iMarket Solutions Blog : Archive for the ‘Reputation Management’ Category

Limited Functionality for Google My Business

Friday, March 20th, 2020

Due to the impact that COVID-19 is having on local businesses, Google recently enforced several global limitations to their Google My Business platform. 

The official statement from Google can be found here, but we also wanted to highlight some of the key limitations that will be temporarily impacting businesses globally: 

  • Businesses will be unable to receive new customer reviews
  • Businesses will be unable to respond to any existing reviews
  • No new Q & A will be published to Google My Business
  • Google is prioritizing reviews for edits critical to health-related businesses 
  • Google’s support team will manually review new listings, claims, and verifications for critical health-related businesses. If you have a new profile, you may experience delays in the verification process. 
  • There will be delays in general Google My Business support as they prioritize critical services

iMarket is closely monitoring the situation with Google My Business and will keep our clients apprised of updates and any impact to their businesses.

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How to Respond to Online Reviews

Wednesday, March 11th, 2020

You’re a business owner, so the concept of customers leaving reviews about your work is no foreign concept to you, but it’s time to ask yourself a question: do you really know how to respond to these reviews?

You might think you’re doing fine with the positive reviews you receive, but you’re stumped when it comes to negative reviews. Maybe you’re one of those people who just feel a little unsure about the entire process. Luckily for you, we’ve got tips that are going to make you seem like an expert!

Responding to online reviews is crucial, but it doesn’t have to be daunting. At iMarket Solutions, we have a team specializing in review management for contractors and we’ll help you understand everything you need to know.  

The Value of Online Reviews

As you know, the Internet has changed the way consumers interact with the HVAC and Plumbing industries. Previously, word-of-mouth moved business. Word-of-mouth is still important, and as of 2017, about 93% of consumers rely on online reviews to inform their purchase decisions. Moreover, about 97% of people read reviews for local businesses when looking for systems or services. These types of statistics are impactful, so you need to make sure the online reviews you receive reflect your business accurately, and if they don’t, you know how to address them properly.

Online reviews have SEO value too. The reviews you receive across platforms have a direct impact on your SEO results, the visibility of your website, and your leads and customer conversions too. Over time, your positive reviews can boost your online presence and bad reviews can weigh it down. So now that you understand the varying importance of reviews, let’s get into how to handle them!

The Good, the Bad, and How to Handle Both

The world of reviews is often a puzzling one, but we’re here to guide you through what you need to know.

Let’s start with the best-case situation—your customer leaves you a glittering 5-star review. You’re ecstatic… but you don’t want to leave them hanging… what’s the right way to respond?

  1. Show Some Appreciation: We can really focus on the negative when it comes to review management but it’s important to acknowledge the positive too. If your customer showed you some appreciation, then make sure you acknowledge this and show them you’re grateful.
  2. Acknowledge Them (by name is best!): It’s always best to acknowledge a customer by name. If the customer’s name is available, make sure you use it in your greeting. A generic “hi,” “hello,” or “hey there” should only be your go-to if the username is clearly not the customer’s actual name.
  3. Make Things Easy for Your Customers: Dropping in a mention of your service area or phone number is great for your SEO value and it makes it easy for any potential customers searching your reviews online to see they’re in your service area and contact you at a glance.

So what does this look like? Here’s an example:

Hi [Customer Name],

We appreciate you taking the time to share your experience with us! We’re so happy we were able to come out and service your air conditioner. We loved what you had to say about our technicians and the work we performed. We’re so glad to hear you’re satisfied with our performance and response times. It’s customers like you that allow us to continually improve our business.

We look forward to helping you and other homeowners just like you in [Service Area]. Feel free to reach out to us again. You can always reach us at XXX-XXX-XXXX.”

Now, let’s cover something a little less pleasant—the dreaded negative review. There’s no need to panic. We understand this is quite the stress inducing situation, but it doesn’t have to be when you have the right knowledge and resources. Here’s a quick rundown of the best steps to take:

  1. Gather Yourself: You’ve just read a pretty harsh review and it might leave you a little flustered. Take a moment to gather yourself before you even think of responding. Trying to craft a reply when you’re in the heat of the moment isn’t wise. You want to be as level-headed as possible when your fingers hit the keyboard. So take a minute to gather your facts: read the review, gather your thoughts, and note all the pertinent information (date of service, technician sent to the job, service rendered, etc.) you need.
  2. Thank Your Customer: We know it might seem a little counterintuitive to thank a customer for giving you a negative review, but it’s a great way to de-escalate the situation. Additionally, if you’re really looking at things with a glass-half-full attitude, a negative review is the starting point for an in-depth assessment of your business.
  3. Address the Legitimate Concerns: Sometimes customers can be downright incendiary when they’re frustrated—don’t fall into the trap of becoming reactionary. Instead, make sure you’re only addressing what’s relevant and taking the necessary steps to undo any wrongs. Additionally, you never want to ask a customer to take a review down.

If the claims they’ve made are baseless, then there are steps you can take to get this review taken down but asking the customer to do so could quickly escalate the situation into a hostile one. Instead, you can address the situation and ask the individual for an update on their post after they’re satisfied. Alternatively, you can respond to the post on your own after you fully resolve the situation.

