The Ultimate Marketing Blueprint for HVAC | 2020

Lead Generation Services for Your Business

In a field that’s as competitive as the home service contractor industry, generating leads by any means necessary is an absolute must. Over the past decade, digital marketplaces such as HomeAdvisor and Angie’s List have emerged as one of the most popular means of connecting homeowners with local service providers of all varieties, ranging from roofing and plumbers to electricians and HVAC technicians and beyond.

But while these pay-per-lead home service-booking sites are being used now more than ever, utilizing their services essentially boils down to one question: Are Angie’s List and HomeAdvisor worth it for contractors?

Let’s begin with the most apparent appeal about using Angie’s List and HomeAdvisor: it’s convenient. Once you’ve defined your services, updated some biographical and contact information, and set up your payment method, you’re essentially all good to go! But once that convenience wears off, what are you left with?

How Do Angie’s List & HomeAdvisor Work?

Here’s a brief breakdown of essentially what you can expect from investing in pay-per-lead services such as Angie’s List and HomeAdvisor:

  • After sign-up, Angie’s List or HomeAdvisor works to connect your business with prospective customers and targeted leads.
  • Utilizing SEO tactics to rank your profile’s keywords, these sites will potentially recommend prospects for your company’s services, along with several, sometimes dozens, of other relevant contractors, allowing the prospective client to assess which company aligns with their housing needs.
  • In return, these providers receive revenue from charging your profile with participating contractor fees for every qualified lead you generate.

And there you have it. Pretty simple, right?

But while it sounds convenient and reasonable in theory, both Angie’s List and HomeAdvisor often come with their digital marketing setbacks, which can include:

Lack of Lead Control

The leads your profile receives are often lacking in quality, ranging from non-serious inquiries just testing the waters to homeowners trying to bargain their way to retain your services.

Sharing Leads

The leads you pay for are never solely going to your business; they’re being shared by plenty of other local contractors who provide similar services as your company.

Doesn’t Increase Web Traffic

These sites do very little to funnel traffic toward your actual company’s website, often inserting backlinks to their own websites in your company’s profile.

Expensive Leads

The average leads on these sites can range from $25 - $100 per lead, which is considerably higher than the typical $5-$20 price range for Google Ads.

Erratic Bookings

Because you are competing with so many other contractors in your market, one missed phone call by a prospect can often lead to a missed opportunity and money spent on a lead that doesn’t pan out.

Insufficient Screening

Screening clients is only conducted upon sign up, meaning it can be difficult to determine which leads are legitimate, reliable, and trustworthy. At the end of the day, Angie’s List and HomeAdvisor are essentially a short-term substitute for implementing a successful digital marketing strategy through your own home services website.

Their convenience might result in the occasional uptick of lead generation from time to time. Still, overall, the amount of money you’re spending on these pay-per-lead services could be going toward establishing a proficient digital marketing blueprint that will allow your company to expand brand awareness, climb up the search result rankings, and generate more leads in the long-term.

Before you continue or start to invest in these often inconsistent pay-per-lead companies, take a look at some of these HomeAdvisors and Angie’s List alternatives.

The Power of Paid Ad Campaigns

What’s truly lacking in terms of the ‘quality’ of leads you gain through Angie’s List or HomeAdvisor is the overall inability to actively control the leads you’re receiving. That’s where paid digital advertising allows your business to thrive, providing you with the power to target relevant leads that are actively searching for the services you provide. And best of all, those targeted leads are going straight to you and only you, instead of having to share leads with your competitors. Here are a few of the primary advantages that a successful paid advertising campaign can offer you that Angie’s List or HomeAdvisor typically can’t.

Customized Campaigns

Paid ads allow you to have more control over your digital advertising goals, providing your business the opportunity to create a custom marketing campaign that can focus on targeting your ideal customer while still adhering to your budgeting and timeline needs. With Angie’s List and HomeAdvisor, the quality and quantity of your leads are practically dependent on their services, and budgeting isn’t nearly as flexible or accommodating.

