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Build an Online Presence for Your Trade or Home Service Business

When you’re a small business owner, especially in a field service business, you tend to wear a lot of hats - like that of CMO, or chief marketing officer. And as CMO, having an online presence must be a key part of your business strategy. Whether you’re in plumbing, electrical, cleaning, or another type of trade or field service business, an online presence can attract new clients, build credibility, and keep your business competitive.

However, many tradespeople might find the idea of building an online presence daunting, especially if they are not tech-savvy or have limited time and money. Fortunately, if you take it one step at a time and only focus on what matters, it doesn’t have to be hard. By following these simple steps, you can get your business online - and start getting noticed - without too much effort.

Section 1: Understanding the Basics

Why an Online Presence Matters to Your Business

An online presence helps you reach a broader audience and establish trust with potential clients. It allows you to showcase your work, receive feedback, and interact with clients in ways that traditional, non-digital methods just can't match. Whether it’s through a website, social media, or a Google Business Profile, being online makes your business more accessible.

Think of it this way - if a potential client can’t find you through their smartphone, but they do find your direct competitor, who’s likely to get the job?

Know Your Digital Marketing Goals

To begin, choose one or more of these goals for what you want to achieve by getting online or by improving your business’s online presence. Understanding your goals will help you prioritize your efforts and measure success as you go. So, what do you hope to accomplish?

I want to:

  • Generate more leads
  • Improve my quote-to-job conversion rate
  • Increase brand awareness
  • Showcase my work
  • Gain credibility with posted reviews
  • Expand into new markets
  • Answer some of my clients’ most frequently asked questions so they don’t ask me!

You may have different goals not listed, so include those instead. The important thing is that you know what they are, so you can keep them top of mind as you develop your online presence, build content that will contribute to those goals, and track your progress.

Taking a Simple Approach

If your business is still in the early stages of getting online, it's essential to focus on strategies that offer the most return with minimal investment. This means leveraging free or low-cost tools and focusing on activities that require little ongoing maintenance - which is our focus for this article.

Section 2: Creating a Simple Website

Not every business needs a website, at least not at first. For some very small businesses, such as a solo electrician or a one-person snow shoveling business, referrals or a simple Facebook page may generate enough work to keep you busy. But if you want to grow your business and be taken seriously as a professional, you need to take the next step.

Why a Growing Business Needs a Website

A website is the cornerstone of your online presence. It provides a centralized place where clients can learn about your services, read testimonials, and contact you. A well-designed website establishes your credibility and helps you be competitive.

Essential Website Components

Your website should include the following key components:

  • Home Page: Introduce your business and highlight your services.
  • About Page: Share your story, qualifications, and introduce your team.
  • Services Page: Provide detailed descriptions of the services you offer.
  • Contact Page: Include your contact information and a contact form.
  • Testimonials/Reviews: Display feedback from satisfied clients to build trust.

For example, a glazier's website could have sections for glass replacement services, new installations, and client testimonials.

homepage of the MC Autoglass website, with a simple menu structure and clear details about the business and services offered
A website should be simple and easy to navigate, letting the user get to the key information quickly. In this example, MC Autoglass, a ServiceM8 user in Brisbane, Queensland, has a straightforward, highly effective site.

Affordable Website Builders

There are several affordable website builders that make it easy to create a professional-looking site without any computer expertise. Options like Wix, Weebly, and WordPress offer templates and drag-and-drop functionality, making the process straightforward.

Some examples of website templates:

ServiceM8 Feature: Website and Email Add-on

The quickest, most effective way to get up and running, of course, is to get a live, professional website and email address through your job management software, like ServiceM8.

ServiceM8's website and email add-on can help you create a professional website in no time flat. It’s as easy as choosing your colors, adding your logo and dropping your business information into placeholders and bam! You have yourself a website that is easy to maintain. (And not just any website, but one that lets customers book online and send queries, and that also integrates with your existing workflows and eliminates redundant admin.)

Section 3: Set Up Your Google Business Profile

What is a Google Business Profile?

Google offers a free tool called Google Business Profile (GBP) that helps businesses manage their online presence across Google. (Some people still refer to it as Google My Business (GMB), but it was rebranded way back in November 2021 to streamline the process for businesses to manage their online presence across Google Search and Maps.) 

A Google Business Profile is particularly useful for local search engine optimization (SEO), making it easier for clients in your area to find you.

Setting Up Your Profile

Setting up the GBP for your business is quick and easy. Follow these steps:

  • Enter your business name and address.
  • Choose your business category.
  • Add your contact information and, if applicable, your website URL. (If you don't have a website yet, no worries. You can always go back and add one later - just put your contact information in to start.)
  • Verify your business.

Optimizing Your Profile

To make the most of your Google Business Profile, ensure that all details are accurate and regularly updated. Add photos of your work, respond to reviews, and post updates about your services. (One helpful thing Google does is to send you email reminders about upcoming holidays and have you check that your hours are up to date. You also typically get some free Google Ads credits when you sign up, although that may vary by location.)

Encouraging Reviews

Positive reviews on Google can significantly boost your credibility. Encourage satisfied clients to leave reviews by providing excellent service and asking them to provide a review, either directly, via email, or through your job management software.

Google Business Profiles In Action

For example, an electrician can leverage GBP to appear in local search results, ensuring potential clients in the vicinity can easily find and contact them.

A potential customer can type "electricians near me" into Google, or into Google Maps with the option of filtering by rating and/or operating hours, and electricians with complete Google Profiles will be listed.

It is critical that you get your business listed. After all, if someone searches for a trade business, it's pretty much a given they're in the market for a service!

