Internet Marketing Methods to Grow Your Home Improvement Business

Last month 22,200 people searched online for “Home Improvement contractors New York” and 33,100 people searched for “Contractors New York” indicating a strong demand for home improvement related services. The fact is another Contractor in your local area is ending up with this business. Most Contractors entered into the profession thinking that they would open up a business and the business would generate from word of mouth and referrals. This may be true for a select few Home Improvement businesses, but it is more likely that if you want to compete, you need to market your services.

Traditionally, Contractors are not marketers! But if you do what I recommend in this article, you can not only stay competitive, but you can also potentially blow away your competition. According to the Wall Street Journal, only 4% of Contractors market their business, and most are NOT doing it effectively. The key to Home Improvement marketing is to acquire, retain, and re-market. If you do all 3, you will have a steady stream (or even a flood) of leads coming into your Home Improvement business.

The best way to grow your Home Improvement business is by using Internet marketing. Forget TV ads, expensive Radio, or Newspaper advertising. We know very few Contractors for whom these marketing mediums have actually ever worked for. In fact, their lack of accountability, measurability, and limited geo targeting capabilities will leave you wondering where your investment went. You need to be where your prospects and clients are, which is online searching for the products and services they need.

Marketing Methods:

Conversion Focused Web Design

To effectively market on the internet, you need a conversion focused web site. What you DO NOT need is a website that collects dust. Think about it, just about every home improvement business has a website of some kind. Most are poorly conceived by graphic designers or stock templates, and were implemented with no strategy, no calls to action, and are basically just like brochures. A brochure is not going to cut it as we move forward into a more competitive marketing space on the internet. Most of your competition has a brochure, but to convert traffic into prospects and then into customers, you need a much stronger pull to get the prospect to want to do business with you.

An internet marketing consultant can help design and organize your site to move you beyond a simple brochure to a highly productive lead generation machine. Also, an effective web solution should put you in control of your site and content. Make sure your site is built with a Content Management System (CMS) that will allow you or your control staff to make simple edits without having to hire your designer at $100+/hr for each little web change needed.

Organic Search Marketing

Organic or Natural Search Marketing is similar in concept to Pay Per Click, but for organic search marketing results you do NOT have to pay per click. It is a much longer and slower process, but it is where 80% of your prospects are going to find you. Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is a process by which your site is engineered to show up for certain keywords in the search engines. Organic search results can lead to a consistent stream of leads for your practice, but patience and time working on your site (and off of your site) is required to take advantage of this strategy. Make sure if you outsource your SEO work, you deal with someone who understands your business, will not spam the search engines, and is someone you can trust with your message and reputation. One wrong move here could leave you black listed by Google and the other major search engines.

A solid SEO strategy is rooted in delivering good quality keyword rich content to your site. Writing content for the web is a lot different than writing content for a brochure or off line marketing collateral. Make sure you work with an SEO team that understands the complexities of search engine optimization, can create a realistic plan, understands your business, and can measure the results.

Pay Per Click Marketing

Thousands of potential customers are searching online every day for Home Improvement contractors and related services in your local area. With the right message and a conversion focused Pay Per Click marketing campaign, you can get immediate leads and new clients into your practice. Pay Per Click marketing delivers ads in the search engines to prospects that are not only local to your business, but looking for exactly what you are offering at the exact time they want it! It is highly targeted, and a highly measurable marketing technique unlike anything else in existence.

The problem is Pay Per Click marketing, or PPC, is extremely competitive and you really need someone who knows what they are doing to make it successful. If you are going to invest in PPC, you need to make sure you track conversions (emails, phone calls, web forms, downloads, etc.). Without tracking this data, you will not know how effective the campaign really is. Also, PPC marketing needs to be constantly monitored and optimized every day to avoid stagnant and lack luster results. If you do this, you will not only compete in your market, you will dominate.

Landing Pages

Internet marketing for Home Improvement business is competitive, and if not done correctly, you can squander your marketing dollars pretty quickly. Developing a custom landing page is a technique to develop a small 1 or 2 page website focused around a very specific service (Plumbing, Roofing, Kitchen Remodeling, etc.), and developed around a strong call to action.

By utilizing a focused page to send targeted traffic to, you are properly aligning what someone is searching for in the search engines with the exact result they are expecting to see when they click on the pay per click ad or organic search result. Conversion rates can increase 100% or more using a landing page strategy. Landing pages tend to work best when used in conjunction with a Pay Per Click marketing campaign. When it comes down to it, effective marketing is all about doing it better than your competition. Landing pages, when used correctly, can dramatically accelerate your lead generation efforts and squeeze more out of your Pay Per Click budget.

Social Media

Social media sites are where your prospects and customers are spending a lot of their time. So how come most contractors are not utilizing this marketing strategy? It is most likely due to a lack of time and lack of knowledge on how to use Social Media to your advantage. Get on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook, and at least start engaging with your prospects and customers. Post relevant articles and quick tips on troubleshooting your AC unit, or post excellent bathroom tips for remodeling and renovating your bathroom. You can realistically post whatever you want to talk about that helps present you as an expert. Social Media is all about engagement. Also, Social Media can help your organic search results, build your email marketing database, drive more traffic to your website, and help with reputation management.

Email Marketing

Email marketing is a great strategy to use for retention and re-marketing, and a way to present yourself as an industry expert. You need to stay in front of your existing customers and potential prospects every month. The average prospect needs 6-7 touches from a business before they actually do business with them. Mailing out letters is not the answer and it is very expensive. Email marketing is quick, measurable, and extremely effective. Keep your customers engaged and aware of all the services you have to offer and any new exciting breakthroughs in the field of home improvement.