  1. Help Them Get in Contact with You: You want to mention your service area, phone number, and even an email for your customer to get in touch with your team. This serves a different purpose than it does when you drop in these details in response to a positive review. When you put these details in a negative review, it’s going to help the customer leaving the review get in touch with you as easily as possible.
  2.  Keep It Short and Sweet: Make sure you’re not rambling on when you reply to a review. You want to address what’s relevant, present your case, and wrap it up. Don’t try to make excuses—just handle what you can and allow the customer to make the next step.

Here’s an illustration of what this could look like:

Hello [Customer Name],

We’re sorry to hear about this less than satisfactory experience, but we’re grateful you wrote this review and brought this misstep to our attention. We understand your frustrations and agree this is unacceptable.

It’s important to us that we always provide great service, so we’d like to rectify this situation as soon as possible. We’ll reach out today, or you can contact us directly at XXX-XXX-XXXX or [email] if this is more convenient.”

The Takeaway

Responding to reviews can seem a little difficult, but it’s a necessary part of managing your online reputation. Keeping all the things we’ve mentioned above in mind is what’s going to help you overall. Once you have a few helpful tips in the back of your mind and a concrete plan of action to handle future reviews, things won’t seem so scary. You’ll craft your own voice and style in these situations over time, but the tips we’ve listed above are the basics to any great review management approach. Make sure you learn from your successes, mistakes, and ask for help from our review management specialists when you need it.

Learn more about our review management services and more by contacting iMarket Solutions today. We are dedicated to contractor success!

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Digital Marketing Do’s and Don’ts for Contractors

Wednesday, January 29th, 2020

Hate it or love it—marketing, specifically digital marketing, can be a powerful tool in growing your business. It can also be confusing, overwhelming, infuriating, and feel like a waste of money!

This may seem like a crazy thing for a marketing company to tell you, but advertising spend absolutely can seem like a waste of money if you don’t have the leadership and business model to support that growth.

The sad truth is, most of the contractors we work with come to the table with some horror story about a vendor or medium they’ve used in the past. Comments like “I’ll never do PPC again, Yelp is nothing a racket, Social Media is a waste” often stems from a lack of transparency, poor delivery, or push for more spend.

If you want to grow your business, you have to market your company. However, if you want to reduce your marketing cost and improve your marketing performance you have to optimize your strategy. As specialists in digital marketing for contractors, iMarket Solutions is interested in being your partner in this process.

A vendor might promise you an easy, “set it and forget it” marketing plan, but a partner will create opportunities for education, training, and growth. When you’re in a partnership with iMarket, our specialists invest in your evolution. 

We believe a successful marketing model is a three part approach

External Marketing & Advertising (The Megaphone for Your Brand)

  • Brand consistency across all campaigns
  • Digital marketing trends applied to your industry

Internal Marketing (Internal Communications and Leadership)

  • Training opportunities
  • Business coaching

Operation Marketing (Business Processes that Support Lead Conversion)

  • Service agreement growth
  • Call handling

The right marketing partner is going to bring harmony to all three legs of the marketing model—advertising and external marketing cannot stand strong without the support of the other two legs.

Investing in the New Age Digital Market

Digital marketing has completely transformed the way that consumers engage with a business. For example, did you know that 46% of consumers say a website is the biggest determinant of whether they trust a company or not? The Internet is an incredible force. If you’re wondering why you should take the time to invest in this new age digital marketing landscape, here are three key reasons:

1.      Maintain Your Brand and Reputation

If you’re a contractor then you know that word of mouth is paramount. When directories went online, one of the biggest changes was the increase in real estate. Traditional word of mouth- spreading from one person to another- can now be massively amplified to huge audiences in a matter of seconds. 71% of consumers who have a good social media experience with a brand are likely to recommend your service to others.

2.      Acquire New Customers

Digital marketing allows you to study the rankings and campaigns used by your competitors, establish the best opportunities for visibility, and build your audience in the markets that matetr most! We can help you tap in to demand and search data to saturate results pages within your service areas. We can even utilize content marketing through social media and SEO to build your audience in new towns and cities.

3.      Engage with Your Current Customers

This is one area that many contractors overlook. You shouldn’t think about this as “paying for customers you already have.” We know that you want new customers but losing sight of your current customers means that they’ll become your competitors’ new customers. In fact, an estimated 20% of branded searches are lost to competitors when searching online. Direct interaction with your customer base keeps your brand in center focus, and is yet another opportunity to collect data to maximize conversions and increase customers’ lifetime value.

Let’s Talk Strategy

So now you understand the marketing model and why it’s so important to invest in the digital marketing world… but how does all of this apply to optimizing your digital marketing strategy? 

The Do’s

DO align your marketing plan with your financial plan

It  is not easy to create a profitable, growing company. A major consideration in creating a profitable company is marketing “overspend”. Different authorities say very different things (3- 5%, 8%, others may push 10% or in many cases more). 

