How COVID-19 is Impacting Marketing for Roofing Contractors
To best understand the true impact of COVID-19 on the roofing industry we must take time to understand the trends and shifts occurring.
Beginning on Feb. 23, our team began to see a shift within the United States of search queries where users were working to quickly educate themselves on the coronavirus and it’s possible health risks.
On March 5, we began to hear from clients of a slight shift in user behavior in relation to roofing lead volumes, but the data wasn’t significant to note any trends. In addition, lead trend shifts were still strong within select markets. Although spring-like weather was beginning, storms and spring rains had yet to really roll through the nation, except for in a select few pockets which have experienced massive storms.
We saw a larger shift on March 11 of users who were not only educating themselves but also working to understand how to prepare. The states with the top COVID-19 related search traffic included: Maine, Michigan, New Mexico, Idaho and New Jersey.
Lead volumes were in some locations beginning to reflect shifts, but were still very localized. Campaigns with strong digital and traditional advertising remained with high lead traffic.
On March 13, national search spikes began to take over the digital space and users not only were searching about COVID-19 but also testing stations and how to ensure they aren’t carrying the virus. We see cities such as: Denver; Seattle-Tacoma, Wash., Austin, Texas; Birmingham Ala.; and San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, Calif., topping the list for the highest level of search queries related to testing stations.
On March 16 the top search queries included:
- How did the coronavirus start?
- What is the coronavirus?
- How many cases of coronavirus in the US?
- How long does coronavirus last?
- How many people have died from coronavirus?
As you can see, search queries are peaking and rolling from citizens working to become aware of the situation to the possible personal impact and how their once normal lifestyle will change, both personally and professionally.
For the first time in correlation to COVID-19 news, nationally we saw a slight reduction in roofing search queries over peak lead days (Monday-Wednesday). For example, here is a chart from a contractor’s weekly lead report:
We are also starting to see a shift and supply chain related search queries are beginning to take 1-2 of the top search terms nationally. This leads us to believe there is elevated awareness from both installers and consumers that raw product fulfillment might be impacted. National branded searches for ABC Supply and Beacon are at the top of the charts.
The top states with roofing search queries included as of 3/17/2020:
- South Carolina
- North Carolina
- New Mexico
It is interesting to note that all but one of these states do not overlap with any of the states with peak COVID-19 search queries as documented above. In drilling deeper into the data, the search trends for these 10 states have to date only seen slight volume changes. In highly affected areas such as Seattle, we can see a larger impact in search trends.
Consistent Marketing Elements
Contractors who are winning regardless of location have these consistent marketing elements:
Diverse range of services
Services that have a range of options from service models to full replacements.
We are shifting our efforts to promotion of services/products that have a lower barrier to entry. Such as a roof repair, Roof Maxx, gutter cleaning service etc.; customers aren’t searching for full roof replacements. We expect this to be a short seasonal shift, but to ensure cash flow remains strong marketing service/product diversity is critical.
Strong brand awareness
Community, radio or TV campaigns are going to pay off big time. The catch is these are marketing strategies that in most cases had to be in existence prior to the COVID-19 scare. When we see large economic shifts your brand will help carry you through. In the event that you haven’t engaged with your community through local events or organizations or are looking for ways to cement your brand, here are some great ideas:
- Look for ways to support those who are unable to work.
- Support the service people who are on the front lines.
- Think outside the box, this is the time to connect with the communities that you serve.
When it comes to radio, closely review the content. Is it reflective of today’s circumstances? If not, quickly change it and roll out a fresh empathetic message of support but also ‘we are here to keep you safe and dry.’
As media consumption has been charted from China to Italy to now North America we see consistent trends. All forms of video and social media consumption are spiking. Quality commercials are critical but it’s difficult to create something new on such short notice. Ways to promote your company through video if you don’t have a commercial would be with YouTube bumper ads. YouTube has a video ad generator and in some cases the auto generator ads aren’t too bad! This gives you an easy way to pivot quickly.
Social media strategy
Social platforms are experiencing extremely high rates of consumption. With users having unrestricted access we are recommending this is the time to make sure your social media strategy is on point. Some ideas include:
- Create personalized content
- Share a supportive clear message
- Use photos, graphics, or videos to share your message
- Boost or promote your content
- Run ads
- Join groups and be an active supportive community member
Review ratings online of 4.4 or higher and 100+ reviews
Having strong, consistent reviews coming in for your company is a long term strategy. Consistency is key; if you haven’t received many reviews, now would be the time to reach out to past customers who said they loved you but didn’t leave a review. Take time to personally reach out via their communication channel, phone, text, or email. Check in on how they are doing to help maintain a strong relationship. Creating raving fans always has a positive impact on your review ratings.
Top Two Lead Closure Strategies
1. In-house call centers
A great call center can make all the difference in prospective customers working with you or walking away. Speed is essential. Data has proven (with our clients and others) that if you answer the phone in the first to second ring, your appointment set rate with a trained receptionist should be 75-90%.
2. On-premise and virtual estimating sales strategies
This is critical as customers are looking for a virtual experience, especially if they have gone into self quarantine. Trust me, they have time on their hands and you can only consume so much TV and social media! As consumers exhaust their tolerance for these medias, they will begin looking for productive options - be there ready! Promotion of a virtual experience could look like:
- Start with a message on your website and social channels about what actions you are taking to keep your team and customers safe. Here is something you can customize for your business:
We are here for you and want to meet you where you are (in home via video) and are taking XYZ steps to protect our staff and customers. In addition, we are working with local charities to ensure meals are being provided to families in need.
- Schedule a video call.
- Virtually meet with a roof consultant who walks you through the status of and recommendations for your roof.
- Schedule the external repair/installation of your roof.
- Enjoy lasting protection from the elements.
In summary, now is the time to make sure that each person on your team and your business partners are all focused on the same goal. Does everyone get it, want it, and have the capacity to do the job needed? These are items I and our leadership team are reviewing closely and so should you.
Great marketing starts with a clear vision from the leadership team. When this happens, your marketing plan will be strong and consistent. I hope this information helped you clarify where to invest in your marketing, but above all consider your message and then promote it from the rooftops!