If you plan to get leads from your website, you need to know your conversion rate. Conversion rate is the fancy term for how many people go to your HVAC website and then call or email you.
We use conversion rate to test changes to your website and decide which changes result in more customer contacts.
For less SEO-ed websites couple points of conversion rate can mean the difference between an extra installation every month.
For websites with a significant amount of SEO, conversion rate optimization will have a significant impact on your bottom line.
You should know what it is, how to test it, and how to increase it (you do want more phone calls, right?).
In this article, we’ll take a look at how to figure out your conversion rate, some example webpages that have good or bad conversion rate factors, and talk about experimentation to bump your conversion rate.
What Is Conversion Rate?
Conversion rate is, very simply, the percentage of people that take an action you desire after they visit your website.
For a typical HVAC website, this means some form of contact, either making a phone call or submitting a contact form.
So, for you, conversion rate is just a super simple formula:
Number of people that call or email you / Number of people that visit your webpage = Conversion Rate
So, why should you care about conversion rate?
Conversion rate tells you how successful your webpage is in convincing people to contact you.
Think of all the components your webpage is made up of:
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Then think of all the variations of those components and how they might affect whether someone calls you. Each of these things can be altered to increase or decrease your conversion rate.
A simple example
Your SEO heavily targets retirement communities in Florida. Say you’re thinking about two different color schemes:
- Red and Green
- Black and White
The Black and White seems pretty plain and you really like the Red and Green. You decide to test both variations over a couple of months and see what the conversion rate of each variation is.
After putting in some testing time you find out that the Black and White scheme has a 16% conversion rate, but the Red and Green scheme only has a 9% conversion rate.
Wow! What a difference! You don’t like the Black and White as much, but you can see from the conversion rate that it clearly converts better than the Red and Green.
It’s only later that a friend tells you that he could barely read your Red and Green website and suggests it’s because of his red-green colorblindness.
It’s important to note that you don’t need to know about colorblindness - nobody knows everything, right? You just need to test your design and see what sticks.
Testing makes way more money than it costs
Testing changes on your website is incredibly, incredibly cheap compared to the value you can get out of it.
Here are some possible tests you could be running to increase conversion rate:
- Big phone number vs. small phone number
- Contact form above the fold vs. bottom of page
- Big logo in middle center of page vs. small logo in upper left corner
- Photo of you vs. photo of your whole staff
Now, if you can’t do these changes yourself, you can hire a developer to backup your site, then make these changes and run tests to see what converts better.
If you want to make money, you need to test, not guess.
So let’s say you spent $500 on trying a different photo and setting up the testing. Sounds like a lot, right?
What if that change was worth an extra installation every month in perpetuity?
You’d be insane not to find out.
Who are you testing for?
You really need to know who your conversion testing is for and think about the difference between returning customers and new customers.
If the SEO and marketing you have is primarily brand marketing many of the customers that end up on your site will do so because they’re looking for you specifically.
In brand marketing, your marketer markets your company, not your services - you tend to get found by returning customers, but not as much by new customers.
This is a little troublesome, because returning customers probably already trust you. New customers will be looking for trust signals on your website to know that you’re okay to deal with. Keep things like that in mind when you test out design decisions on your website.
Getting your numbers
Finding out the number of people that visit your webpage should be easy. You should have an analytics script installed on your website, like from Google Analytics. You can easily go to your control panel and find out how many people are visiting your website every day, every month, or whatever unit you prefer.
The tricky part is finding out how many people that visit your website actually contact you.
There are two ways to do this, high-tech and low-tech. The low tech way is a little more trouble and less reliable. The high tech way is better, but still doens’t give us 100% data coverage.
This isn’t necessarily bad.
Let’s say you use the high tech method to find out you have a (terrible conversion rate of 5%. You make some alterations to your website to increase your conversion rate and it goes up to 15%.
Now, the 5% and 15% conversion rates might not be precisely accurate, but we know we’ve created a relative change of 10%! And that is very valuable to know.
So, first, the low-tech method:
Ask every customer where and why they contacted you
You should be doing this anyway. If someone called you because of a newspaper ad, seeing your truck, or getting a flyer, you want to know. You should be sticking this info in a spreadsheet somewhere or tallying it on a piece of paper so you can get an idea of what’s working for you.
So, if you ask the customer and they say, from my website, you write that down. At the end of the month, you add up all the people that say that, then divide that by your numnber of website visitors, and you have your conversion rate.
Obviously, this is prone to a lot of problems, mainly in getting the data. But you can’t grow your business in a data-driven way without knowing the data.
