25 years ago, HVAC marketing largely consisted of advertising in the Yellow Pages and sending postcards in the mail.
Those days are long gone, but you probably know that already.
This article is going to share what is working in 2020 in HVAC marketing—as well as what isn’t working. We’ve spent the last 10 years working on marketing for HVAC companies like yours, which has allowed us to learn many lessons about what is effective at getting new HVAC clients. I’m going to share these marketing lessons in 10 minutes.
There are many aspects of HVAC marketing that make it different from other home services.
To start, you sell a high-ticket item. An HVAC replacement can easily run thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars, which often results in it being a high-involvement purchase.
While a homeowner may not spend a lot of time scrutinizing a company to come out and fix a leak in a condensation line, they will look into an HVAC company’s online reviews before forking over $5k to replace their compressor.
This means that your online marketing must not only be focused on lead generation, but also lead conversion. Your reviews and company website will make or break your HVAC marketing during this step.
Get Your HVAC Website Right
Your website is the foundation of much of your HVAC marketing.
To start, it’s the first touchpoint your clients will have with your business. A company only gets one chance at making a first impression; while your website doesn’t have to be a work of art, it should communicate that you are a legitimate HVAC company that can be trusted.
Communicate some sort of value proposition. Cheaper, better, faster, whatever unique value proposition you have, it needs to be very prominent in your website’s messaging. When you feel like you’ve overdone it, you’re starting to get your messaging right.
Feature Prominent Calls to Action
There is no reason that your customers should have to dig for your contact information.
Your phone number should be featured in the header of your website. You should probably even place your contact form above the fold on your home page and each of your service pages. This is an effective hero section:
The phone number pops out. The contact form is right there. The services are clearly listed in both the logo and hero section.
You know what they do and how to get in touch with them.
Let’s compare it with this:
Which one would you be more comfortable spending $7k with?
Clearly Communicate Your Services
In addition to prominently displaying that you provide heating and cooling repair, what other services do you provide? There’s a good chance that your customer doesn’t realize that their HVAC systems can benefit from seasonal maintenance—this is your opportunity to educate them about the other services you provide.
An HVAC Website Must Be Edited Seasonally
As the seasons change, so must your website. The images and messaging on the home page should be changed to focus on air conditioning in the late spring and back over to heating in the late Fall.
To start, get SEO boost that your website could get by having messaging more closely aligned with what people need. If people are searching for “air conditioning repair” every June, make sure the text there is focused on air conditioning.
Obviously, change it back over to furnaces and heating come November.
Have a Mobile-Optimized Website
Having a mobile-optimized website is a must if you want to be found online.
Google has been rolling out a mobile-first index, which means that eventually, it will only crawl and index the mobile version of your website.
Coupling this with a penalty for website that are not mobile-friendly, your mobile-unfriendly website will be little more than a doorstop.
Make Sure Your Website Loads Quickly
Research shows that if your mobile site takes more than 3 seconds to load, visitors will hit “back” on the browser and leave your website.
If this happens only a handful of times every year, imagine how many thousands of dollars in business you may be missing out on…
There’s a website call GTMetrix where you can not only test the speed of your site, but also get recommendations for speeding it up.
Google is an Important Part of HVAC Marketing
Google Local Service Ads
The fastest and easiest way to get customers is through Google’s “Google Guaranteed” Local Service Ads.
While you may have heard of Google Adwords (now called “Google Ads”), there is now a service called “Google Local Services” that comes up in the results above the paid search, map, and organic results:
Before your customers even get to the organic results, they’ll find this carousel of ads:
There are a few interesting things about the local service ads.
To start, you only pay for leads, not clicks. This is great, since it really cuts down on the irrelevant clicks that plague pay-per-click campaigns.
Also, there is an approval process that can be a bit of a pain. You’ll need to submit proof of insurance, your professional licenses, and pass a background check, but it cuts out a lot of your competitors that aren’t willing to go through the process.
In a nutshell, you should be running local service ads.
PPC Advertising Works for HVAC Marketing
Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is managed on the Google Ads platform. This can also be a valuable source HVAC leads and should be part of any HVAC marketing plan.
Do it right and your HVAC company can expect calls and emails all day.
Do it wrong and you could burn through a lot of cash fast.
