Moving along in this 5-part series, now it’s time to look at building a solid foundation with your website. If you recall, in Part I, we looked at how to develop an online marketing plan.
But first …
Are you making this common online marketing mistake?
Too many contractors make the mistake of building their social media profiles and neglecting their website. This is particularly true of Facebook. They post dozens of project photos, hold contests and even advertise on Facebook to get more likes.
Meanwhile, they haven’t touched their website in months. They haven’t posted new project photos on their website nor have they grown their email subscriber list.
While I recognize that Facebook is number one in social media and see why contractors want to capitalize on that, the truth is, you don’t own Facebook. Facebook can go away at any time (anyone remember MySpace?). Facebook owns Facebook; therefore, it can change the rules at any time – and has! This doesn’t only apply to Facebook. Any of the other social media networks (YouTube, Flickr, Pinterest, Houzz, Google+, Twitter) can also change at any time.
This is why when a contractor talks to me about increasing their social media presence, my first task is to ask them about their website and how often they add to or change content there.
Your website is your online real estate.
I am a firm believer that everything you do online should begin with your website, because your website is the only online real estate you own, and anyone who spends time, money and effort building out their social media platforms while neglecting their website is being foolish.
Would you build a home on a rented piece of land? No. Then stop doing it online.
Your website is the most critical part of your online marketing plan. Without it, nothing else works effectively. Your website is the hub of all of your online marketing efforts.
To put a visual to the website and online marketing connection, do this exercise:
- Take out a piece of paper.
- Draw a circle in the middle of the paper and label it “website.”
- Now draw a few lines out from the circle, like spokes of a wagon wheel. At the end of each line (spoke), label it with something you are doing online (Facebook, Houzz, YouTube, etc.).
- Now draw an arrowhead that points back to your website.
This visual is how all of your online marketing should work – with your website at the center of your efforts – because the goal should be to drive traffic back to your home base.
Part 2: Building a Solid Foundation with Your Website
Now that you understand why your website is so critical to the overall effectiveness of your online marketing efforts, in this step, we focus on making your website the best it can be.
Start by looking at your website with a fresh set of eyes (or ask a trusted friend to do it for you). As you review, look at it from the perspective of a potential customer to determine where you can make improvements. Here are some things to look at:
This includes your company name, logo, tagline, address, phone and link to contact. Make it easy for customers to find your contact information; don’t make them hunt for it.
One common concern is what to do with your address when your home doubles as your company headquarters. In this case, you don’t have to list a street address, but at least list the city and state. This helps legitimize your company.
At a minimum, contractors should have the following pages on their website: About, Our Process, Services, Gallery and Contact.
- About – Across the board, this page is the second-most visited page on any website. People want to know who you are because they want to determine whether or not you are the type of person they want to work with. Your About page should include a description of your company and a little bit about you, too, including a nice photo (people do business with other people, not company logos, so show your face). When writing this page, remember that people do business with those they feel like they know and can trust.
- Process – While you may know your process like the back of your hand, your potential customers don’t. In fact, this may be the first time they are building a house, remodeling a home, painting the exterior, etc., and even if it isn’t their first time with a construction project, if they are reading about your process, it is the first time they are considering working with you. While you don’t have to make this page step-by-step detailed, you do want to give an overview of what it’s like to work with you.
- Services – This is a particularly important section of your website because it will assist in qualifying potential customers. It will be an affirmation for those who are looking for your services that they’ve landed in the right spot, and it will weed out those who are looking for something a bit different than the services you provide. On this page, you answer the question, “What do you do?”
- For remodelers – What types of projects do you handle? Are you a handyman-type remodeler or are you the large-scale, moving-dirt, additions-type remodeler?
- For home builders – Do you build in communities or are you a scattered-lot custom builder?
- For specialty contractors, such as painters – Do you paint homes or commercial buildings? Do you work on interiors or exteriors or does your business handle artistic painting, such as murals?
The more fine-tuned you can be on this page about the services you provide, the more spot-on inquiries you should receive.
[tweetthis display_mode=”box”]Your photo quality will be judged. Don’t scare away business with crappy photos.[/tweetthis]
- Gallery – I cannot stress how important this is for construction folks! Good-quality photos need to be on your site to show off your craftsmanship. Keep these notes in mind:
- The quality of your photos will be judged, so if they are less than amazing, take them off your site. You will scare away potential customers.
- Update your project photos regularly. This proves that you’ve been busy with projects.
- Make sure that the photos you post on social media link back to your website.
More photo tips can be found on the blog post: 6 Photo Mistakes Contractors Make (and How to Fix Them).
- Contact – This is the page that should have all of your company information, including a contact form. Also, list your phone number with hours, so people know when you are available to take calls.
Is your website mobile friendly? If not, get it redesigned immediately. Nearly 50 percent of all website traffic comes from mobile devices (smartphones and tablets). You must have a mobile-friendly site to reach today’s potential customers.
Readability is an often overlooked aspect of websites. If your font size is too small, too decorative or too light, or if your website presents in reverse colors (light font color on dark background), reading is super-difficult for visitors to your page, and you will lose many of them as a result.
As a society, our eyesight is getting worse from spending so much time in front of screens. Don’t make it even harder for someone who is interested in your services to read your website.
Additionally, remember back to Part I of this series where we defined your audience. If your audience is the older crowd, you definitely need to adjust your website to match their readability needs.
When was the last time your website got an update? Does it look tired/dated? If it has been more than a few years since you’ve built or updated your website, you should consider updating the template.
Your website is your online storefront. It should get a makeover every few years.
Think of it in this fashion: If you passed the same store regularly and it had the same window-front display month after month, year after year, wouldn’t you think that nothing has changed on the inside, too?
The same will be thought of your website. It doesn’t mean you need to take on a complete redesign, but it does mean that you should change enough to make it noticeable. (If your website is on a WordPress platform, this becomes much simpler to accomplish by changing your WordPress template). Not only will this give your company the fresh look it needs, but it will also beckon to repeat visitors to take a look around.
Make Your Website Stronger by Taking It to the Next Level
Now that you’ve conducted your initial review – and made all necessary changes – you can begin to think about taking your website to the next level.
- Your Gallery – To take your gallery to the next level, write project stories, as seen here. Project stories will boost your like and trust factors because potential customers can read about how you took the project from conception to completion. You could also add videos.
- Testimonials – Potential clients like to have the assurance that you are a skillful and capable contractor, and generic testimonials don’t cut it. Use testimonials from clients who provide details of the project you completed and describe what made the experience so extraordinary. Here are some tips for obtaining meaningful testimonials from your clients.
- FAQs – The Frequently Asked Questions page is a good place to write a 2-3 sentence answer to some common questions:
- How do we get started on a project?
- Do we need design ideas in hand before meeting for the first time?
- How are selections made?
- Are permits and inspections necessary?
- Blog – I feel very strongly that contractors should blog – but only if you can find a way to do it regularly. When you consistently add blog articles to your website, it keeps your website fresh for search engines (through SEO), and more importantly it gives you information to share on social media. More about blogging will be covered in Part 4 of this series.
While the above list isn’t all encompassing, it does provide an overview of what items to focus on when you conduct your review. These will be the same items that your potential customers will use to determine if you are the right company for the project they have in mind.