Digital Strategy for Your HVAC Marketing in 2023
Let’s take a look at the different online methods of HVAC marketing at your disposal. I think you’ll see very quickly that we’re quite biased as to which we think (know) is the best choice.
Table of Contents
HVAC Marketing: Service Calls
SEO for HVAC Businesses
Here’s the truth about HVAC marketing: SEO is the best form of marketing for service calls because it grabs the people actively searching for someone to hire. But this won’t persuade current customers to upgrade their A/C or replace their furnace; it only gets those pesky customers with emergencies.
So, you have a snake eating its own head. You need it for service calls, but it’s not a way to grow your business, retain customers, build customer value, OR build brand loyalty.
BUT… What makes SEO so great is also what makes it so useless as an offensive marketing tactic for your HVAC company.
The biggest pitfall of SEO is it’s not scalable and it takes a long time. To touch on what was just said, the reason it’s for service calls only is that you can’t make people search for A/C repairs or new water heaters or heat pumps.
You have to just wait around until someone in your service area finally enters those search terms into Google. If you’re lucky, you’ll get the call. If you’re luckier than that, they won’t click on one of your PPC ads and run your bill up an average of ~$42 a click just to ask a few questions.
Google Ads (PPC / Performance Max)
Another effective way to get service calls is using the other edge of the search engine marketing (SEM) sword: Google ads.
If the PPC team is bidding on all the search terms in your local area as your competition is (and that’s likely the case), it makes that cost per click (CPC) astronomically higher.
Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is a small part of the marketing machine
It’s like buying a tire and a steering wheel for your car and wondering why it’s not driving. Well, it’s because you haven’t installed the engine yet.
"First page SEO results" aren't what they used to be
As you see below, it continues to get harder and harder to even be seen when you’re succeeding at SEO for HVAC search terms. First, the user must make their way past all the ads…
First, you have your Local Service Ads. How much does that cost you every time a tire-kicker clicks one of those?
After that you get to pay-per-click (PPC) ads you’re spending all that money on. Remember, these cost roughly $42 per click on average and up to $90 a click for hyper-targeted ads.
Then come the Local Map Listings – tens, maybe even hundreds of them depending on your market.
Finally, you arrive at the organic results where you spent all that effort on SEO. It’s kind of a lose-lose scenario. Either your PPC ads are KILLING it and you rack up thousands of dollars with window shoppers calling about prices, or you get a few sales from your organic traffic way at the bottom.
Yes, the bottom.
Alas, they arrive at the organic search section of the page. But boy, is it a far scroll (and getting longer). You don’t even get to the organic search results until you scroll to the very bottom. By then many people have already called a few companies before your first-page SEO results were even able to play ball.
The bottom line? The big jobs – jobs that change people’s lives and not one-offs or emergency repairs – don’t come from search, as we’ll explain below.
SEO & PPC won't get you far
There are more than 70,000 HVAC businesses in the United States and having the same old web design, the same old SEO keywords, and the same old PPC campaigns WILL NOT set you apart from your competition. In fact, it will hurt you because you will look just the same as your competitors.
Not only that, but if you’re relying on SEO and PPC to keep you afloat (in regard to your digital marketing tactics to get more customers) since you can’t predict when people will search (other than seasonality), a business can dry up at the drop of a dime. Then what? Leads will go stagnant when you least expect it, and likely when you need business the most. This is why you need Direct Response Marketing for your HVAC business.
Nowadays there’s a new HVAC and plumbing company every three weeks, and it’s up to you to keep ahead of competitive prices and get in front of people first. Instead of running costly PPC campaigns, redoing your SEO every month, and futzing around on social media, we’re going to talk about our specialty: Sales Funnels for HVAC companies.
Building customer value: Home improvement jobs
How do you grow your HVAC business? By concentrating on the 80/20 principle and nurturing your current customers to spend more, or going after leads that want bigger jobs.
Building your Digital Rube Goldberg machine (DRGM)
First, let’s back up: What is a Digital Rube Goldberg Machine? It’s a way to do more with less. In short, it’s a series of actions that trigger other actions and automatically nurtures a prospect into a lead, into a customer, and into a repeat customer.
More specifically, it’s a marketing funnel using multi-touch automation that methodically walks a stranger down the path of becoming a long-lasting customer. It’s because of this slow walk that trust is built and loyalty is gained, but it must be programmed into a series of workflows.
Advertising your HVAC DRGM
Instead of a homeowner searching for “HVAC near me” or “AC repair near me” and then letting them comb through the immense pool of competition, you get in front of them before they get the idea to search for anything. You present them with an offer they are likely to accept, and then you walk them down the path to making an appointment or call.
With SEO and PPC marketing, you can’t turn that faucet up (other than hiking up the budget, but oftentimes Google STILL has to wait to spend that money till there are more search queries).
In other words, if something is working, you can’t spend more to make more.
So how do we crank up the heat?
Social media advertising for your HVAC business
Organic social media: Social media posting
Social media platforms have two parts.
- Where you post
- Where you see ads
Think of a newspaper. You can read an article or look at the ads. The article (or editorial) is written by a journalist. When you post on your social media accounts, you are the journalist of your company. This is much more akin to public relations for your HVAC business, but not advertising for your HVAC business.
Paid social media: Social media advertising
This is how you crank up the heat: by creating ads on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Pinterest or any social media platform that comes in the future:. They all have ample advertising inventory they need to sell. That’s where to focus.
