Why Your Contractor Digital Marketing Strategy Is Broken (and how to fix it)

Ben Levesque • January 15, 2019

 

 

Contractor digital marketing is hard.

Should you invest in PPC, SEO, or both?

Should you spend money on Google, Bing, Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube?

Should you use banners, carousels, videos, or messenger ads?

Is anyone else’s brain hurting?

There are so many marketing tactics to choose from, knowing where to start is extremely difficult.

get more home improvement leads

But before you can even think about which marketing tactics to use, you need the right strategy.

You can have the best ads in the world, but if they aren’t tied to an overall strategy, you’re going to lose.

I don’t want you to lose.

So in this post, I’m going to share with you the magic word that makes coming up with an effective strategy easy, as well as give you examples of proven marketing strategies for contractors in different industries.

By the end, you’ll have a good idea of what you need to start turning strangers into leads and leads into new customers for your contracting business.

The key to a winning contractor digital marketing strategy

Before you can drive growth for your business, you need to understand the concept of intent and how it applies to your marketing efforts.

Contractor digital marketing is all about matching your content, ads, landing pages, and message to your customer’s level of intent to purchase your services.

message match

image source: Unbounce

Ask yourself, do the majority of your prospects have a LOW or HIGH intent to purchase your services?

You will obviously have customers somewhere in the middle, but it helps to think about your services at these extremes in order to improve your marketing efforts.

The best way to illustrate this is with a few examples…

Recommended Reading: 9-Step Contractor Checklist – How to Self-Evaluate Your Online Presence and Get More Customers

Marketing high intent services

The best example of contractors offering high intent services would be restoration experts (water & fire damage, emergency cleanup, etc.) or roofers specialized in storm repair (hail, wind damage, etc.).

If a homeowner has a bad flood in their basement, or if a storm just passed through their house, they want help as soon as possible.

In other words, there won’t be much research involved—finding help fast is what’s important.

Most times, homeowners will even have insurance companies covering their repair costs, which makes it even more of a no-brainer for them to just get the problem fixed as soon as possible.

A good rule of thumb is that any service offering which fulfills a NEED rather than a WANT would be considered high intent.

Flood in your basement? You need to get that fixed.

Big hole in your roof? You need to get that fixed.

Not enough functional space in your kitchen? That’s a cosmetic upgrade that you want more than you need (more on this later).

Other questions to ask yourself are:

  • Am I offering a commodity (ie: shingle roofs), or something more custom (ie: metal slate roofs)?
  • Am I priced at the low end of the market, or the high end?
  • Is my service offering simple, or is the purchasing process more complex?

If your service offering is more custom, higher priced, or more of a complex purchase, a smaller percentage of the market will be an ideal fit because there’s more friction.

And that’s fine! There is definitely money to be made by catering to specific people with specific tastes.

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You just have to set up your contractor digital marketing strategy accordingly in order to attract the right customers.

Let’s look at what a strategy for marketing high intent services might look like…

Example Marketing Strategy for High Intent Services

Here, the strategy is to do everything you can to be the first service provider people see or hear of when looking for help.

It is very much a direct response marketing approach.

Direct response marketing: A type of sales technique designed to evoke an on-the-spot response and encourage a prospective customer to take action. Unlike other marketing types, the direct response approach requires little or no time waiting to see measurable results.

With high intent services:

  • People want fast service
  • Price is not their main concern
  • They don’t have time to compare a ton of service providers
  • They want a local company with a good reputation
  • They want to speak to someone as soon as possible
  • They want to be held by the hand and guided through the entire process

Armed with this knowledge, and knowing that the time window you have to get in front of these people is very small (days, not weeks or months), it then becomes much easier to choose where to spend your online advertising dollars.

An effective contractor digital marketing strategy, in this case, might look like this:

  • Google & Bing search ads targeting high-intent keywords (ie: storm damage repair near me) for people looking for immediate help
  • Dedicated landing pages for each of the services you offer to quickly address your ideal customers’ main concerns and have them feel comfortable enough to give you a call.
  • Short-window retargeting (anywhere from 1-7 days depending on your service) on Google’s Display Network, YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram in order to get back on people’s radar if they didn’t take action the first time.

The key is to be marketing everywhere during those first few days when someone needs help, and the icing on the cake is that it won’t cost you much because you’ll be dealing with small audiences.

After a few days, if they still haven’t called you, it’s because they found someone else or fixed the problem themselves. That’s why it makes sense to blitz your retargeting within the first few days after a high-intent search is conducted.

Retargeting/Remarketing:A form of online advertising that helps you get back in front of your website visitors after they leave. For most websites, only 2% of web traffic converts on the first visit, so retargeting tries to generate more leads from the 98% that leave.

Now, what about SEO?

In this case, SEO would be beneficial if you’re able to rank on Page 1 (ideally in the top spot) for keywords people search for when they need help related to your services.

One thing to keep in mind though (and this is where many people go wrong), is that you need to rank for keywords people are actually searching for.

If you rank 1st for the keyword ‘storm repair company Morrisville PA’ but no one is searching for that, you would get little to no traffic (or leads) from that keyword.

