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HVAC Email Marketing: How to Increase Sales with Existing Contacts and Customers

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Clock IconDecember 16th, 2020
Glasses Icon12 Min Read
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For HVAC contractors to stay competitive in today’s market, incorporating digital marketing channels like social media and paid ads has become the status quo. Along with the traditional marketing strategies they’ve used over the years (billboards, radio and TV spots, van wraps, etc.), HVAC business owners increasingly leverage the digital channels at their disposal. 

Too often, though, where digital marketing is concerned, contractors are so focused on generating fresh leads that they neglect a tremendously valuable resource that’s theoretically right at their fingertips, in the form of existing contacts and customers. As a result, they often end up leaving tons of money on the table every year. These missed opportunities tend to take a handful of forms: 

  • Unsold estimates that don’t receive follow-up

  • Customer memberships that don’t get renewed

  • Idle accounts that go unaddressed

  • Big-ticket replacements of aging equipment that never happen

Short of hiring an army of customer relationship managers to do nothing but stay on top of these issues — an impractically expensive solution — there’s no better way for HVAC contractors to make the most of their existing customers and contacts than a well-designed email marketing program.

Until recently, however, creating an email marketing program well suited to the needs and preferences of service contractors was maddeningly difficult — an onerous, time-consuming and manual process of digging through customer data and coordinating email software with customer relationship management tools. Even after all that, the results were sometimes less than stellar: a spray-and-pray, rather than narrowly targeted, approach. 

That’s why last year at ServiceTitan, we introduced our Marketing Pro feature, a one-stop-shop that allows HVAC contractors to leverage customer information to build sleek, highly customizable, strategically targeted email marketing campaigns.

So far, ServiceTitan subscribers who use Marketing Pro have seen a 15% increase in membership renewal rates, a 12% increase in year-over-year revenue, and a 10% increase in conversion rates for unsold estimates. 

» Want to grow your HVAC business? Click here to get a demo.

In this article, we’ll explain exactly how it works — showing how Marketing Pro even allows contractors that are new to email marketing to instantaneously perform like an expert.

Specifically, we’ll go over:

  • Creating automated, purpose-driven campaigns for tasks like selling unsold estimates and maintaining service agreements

  • Using ServiceTitan’s array of battle-tested campaign templates

  • Building custom audiences to maximize the impact of your messaging

  • Developing email marketing campaigns tailored to the seasonal and equipment-specific needs of individual customers 

Want to see Marketing Pro in action? Schedule a call with us to learn more about how ServiceTitan can help you supercharge your email marketing.

How Building Email Marketing Campaigns Works with ServiceTitan

Many HVAC contractors are aware of the areas where they stand to most improve their bottom line. Some of the most prominent among them are the same as the opportunity categories we ticked off above:

  • Following up on unsold estimates

  • Keeping up with membership agreement renewals

  • Converting on big-ticket equipment replacements

What’s less clear, for many contractors, is how, exactly, HVAC email marketing might be best suited to helping them capitalize on these areas. In this section, we’ll explain, with a walkthrough of precisely how ServiceTitan’s Marketing Pro features facilitate the process. 

Our method breaks down into three basic, easy steps:

  • Selecting a campaign (The Right Message)

  • Building an audience (The Right Audience)

  • Creating an email sequence (The Right Time)   

1. Select a Campaign Type

Traditionally, service businesses have not been particularly well-known for emphasizing design. So it’s no surprise that relatively few keep a designer on staff, or that many service business owners feel some trepidation about tackling the design elements of email marketing themselves.  

Similarly, it’s only natural that the independent agencies to which some contractors outsource their marketing work don’t have a great idea of what works best when it comes to HVAC email marketing — and what doesn’t.

This kind of email content information just can’t be found on Google. And it was with these conditions in mind that we conceived Marketing Pro’s HVAC email marketing campaign creation features.

Once a Marketing Pro user has uploaded their personalized company logo to ServiceTitan (so it can be incorporated into their emails) the first step in launching an email marketing initiative is to click on the “Create Campaign” button in the upper right corner of their screen, as shown above.

Subscribers can use Marketing Pro to create email campaigns for any purpose they choose. But because email marketing is especially effective at driving revenue growth when it’s dedicated to one of the opportunity categories we mentioned above, we’ve designed the tool to perform especially well in those areas, offering a wide range of customizable, battle-tested email templates that are updated and refreshed monthly. 

