What Home Services Businesses Need to Know About Marketing in 2019
- January 17, 2019
- By: Vonigo
We asked the experts: What do home services businesses need to know about marketing in 2019?
Every year the challenge of marketing seems to evolve and get more competitive. Expert marketers, business owners, and consultants responded to our query with lots of good, actionable tips. Here’s what they had to say.
1. JD Parkman, CEO at Marketing Media Wizard
In today’s digitally driven era, home service businesses are constantly competing with one another for their piece of the pie. Establishing an online presence is hard enough, but maintaining that presence and keeping up with the competition is even harder.
From maintaining a website and sending the right marketing message via email or chatbot to prospective buyers at the right time, to engaging their social media audience so that they stay in the forefront of their minds can be exhausting – not to mention prohibitively expensive. This is where using marketing automation technology makes a huge difference.
The end result is shorter sales cycles, lower costs per sale, lower cost per lead, and far greater campaign return on investment (ROI). With effectively managed and segmented lead nurture campaigns, an ROI of greater than 500% is not uncommon.
Technology and Automation
Simply put, businesses that don’t implement marketing automation technology will soon be outpaced in efficiency by those that do. Other areas of importance include home service business owners claiming and optimizing their Google My Business listing for inclusion in the local three-pack.
Reputation management and customer reviews are going to continue growing in significance. This is also where marketing technology comes into play, by identifying at-risk customers and alerting the business owner immediately so that they can handle any issues before they get out of hand and lead to loss of revenue and a negative review.
Also having a mobile-friendly website that has ongoing SEO work will ensure home service businesses are at the top of customer searches and are the ones getting the calls instead of their competitors.
2. Taylor Hurff, SEO Strategist at 1SEO
For home service businesses, Google Local Services Ads are a must! They’re incredibly easy to set up and use, and they can deliver a high return on a limited budget. Local Service Ads is a new and expanding feature from Google which only certain service industries can use. These results display above organic search results and paid search (PPC) ads.
The listings show the company name, their reviews, service area by zip code, phone number, and business hours. It also shows a green checkmark and says “Google Guaranteed” next to those who are actively advertising on the platform. With this guarantee, Google protects the services booked through the platform. This helps businesses reassure new customers who might be wary of letting a stranger into their homes while also guaranteeing the quality of the services.
Only Pay for Leads
Although the cost for a Local Service Ad (LSA) is slightly higher than a traditional PPC search ad, you only pay for quality leads when you use LSAs. Google tracks the calls that come through these ads, and business owners can refute any that were spam or otherwise not a quality lead. Whereas PPC ads charge you for every visitor that clicks and stays on the landing page more than a few seconds regardless of whether or not that visitor contacted the company, LSAs only charge you for legitimate leads.
If you own or operate a local service business, you need to take advantage of Google Local Service Listings in 2019.
3. Chris Williams, Founder of Clock In Marketing
The best marketing tip you can use as a home service businesses is to ask for referrals and reviews.
Asking for referrals helps you promote yourself past your own network of friends, family, neighbors, and colleagues. Keep in mind many people seek referrals for home services because it can be difficult to choose one at random. Unlike other services, there is no go-to brand for many home services. Referrals make everyone feel more comfortable, but not many companies consistently ask for referrals. You can put yourself in a unique group by asking for a referral with every client.
In addition to referrals, asking for reviews on top sites like Google, Yelp, or even Facebook can be useful. Again, many people do not know who to choose when it comes to a home service so they choose the company with the best reviews. Investing in some form of reputation management will help you stay on top of your reviews.
4. Steve Pritchard, Digital Marketing Consultant, Anglo Liners
Marketing is so crucial to a company’s success. Just because you work for a home services provider, doesn’t mean the marketing rule doesn’t apply. In fact, it can really boost your customer base, especially in 2019 where digital is fast improving and relied upon to improve a company’s presence.
Home service businesses need to be aware of the importance of SEO for their business, and if they haven’t already, invest in it to increase demand and reach a broader customer base. Local SEO is particularly important to have for your home service business, since potential customers will be searching online for your services, with keywords like ‘cleaning services near me’ into Google and expecting to find easy, reliable results located nearby.
Gone are the days where customers rely solely upon word-of-mouth recommendations; they can find recommendations online instead and review a home service business at the click of a button. So, as well as improving your SEO you need to implement a review service online, where customers can see the good work you do and therefore feel inclined to hire your services.
5. Carl Christian, Owner of Atlanta Green Maids
If you thought Google was important before, it’s even more important in 2019.
With sites like Yelp and Angie’s List experiencing financial struggles and having a hard time attracting new users, Google is going to be a more dominant player in 2019.
In the past, home service businesses could rely on third-party review sites (think Yelp, Kudzu, Angie’s List, Home Advisor, etc) to generate a significant portion of their revenue. However, as these sites continue to struggle or even shut down entirely (e.g. Kudzu.com), businesses need to put more of their marketing budget into Google. Programs like Google Adwords and Google Local Services will prove essential for making up the lost revenue from third-party review sites.
