An Ultimate Guide on Internet Marketing for Plumbers

An Ultimate Guide on Internet Marketing for Plumbers
21 October, 2023 • ... • 176 views
Natasha Zack
by Natasha Zack

Several years ago, one survey made big news. The internet was flooded with headlines claiming thousands of adults in the UK didn’t know how to change a light bulb. Now, the survey is unavailable. But one thing remains certain: thousands, even millions of young adults today need help with essential household tasks. And if a dead bulb is a mishap for them, a plumbing problem is likely a large-scale disaster. 

These people are your potential customers. But how do you reach out to them when they’re always glued to their screens? The answer is, you use the internet. As a plumber, you might find it overwhelming but fear not: we’ve got you covered. In this comprehensive guide on digital marketing for plumbers, we’ll walk you through all you need to know to use the online realm to help your small business grow.

What is internet marketing?

First of all, what is marketing? Simply put, it is creating demand for certain products or services and promoting them through various channels to generate sales. 

These days, marketing can be “traditional” or “digital”. Digital marketing, aka internet marketing or online marketing, uses the internet as a means to reach out to customers, while traditional marketing uses offline channels. 

With most of the world’s population connected to the internet, digital marketing has become indispensable to businesses, helping them increase brand awareness, attract more customers, and, ultimately, generate more sales. In this article, we’ll focus on digital (or internet) marketing for plumbers and talk about its benefits, choosing the best solutions, counting the budget, and assessing the results. Let’s dive in.

The benefits of digital marketing for plumbers

So, why should you as a plumber be interested in digital marketing? Here are some of the most obvious benefits to convince you to give it a try. 

Raising brand awareness

A good reputation in your neighborhood is relatively easy to achieve through word of mouth. But what about letting the whole town, city, even the whole state know about you and your services? With digital marketing, you can make your brand known in any area you are prepared to operate in. 

What’s more, being present online increases your chances of setting yourself apart from the competition, which is crucial in an industry with over 420K employed professionals in the US. An added plus is that raising brand awareness with digital marketing is also much cheaper than using offline instruments to achieve a comparable result.

Building trust

Official company websites are the second most trusted advertising channel for customers worldwide, according to a survey by Statista. 

Besides, having at least some online assets, such as a website, a social media page, or an email newsletter, can help you with: 

  • Elevating your customer service. For example, online chats on company websites can sometimes be more convenient for customers than phone customer service.   
  • Gathering, sharing, and analyzing customer reviews to grow your business.
  • Creating “the right” brand image. Your official website is a great place to showcase your mission statement, share your values, tell your story, etc.  
  • Asking for feedback — for example, via a survey on your website or social media page. 

All of this contributes to presenting your brand as reliable and trustworthy. For a business that serves people’s homes, such as a plumbing company, these qualities are critical. 

Generating leads

As mentioned earlier, word of mouth is a great source of clients — but it can only get you so far. Other traditional marketing tools such as direct mail and printed ads can be more effective. However, their reach is still limited. Besides, they can be rather expensive, especially if you’re just starting out. But with digital marketing as part of your strategy, you can attract potential customers (leads) at scale on a very low budget.  

Better customer retention

Customer retention is the process of retaining existing customers and encouraging them to buy from you again. The best way to do it is to stay in touch with everyone who ever purchased your services, and digital marketing provides a set of tools to do that cheaply and effectively. For example, you can run an email newsletter to remind people of your brand now and then, create a social media account, or even run a customer loyalty program offering personalized benefits to return customers.

Advanced features

Digital marketing is not only cheaper than traditional marketing. Digital marketing allows for precise targeting and personalization. For example, with email marketing, you can automatically add the names and addresses of your clients when you message them. Plus, digital marketing provides convenient, often real-time analytics that you can use to assess your results and improve them. And on top of these useful features, different digital channels work great together creating a unified omnichannel strategy

Best digital marketing solutions for a plumbing company

Whether you are just starting out with digital marketing for your plumbing business or looking to scale up your online presence, here are the best tried and tested solutions to help your company grow and evolve. Pick a few for a start or use them all to create a comprehensive marketing strategy and quickly supercharge your business. 

