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The Importance of Being Mobile-Friendly for Commercial Contractors

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Back in 2013, I distinctly remember reading an article about Sony just barely making a profit for the first time in five years. I remember thinking, “How could such a dominant and respected brand be struggling to make money?”

Two years later, my question was answered with this case study. Apparently, instead of investing in digital music, Sony increased investment in its Walkman division. Think about that for a moment. Apple introduced the iPod in 2001, and Sony—despite having a dominant market position and all the technology, software, and content needed to dominate digital music—continued to invest in the Walkman. When is the last time you saw a Walkman?

By the time Sony realized their mistake, it was five years too late.

Digital Transformation or Digital Disruption?

While your HVAC company is nothing like Sony, the principle I’m trying to illustrate with this example remains the same—if you don’t adapt your strategy for the digital transformation happening now, you’re setting your company up for extinction.

As we’ve seen time and time again—from Uber to Amazon—you either embrace digital transformation or you risk digital disruption. Some of you reading this are probably thinking my point is business 101, but nostalgia creeping into your business strategy is a lot more common than I think you realize.

I’ll give you an example—the mobile-friendliness of your company’s website.

If you own or run a commercial HVAC company, there’s a 30 percent chance your website does not display correctly or function optimally when viewed on a mobile device—a tablet, smartphone, etc. If you think all your prospects, customers, prospective employees, partners, suppliers, and vendors are only visiting your site while sitting at their desk, you’re sorely mistaken.

Let’s go back to 2013, when Forbes did a study on the connected executive—they found more than one-fourth of the executives in the study said they had purchased a product or service directly from their mobile device over the past six months. What’s more surprising? They also found that a large number of executives actually preferred to use tablets and smartphones if vendors made it easier to buy on mobile devices.

Read that again: executives indicated they preferred to do business on mobile devices, and that was in 2013.

Now, do you think that trend has reversed or accelerated in the past five years?

What Commercial HVAC Contractors Need to Know About Mobile: 5 Steps to Take

The reality is mobile web traffic has already overtaken desktop traffic, and this new norm of mobile website browsing means you need to adapt your digital marketing strategy in five ways:

1.      You need to put someone in charge.

Before you laugh, really think about it—who is in charge of your website? Many executives and business owners don’t know or have relegated it to their IT department.

Wrong choice. Because your website should be your number one sales and marketing asset, it should really be owned by your marketing department, not your IT department. But, it’s your responsibility to set expectations for your marketing team and establish clear-cut goals for the site.

2.      You need to secure your website.

Your website needs to be secure, meaning it needs to be HTTPS instead of HTTP. This provides you with an SSL certificate, which secures your website from malicious attacks from the outside.

The biggest mistake you can make is assuming your website won’t get hacked because it doesn’t have any financial and/or sensitive data. Here’s the reality—hackers don’t hack individual websites. Hackers create automated scripts and programs that crawl the web in search of vulnerable websites. And who has the most vulnerabilities? You guessed it—small and medium-sized businesses.

More than 70 percent of attacks target small businesses, and as much as 60 percent of hacked small businesses go out of business within six months. That’s because the effects a hack can have on your online credibility are staggering and can take years to correct.

Because of the severity of online attacks, Google now rewards secured sites with a boost in search rankings and a green “secure” symbol (image above) and punishes non-secure sites by labeling them as such. Because they aren’t providing a good user experience in Google’s eyes, websites that aren’t secure are more likely to rank on page two or three of the search results—and let’s be honest, when was the last time anyone went past the first page of search results?

Since Google now identifies non-secured websites right there in the search bar, do you think consumers are going to voluntarily click on a website marked “not secure or dangerous?” I wouldn’t, and you probably wouldn’t either. By investing in an SSL certificate, you’re protecting your future customers and giving them peace of mind that their contact information—name, email address, and phone number—are safe.

3.      You need to speed up your website.

Did you know that 47 percent of customers expect a web page to load in two seconds or less? Not only that, but as mobile page load time goes from one second to five seconds, the probability of someone bouncing from your website increases by 90 percent.

I don’t understand contractors whose websites still take ten seconds to load, especially since speeding up your website takes minimal investment and has such a big payoff. A consumer’s online experience—whether that’s B2B or B2C—needs to be fast and frictionless, and consumers don’t care if that experience is with Amazon or Joe’s HVAC down the street. Today’s buyers live in an even more fast-paced world than they did ten, five, or even one year ago, and a one-second delay could be the difference between making the sale or giving it to your competitors.

First, test your website speed—you can test it here. What you’re looking for is a website speed labeled as “fast” and has an optimization that is “medium” or “good.”  Underneath your scores are tips for optimizing the different elements on your website—80 percent of a page’s load time is spent rendering each individual attribute. This includes images, plugins, style sheets, scripts, and anything else that makes your website what it is.  You can learn more about how fast your website should be and how to optimize it for speed here.

4.      You need to make your website easy to navigate.

I just mentioned your website needs to be fast and frictionless. In 2018 (and beyond), frictionless means your website needs to be responsive to mobile devices. Most executives are always on the go or work at all hours—80 percent of them research products or services on a tablet in the evening. I’m rarely in my office, but I bring my work with me wherever I go—the line at Starbucks, my kids’ soccer games, and even when I’m stuck in stand-still traffic. I know I’m not alone in this.

But, while it used to be that you could squeak by with simply making your desktop version responsive, that’s not going to cut it anymore—one part of being frictionless is making sure your site is not only easy to navigate from a mobile device, but also intuitive.

That means adding elements like “click to call” or “click for directions” buttons, making sure your text is large enough to read without squinting, and creating easy-to-complete forms.

Most importantly, you’ve got to test everything. Use A:B testing to find out if form A works better than form B or if different wording or different navigational links help increase conversion rates. By testing what works for your specific company, you’ll get the best results for not only your business, but for the people searching for your services as well.

5.      You need to make sure your website is visible.

You’ve done all this work to make your website ready for the mobile-inclined buyer, so how are you going to funnel traffic to it? You may think that search engine optimization (SEO) would do the trick, but there’s a problem with using SEO as your only means of traffic—paid ads take up the entire search results screen on a mobile device, and 41 percent of clicks go to the top three paid ads. Take a look:

See what I mean? At the top, you’ll see Google’s Local Services ads (GLSA). I won’t go too into detail about these ads—check out this article to learn more—but if you’re a commercial HVAC contractor, you’ll want to allocate some of your marketing spend for these ads.

As you can see, if you’re not paying for ads, you’re not on the menu, period.

Final Thoughts: If Your Website Is Not Mobile-Friendly, It’s Not B2B Buyer-Friendly

In 2017, more than 55 percent of our HVAC clients’ website impressions came from mobile. I know it’s not easy to stay up-to-date with the latest trends in digital marketing, but as that statistic shows, making your website mobile-friendly isn’t a trend, nor is it recent. Adapting your site for mobile has an enormous benefit to any HVAC contractor that does commercial work. When you get down to it, mobile impacts four of your fundamental marketing metrics:

  • Rankings
  • Mobile web visits
  • Bounce rates
  • Conversion rates

Having a mobile-first website increases all of those things. Your visibility and web traffic are the lifeblood of your sales pipeline, and if they don’t align, your sales will dry up. Some commercial contractors have dismissed a mobile-friendly site in the past as a luxury item—that’s not an option anymore. Mobile digital technology is here—it’s been here, and as Sony learned the hard way, it’s not going away. You can ignore it, or even resist it, like Sony did, but I guarantee the results won’t be pretty. If you need help making your website mobile-friendly, give me a call.

Ben Landers

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