Web Marketing: Part I
Trending UP in 2016
PHCC members take note! PHCC Preferred Partner Market Hardware has put its team of web marketing experts on a mission to supply you with the top six web trends you should know (plus special industry-specific tips). Check out what’s trending UP this year:
#1: Responsive Website Design (because mobile will rule the web in 2016)
According to Pew Research Center, 64 percent of American adults own a smartphone, which doesn’t take into account the amount of tablet users. The point is, the mobile trend has shown no sign of stopping and should continue into 2016. So if you’re ready to upgrade your site, then Responsive Website Design is a must-have in order to impress anyone who is scanning websites from their phones or tablets. Studies show that if a visitor lands on a site that is difficult to navigate and requires zooming in/out, they’ll simply exit out and move on to a new site.
Moreover, Google has firmly hitched its wagon to the mobile trend. Since April 2015, mobile-readiness has been considered a ranking factor when it comes to identifying which companies show up highest in search results. In other words, Google wants user-friendly sites to rank highest in search results.
Keep in mind, it’s not as simple as “flipping a switch” on your current site to make it responsive. There are some short-term solutions (such as building a separate mobile site), but if you’re looking for a Responsive Website, you’ll need to start from scratch with a new site.
#2: Proper Email Newsletter Marketing as a Retention Tool
As more businesses invest in digital marketing as a customer acquisition tool, acquisition costs are likely to skyrocket as the marketplace becomes more crowded. Therefore, allocating a portion of your marketing budget toward retaining existing customers is more important than ever. Recent estimates suggest that the cost to acquire a new customer could be five times as much as the cost to retain an existing customer, so investing in customer acquisition will go a long way toward improving your bottom line.
An increasingly popular way to retain clients using the web is email newsletter marketing. That doesn’t mean you should be sending out “spammy” emails with coupons and offers every week. The right way to run an email newsletter marketing campaign is by sending out educational content that your customers will appreciate. The top businesses use a 90/10 rule, where 90 percent of their email newsletter content is purely informational and only 10 percent is self-promotional. Customers appreciate receiving valuable content, and it’ll keep them coming back to your business time and time again.
PHCC Member Tip:
Sample content your readers may appreciate:
Clean your filters. When your filters are clogged with dust and dirt, your system will have to consume more energy while it operates. Clean filters will keep your system running efficiently and will help prevent long-term damage. (Oh, and you’ll breathe better air!)
Keep your family informed. Any type of fuel-burning space heater can be dangerous if the proper safety precautions are not taken. All members of your family should be aware of the importance of ventilation and should know what steps to take in the event of a fire.
#3: Co-op Advertising Programs (Is it time to have a manufacturer pay for your marketing?)
Heading into 2016, more manufacturers recognize the value of digital advertising, and we anticipate that, over the next year, these manufacturers will fully embrace digital advertising as an approved channel for co-op marketing. They believe that digital advertising is an effective marketing channel that can help their dealers move more products. It’s a win-win for everyone involved, especially the businesses that end up being reimbursed for large portions of their marketing.
Curious about whether one of your suppliers or manufacturers provides co-op advertising reimbursements? Get in touch with one of their marketing/brand managers and explain your marketing expenses. Just be wary of manufacturers that insist on a highly specific marketing strategy/company that may not be a perfect fit for your business.
#4: Digital Advertising as a Polarizing Topic
The digital advertising market is packed with thousands of freelance website designers, countless full-service web marketing firms, and a ton of people who claim to be web marketing experts (but aren’t). With so many options, there are bound to be hundreds of great companies that stand out, as well as thousands of fly-by-night web firms that are out to make a quick buck from an unsuspecting and overly trusting client. For that reason, 2016 should continue to polarize consumers’ opinions about digital advertising as a whole. Those who are fortunate enough to find a provider they can really trust will reap the rewards, while unsuspecting victims may swear off digital advertising forever.
There’s a sub-trend worth noting: More plumbing and HVAC businesses will invest extra time and energy to find companies that can deliver quality customer service in addition to strong results. The days of falling for cold-callers and SEO email scammers are numbered. We call it the “fool me once, fool me twice” phenomenon and expect more businesses to be willing to pay a premium for recommended service providers they can trust – all so they can avoid some of their previous pitfalls.
PHCC Member Tip:
Do your research when selecting a marketing provider. Ask for industry references, and find someone that comes highly recommended … even if it means spending slightly more than you’d like.
#5: Online Video as a Marketing Tool (that might also support your SEO efforts)
According to Cisco’s Visual Networking index, video makes up 64 percent of all Internet traffic, and it’s forecasted to grow to 80 percent of all traffic by 2019. Web users today prefer to watch videos rather than read content, so service businesses have begun to react accordingly. Some have chosen to provide informational videos about their companies or basic DIY repair instructions, while others have moved straight to advertising on other videos. Both of those strategies are likely to become more common in 2016.
As for how video relates to SEO, Google and the other search engines surely are aware of the fact that web users like watching videos, and they’re beginning to take that into account when ranking websites by relevancy (not to mention, Google owns YouTube, so there’s a clear correlation there). Videos as a marketing tool definitely will continue to increase in popularity in 2016, and its impact on your website’s search rankings are likely to follow suit.
#6: Call Rating/Lead Scoring (Now is the time to become smarter marketers.)
To become smarter marketers, a small percentage of plumbing and HVAC companies began using call recording software over the last few years, and there appears to be a significant uptick on the way. It’s an important tool for marketers who want to make sure they’re getting the most value out of their employees’ inbound calls, measure employee performance, and more. An increasing amount of companies are providing these services – and at an affordable price. They’ll record your calls, report how many you received and from where, and even rate the calls for you. It used to be a strategy that only the top 1 or 2 percent of plumbing and HVAC companies employed, but moving into 2016, that number is sure to increase significantly.
PHCC Member Tip:
Not sure where to start? Check out PHCC Associate Member Service Hook for affordable call tracking/rating solutions, and be sure to mention you’re a PHCC member.
Stay tuned for Part II – strategies that are losing popularity in 2016!