The Five Online Personas of Pool and Spa Buyers


Todd Bairstow of Keyword ConnectsTodd Bairstow of Keyword ConnectsYou’ve all heard that when it comes to finding homeowners who want to add a pool or spa to their home, the Internet is where it’s at.

Estimates indicate that 80 to 90 percent of homeowners conduct research on the Internet before they move forward with a major purchase. So people are doing more online research and spending more time online thinking about their pool and spa options before ever talking to an installer.

So what exactly are these homeowners doing when they go online? And how does that affect their choices and attitude before they pick up the phone and call for a quote?

After taking tens of thousands of phone calls from homeowners looking to remodel or renovate their homes over the years, we’ve identified five different types of personalities and the online behaviors that they exhibit before they call you. Each one goes through a different process that directly influences how they are going to make a purchasing decision.

1) The Straight Arrow — Make it Easy for Them

Everyone loves Straight Arrows, not because they’re good people with a strong sense of morality. We love them because they make fast decisions and have a very quick trigger!

Typical Straight Arrows are often homeowners where both members of the home work full time jobs. They have children or other family members that keep them very busy with extra-curricular activities. These factors force quicker decisions by homeowners who want a friction-free process.

They don’t have a long purchase cycle in mind. They have made the decision to put in a pool or spa and they want to start – NOW!

This is (unfortunately) not the majority of your prospects. However, it represents an important subset of homeowners who have come to a decision, but who don’t want to spend months and months researching installers, pool types, filter options, etc. They have the vision, and they want to execute.

The good news is that Straight Arrows often don’t fight for every last dollar. Timing, schedules and an easy sales experience are much more important to them than counting the extra pennies at the end of a job. The easier you make it, the more likely Straight Arrows are to buy.

2) The Reputation Detective — Who Are You…Online?

Reputation Detectives have a very different behavior once they’ve found you. Rather than responding to you immediately, they continue their process by investigating you online.

They go to Web sites like Yelp, Angie’s List and Google. They are looking for reviews others have written about your company, and to understand what your previous pool and spa customers think of you.

As with Straight Arrows, their objective is not to minimize every last dollar they pay you. They will spend extra money so long as they’re convinced they’re getting a solid company and not a shoddy, fly-by-night operator. Are you reputable, reliable and going to be around in five years? Are there lots of poor reviews about your company or your products? BBB complaints? Scam reports or frustrated consumers?

These homeowners are focused on avoiding being scammed. They are about to make a major investment for their home – and moreover, an investment in a luxury item. They don’t want high-pressure sales tactics. They want to talk with someone they can trust.

3) The Product Geek – Let Them Eat Data

The blessing and the curse of the Internet is that it delivers more information to homeowners than they could ever possibly process. These days, most homeowners can easily drown in the volumes of content they can find on the Internet about pool and spa types, installation options and design considerations.
But Product Geeks really like to dig up and read as much material as they can get their hands on. They’ll spend hours online researching sanitizing systems, spa features and warranties before ever contacting you.

In short, Product Geeks consider themselves as informed as any of your sales reps.

In support of the Product Geeks, I encourage you to offer as much information as you can on your website. It will certainly help improve your search engine rankings, and it will show Product Geeks how your pool and spa options compare with what they’ve learned elsewhere on the Web.

4) The Price Monster – Selling Price-Obsessed Homeowners

We all dislike prospects who think price first. They’re difficult to set appointments with, difficult to sell to and difficult to close. But even in a strong economy, Price Monsters are everywhere.

When this group goes online, they do everything they can to understand pricing and potential cost savings before they let you in their homes. They do searches for terms like “new pool costs,” “cheap pool installers” and “affordable hot tub companies.”

Your hidden challenge online with Price Monsters is not tied to your products or your sales techniques. Rather, it comes from Google, which now displays its Retail Listings high on its search results pages. Not just for spas, but even for inground pools. Among those listings, Google shows results for items that are impossible to accurately price. You can’t price an inground or aboveground pool accurately unless you’re at the home and understand the complete picture — but Google has decided otherwise!

Price Monsters will really start trying to price jobs based on what they see on Google. Or they may use an online pool cost estimator that may or may not have reality programmed into it. Everything looks so cheap! But of course what they don’t see is the low quality products that likely come with that low price. They also don’t see any reference to installation, repair, warranty, design or craftsmanship.

But unfortunately, it’s those low prices that invariably stick in the Price Monsters’ heads.
Here are some tips for succeeding with Price Monsters. Don’t price over the phone. Homeowners who are really ready to buy will have you come out to their home personally. Don’t fall for their persistent requests for a ballpark price – there’s always someone with a cheaper ballpark.

DO make strong offers on your website. Price Monsters love saving money, whether via coupon, a posted discount, or as a carryover from your offline advertising. These hooks grab Price Monsters and get them to raise their hands. Remember, you’re not trying to sell based on your offer, you’re just trying to get the homeowner to give you their contact information so they can become a lead.

5) Well Wired – Selling to Wired Homeowners

The final persona is currently the smallest part of the market, but it’s also growing the fastest. Wired Homeowners will do online research — but often after they head to their social networks where they ask their friends or followers for a referral.

The behavior goes something like this: a homeowner goes out to their Facebook and Twitter networks with something as simple as “Do you know anyone who has ever hired XYZ Pools?” Wired Homeowners have moved well beyond simple reputation searches on Yelp and Angie’s List to broad requests for information via their Facebook and Twitter networks.

Wired Homeowners will also check out the social media presence that you’ve maintained for your company. Because they are active Facebook and Twitter users, they will check if you’re posting regularly, and if you update your pages with new material. For this bunch, it’s not so much what you post, as it is that you are active on social media in the first place. That point of commonality goes a long way.

While this group of prospects is still small – and relatively young – ten years from now a much bigger percentage of your target prospects will be using social media for these referrals. So keep those social media accounts fresh and active!

In Conclusion
It’s still hard to get good leads from the online channel. But it’s not hard to understand the behaviors of homeowners online. If you can give your sales team a thorough understanding of what prospects are doing online, they are going to be more successful at getting into that home and selling more pools and spas. Good luck!

Todd Bairstow is an entrepreneur and online marketing expert with 18 years of experience in the still rapidly-growing field. This concentration led him to found Keyword Connects in 2005, where he developed a business plan to generate leads for his clients on a 100 percent performance basis. Keyword Connects has delivered leads that have turned into more than $1 Billion in retail home improvement and renovation sales.

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