HVAC and Plumbing Marketing: The Five Stages of the Buyer's Journey

by Carissa McStay | May 11, 2021

Thanks to flooded basements and clogged toilets, customers often call the HVAC and plumbing industry in an emergency. When buyers are frantically searching for help, standing out from competitors is a must – but knowing why customers go with one company over another isn’t always easy. This is why solid understanding of the buyer journey and plumbing and HVAC marketing strategies tailored to this journey are critical. 

At Silverback Strategies, we launched the Home Services Buyer Research Industry Breakdown Report in order to track how the average HVAC and plumbing shopper behaves at each stage of the buying process. This report reveals what happens between a flooded basement and a prospective customer picking up the phone, so you can align your marketing efforts on the channels customers use the most with messages and information that will resonate. 

Let’s dive in. 

Step 1: Realization: The Problem  

Whether HVAC and plumbing customers are proactively replacing a worn-out system or dealing with an emergency burst pipe, they want to hire a company they can trust. Of the shoppers surveyed, a significant percentage said they went online to find a provider (40%) and a similar percentage (42%) contacted a previous provider. A little over 17% of respondents asked friends and family for a referral. 

These responses indicate the best way to attract new customers is to ensure your HVAC and plumbing marketing strategy starts with a strong online presence. When customers start their digital search, they need to be able to find your business and easily get in touch. With such a high degree of customer loyalty, however, HVAC and plumbing companies can also rely on word-of-mouth combined with positive customer experiences to bring in new customers for the first time and keep them coming back each time they have a HVAC and plumbing need. 

Step 2: Learning About the Local HVAC and Plumbing Marketplace

Buyers often start to educate themselves about the marketplace online. More than a quarter (26%) of home service shoppers rely on search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo to find a provider. That being said, previous experience and word-of-mouth referrals are still contenders at this stage. Of customers surveyed, 20% called a previous provider and another 20% asked a friend or family member for their input. As such, a well-rounded plumbing marketing strategy should include both search engine optimization, digital advertising, as well as incentive programs driving customers to refer people in their network. 

While the survey revealed social media to be less popular as an initial search tool, this channel should not be ignored. With 94% of HVAC and plumbing customers reporting they engage with at least one social media platform, keeping an active social media presence is a valuable way to gain overall brand awareness and consideration even before an HVAC or plumbing need arises. Facebook can be a strong social media platform for HVAC and plumber advertising with to 71% of buyers noting they used the platform more than once a week. 

Step 3: Evaluating Top Providers

Plumbing and HVAC customers may call during an emergency and need service quick, but they still want to hire a dependable and quality company to complete the job. After initial research, homeowners evaluate top plumbing providers based on several factors. Although pricing is a top concern during the evaluation phase across industries, it was not the only criteria customers used when choosing a provider. For 54% of HVAC and plumbing shoppers, customer ratings and reviews were far and away the most important criteria. 

What does this mean? In HVAC and plumbing, where a botched job can lead to severe discomfort or damage, building trust is key, and customers rely on reviews and ratings as proof of a company they can trust for quality work. Including client testimonials on your website and collecting reviews and ratings across platforms like Google and Facebook will help you stand out as a top-notch provider. 

Step 4: Deciding on a Team They Can Trust  

All the work you did on your plumbing and HVAC marketing strategies comes to fruition in the decision stage. When it’s finally time to decide on a contractor, HVAC and plumbing shoppers do not call around as frequently as buyers in other industries. More than one-third of buyers said they only called a single provider, while another one-third said they called two. In this industry where customers are looking for resolution quickly, getting the first phone call is even more important. 

Building brand awareness through HVAC and plumber advertising and a strong social media presence will keep your business top of mind for potential customers. Investing in website search engine optimization and search engine advertising can help your business rank prominently in results when consumers are searching for your services. 

Step 5: Advocacy: Turning Customers Into Fans 

In HVAC and plumbing, advocacy is more essential than any other industry. Customers with a positive experience are likely to come back, and word-of-mouth referrals go a long way to secure new customers. While our study shows only 36% of buyers who used an HVAC or plumbing provider left a review – a much lower number than many other industries – this also sheds light on a major opportunity. 

To get those all-important ratings and reviews, follow up with customers after service to ensure they are satisfied. This is a great opportunity to ensure any concerns are properly addressed and the customer is satisfied avoiding a negative review. While most review platforms do not allow review solicitation in bulk, experienced marketers are able to use email tactics to grow reviews while following review platform guidelines.

Building Trust in the Digital Age

At the end of the day, HVAC and plumbing shoppers look for one thing: a trustworthy and experienced provider. The best marketing strategy for HVAC and plumbing companies is to demonstrate trust before a client makes a phone call, by providing quality service the first time and showcasing strong ratings and reviews. Investing in an optimized website and cross channel marketing to boost online presence and help your business stand out so you get the emergency phone call, not your competitor. 

Looking for an HVAC and plumbing marketing company? Silverback Strategies can help. We invest in consumer research, to create results oriented, industry tailored, cross channel marketing solutions for our clients. To read the full Home Services Buyer Research report and learn more about Silverback, click here.

Carissa McStay

As Silverback Strategies' Director of Client Services, Carissa ensures client goals are translated into actionable cross channel marketing strategies that drive tangible business results. Connect with Carissa on LinkedIn.

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