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer, but we can point you in the right direction with the following guidelines:

  • Set annual marketing goals to support your company’s budget and growth
  • Conduct monthly lead planning with marketing mediums mapped to lead funnel
  • Identify how you’ll measure results—choose a method and stick to it
  • Focus on reducing your Marketing Cost %, instead of focusing on your Marketing Spend $

DO maximize conversion with customer segmentation

Segmentation is key for conversion and optimizing your marketing ROI, data is key for segmentation.It’s important to How can you apply this data to optimize your strategy?

  • Make sure you’re gathering valuable information like emails and continuously growing your list. “Data-tize” by evaluating your customer database by demographic (household income), geographic (location), psychographic (lifestyle), and behavioral (needs) measurements. 

Maximize the effectiveness of manipulations (discounts, deals) where it is most likely to maximize conversion with targeted manipulation: Have you ever shopped online, put something in your cart, exited out of the tab, and then received an email from the company a short while later prompting you to complete the purchase? 

  • Strategic outreach: It makes perfect sense that is a homeowner previously had a positive experience with your brand they are likely to think of you the next time they need your service. Don’t wait for them, use data to drive your segmentation and take action with strategic outreach. 

DO understand the value of multi-channel marketing

Don’t limit your visibility and potential engagement online! It’s important to keep the following in mind:

  • Recognize that 67% of all customers use at least 2 channels before converting
  • Focus on campaign conversion vs. channel attribution
  • Understand the purpose of each and plan for multiple channels in your marketing budget

DO focus on local partnerships and brand awareness

Digital users in your local area are more likely to engage with your company online if they recognize you from real life.

  • Consistently participate in your community—integrate marketing with traditional and digital to create authenticity. Your digital users come from your local area, so make sure you’re engaging with them in real life as well.
  • Establish local partnerships and affiliations for powerful cross-marketing campaigns.

DO ensure consistency with internal marketing

It’s important to ensure that you’re consistent with internal alignment through the following methods:

  • Educate your team on your marketing goals and campaigns.
  • Develop a culture committed to operational excellence. Make sure that everyone on your team is helpful, responsive, and compassionate so that you can instill trust in your customers.
  • Find ways to demonstrate your values and brand. Think of ways that you can demonstrate your story and let customers know who you are. 

The Don’ts

Don’t undervalue your current customer base

It’s crucial to remember that digital marketing isn’t just for new lead generation. If you don’t value your current customers, they’ll end up going elsewhere, so keep the following in mind:

  • Prioritize and grow your service agreement membership
    • If you want to decrease your lead generation cost and prepare your business for shoulder seasons you MUST prioritize the growth of your service agreement membership. 
  • Create a community of customers—engagement and brand loyalty
    • The key difference between companies that grow and companies that don’t is customer retention. Make sure that you’re staying in touch with your current customers and using defensive and engagement tactics like branded PPC, email marketing, and social media.
  • Focus on share-of-wallet during low-demand season
    • Train your team on the value of complementary products and services that you can market to your current customer base like upgrades, IAQ accessories, etc.

Don’t forget to tell your story

A whopping 70% of consumers want to learn about products through content as opposed to traditional ad methods. You can tell your story by doing the following:

  • Differentiate yourself—when it comes to brand promises you have to level the playing field but it’s important that you always focus on what makes you unique. Talk about your involvement in the community or how long you’ve been in business.
  • Constantly source new visual content—an image or video is worth 1,000 words. Your clients want to feel connected to you. Share content of your team members, shots of your holiday parties, team gatherings, and daily operation.

Digital marketing doesn’t have to be a hassle. You can contact our professionals at iMarket Solutions for the expertise that you need. We’re here to ensure that you’re successful in all realms of digital marketing. We’re dedicated to contractor success. 

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Building Brand Reputation and Improving SEO

Tuesday, November 26th, 2019

If you’re not already familiar, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization—the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results (Moz.com). The real question is, what does this have to do with brand reputation?

In the traditional digital marketing agency setup, these are two entirely different entities, but could disassociating these two key areas be a mistake? We certainly think so! In fact, as part of our dedication to contractor success, iMarket Solutions is in the process of aligning these two departments into one. But, why?

Over Half of All Website Visits Come From Organic Search

We’ve discovered that 57% of all traffic in the HVAC and plumbing industries comes from organic search versus all other marketing platforms combined.

That is an average of 13,795 website visitors per year.

Realistically, you will find that a large portion—about 70%–of these searchers never intend to convert, whether that traffic is coming from your blog, outside your service area, or it’s just a web user doing some research.

If we remove this traffic from the picture, we’re still left with a little over 4,000 users in a year’s time, and with the average qualified conversion rate that means about 1,000 qualified leads in that time. This is a solid number of course, but what if you could achieve even more?

What If Your Organic Search Results Showed a Different Picture?

It’s not enough for your business to just show up in organic search results. Your business must be portrayed in the right way, which we’ll delve into more detail about in the 5 tips below.

Nearly half of U.S. adults, according to a survey conducted on behalf of BrandYourself.com, use an internet search to learn more about a business before moving forward with a purchase, particularly in the service industry. From that survey, 45% of respondents say those search results made them decide not to work with a business—nearly 1/4th of all searchers actively claim their decisions are swayed by social cues!

