Clients and real estate professionals are online more and more—especially in the midst of the pandemic. Your online presence connects you with clients and professionals, allows you to showcase your inspection business and helps you collect information from prospective clients.
In many ways, the digital world is like real life. You introduce yourself and your service, and you connect with professionals for referrals and clients for business. Your personality shines through in a way similar to when you are face to face.
But the digital world has a business advantage more powerful than any real-world connection—data. Once you understand how your online presence generates data, you can use that data to generate information that advances your business.
Every point of information you share online is a data point. Search algorithms like Google comb millions of data points to find the best answer for someone searching for a home inspector.
That means that everywhere you are online counts as data about your business.
- Your website
- Service listings like Yelp and Home Advisor
- Professional listings like ASHI
- Google Maps
- Better Business Bureau listings
Because your business can appear so many places online, you need to create a consistent message about your business. Make sure your basic information is up to date. Your business name, address and phone number (NAP) should look identical on every platform. And these days, listing both an email address and a texting phone number will help potential clients reach you.
Make sure your brand message is the same. As well. Your business name, your message about your service, and testimonials all tell people searching on the web about your online reputation. For instance, if you have mostly positive reviews on a service listing site but a number of complaints at the Better Business Bureau (BBB), search engines like Google might display the link to BBB on top, possibly right above your business name.
There are no secrets online. Years ago, inspectors got 90% of business from talking to real estate agents. Now, with the shift to online presence, 80% to 90% of your business comes to you on the basis of what you display and post online.
Do the most you can to build and maintain a positive reputation for your business, both in person and online.
Define Who You Are and Who You Want to Reach
Define who you are and your brand, and work toward developing an online presence: your website, social reputation and reviews. Your online presence is a constant, ongoing source of business for new, as well as established, business.
There’s nobody out there saying: "Oh, I'm a home inspector, but I'm not very good at it."
Everyone is claiming to be a great home inspector and claiming to do many of the same things you do. So, what will really define your business online are the things you don't do or the things you don’t do particularly well.
If you specialize in something, that’s the kind of thing that you need to put forward. Be aware of what makes you stand out.
It’s not so much about what you want to be as it is who your customers want you to be. Be the right thing for the customer you want to serve. Not all customers are the same. We know we have great customers and not-so-great customers. Identify the things that set your clients apart. What you discover about their traits will help you target the customers who are most valuable to you.
Use the Data
As soon as you have a website presence, you should set up a Google Analytics account. The information you receive will help you measure activity at the online destinations where people engage with you.
It will take some time to review your analytics and your data and make the right interpretations. Try to synthesize the data focusing on a little bit of information at a time. Figure out why you were doing well one week or not well another week. Use those two data points to correlate to get a better sense of how the metrics tie to your business.
Gradually, add more pages and destinations into your analytics. What happens is that, as traffic comes to those sites, data are gathered, collected, aggregated, collated and sorted. Over time, you’ll start to understand all the data and interpret the results. Use the data to identify your ideal customers and how they find you. You’ll discover the following:
- who your customers are
- which customers pay attention to social media
- which customers ask which questions
All of these things help you know whether someone is likely to be one of your better, higher-value clients or could become a potentially problematic one. Set up client profiles so you can determine the tactics that work best for each kind of customer.
The reason you want to understand the data is to help the bottom line of your business. You want to know how your online presence converts to you acquiring new clients. Conversions happen in small steps. And you can track them with analytics.
It’s easy to think when you put up a website that customers will automatically roll in. But there are a lot of things that have to happen before you get there. Someone has to hear about your business. It may be through a search, it may be from someone talking about you. You need to create something that makes that sort of tip-off possible. If you’ve never done anything, nobody’s going to hear of you.
When a potential client hears about you, they will go online to check you out. Are they impressed? Impressing them is one micro-conversion. If not, they’ll move away. If they are, that’s another micro-conversion on the path to the proper final conversion that will bring you business, if they are your preferred type of client.
If you only think about the big picture, you can miss the small points. A whole two-hour conversation can boil down to one second. And that incident can make or break the whole two hours of setup. The micro-moments work together to form an ecosystem of all the different conversion moments.
All this is to say: You want to optimize your online presence for conversions. Conversion rate optimization means you work on your website, using analytics, to find the sources of your visits, to learn which pages are working.
If you can double your conversion rate now, then everything else you do, like bringing more traffic, is going to be twice as efficient.
Start Monitoring Your Online Presence
Get in the habit of taking a look at your numbers. Set up a simple analytics system, and start looking at your numbers and start seeing the patterns. You’ll start to understand them and then you’ll start to look at how they sync with your business, and then you’ll start to see the correlations. It’s a learning experience and there is a learning curve. Start mining your online data and you can find ways to improve your business.
Discover more about your digital presence and online marketing at Inspect.com’s 10-part video series especially for home inspectors, Grow Your Online Presence.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of ASHI. The information contained in the article is general and readers should always independently verify for accuracy, completeness and reliability.