- By Jake Van Paepeghem, Energy Circle
Al Roker sure has had a lot to talk about as the weather throughout North America has begun heating up. And with a prolific tornado season already upon us, the changes in the weather are top of mind for many homeowners itching to enjoy the warmth and sunshine. Even though you do your very best with your HVAC, home performance or solar business to encourage your customers to schedule their AC maintenance, replacement or solar installation before the spring and summer temperatures arrive, we know that most calls will come after a homeowner has turned on their air conditioner, only to find it has finally ”cashed in its chips.”
We at Energy Circle have been paying close attention to the seasonality changes on our clients’ websites, and how the rise in temperature can affect overall search volume for cooling related terms. We have put together a list of essential marketing strategies and tactics to help leverage this seasonal change, and better drive traffic to and capture leads with your HVAC, home performance or solar website.
Year after year, you can depend on the search volume for “air conditioning repair” to spike when temperatures start to rise. Using the last 15 years of search volume data, we can see a dependable spike in the spring and summer months. Particularly hot years may lead to higher spikes in volume, but this is about as predictable as search volume can get from year to year.
If you’ve been in the game for just about any amount of time, this will come as no surprise — most homeowners start looking for air conditioning repair when they need it.
The challenge here is to locate the inflection point at which this spike in search volume will happen, and to make the necessary changes to your digital marketing strategy just in time to capitalize on it. So how granular can we get about the actual date this interest may rise?
Inflection points for “air conditioning replacement” over the last five years have been as early as April 12 to as late as June 10.
The goal should be to take some of the peak demand that will inevitably happen at this inflection point, and push some of it earlier in the season to even out the workload. This frees up bandwidth for your crews and office staff and could help keep your days a little shorter, all while still serving the needs of your customers and maximizing on the business potential that the change in seasons brings.
Here is where your digital marketing plays its role. The idea is to activate this market before it activates itself.
The green/yellow bar indicates our recommendation for the time to ramp up your seasonal digital marketing efforts, and to activate the summer AC market before it leads to an unmanageable rush for your business.
We recommend shifting from your winter (heating) messaging to a hard focus on summer prep messaging (cooling, AC repair, maintenance, and replacement) starting from March 1 through June 1. Of course you know your market and your climate best, so use your judgment when making adjustments here; but these three months are key to capturing as many jobs as possible before the temperatures hit their peak. And speaking of messaging, what are the messages that resonate, and the areas of your website that you should be looking to change?
Making these changes to your website and other digital marketing channels should be a quick and nimble deployment process. No, you don’t need to change your entire website design, brand standards or anything major — but a simple change to the hero image on your homepage and to calls to action throughout page content or alongside web forms can do wonders. Even just adding a paragraph of seasonally relevant content to your service and/or city pages can signal to search engines that your site is helpful, credible, and relevant at this time of year. Here is a short checklist to determine if your website is up to date:
√ Are any expired promotions removed from your site? If the end date has passed, get it outta there!
√Are your services separated? Make sure you have “heating” and “cooling” related services structurally separate in navigation, to eliminate confusion as to what categories of service you provide and increase your search result visibility.
√ Remove any prominent winter messaging, images, or video content. A picture of a cozy fireplace will not entice a sweating homeowner to book AC maintenance.
√ Have you updated your FAQ page recently? Consider some seasonally relevant questions and add them to the top of your FAQ page.
The idea behind your seasonal messaging should be to take action now, before things get “sweaty.” Combining a sense of urgency and a little creativity can go a long way (a great place to use some humor — if you need some tips check out last year’s blog.) Use messaging that is “campaignable,” something that you can get behind like a short and sweet motto of sorts, pushing readiness for summer.
These kinds of chuckle-worthy slogans can have sticking power, as your customers transition from the winter gloom the sunshine of spring.
Do you have a healthy email list? Utilizing this urgent and campaignable messaging to your list of existing customers and email subscribers is a low cost, easy to deeply method of reaching those that are already familiar with your brand.
Take a page from the solar industry — we have seen great success for many solar contractors pushing the stepdown of the Federal Investment Tax Credit. Letting your customers know that any offered savings will expire provides a deadline, inspiring action. For the HVAC and home performance industry, consider setting a spring promotion with a start and end date, or throwing in an extra fall maintenance call for those that book their AC maintenance before spring turns to summer.
Relevance = timeliness. What has changed since last year? Has your community suffered from devastating natural disasters? Are your local utility companies making a push for electrification, or incentivizing solar installation? Leverage these year over year changes in your messaging to maintain relevance. Acknowledge significant changes within your community or service area which may impact people’s cooling service needs as well, to help boost your local visibility and speak more directly to your target customer base.
Writing a few new blogs with internal links to your top converting and seasonally relevant pages can be critical to increasing your website traffic and conversions. This is another place to get creative, but try a few of these blog topic ideas:
Blog posts can be amplified using GMB posts as well. Take advantage of the GMB profile preview text by using actionable language and phrases!
Make sure that your primary category in your Google My Business page is switched to “AC Repair.” This is the service that will show when your GMB profile is pulled up in a search result, and since we can assume what searchers are looking for this time of year, you want to be viewed as relevant immediately.
If you’re leveraging the effectiveness of PPC, getting in early on AC related terms can give you a good head start. The earlier you are to switch on bidding for AC terms, the cheaper the cost per click. The volume may not be there initially, but you won’t be paying for clicks that aren’t there and will be poised to take advantage of the seasonal spike when it does happen.
Energy Circle CEO Peter Troast has spoken at length on what the role of Facebook should be in your digital marketing. Paid Facebook advertising should be utilized for awareness, not necessarily for conversion. Combining custom, targeted audiences and timely messaging can be a cheap and easy to deploy reminder that your customers need to start thinking seriously about preparing for the summer heat before it arrives.