When developing an email marketing strategy, you need to plan it out carefully and make sure every campaign is created with a strong offer or call to action. Don’t be too pushy or overburden people by sending out more than one email campaign per month. Email marketing is a key piece to the internet marketing puzzle and can help maximize all of your marketing efforts.

If you are a Home Improvement contractor, I encourage you to implement all of these proven marketing strategies into your business today. The longer you wait, the more your competition will gain a larger share of the market (and their friends, family, co workers, etc.). All of these strategies need to be worked on and improved upon over time, so do not think that what worked today will always work tomorrow. Create a clear strategy to maximize your internet marketing investment and set realistic expectations. With the right plan and execution, internet marketing will not feel like you are taking a risk by spending your money on it, and hoping for something in return. Internet marketing is a tried and true investment that will deliver consistent returns for your business.

Bradley Eisner is a Certified Internet Marketing Consultant (IMC) with WSI and has a passion for helping Home Improvement professionals market their businesses more effectively using the internet.

Mom and Pop Home Improvement Verses Big Box Stores

Ever since the first English settlements in Jamestown in 1607, entrepreneurs were using their home improvement skills to help build a better life. These specialized skills will always be needed, no matter how they are utilized and/or distributed. From plumbing to window installation, these trade services are practiced within all areas of civilized life.

Up until the end of the late 19th century, most home improvement services were worked by individuals or smaller mom and pop type businesses. Not until stores like Lowe’s started popping up in the early 20th century did we start seeing larger entities become highly competitive against the smaller mom and pop type home improvement businesses. The fact of the matter is, these large businesses could provide services for cheaper, but not necessarily better.

So, why do big box chains like Home Depot and Lowe’s provide home improvement services? Why don’t they just sell improvement goods? Isn’t the whole idea behind these large hardware stores to provide goods to do-it-yourselfers? Well, the problem is… more and more consumer do-it-yourselfers are buying their goods online. It saves time and allows the consumer to be more flexible when it comes to getting their job done. These big hardware stores are trying to send a message to these consumers. They want these people to not only buy their products, but also allow them to install it for them at minimal costs. By doing this, it could draw in consumers that need a job done, but can’t necessarily afford a mom and pop business. Not realizing, that these stores often do a poor job, because they use, in most cases, inexperienced staff.

The fact of the matter is… mom and pop home improvement businesses are usually family owned and operated. They pass down their many years of experience in their trade to their workers. They often use the best quality products and provide top notch warranties. We’re not saying that the big box stores can’t provide quality, we’re just saying that your chances are better with smaller service providers.

As these larger, big box home improvement companies grow… will they expand and improve their services or will they return to their roots and only sell goods? Chances are, these big businesses will look to improve quality of service and offer a broader range of these services. The three largest stores, Home Depot, Lowe’s Companies, and Lumber Liquidators are not going away any time soon. Small mom and pops know that. They also know that they do it better and a majority of the public knows it.

So, before you choose who is going to install your replacement windows, replace your kitchen counter or repair that leaking pipe, do your research. Compare experience, quality of products used, warranties and most important of all… customer service. Who are you going to want inside your home? Someone who has been doing the job their whole life or someone from a big box store with no credentials. The choice is yours and most likely a choice you will have to live with for years to come.

Internet Marketing For Home Improvement Contractors

Home improvement contractors are slowly opening up and embracing the possibilities that going online has to offer. In the not so distant past, contracting businesses especially those operating locally had doubts whether or not an online presence was still important. And as we are living in a technologically driven age, time has soon erased the doubts away as the majority who wanted to achieve competitive advantage has acknowledged what having a website has to offer and greatly benefited from the power of the Internet.

Internet marketing has been of great use to home improvement contractors in terms of promoting their services as well as growing their contracting business. This online strategy not only comprise of the business-to-customer methods where you make each contact and process easier for your clients and visitors, but also of business-to-business methods enabling your business to easily communicate with business partners or other essential industries such the banks and others.

Like traditional marketing methods, online advertising could also deal with information management, customer service, communication, public relations and promotion of your home improvement services and contracting company. In comparison, having a contractor website and doing Internet marketing can have benefits over offline methods like:

Gain More Visibility. Majority of homeowners would turn to the Internet when searching for the right contractor to attend to their needs. Because your website runs 24/7, information about your contracting company and services would be available no matter the hour making it possible for Internet users to get information as well as contact you even if it is past the business hours. By going online, you will not only be making things easier for customers but prospective clients as well.

With your Internet presence, you are also improving brand awareness making specializations advertised directly to certain markets appropriate for your home improvement business.

Cost Effective Medium. Internet marketing is probably the cheapest form of advertising that you could ever utilize and the best thing about it is, with an efficiently designed contractor website and the right advertising techniques, the return on your investment would be evident in the shortest possible time. Aside from its low cost compared to traditional forms of marketing, you also have the power to target your efforts to a specific market and that is the groups interested in your home improvement services. For a little effort from you, you can have your advertisements posted for a long time throughout the World Wide Web.

For home improvement contractors wanting to expand their serviced area or who want to go national, Internet Marketing would be the best tool to take advantage of. Because of its world-wide reach, you can easily spread the word. You even get the chance to diversify your stream of income and also earn from the contractor website itself. Many Internet Marketing methods can also earn you money while you reap the fruitful seed of your promotional efforts.

Improve Customer Service. Internet Marketing is not only great at creating new ties and gaining new clients but maintaining the contracting business’s existing clients as well. By implementing such techniques as newsletters, you can let homeowners know of the new developments in your business, and home improvement services.