to do during their first visit, which makes it extremely important for you to follow up.
Just like following up with leads helps you close more sales, following up with lost visitors helps you capture more leads.
It’s all about luring those 95% of abandoned visitors back to your website so you can remind them to finish what they started.
The key is retargeting (or remarketing), which essentially means to show ads to people that left in order to remind them to come back.
It can be done in many ways depending on your marketing budget, but these are the tactics we use to get contractors back in front of their ideal customers:
- Google display ads
- Remarketing lists for search ads
- Facebook and Instagram ads
- YouTube Pre-Roll ads
Some visitors might only need to come back once in order to take action. Others, it might take 3, 4, even up to 7 visits before they become a lead.
Regardless, by not luring lost visitors back with retargeting, you’re leaving money (and leads) on the table.
Don’t be another one of those one-and-done contractors we see all too often!
Recommended reading: 5 Reasons Why Contractors Shouldn’t Do PPC Themselves
8. Homeowners need last-minute objections handled
Okay, so a visitor is back on your website.
Now, you need to break down any last-minute barriers or objections they might have.
In other words, what are the last tidbits of information they need to take the next step?
Usually, the big ones are price and the duration of guarantees/warranties.
For price, you can use statements like:
- “Prices starting at $X,XXX”, or “just $XXX per month”
- “Financing options available!”
- “We won’t let price stand in the way of your new roof/windows/doors!”
In other words, anything that reassures people that price won’t be an issue.
When it comes to guarantees/warranties, simply explain briefly what’s included (and not included).
Then, if you want to take it a step further, think of any other questions or objections that come up in your sales process and consider adding the answers to an FAQ section somewhere on your page.
Questions you can answer that might help secure the lead include:
- How long does the installation process take?
- Do I need to give a downpayment?
- Are you a licensed & insured contractor?
- When can you get started?
- Do you pull the permit?
Shedding light on these details will help put visitors at ease and finally get them to pick up the phone or fill out your form.
9. Homeowners want to communicate in their own preferred way
Last but not least, your marketing efforts will be way more effective if you communicate with homeowners in a way they want to be communicated with.
Having a phone number and form visible on your page is a must, but there are other options too.
For example, you can test using live chat to see if people like to communicate that way. You can test using calendar applications like Calendly or ScheduleOnce so people can choose a time when they’ll be available for a callback, instead of you always having to chase them down to get the ball rolling.
You can communicate with customers through automated text messages to confirm appointments, have them send photos, update them on their project, and more.
You can even leverage Facebook chatbots which are fairly new and offer a whole world of opportunity.
Long story short, email and phone are no longer the only ways to communicate with customers.
Find out which communication channels your customers prefer, and you might just unlock a whole new flow of new leads!
So there you have it; 9 steps a homeowner goes through before actually picking up the phone or submitting a form to become a new lead for your business.
If you’re falling short on any of these 9 steps, then you’re likely not generating as many leads as you could be.
Do your best to address these issues head on, and I guarantee you’ll start to see a more regular, reliable flow of leads for your business!
Ben is our Facebook Ads Specialist and is responsible for generating a high volume of quality leads for our customers in the replacement & remodeling industries. When he’s not busy launching new campaigns, he squeezes in time to write helpful posts on the Webrunner blog.