Before it goes out, an unsold estimate template like the one above is automatically customized with the user’s company name and specialty, like HVAC, plumbing, or electrical, along with personalized customer contact information, which ServiceTitan pulls automatically from the subscriber’s account. This example template also prompts customers to check out the company’s ratings and reviews, reminding homeowners why they called this particular HVAC company in the first place. 

Using a template like this in an email marketing campaign is a cost-effective alternative (or supplement to) dedicating man-hours to following up on unsold estimates. As we’ve written, we’ve seen that simply having a defined sales process in place for these kinds of follow-ups can boost an HVAC contractor’s revenue by as much as $1 million in a given year, allowing them to collect tons of cash they were previously leaving on the table.

Similarly, a campaign that deploys a template like the one pictured above can give a tremendous boost to HVAC membership agreement renewals, without decreasing the amount of time office employees are spending booking new business. For HVAC contractors, whose success often depends on maintaining a steady revenue stream during off-seasons, these kinds of customer retention campaigns are especially effective. 

Of course, HVAC email marketing doesn’t always have to be all business! And many of our Marketing Pro users are especially fond of our seasonal templates, like the Halloween one above. In addition to keeping the sender top of mind, it has been designed to remind existing customers who haven’t booked work in a while that it might be time for a tune up or a repair. 

Seasonal templates, like this one, are also great for aging equipment email campaigns, which can be incredibly lucrative even if they yield only a handful of jobs. In boosting the close rate for aging equipment contracts — often $10,000 to $20,000 a pop — email marketing campaigns are uniquely effective at helping HVAC contractors grow their share of the most valuable segment of their market.    

2. Build an Audience

Having the right message is essential to any marketing campaign, email or otherwise. But a campaign can be only as good as its targeting. For HVAC contractors, for example, blasting every customer in the rolodex with a message about aging equipment or membership renewal makes very little sense. For most recipients, the message is going to be irrelevant; for many, it will be annoying. 

The key, in other words, is reaching the right audience — and only the right audience.

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For companies offering HVAC services, however, until recently, it’s been nearly impossible to do this effectively. The problem has been that it’s just not feasible to accomplish manually. 

For the sake of example, let’s say a contractor wants to target and contact every customer who has an AC unit that’s going to turn 10 in the next six months — ideal recipients for an aging equipment campaign.  

Even for an HVAC company with relatively advanced email marketing — usuallying involving the coordination of a CRM and an email marketing service like Mailchimp — the task would be daunting: a matter of combing through spreadsheets, importing the relevant data into the email service, and designing and sending a suitable message. 

The process would take countless hours, and would be useful only for a very specific purpose, within an extremely tight time frame. The next time the contractor wanted to send a targeted marketing email, they’d have to start all over again. This would be true even if they wanted to reach the very same audience with the very same message.     

But with Marketing Pro, ServiceTitan users can now accomplish the kind of surgically targeted marketing that has long been available to companies in other industries. 

Once an email template has been selected and customized, the next step in designing an email marketing campaign with Marketing Pro is to build an audience — or to select from an existing, previously created audience, from a list like the one shown above. 

For HVAC contractors, common audience examples might include categories like Memberships Expiring within 30 Days, Unsold Estimates within 5 Days, or, as in the example we used above, Air Conditioning Systems Turning 10 within 6 Months.

For Marketing Pro users, ServiceTitan already contains a vast, highly detailed store of data about each and every one of their customers, so creating audiences like these is entirely automated. ServiceTitan will automatically populate email audiences with only the customers that fit the exact specifications the contractor needs for each message, ensuring that they’re maximally effective and minimally invasive.

And by toggling a given audience to “Dynamic,” contractors can set it and forget it, keeping the recipient email list constantly updated to ensure that the appropriate HVAC clients, and only the appropriate HVAC clients, receive messaging from one day to the next.

 

The audience descriptions we gave as examples are fairly broad, but as shown above, Marketing Pro users can refine them almost infinitely, slicing and dicing their customer base as a function of virtually any characteristic that might be marketing-relevant: date of estimate, membership type, zip code or geographic zone, previous service technician, job type, materials, ticket price, spending over time, commercial v.s. residential, and more.

