How to Get Free HVAC Leads

As the owner of a HVAC company, the quest for cost-effective lead generation is continual, with the ultimate prize being the ability to attract customers for free. But with costs typically ranging between $200 and $300 per customer, it’s easy to see how acquiring customers could be costly and painful.

With over a decade of experience in customer engagement, we’ve uncovered and tested a multitude of marketing strategies that not only reduce costs but also capitalize on less traditional, yet highly effective methods of HVAC lead generation. 

In this article, we’ll teach you:

  • How to identify where you’ve been losing marketing money
  • How to turn old leads into new leads with word of mouth marketing
  • How to get free HVAC leads just by chatting online
  • How to be seen as an HVAC expert by giving presentations in-person and online
  • How to make your Google Business Profile stand out in just a few clicks

Let’s get started.

Identify Where You’ve Lost Money Before

It’s time to answer the hard question: Where have you been losing money in marketing? To get the answer, find out how much each of your customers has cost you with customer acquisition costs.

You can calculate your customer acquisition costs (CAC) by dividing total HVAC marketing expenses by the number of new clients acquired within a specific period. Marketing expenses include every dollar that you spend to promote your company. A few examples of lead costs you might run into include:

  • Publishing Costs: Expenditures on marketing materials like brochures, leaflets, flyers, and newsletters.
  • Cost of Your Sales Team: Salaries of your sales personnel, hiring costs, training expenses
  • Creative Costs: Graphic designers’ fees, content creators’ fees

For a more in-depth look at your CAC, check out this Customer Acquisition Cost Calculator!

Real-World Example:

Consider an HVAC company that spent $12,000 on social media marketing in the first quarter and acquired 120 new clients. This results in a CAC of $100 per new client ($12,000 / 120 = $100).

Customer acquisition cost is a key component of customer lifetime value. Customer lifetime value is the amount of money a customer will spend with your company over the lifetime of your relationship.

Turn Old Leads Into New Leads: Acquisition and Retention

Customer loyalty serves as a bridge between acquisition and retention. Don’t underestimate the value of keeping your existing customer base engaged; a 5% increase in customer retention yields more than 25% increase in profits, according to Bain & Company.

In his video Contractor Lead Generation: How I Get Customers for My Construction Business, Chuck the Contractor underscores the importance of customer retention with your old leads:

If you’re not getting customers by referral, then you’re probably not doing a very good job. Because if you do a great job, people will hire you back, and they’ll tell their friends and family about you because it’s tough to find a good contractor. And you know, this isn’t some kind of minuscule transaction; you’re inviting somebody into your house, they’re working on your home, which is probably the largest investment you’ve ever made, and you have to live in it all the time. So, it’s a pretty big deal for people.”

But what are customer acquisition and retention?

Customer acquisition involves attracting and converting a potential client into a paying customer. Strategies might include:

  • Digital marketing (Informative blog posts on AC maintenance, Facebook ads for emergency HVAC repair services …)
  • New customer promotions (20% discount on your first service call, a free seasonal maintenance service for each customer you refer…)
  • Attending events (having a booth at a home/garden or builders’ fair, sponsoring local sports teams, giving out coupons at farmers’ markets…)

Customer retention represents the marketing efforts and resources dedicated to keeping existing customers making repeat purchases. Effective retention strategies could include:

  • Loyalty programs (annual maintenance memberships, ‘points’ systems that can be redeemed for free emergency call-outs)
  • Exceptional customer service (24/7 availability, detailed notes about customers’ service history, preferred brands, most important concerns…) 
  • Regular maintenance reminders (automated email/SMS reminders, service anniversary discounts…) 

(Curious about those automated reminders? Check out our guide 3 Ways HVAC Professionals Can Use Marketing Automation!)

Comment on HVAC Blog Posts

Commenting on other HVAC contractors’ blog posts can increase the visibility of your HVAC company. You can start by identifying the four most popular blog sites in your niche by Googling topics like ‘hvac near me’, ‘ac repair near me’, and ‘commercial hvac companies near me’. Your target is to comment on as many of their NEW blog posts as possible. 

Homeowners seeking efficient air conditioning and heating systems will start to notice your HVAC business, especially if your comments provide additional insights on topics like ventilation. Don’t use the comments section as a sales pitch! Engage consistently, answer questions from other readers, and aim to participate with genuine interest in the community. 

Here’s an example of a good comment that can lead to a new HVAC lead:

“Fantastic read! I appreciate how you focused so much on proper insulation here. People need to consider the role of ventilation in maintaining indoor air quality…do regular maintenance checks and find the little things before they turn into mountains. Too many people overlook the importance of changing their filters. I have a guide here (link) on the biggest insulation mistakes I’ve seen.”  