Google Map results when "electricians near me" is searched, with the optional search filters highlighted
Google Map results for "electricians near me" when search conducted from Courtice, Ontario

ServiceM8 Feature: Integration with Google Reviews

With the ServiceM8 Customer Feedback add-on, you can set up a customer feedback automation to request feedback (rating your work out of 5 stars and leaving an optional comment of up to 155 characters) as soon as they have paid their invoice. Their rating and comments can be incorporated directly into your Google Business Profile reviews, letting you build your online reputation without any additional work on your end.

Section 4: Leveraging Social Media

Choosing the Right Platforms

Different social media platforms serve different purposes. Choose the ones that best align with your audience and content type.

  • Facebook: Ideal for community engagement and local targeting - sharing your website in neighborhood groups can be very effective, as can posting photos and updates on your business page and collecting customer reviews.
  • Instagram: Great for visual content, such as project update photos and before-and-after stories.
  • LinkedIn: Useful for networking and B2B connections.
  • TikTok: Great for creating fun content, such as reaction videos where you can explain how to solve a botched job.

Remember, though, only create a business profile on the platforms that you actually plan to maintain with at least one update a week. Consistency is key to maintaining an active social media presence and, in fact, an out-of-date profile is more likely to give a bad impression than no profile at all.

Focusing on the one or two that are the most relevant to your audience and that align with the type of content you want to post is your best bet.

What about YouTube?

If you are comfortable with creating videos, YouTube is an excellent platform for sharing your expertise and gaining authority in your field. And as an added bonus, you can use your YouTube videos as content for other platforms (simply post highlights or links from your video). However, you're better off with high-quality video content, so for small businesses with limited time who want a presence on YouTube, updating once or twice a month is fine.

Some video ideas to consider:

  • Intro video about your business
  • Tutorial or how-to video related to your trade
  • Customer testimonial or case study
  • Behind-the-scenes video - show daily operations and introduce your team

Creating a Professional Profile

Ensure that your profile on each platform is consistent and professional. Use a clear logo, concise descriptions, and make sure your contact information is up to date.

Nailed It: A Roofer's Facebook Page

For example, a roofer can use Facebook to showcase roofing projects and client testimonials, building a portfolio that potential clients can browse. 

One business using ServiceM8 in Adelaide, Olde Style Roofing & Guttering, is a great example of how a roofing business can showcase their work effectively and engage with prospective clients simply by posting progress updates on Facebook as they work.

A post from Olde Style Roofing & Guttering on Facebook that shows a finished walling and roofing project, along with contact information and a call to action.
Olde Style Roofing & Guttering showcasing their work on Facebook.

ServiceM8 Feature: Sharing Job Photos from the Job Diary

Using the ServiceM8 mobile app, you can document and share project progress and successful job photos on Facebook and Instagram right from the Job Diary. This tool helps you keep your audience updated and engaged with minimal effort.

Section 5: Affordable and Effective Online Marketing Strategies

Local SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

Optimizing for local search results helps you attract clients in your area.

  • Keywords: Use relevant terms related to your trade and location. Your website should incorporate local keywords that customers might use to find your service naturally into the content. For example, a landscaping business might want to include keywords such as "landscaping services in [Your City]", or "lawn care in [Your Region]".
  • Local Directories: Ensure your business is listed in all free local directories, such as Yelp, Angie's List, and other industry-specific directories. (And make sure it's kept up-to-date and accurate across all of these listings!)
  • Build Local Backlinks: If you have a good relationship with a local supplier or subcontractor, then offer to exchange backlinks (put links to each other's businesses on your websites). This helps build authority with Google, and also drives more traffic to your site. Sponsoring local events or collaborating on community projects (and getting a shoutout for your business in return) are also great ways to gain backlinks.

Email Marketing

Building a client list and sending regular updates is an effective way to stay connected with your audience.

  • Simple Tools: Use tools like Mailchimp to create and send emails.
  • Content Ideas: Share seasonal offers, tips, and updates.

Content Marketing

Creating valuable content attracts and engages clients.

  • Blogging: Write simple, helpful articles related to your trade.
  • Video Content: Create short videos demonstrating services or offering tips (embed them directly into your website, or post them on social media).

Tip: If you're going to do any one of these things, focus on local SEO. As a trade business, being listed in all of the relevant directories will help you establish your authority within Google and boost your online presence significantly.

ServiceM8 Feature: Email Marketing Integration

ServiceM8's email marketing integration with MailChimp allows you to send targeted and automated email campaigns, keeping your clients informed and engaged with minimal effort.

Section 6: Managing Your Online Presence

NAP Consistency

There is nothing more frustrating as a consumer than trying to contact a business and finding the posted contact info is out of date. Don't lose potential clients with such an easily avoidable mistake - keep your NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) updated at all times!

Make sure your business’s name, address, and phone number are consistent across all online platforms, including your website, social media profiles, and local directories.

Time Management

Set aside small, regular time blocks for updating your online presence. This could be as little as 10-15 minutes a day, but the key is consistency.

Responding to Reviews and Comments

Engage with your audience by responding to reviews and comments. This shows that you value their feedback and are committed to providing excellent service.

ServiceM8 Feature: Mobile App

ServiceM8's mobile app helps you manage jobs, communicate with clients, and update your online presence on-the-go, ensuring you stay connected even when you're busy. This connectivity helps maintain great working relationships with your clients, resulting in more great reviews for your business!

Summary

A strong online presence can transform your business, helping you attract more clients, build credibility, and stay competitive. Happily, building an online presence for your trades business doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. Start with a basic website, utilize Google Business Profile, leverage social media, employ affordable marketing strategies, and manage your online presence efficiently.

By following these steps and leveraging job management software like ServiceM8, you can effectively build an online presence for your trades business without needing to be a tech expert or invest a lot of time and money. So, embrace the digital age and watch your business grow!

Article last updated on
June 20, 2024

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