Higher Conversion Rates

Instead of waiting for leads at the mercy of middle-men pay-per-lead services, customized paid ad campaigns eliminate the need for a middle-man, giving you the chance to target better quality leads without having to pay for someone else’s services. This will help boost your conversion rate numbers while still paying for lower costs per lead.

Improve Your Google Rankings

HomeAdvisor and Angie’s List may help increase your brand awareness through their sites, but they won’t affect your standing with the world’s number one utilized resource for finding local businesses: Google. Paid ads will get your business to show up on the first page of relevant, local search results, providing more traffic to your company’s website and improving your organic SEO ranking.

Retargeting Capabilities

What’s frustrating with pay-per-lead sites is the lack of data and metrics. You’ll be able to assess which target audiences are most susceptible to your advertising efforts, as well as get a better understanding of your overall return on investment.

Straight to the Source Advertising

Paid ads are what can put your business directly in front of someone who’s actively interested in your services and fits the mold for your ideal customer. Through demographic and social media advertising, you can display banner ads throughout the internet or social media platforms, specifically focusing on whatever age, gender, location, or interests you want to target. It doesn’t get any more straight to the source when it comes to enhancing brand awareness!

Nailing Your Landing Pages with Custom Web Designs

Another common frustration with Angie’s List or HomeAdvisor is the overall inability to promote specific services, products, or offers your company is trying to focus on promoting. That’s where developing a custom landing page design can come in handy. Often referred to as “destination pages," landing pages are standalone web pages separate from your official website. The best ones are designed specifically to appeal to people actively searching for one service, subject, or objective that your business provides. These landing pages are discovered by leads through a variety of mediums, such as digital paid ads, organic search results, or backlinks, and are intended to strongly promote calls-to-actions that compel the reader to engage with your company’s website, generally through filling out contact forms, subscribing to email newsletters, scheduling appointments, purchasing products, etc.

Landing pages provide ample opportunities for generating leads in ways that Angie’s List or HomeAdvisor simply cannot, including:

Provide Credibility

Establishing trust and credibility is essential for converting leads. Landing pages provide companies with a great opportunity to demonstrate their esteemed reputation, through customer testimonials or online reviews, specifically regarding the services that lead is searching for.

Increase Brand Awareness

At the end of the day, landing pages only work toward increasing your online presence and visibility. In addition to enhancing your brand awareness, they’ll help drive in more traffic to your website, giving leads more opportunities to contact your company and enlist your services than you would have had otherwise.

Gain Quality Leads through Triton Commerce

What’s probably most disappointing about all the businesses utilizing Angie’s List or HomeAdvisor to gain leads is that with the money they’re spending on these pay-per-lead sites, they could’ve generated double, maybe even triple the amount of quality and relevant leads, had they just implemented the necessary digital marketing strategies.

At Triton Commerce, our specialty is providing small businesses with custom digital marketing campaigns that are guaranteed to generate leads while still abiding by all your budgeting and timeline needs. Our team of marketing industry experts will provide you with the solutions your brand needs to expand your marketing reach and potential, zeroing in on quality and relevant leads that you won’t have to share with competing businesses.

When you’re ready to see how a professional digital marketing strategy can do for your company’s lead generation and conversion rates, contact us today to receive a free Digital Marketing Blueprint outlining the keys to lead generation success.

Our team of marketing experts will help you create a digital marketing strategy that includes online review management and SEO tactics.

Contact us today for a free Digital Marketing Blueprint!

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The 2020 Ultimate
Marketing Blueprint
for HVAC Companies

Find out exactly what the most successful HVAC companies are doing online to grow.

As a Digital Marketing agency that specializes in trades like HVAC, plumbing, and mechanical, we have a behind the scenes look at what separates the most successful HVAC companies from the rest. We’ve compiled a list of the most important online marketing strategies your business needs to implement in order to increase leads and get the results you’re looking for.