56% of respondents found the information they saw in search results solidified their decision to work with a business, showing that consumers are more swayed by positive results than they are put off by negative results—but you have to have a convincing positive search presence otherwise you’ll miss out on a large chunk of your potential audience that needs your service.

A Strong Reputation Will Have a Greater Impact on Your Bottom Line

What is your company’s current reputation? You can start figuring this out by doing a search on your own to uncover review ratings, 3rd party review websites, social media profiles and more. You may find something about your company that looks off, or represent areas of opportunity.

You should also look at your competitors that come up and take a look at the “people also searched for” section to get a grasp of where your focus should be when attempting to improve your brand reputation. This reputation won’t be built or rebuilt overnight—we don’t have the magic bullet, nobody does—but the tips shared below provide long-term solutions that any contracting business can adopt.

As you read through these, keep in mind your budget, how much time and resources you’re willing to spend on reputation improvements, what areas need the most improvement and where you can start to make the biggest impact.

Tip #1: Understand Your Brand

The first step is often the hardest, and there’s no exception here. Many brands are lost when it comes to their branding, and buyers are intuitive—if your brand isn’t genuine, customers will pick up on it. You must understand your purpose and commit to it. This starts with knowing your “why.”

This concept is illustrated by author Simon Sinek in his TED talk as well as his book, “Start with Why.” We encourage you to check this out, and also inquire about iMarket Solutions’ full business workshop. Once you know your “why,” you’ll want to connect to your vision, or where you want to be as a company. Your question should be about how you can influence customers to choose your business over the dozens, if not hundreds of other options they have.

We could talk all day just on this topic, but we encourage you to reach out to our team for more information!

Tip #2: Get Involved in the Community!

Community involvement doesn’t have to be complicated. For instance, one of our clients does an annual blanket drive in order to support their local church and community, bringing positive attention to their brand. They’ve been doing this for 6 years now, and over 30% of their online reviews mention compliments such as how their techs are considered family, and how they’re friendly, polite and courteous.

Of course, not all these results may come from the company’s community involvement, but by focusing on efforts like this, you’ll show you live by your values and purpose. And an increase in buzz from trustworthy resources helps increase your website’s level of trust in Google’s eyes, helping your website rank higher over time for competitive keywords. This is true for recent events as well as older events—if you participated in a community event in the past, try to get the organization to link back to your site.

Tip #3: Use Your Website as More Than a Platform for Describing Services

Your website can and should be so much more than just a brochure of your products and services—in fact it’s one of your most powerful tools for marketing, setting the tone for your company and customers’ perception of your brand.

Relevant information on your site that sets your business apart includes things like:

  • What your team is about—what sort of training, certifications, and background checks do they receive? Are there visuals on your site of your team at work?
  • Community involvement and partnerships, including brand partnerships.
  • Unique service offerings.
  • Photos and other tidbits that engage your customers.

If there’s anything you can take away from this, we’d want it to be that your website content is vitally important in building a strong reputation that improves search rankings.

Tip #4: Own Your Brand Narrative

Google doubles as both a search engine and a review resource, so it’s important to ensure it’s optimized from both angles. You want to take charge of the narrative going on here, as well as other common review platforms like Yelp, Angie’s List, Better Business Bureau, Facebook, and HomeAdvisor.

Of course, you’ll never have direct control over these properties, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. How? By asking your trusted customers to leave reviews, particularly on Google My Business. 

That said, you cannot offer incentives for these reviews—we suggest strict adherence to Google’s guidelines regarding this matter—, but you can work on building a strategy to request and respond to reviews. Seriously, respond to every single review you get to address the feedback you’re receiving, whether it’s positive or negative. When done in a tactful way, this will help increase trust in not only your customers’ eyes, but in Google’s eyes as well.

Tip #5: Listen to Your Customers

This goes beyond looking at the feedback you’re receiving through reviews—though this is part of the process. There are other areas where your customers are talking—listen to recorded phone calls, read through your form submissions, review Google messages, and take note of chat conversations to get an idea of how your brand and reputation are being perceived.

Engage with your customers, your employees, and even your close friends and family to see what they think of your brand, to get a better idea of how your company is perceived.

Remember, even the smallest shift toward improving your company’s reputation will begin to show in the way customers perceive and interact with your brand and marketing. We urge you to start from a place of understanding for your brand, and a partnership with a marketing agency that understands your specific business needs and opportunities.

Contact iMarket Solutions to learn more about our comprehensive digital marketing products for contractors. Our purpose is to be dedicated to contractor success. Everything we do is informed by this purpose.

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Why Should Contractors Utilize Digital Marketing?

Wednesday, September 25th, 2019

When it comes to getting your name out there and converting local homeowners into loyal customers, there are many marketing methods that can help you along. Creating the right overall marketing strategy is an essential part in helping your contracting business grow. These days, this means creating a solid digital marketing strategy.

Digital marketing is, in the simplest terms, the marketing of your products and services using digital technologies, both on the internet and other forms of digital media. In the last few decades, digital marketing has drastically changed the way brands and businesses utilize technology in their marketing efforts.

