HVAC service providers, whether part of a national chain or smaller regional providers, are an inflection point this year, from both customer expectation and industry-wide innovation standpoints. Rising temperatures, home-bound remote workers, and a contracting economy are accelerating demand for smarter, better looking, better performing appliances while shifting regulations and concerns over energy prices are pushing the industry at large to innovate at all levels - from remote diagnostics to paperless invoicing to 3D printing parts to avoid supply chain disruptions.
That’s a whole lot of information that HVAC customers need to digest in order to understand how best to choose a provider. While SEO will always be a key HVAC marketing component, it’s becoming increasingly important for HVAC service providers to develop omni-channel advertising strategies and differentiate themselves in an increasingly competitive marketplace. Let’s take a look at some of the top HVAC marketing trends this year and how to capitalize on them.
More than most other home service providers, household targeting - especially geographic
household targeting - is key to a solid HVAC servicing marketing strategy. As social media, digital media, and printing costs continue to soar, a “spray and pray” approach to lead generation isn’t only ineffective, it can be downright counterproductive. What good is spending money on solid creative assets if they are being delivered to customers outside your service zone, or who don’t own homes, or who can’t afford your services.
Make sure you are working with tools - like social media or streaming TV advertising - that allow you to target specific geographic zones so your marketing can be as relevant as possible, capitalizing on recent, localized events like heatwaves or snowstorms that will only affect households in certain areas. Similarly, tailor your creative strategies to highlight products you have in inventory in certain locations or at certain price points, aiming our ads at households within a certain income bracket.
A solid Search Engine Optimization strategy is always going to be important for such a local, needs-based type of business, so you should of course make sure that your Google My Business profile is complete, you engage with online reviewers, and you refresh your web content often enough that crawlers will find you when nearby customers are searching for help. That being said, SEO has drastically changed in the last few years, as Google continues to update its algorithm. Just think, between 2010 and 2023 alone, there were 17 major updates to the Google algorithm related to SEO.
It is vital to keep the marketing rule of 7 in mind: any given shopper needs to be exposed to a message at least 7 times before being moved to action. It’s going to take a whole lot more than a couple Google searches to get us there! Work on a strategy that will engage with high-intent customers across platforms and media: social, TV streaming, Google ads, specialized review sites, OEM affiliate pages, etc.
Brand trust is probably the most important long-term goal for any organization, and it comes in many forms. In the case of HVAC manufacturers and servicing businesses, the stakes are especially high as buyers need reassurance on several fronts:
You can’t manage until you measure, and that’s especially true for local businesses who can’t afford to pay for wasted impressions and marketing initiatives that don’t carry their weight. The challenge here is twofold:
The answer to the first question is basically that while a walled garden like Google or Meta will always report a higher attribution rate to their own channels, there is really no way out of that issue just yet. Savvy marketers can and should, however, expand their channel mix to include platforms like Vibe.co, for example, that work with 3rd parties for data attribution transparency.
Meanwhile, digital privacy regulations are not going anywhere, so while they do end up translating into higher digital advertising costs on traditional digital channels like Facebook, think of them as an incentive to diversify your channel mix. Consider including newcomers in the digital space, like streaming television advertising which can skirt 3rd party cookie and mobile data rules thanks to the magic of household IP targeting.
Here’s how it works: a streaming television ad platform identifies the types of household you want to target (by geo, income, demographic, etc.) without ever having to access their mobile data or using 1st party cookies, and delivers your ad straight to their tv/tablet/mobile screen. You can then use pixel tracking to monitor if any of the households exposed to your ad went on to visit or purchase from your website! Attribution at its finest!
The first trend, if you can call it that, is massive HVAC industry growth, from $16.54 billion in 2021 to $17.45 billion in 2022, with forecasts predicting industry market value increasing to $26.93 billion at a compound growth rate of 5.6% this year. There are a few important ways to look at these numbers:
Although macro economic trends like population growth and increasing homeownership rates are part of the picture, the main reasons for a higher growth rate in HVAC purchases and servicing in the last few years squarely rest on the twin pillars of rapidly increasing climate change awareness and massive home improvement growth due to remote work.
