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How to build trust with customers before you go on a home visit

We live in a digital world where everything is set to automation and people hide behind emails and their websites.

However in some industries, like the trade industry, there is no hiding.

If you are in an industry where you have to go on home visits then building trust is something you must do very quickly.

It’s not something you can do via online, or can you?

When I first started doing content marketing for the trade, I knew of the many benefits it could bring to a company in terms of growing leads and sales.

However, there was one major advantage that I had never even thought of until my clients starting telling me the stories. When they went on visits to see clients their customers felt as if they really knew them, almost friends even.

I know it is hard to believe, but it’s true. Let me begin by first explaining to you what content marketing is and how it works.

Please save your skepticism until the very end as if you leave now you will be missing out on something miraculous.

In the beginning I knew that the trade industry had issues building customers trust on home visits but I didn’t know how to solve that problem.

Heck, this is probably why you are reading this post as you have that challenge too!

It wasn’t until 3 years later that I realised I had solved the problem without even trying.

This solution is not a quick one and in my clients case it took 6-9 months to work.

So let me quickly explain to you what content marketing is and how it will make your customers love you before you even set foot in their house.

Basically, content marketing is answering every question your customers have ever asked you and turning those questions into blog posts or videos, depending on what you are most comfortable with, then putting this content on your website.

It is said that nearly 60% of the buying decision is already made before someone contacts you.

10 years ago that would maybe have been 5%.

What will it be in another 5 years 80%?

Regardless, people are now looking on Google for the answers instead of phoning you. They search on Google for the answers to the questions they used to ask you.

If you answer these questions in the form of blogs when your customers searches for them they will find your content and you will build trust, authority and affinity with your customers.

But that’s not the best bit, and although that really helps build trust with your customers what I’m about to share will enhance that trust times 10.

If you want to hear the proof straight from one of my clients mouth just watch this video here.

If you are shot on time let me give you the gist to what he says:

“ It is quite ironic, you go to peoples’ doors, instead of me saying ‘Hi I’m John from Superwarm’, they are opening the door and saying ‘Oh hi John, good to see you’.”

“I am a little taken aback, then I realise, they have read half a dozen blogs we have written and they feel as if they know you. And that is a surprise.”

Here is where the biggest value comes. Think about all the questions people ask you on a home visit and create a guide answering all these questions. Put this guide on your website for everyone to read.

Here are two examples of one I have done for my clients:

Not only this, when someone phones or fills in a form on your website for a home visit, include a copy of this guide in the email, you will be amazed by the results.

Then when you visit the customer you will not have to sit there answering lots of questions all you will have to do is close.

In the video above, my client mentioned he increased his close rate from 33% to 70% by doing this. It increased the trust when he went to visit them.

Can you believe they answered the door by saying “ Oh hi John”, even if he had never met them before?

I would like to end with one of my own stories where I had experienced a bad example of a home visit and building trust in the hope that you would avoid doing this kind of sales tactic.

I was looking for some new windows, and my wife and I received a cold call telling us about a new government scrappage scheme.

They arranged someone to come out and see us to discuss.

I won’t name and shame here as that’s not what I am about.

So at 7:30 in the evening there was a knock at the door and there on my doorstep stood a 20 year old man wearing a lovely suit, grasping the latest iphone in one hand and a window in the other.

He sat for about an hour telling us how great his company was and telling us how bad all the competitors were before then measuring my windows.

Oh, and also told me there was no government scheme, WTF!

He tapped a few times on his oversized calculator and then told me it would be

£22,000 for my windows.

I nearly choked on my chocolate digestive.

He then went on to say, “But that is before the discount!”

After the discount it was £11,000.

But he could call his supervisor to see if we could get a trade price if we were ready to buy today.

This would mean they would be giving it to us at cost and they would make no money on it at all.

I kid you not, this is a true story.

After speaking to his boss on the phone he said he could give us it at £7,000 trade price.

When we told him we were not going to make a decision straight away he was not happy, I could see him fight back the urge to say something, his new sales training still ringing in his ears no doubt.

So he left after two and a half hours.

I did feel sorry for the guy, but that’s not the end of the story.

The next day I got a call from the company saying that they said they will send a joiner out to remeasure our windows as they could give me a price at cost.

I told them that the young chap had already given me a cost price but they insisted they would give us ‘factory cost’….. is that even a thing??

So, I said yes but the joiner never turned up. They then called back and said they would arrange another joiner to come.

I said if the price was not nearer £3,000 then don’t bother (as this what I was told it should have cost) they said that was fine, but never called me back.

Phew! That is not a way to build trust with the customer.

It is hard enough to build trust, this was just a massive reversal of trust.

It makes me feel sorry for the companies out there that actually care about their customers as it makes it so much harder for them.

Want trust? Then care.

Before You Get a Marketing Audit for your Home Services Business, Do This

Are you looking for a marketing Audit?

It’s true that any marketing audits or campaigns involves some degree of risk; after all, not even the biggest agencies can guarantee you results (and if they do, you should avoid them!).

However, if you’re feeling anxious about what you can do to help ensure the best chance of success with your content or digital marketing strategy, I have a few key insights I can share.

From running an inbound marketing agency myself, I’ve seen some clients’ traffic, leads and sales skyrocket over just a few months; whereas I also get the odd client who seems to stumble in the early stages.

The reason for this? Well, it all seemed to depend on exactly how well they knew their ideal customers – in other words, their buyer personas.

Let me explain…

Why are buyer personas important?

Superwarm, one of our most successful clients, have simply gone from strength to strength, and after two years of inbound, their numbers are still reaching impressive new highs.

This is fantastic news, and I can say without a doubt that their success is due to the fact that the owner, John Carmichael, knows his customer base inside-and-out, having spent 20+ years visiting their homes and talking to them directly about their challenges and concerns.

From all his time spent with his customers, he knows the type of questions they are typing into Google, the type of boilers they are looking to buy, and what’s important to them when they make a purchase.

All of this information – and more – is the key that has helped him create some truly engaging, quality content that his buyer personas really appreciate; and if I’m honest, it’s put him miles ahead of his competitors.

If you’re thinking about hiring a digital marketing agency, one of the first things they should establish is how well you know your buyer personas.

TIP: For more information, take a look at my blog post ‘Stop Wasting Time on Poor Leads: The Importance of Buyer Personas’.

How to clearly define your buyer persona

So, by now you probably have an idea of what a buyer persona is; a semi-fictional representation of your best customer (or customers) that is based on as much information as you can possibly get your hands on.

But where’s the best place to start honing in on your buyer personas? Your customers, of course! (If you don’t currently have any, simply skip this section and move onto the next)

However, you can also get some very valuable information (such as the types of questions they ask, their challenges and concerns) from:

  • Your sales team
  • Your customer services team
  • Your prospects
  • The customers you didn’t convert

Let’s start with the obvious one, though – your customers!

I highly recommend thinking up some key questions you can ask your customers, before preferably calling them and setting up a time to talk. I usually find that if they were happy with your services, most will not object to a quick 5 – 10 minute phone call.

TIP: If you really can’t afford to spare the time, or your customers tend to be more responsive to email, sending out email surveys could be another option – just be aware some of them will go ignored.

Some of the questions you could ask your customers include:

  • Their age
  • Their job title and role
  • What their typical day looks like
  • Their hobbies/what they do in their free time
  • Which websites they spend the most time on
  • What their main challenges were before they made their purchase
  • How much research they did before they made their purchase
  • What their buying process looked like (where did they start, who did they consult)
  • What made them choose you over your competitors
  • Whether they are likely to purchase from you again
  • How they prefer to interact with companies/vendors
  • What they liked/didn’t like about your website

These are just a few questions that you’ll need to know from your customers when developing a detailed buyer personas to use in your content. Don’t stop there, though!

You should always be building on your buyer personas and adding to this valuable information every chance you get. You never know when will be the perfect time to put them to good use!

What if you’re a new business or startup?

Okay, if you’re just getting starting with your business or startup, it’s safe to say that you don’t have much of an established client base, so you can’t do any of the above.

So, what can you do?

Well, firstly, I’d advise you to try and build up some data before spending thousands on a new marketing campaign – and there are a few ways you can do that.

