My friend Marcus Sheridan from River Pools & Spas is one of the best examples of contractor blogging. Now, in his fifth year of blogging, he sometimes sees more than 75,000 visits to his blog site per month. He’s positioned himself as the clear expert in fiberglass pools, from not only his regional area, but around the world. During the same time as he’s increased his blogging, he has decreased his advertising spend by over 50%, selling more fiberglass pools than anyone in the country over that time.
What most HVAC contractors who start out blogging don’t get is that it takes both time AND consistent blogging to see a return. Sometimes you can see payback from the blog in six months. Sometimes it takes more than a year. For myself, it took a solid year to really see a payoff in my blogging. Now, as we’ve built a multi-million dollar business, I point to the blog as THE most important marketing initiative we have.
But, blogging in the HVAC industry is starting to catch on. HVAC contractors who blog aim to strengthen their relationships with customers and establish themselves as their community’s go-to expert in the field.
But what blog frequency will help you accomplish those goals?
Some bloggers post several times a day, every day. Not only do few HVAC contractors have time to produce that much content, but it’s not necessary – and it could hamper your blog more than it helps your business. That’s because for those very frequent bloggers, growing the blog itself is the ultimate goal; their blog is their business.
For HVAC contractors, on the other hand, blogs offer a way to connect – and keep reconnecting – with HVAC customers over the long term. As an HVAC contractor, you should aim for a thoughtful, targeted blog that puts its readers first – you want quality, not excessive quantity. Blog too frequently, and you risk overloading readers with less-than-useful information.
However, blogging too infrequently can create problems as well. Rarely-updated blogs rank poorly in Google results and are less likely to bring back readers. If you don’t keep offering useful, timely posts, your customers and prospects will move on. Fresh content attracts readers. Also, blogs often serve as the core for your social media communication, so without the blog updates, it’s hard to be interesting for your customers.
So when it comes to HVAC blog frequency, what’s the magic number? Posting two or three times a week works well for many service providers and small businesses. It keeps their blogs fresh and relevant without directing an avalanche of information toward their readers. And it helps ensure that each post contains information that’s helpful to customers.
Of course, arriving at that goal takes some planning and some creativity. Here are some tips and guidelines for achieving that delicate balance between blogging too much and too little:
Be consistent. Once you decide on an HVAC blog frequency, stick to it. If you can’t be counted on to provide expert information consistently, why would a prospect hire you? You have to think of yourself like a media company…your content is your promise to your readers (customers).
Brainstorm topics in advance. Even posting twice a week might seem daunting as you embark on your blog. How much can you write about HVAC issues that would appeal to the average homeowner? A lot, actually -- if you do some brainstorming and a lot of listening.
What are your customers’ perennial concerns? Start there, breaking each subject down into short posts, so the blog doesn’t become overwhelming to produce – or to read. Take air filters. You could write about, for example:
• MERV ratings
• Pleated filters vs. non-pleated
• Washable filters vs. disposable
• Frequency of filter changes and how that frequency changes according to the weather
• Benefits and drawbacks of HEPA filters.
If you ask Marcus Sheridan, he’ll tell you to write down all the questions your customers ask. Every question you get is a blog post. That’s how you get a competitive advantage…give away great information to get more customers.
Create an editorial calendar. An editorial calendar can mean the difference between a blog that fizzles and dies and one that sizzles and flourishes. It lays out the topics you plan to cover and when, eliminating those last-minute scrambles for content.
To be timely, look outdoors – and into your community. The weather has everything to do with your HVAC customers’ questions. Plan your blog accordingly: Write about air conditioning tuneups in the spring and heating efficiency in the fall.
Pay attention to other seasonal events, as well. As new construction season ramps up, you could use your blog to explore the benefits of radiant-floor heating. And when your community undergoes bizarre weather – an extended heat wave in September, violent winds in April -- change your plan; either situation could yield a post about generators.
Vary your format along with your content. Most posts should be a few paragraphs long – about 350 words, maximum. But don’t limit yourself to the five-paragraph essay. Readers love “list posts” – short bullet points of useful, easily-digested information. You might write a post titled, 5 Ways Radiant Heating Saves Money.
Other proven winners:
• Quick tips. Custom Comfort ClimateCare in Barrie, Ontario offered, Best Programmable Thermostat Practices To Drive Energy Savings .
• Checklists for do-it-yourselfers. Home Comfort Inc. in the Willamette Valley area of Oregon published a post called, Follow These Tips To Winterize Your Air Conditioner .
• Short interviews. Has one of your technicians lured a cat out of someone’s ductwork? Ask him or her about it (and publish a photo of the cat!). This is a great post for Facebook as well (the type that people like to share).
• Pro/con lists. Lay out the benefits of upgrading to a high-efficiency heating system vs. repairing an old one, like Raleigh’s Comfort Services did here.
• Current events. If certain federal tax credits are set to expire on energy-efficient equipment, let your customers know about it.
• Finally, consider expanding into other media, such as video. P.K. Wadsworth in Cleveland, OH, linked to its video How to Change Your Air Filter from its blog.
Don't let your blog flounder. Consistency is the key to building relationships with customers, so find the right frequency for your HVAC blog. Consider assigning the job to an employee – or a group of them -- with HVAC expertise and online savvy, or outsource the job . No matter what, keep at it. You’ll see results.
Joe Pulizzi is CEO for SocialTract, the leading blogging/social media service for HVACR Contractors. Joe’s new book, Managing Content Marketing, is now available on Amazon and Kindle. Joe can be reached on Twitter @juntajoe or by email [email protected].