It will be important to address these issues explicitly in any marketing campaign for HVAC services in order to remain relevant. As HVAC service competition heats up, topical, relevant, educational content delivered in engaging, innovative formats will make all the difference to your customers.
As consumers increasingly rely on smart technology to measure and manage everything from their heart rate to their light bulbs, they have come to expect sleek design, machine learning capabilities, and remote access from most of their home appliances, especially expensive ones like AC units, thermostats, or heat pumps. The US smart thermostat market is projected to grow from $1,088.9 million in 2021 to $3,280.3 million in 2028 at a CAGR of 17.1% in the forecast period, with the residential sector at the forefront of smart thermostat use with a 71.9% market share.
Demonstrating not only comfort but mastery of connected technology and the Internet of Things (IoT) is a great way to help your business stand out long-term, without having to resort to the unfortunate “race to the bottom” for the lowest price that plagues so many HVAC OEMs and service providers. Smart technology is also intimately linked with arguably the main trend in home appliance servicing: energy efficiency.
2023 presents us with a perfect energy efficiency storm: inflation, rising gas prices, increasingly stringent EPA regulations, and an unprecedented consumer focus on sustainability. The smooth running of machines, enabled by smart appliances, leads to limited energy consumption to support more environmentally friendly HVAC services. It also significantly benefits the customer, the technician, and the environment, but that magic connection isn’t fully clear to consumers just yet.
This is where your marketing can really shine. People are looking for simple, efficient ways to lessen their environmental impact and remain loyal to those who make a compelling case for their sustainable services.
For example, most of your customers probably don’t know that starting this year new cooling systems will have refrigerants with a low potential for global warming as part of HVAC industry regulations. Manufacturers will have to build heat pumps and air conditioning units compatible with R-454b. It's more environmentally friendly and mildly flammable. Help them understand how that affects them directly.
Another great way to highlight sustainable practices in your business is to emphasize remote diagnostic capabilities - a boon for busy customers who can’t always be home for repairs and for technicians who now avoid wasting gas driving to homes for diagnostics before making a repair. Managing HVAC systems remotely, where technicians use advanced capabilities to diagnose and fix faults, encourages more accurate and efficient fixes. It presents an opportunity to lower the carbon footprint in the industry with few contractor trucks on the road for service visits.
Finally, coming in at a close second behind remote work as one of the most impactful pandemic-related economic changes is supply chain disruption, which still plagues most industries. Not only are materials in short supply, but long-term confinement led to increased demand for various forms of climatic control technology leading to a shortfall and waiting times skyrocketed for emergency replacements.
Some manufacturers are taking the bull by the horns by adopting 3D printing for the production of HVAC equipment and parts, while others are offering money-back guarantees for late delivery or recommending their customers consider alternate types of equipment in larger supply. However you choose to handle your customers’ concerns about delivery delays, it is crucial to address delivery and servicing timelines on the front end and ideally leverage those timelines as a differentiating factor for your business.
As you’ve gathered by now, the best way to develop a successful HVAC service advertising strategy in 2023 is to leverage agile, relevant campaigns delivered on a diverse mix of channels with a solid measurement dashboard on the backend. So while local HVAC marketers should absolutely continue working on display, social, and email marketing campaigns, it’s crucial that they also understand how CTV advertising, the newest digital tool to come out in years, can work for them.
As of this year, 94% of all TV-owning US households own at least one connected device, attracting more viewers than not only traditional broadcast and cable, but also more time spent than social media, gaming and music. Meanwhile, un-skippable ads and premium channel inventory garner more customer engagement than any other media channel, according to eMarketer.
On the advertiser side, Streaming and Connected Television advertising finally enables digital-style granular targeting, deterministic measurement, campaign flexibility, performance-led optimizations, and cost-effectiveness, combined with the reach and high engagement of traditional television. No more wasted impressions!
HVAC service providers and manufacturers can now target specific geographic areas and household income levels with relevant offers while cultivating brand credibility on the most trusted advertising medium. This will allow your campaigns to deliver on several fronts: