Of all the topics I cover with the roofing contractors who read my posts, the one that is more popular than any is marketing for roofers.
Such a simple word: Marketing – but in the internet era old words have new meanings. Many words are used with the intention of confusing readers or introducing new, unrelated meanings to an old word.
In this post, I intend to discuss marketing for roofers generally and then as we go, more specifically. Before we’re done I’m going to compare many of the things contractors do to get leads and sales and see if we can present one that is more efficient (and thus, better) than the rest.
So Let’s Get Into It…
Marketing as a term is a noun and means the action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising.
Ok, that tells us what it is, but says little about how marketing works. Especially in the modern era.
Many of my readers own and operate roofing firms and have been in the business for ten or more years. If they’ve been around long enough, these contractors used to get customers from advertising in the phone book.
Consumers trusted it – advertisers all were involved. Then along came the Internet.
Soon, phone books became door stops or were simply thrown away at the point of delivery. Contractors with large budgets for phone book ads saw their money wasted as these books were tossed into the trash by the thousands.
Then the format itself was called into question. A yellow book advertisement could not tell the consumer the reputation of the roofing company. And we know that not every contractor is the kind of company people want to work with.
In the last 15 or so years there’ve been countless ideas brought forward on how to promote your business online – some work, some don’t. Some once did and now no longer work.
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I separate these ‘ideas’ into two groups. They are “strategy” and “tactics/techniques”. If you spend money on tactics without a solid strategy, it will fail every time.
One thing that does remain is the fundamental of selling anything to anyone, anywhere and at any time in history. That fundamental is that people buy from people. Especially they buy from people they know, like and trust.
It’s an underlying truth that no matter the tactics you use, the truth is unbending. If a buyer doesn’t know you – like you or trust you, they usually don’t buy.
Now, Let’s Take Marketing For Roofers A Step Forward
Let’s start by separating the big idea of getting leads from a homeowner who’s looking online for a roofer into two groups.
- Many companies purchase leads or inquiries from big lead gen firms like Angie’s List, Home Advisor, Porch, and Houzz. These are non-exclusive or shared leads.
- Some companies build their own lead generation website and get traffic to the site, knowing that all leads generated there are exclusive to the contractor.
We’ll look first at the lead generation business model. The largest, best known of these firms is Home Advisor, formerly known as Service Magic. Founded in 1998 they’re now over 20 years old. In 2017, IAC, who owns Home Advisor purchased Angie’s List and is merging their reviews into those of Home Advisor.
These companies operate a digital marketplace where consumers can look at pre-screened contractors and get bids from multiple service providers, quickly and easily. The popularity is based on the idea that these leads and the companies are ‘pre-screened’ and that other consumers have posted reviews of their experiences.
Not Everyone Agrees On Home Advisor’s Value To Contractors
Both homeowners and contractors quibble over how well qualified these firms are. Some lawsuits against the company have been filed. But one thing is true. Each homeowner who visits the site(s) requesting pricing and estimates will have their information distributed to at least 4 contractors. Often more than four.
Each contractor who is registered in that market receives the lead and is assessed a fee ranging from $55-110 each. The contractors then have to compete to both “get-in” as well as to earn the sale. Another “pro” level exists that provides lower costs per lead, but requires a monthly fee to qualify for them.
In following up the leads, frequently, one of the bidders will be a low-priced provider who wins business with ultra-low margins. This makes it difficult to offer a quality service, pay your marketing costs and reinvest in acquiring more customers.
Any contractor playing this game must do so, aware of the pitfalls of their decision.
Consumers have told us too that they don’t always enjoy the process either. Why? Because once they request information, they’ll get numerous calls, often at the same time or back-to-back. Contractors sometimes seem desperate because they’ve paid for their last many leads without having a legitimate shot at earning someone’s business.
If your firm does well with the lead generation companies but wants someone other than the 2 big firms, smaller firms Houzz, Thumbtack and/or Porch might do better for you.
Smaller Competitors Also Offer Options
Porch.com offers two ways to work with them – one very similar to Home Advisor and the other where your homeowner enters their info and buys directly from Porch.
Thumbtack, according to Satchi Studios is “a bidding-based site that uses a pay-as-you-go business model for contractors. Leads are not exclusive, and there is no guarantee anyone will win the contract.”
