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Winter Business Strategies - Part 2

Your Online Roofing Contractor Presence

G.K. Sharman, Writer

In our modern digital era, no marketing plan is complete without a good online strategy.

Winter is the perfect time to make sure you have a strong website backed up by a solid, effective social media strategy across a variety of web platforms. In part two of our Winter Business Strategies series, we will look at some strategies for strengthening your online and social media presence.

Can Customers Find You Online?

GE Capital Retail Bank found that more than 80 percent of consumers do research online before making big purchases. If you want to be found online, your business has to be part of the world’s largest search engine – Google. A Google My Business page can help improve your local search rankings. Google My Business is a free, easy-to-use tool that helps companies manage their presence across Google, including Search and Maps. Verifying and editing your business information helps customers find you and learn the story of your business.

Also effective is Google AdWords, an online advertising service that lets companies display elevated listings with a “paid ad” callout to web users. A popular AdWords offering is the Pay Per Click, or PPC campaign. PPC allows you to target your online advertising and see an increase in leads. Contractors can bid on industry-related keywords such as "leaking roof," "shingle repair" or "roofing repair," so when customers search for those terms, ads from PPC contractors come up first in Google's "paid" section.

Is Your Website Working For You?

Your website is the hub of your online business activity, your 24/7 electronic brochure for the world. It needs to be clear, easy to navigate and up to date. Here are some ways to make your site more useful and user-friendly for potential customers:

  • Include a clear call to action. What do you want people to do – call you? Email you? Fill out a form? Tell them, then make it easy for them to do what you are asking.
  • Be sure your contact information is easy to find. What’s your phone number? Your email address? People won’t hunt for ways to get in touch with you – they’ll call the guy who has his phone number and email in big letters and numbers on his home page.
  • Keep your content interesting and current. Useful content builds both trust and website traffic, and more traffic can increase your lead-to-sales conversion rate. Think about what your potential customers might be interested in – such as roof leaks, seasonal concerns (everything from hurricanes to snowstorms) or whether homeowners should repair their own roofs – and provide insight and answers for them. Be sure to include your contact info and call to action!
  • Become the authority online. Writing helpful and informative articles helps you present your company as a reliable source of information about roofing. You’ll be more likely to appear in search engine results, which will once again put you at the fingertips of local homeowners.
  • Showcase your work. Before-and-after shots also work well, especially if you have a social media page to support your website.
  • Give your site a makeover if your design is more than three years old. Standards change, design evolves and functionality moves forward at a furious pace. Some customers might not care about the aesthetics, but an old-style page that is slow to load can result in them clicking off your page.
  • Design is about more than style. Examine your content – make sure it appeals to the kind of customers you want to attract. If you work regionally, display a map on your home page so people know where ”home base” is as well as the other areas you work in.
  • Updated design also means being optimized for mobile use. As much as 30 percent of web traffic originates with mobile devices these days. If your site is not designed with tablets and smartphones in mind, you're losing leads.

Managing Your Social Media

Social media is the new word of mouth. Winter is the time to optimize your social content and consider different campaigns to boost your exposure and manage your reputation online.

Platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram give you an avenue for connecting with your consumers. You can run promotions, share your latest projects, repost homeowner blogs from Asphalt-Life.com, and bond with homeowners over cat videos (yes, this is still a thing). Homeowners want to know the people behind the business. The more relatable you are, the easier it will be for homeowners to come to you when they need roofing work

Boosting posts is an efficient way to reach a broader audience. You can target specific interests and locations to place your ad on the social feeds of thousands of users who would not otherwise see your ad. Because boosting is charged by the impression, you pay only when someone sees your post. It’s also inexpensive, so contractors can easily add boosting to their monthly budget.

Posts can only be boosted from your business page. Go to the post you created and click Boost Post in the lower right corner. Choose your audience and budget based on how many people you want to reach and how long you want the boost to run. Boosts can appear on Facebook and Instagram. Visit the Facebook Advertiser Help Center for additional details on ads, ad creation, boosting, billing methods and more.

Manage Your Online Reputation

Because the Internet is such a major resource for homeowners, make sure you protect your online reputation. Consumers often use business directories, most famously Yelp, to voice their displeasure. Their comments may not be valid, but how you respond can appease disgruntled customers and make you look good to others who come across the post.

Don’t wait until you have a problem. Plan ahead with these strategies for maintaining your good name:

  • Create a Google Alert to scan the Internet for posts about your company.
  • Monitor your online presence. Keep up with Yelp and other social media outlets to know what people are saying about you. People might complain online about some aspect of your product or service and never say a word to you – and you’d never know, and never be able to address the problem.
  • Respond to negative reviews quickly to show that you take people’s concerns seriously and want to improve their experience. Both the ones who complained and your potential customers will see that you care, which can be a boost for your reputation.
  • Listen seriously to complaints and bad reviews and consider whether you have weaknesses in your company or your processes that should be addressed – especially if you find that you’re getting a lot of negative feedback about a particular issue. If you find a problem, fix it.
  • If you’re wrong, apologize. Owning up to your mistakes and offering a sincere “I’m sorry” can diffuse a situation and help all parties move toward reconciliation.
  • Don’t get into online arguments. You could come across as petty and unprofessional, even if you're in the right, which can alienate potential customers. If you feel yourself getting hot under the collar, walk away from your computer and take a break. Be conciliatory and creative in solving the problem. Your professional, non-confrontational approach can impress customers more than “winning” an argument ever would.
  • Be aware of legal issues. You may want to consider creating boilerplate language to use when you respond to negative comments.
  • Asking customers to submit testimonials and positive mentions to review sites can help flush out any negative reviews. Many people are quick to complain but hardly ever think of sharing a positive experience. A gentle reminder or request can inspire them to voice their appreciation for your product, service or hard work. Your installers or foremen can ask for testimonials as well and take before and after photos of the project. Also, with your Atlas ProAPP™, you can create a survey and send it to satisfied customers for a ready-made testimonial. The app can be linked to your social media accounts to make spreading the word about successful projects easier.

Optimize Your Online Efforts

Planning your online strategy can be done in a warm office and pay off all year long. As with any business efforts, remember to be consistent and to set goals and benchmarks so you can measure your progress.

What web or social media techniques work for you? Tell us about them in the comments.