These include:

1. Interviewing potential buyers

Even if you don’t have a customer base, you probably have a good idea of at least the kind of customer you want to attract, and that’s your starting point.

By interviewing potential customers, you can ask them some questions to help better understand them – use some of the questions I outlined above to get you started, such as their challenges or problems, what would make them choose you, what might put them off etc.

2. Look at online reviews

Next up, online reviews are a potential goldmine for finding out all sorts of information about your buyer personas. For instance, if you’re selling a particular product, taking to sites such as Amazon to look at product reviews can help you learn a tonne of valuable insights.

Of course, this will really depend on what you’re selling; for example, if you’re selling services (perhaps you sell and install products, like hot-tubs or roofing), another good idea is to look at review sites such as TrustPilot and find out what people are saying about your competitors.

screen-shot-2016-11-04-at-15-41-43

Looking at what real-life people are saying about companies and services very similar to what you’re offering will really help you understand what makes your potential customers happy, and what mistakes you really need to avoid.

3. Pay attention to analytics tools

If you’re planning on doing PPC, you can often get some great data off the back of that, which will tell you more about your demographics and the people who are clicking on your ads.

screen-shot-2016-11-04-at-15-43-33

I’d also highly recommend setting up Google Analytics on your website to find out even more about your demographics – and doing the same on your Facebook page means you’ll soon be able to build up a much better picture of who is interested in your products/services.

4. Setup retargeting

Setting up retargeting on Google and Facebook means you can target specific ads that are only seen by people who have previously visited your website. Google will be able to tell you their likes, interests, websites they’ve visited, age etc. and you’ll get some very similar results from Facebook.

Doing this can help you gain an even better insight into the lives of your buyer personas, plus it’s only a fraction of the cost you’d pay for Adwords.

Of course, nothing actually compensates for actually speaking to these people in real life, and hearing this information straight from the horse’s mouth, as they say.

Just speaking to even one customer will tell you more than 10,000 visitors ever could; real people can accelerate your results by telling you exactly what they want, and what they’re thinking.

5. Try online testing websites

No customers to give you feedback on your shiny new website?

Some smart websites (such as UserTesting.com) have come up with an effective way around that, which can at least give you a better idea of what your potential customers will be thinking when they arrive on your website.

screen-shot-2016-11-04-at-15-44-32

All you have to do is stick in your URL, and someone will record themselves looking at your website and giving you their first impressions, so you can instantly see what visitors may like, and what aspects they may be struggling with.

You can even ask them to perform specific tasks, such as booking an appointment, ordering a specific product or even finding a page – just to see how easy it actually is.

Lots of services offer this, and I find these sites oh so valuable, as what may seem obvious to you, isn’t necessarily going to be obvious to someone visiting your website for the first time.

Conclusion

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading, and that you’ve found some of the tips in this blog valuable when developing buyer personas for your content or digital marketing strategy.

I’ve written about buyer personas in the past, but this blog was all about providing more actionable information you can really use to get the best results out of your marketing efforts.

Do you have any specific questions about developing your own buyer personas? Let me know in the comments, and I promise to reply!

How to Get Up To 120% More Leads From Your Website Forms

If you’re struggling to acquire more leads from your website, you’ll probably be interested in the story of how one company managed to increase their conversions by 120% – simply by reducing the amount of form fields on their contact us form!

The story, via Unbounce, also brings to light what most of us already know; your customers hate filling out forms, so why make their lives more difficult than they need to be?

Recently here at Stargazer, I delved into the depths of Edinburgh home improvement company websites to see what I could find, and contact us forms happened to be one of the areas that most home improvement companies were lagging behind on.

My job is to help them improve, which is why I’m going to give you some of my best tips and advice to help you get the results you need from your website’s contact us forms.

1. Reduce your form fields for instantly higher conversions

When I looked at how home improvement companies were using their websites to attract new leads and customers, I found that impressively, 92% were actively using contact us forms – however, only 24% of those displayed just three fields or less.

Does the above sound like you?

What if I told you something magical happens every time you reduce one of those fields? As a general rule of thumb, the fewer fields you have, the better; and research has proven that on average, conversions rates can be almost doubled when reducing your fields to three or less.