Company website

More businesses than ever are investing in websites for their companies in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to survey data from Top Design Firms, 71% of small businesses in the US had a website. Conversely, about 1 in 4 small businesses still have no website due to various reasons such as a limited budget or a lack of technical skills. Some also believe social media accounts are enough. 

Yet there are plenty of benefits to having a website. Here are just a few: 

  • People consider businesses with websites more trustworthy. A survey by Verisign indicates that 66% of consumers find companies with a website more credible than those without it. 
  • Websites are great for displaying all information about your business and services in one place. Also, properly built websites are easier to navigate than other online platforms. 
  • An official business website is great for content marketing. You can start a blog and drive organic traffic from search engines, showcasing your expertise and building trust with your audience. 
  • A website is the perfect landing page for PPC ads (more on that later). Moreover, a well-structured website with quality copy helps improve organic search engine ranking and get more leads without having to pay for them.  

Take a look at the screenshot below. This is the main page of a plumbing company website that ranks at the top of Google search results. A website like this instantly boosts a company’s credibility and ensures potential customers can find all they need in one place. 

Mike Diamond plumbing website
Source: Mike Diamond plumbing services website

Creating and maintaining a complex website from scratch can be challenging. So if you are just starting out in digital marketing, it might be worthwhile to build a simpler one — just make sure you include all the crucial sections such as company description, contact information, service areas and types, and prices. Once you are ready to scale up, you can hire a professional team to build a more powerful website for your business. 

Search engine optimization (SEO)

There are over 5 billion internet users worldwide, and most of them head online whenever they’re faced with a problem. Plumbing problems are particularly difficult to solve, so you can bet there are plenty of your potential customers searching online for something you can help them with. One way to capture them is to use search engine optimization (SEO).  

SEO is a complex process, but essentially, it boils down to making your website more attractive to search engines (primarily to Google because it enjoys a lion’s share of the search traffic). This process involves working with multiple aspects — from technical, such as page load speed, to content-related, such as the usage of keywords in the website copy.  

Also, SEO is not a tool to show quick results. Typically, it takes 3-6 months for it to start working. Not only that, but SEO might also be expensive when you outsource it (which is virtually inevitable if you have no experience in digital marketing). 

However, the results are totally worth it. With a properly optimized website, you can generate more leads, increase brand awareness, improve your website’s usability, boost customer engagement, and even maximize the effect of your PPC campaigns.  

Pay-per-click advertising (PPC)

PPC (pay-per-click) advertising is a digital advertising model where you pay a publisher for clicks on the links provided in their ads. Each time a lead clicks, the publisher deducts a fee from your advertising budget. This fee varies from a few cents to a few dollars depending on the platform, audience, target keywords, type of product or service, and other aspects. 

PPC ads work similarly across different platforms, which include search engines, social media, e-commerce platforms, and other websites. For a plumbing business, however, paid search ads are the best choice. This is because customers typically use search engines to find local businesses. By picking the right keywords, you can drive more traffic to your website and outpace competitors who rely exclusively on organic traffic.

PPC ads on Google Search
Google PPC ads are displayed above organic search results, which makes them instantly visible to potential customers. The more popular the target keywords are, the higher a click typically costs. To reduce the cost per click for paid search ads, try targeting less popular keywords

However, Google ads can be somewhat expensive, with an average cost per click of $6.55 in the “Home and home improvement” category. If you need to increase sales quickly, this is an okay price. But if raising brand awareness is your primary goal, PPC ads on social media — for example, on Facebook — can be a better option. With an average cost per click of $2.93 in the “Home improvement” category and $2.14 in “Industrial services”, Facebook ads can bring you cheaper leads provided you target the right audience with a compelling message. 

Overall still, deploying PPC ads on several platforms at once is the perfect choice if you can afford it. 

