EDITOR’S NOTE: Change seems to be the only constant in our world. What do you need to keep track of to grow and protect your business? It is hard to know! Anna Anderson from Art Unlimited will uncover the recent marketing changes and events which affect businesses nationwide. This is the third of the five-part series on leveraging big data to predict success for 2021. The trend and shifts in marketing are ever changing and this month's topic, Lead Generation Platforms, could be startling to some of you and to others simply an “aha” moment. Regardless of where your company sits, big changes are happening when it comes to lead generation.
Lead Generation Platforms
In 2020, we saw significant growth with digital platforms providing more robust paid solutions to advertisers. One such solution is the ability to generate leads within select platforms. Google Local Service Ads rolled out in 2018 and is now a dominant player in lead generation. Google fully launched this lead generation tool across the U.S. in 2019. Its success helped Google claim a front-row seat in the lead generator service providers. Google has long been known for their bold moves to create experiences or solutions for users, ones that mimic other successful online platforms. Google Local Service Ads positioned Google to leapfrog over well-known lead generating platforms (such as Home Advisor and Angie’s List) by driving qualified leads to service providers.
What we see now is more large digital platforms joining the lead generation market. Mini CRMs are springing up, allowing companies to generate leads within the platforms. Users no longer need to navigate away from their trusted platform. They can request residential or commercial services right where they are. Brace yourself: we are going to see significant growth in lead generation of this sort in the coming years. The key to success will be juggling all the platform standards as well as navigating the communication with these opportunities.
It might sound dated, but relationships are still one of the most powerful sources of lead generation. How you care for your customer is critical and not something to be taken lightly. Referral business is one of the strongest lead sources a company could ask for. Many times we find a business has raving fans, but they fail to leverage these individuals. Creating a strong referral program can feed your business through the best of times and the worst of times. You need to be willing to ask for a referral or ask if the customer would be a reference.
Some common items within a referral program include:
- An online referral portal allowing customers to refer their contacts
- A gratitude program that includes a referral or review request
- In-person referral request
- Follow-up communication with a request for a referral
This may seem bold, but if you have done your job well, you will find this is an untapped source of leads for your company.
I have seen and run countless storm campaigns for companies. Google is tightening down on campaigns without a validated location. This localization requirement shows Google's quest to support local businesses within search results.
Traditional door-to-door canvassing is a tried-and-true strategy, but a shift in consumer response happened with COVID-19. Companies who relied on door-to-door marketing had to look for other forms of lead generation. Thus we saw a flood of contractors diving into digital and traditional advertising platforms.
Your company needs two things to help navigate these challenges and grow regardless of the market. First, building strong relationships with your insurance networks. Second, holding the needed credentials. What can you provide to your insurance partners to help make them more successful? Many times you hold information that would allow an adjuster to be more effective. Time and time again I have seen insurance departments learn from a roofing contractor on the pros and cons of proper code, etc. Empowering the insurance provider to be more successful will in the long run bring you more leads and qualified leads.
Speed to Lead
There is one core item that must remain consistent throughout all lead generation channels: a quick response time to inquiries. We know it can be hard to be everywhere at once and respond quickly with the diverse landscape of lead generation. I have found when running Speed to Lead audits for companies, there are usually gaps that can be closed. The number of missed calls, the dropped lead inquiries, is staggering. In a recent study, we found there was on average 11% of leads missed in 2019. These calls/lead requests simply dropped off the radar because they never heard from the company they contacted. We saw an increase of leads missed in 2020 with 19% of opportunities not receiving a response. This should be a gut check for everyone reading this article. We all at some point or another have seen or had communication challenges. When the industry average is sitting at 19%, I know we can do better.
We also saw another shift in user activity in 2020, which I predict will continue. More users were searching for a roofing contractor outside normal working hours. Calls and communication before and after hours have increased. Many customers are now working from home or have a more flexible work schedule. This is changing the time frame we would expect leads to come in during. Customer service teams are starting early and running later night shifts. This enables them to close more opportunities with a quick response time where competitors aren’t responding in real time.
At the end of the day, spending more money to drive more leads might not be needed. Rather, a stronger, better-equipped customer service team might be all that is needed!
How to Win
You win by closing the gap and winning more leads:
- Identify lead generation platforms that support your roofing business model.
- Consider creating a robust referral program.
- Run a Speed-to-Lead audit on your business. Where are your gaps in communication and how can you increase profitability without investing more in marketing?
- In the midst of constant change, remember these tips:
- Get used to pivoting — a lot.
- Understand and track what platforms are driving leads.
- Stay on top of trends, no matter how fast they change.
- Diversify your lead portfolio to ensure strong lead flow in the midst of change.