Study finds the majority of cleaning services companies are not keeping up with consumer expectations online, and are missing out on opportunities to use the internet to attract and retain customers.A study conducted by TrustedCleaner, which analysed the effectiveness of the online activities of over 330 cleaning companies, has found that the majority of companies are NOT meeting the expectations of consumers who are increasingly using the internet to research, shortlist, select and book a range of cleaning services (domestic and commercial). Tom White, Co-Founder of TrustedCleaner, commented on the results of the study:
Below are the most significant findings from the study. The full study results can be downloaded here. A set of recommendations have also been published based on the findings of this study. These can be found below.
Most Businesses Still Struggling with the Basics
Previous studies have already shown:
- 4 in 5 people now use the internet to search for local businesses (Google 2014)
- Mobile internet use is set to exceed desktop usage in 2015 (BA Kelsey)
Consumers using the internet are becoming less forgiving, have higher expectations and are increasingly less loyal (MarginMedia)
Yet this study found:
- One third of businesses still don’t have a website
- 86% of businesses don’t have a mobile-friendly website
- 70% of businesses don’t display their phone number prominently (and 27% of websites don’t display their phone number on their homepage)
Building Trust and Credibility Online
The majority of websites tested were ‘outdated’, loaded slowly and had significant errors. Most websites didn’t help build a sense of reliability, trust and credibility (and in a number of cases their websites created the opposite effect).
This is concerning because:
- 75% of people make judgements about a company’s credibility based on the website design (Stanford University)
- 46 percent of consumers have cancelled plans to spend with a small business after discovering a poor quality website (1&1 Internet)
- First impressions count and it only takes 0.5 seconds for people to form an opinion about a website (TaylorFrancis)
Slow Loading Websites
49% of websites took over 3 seconds to load; however, 40% of people abandon a web page if it takes more than three seconds to load (Econsultancy).
No Customer Testimonials
72% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations (Local Consumer Review Survey); however, 68% of companies had no customer testimonials on their website.
Staff / Owner Photos on Website
64% of customers trust a ‘real’ photo vs. a stock photo (BrightLocal), yet only 12% had an image of the owner / staff on their website. Interestingly, 19% of carpet cleaners display an image of their truck (without the owner!).
Blogging, Social Media and Email Marketing
The study found examples of companies who are following best practices, have an active online presence, and are using blogging, social media, email marketing and SEO to:
- Get found online & attract potential customers to their website
- Turn website visitors into (pre-sold) phone calls and email leads
- Keep in touch with existing clients and encourage them to use their service on a regular basis
- Get more referrals
Small businesses with blogs generate 126% more leads than those without a blog (SocialMediaToday); however, this study found only 3% of companies are blogging regularly (updated in the past 3 weeks).
Email Marketing / Newsletter
42% of subscribers are more likely to buy from a company after subscribing to their emails (ExactTarget); yet only 8% of businesses in the study had an option to sign-up for an email newsletter on their website.
Social Media Presence
More time is now spent on social media than any other online activity (Reuters); yet only 15% of businesses had an ‘active’ Facebook page.
Growing Gap Between Companies
The study found a significant gap between companies who are maintaining an effective and active online presence, and those who are yet to adopt one. For example:
- A company with an effective website is almost three times as likely to have an active online presence
- A company with more than five online reviews is more than three times as likely to have both an active blog and an active social media presence, than a company with no reviews
- A company with an active blog is twice as likely to maintain an email newsletter, and have an active social media presence
Online Review Strategy
A recent study (2013) by Dimensional Research showed that:
- 75% of respondents reported reading reviews online
- 90% of respondents reported positive online reviews influenced buying decisions
However, 65% of companies included in this study had no reviews, and only 14% of those with a review had 5 or more reviews.
In 2014, an effective website and active online presence should be considered a requirement for any cleaning company who wants to remain competitive. However, this study demonstrates that cleaning services companies are struggling to keep up with consumer trends / expectations and are missing out on opportunities to use the internet to attract, convert and retain customers.
The study also shows that there is a significant gap between companies who are maintaining an effective and active online presence, and those who are yet to adopt one, which could indicate some companies are being left behind. Fortunately, meeting consumers’ expectations online and getting found doesn’t need to be expensive or take up a massive amount of time – yet the impact to a business can be significant.
A set of recommendations have been written, based on the findings of this study, to help cleaning services companies (large and small) create an effective website and online presence which generates quality leads, encourages repeat bookings and produces referrals. These will be published on TrustedCleaner.com.au in the coming months.
TrustedCleaner helps highly skilled and reliable local cleaning services companies attract new customers (domestic and commercial) through the TrustedCleaner.com.au website, and provides the tools, skills and resources to help them use the internet to find, convert and retain customers, and generate quality referrals using the internet. TrustedCleaner only works with the best cleaning services companies in a local area, and has a strict vetting and verification process to ensure only the best businesses are represented.