Google Business Profile

With over 83% of all desktop search traffic and over 96% of search traffic share on mobile, Google is the leading search engine worldwide in 2023. So, it is definitely worthwhile to do everything possible to improve your business’s visibility on that platform. One of the effective ways to do it, especially for offline local businesses, is creating and optimizing a Google Business Profile

Essentially, Google Business Profile is your company’s listing on Google services — particularly, Google Search and Google Maps. By creating a free profile for your business, providing all the essential information, and regularly maintaining your business page, you can improve your ranking on the world’s top search engine, increase credibility, and attract more customers. 

For example, here’s what Google search results for “plumbers in California” look like. Thanks to the layout and visual elements, this section instantly catches the eye — and the higher your rating is, the better your chances of being put front and center by Google.  

Businesses listed in the Google search results for “plumbers in California” query
Google search results for “plumbers in California”. Relevant business pages appear between the sponsored links (PPC ads) and before the “More to ask” section. Organic search results come after all these three sections, meaning they are less visible than the “Businesses” section, which attracts even more attention thanks to the Google map on display

But how can you make it into that top 3, or at least attract as much customer attention as possible? Here are the steps to take to make the most of your Google Business Profile: 

  • Create a business profile or claim it and verify ownership in case it already exists on Google Maps. 
  • Fill out your profile, adding all essential information about your business, such as company description, address, working hours, services you provide, contacts, and a link to your website. 
  • To further enhance your profile, showcase photos and encourage customers to leave reviews and testimonials. 
  • Remember to maintain your profile. Update the information when necessary, respond to comments and reviews, and add special offers. 

Email marketing

According to research, email marketing provides a remarkable ROI, bringing in $36 for every $1 spent. That makes it one of the most cost-effective digital marketing channels out there. 

Not only that, but email marketing is also a beginner-friendly channel. To get started, you just need to find a reliable email service provider, add contacts to your mailing list — for example, by asking your existing or former customers to subscribe or adding an opt-in form to your website — and start sending emails. Like this one, for example: 

Holiday email example from Portland Plumbing. Here, the company uses the upcoming holidays as a premise to offer a discount.
Source: Constant Contact

That’s not to say this digital marketing channel has no drawbacks. However, when it comes to the pros and cons of email marketing, the latter are scarce. What’s more, you can use beginner-friendly professional email service providers to quickly set up your first email marketing campaign and learn the ropes at no cost at all. For example, Selzy has a free plan that allows for up to 100 contacts on your mailing list. And if you’d rather outsource, you can go for a paid premium plan that comes with full campaign management service. Plus you can always use our free Knowledge Base and blog articles for reference.      

Social media marketing

Plumbing might not look exactly glamorous, but that shouldn’t stop you from showcasing your skills on social media because that’s where your potential customers spend at least an hour daily. In fact, many plumbers are already leveraging social media platforms to get more work. There are even some “star plumbers” — for example, Roger Wakefield, a plumber turned influencer with thousands of followers across the net.

Roger Wakefield’s profile page on LinkedIn
Roger Wakefield, a “star plumber”, originally gained recognition on YouTube. Today, he is present on virtually every social media platform and has a considerable following on each of them

Surely, it takes time to grow that big. But the good thing about social media marketing is, it’s very intuitive. Basically, it boils down to posting great content, making sure people see it, and engaging with your audience. 

Here are a few tips to help you get started: 

  • Among social networks that work best for tradespeople, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram are at the top of the list. The first one is great for building communities and attracting homeowners, the second — for B2B marketing and networking, and the third — for showcasing your work and building a personal brand. 
  • Every social media platform calls for specific types of content. Facebook, Twitter (X), and LinkedIn are more text-oriented, while Instagram is primarily a visual app with a focus on short videos called Reels. But that doesn’t mean you can’t use the same content ideas across platforms. Just make sure you adapt them to suit each platform’s specifics. 
  • Social media marketing works best with a content strategy. This strategy should include your goals and objectives, the image you want to create, and the types of content you are going to use. To get an idea of what to aim for, check out the profiles of other plumbers. 
  • Social media was originally a way of communication, so you should go out there and engage with your audience to make your social media marketing work. 

Last but not least, it’s crucial to remember that proper SMM takes time. So, it’s best to choose one platform, maybe two, and concentrate on them instead of spreading yourself too thin and trying to maintain some presence everywhere at once. 