Because it’s now possible to hyper-target your customers and if an ad performs well, it’s possible to scale up the campaign.
The best way to advertise your HVAC marketing machine (DRGM) is with paid social ads. Once the leads are in the machine, email marketing, SMS marketing, and direct mail, many things can now happen one after the other, like dominos – all automated.
It’s far more efficient than SEO or PPC because:
Email marketing for HVAC is more than just sending emails. There are three different emails you will be sending:
- Transactional emails (confirmations, review requests, etc)
But before any of that, your email health must be in line with proper protocol.
Email health and deliverability
If your emails are getting opened but not clicked, mail clients (Gmail, Outlook, Apple, etc.) think to themselves:
“Hey, this email must be spam. Throw it in the promotions folder.”
All of a sudden it doesn’t matter how big your email list is because nobody is seeing your emails.
If you have no idea what DKIM and SPF and all the other intricacies proper email marketing requires, it’s highly likely your emails are next to worthless.
Here are the three different types of emails you will send after your email health has been addressed.
Newsletters are a great way to keep in touch with all those leads that never converted to a job (and your previous customers who haven’t taken advantage of your full scope of services). In short, it’s a way to monetize your email list.
What happens when someone requests a quote, or when your automatic review requests go out after jobs to ask for a review on Google My Business? These emails are simply transactional and shouldn’t be sent from the same email as your newsletters.
Because if ever you get marked as spam, it will affect your entire email ecosystem.
But if you send transactional emails from a subdomain, such as Jerry@reply.yourcompany.com, then Gmail and Yahoo and Outlook and Apple Mail treat it as a totally different email address so you can always replace “reply” with any other subdomain to make sure your deliverability is up to par.
What’s the point of a huge email list if you can make money from it on the spot? This is where promotional emails come into play. This dedicated email address (with its own subdomain) will be used to send out flash sales and other promotions.
Don’t throw your marketing budget down a black hole. Get a good site and be done with it. This will impact your business the least (so long as it’s not trash).
HVAC marketing: Seasonality
That brings us to the seasonality of your offers. Your HVAC marketing campaign should continuously change from season to season to increase urgency and scarcity and get people to act in a timely manner.
You can always turn a great offer back on whenever you want, but this is best practice (to keep it fresh). And if you live in an area where the seasons are less “season-y,” you still want to have quarterly campaigns to keep the ads new so that every homeowner sees every offer you have every single year.
Most HVAC marketing agencies don’t do this…because they don’t know how. Use your HVAC marketing funnels to tie ALL of your services together at once with a multi-touch strategy that incorporates email, social, text, phone, mail, web, referral, retargeting (i.e., everything).
Use search engine marketing for service calls (SEO + PPC)
When someone needs something fixed, they need it right away. This makes sense and that’s why your Google PPC campaigns and SEO strategies work to get people in the door. They need something, they Google it, and they call. If you don’t pick up, they call someone else. There’s nothing that can be done to stop these types of emergencies. So what you’re doing there, so long as your PPC campaigns aren’t costing you an arm and thigh, probably works decently well.
But it’s the big installs and replacements you want more of, because you get the big job up front and then you will be their go-to guy for the rest of their lives. You don’t want to wait for people to search the Internet for big jobs like that.
It’s okay for emergency repairs (there’s nothing you can do to stop that anyhow), but for the big jobs?
You want to groom the people who are already thinking about it before they even get to a search bar. Get in front of them before they have a chance to review all the millions of competitors out there. The way you do this is with Direct Response Marketing and getting them to the dedicated marketing funnel to nurture them to an appointment is the easiest and fastest and most reliable way to do that.
Use social media advertising for bigger jobs (installs + replacements)
Disruption advertising for your HVAC business is any type of advertising where you push the ads in front of the customers without their consent. Think TV, radio, direct mail, and display advertising. Nowadays we use YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and other social media platforms, in addition connect TV (Hulu, etc.) to place these same ads.
These types of jobs have likely been on the customer’s mind for a while now, and it’s time to give them a little push. Creating an A/C install funnel, a water heater funnel, a heat pump funnel, and replacement funnels is the best way to get in front of these people before they have an emergency.
By that time, they’re simply Googling, and may the best-reviewed company for the cheapest price win. But that’s no way to run a business. You want to know exactly (or thereabouts) how many leads you will be getting each day for each type of service so that you can plan your business accordingly.
Most HVAC agencies got their start in SEO or web design, and so they learned PPC as well to offer a nice little package of services: New website, optimized for SEO, and strong PPC campaigns.
Sounds great, right? Well, that works. Sure. But once it’s done, it’s done! What are you paying for all year round? Direct Response Marketing is nonstop, ruthless, and aggressive. But kind.
You’re at an extreme advantage once you step outside the SEO box and the PPC box, because most HVAC marketing agencies simply don’t know how to do this well. That’s not to say we’re the only tool in the shed, but close to it. In fact, we provide a fantastic add-on to what you’re currently doing. We’ve found that marketing your HVAC business in this way allows you to stay away from Home Advisor and Angie’s Leads or other companies “selling leads” and rather generate your own customers.
Get a DRGM for your HVAC Business
Build the machine, feed the machine, and add on to the machine.
If you’d like to learn more, book a pro below or download our 2023 HVAC marketing report.