1 Web Design

The first step in any digital marketing plan is updating your company website. This is the hub of your digital marketing strategy, the place all prospects are funneled to in order to be converted into leads.

What's Needed

Responsive design
A responsive website is designed to seamlessly work on all device types. If your site isn’t designed for mobile users you are basically irrelevant for over half of internet traffic in 2020. Needless to say, if your business's website isn't optimized for mobile traffic a lot of your digital marketing budget is going to go to waste. Since March of 2018, Google has switched to mobile-first indexing. This means that if your site isn't mobile-optimized, it will now negatively affect your ranking in search engines results, making it imperative to update if you haven't yet done so.

In order to maximize your marketing ROI, your website needs to convert at a high level. That's where calls-to-action (CTAs) come into play. It is extremely important to make it easy for prospects to contact you -- by placing CTAs on each level of your business's website, you eliminate the hurdle of having to search for a way to contact your company, increasing your conversion rate. To quickly grab a visitor's attention, CTAs should be designed to stick out from the rest of the site. We recommend HVAC companies always have the following types of CTAs:

  • Click-to-Call Phone Number: placed in the header, content area & the footer of your website
  • "Get a Free Estimate" or "Schedule Service" Button: placed in the header, content area & the footer of your website
  • General Contact Form: placed in the content section of your website

Easy-To-Use Navigation
What you don't want to do is make site visitors search for what they're looking for. The navigation on your website should be simple, intuitive and include all the main pages a visitor might be interested in. These pages should include every service your company provides, contact pages, about us, testimonials, special offers, brands you carry, etc.

Branded to Your Company
The most successful HVAC companies focus on building a strong brand. Your brand should portray professionalism and provide prospects with a unique logo, tagline and more that makes remembering - and feeling a connection with your company - easier! Your website and all other marketing materials (business cards, vehicle wraps, furnace magnets, etc.) need to also incorporate these same unique branding elements.

Build Trust
Let's be honest, there are a few bad apples in every industry that give companies a bad name. That's why building trust is so important! If a website's visitors have any doubt in how trustworthy a company is, they will quickly leave for a competitor's site. Luckily there are a few quick and easy strategies that you can implement in order to help build trust with prospects and current customers:

  • Use real photography and video featuring you and your team, recent installs, your vans, etc., throughout your website. Stock photography gives a site a generic, impersonal feel that any startup competitors can easily copy. Using custom, professional digital media provides a glimpse into who your company is and all you offer
  • Show recent customer reviews and testimonials. There are several reputation management tools, including feeds from actual review websites, that make collecting and sharing reviews from real customers easy!
  • Toot your own horn and show HVAC certifications and badges, such as Carrier Authorized, Trane Comfort Specialist, NATE Certified Technicians, or PHCC Membership to name a few

Branded to Your Company
Branded to Your Company

2 Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO is something an HVAC company can't afford to overlook. No other marketing efforts can provide the long-term ROI of a successful SEO campaign. There are two types of strategies your business will need to implement: an On-Page SEO strategy and an Off-Page SEO strategy.

What's Needed

On-Page SEO
On-Page SEO refers to all the measures you can take on your website to improve your rank in the search engines. It involves everything from content strategies, backend code and server setup, and optimization including:

  • Keyword Optimization - In order for search engines to understand and rank your webpage as a credible option for prospects, you'll need to have the correct search terms in place and optimized on your pages. Start by coming up with a list of keywords for each page that a customer would search for to find your exact service. Next, optimize these specific keywords or key-phrases on each page using H1 & H2 headings, title tags, internal linking, image alt text, and well-written page copy.
  • Service Page Build-Outs - Often times businesses assume having a website with fewer pages will produce better results due to its simplicity. They have a single Services page that merely has a small summary paragraph followed by a bullet-list of the services they offer. The problem with this strategy is that it severely limits a site's ability to rank for industry search terms. Google ranks pages not websites, in order to rank for long-tail terms such as "Air Conditioning Repair" or "Trane Furnace Installer" you need a page with optimized content that provides details about that specific service. For each service you offer, a corresponding page is absolutely necessary for optimal results.
  • HTTPS over HTTP - Securing your website with a SSL Certificate has become one of the newer ways to help your SEO. While it's not yet critical to update from http to https, Google's algorithm is quickly moving that way. Get a jump start on it, and adjust your website now.
  • Page Speed - Not only does a slow website encourage prospects to leave, it now affects how search engines rank your page as well. Search engines, such as Google, want to give their customers the best user experience, so it makes perfect sense that they would negatively score a website who's speed will frustrate users. A target page load time should be around three seconds. You can check yours here with Google PageSpeed Insights
  • Schema Markup - Schema is structured data that you can add to your website's html to improve the way search engines understand and display your website in search engine results pages (SERPS). It also improves the way your page displays in SERPs by enhancing the rich snippets that are displayed beneath the page title.
  • Blogging / Ongoing Content - Creating a website that contains a bunch of well-written content is great. But what search engines don't like is a website that contains content that is stagnant and stale. That's why your initial website build-out is just the beginning - your business should be adding new content to your website through blogs plus deeper linked pages on-site that will drive new longer-tail traffic. A couple of examples of this would be to create Location Pages for each area you service and Manufacturer Pages for prospects looking for specific furnace or ac types your company installs.

Off-Page SEO
Off-Page SEO refers to the actions your HVAC company takes outside of your own website to increase your rank in the search engines.

  • High-Quality Backlinks - Backlinks have been the backbone of off-page SEO for a long time and continue to be the most important factor in search engine results. The more high-quality sites that link to your website, the more authority search engines give your site which results in increased rankings. There are several types of backlinks, including:
    • Self-Created Links are done by manually adding your company profile to directory sites, such as Yellowpages, BBB, Yelp, Chamber of Commerce, etc.
    • Manually-Created Links are generated by asking for links back from websites such as community, manufacturer, and industry related sites. A link from Trane, Goodman or Rheem would be ideal if you are authorized to install those products.
    • Natural Links require no direct action on your part. They occur when other websites naturally link back to you. Possible causes could be that a company wants to share quality content you've created or community news you've been involved in.
  • Social Media Signals - While nothing you put on social media directly affects SERPS, having a regular social media strategy keeps your company in the public eye which can result in increased brand recognition, content distribution and brand mentions — which all have positive effects when it comes to higher ranking.
  • Online Reviews - Each year the impact of online reviews on ranking increases. The quantity, velocity, and diversity of reviews all play an important role in organic local listings, especially Google Local Pack/Map listings.

Google My Business (GMB) Optimization
GMB is one of the leading traffic sources for HVAC companies. So it's easily understandable how showing up higher in local map listings can have a huge affect on your business. Once you have a verified GMB account, you can optimize your listing by:

  • Category Selection - You MUST make sure to select your primary business category as "HVAC Contractor". Also fill out the "Additional Categories" space with other services & more granular categories such as "Plumber", "Air Conditioning Repair Service", "Furnace Repair Service", "Heating Contractor", etc.
  • Set Your Service Area - Google recently changed this so that you can't set a distance radius around your address. Instead what you must do is include up to a maximum of 20 different cities or zip codes that you work in to define your service area for your listing.
  • Fill In ALL Info - For best results, it's important that you fill in everything you possibly can. List your phone number, hours of business, website, physical address, etc. Also, to increase conversions add the URL of your "Schedule Service" page to the appointment url box.
  • Business Description - This is where your business can sell itself and what makes your company different than your top competitors. Include details on why potential customers that land here should choose to contact your HVAC company today!
  • Continuously Add Photos - Begin by adding your company branded images like your logo and your profile and cover photos. Then, be sure to continuously upload as many photos as you can of your jobs, crew, etc. on a regular basis.
  • Continuously Add Reviews - This is crucial to your success on GMB. Even if your business already has more Google reviews than any of your competitors, you need to keep adding them. It's not just quality and quantity that Google takes into account, review recency also matters when it comes to your placement among other HVAC companies.