SMS marketing

Surprising as it may seem, SMS marketing also belongs to the digital marketing realm. For tradespeople, it’s a convenient tool that allows them to communicate with customers on the go, set arrangements, and share quick updates on their schedules and locations. Additionally, you can send out promotional information that gets delivered directly to your customers’ phones, which can lead to potentially higher open rates and more conversions.

A promotional SMS from a plumbing company with a discount code
Here's what a promotional SMS message from a plumber might look like: short, to the point, and easy to read on the go. Source: TxtSquad

In essence, SMS marketing is somewhat similar to email marketing in that it is a direct marketing channel that typically requires getting the customers’ permission to start communication, involves sending out different types of messages, and more. However, there are also some differences, including the cost, the regulations in place, and others. To better understand how these two channels compare, read our SMS marketing vs. email marketing comparison.  

Though SMS marketing is very convenient, many people consider promotional messages on their phones an intrusion on their privacy. Some would even block your number even if they gave you permission to send them messages earlier. That’s why it’s best to combine SMS marketing with other channels — for example, with email marketing. By giving your customers options, you show them you care about their comfort and respect their boundaries — and this is something people really value.

Content marketing

Content marketing is when you create some content that might interest your potential audience (a blog post, a video, an infographic, etc.) and publish it through some marketing channel (a website, a social media platform, an email newsletter) with a certain purpose in mind. As a result, you raise brand awareness, build trust, and establish yourself as an expert in the industry. 

Mike Diamond plumbing services’ blog page
Blog posts are typical examples of content marketing. By publishing blog entries on topics most relevant to your target audience, you prove your expertise to your customers. And if your articles are SEO-friendly, they can also help you rank higher on Google

However, content marketing is not a panacea that many businesses believe it is. It will not bring in leads quickly like PPC ads, and it won’t make you a leading expert in the blink of an eye. Like SEO, content marketing takes its time and requires investments — money, if you hire professional marketers, or time, if you do it yourself. 

The good news is that content marketing comes in all shapes and sizes, so there is a wide variety to choose from. For example, you can film and edit short videos if you’re not good at writing, or create a podcast if that’s what you’re good at. As an added bonus, this will help you tap into your creative abilities and possibly discover something you didn’t even know was there. 

Video marketing

Video marketing is a form of content marketing that refers to creating and distributing video content to achieve marketing goals. It is also one of the biggest and longest-living digital marketing trends. It’s been around for several years, and it still shows no signs of dying out: according to research, 91% of marketers use video as a marketing tool in 2023. 

For plumbing businesses, this trend is all the more relevant because of how your customers behave. For most people, YouTube is the go-to place to search for tutorials on anything including solving typical plumbing problems like unclogging a kitchen sink. The better your tutorials work, the higher the chances that people will turn to you once faced with a more difficult task. That makes YouTube the #1 choice when it comes to video marketing for plumbers.

Roger Wakefield’s YouTube video on how to unclog a kitchen sink
Plumber and influencer Roger Wakefield demonstrates how to unclog a kitchen sink in a YouTube video. Notice how he uses every opportunity to promote his other marketing channels with social media icons on the back of his uniform

Yet other platforms are also worth your attention. For example, Instagram Reels work well as part of an overall Instagram marketing strategy if you want to become more visible on that platform. Plus you might also want to throw in a few videos to enhance your Facebook or LinkedIn content.  

The cost of internet marketing for plumbers

Okay, great, you might say, — but what about the money? How much will I have to shell out to make all of this (or at least some of this) work? The short answer is, it depends. 

Generally, the more work you put in yourself, the less money you spend. With the wealth of free tools available today, you can build a website, send out email marketing campaigns, create and maintain social media accounts, keep a YouTube channel, and enhance your Google visibility without spending a dollar.

However, some tools require a budget to work with — for example, paid search ads or PPC ads on social media and YouTube. Besides, once you scale up, you might also want to pay for website hosting and maintenance, increased mailing list volume, expert-level email marketing features, and more. 