While this isn’t a guide to PPC management for HVAC companies, I will explain what makes a great PPC campaign.
Constantly add negative keywords
Negative keywords are keywords you add to tell Google to NOT show your ad. We have a 100+ negative keyword list we add to all our HVAC campaigns right out of the gate. For example, if you’re bidding on “ac repair” and someone searches for “ac repair jobs,” you might end up paying when this joker clicks on it. Let’s take a look at some examples of searches that triggered ads for a campaign we’re managing:
Several of these such as “AC troubleshooting” “how can I identify my thermostat for my air conditioner” and “home AC system diagram” were all actual queries that someone entered and clicked on our client’s ad. We need to add them as negative keywords so the next time someone uses a word like “how” or “troubleshooting” they won’t see our ad.
Closely optimizing for a lower cost per conversion
Unless you have a limitless PPC budget, you’re going to want to focus your ad spend on the parts of the campaign that produce the best results. Over time you’ll see patterns arise in the data, like Tuesday mornings from 9-12 your cost per conversion skyrockets—this means you should probably not spend during that time.
Split test everything
Effective PPC uses extensive a/b testing to see what drives sales and what doesn’t. If you’re not doing that, you’re either wasting ad spend or leaving money on the table.
If you’d like to learn more about PPC ads for HVAC companies, reach out.
SEO in HVAC Marketing is Local SEO
SEO for HVAC companies is largely an exercise in local SEO, which has a number of components. In other words, the battle for customer’s clicks is done right here:
If your company is not in the maps results, it’s not likely to get the click.
Before we get into the details of the strategies to get you into the local map results, it’s important to understand what Google wants and why these strategies are likely to work.
Google Wants Authoritative, Trusted Web Results that Demonstrate Expertise
Imagine you had the task of determining what websites a Google user sees when someone enters “air conditioning repair near me.”
What criteria would you use to algorithmically decide what the best HVAC companies are?
It’s a tough task, but Google has settled on the following criteria.
How Sure Are We About the Accuracy of the Name, Address, Phone Number of the Possible Results?
The last thing that Google wants is to give a website to a HVAC company that closed down two years ago. This is why it is constantly checking to verify the name, address, and phone number (often referred to as NAP by SEOs).
Google crawls sites such as Yelp, your local chamber of commerce, and industry-relevant directories. Step one to doing local SEO is to know what relevant directories your company should be listed on. At the same time, this does not mean that you should list your company on 150 different directories.
Going overboard with directory links was a tactic that SEOs used years ago to manipulate the search engine results and Google caught wind of it. Doing this today could very well land a penalty for your website.
Does Each Company Have Positive or Negative Online Reviews?
Google has determined (correctly, in my opinion) that a company that has a ton of positive online reviews is likely to be reputable.
The only way that you can guarantee that your HVAC company will have positive reviews is to employ an effective reputation management strategy. Having a reputation management strategy as part of your marketing is important for several reasons:
- It will likely help your company to rank better
- Potential customers are likely to see these reviews
I’ll get more into reputation management tactics later in this post.
Which Sites Have Backlinks from Trusted Websites?
If your HVAC company has links coming from home improvement blogs, local newspaper websites, and other types of websites, Google interprets that as a signal of trustworthiness. If you get locally-relevant links, it further helps Google to determine that you are located in the area you claim you are located in.
Would the DIY Network link to a hole-in-the-wall HVAC contractor? Would Bob Vila’s website link to an article about changing air filters if the site didn’t belong to a trusted company?
Obviously, they wouldn’t.
This is why Google monitors what websites are linking to yours website. These links are referred to as “backlinks.”
Link Building is a Key Component to SEO for HVAC
Building links to your website is arguably the most impactful thing in SEO.
It is also the most time-consuming and knowledge-intensive.
Links in articles like the one below are often the key to getting your HVAC company to rank well in local SEO
Writing Content is Another Key to Successful SEO for HVAC Companies
Writing content for your website does three important things for your SEO:
- It provides something worth linking to. Reaching out to other websites with an email begging for links will be a massive waste of time. You’ll need to produce something worth actually linking to. This could be a how-to about something you know a lot about, it could be a series of reviews, or anything that another website owner would think is valuable. Without link-worthy content, your link building efforts will be dead on arrival.
