For those readers who missed the first installation of “Challenge Accepted!,” here’s a quick introduction to Energy Circle’s latest digital marketing content series:
Each month, we’ll identify and explore a unique marketing problem or request that is relevant to the better building and clean energy industries. We’ll start by outlining the details of the problem: What’s the challenge?
Next, we’ll lay out a recommended solution—an approach to strategy, planning, execution, and optimization, all designed to offer a behind-the-scenes look at how the digital strategy and marketing experts at Energy Circle tackle some of the HVAC, home performance, and solar industries’ toughest marketing challenges!
In Short: How do we reach people whose homes may be making them sick, and help them make it better?
In Long: Healthy home services, in the context of home performance and the better building industry, are a challenging concept to communicate, and an even more challenging service to sell. The target audience may be aware that they’re suffering from something causing illness or discomfort in their homes, but they tend to be uninformed about the performance issues in their house that could be causing symptoms like asthma, fatigue, sleep problems, allergies, etc.
When it comes to digital marketing, we have to be thoughtful and honest about the way we draw our audience in—we don’t want to imply that we’re selling medical treatment, or advice beyond the scope of our industry. So how do we capture an audience looking for the root cause of their medical issues, without pulling a bait and switch with our messaging? (Someone looking for medical advice or treatment is probably not expecting to land on a contractor’s website.) For those who are more informed that their symptoms may be due to an issue with their home and are looking for a test to prove it, how do home performance contractors connect with those people and meet that demand?
Avoiding the Bait & Switch—Your Money or Your Life
As far back as 2013, Google began rolling out a new classification for websites as part of its organic search ranking algorithm known as the “Your Money or Your Life (YMYL)” rule. This classification holds landing pages and websites with content that “can have an impact on your current or future well being (physical, financial, safety, etc.)” to a higher standard when it comes to evaluating quality. This - according to Google’s documentation - includes “Pages that offer medical or health information that could impact your physical well being.”
This means we must be extra careful about the way we talk about “healthy homes” in all of our content. We must avoid tactics that look like hooking potential customers with ad text and site content that appears to be about treatment or advice from a medical professional, when we’re attempting to make the connection between their symptoms and possible home performance issues. If it appears to users—or to Google—that our landing page, website, or ad content is offering expert advice or facts from medical professionals, this misclassification could hurt our overall marketing or organic performance.
Addressing the Demand for an Assessment - and the Lack of an Industry Standard
At Energy Circle, we’ve more than just “dipped our toes” into this marketing challenge recently. We dove in head first and have some fairly compelling data that suggests the majority of users who are searching for healthy home related services are looking for some sort of test or evaluation to tell them exactly what’s wrong with their house.
We recently conducted an extensive analysis of search volume, click through and conversion rates for “healthy home” related search terms (ie: queries containing the keywords: “mold,” “air quality,” “asthma” or “allergies”), to determine in what context users were looking for content related to home health issues, or symptoms.
We found that, for Energy Circle PPC clients, the top searched and clicked healthy home related terms in 2018 (by impressions and CTR) contained the keywords:
This data suggests that even those searchers who are aware there is a home performance issue at play—like mold, moisture or poor indoor air quality—are looking for an evaluation or a test to prove it, not necessarily a service or a contractor.
As contractors—who ideally want to help resolve the underlying home performance issues causing these symptoms—how do we address the demand for a “test” (especially when there is a lack of consistency in the industry as to what this “test” officially is)? Then, how do we convert those searchers into home improvement and performance upgrade clients?
Homeowners are not Making the Connection Between Home Health and Occupant Health
During this analysis, we also noted that there was little to no search, click, or conversion volume on targeted keywords or ad text relating to human health symptoms in the context of home performance or healthy home services. For example, “asthma air purifier,” “indoor allergies,” or “home always dusty.” What this tells us is that many people have not made the connection between their health symptoms (like respiratory problems or allergies) and issues with their home systems.
Strategy: Content is King and Context is Queen
To avoid the bait and switch, we need to develop a smart, robust content strategy that helps consumers make the connection between human health symptoms and the possible home performance issues that could be causing them. This should include the building, HVAC, and general home improvement services and projects that could resolve them. This is all about context: present content about health issues and symptoms, but always tie it back to home performance, and better building.
Strategy: Define the Service with Consistency and Establish Trust
We know that search volume (demand) centers around a healthy homes test—that’s our ticket in. We need to work to define exactly what the ideal “healthy home test” is. Perhaps it’s a standard energy audit, plus an indoor air quality test that measures contaminants in the air and identifies their source, as well as a blower door test that measures the home’s “tightness.” Maybe it includes a test for lead, radon, mold, asbestos, and other toxins within a home’s systems. Whatever the scope of the service, it’s critical all content is consistent, accurate, and clear.
Once the service is defined - it’s time to get the message out and establish credibility, trust and awareness among your potential customers through paid advertising tactics that reach that audience where they already are.
In exploring this marketing challenge, it’s clear that there are real challenges associated with marketing healthy home-related services and solutions (but that’s what makes our work interesting.) We’re contending with potentially confusing overlap with the medical industry that could rub Google the wrong way. We’re also dealing with an audience that has not quite made the connection between their health issues and the performance of their home systems. Finally, there is a lack of consistency within the industry as to what tools and metrics are used to evaluate home health, and so building awareness and consideration among an uninformed audience is slow work.
Our data around the concept, however, gives us an excellent starting point. People are looking for a test, and need help making the connection between their personal health, and the health of their home. This will move them down the funnel toward understanding they need a home performance solution that addresses the root causes of their symptoms. Content, context, and strategically targeted paid ads will lay the foundation to reach, inform, and eventually convert that audience.