However, you also have to ensure you’re still getting all the relevant information you need – if that involves having an extra form field (for instance, a phone number), then include it. Just try to keep your number of form fields as low as possible without sacrificing the vital info you need.

For example, the company in the story mentioned above (Imagescape) increased their own conversions by 120% when reducing their fields from 11, down to four. In this particular case, narrowing it down to three could in fact be less beneficial – it’s all about what works for you.

TIP: Look for any unnecessary fields and ask yourself: do you really need them? For instance, if you’re asking for a business name AND a website address, could you just work out one from the other?

Let’s take a look at one example from Edinburgh City Plumbers:

screen-shot-2016-10-24-at-17-19-01

As you can see, the company has a grand total of 15 fields in their contact us form, including title, full name, property number, job type and postcode.

Are all these form fields even necessary? Probably not. In fact, I highly suspect Edinburgh City Plumbers could massively increase their conversions by taking a few of these out.

Another example is First Call Home Assist, also based in Edinburgh:

screen-shot-2016-10-24-at-17-22-48

Not only are they asking for the nature of enquiry, they’re also asking for a postcode, which may seem unnecessary at this stage – or not. To help narrow it down, First Call Assist could really benefit from including more specific touch points on their website (see point 4).

Including an asterix next to ‘nature of enquiry’ is also a tad confusing, as this isn’t really explained anywhere on the form.

2. Use A/B testing to always improve on your conversion rate

Your contact us forms are without a doubt the most important pages on your website in terms of conversions, which is why I always say start at your conversion point, and work your way backwards.

That’s why it’s important to always keeping testing your forms to ensure you’re constantly getting better at converting those valuable visitors into leads, and the best method of doing this is A/B testing; in other words, always testing two different variations of your form to see which wins.

You can use A/B testing on everything from your button copy, to the names of your forms fields, and even the colour and location of your buttons/form. The one rule of A/B testing: only ever change ONE thing at a time!

This is to ensure you know exactly which element has caused the increase in conversions; otherwise, if you change more than one thing, how will you know what’s worked and what hasn’t? You won’t, so next time you come to change something again, you could get mixed results.

However, what I would say is that if you have a lot of people submitting your form, limit the test to around 20% – 30% of your overall traffic.

TIP: Here are some of the best A/B testing tools available right now, along with some other great tips!

3. Make phone numbers optional – or remove them altogether

Typically, asking for an individual’s phone number on your contact us form tends to reduce conversions by about 5%, however, simply by adding the word ‘optional’ to this form, Expedia managed to increase their conversion rate from 42.6% to 80% – now that’s impressive!

My theory here (and also from personal experience) is that visitors hate the idea of giving out their number – after all, spam phone calls are an everyday annoyance and you never know who might end up calling you once you give your number out.

Again, it comes down to the question of whether their phone number is absolutely necessary. For each of your forms, ask yourself; do you need their phone number right now? If they’re subscribing your blog, probably not. If they need a quote, then 100% yes.

In which case, a small line of text underneath the field explaining exactly why you need their phone number could help alleviate any concerns, along with asking for the best time to call. One of our clients, Superwarm, have tried the latter to much success.

Monica Carmichael from Superwarm said: “It’s fantastic; enquiries come in, I call them back but before I was sitting first thing in the morning calling every single one, and out of around 10, I’d only ever end up speaking to about one person.

“Now, with the timeslot choices of either AM or PM, I can get a better idea of when someone will be able to speak to me. Mornings are perfect, but I feel defining PM to ‘afternoon’ or ‘evening’ would work even better.”

TIP: Another way to avoid putting people off is to have a small line underneath assuring them that you’ll never give their details out to other parties – just remember to test this, as there’s also the risk that this line could bring negative associations into the minds of your visitors.

4. Introduce multiple touch points to get more leads

Most of our own customers don’t actually come through a contact us form, which is why it’s a good idea to give your visitors multiple touch points where they can fill out their information to get what they want – whether that be a brochure, a helpful ebook, or a quote.

Think of it this way; most of the people who come through to your website won’t necessarily be ready to get in touch with you – many of them are looking for information, and if they can’t find that, they’ll leave without being any the wiser.