To make audiences still more specific, HVAC contractors can filter as a function of exclusion. For example, they might build an audience with aging equipment of only particular brand types, or whose replacement would likely clear a certain dollar threshold, screening out homeowners whose service history suggests a disinclination toward big spending.

Building and targeting highly customized audiences is in many ways the heart of Marketing Pro’s email marketing features. (Marketing Pro also features Direct Mail and Reputation functions.) It offers capabilities that would be impractical to the point of impossibility to attempt manually, while allowing HVAC contractors to match marketing messages to audiences in ways unprecedented in the service industry.   

3. Build an Email Sequence 

In the HVAC industry, growing revenue is extremely dependent on capitalizing on opportunities at the right point in time. This is as true of following up on unsold estimates as it is of bidding to replace aging equipment. Failing to follow up on an unsold estimate in a timely fashion is often tantamount to giving business away, and much the same is true of forgetting to check in with customers whose systems are headed toward retirement age, or with those whose member agreements are expiring.

It’s no wonder our seasonal email templates are so popular! 

At least as important as clever calendar-themed emails, of course, is making sure that those emails arrive at the right time. And, if need be, to make sure that they keep arriving until they’ve accomplished their purpose.

As displayed in the screenshot above, with Marketing Pro, ServiceTitan users can configure campaigns with extreme time specificity, programming a campaign as a one-time mailer or a recurring message. In the latter case, contractors can even dictate the terms under which a campaign will continue or stop. They might set a campaign to discontinue once a customer has opened the email, for example, or when they’ve requested a quote, booked a job, or renewed a membership.   

Once configured, these settings, too, are automated, ensuring that busy CSRs no longer have to keep track of the innumerable variables involved in properly maintaining each and every email campaign. 

By allowing HVAC contractors to consistently be following up on every one of their customer contacts, Marketing Pro users often find that email marketing becomes the most profitable and least expensive marketing device in their toolbelt.    

4. Review and Submit

Once an HVAC contractor has designed an email marketing campaign that guarantees the right message will reach the right audience at the right time, all that’s left is to review and submit their campaign — and track the results. 

Marketing Pro includes a handful of features to help users verify that they’ve built the best possible campaign. One example is a subject line grader, which will give their subject line a letter grade: A, B, C, etc. And if they’ve built an overly inclusive audience, Marketing Pro will pop up a warning indicating broad targeting — a suggestion that the user refine their recipient list to reduce the chances their message will end up in the SPAM folder, and thus drastically reduce open rate.

Once a campaign is out in the world, contractors can use a variety of ServiceTitan features to analyze how they’re performing: Which campaigns are most and least effective? Where and with whom? Which campaigns result in the most booked jobs? What kinds of jobs can be attributed to which campaigns? What kinds of campaigns are ultimately producing the most revenue? 

Armed with these kinds of data, HVAC businesses can tweak existing campaigns to improve their performance, as well as draw lessons to implement when building all new marketing campaigns.   

Conclusion

In their quest to acquire new customers, many HVAC contractors overlook tremendous opportunities to grow revenue by simply focusing more of their marketing efforts on the customers and contacts they already have. 

With Marketing Pro, it’s simple to:

  • Follow up on unsold estimates

  • Keep up with membership agreement renewals

  • Convert on big-ticket equipment replacements

By skipping out on these opportunities, HVAC contractors risk leaving tons of money on the table, while effectively ceding a big segment of their market to competitors. 

For the reasons we’ve discussed in this article, staying on top of these areas via email marketing has traditionally presented significant challenges. But with Marketing Pro by ServiceTitan, users are now uniquely well positioned to easily integrate email marketing into their overall business operations. 

By using its features to accomplish a handful of key tasks, they can turning email marketing into the most profitable marketing solution at their disposal: 

  • Creating automated, purpose-driven campaigns for tasks like selling unsold estimates and maintaining service agreements

  • Using ServiceTitan’s array of battle-tested campaign templates

  • Building custom audiences to maximize the impact of your messaging

  • Developing email marketing campaigns tailored to the seasonal and equipment-specific needs of individual customers 

Want to see Marketing Pro in action? Schedule a call with us to learn more about how ServiceTitan can help you supercharge your email marketing.

ServiceTitan HVAC Software

ServiceTitan is a comprehensive HVAC business software solution built specifically to help service companies streamline their operations, boost revenue, and achieve growth. Our award-winning, cloud-based platform is trusted by more than 100,000+ contractors across the country.

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