Home service businesses that recognize this early and make the needed changes will be ahead of the game in 2019.
6. Zach Hendrix, Co-founder of GreenPal
Home services businesses need their own localized landing page because the local algorithm is completely different from the overall SEO algorithm that Google deploys.
What’s more … Local landing pages need local signals for Google to feast on and one of those major local singles is local reviews. Simply stated: There is no better local SEO signal than local reviews.
But how do you get them? 90% of our new customers come through local search engine optimization. It’s been my experience that success in local search is kind of like dieting — it requires daily diligence.
Consistently Pursue Reviews
One of the unique things myself and my cofounder do is “Reviews Saturdays.” We spend an hour each Saturday reaching out to customers from that week that we know had a good experience and ask them if they would leave they a review for us on one of the major review sites.
We look at their customer details and if they have a dog or cat listed on their account we will send them a cat nap or a dog bone, or we will send them a GreenPal T-shirt to thank them for sharing their experience.
We’ve been doing this for six months and since we have been doing it we’ve noticed rankings improve on a local level on each of the nine cities that we are in.
Saturdays work best because folks are home and in a pleasant mood. It’s a great way to grind out reviews which is 25% of the local search game in my experience.
7. Cheryl Friedenberg, Digital Marketing Consultant
Want to get the most reach in 2019 for your home services business?
Video still rules social media channels in 2019 and businesses need to get more creative in their video marketing. Quick clips of 20-40 seconds are impactful. Longer video is typically used in Facebook Live or in a company introduction video showcasing your services.
Video marketing may include a customer video review, live video delivering your services (for example a moving company showcasing a clip of a move-in-progress), a company team video thanking your customers, or a simple product reminder. The integrity of your brand should be #1 goal for your video marketing plans.
Streamline Your Review Process
Additionally, 5-star Google or Yelp reviews are another source of thoughtful and smart marketing execution in 2019. Service-based businesses should streamline their customer reviews processes in order to get reviews throughout the year.
Google Search rewards your website’s rankings if your business continually receives reviews. Also, your Yelp & Facebook recommendations or reviews will help your business when a prospect searches for it online.
Your online visitors don’t want to see anything less than 4+ stars, so it’s a critical piece of your service-based businesses 2019 marketing plans.
8. Greg Shepard, CEO & Founder of Emily’s Maids
My businesses dominate online SERPs. AND among most maid service owners I know, there is a mad marathon to compete online. BUT what most of them have forgotten is some traditional, offline marketing mediums still work. Some even work better now because of less competition.
For example, a new cleaning company of mine will be rolled out in several cities within the next couple of years. For quick, initial ramp-ups, brochures will be sent via direct mailings. We’ve found this medium to be exceptional in establishing a solid customer base from which to grow.
A few tips on how to do this right:
1) Use Brochures
Brochures are able to hold more information than postcards or door hangers. I’ve heard marketing “experts” state too much information can turn people off. From our test results, we’ve found this to be not true. A well-designed brochure on quality paper with professional copywriting delivers results.
2) Repetition = Results
Snail mail brochures to the same area twice within four weeks. You’ll actually see more leads generated from the second sending. Determine which areas are producing the most customers then send the brochures out to those areas twice again within two weeks.
3) Test, Test, Test
Design a second brochure and send it out to the same area and in the same numbers your first brochure was sent out. If the new brochure performs better, use it! Continue testing several times to find the most productive brochure design.
I’ve been in the cleaning industry for 15 years and have noticed how traditional mediums have been discarded in favor of flashy, online marketing. Mistake! — and an opportunity for other cleaning service owners to take advantage of. Not only for cleaning services: My long-time friend Kenny Baker owns AB Moving in Dallas. Hiring a full-time flyer distributor has grown his two-man operation into a fleet of trucks and revenue of $13,000,000.00 annually!
9. India Nixon-Lyon, Owner, Organic Home
I can’t tell you how many businesses I’ve heard about or heard advertised by word of mouth because of their stellar work, that doesn’t have a website. If you run a business and you want clients you need a website – nothing fancy, just simple and professional looking. People have small blocks of time on their phones during the day to look up “best house cleaner near me.” If your name pops up on Google My Business but you don’t have a website, you will lose customers who don’t have time to place a phone call.
Word of mouth remains tried and true for gaining repeat customers. Provide your services with excellent results. Those happy customers will pass along business cards to their friends and family. Offer discounts to current customers for each new customer gained. The same goes for employees. Offer employees a small bonus for each new client they bring in. They will become even more incentivized to talk up the great work you provide. People bring you business!
Invest in Advertising and Branding
The home service business sector is competitive and when faced with two options, most people are going to choose the one they see advertised more. A cleaning start-up in our neighborhood went door to door introducing themselves, handed out business cards and posted on our neighborhood Facebook page about their services. They immediately established themselves as the personable and friendly neighborhood option. Again, people sell your business.