At iMarket Solutions, we are dedicated to contractor success. This means we believe in helping contractors form a reputable digital footprint in today’s online and mobile environment. This isn’t optional anymore—it’s what your contracting business needs to separate itself from your competitors. What exactly does this look like?

The Benefits of Digital Marketing for Contractors

Today’s consumers are increasingly becoming more mobile and web-based than ever before. Sure, marketing efforts such as advertising products and services through direct mail, or from a booth at a home or trade show is still valuable. But, to truly reach homeowners and even business owners where they’re at, you need to be visible online. There are a number of benefits to this, including:

Brand Development: A beautifully designed website, reputable social media presence, and solid online reviews are just a few of the ways you can garner attention for your contracting business. Building a brand from the ground up, or even entering a new vertical, can be overwhelming. But with the right support, you can quickly gain leads and conversions.

Lead Generation: If you want to enable your business to create enormous traffic and subsequent sales and conversion, the best way to do so is with digital marketing. Digital agencies can bring in leads through content marketing, email and social media marketing, optimized web forms, A/B testing, and more.

Low Cost, High ROI: Marketing and advertising your brand is one of the biggest financial burdens you’ll never need to take on. But marketing through digital platforms provides you with an affordable alternative to traditional marketing such as cold calling or advertising in magazines and direct mail. The best part is, digital marketing offers a substantial return on investment.

Reputation: The idea behind a careful digital marketing strategy is to gain the attention of potential customers and current customers long enough to build a credible reputation that keeps them coming back. Online reviews, social media presence, and how your company communicates using these digital mediums can help build and maintain a great company reputation in the communities you serve.

Our Comprehensive Products

Not all digital marketing products are right for each and every contractor. It’s important that you work with a qualified team with a specialty in marketing for contractors to determine the best strategy for your specific needs as a contracting business. Contact a member of our team today to learn more about any of the following services we provide!

  • Website Design
  • Digital Brand Management with SEO
  • Review Generation & Management
  • Email Marketing
  • Social Media Management
  • Search Engine Marketing
  • Local Services by Google Support
  • Remarketing
  • Live Chat

“How Can I Get Started?”

Digital marketing can seem overwhelming to a contractor who’s never had a solid online presence. Fortunately, that’s what iMarket Solutions is here for. Getting started with digital marketing means first creating a well-designed website with great, unique content and a strong town-by-town strategy for your service areas—and ensuring that the whole site provides a positive user experience.

Or rather, it means contacting a digital agency with the purpose of delivering HVAC, plumbing, and electrical contracting businesses with the best solutions for their digital marketing strategy to design that website. And your company’s website is just the beginning!

iMarket Co-Owner and Co-Founder Gary Elekes has found that the contractors with the most successful digital strategies have followed this model for getting started in digital marketing:

  • Have your provider publish blog posts at least 1-2 times each month.
  • Encourage and drive customer reviews as much as you can to all review engines—not just Google.
  • Get busy with collecting emails, and launch a solid email campaign strategy that targets existing customers.
  • Tie in your social media accounts with a strategy for community and cause marketing, using Facebook ads, Facebook posts, Instagram posts, and Retargeting.
  • Check to see if Local Services by Google is available in your area, and if it is, don’t wait! Sign up, get vetted, and tie in your ads to your customer reviews.
  • Invest in a paid search model through Google paid ads.

Gary Elekes Co–Founded iMarket Solutions in 2010 with Andrew Allen. Gary is also the Founder and CEO of EPC Equity, a private equity group established to acquire, operate, and grow businesses in the home services trade. Additionally, Gary serves as President of EPC, Inc., EPC Training, Inc., two companies he has sold to EGIA and operates them for EGIA.  He still maintains and operates EPC Consulting independently, and has also been an active contractor since 2002, currently owning and operating HVAC and Plumbing companies in Arizona.

To learn more about how to get started, simply reach out to our team. We’ve been working with contractors for years, and we understand the unique needs you face when getting your name out and attracting leads.

iMarket Solutions is your resource for leading digital solutions. Please allow us to assess your current digital strategy and see where your lead opportunities are. Contact us today!

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How Online Reviews Help Your SEO

Tuesday, April 30th, 2019

There are a number of factors that go into having a successful digital presence for your contracting business. Is your website responsive? Are your landing pages optimized? Do you have social media accounts? Perhaps most importantly, what do your online reviews look like?

It’s no secret that this type of “word of mouth” advertising is still very important. This is perhaps even truer, now that people can find information about your business within seconds with a simple click of a mouse. Google My Business heavily impacts the relationship between online reviews and your SEO efforts—what does this mean for you?

Google My Business Is More than Just a Business Listing

Google My Business helps contractors reach and engage with local customers through Google Search and Google Maps. Because Google owns the platform, they’re going to put the most weight on reviews that come through it.

Google’s Official Stance

Last year, Google published a revised version of their 164-page set of Search Rating Guidelines, which helps human “quality raters” evaluate online content. This includes website, landing page, and overall online business content. The raters then provide feedback to Google in order to enhance their search algorithm.

