In a world where consumers are increasingly using the Internet to search for solutions to everyday challenges, it’s vital for tradesmen to have an online presence.
Electricians, builders, and ‘odd-jobs’ handymen often make the mistake of thinking they do not need a website or other online presence; they see this as a luxury they can do without.
The truth is, the Internet is a marketing tool that you can’t afford to ignore. More and more people are searching online to find specialist tradesmen, and consumers are checking website reviews for recommendations. And people don’t mind shouting out on social media about a job well (or badly) done. All of this means that the Internet can be a great tool for tradesmen like you – if used properly.
Research shows that Google accounts for 70% ofallInternet search traffic. Added to this, 4 out of 5 consumers use a search engine to find information about businesses. 50% of consumers who conduct a search will end up using a business they searched for within 24 hours. The best news for trade businesses is that 18% of all searches result in a transaction within one day. So, can you really afford not to have a solid online presence?
Word-of-mouth recommendation has gone digital
Pre-Internet, tradesmen thrived on word-of-mouth recommendations between customers. But in today’s marketplace, online referrals can have a big influence on whether a consumer decides to use your trade services. Jonny Lawrence, a digital marketing guru at Logic4training, says the company conducted a survey of gas engineers, electricians and plumbers, which revealed that many of them are using the Internet to stir up business.
Related: Digital transformation: 3 easy steps to success
“It’s natural for end consumers to want to share their stories, good and bad. But customers are no longer simply chatting to their neighbours over the garden fence; instead, the Internet provides the perfect outlet for customers to say their piece,” says Lawrence. “It’s instant, satisfying, and most importantly for the tradesperson, has the potential to reach millions of people.”
The essential thing to remember about your online presence is that it makes you more transparent and ‘accessible’; giving the customer direct access to you in a digitally-enhanced manner.
How to market your trade business online with a website
A social media page can be a useful tool to grow your trade business, but it doesn’t mean you can forget about having your own website. A well-built website means you retain complete control over how your business is presented in the digital world.
More importantly, a good website means you’re more likely to be found when consumers use Google to search for the services you offer. Try this: search for ‘plumbers in Johannesburg’, and you’ll see for yourself that the results that appear are not social media profiles, but actual websites.
Do-It-Yourself web builders like Wix make building a site as easy as clicking on the elements and using your mouse to drag and drop them into place. If you’re a little more tech-savvy, you may find platforms like WordPress useful.
What to include on a trade business’ website
After you’ve spent some time experimenting with design templates on your chosen DIY web builder, it’s time to start populating it with info. Lawrence says even the best-looking website in the world is no good if it doesn’t tell people three key things:
- What you do (and where you do it)
- Why the customer should choose you
- How to get in touch with you to hire you.
Related: Will Blockchain redefine SME relationships?
Let’s unpack each point below:
1. What you do (and where you do it)
The moment potential customers land on your home page, it should be obvious to them what you do, and – particularly important for trade businesses – where you do it.
You should include information such as your area of expertise, and the regions you cover. This is going to help you when people search for services like yours. Lawrence says most people are going to search for businesses nearest to them, so it’s essential to ensure people know where you are.
2. Why the customer should choose you
As you know, there are hundreds of trade businesses and self-employed professionals like you out there. Ask yourself, why should anybody choose to work with you and not one of your competitors? This is where you need to come up with your own ‘Unique Selling Point’ (USP) and tell your customers why you’re the right person for the job.
Anybody can make an ambiguous statement about doing quality work at affordable prices, but you can you do something better by listing your qualifications, stating if you have insurance coverage, and proving your track record of outstanding work. Do this by adding customers’ feedback and a portfolio or gallery of your work.
3. How customers can get in touch with you
Most websites have a dedicated contact page which lists a phone number, email address and other contact information, such as Twitter or Facebook handles. But, it’s advisable to include an easy-to-fill contact form too.
Lawrence says it’s a good idea to include your contact details on every page, in a prominent location preferably at the top of the page, so that people can easily see how to book you for a quote or repair.