- It establishes topical relevance for your website. If your website is putting out monthly tutorials that answer people’s questions about HVAC, your website will demonstrate the expertise and authority that Google is looking for. When the time comes for it to recommend a “furnace repairman near me” and your website is the one in town that Google users seem to really like, you’re going to be a lot more likely to show up in the results.
- It shows your website to be fresh and regularly updated. Like I said earlier, Google doesn’t want to recommend the website of a company that closed down nine months ago. An actively updated website indicates that the business is active and open for business.
Perform Keyword Research and Optimize Your HVAC Website Content Accordingly
Keyword research helps you to determine two key things: what your customers are actually searching for and how likely you are to be able to rank for those queries.
Lets take a look at the competitiveness for the keyword “ac repair in lake worth FL.”
To start, I’ll enter the query “ac repair in lake worth,” then click in the search box again. Google’s autosuggest feature will tell me what I am most likely to search for next. This is all based on past user behavior, so it’s one of the most reliable techniques for understanding how people search for different HVAC services.
This is what I get:
From this, we learn that more people look for “AC repair” than for “air conditioning repair.”
The next step is to look at the top results for the different queries and determine if your HVAC website has a chance to outrank them. This is something that you’ll only learn with extensive experience.
Once you’ve determined you have a shot at ranking for a keyword, it’s time to get it onto the page.
Place the Keyword in Your Webpage’s Title Tag
The most important place to include your keyword is in your title tag. If you’re using a CMS such as WordPress, there are free plugins that can enable you to easily edit your title tag. The most well-known of these is the Yoast SEO plugin.
Include the keyword you are targeting in the most natural way you can when you write your title tag. Also, remember that there is a character limit of roughly 60 characters, so don’t write too long of a title tag or it will be truncated at ~60 characters.
Get Listed on Both Paid and Free Industry Directories
The goal of SEO is visibility on search engines. It’s an undeniable fact that Yelp, Angie’s List, Home Advisor, and other similar directory websites own a lot of that visibility.
Once you’ve maxed out the amount of search engine visibility you can get from local service ads, PPC, the local Google Maps results, and the organic results, it’s time to look at getting visibility on these directories.
As you’re performing keyword research, take note of the directory websites that you see ranking for the keywords you want to rank for.
For example, Yelp ranks quite well in our local market for “ac repair.” It would make sense for a local HVAC marketing plan to include paying for a sponsored listing on Yelp and tracking the results.
Just make sure you are using an analytics program such as Google Analytics, as well as a call tracking service such as Callrail so that you know where you are getting your leads.
Social Media Marketing And Your HVAC Marketing
Social media is where most online conversations are taking place. Conversations like these are taking place on Facebook every day:
Not having any sort of social media presence means you’re not even an option if someone decides to recommend you.
As you can see, the above post had 89 responses to it, yet it took several comments before this popped up:
This is going to be a lot easier for the original poster to find the company than cutting and pasting a bunch of company names into Google using a cellphone.
By having an actively monitored Facebook page with reviews, you’ll have the opportunity to demonstrate that you’re a reputable company and it will be easy for referrals to contact you.
Facebook Ads for HVAC Seasonal Maintenance
There’s no need to tell you that the average homeowner has no idea about seasonal maintenance of their HVAC systems.
Facebook ads are an effective way to educate customers about the benefits of having a professional come out and perform seasonal maintenance and if done right, could result in recurring revenue for your company.
Shoot Video, Don’t Do Static Ads
One study by Hubspot showed that videos perform 20% better than static ads on Facebook.
Video is a lot more engaging, and with the ubiquity of high-quality smartphone cameras, you can probably shoot a really good tutorial on what you do to keep HVAC systems running optimally and the long-term savings a homeowner is likely to see.
Wrapping Up: What About the Costs of HVAC Marketing
The key to making your HVAc marketing work is to have a disciplined marketing plan in place and to stick to it. If you think that you might have trouble staying on course, you should find a reputable marketing agency like us to partner with you and handle all of your online marketing.
That’s when concerns about the costs come up.
This is all I’m going to say about the subject of cost: if you have a good company handling your online marketing, you will see a massive return on investment.
If you don’t see that return, fire your agency and find one that is good.
If you’re not marketing your HVAC company online, you’re missing out on tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.