– John Smith HVAC of Atlanta, GA

And here’s a bad comment sure to get you marked as spam:

“This was good. Keeping everything working efficiently before it gets bad is something not enough people get. For anyone in the area, check out my website if you need HVAC like this. Best installation in town at the lowest prices. Check out the Coupons section for 20% off your first service”

– John Smith HVAC of Atlanta, GA

Providing genuinely informative content, even if it’s through a comments section, is the same thing we do in content marketing. People respect and want to buy from people who can explain what they’re doing, and why! 

Keep in mind that with commenting instead of owning full content, the long-term value of your comment is dependent on how popular the original blog post stays. Since you have far less control, it’s important to comment consistently if you’re going to use this HVAC lead generation method.

How to find out if this strategy works for you: 

  • Add UTM parameters to any URLs you share in your comments to track how many clicks they create to your website.
  • Track the number of likes and comments your own comments get to figure out what people are most receptive to.
  • Collect feedback from new customers on how they found your business.

Give a Presentation on HVAC

Another way to get free leads is through a speaking engagement. Here are a few examples of places you could share your expertise:

  • Home and garden tours and expos
  • Landscape technology conferences
  • HVAC, energy, and refrigeration trade shows
  • Hardware stores and community centers (offer to host a free workshop!)
  • LinkedIn, Facebook Live, or other live social media platforms

As before, remember to not make your presentation a sales pitch. Teach them how to clean their air filters, or give them your thoughts on ice storage air conditioning. If you already have followers, tell your email subscribers and/or social media followers to join you at the event. 

Afterwards, you can expect lots of questions from people who will want your contact information. You might even want to provide an email newsletter signup.

How to find out if this strategy works for you: 

  • Track an outside event, like social media follows or email newsletter signups, before and a few days after the event. Note whether this is a significant difference from the type of growth you’re used to.
  • If you announce your presentation to your email list, track open and click-through rates for those emails.

Optimize Your Google Business Profile

Having a high quality GBP profile can help create trust in potential customers who are still in the research phase. But GBP (formerly Google My Business) is an acquisition method of its own; by optimizing it, you’re improving one of your best ways to get free leads through local SEO and Google Search. 

Everyone knows that your profile should include basic contact information like your HVAC business’ address, website, hours, and phone number. But there are some additional things you can add that will help you really stand out in the search engine:

Special Services:

Identify and highlight specific HVAC services you offer that meet the unique needs of your local area. For example, you could add a sentence like these to your bio:

  • If you live in an area that experiences harsh winters, you could add “Specialized in advanced heating solutions, including geothermal heating and high-efficiency boilers.”
  • If you live in an area facing unusually high pollen counts or air quality concerns, you could add “Offering comprehensive indoor air quality services, such as air purifiers and humidifiers.”
  • If you live in a hot area with people who tend to be more environmentally conscious, you could add “Experts in the installation of energy-efficient and solar-powered air conditioning systems, aiming to reduce your energy bills and carbon footprint.”

Use Relevant Categories:

Choose business categories that precisely match your services. Being specific beyond just ‘HVAC’ can help you stand out if it doesn’t actually encompass what it is that you do. For example, if you only clean air ducts, ‘air duct cleaning service’ is a better fit than ‘HVAC contractor’. 

Here are some of the most prominent HVAC categories that GBP allows:

  • Air conditioning contractor
  • Air conditioning repair service
  • HVAC contractor
  • Heating contractor
  • Air duct cleaning service

Check out PlePer Tools for a full list of the current GBP categories. 

Still looking to optimize? Visit Propel’s in-depth guide to optimizing every part of your GBP profile. However, keep in mind that optimizing the page yourself may be more time-consuming and less effective than it would be if you hired a professional for HVAC SEO services. 

How to find out if this strategy works for you: 

  • Track the number of phone numbers or emails you receive before and after you update your profile.
  • Check your business’s position in local search results for relevant keywords before and after optimization (give it a few weeks for the search engines to catch up)

Key Takeaways

  1. Calculate your CAC to find where you’re losing money within your marketing strategy.
  2. Customer retention can give you both new business and word of mouth referrals.
  3. Comment on HVAC blogs to show readers that you have the answers they’re looking for.
  4. Offer presentations or workshops (in-person or online) to attract free leads by teaching them something.
  5. Optimize your Google Business Profile with detailed services and relevant categories.