Next, let’s take a look at the high tech method.
Use click tracking on your website
On your website, there are two things you want to track:
- phone calls
- contact form submissions
In Google Analytics, you can set up click tracking for all the links on your website.
This means that all the occurences of phone numbers on your website need to be clickable. When you hover over a link, usually a URL pops up in the bottom of your screen telling you where the link goes. It’ll do the same if your phone number is set up as a link
If you hover over your phone number, it should look like:
Essentially you can hook up click tracking to see when someone clicks your phone number or submits a form on your website.
Google will then calculate the conversion rate for you.
Click tracking will miss people that call you with landlines, but the overwhelming number of people finding you online are going to be using smartphones. This means that you can at least get reliable relative numbers to judge whether changes you’ve made have been successful.
Conversion Rate Factors You Don’t Even Need to Test
There are some conversion rate factors that you don’t need to test.
You should just do them.
Usually, they’re usability and accessibility issues that you need to fix to become competitive. Here are a few to look at:
Page Load Speed
Check how fast your website loads here: https://gtmetrix.com/.
Get your page to load under 4 seconds, and preferably under 2.
Most HVAC websites have a ton of junk running on them that is unnecessary. Big culprits are poorly designed Wordpress plugins, unoptimized images, and too many scripts.
Websites that deliver a large payload are slow on mobile connections. If your website is slow, potential customers will click back to the search results from your site to click on a faster website.
If you have traffic, a faster website will always increase your conversion rate and make you more money.
It’s quite likely that 60-80% of visitors to your HVAC website are on a smartphone. If it’s slightly more for potential customers to navigate your website, they won’t.
Online, there is wide recognition that it’s extremely important to optimize for mobile. Take a look at your website on a smartphone and see if it has a responsive, flowing design. Is the phone number clickable? Is it big?
Easy-to-Find Contact Info
Somehow, in 2018, there are still companies putting their phone number and contact form on a separate contact page. How is this even possible?
Why are you making customers click through your website just to call you?
Put your contact info in the top bar of your website.
Conversion Rate Factors You Should Test
Increasing your conversion rate so that you get more leads is mostly about making small tweaks to your website and testing those changes to see if they make a difference.
Below, there are a few educated guesses about what will work better. However, the typical customer probably takes a few short seconds to decide whether to call you or not and if you want to make money you need to test, not guess.
Let’s take a look at a few examples of things you could test:
Small Phone Number vs. Big Phone Number
For the vast majority of HVAC websites, you want a large clickable phone number. For some reason, many HVAC website templates use little phone numbers that are hard to see and hard to click. So, test it:
Pictures of the Owner vs. Stock Images
Can pictures of the people that work at your company increase your conversion rate? Pictures of your trucks? Your building?
These are all signs of trust and sometimes, of your intent to remain in the business.
Customers probably make a lot of subconscious decisions like:
HVAC contractor with 10 trucks, a building, and a family EQUALS has been and will be around for awhile EQUALS trustworthy
It’s likely that stock images have a worse conversion rate than pictures of you and your employees.
Contact Form at Bottom of Page vs. Top of Page
Contact forms at the top of the page probably convert better than on the ones on the bottom.
Think about it:
Is it easier to just fill in info as soon as you arrive on a webpage, or is it better to have to scroll to the bottom looking for the contact form.
Chat vs. No Chat
Chat is pushed by a lot of companies now, but is it helpful to your bottom line?
Are chat leads solid or are they junk? (You’ll have to collect more data to figure that one out.)
The below website has a chat box pop up immediately on page load. Some chat clients will sound an alarm bell or “throb”. Is that good for your customers? Or does it make them feel rushed before they’ve even looked at your website?
Above the Fold Offers vs. No Offers
Some HVAC websites push deals, financing, and freebies right when you land on the website.
Is this what a customer wants?
It might be worth going into the data and taking a look at what customers are searching for to arrive at your site.
If they search for “boiler repair” and land on your webpage promoting “Free Energy Audit” you’re mismatching their search intent with your offer.
This might be intentional if you don’t want to do boiler repairs and you really want to push energy audits, but you should consider search intent and test.
Contact Popup on Page Load vs. No Popup
This popup completely blocks the website in the background to try to get the user to submit their contact information.
This is a pretty aggressive tactic, and doesn’t give the user a chance to evaluate your website before contacting you. Does it work? It should be tested.
Now, you should have a pretty good idea of what conversion rate is and some of the things you can do to increase it. If nothing else, remember that you’ll get the most benefit by repeatedly testing your hypotheses and then making permanent changes based on test results.
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