Houzz is a Facebook-like environment where contractors can create profiles for their businesses and showcase their work and testimonials, according to Adapt Digital.
Summary Of Shared Lead Sources
As you can see from the rundown of the firms above that non-exclusive lead generation is one of those areas of your roofing company business model that can make your phone ring with leads. – It’s also one you have to be careful with.
It can work and in some cases it does. But for many firms, the costs make getting leads and marketing their roofers business this way a real downside.
Fortunately, there is another way – and it’s a way that is proven to work. It’s also the way that Google prefers. It’s aligned with their goals for their ‘customers’, defined as those people who search online using Google’s search engine.
For many years now Google has been telling us that their intent with search results was to show “the best businesses” in the top spots. Sadly for much of that time, they’ve been a bit opaque about how it works.
Now, with the continued publishing of their “Quality Score” document and enough time (and software) we’re able to tell you what Google wants from you — in exchange, they’ll consider sending traffic to the pages on your site.
Google’s Quality Score Is Critically Important Now
Their logic begins with the idea that a prospect for your business seemingly has an issue that requires a licensed contractor to resolve.
Knowing that over 65% of the time a homeowner is thinking of hiring a roofer, they’ll check reviews first, G believes the consumer will do his search online most of the time.
In that process, they’re undergoing a “Customer Journey”.
To complete their journey, hire someone and resolve the problem this homeowner will need to learn some things, meet with various people who may or may not be able to help and ultimately decide who they like and trust.
Granted, in a few cases, the buyer overlooks review info and hires someone anyway. Maybe they do it because the company can send someone right away, due to a low price or some other factor.
The vast majority are left looking through the hundreds of roofing firms that show up in a search in their local market. Then having to decide.
How does your roofing company tip the scales in your favor to get more sales? Well, there are three things you’ll need to do.
Three Ways To “Tip The Scales” In Your Business’ Favor
One is to get your business “found” when a search occurs. Two is to “get picked” by your homeowner/prospective client. The third is to “earn the sale”, hopefully on overall value instead of on low price.
Getting found comes from being visible for the keywords that consumers use in your market. Providing Google with enough content that tells them you’re the best option to show on page one of their results is key.
I suggest reading that again. The job you need to do is to become the best option for Google to show on the first page of their search results to their customers.
Now, thinking in terms of the “journey” the customer is on, you’ll want and need to describe the process of how this homeowner will complete their journey while working with you.
If the process begins when a leak occurs, then describe how your company does roof leak repairs. If possible, show them what it costs.
Then describe what leads to a decision that the roof cannot be repaired. Take them to the journey about replacing the roof for the home to be dry and tight.
More Steps You Can Take
The bottom line is that to win in Google you’ll need to have the best content. Write content that helps your customer to complete the journey they’re on.
Is there more? Yes, a lot more. Things like the speed of your site. Things like whether or not your site is mobile friendly or not. Even your link profile is highly considered in Google’s formula for where your site appears in search engines.
Perhaps the most important factor in all of this is your ability to convert those who visit your site into leads and ultimately into sales. There is an entire science known as “conversion rate optimization” that focuses on how to do that.
When done correctly, you’ll rank better for many of the important keywords. These are the terms that your neighbors with roof issues use to find some help. Your content will be better (more thorough) than your competitor and so your prospect will instinctively know that you’re better. You’ll be liked and trusted more easily.
As a result of your efforts to serve prospects you haven’t met yet, Google may also reward you with visitors who need someone with your skills.
My Summary On Marketing For Roofers In 2019
When you combine your increased levels of work with a proven process to get more customer reviews on Google My Business, the circle will be complete. Your position will be solidified in search results and you can proceed from there to “own” your market.
So now you get to choose. It’s easy and fast to respond to the lead generation sites, budget your money and play their game. It’s a different commitment (to your business, your family, yourself) to invest in building for Google what they’ve said they want you to build. You’ll have to do better due diligence. You’ll need to invest a bit more money upfront.
But if you’re committed to the process and plan to be in business in 5 years, then choosing this path is the obvious way forward.
Want to talk about it with someone? Click here and grab a slot on my calendar. And since you’re here, remember to grab the free content upgrade on this page. The lead cost tool I’ve developed is simple but can put a whole lot of money back into your pocket that’s being drained away by the big technology firms.