This is a general overview of how to successfully market a roofing business online, how to create a website that will convert your local homeowners into customers, bringing you free business in the form of online leads for virtually an unlimited period of time, and can completely change the way you acquire work.
By comparison, you can run an advertising budget, which can easily exceed $10000 per year, between $2000-5000 yellow pages ads, $75-100 roofing leads from online construction lead generators (which by the way are typically sold to at least 3 contractors, and are not exclusive to you), and paying anywhere from $2-9+ for PPC (pay per click) ads in search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing ($3-4 is the typical cost of a roofing “click” in Boston, MA area, with the Google AdWords PPC program).
Just to let you know, this guide is part of a new series of articles on how to run and manage a roofing business. Check out the first part of this series – a guide on how to start a roofing business.
Why Should You Market Your Roofing Business Online?
Today, over 70% of residential construction work originates online*. The truth is soon enough all print media will be a ghost of the past, and only a few publications will still publish using paper. The same goes for advertising. Google made it’s 100s of billions of dollars in online advertising, and the trend is growing. To be successful, you need to utilize online advertising and marketing for your roofing business (and actually, pretty much any type of business).
I do not have a physical copy of the yellow pages at home, and every time they deliver it, it goes straight to the recycling bin. I’m sure I’m not alone here, and most roofing contractors I talk to have stopped using any type of yellow pages, and other types of print advertisement for that matter.
The internet offers SO many great tools to reach your potential customers, much more efficiently and far cheaper than print advertising, that it’s simply a waste of time and money to be old fashioned. For a relatively low one time investment, you can get a full roofing website up and running, describing everything your company does, showing off your work, and making it easy for your potential customers to reach you. This method will generate you a significantly greater number of customers than a $3000 / year half page ad in the yellow pages ever could! Then it’s only $7.49 per year for a .COM domain name and perhaps $6 per month to host your website.
However, just having a website will not get you work. You need actual homeowners or other interested people to visit your website, and you also need your website to convert these visitors into clients. So we now have two things that need to be done. Get site visitors (website traffic) and turn your site into a selling machine (visitor conversion).
Before You Begin – What You Should Expect From Marketing Your Business Online
You need to understand this one simple concept, which will save you a ton of aggravation and anxiety. Online marketing DOES NOT happen overnight, and you should not expect to get 100% of your business from your website for the first 6 months in the very least (assuming you put tremendous efforts into your web marketing campaign), and in the first year, realistically. However you need to do it yesterday, and soon enough your website should bring you most of your business.
However, in the mean time you will need to rely on your existing sources of getting work, and always do good work to get the free “word of mouth” work. Once you get your website running and your online marketing in place, it very well may become an never-ending fountain of roofing work for your business, as roofs ALWAYS leak!
What You Need To Know To Create a Successful Website
First, you will need to decide who will actually build your website. Most roofing contractors do not have enough knowledge of the internet and website building to do it themselves. However, there is enough information on the internet to learn how to do it.
For maximum efficiency, I would recommend hiring a web-designer (you can find one on Craigs List for about $300 – $500). If you would rather do it yourself, there are a number of free and fairly easy to use platforms for building websites with tutorials and different design themes to choose from. One of the most popular ones and the one that I personally use is WordPress. Others, which may not be as user friendly to novices are Drupal and Joomla.
Note, in building your website – make sure you first grasp the basics of SEO and then find a web designer who incorporates SEO concepts into the website (on-site SEO). Once your website is complete, start working on your off-site SEO campaign.
It is very important that you hire a web designer who understands SEO and specify to him / her the following: Meta Tags for each page on your site (Title, Description, Keywords), SEO friendly URLs (web page addresses), and tell them NOT to add their own links anywhere on your site – you are paying them for the work, and do not need to give them credit, unless you are OK with it, but I still recommend they don’t.
Next, you will need to go and buy a Domain Name and hosting for your website – preferably with same company. Check out GoDaddy $7.49 .COM Domain Name Sale. GoDaddy.com also provides Website Hosting Plans from $1.99 per month, with unlimited bandwidth.
Also, make sure your webmaster DOES NOT buy your domain name for you and DOES NOT host your website, unless you want to buy it from them for thousands of dollars a couple of years later. Many “prick” webmasters will tell you it’s easier to do it that way, but it does not benefit you in any way, and there are too many scammers out there.
Once your website is complete, YOU will need to write original (new) content for it – that is useful guides for your potential customers about roof leaks, how to choose a contractor (everybody’s doing this one 🙂 and so on. One of our most popular guides for homeowners is a flat roof repair guide. We get an average of 200 visits per day to this page alone!
How To Get Visitors To Your Website
Most homeowners with roof leaks (those that don’t live in the stone age of yellow pages and local newspapers) will go to Google or Yahoo or Bing, to search for information on how to solve a roof leak, or to find a contractor to do it for them. Therefore, you want these homeowners to find your company at the top of their search results – this will drive the most traffic to your website. But how do you do it? Well, you need to optimize your website for search engines like Google, using Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Landing Page Optimization (LPO). While you can hire a professional to manage your SEO campaign and in some cases it is worth it, you can also do a lot of the basics yourself, because learning SEO is not rocket science.
If you decide to outsource the SEO work, you will still NEED to know about it and know how to do it in order to make sure that you are getting your money worth and that your SEO efforts work. Also it is rather difficult and expensive to find a good SEO person / company, and most small businesses either can’t afford it or work with scammers and / or unqualified “professionals”.
In the end you can choose to both do it yourself and outsource it at the same time. However, if you master the skill, you will have most success doing it yourself, especially that most roofing businesses will rely on local SEO, which is not as involved as general (organic) SEO. However, with new algorithm changes in how Google displays local search results, you will still need strong general SEO to rank well in local searches.
Make sure this domain name is Local SEO friendly – for example “CantonMAroofingcontractor.com” – this will tell search engines that you are a local roofing contractor and increase the chances of you getting more local traffic in your city. We will discuss issues with large metropolitan areas in later articles, or you can always find better information on specific Local SEO sites.
We will not teach you all the Jedi tricks of SEO – there are plenty of sources on the internet for you to read. We will introduce you to major aspects of online marketing that you will need to complete in order to get work online – and trust me on this one – there is plenty of work and most of it you can have with ZERO advertising costs, for free that is!
Specifying Your Marketing Goals and Expectations
Most roofing companies install one roof per day (assuming you install mostly asphalt shingles) and to achieve that kind of work flow from your website, you will need to put a lot of time and effort into your website and SEO efforts. I also recommend that in the beginning, you set your expectations low, so when success comes unexpectedly, you will more than notice it.
Basically, an average conversion rate of a contractor’s website is between 2 and 4 % of your local traffic, and let’s assume you will not create a kick-ass website right off the bat, and your conversion will be about 2%. Therefore you will need to have 50 local visitors – mostly homeowners – per day (these visitors need to be ready and willing to install a new roof) to sell one job per day. Because you actually work about 4 out of 7 days per week, we will reduce that number to about 35 visitors per day. This is not difficult to achieve, but not easy either.
Additional SEO and Marketing Resources
Here is a list of very helpful roofing directories, where you can list your business website.
Our own RoofingCalculator.org roofing directory.
CoolFlatRoof.com green building directory, which features a general roofing category, as well as metal roofing, and green roofing categories.
NewEnglandMetalRoof.com construction directory with multiple category options.
AllConstructionDirectory.com – general purpose contractors directory.
HomeImprovementDir.com – another general purpose construction and roofing directory.
We will be updating the above list with new roofing and construction resources for contractors, as well as posting new guides related to roofing business marketing.
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