Side note: The average Google first page result contains 1,890 words. If you’re creating short, generic content, you might have trouble getting your website to rank for certain keywords.

In an ideal world, your contractor digital marketing strategy for high intent services consists of both PPC and SEO, so that you can take up as much real estate on Page 1 of the search results as possible.

Marketing low intent services

Here is where things get tricky.

With low (or lower) intent services, you’re no longer marketing a NEED, but a WANT.

Think kitchen & bath remodelers, specialized roofers, backyard landscapers, etc.

While you can argue that some people will absolutely need these services, for the most part, they’re cosmetic upgrades.

Before making these types of “want” purchases, consumers:

  • Do extensive research
  • Compare prices
  • Compare competition
  • Want to know they won’t be shafted
  • Take a long time to think things through

When that’s the case, your contractor digital marketing strategy needs to address these concerns head-on:

  • Provide potential customers with information. Explain your service offering through photos, videos, blog content, downloadable guides and more
  • Justify your prices. If you’re more expensive, why? Is it your design skills? Your quality craftsmanship? Your top-notch materials? Why should people pay more to work with you?
  • Get your reviews in order. Customers will take the time necessary to read through your reviews and testimonials across your online profiles, so you’ll need to have a good mix of both volume and quality to make sure you don’t lose out to competitors.
  • Leverage social proof. Showcasing photos of your team, recent awards, completed jobs, and video testimonials of happy customers will help put your potential prospects’ minds at ease.
  • Market to prospects over a longer period of time. Instead of 1-2 touch points as is the case with high intent services, you’ll need to get in front of interested homeowners several times over the course of weeks and/or months in order to turn them into customers.

Pro tip: Match the quality of your marketing to the quality of your offering. If you want to attract customers with six-figure kitchen remodeling budgets but your marketing collateral (photos, video testimonials, social proof, etc.) appeals to people with low budgets, you’re going to have a hard time.

Now that you know what needs to happen, here’s what your strategy might look like…

Example Marketing Strategy for Lower Intent Services

With lower intent services, turning a prospect into a lead is heavily reliant on both the quality and quantity of content you have access to.

You need as many videos as you can get your hands on—everything from educational videos about your process through to off-the-cuff videos on the jobs site. Everything is fair game.

It’s also useful to have a few pieces of content—either in blog, video, or infographic format—that can be used to identify your ideal customers.

For example, as a kitchen remodeler, you can create content assets such as:

  • The 2019 Guide to Contemporary Kitchen Design
  • How to Save Money On Your New Kitchen Remodel
  • What to Look For When Hiring a Kitchen Remodeling Contractor
  • The Pros & Cons of Different Kitchen Countertop Materials
  • How to Estimate The Cost of Your New Kitchen Remodel

These topics would only be read by people with a certain level of interest in remodeling their kitchen.

Armed with these content assets, you could:

  • Run Facebook, Instagram, and Google Display Ads to drive traffic to your blog posts, videos, and downloadable guides on your website
  • Run various retargeting ads on Google, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube over a longer window (1-90 days) that share educational content, address certain concerns and humanize your brand
  • Use Facebook Lead Ads and custom landing pages to give away valuable content assets in exchange for contact information
  • Run email marketing and Facebook Messenger marketing campaigns to drip feed useful content to warm prospects over a long period of time (1-12 months)
  • Run RLSA ads (remarketing list for search ads) to make sure you show ads every time someone leaves your website and later tries to search for your business on Google
  • Leverage special promotions and limited time offers in your ads to create a sense of urgency and get people to take action

As you can see, there’s a lot that can be done to market low intent services. It’s all about identifying the right potential customers, educating them about your brand, nudging them to give you their contact information, and then addressing their questions & concerns until they’re ready to work with you.

It may take one touch point for them to become a hot lead, like it may take 10 or more. It may take one day, like it may take one year. Either way, you need to rely on retargeting to get back in front of them.

retargeting explained

image source: Autogrow

Your contractor marketing budget will dictate how frequently you can reach these people, and how many tactics you can fit into your overall strategy.

Pro Tip: Don’t freak out if you’re not ROI-positive out of the gate with this strategy. Your retargeting is what does all the heavy lifting, so make sure your prospects are seeing ads from your brand several times before changing up your strategy.

Conclusion

The key to making your contractor digital marketing strategy work is understanding the level of intent your prospects have with regards to your service offering.

If people NEED your services, you can be aggressive with your marketing and follow more of a direct response approach. Throw in some retargeting ads on several channels over a few days for maximum impact.

If you offer services that are more of a WANT, you’ll need to rely on educational content to identify potential customers, and then have a long retargeting sequence set up to build authority and stay top of mind. Throw in limited time offers and special promotions to get people to take action sooner rather than later.

Keep in mind there is, of course, some overlap between low and high intent services. Whereas a high-end kitchen remodeling contractor has to do a lot of educating to justify his price, a lower end kitchen remodeler with fixed pricing for smaller-sized kitchens might be able to get away with a more direct response marketing approach, as it’s more of a commodity type offering.

Use your best judgment to determine where you fall on the low to high intent spectrum, and then adapt your contractor digital marketing strategy accordingly!

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