3 Customer Reviews

Studies show that people today trust online reviews nearly as much as personal recommendations from friends and family. This growing mindset makes it critical for a local HVAC company to obtain and display as many high-quality reviews as possible.

What's Needed

More Reviews For Increased Traffic
When it comes to traffic drivers like the results show in Google Local Map, reviews are one of the main factors in determining how high your HVAC or plumbing company ranks and how many users click on your listing. The more high-quality reviews -- the better the results. This makes acquiring reviews from happy customers a key element of your digital marketing strategy.

Review Software
In today's fast-paced world it's hard to find the time to actually reach out to customers to personally ask for a review. There are also guidelines by most review sites as to how that review can even be requested making it tough to keep up with. That's why a third-party software that sends review requests directly to your recent customers is a great tool for obtaining reviews without having to jump through so many hoops. Software like Birdeye and Podium do a great job of this.

Community Management
Few things bother a business owner more than seeing a negative review left on a major review site, but it happens. To minimize the damage, it's important that businesses respond to a customer's complaint in a timely and professional manner. Additionally, responding to positive reviews is a great opportunity to show potential customers you are an attentive and appreciative company.

4 Paid Ads

The HVAC & plumbing companies that see the most growth use a well-balanced strategy of both organic inbound marketing and strategic paid ads. While paid ads take skill to implement properly, they can provide a positive ROI and pay large dividends when they are. For companies looking to maximize their ad performance, the use of analytics and A/B testing is critical to achieve maximum ROI.

What's Needed

Google Ads
All HVAC companies are after the same thing - quality leads! But when it comes to ads, your cost per acquisition of these leads will make or break you. Google ads can be extremely ROI positive for your business or extremely detrimental to your marketing budget. It's how you run these ads that makes all the difference. Here are the major points-of-focus for a successful Google Ad campaign:

  • Keyword Targeting - The first step of every Google Ad campaign is to do keyword research, setting up ad groups for each unique service you want to attract leads for. Ad groups should consist of a small number of keywords, generally between five to twenty. Google will set these keywords to “broadly match” by default, but these keywords are sometimes very expensive and will send you untargeted traffic. When setting up your bids, use “phrase match” and “exact match” to avoid this unwanted traffic.
  • Negative Keywords - The use of negative keywords allows you to dodge unwanted traffic that won't convert and depletes your budget. If your company doesn't install Goodman furnaces for example, you should place "Goodman" or any other manufacturer you don't install in your negative keyword list which will make sure you won't show up for a term like "Goodman Furnace Installation + your city".
  • Location Targeting - Your company likely has a radius it needs to adhere to in order for jobs to remain profitable. By setting your geo-targeting radius to a realistic range, you can limit ad spend to only the areas you want to service. Start with a very small radius to start and then branch out only when you see positive results from your budget.
  • Landing Page Per Ad Group - A common mistake companies make is directing all ad traffic to their homepage. This will not only result in a lower conversion rate than an optimized landing page for the intended keyword could provide, but it will also cause your Google quality score to drop considerably resulting in much higher cost-per-click prices.
  • A/B Testing - Between the ad copy for each ad group and the design and content of your service specific landing page, chances are that you aren't going to get it perfect on the first try. By including A/B testing into your strategy, you can greatly increase your ad performance. This should be ongoing to always be improving your ROI.
  • Analytics Tracking - The majority of companies that lose money on Google Ads do so because they don't use analytics to track and adjust performance. Turning off under-performing keywords, finding negative keywords, tracking conversion rates, and knowing your cost-per-acquisition and ROI are just a few of the key elements analytics can give your business a handle on.
  • Give It Time - Even the best Google Ad specialists will tell you that it takes time to dial your performance in to get your cost-per-acquisition where it needs to be. We typically recommend 3-months, with necessary adjustments throughout and a keen eye on analytics to get a decent read on whether paid ads will work for your HVAC company.

