Rejuvenated HVAC Websites – Before and After Case Study
Our client, Smiley’s Royal Comfort, came to us with a severely under-performing HVAC website. Smiley’s is a growing residential heating, air conditioning, and plumbing contractor based in Greencastle, Indiana.
Their goal was twofold – to increase traffic and to capture more conversions from visitors. They selected us because we are an HVAC contractor-run digital marketing agency with 14 years of experience in HVAC internet marketing and website design.
Here was their HVAC website home page before:
After reviewing their HVAC website, we discovered a number of design issues that were immediately apparent:
1) The home page had a striking “fall” background image but the image was distracting and took the visitors eyes off the primary message: a furnace maintenance call to action
2) 3 competing messages that created indecision and inhibited visitor focus
3) A lack of content to encourage search engine optimization rankings
4) A primary navigation bar that didn’t clearly outline the full array of services and solutions they offer at a glance
5) The home page lacked a summary of services and benefits that would encourage further action by the viewer
6) The home page lacked a tightly focused “lead generation” box that encouraged contact via email
7) There was no focus on consumer “pain points” that clearly conveyed that Smiley’s understood not only the consumer’s problem but, more importantly, the solutions to these problems
8) The home page call to action was centered around furnace maintenance which was alienating visitors looking for a replacement system or other services.
9) Their company logo blended into the background and was lost in the imagery
After isolating the design problems, we went to work solving each one with a complete overhaul of the entire website.
The HVAC website home page is the one place where Smiley’s MUST be all things to all viewers. This means that we needed to clearly outline each of their primary services along with the overall benefits to consumers of choosing Smiley’s.
Keeping in the mind that the home page of most HVAC websites will be the one page that will rank the best and capture most of the traffic from web searches, we wanted to provide a quick overview and keep the viewer’s attention long enough for them to click-through to the service they need.
We decided to capture their attention and build trust using the 4 step AIDA design principle:
Following are the 15 critical design elements for all HVAC websites:
1) We crafted a compelling headline that clearly defines the overall summary of their services along with the benefits of choosing Smiley’s. This headline needed to be concise, informative, and inclusive, all in a short, succinct thought.
The headline we chose was:
Heating & Air Conditioning – Get Unmatched Craftsmanship, Best-in-Class Service, Fast Furnace Repair & Free Installation Quotes
All at Prices That Suit Your Budget!
The message in the headline clearly conveyed their heating and air conditioning specialty, the quality of their work, fast furnace repairs, and free quotes for system replacements. Plus, we added a sub-headline that made it clear that their pricing was fair and provided true value based on the elements included in the primary headline.
This headline takes into account that we don’t know which service the visitor actually needs just yet, so we provide an overview that creates a sense that they are in the right place. Each word was carefully chosen to reinforce that solutions were just a click away.
2) I believe it is a mistake to make an image of your vehicles, your building, or in Smiley’s case, the fall background the center of attention on your website. The focus should be on your message to the viewers and how you are uniquely qualified to solve their immediate concern.
We chose an image that we blended into the background to keep it from overwhelming our headline message. The message conveyed by images should be subliminal and supportive of your primary message. We inserted an image of a happy family that implies a positive and welcome outcome when you select Smiley’s.
3) Next, to reinforce the message of trust, we provided a summary of the primary benefits the viewer will enjoy when they choose Smiley’s for their heating or air conditioning needs. These bullet-pointed benefits address:
- Smiley’s timely response
- An excellent BBB rating (trust)
- Upfront pricing
- Premium warranties
- Service availability
- Scheduling flexibility
Studies show that these are the primary benefits that homeowners look for when choosing an HVAC contractor.
4) The navigation bar at the top of the page outlines each of their general services which include drop-down menus when moussed over. The furnace link drops down to “furnace repair” and “furnace replacement” options. The air conditioning link offered the same 2 options.
The client indicated they wanted to highlight their geothermal systems, so we gave that category its own link instead of concealing it within a drop-down menu. Then we created a “maintenance” link which focuses on their Ultimate Precision Tune-up and Professional Cleaning, as we coined it.
We didn’t waste a single inch of website real estate on promoting service agreements. The way to sell service agreements is to provide an incredible tune-up experience and then have the technician offer a service agreement upon completion of the tune-up.
Promoting service agreements online is a waste of valuable space and energy that can instead be devoted to a compelling tune-up offer, which is what we chose to do.
5) Lastly, we placed a highly contrasting lead-generation box at the very top of the page. This box was carefully designed to encourage action on the viewer’s part. We inserted a call to action that included benefits at the top of the box and a clear button description of what the visitor will receive by filling out the form, “Get Service Now”.
On each of the internal pages this button will be much more specific depending on which service the viewer is requesting. For example, on the AC repair page, the lead generation button has a call to action and a clear benefit to the viewer with these words; “Get My AC Repair & Save $35”.
These elements of the opening scroll covered the Attention and Interest steps of our 4 step AIDA principle.
Here is the next scroll down:
7) We inserted a catchy headline supported by a reinforcing sub-head that continues the third step of our design process; Desire.
8) Then, we inserted graphic links to the primary services which are supported by easy-to-scan bullet points that describe the viewer’s potential pain points.
9) At this point we don’t want to make the visitors continue working who are ready to act – so we inserted a bold and clear call to action graphic that encourages immediate action and outlines what to do next.
Here is the next scroll:
10) We inserted another “punchy” headline and sub-head that continues to build desire. We inserted more benefits and a trust building image of an attractive (but not overly so) and honest looking female with a headset. Then, we inserted an isolated quote designed to highlight Smiley’s innovative and skilled processes that guarantee satisfaction each and every time.
11) By now one of 2 things will happen:
- A) The visitor will initiate contact if they’ve seen enough, or
- B) They will click through to another page for more details on the service they require
This was the final call to action scroll on the home page:
12) You’ll notice that the call to action is very clear as to the next steps the viewer should take. We encourage either a phone call (first) or an email (second). We offer one more final benefit for taking action and included a strong call to action graphic that encourages a phone call right now.
The background image was once again carefully selected to provide subliminal support to the message that positive action will result in a positive outcome.
13) The key to a properly designed HVAC home page is to clearly outline your services without distracting promos and coupons littered across the page. This is where the viewer is going to decide if you meet the requirements for the service they need.
14) The home page must remain focused on the viewer and their needs, keeping in mind that we can’t actually address their specific need until they click through to a service or replacement page.
15) If the home page is designed properly, it will encourage either the click-through or contact, and nothing else. The click-through allows us to address their specific need around the AIDA principle with a tightly focused message and offers that are compelling and enticing while remaining highly relevant to the page.
Now let’s take a look at Smiley’s redesigned A/C repair page:
1) The headline was carefully chosen to capture the attention of viewers who need air conditioning repair.
2) The keyword is included at the beginning of the headline along with the benefits and savings they will enjoy when they choose Smiley’s.
3) The phone number and lead-gen box remain highly visible and encourage immediate action. We suggest no more than 4 signup fields as more than this will discourage visitor contact from taking place.
4) The content of the page summarizes all the primary benefits of Smiley’s air conditioning repair services and includes a supportive “hero shot” to help build the impression of stability and professionalism. We like to include professional images of actual people as studies show that HVAC viewers react positively to these images as long as they are relevant and reinforce the message of the page.
5) Notice how the lead-gen box is specific to the air conditioning repair message and the “submit” button promises 2 distinct benefits? This requires considerably more design time but using a generic lead-gen box on all pages with a “submit” button would have cost our client dearly in conversions.
This site is still in beta mode and we will be adding social share buttons to each page as well.