Utilize well-known service platforms such as Amazon Services, Angie’s List, and Home Advisor to both advertise your business and attract clients. These companies do take a percentage of your sales but for people looking to do a quick search, they often turn to well-known service platforms such as these.
10. Nicolas Straut, SEO Associate at Fundera
Home service businesses, including movers and cleaners, require marketing strategies that will increase their visibility for locals seeking their services. In 2019, one of the best ways for these businesses to get in front of these valuable potential clients is to improve your visibility on search engines for queries like “home cleaning [town]” or “moving company [region].” Ranking for the top spots on Google for these queries will drive more high-intent traffic to your site and will gain you more customers.
Attempting to rank for more competitive searches like “home cleaning” or “moving company” will be far more difficult and ultimately less necessary than ranking for long-tail keywords that include a local town, region, or state, unless your business is interstate or national.
To rank for specific queries, consider creating pages on your website devoted to how you service local towns. For example, you could title a page “Moving Company in Princeton, NJ,” and describe the services you offer Princeton residents, your rates, where you’ll move items to, and your team itself. Naturally including the keywords Princeton, moving company, and synonyms throughout the page will help Google to recognize that you’re offering relevant content to searchers in that area searching for a moving company.”
11. Steve James, Marketing for SME Businesses
Small Businesses — and especially startups — have to address the trust gap: Why should you, as a small company, be trusted more than other companies?
For home service companies, this is complicated by having to put prospects’ minds at rest about inviting you into their homes. I always suggest that small businesses highlight their differences from the bigger, ‘industry leaders’, and being just around the corner can work for you. However, ensure to add some details about your trustworthiness — such as testimonials about how clean, efficient and sympathetic you are while in people’s homes — so that you stand out from the competition, and make your prospect’s ‘Value Decision’ easier.
12. Stephen Hart, CEO of Cardswitcher
AI is going to become much more noticeable. 2019 is probably going to be the year that we see artificial intelligence really shake up the way that we work – for the better.
Chatbot technology (software that automatically replies to customers on your website or social media) for instance, will probably be one area we see a lot of development in.
Chatbots might have been quite disappointing in the past, but 2019 is probably the year that they’re going to really come into their own. Thanks to the development of artificial intelligence over the last few years, chatbots are now capable of learning from each conversation with a customer and improving their service. Some experts are even suggesting that chatbot technology could actually replace emails in the future!
If you’re looking forward to seeing your general admin processes streamlined, and your email accounts tamed, AI could be your salvation.
13. Balazs Hajde, Content Manager, Authority Hacker
When we do our research before entering a potential niche or market, we encounter all kinds of businesses that exhibit the same patterns of poor web optimization. The following observations are most relevant to smaller businesses.
In 2019, if you have a home services business and haven’t learned about SEO yet, we urge you to catch up on this indispensable skill. Understanding how search engines work, and spending a little on optimizing your site to reach the first page in search results can grow your revenue and customer base tremendously.
We consistently observe businesses missing out on the abundance of opportunities provided by the internet, even though SEO can be surprisingly cheap (almost free if you have an aptitude to do research).
Another thing we noticed is that most business sites (small and large) look really bad or outdated. This is unsurprising since for many business owners a website is still an afterthought. Yet most people under 40 are now essentially “Google first, visit second.” Meaning they will search for your website first, then decide on whether they want to approach your service at all. First impressions matter, and in 2019 you should consider your site as your online storefront.
Finally, the importance of the ever-expanding mobile market warrants a mention. Not just in terms of website design accommodating smartphone screens, but the many ways you can leverage apps to provide something unique in your market (think a simple “uber” app for home cleaners or waste management, etc)
14. Jeff Moriarty, Digital Marketing Consultant
The one tip I have for home services businesses for marketing in 2019 is to build your reviews online, specifically Google. Google is pushing so much focus into local, and 2019 will be no different.
In the past, it was easy to get away with a few reviews online for your home service business, but now everyone is competing more and more. Every single customer you get, you need to ask them via phone, text and/or email to write a review for your company on Google. The number of reviews is a huge factor in ranking locally, and since more of your competitors are now doing it, you need to focus more time than ever.
This company made an easy tool where you can type in your company name and then you get a link you can send to your customers that leads them directly to your Google listing.
15. Melissa Blevins, Realtor® in Springfield, IL
Billboards, park benches, and radio ads are expensive and ineffective. The best way for a home service business to market their services is to build relationships with local Realtors®, mortgage lenders, and property management companies.
Another option to grab the market’s attention is to sign up for a business profile in the NextDoor app and Facebook groups for free. More than ever, home buyers and renters are researching online before reaching out to fulfill their needs.
A strong online presence and reputation, as well as referrals from trusted professionals, will increase your marketing success by 10x.
16. Jane Baker, Business Coach
If you’re a home service business and you’re not on Pinterest then you’re going to miss out in 2019. It’s largely an untapped market, but for a large percentage of people, Pinterest is their go-to for house inspiration and removal ideas.
If you’re a company that services a house in some way, Pinterest is a platform to be seen and invest in during 2019 and beyond.
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