There are specific factors they look for, and rate on a scale of 1-5 (with 1 being the lowest and 5 being the highest), based on what online visitors like to see and want to see. The overall ratings determine the E-A-T of any given search result that comes up.

What Is E-A-T?

E-A-T stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. The search ratings measure this as well as the web pages’ reputation. Usually, if one is high the other is high. This is the good and the bad news. Your business’s E-A-T score and reputation may be high and allow your reviews to show up on page one of Google. But, if you have bad reviews then it can work against you.

If this happens, you want to put focus on improving the review score on that particular platform, whether it is Google My Business, Facebook, BBB, Yelp, or Home Advisor. We encourage contractors to invest the resources necessary to respond to and monitor your company reviews. This may mean providing internal training to your staff, and even adopting a review generation platform of your own.

“Should I Respond to Bad Reviews?”

This is a common question, and the short answer is “yes.” But only if you do so in the right way. It is possible, if you respond to an unhappy customer who left a bad review in an amicable way, that they may update or remove their review. You also have the option to ask the customer to do so after a problem has been resolved.

After all, a bad review may have come as a result of a misunderstanding, or it’s something you can or already were able to correct. The best case scenario is that a customer will edit their bad review after coming to a satisfactory resolution. However, you want to be careful to not be too aggressive about it.

Another option is, instead of asking the customer to remove or edit their review, is to work on crafting the perfect response to negative reviews. For instance, you can respond to an initial review by acknowledging the customer had a problem, and encouraging them to contact you privately. Once the situation is resolved, you can go back to the review and leave a response such as:

“Hi [name], per our offline discussion, we were able to remedy this situation. We look forward to doing business with you in the future.”

What this does for you is it shows potential customers and 3rd parties that even though a customer had a bad experience, you as the company owner addressed their concerns, and you care about the service you provide.

Reviews Have a Direct Impact on SEO and Site Visibility

The reviews you receive on the various review platforms have a direct impact on your SEO results, site visibility, and, as a result, your leads and customer conversions. This trend is very likely to continue, particularly when you consider the amount of work and resources Google has put into this facet of their local search engine guidelines over the past few years. The longer you wait to invest the resources needed in managing your business reviews and reputation, the more likely it is you’ll fall behind some of your local competitors.

iMarket Solutions provides a full suite of contractor marketing products, including SEO for contractors and reputation management. Contact us today to learn more.  

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Get Started with Facebook Professional Services for HVAC / Plumbing

Monday, January 11th, 2016

Could you please review us on Facebook? Make sure that your employees know that phrase by heart. Facebook has softly launched a new adaptation for their users called Facebook Professional Services. This new section of Facebook is adapting best practices from other direct competitors such as Yelp, Angie’s List, Google+, and Home Advisor, to provide personalized recommendations from your Facebook friends.

The evidence is clear why both Plumbing and HVAC companies must engage with third-party review sites. Consumers rely on the experiences of others when deciding if your business is worth working with. Since 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, Facebook’s new Professional Services section is leveraging this insight by turning online reviews into personal recommendations in order to help customers make decisions.

Facebook Professional Services has already segmented a large amount of different categories in their local search platform ranging from “Photographers” to “Heating, Ventilating & Air Conditioning” and “Plumbing.” What’s more, the user’s location is automatically detected by IP address.

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Once a user conducts a search, Facebook pulls the most relevant information. In each search result, there will be snippet with the following information:

  • Business Name
  • Logo
  • Rating (star & quantity)
  • “Short Description” associated with page
  • Phone
  • Hours of Operation
  • Address
  • Detailed Review

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Should Your Plumbing or HVAC Business Be on This New Platform?

Yes, absolutely! But the challenge comes down to two points:

  • What businesses are eligible for Facebook Professional Services?
  • How does Facebook’s algorithm determine the ranking order of results?

It’s not clear how many customers use this review engine. Facebook has been incrementally innovating their platform to provide the best user experience, so it will be interesting to see how they use this information. At the moment, it’s hard to say how this platform compares to its competitors, such as Google and Yelp.

How Do I List My Business on Facebook Professional Services

Since this is a soft launch and there is no official information, you’ll have to experiment with it yourself. But the guide below is based upon common optimization traits that I have noticed among our clients currently listed on Facebook Professional Services. 

  1. Since this is a search engine designed around local businesses, claim your page as a “Local Business or Place.”
  2. Make sure that the category listed in “Page Info” matches the directory. For example: Search Category = Home Improvement > Plumber should match Page Category = Local Businesses > Home Improvement + Subcategories = Plumber.
  3. Complete your profile. Use keywords (e.g. plumbing, plumber, plumbers, etc.) to help Facebook determine what kind of business you are.
  4. Let your customers know that you’re on Facebook so that you can begin gathering reviews. The quantity of reviews has been a major factor across all third-party review websites, so I wouldn’t accept anything less from Facebook Professional Services platform.

One of the most difficult challenges that most Plumbers and HVAC companies struggle with is review generation. That’s why we developed Recommend Me, an easy-to-use application that integrates reviews into your website and directs your happiest customers to share their experience at third party review sites (such as Facebook Professional Services, Yelp, Google+, etc.).