Here are just some examples of other touch points you could include on your website:

  • Get a quote
  • Request a call back
  • Download our brochure
  • Get your free ebook
  • Book a visit
  • Subscribe to the blog

TIP: Find out more about introducing touch points to your website via our handy blog on the topic.

5. Remove captchas to make forms more user-friendly

Finally, just because spam is your problem, doesn’t mean you should pass that onto your visitors. Including ‘captchas’ at the bottom of your form (you know, the ‘type out this 6-digit number to prove you’re not a robot’ box) can really put people off submitting their information.

Check out this example from Scott Findlay in Edinburgh:

screen-shot-2016-10-24-at-17-24-10

I can almost guarantee you that adding a captcha in your form is killing your conversions, as no-one wants to have to jump through hoops just to be able to contact you or get a quote – it’s just another hurdle stopping potential customers from getting in touch.

In fact, according to some research, removing a captcha from your forms could increase your conversions by around 3.2%.

TIP: I find HotJar is a great tool for checking how people are behaving on your contact us form; you can get loads of great insights, including where people are dropping out – try it and see!

Conclusion

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading the above tips, and remember, the fewer fields the better, but you should never be afraid to test those forms if you’re not getting the results you need – from personal experience, you’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain.

If you’re looking for more help on how to improve your website’s response rate and capture more leads for your business, feel free to leave a comment below, or get in touch with me directly – I’ll be happy to help.

5 Ideas for Marketing a Home Improvement Business Economically

Are you looking for budget-friendly ways of marketing a home improvement business?

If you’re running a small business, you’re probably looking out for smart ways to get the most out of your money when it comes to marketing – and you may be worried about throwing your budget down the drain with Google ads that just aren’t getting good enough results (if so, read this).

And as for home improvement lead generation companies – they can often provide poor quality leads that just aren’t always worth the money. Continue reading

Home Improvement Marketing Ideas: Attract 94% More Potential Leads

Are you looking for home improvement marketing ideas to help grow your business?

These days, content marketing has become one of the most effective ways to reach out and engage with new customers, and content that includes visuals gets up to 94% more views than content without.

The bottom line here? Images are a powerful way to get more out of your marketing. But how can home improvement companies best use this to their advantage? Continue reading

How Your Home Improvement Company Can Rise to the Top of Google Search

Are you wondering how you can boost your home improvement company’s Google search rankings?

You may see climbing to the top of Google as a must to help grow your business, but you’re not alone – that’s what makes it so difficult!

In fact, in all the years working as a digital marketer, this has got to be one of the biggest things I get asked about by home improvement companies just likes yours all the time! Continue reading

7 Key Ingredients for a Successful Home Improvement Company Website

Is your home improvement company’s website the absolute best it can be?

Here at Stargazer, I make a living helping home improvement companies just like yours get it right online; after all, your website can be your best salesperson – if you let it.

We’ve even written an in-depth guide listing 25 of the best website enhancements that will help fill your appointment book with new prospects and leads.

But what are the absolute must-have key ingredients for a home improvement website? Here are seven of the most important things you need to make your website a success: Continue reading

Home Improvement Sales: How to Educate Customers on Low Quotes

Is your home improvement business struggling to compete with super low quotes?

If your customers’ heads are being turned by companies offering the same services for a much cheaper price, you might start fretting about lost opportunities and not closing enough sales.

But how do you educate your customers on the dangers of accepting dirt cheap quotes?

Well, one way is to publish the dangers of low quotes on your website – the best place to educate your customers with helpful, informative content. Continue reading

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7 Facebook Marketing Tips for Home Improvement Companies

Is your home improvement business getting the most out of Facebook?

With 1.09 billion people logging onto Facebook every day, many companies are on there promoting and sharing their content to attract the attention of homeowners and potential new prospects.

In fact, around 77% of B2C businesses acquire customers from Facebook – a stat that proves it could be worth while investing a little bit of time in!

Perhaps you’ve already joined but are feeling disappointed with the levels of engagement you’ve seen so far, and are wondering if it’s actually worthwhile for acquiring new home improvement leads – or maybe you’re only just thinking of setting up your FB page for the first time and want to know where to start. Continue reading