Major Changes to Consumer Behavior Bode Well for Landscaping Businesses
By John Tyreman
Landscaping businesses saw higher demand for their services in 2020. Many homeowners prioritized improvements to their outdoor living spaces due to spending significantly more time in their homes. However, marketing to these buyers is a new ballgame to some service professionals.
Millennials are projected to represent a dominant share of residential real estate transactions in the next few years, but they’re less likely than older generations to watch cable television. And with fewer buyers driving their cars, radio listenership has declined. Advertisements placed in traditional media channels simply are not having the same impact as they’ve had in the past.
Instead, homeowners are spending more time online. Consumer adoption of digital technologies accelerated ahead of projections by nearly a decade. This massive shift in consumer behavior means service professionals will need to adapt their marketing strategies, fast.
That’s why Silverback Strategies conducted a survey of 724 U.S. adults who purchased a home service within the most recent 12 months. Questions focused on their most recent purchase experience — starting when they first realized they had a problem, all the way through purchasing and reviewing online. The intent of this research is to help home service providers better understand their customers so they can market their business more effectively.
The customer journey starts online
The findings from the research show the customer journey is largely digital. Across each industry group studied, buyers were most likely to go online as a first step toward selecting a home services provider. Findings specific to the home construction and landscaping industry show more than 43% of buyers went online, 30% asked friends, family or colleagues, 27% contacted a past provider, and just shy of 4% remembered an advertisement that prompted them to purchase.
There were notable differences when these results were examined by generation groups. A full 60% of Millennial and Gen X buyers, ages 55 and younger, reported going online as their first step. Yet, less than 30% of Baby Boomers, ages 56 and older, did the same. Instead, this group was more likely to contact a past home service provider. As younger homeowners enter the market, landscaping companies have an opportunity to transition their marketing strategy to become digital-first. Landscaping companies doing this will capture new generations of customers and retain them for years to come.
“Going online” can take many forms. Buyers who reported turning to digital channels were most likely to use a search engine on their mobile device. Some buyers used other channels such as rating and review websites, various social media platforms, or they went directly to a service provider’s website. With so many options and pathways for buyers to find and select a home service provider, landscaping companies should review their current digital marketing activities and consider how much potential revenue they could generate.
Social media has emerged as a ripe lead-generation platform for home services companies. A full 96% of home services buyers reported using at least one social media platform weekly or more frequently. Specific to the landscaping industry, more than 70% of buyers were active on Facebook, 47% on Instagram, 46% on YouTube and 27% on Twitter. But landscaping companies should not only view social media as lead-generation channels. These platforms can also be used to build brand awareness as effective as traditional media channels such as TV and radio.
Past work and social proof helps buyers make decisions
More than 75% of landscaping buyers had conversations with multiple service providers before making a decision. It’s important for landscaping companies to differentiate their businesses from competitors, but it’s also important to stay top of mind to buyers with whom you’ve had a conversation. Remarketing campaigns across social media and Google’s display network can be effective places to reach buyers in the evaluation stage of their journey.
Key marketing messages at the evaluation stage should reinforce brand differentiators and remain consistent across all channels, including sales representatives or estimators meeting prospective buyers in-person.
“Examples of past performance” was identified as an evaluation criterion by more than 42% of landscaping buyers — the most of all home service industries studied. Additionally, “customer ratings and reviews” was also identified by more than 40% of landscaping buyers.
Landscaping companies can take advantage of these insights in two ways. First, generating positive reviews on select platforms lends credibility to your business through social proof. These testimonials show prospective buyers other homeowners benefited from your services. Second, landscaping companies can use project portfolios and case stories in marketing materials to give prospective buyers a visual aid to help them make a decision.
Ratings and reviews have major impact across the customer journey
Online ratings and reviews play a small role at the beginning of the customer journey, but become more important as buyers move closer to making a decision. More than 48% of landscaping buyers reported leaving an online review for their most recent purchase. Facebook and Google were the top platforms used by home services buyers to leave ratings or reviews. So, how can landscaping companies generate more of these coveted reviews?
Landscaping companies can generate more online reviews by asking new customers to go to one specific platform (e.g., Google) to leave a review. But asking customers in person once a project is completed is only the beginning. It may take multiple touch points to convince customers to leave a rating or review. However, there is limited time after a given project to take advantage of customer testimonials. Most customers need your follow up on channels like email, text or social media direct messages. It’s critical to be proactive if landscaping companies want to get serious about generating more online ratings and reviews.
A complete Google My Business profile along with recent, positive customer engagements can have a big impact. Not only will this provide a reference for buyers to evaluate service providers, but it directly impacts local search optimization for queries like “landscaping companies near me.”
Consumer behavior dramatically changed in 2020 and will likely continue to evolve as new generations become homeowners and as consumers spend more time using digital media. Landscaping businesses have an opportunity to transition from traditional marketing to a digital-first approach.
John Tyreman is a seasoned agency marketer with expertise in using original research as marketing content. He has appeared on dozens of webinars and podcasts, and authored hundreds of blog articles. Connect with him on LinkedIn and Twitter.
Silverback Strategies offers performance marketing solutions focused on driving measurable revenue impact. But its purpose is deeper than just driving marketing performance. Silverback Strategies is building an environment that embraces trust and encourages vulnerability, which gives its team — and its clients — the courage to push boundaries and evolve. Digital marketing is an orchestration of creative, promotion, and analytical resources. Silverback’s in-house SEO, paid media, creative, content, and analytics teams give clients the agility to iterate and improve campaign performance at scale.