A raging pandemic, stay-in-place orders, political and economic turmoil. It is an understatement to say that the past year was challenging for everyone, but an unexpected bright spot for those who work in the home improvement industry.

For many Americans, homes became the center of attention as many transitioned from office life to work-from-home, dinners out ceased, and vacation plans were upended. With extra time and unspent money on their hands, many homeowners channeled their energy into re-imagining their spaces and shifted budgets towards big ticket improvement projects. According to a 2020 mid-summer report by CNBC, demand more than doubled for outdoor projects like pool & spa installs, landscaping, and decks & patios. Interest also surged for kitchen and bath projects, with a 40% increase in demand compared to the year prior.[1]

Can we expect the same interest for home improvements beyond 2021?

All signs point to YES. The Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity, released by the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University (JCHS), projects a 3.8 percent year-over-year growth in home renovation and repair expenditure by year end.[2]  Time is of the essence for contractors who want a piece of the action. Don’t miss the opportunity to get in front of homeowners who are planning now for the year to come.

Did you know that 88% of US homeowners hire professionals for renovations?[3] Unlike 2020, which found more homeowners attempting DIY projects due to fear of COVID spread, the JCHS projects that this trend will not continue long-term and more homeowners will prefer to hire a contractor in 2021. 22% report allocating a budget of anywhere between $5,000 – $15,000 on their projects.[4] With this type of investment, expect that homeowners will take their time to conduct extensive research before setting up appointments with contractors.

Brands that effectively engage with their target audiences early in the buyer’s journey are more likely to positively influence buying decisions.

According to Scott Baker, Director of SEO & Digital Strategy for Lehighvalleylive.com, “brands that effectively engage with their target audiences early in the buyer’s journey are more likely to positively influence buying decisions.” To set your business up for success, you MUST get in front of homeowners in the early stages of their research. Even if you find that you are still catching up from a high volume of leads from the past year, you must continue your marketing efforts in order to get that future business.

Here are some recommendations on strategies to prioritize, helping to keep your business top-of-mind and new leads flowing in.

Build the Storefront – Web development

Did you know that at least two-thirds of small businesses report not having a website? If you are one of them, consider this: at least 63% of consumers use a contractor’s website to find and engage with them.[5]

A website is the foundation of your success. It should be built with your client in mind featuring content that showcases your work (pictures, testimonials, short blogs), easy navigation and access to contact information and forms.

Most importantly, remember that your site should be mobile friendly. Google projects that by 2025, 70% of all internet users will access the web through their mobile device[6]. Having a mobile optimized website isn’t just a nice thing to have, it is an absolute necessity. “If your website is not presentable or breaks on their browser, they [mobile users] won’t stay”, claims browser testing platform LamdaTest[7].

Google reports that over 40% of people report that they prefer to complete their entire buyers’ journey (from research to purchase) on their mobile device AND 80% are more likely to re-visit and/or share a mobile friendly site.[8]

Create the Signage – Organic Search (SEO) & Pay Per Click (SEM)

You have a great website… but how do potential clients find it? All of the content on your website should incorporate keywords that are most commonly searched by consumers looking for your type of services. This includes service descriptions, blogs & photo captions. Your content has the biggest impact on your website’s success.[9] It is important to create and optimize content that answers many frequently asked questions.

For added exposure, you can also push your blog content to homeowners through social media, digital advertising and emails to customers and prospects.

If you can find a budget, you should consider search engine marketing to help boost your SEO efforts. Consider that about 60% of major home remodeling project starters took action within 12 months of exposure to a sponsored search result (like on Google, Yahoo or Bing). Approximately 40% took action within 30 days![10]

Build Trust with the Audience – The Halo Effect

Consider building trust with your current audience and expanding your brand by working with a reputable, established partner. Enter the “halo effect”. This is the phenomenon where the positive impressions of one brand may positively influence an opinion about any associated brand. An easy way to do this is to re-purpose the content on your blog and social media to run as a sponsored article on a trusted news site. Running side by side with news or entertainment, puts the halo effect to great use, reinforcing your expertise and value in an unassuming way. You could also consider other forms of advertising such as video ads to showcase your work or sponsored emails sent from your partner. The key is to work with a trusted brand. People respond to messages connected with a site or publication they know and trust, and content trust is responsible for 84% of ad trust.[11]

2020 was a game changer for the home improvement industry as so many consumers were forced to spend more time at home. Capitalize on these gains moving forward by making sure that your marketing efforts are headed in the right direction.

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