Understanding Homeowners' Online Buying Habits
You’ve all heard that when it comes to finding homeowners who want a new roof, the Internet is where it’s at. Between 80-90 percent of homeowners conduct Internet research before making a major purchase. We know people are spending more time online thinking about their roofing options before ever talking to a roofer. So, what exactly are they doing when they’re online? And how does that affect their attitude before they pick up the phone and call you for a quote?
After taking tens of thousands of phone calls from homeowners looking to remodel their homes, we’ve identified five different types of personalities and their online behaviors before they call you.
Everyone loves straight arrows because they make quick decisions. They’re often homeowners where both members of the home work full time, and have children or other family members that keep them very busy. These factors force quicker decisions by homeowners who want a friction-free process.
Unfortunately, this certainly isn’t the majority of your prospects. However, it represents an important subset of homeowners who realize they have a problem, and don’t have much time to research and compare solutions. The good news is that straight arrows often don’t fight for every last dollar. Timing, schedules and an easy sales experience are much more important to them than counting the extra pennies at the end of a job. The easier you make it, the more likely they are to buy.
Reputation detectives have a very different behavior once they’ve found you. Rather than responding to you immediately, they continue their process by investigating online. They search websites like Yelp and Angie’s List looking for reviews that others have written about your company.
These homeowners are focused on avoiding being scammed. Moreover, they don’t want high-pressure sales tactics. Rather, they are cautious and want a reputable roofer that will deliver a solid, well-built roof using strong, long-lasting materials. As with straight arrows, their objective isn’t to minimize every last dollar. They’ll spend extra money so long as they’re convinced they’re getting the real deal and not a shoddy, fly-by-night contractor.
The blessing and the curse of the Internet is that it delivers more information to homeowners than they could ever possibly process. Today, most homeowners can easily drown in the volumes of content they can find about roofing and shingles online.
But product geeks really like to dig up and read as much material as they can get their hands on. They’ll spend hours online researching shingle types, composition and warranties before ever contacting you. In short, they consider themselves just as informed as any of your sales representatives.
In support of these homeowners, I encourage roofers to offer as much information as they can on their websites. It will certainly help improve your search-engine rankings, and it will show product geeks how your materials and roofing options compare with what they’ve learned elsewhere.
We all dislike prospects who think price first. They’re difficult to set appointments with, difficult to sell and difficult to close. But even in a strong economy, price monsters are everywhere.
When these homeowners go online, they do everything they can to understand pricing and potential cost savings before they invite you to their homes. They do searches for terms like “new roof costs,” “cheap roofing materials” and “affordable roofing company.”
Your hidden challenge online with price monsters isn’t tied to your products or your sales techniques. Rather, it comes from Google, which now displays its retail listings high on its search-results pages. Among those listings, Google shows results for online behemoths like Home Depot, BuildDirect and iMetal — at deceptively low prices.
Price monsters will really start trying to price jobs based on what they find on Google. Everything looks so cheap, but what they don’t see is the low quality that likely comes with that low price. They also don’t see any reference to installation, repair or craftsmanship. But, unfortunately, it’s those low prices that invariably stick in their heads.
Here are some tips for selling price-obsessed homeowners: Don’t price over the phone. Homeowners who are really ready to buy will have you come out to their homes to inspect the roofs personally. And don’t fall for their persistent requests for a ballpark price — there’s always someone lower.
Do make strong offers on your website. Price monsters love saving money, whether via coupon, a posted discount or as a carryover from your offline advertising. These hooks grab them and get them to raise their hands. Remember, you’re not trying to sell based on your offer, you’re just trying to get their contact information.
The final persona is currently the smallest, but it’s also growing the fastest. Wired homeowners will do online research — but often after they head to their social networks to ask their friends or followers for a roofing referral. They’ve moved well beyond simple reputation searches to broad requests for information via their social-media connections.
Wired homeowners will also check your company’s social-media channels. Since they’re active Facebook and Twitter users, they’ll check if you’re posting regularly. For this bunch, it’s not so much what you post as much as that you’re active on social media in the first place. That point of commonality goes a long way.
While this group of prospects is still small and relatively young, 10 years from now, a much bigger percentage of your target prospects will be using social media for these referrals.
It’s still difficult to get good leads online, but it’s not hard to understand homeowners’ online behaviors. If you can give your sales team a thorough understanding of what prospects are doing online, they’re going to be more successful at getting into homes and selling new roofs. Good luck!