Our Reputation Specialists are here to assist you towards increasing your online reviews and improving your reputation. Let’s prove that your business is worth working with. Call us today to learn more 800-727-3920.

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How Generating Reviews for HVAC / Plumbing Impacts Leads and ROI

Tuesday, April 21st, 2015

How Generating Reviews for HVAC / Plumbing Impacts Leads and ROI

The consumer decision process is notoriously complex. But with some guided marketing assistance and insights to how the consumer thinks, your HVAC or plumbing company can develop a trustworthy business that showcases positive customer experiences. By integrating social influence into your marketing strategy, reviews and testimonials can help increase your lead flow and conversion rates.

To take advantage of social influence, we must look into how a consumer researches and evaluates their purchasing decision. This consumer behavior buying process can be broken down into 5 steps.

  1. Need Recognition
  2. Information Search
  3. Alternative Evaluation
  4. Purchase Decision
  5. Post-Purchase Behavior

Need recognition can be one of the most urgent and timely steps. Being in the HVAC or plumbing industry, “Need Recognition” can quickly become an urgent situation. Both HVAC / plumbing industries have similar audiences since both products are usually out of sight and out of mind making our products a low priority until it becomes an “emergency”.

39% of consumers search online for local businesses at least once a month.

 

Once customers have recognized their need, the “Information Search” process triggers. With abundant ways to discover information, a customer must utilize internal and external avenues to conduct their research. Information can be easily transferred from something as simple as a personal referral or consulting an online review website.

Information Search is the most crucial step towards influencing a purchase. After addressing internal influences, most users will rely on external factors. External factors consist of online reviews, media, word-of-mouth, opinion leaders and personal referrals.

72% of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more

 

Since the HVAC and Plumbing industries are a specialty profession, customers usually will have little knowledge of our services, thus it’s difficult for them to gauge a perceived value. This is one reason why our industry must focus on building brand affinity and brand loyalty to help build trust through our other customers’ experiences (i.e. reviews / testimonials).

88% read reviews to determine the quality of a local business

 

In a recent study on the impact of online reviews on revenue, the Harvard Business Review found that as simple as a 1-star increase can lead up to a 9% increase in revenue in the restaurant industry. What’s more, the study also found a large difference in user preference of which business the consumer chose to work with based on a company’s online rating.

92% of users will use a local business if it has a 4 star rating.

Only 13% of users will use a local business if it has a 1 star rating.

 

There are numerous ways to build trust and exhibit your customer’s positive experiences. One of the main factors in developing your online reputation starts with having an HVAC / Plumbing Review Generation strategy in place. Just asking for a review is not enough to succeed. With 57% of consumers visiting a local business website after reading a positive review, your strategy must embody multiple media such as Yelp, Google +, Facebook, as well as the testimonials on your website.

 

Interesting online review statistics

  • Only 12% of consumers said they take no notice of online reviews (down from 17% in 2012)

  • Word of mouth (i.e. reviews) remains the primary route for recommending a local business (72%)

  • 57% have searched online for a local business more than 6 times / year

  • 85% of consumers say they read up to 10 reviews (2014)

Interested in increasing your online reviews? Give us a call at 1-800-727-3920 and let’s discuss how Recommend Me can impact your company’s lead flow.

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Responding to Online Reviews

Monday, April 20th, 2015

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In a recent Harris survey, the study found that only 68% of negative reviews receive a response. What’s more, out of that batch of negative reviews, 18% of reviewers reversed their opinion and became loyal brand advocates. Why? It’s all in your response. When your HVAC or plumbing company receives an online review, responding to this review is crucial to developing rapport. Yet in the end, it’s how you respond to that review that makes the difference.  Responding to reviews  is integral to managing your online reputation, absorbing feedback and praising or winning back customers.

On average, loyal customers are worth up to 10 times as much as their first purchase.
Source: White House Office of Consumer Affairs

Positive Reviews

When you receive that first rave review, it might be easy to just skip a response. However, at least take the time to thank the customer for the review. Acknowledging that they took time to share their experience with a simple thank you can go a long way. Customers have to feel empowered to write a review of your company, so don’t let that energy go to waste.

Responding to positive reviews can be broken down into 4 steps.

                                                          Acknolwedge + Listen + Praise + Follow-up                                                             

Here is an example response to a positive review: “Thank you for sharing your experience with our team. We’re glad we were able to get your system up and running again. We greatly appreciate your support and hope to continue working with you. If you need anything for the future, please let us know and we would be happy to help.”

The sample response above is short and simple.

  • Acknowledges the customer and thanks the customer for the reviews. 
  • Listens to their praise / concerns to address what work was completed.
  • Praises the customer for supporting the business.
  • Follows-up with the customer for any future questions or concerns.

Negative Reviews

Did you know that that only 4% of dissatisfied customers will voice their opinion? When you receive your first negative review, it might be daunting to think about how to respond. Negative reviews can be dealt with in a couple of steps. Start by stepping away from the review. When a negative review first comes in, it is easy to get defensive. Take a breather, and then take a look at what the review says.

