Step 1: Online Marketing
Let’s take the first of the subjects that we mentioned in our previous blog – online marketing for home inspectors..So this is an easy one. I think it is every home inspector’s dream to have their online marketing so good, and so tight that they don’t have to rely on real estate agent referrals. But that leaves us with a question – is that possible?
You might be surprised by the answer that I will give in a moment. But I wanted to start by telling you a story of one of my clients. A client called one day who was upset because one of his competitors had been “beating” him online and that they were getting 50% of their work from their website. We had been doing some SEO for this client for about 6-8 months – so still a new client. So we delved into it a bit, and here is what we found out.
I first asked where he heard this from. Apparently the competitor in question was telling this to agents. So I asked “do any of those agents refer them?” – “No!” he said, “they are terrible and they all hate him”. So I looked him up up online and for the life of me I couldn’t find their websites in searches. Finally we typed in their URL and their website came up – straight out of the 90’s…. it was terrible. Who would ever hire this guy with a website like this? And it couldn’t be found in searches! I then looked up their reviews online – and they were bad too.
So after all of this I asked a simple question: “how many inspections do they do each year?”. He didn’t know exactly, but he knew that they didn’t do more than 10 or so at most. So they have a terrible site, agents hate them, their clients hate them, and they have bad reviews…. So how were they “beating him” online? They weren’t.
The point of the story is that anyone can say whatever they want – and even believe it – but it doesn’t make it true. It’s easy to say you get 50% of your inspections from the internet if you are only doing 2 inspections a month.
So that was a long way to say that no matter what other inspectors tell you, that no matter what the telemarketer says when he calls you, or whatever a marketing firm says – home inspection companies are NOT built on the internet alone. If it did for someone, than it is the exception and not the rule.
But this does not make your internet presence any less important. But we need to know the difference between 1) lead generation, and 2) lead conversion. So what’s the difference?
Lead generation is companies like Home Advisor, Angie’s List, and others. You pay money, they send you leads. But your website and other marketing is not primarily built that way. Now don’t get me wrong, your online presence can generate leads. One of my own home inspection companies gets as many as 10-20 leads a month sometimes from the website. But even if it didn’t, it would still be doing it’s job – CONVERTING LEADS.
So let’s talk about lead conversion. So when someone gets handed 3 business cards, gets referred to 3 different home inspectors, or even does a search online and finds three inspectors, which one do they choose. Here is where lead conversion comes in. Your online presence either turns the person to the other inspector, or makes them call only you and to hire you.
The interesting thing is that a lot of inspectors say “My site has been there for years and I don’t notice a difference”. That is because with bad lead conversion you are losing clients without even knowing it – and they are going to your competitor.
So now that we have that out of the way, let’s talk about 3 main parts of online marketing that you want to tackle as your primary media:
-and review sites
Your Website – Your website should be all about you and why to hire you – not “why you should get a home inspection” like a lot of home inspector websites. They already know they want a home inspection – that is why they are at your site. So sell yourself.
Never make anything up, but you can make things sound better – especially if you’re a newbie. For instance, you could say “I worked with my dad growing up and I have a lot of construction experience”, but that is like trying to sell a doughnut and saying “it tastes like cake and has a whole in it”…. not very exciting. Instead, you could say “I have years of construction experience that are invaluable to me as a home inspector. While other home inspectors are only able to see an issue, I understand them – because I have likely fixed that very issue with my own two hands. We know the homes in the area, what they go through, and what you can expect from them. This comes from being in the trades and taught from a young age by my father. I gained not only work experience that is hard to match, but a knowledge and work ethic for my clients that can’t be mimicked”. See the difference? We said the same thing, but it is more attractive to clients.
Your website should also not be an encyclopedia. It buries the information that you want people to really find. In that regard, make your contact information prominent, as well as your service areas. Make it easy for people to find you. Always have a contact form and linkit to buttons at key areas that say “Book Now!” or “Contact Us” or “Learn More”. They are called “call-to-actions”, or CTA’s.
As for pages, it is best to work with convention – have a home page, an about me page, a page describing the home inspection, a contact page, and a blog page at the very least. Check out another of our blog posts for more information on home inspector websites.
Now for SEO, that is a different story. And we will save that for our SEO guide which you can get from us. For now, let’s talk about social media.
Social Media – Facebook and Instagram are not just for your teenage daughter anymore. People use social media – agents, broker, your clients, your clients’ friends… almost everyone. There are some very good reasons to be involved with social media. Networking is more complex than it used to be – but much easier.
We will just use Facebook here for an example – but the basic rules apply to a lot of social sites. Years ago I started using Facebook to gain new agents. So I would like the posts of agents, leave tasteful comments like “wow, nice floors” or I grew up down the street from there” and whatever else applied. If they had an interesting post – I would share it. If they had a question, I would answer it.
It seems like a lot of work, but it wasn’t. I have it on my phone and every couple of hours I would check and run it and do what I mentioned above. After a while the agents started reacting back, leaving comments, and sharing my posts too. Then their clients saw them, checked my site, saw that the agents knew me and I knew my business, and then they would hire me.
The agents especially liked it. In fact, one of my favorite offices to work with openly tell everyone that they refer me to all their clients because I was persistent (but respectful) on Facebook.
You can interact and join in on many social sites like that. Want to get on Instagram? That is very popular with agents and clients. Want to use LinkedIn? That is great for networking with professionals. And the list goes on and on. Remember that it is a cumulative effect, so give it time.
A word of warning – never advertise yourself on other peoples’ posts or pages, never use foul language, never post inappropriate material (no matter how funny you think it is). Keep it professional – otherwise you alienate people who have a different view on life that you. This also means keeping politics out of your posts.
Review Sites – This is a very important part. People rely on reviews from sites to make almost every decision in life. Google, Facebook, Yelp, Home Advisor, Angie’s List, and more. The problem is that you can’t control the reviews – just do the best you can with what people give you. Be persistent when trying to get reviews. Find your happiest clients and email them a dozen times if you have to asking for a review. Offer a discount on an inspection if they review you on their phone on site.
The more reviews you have the better – so go out there and get them. But what happens when you get a bad review? First, calm down. It can be infuriating – but how you respond is more important than the review. Be polite, professional, and never accuse or attack the reviewer.
Doing this helps people see that the reviewer may be in the wrong. A home inspector in my area one time got more work from his response to a bad review than he did from his good reviews.
Either way, your online presence is important, but let’s tackle the subject of agents in our next blog post.