11 Digital Marketing Predictions for Building Professionals in 2019

BUSINESS OUTLOOK

More Breakout Categories in Home Performance

Success in home performance is all about that initial trigger—the usually single measure inquiry that good companies convert to larger, more comprehensive jobs.

  • 2018 saw Crawlspace Encapsulation explode from obscurity and the rise of ductless heat pump installation as an almost standalone business.

  • In 2019, others will too (but that’s only for EC clients.)

Pure Solar Continues to Diversify

While perhaps slower than some predicted, the much ballyhooed move to solar being one part of a broader home services/energy offering will keep chugging along.

  • More integrated contractors will add solar, aided by smart distributors paving the way in to the business.

  • Existing pure solar contractors will continue adding other services: heat pumps, storage, car charging, roofing, general electric, building envelope.

The Impact of a Slowing Overall Economy

It’s always high risk to predict the economy, but I have a degree in the dismal science and can’t stop myself. Whether it will be real or not, there is already a palpable sense in the air that things are slowing down, especially in the new housing sector (though certainly not in the boom markets), which ripples down into the retrofit market.

  • The insulation sector will, predictably, panic about new housing starts and commence their cyclical freak out about the retrofit market.

  • Demand for all corners of the better building sector, in general, won’t be quite as easy as it was in 2018. Companies will need to work harder.

MARKETING OUTLOOK

Local Services Ads Are Here to Stay

Google’s blockbuster lead product is now beyond test phase and, at least from Google’s perspective, is working.

  • LSAs will continue their geographic expansion and probably be 100% national for HVAC in the US, and in most major Canadian cities.

  • Contrary to what many marketers are saying about small business’s love of this product, as soon as a market gets saturated, performance of LSAs declines for everyone. Companies will abandon or de-prioritize if there isn’t a more obvious way to optimize & compete...

  • Which leads to the question of whether LSAs will to go to a bid model rather than the current fixed price approach. The simplicity of using LSAs in the fixed price model will butt heads with their declining effectiveness. It will not surprise me if they evolve to a bid approach.

Winning Local Pack Rankings Will Get Easier

The challenge that all service area businesses face in overcoming the proximity-based rankings within the Local Pack should improve, at least a little.

  • The paid position (most recently 1st of 4) will be more clearly purchasable, versus the crap shoot/luck of the draw way it currently works for buyers of Google Ads.

  • Google’s recent switch to more precise ways of identifying services areas is an indicator that they’ll ease proximity centric ranking for Service Area Businesses and rank on other key factors like reviews and site trust.

Reviews Are More Important Than Ever

The ante is no longer 10 reviews on Google and a good star average on Yelp.

  • Review quantity and diversity are well recognized as key ranking factors.

  • The content within reviews also becomes more important as a signal—both for keywords and overall sentiment.

Voice & Devices Will Continue to Be Big...for Finding the Weather

  • Companies should continue to keyword optimize for the most important question based queries.

  • But no one is saying “Alexa, find someone to fix my furnace.”

Live Chat/Instant Messaging Capabilities Become a Necessity

  • We’ve passed the tipping point for people wanting “instant gratification” responses when they reach out to a contractor. It’s not just millennials—people of all demographics want live chat. One of our clients now gets 30–35% of their leads from chat.

  • A big driver of this, we think, is that Google is very likely to add messaging to a company’s Business Profile (the right hand box formerly known as the Knowledge Panel.) This will make it hard for companies without the feature enabled to complete.  

  • Now is the time to determine your approach—whether you’ll outsource to a service (at least one of our clients tried this and quit) or begin to identify internal staff that have the techie genes to be good at this form of interaction.

Your Website Still Matters

Despite predictions of “Google as Your Home Page” becoming more important, in the better buildings sector websites will matter even more.

  • Service/problem based search (as in “mini split installation” or “what’s the best way to heat a bonus room?”) can never be won by brand searches

  • Still, optimizing what appears on the SERP when someone searches for your company—the combination of organic listings and Business Profile—becomes ever more important.

A Clear Video Strategy, Already Important, Becomes Even More So

It is not new that video plays a vital role in our sector because of the need to explain complex building science/energy questions; but for our sector, 2019 is the year for maturing your video strategy.

  • Question-based search queries continue to grow, especially in our sectors.

  • A funnel based approach to video is showing strong results.

  • The use of video advertising to build custom audiences is powerful and effective.

  • Production of video, everyone’s achilles heel, will continue to get easier with automation from the major platforms, and more and better software.

Purchased Leads Will Continue to Decline

As attractive and easy to use as they are, companies will need to break the addiction of purchased leads.

  • This is especially true in Solar, where lead aggregation has dominated the entire sector. Competition amongst the lead sellers, and increasingly desperate (and often sleazy) tactics, will continue to drive lead quality down.

  • Home Advisor’s already poor performance across most services in better buildings, especially any involving larger, more comprehensive jobs, will not get any better.

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