The exact sum depends on too many factors, so each case requires individual calculations. To come up with an approximate estimation, calculate the cost of using each channel for a defined period, and then sum up all the channels you’re planning to use. Want to assess the cost of email campaigns right away? Check out our article on how much email marketing costs.

How to measure the results of your digital marketing efforts

So, let’s say you’ve chosen the digital marketing tools to best suit your needs and assessed the budget. But how can you be sure your resources don’t go down the drain after all? The best way to do that is to regularly measure results. Luckily, there are plenty of tools that can help you with that. Here are the most essential ones.

Google Analytics (GA4)

Google Analytics 4 (GA4) dashboard. The insights provided include the number of users, average engagement time, traffic sources, and more
Source: Ahrefs

Google Analytics is one of the most popular free web analytics tools out there. By integrating it with your website, you can learn a lot about your audience and its behavior. For example, GA provides insights on how many people visit your website and where they come from, how much time they spend on your website, which pages they most interact with, and more. All these insights are essential to enhance your website’s performance and improve user experience. That, in turn, can lead to increased engagement and more sales. 

Google Search Console (GSC)

Google Search Console screenshot dashboard with total clicks, impressions, and an average CTR
Source: Search Engine Land

Google Search Console is a free native Google tool for assessing the performance of your website on the search engine results page (SERP). The tool provides insights into your website’s rating on Google Search, the number of impressions vs. number of clicks (i.e., how many people who have seen your website on the search results page clicked on the link), audience behavior, traffic sources, and more. By analyzing this information, you can understand what works well on your website and what needs improvement. 

Google Business Profile insights

Google Business Profile insights with direct and discovery search types statistics
Source: Google Cloud

If you have a Google Business Profile, you can access insights such as the search requests people use to discover your business, the number of unique visitors to your profile, website and phone number clicks, and more. Analyzing these metrics is essential to correcting possible errors and optimizing your Google Business Profile to enhance its performance. For example, if your profile doesn’t generate any website visits, chances are your website link is broken.  

Email analytics

Selzy email analytics screenshot

Email analytics is a tool for measuring the performance of your email marketing campaigns. Professional email service providers (ESPs) like Selzy usually offer detailed reports that include a variety of metrics such as delivery rates, open rates, click-through rates, and more. To get even more insights — for example, tap into conversion rates and identify the number of sales your email campaigns generated — there’s an option to integrate email analytics with Google Analytics or another website analytics tool. By analyzing these insights, you can identify the weak links in your email marketing strategy and make corrections.   

Social media audience insights

Instagram audience insights screenshots. The charts show aspects such as the number of followers, audience gender and age range, top locations, and audience activity by day and hour.
Source: InstaBoom

Social media platforms also provide detailed analytics that help businesses and content creators better understand their audiences. The metrics usually include insights on the gender, age, and location of your followers, as well as the days and hours when they visit your profile. You also get reports on the number of impressions for each piece of content, audience dynamics, and more. With this information, you can adjust your content to better suit your audience, identify the top-performing formats and best times to post, and, eventually, improve audience engagement.

Summing up

Digital marketing is an effective way for plumbers to attract more customers and get more work. The benefits of using the internet for marketing purposes include helping more people discover your business, building stronger relationships with your customers, generating more leads, and, eventually, increasing sales. By using various digital marketing solutions and tools, you can reach out to potential customers faster, cheaper, and often more effectively. 

For plumbing businesses, the most relevant digital marketing solutions and tools are: 

  • Company website 
  • SEO
  • PPC advertising
  • Google Business Profile 
  • Email marketing
  • Social media marketing
  • Content marketing 
  • Video marketing

That said, traditional marketing also remains important for plumbing businesses. To get the best results, combine offline and online marketing ideas for plumbers creatively to come up with a comprehensive marketing strategy to have all your bases covered.

21 October, 2023
Article by
Natasha Zack
I’m a professional journalist with 10+ years of experience. Throughout my career, I’ve worked with various kinds of media — print, online, broadcast. Currently, I write copy for brand media and teach English part-time. I also have my own edtech passion project dedicated to teaching English via Marvel Cinematic Universe.
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