Specials & Promos
Everyone loves a deal! By offering short-term seasonal specials and promotions, you not only incentivize customers to choose you over your competitors and add a sense of urgency — which will help to increase your overall conversion rate, but you also have a mechanism to retarget potential customers with after they've landed on and left your site. These specials can often times be subsidized by coop funds from your vendors, making it a no-brainer.

Every single visitor to your site costs you money, whether it be through Google Ads, SEO, branding, or even building your website in the first place. That's why retargeting to visitors is so important. Retargeting allows you to show ads to the people who visited but ultimately left your site without taking an action, such as filling out a contact form or completing a purchase. By simply getting in front of them again, your business can greatly increase your conversion rates.

Facebook Ads
Facebook Ads are great for certain industries. For HVAC we usually don't recommend running a constant ad campaign seeing people only seek you out when they really need you, but there are a few scenarios where we would highly recommend using a paid campaign budget for, including:

  • Retargeting - As we've mentioned before, retargeting ads are a great way to bring past website prospects back into the fold so you can convert them into customers. Facebook retargeting offers more visibility and opportunity to increase your marketing ROI than other retargeting platforms.
  • Seasonal Specials - Do you offer furnace or AC tune-ups? You can greatly increase the number of customers taking these offerings by targeting homeowners in your specific service area with ads before your busy season. "Make sure your Furnace is working properly before the Winter Cold! Get our $99 Tune-Up Special!
  • Weather Related Ads - A great time to run ads is when the weather is making people miserable! Did it just jump from 80 to 100 deg? Then someone is regretting not having that AC unit, making it the perfect time to offer that 15% off AC installation.

Google Local Services Ads
Local Services Ads, also knowns as LSAs, are only available for local contractors that provide specific services. HVAC is included in the list of permitted services. Located in prime position above normal Google Ads, LSAs will show up for businesses that are "Google Guaranteed providers" in your local area. Ads include your business's hours, location, and rating based on recent Google Reviews — helping local consumers find a business close by that best helps them with their immediate need. This is a pay-per-lead service opposed to a pay-per-click service.

Pre-Roll Youtube Video Ads (Based on Search History)
Wow, that title was a mouth full, but these video ads can be extremely effective at getting in front of the right customers at the precise time they are looking for your services. When a user searches Google for your services, the next time they visit YouTube, they can be shown your ad based on their previous search history -- making this a very targeted video ad strategy.

5 Social Media

While the days of endless organic reach on social media have long been over, the effects of a consistent social media strategy are still necessary for all types of businesses — including HVAC and plumbers. Since potential customers regularly check a company's social media accounts before picking a contractor, having a non-existent or neglected presence can create uneasiness about your professionalism or company credibility. Keeping your social pages up-to-date builds trust, creates additional website traffic, and raises brand awareness making social media a cost-effective marketing strategy your HVAC company can't ignore.

What's Needed

On The Job Photos/Videos
Show potential customers action shots of your technicians on the job. Post photos of your installs or live videos of you diagnosing & repairing a common problem. These pieces of content give them a feel for your company and the expertise you bring.Places to add: Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, Linkedin

HVAC Articles
Articles and blog posts on your website let prospects know that you are a leader in your local industry. Take time to write your own, while also sharing articles about industry trends, how-to-tips, company news, and more! These types of posts show that you are knowledgeable and they help to build trust that can lead to future jobs. Places to add: Facebook, Linkedin

Company & Community Content
These types of post are used to add some personality into your social profiles. Every company is unique, by showing your team and company's personality you can build a sense of comfort and relatability with potential clients. Also, by adding community related content, you're able to that your business is involved and present in your local community. Places to add: Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin

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