Acknowledge the customer and their review. Whether or not you agree with the customer, it is a best practice to sometimes take the high road in situations like this. How you respond to a review is just another factor in how people evaluate your business. Public responses can reveal a lot about how you deal with both positive and negative situations.

There is always an opportunity to make things right. A good tip is to take the resolution offline. Ask the customer to call or reach out to you for further customer service. By discussing the issue offline you hopefully will not keep a public record of your conversation.

Responding to negative reviews can be broken down into 3 steps.

Acknowledge + Listen/Feedback + Follow-up

A good example of a negative review response is:

“We apologize for your negative experience with our team. We understand your frustration with the service provided. We take all of our reviews as feedback on how to improve our business. It is not our intention to provide such an experience.

We want to make things right for you. If you could give me a call at 123-456-7890, I would like to speak with you further regarding this matter. Thank you.”

The sample response above is short and simple.

  •   Acknowledges the customer for the review.
  •  Listens to their feedback and concerns to show empathy towards the situation.
  • Follows-up with the customer to remedy the situation.

If further information is needed, or if you want to speak with the customer, reach out privately and ask them to contact you directly. This demonstrates to the customer that you are genuinely concerned about the matter and want to make things right.

Not every situation can be resolved with a response or private message. Some customers might be stubborn about the situation and not respond; some reviews might even contain false information. By responding even to negative reviews, other reviewers see that you genuinely care about keeping your customers happy.” or something along those lines.

If you do see a false or fictitious review, you can review the Terms of Service of the website that the review was posted on. In most instances, there are ways you can flag and report reviews that you think could be fakes. This won’t allow you to have any and all negative reviews removed from the site. However, if the negative review in question violates the website’s terms of service, you may be able to have that specific review taken down.

Respond In a Timely Manner

After you take a step back from the situation, make sure you have a system in play for managing your reviews. You don’t want a review going unaddressed for months after being received.  Timeliness is important here, because it shows potential customers reading the reviews that customer service is important and their comments and concerns are addressed.

Conclusion

Whether you receive a 5-star or a 1-star review, treat both with similar practices. Nobody wants to go unnoticed. Make sure you acknowledge all reviews, and adjust your response depending upon the context of the review itself.

Customers share their experiences online because they want to be heard. Don’t let another review go without a response.

Questions or comments? Let us know how you manage your reviews, or ask any questions you may have about responding to online reviews.

 

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3 Steps You Can Take To Increase Reviews for Your Business

Thursday, April 9th, 2015

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Reviews are an important part of your business and bottom line. We’ve already established the impact that reviews have on your business in our previous blog post: HVAC / Plumbing: Importance of Online Reviews for HVAC / Plumbing Industries. If you want to start taking action to build your online review presence, you can start by implementing a review strategy. Three things you can do to get started to increase reviews are: setup and claim your profiles, ask for reviews, and integrate reviews into your existing marketing efforts.

Step 1 – Setup and claim your listings and profiles

Whether you have control over your listings or not, there will always be a way for customers to leave a review if they want to. So taking control of your listings is recommended to get started with your review management and generation efforts.

There are hundreds of directories and websites online where your customer can leave you reviews. We recommend setting up and claiming sites 2 to 3 popular directories known in your geographic region. Popular review sites and directories include Google+ and Yelp.

Once you’ve determined what listings would best increase your visibility, the next step is to make sure the listings are claimed and verified. This will ensure accurate and consistent business details on the listing of your choice and will allow you to setup email alerts and notifications.

Step 2 – Asking for reviews

Now that you’re setup with the listings and directories you want, the reviews will just come flowing in. Right? Wrong! Online review generation is not a set-it-and-forget-it strategy.

Asking customers to review your business is a much debated practice. Some say that it isn’t ethical to ask for reviews and even suggest that it could be perceived as a form of solicitation. Others suggest that asking does not hurt and you won’t know if you don’t try.

When you receive a compliment or a kudos from a customer in-person, over the phone, or by email, this is a perfect time to ask that happy customer to share their feedback on one of your online review sites.

Don’t offer an incentive or discount for people to “Leave a 5-star Review.” Incentives and discounts can be perceived as an unethical practice and violates the Terms of Service on many directories. If you are caught incentivizing users to harvest reviews, those 5 star reviews may be taken away in addition to other repercussions.

Step 3 – Integrate reviews into your existing marketing efforts and strategies

Integrate reviews into your existing marketing efforts and strategies to reinforce your review strategy. Adding more opportunities for your customers to find and see your reviews, will provide opportunities for clients to review your business at the listing or directory of their choice. Below are just a couple of examples where you can integrate reviews.

On your website: Placing a link or banner to the listings or directories you are active on can make it easier for customers to find where to read and write reviews for your business.

Email signatures: Do you send emails to your customers, either directly or through an email list? Place the links for your review sites with a simple note such as, “We appreciate your feedback,” or “Your feedback helps us to better serve you.” Inserting a call to action within the links will maximize your customer feedback rate and help to increase review generation.

When your business is ready to start implementing reviews as a part of your marketing strategy, the steps above are a good place to begin.

What has your experience been with reviews for your business? Please share in the comments below! We’d love to hear from you.

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