Understanding Pest Marketing: How Homeowners Shop for Bug and Pest Services

by Lauren Mcvetty | June 1, 2021

Bugs and pests are the most unwelcome of house guests, so when they appear, homeowners want them gone — fast. Whether a customer contacts you for emergency service or is looking for regular pest maintenance, understanding how their buying journey led them to your door can help you stand out among your competitors.

To support pest control marketing efforts, Silverback Strategies recently asked 700 real homeowners to reflect on their buying journey for various home services, from the moment they discovered a problem to sharing their experience with friends and family. The result was a comprehensive study of pest control shopping habits to help businesses like yours refine marketing efforts to reflect the actual behavior of future customers.

The more you know about how your customers shop, the more strategic you can be with your marketing. In this blog, we’ll provide tips to target prospects at each stage of the customer journey — realization, education, evaluation, decision and advocacy — to help you optimize your pest marketing plan.

Step 1: Realization: There Are Bugs Among Us

Maybe a homeowner moved to an area where it’s common to spray for pests. Perhaps they discovered an infestation in their attic. No matter the specific need, the buying journey starts when customers discover a problem, and our data shows that 55% of buyers go online when a pest control problem arises. 

Although there are some generational differences in buyers’ first steps — for example, more than 60% of Millennials start looking for a provider online, while only 29% of Baby Boomers start there — optimizing your website for search is necessary to ensure customers can find you during the early phases of their buying journey. Incorporating top-ranking pest control keywords into your website will increase the likelihood Google and other search engines will highlight your service. 

Step 2: Education on Pest Problems (and Providers)

During the research phase, shoppers (26%) tend to use search engines like Google and Bing to find the top providers in their area. But search engines aren’t the only channel shoppers use. Many homeowners skip the web altogether by asking a friend for advice (20%) or contacting a previous provider (20%), which means savvy business owners should still prioritize word-of-mouth advertising in their pest control business plan.

Although referrals are still a viable marketing strategy, research shows the most common path for homeowners in the research phase starts online, especially those in younger demographics. Your pest marketing efforts should include a strong web presence, with resources for homeowners detailing the services you provide and how said services can solve their problem. Homeowners may be curious exactly how you rid homes of pests. Including informative articles and FAQs on your website adds value for your customers and proves your company is the right choice for the job.

Step 3: Evaluating Past Performance 

The next step is for homeowners to start evaluating and comparing their options. Though cost is the primary decision-making factor across all industries, bug- and pest-service shoppers also want to see positive ratings and reviews. This information is by far the most important beyond cost, with 59% of homeowners saying it was their top priority when evaluating providers. Examples of past performance are also important, with around 32% of homeowners naming it as their top criterion.

During the evaluation phase, your website and social media presence are important elements of your pest control marketing plan. Use your website and social profiles to share customer testimonials and examples of past jobs, and work to achieve positive ratings across top review sites (Google, Facebook, etc.). In terms of social media marketing, Facebook and Instagram continue to be the most important platforms, with just over 60% of shoppers using them at least once a week.

Step 4: Decision: The Best Pest Expert 

For bug and pest services, shoppers are likely to call around, with 29% of homeowners contacting two companies prior to making a decision and an additional 26% calling three or more.

To ensure you stand out against competitors, you and your staff should be ready to talk with customers about what sets you apart when they call. Highlight your differentiators and be ready to answer questions about your past performance and expertise.

Step 5: Advocacy: No Bugs, No Problems   

Though the bugs may be gone, the buyer’s journey continues even after service is complete. As mentioned, ratings and reviews play a huge role in a customer’s decision-making process — customer advocacy can make or break your next sale. Unfortunately, bug and pest shoppers are the least likely to leave a review across all the home services in our study, with only 36% saying they review their provider. For the best pest marketing, you need customers to advocate for you. 

Luckily, bug and pest companies are well-positioned to incentivize buyers to leave a review. In many parts of the country, homeowners use pest control as a preventative measure once or twice a year. If you live in one of these areas, you can offer a discount on future services for customers who leave a review or share a testimonial. Enticing homeowners to advocate for your business and share their positive experiences will help you shine when the next buyer appears.

Smart Marketing Makes a Difference 

If your marketing efforts are not reaching your target audience, you’re wasting time and money. Understanding how your buyers shop allows you to focus your attention (and resources) where it really matters. With a strong digital presence and reviews appealing to homeowners’ pain points, your future customers will know you can get the job done.

If you own a home services company and want to learn more about consumer behavior, Silverback Strategies can help. We invest in research to help our clients make smarter marketing decisions in their industry. You can find the full Home Services Buyer Research report here.

Lauren Mcvetty

Lauren is a content strategist with expertise in copywriting, social media and UX. She applies a performance-oriented approach to creative storytelling to deliver meaningful results for clients.

Additional Resources