Making a Free Houzz Listing Work for You

According to the Houzz 2018 Landscaping Survey that surveyed over 750 homeowners interested in landscape projects, over half said that they were more likely to spend time entertaining outdoors after they had completed a landscaping project.

Actually, we think that number should be higher than “just over half”! Who wouldn’t want to show off their amazing new professionally built outdoor living space?

The question is, how will they find YOU to do the job?

Houzz survey of more than 750 U.S. homeowners using Houzz who are in the midst of, are planning or recently completed a landscaping project, was fielded between February and March 2018.

Houzz survey of more than 750 U.S. homeowners using Houzz who are in the midst of, are planning or recently completed a landscaping project, was fielded between February and March 2018.

Imagine promoting your business on a site that has over 25 million users each month… 90 percent of whom are homeowners. Sounds like a dream come true, doesn’t it?

At just 10 years old, Houzz is a leader in the home improvement marketplace. It’s been a powerful business-building platform for architects, interior designers, custom home builders and landscape architects.

Unfortunately, paying for a premium Houzz Pro+ doesn’t necessarily yield the best ROI in generating customers for landscape contractors, except those with $2-6 million in annual revenue.

Why? Getting the most out of Houzz involves a fairly significant investment of money and time - not only paying for Houzz Pro+, but actively working the site and often paying for extra premium features that help generate traffic.

This investment may not yield enough of an ROI for smaller landscape contractors. However, with a little effort (time and attention) as well as some solid marketing practices, you can make the most of your free (basic) professional Houzz listing. Then, Houzz can become part of your overall marketing strategy – without the significant cash outlay required by Houzz Pro+.

Here’s what you can do to get the most out of a FREE Houzz listing

We are staunch believers in the free Houzz accounts for any business. However, as you can see in our previous article, we don’t believe it’s the best approach for smaller businesses (i.e. those without a hefty marketing budget and dedicated marketing staff).

1. Upgrade your photography, not your account.

People make more decisions based on emotions than they do on logic. In a previous post, we noted that the poor quality of project photography is a big issue for many landscape contractors. Project photography is everything on Houzz, and only high-quality professional photographs will benefit your business. Tip: use what works - take your “hot” Houzz photos (the ones added to ideabooks) outside of Houzz and promote them on your own website, social media, brochures, or blog.

2. Use keywords.

Using the right keywords in your image descriptions and text helps you get noticed. Use these same keywords on your blog, social media or website. Learning about keywords means more than which keywords get attention; it also means knowing which keywords are heavily searched (meaning you’ll have a hard time standing out) and which are less frequently searched but yield traffic.

3. Be instantly responsive.

Yes, this requires daily attention to Houzz, but most people are more apt to hire professionals who respond quickly. Otherwise, the customer thinks, “I guess they’re not interested in my business.” Houzz is open about their algorithm, which includes recency and frequency, so it’s vital to be active and responsive to your prospects on Houzz.

4. Interact, and build your community.

Interacting on forums with potential customers can help you discover exactly what your prospective clients want and what their problems are. You can win clients quickly by actively giving value in your interactions with them, and helping them solve their problems. Interact on forums, always adding value to the reader, and link your comments back to your profile, social, website, or blog! Forums are also a great way to “spy” on your competition. You’ll notice that some landscape contractors are actively engaged with the Houzz community. They are building their authority by showing people that they care, and offering value. Learn from what works and model it.

5. Get Customer Reviews

Feature reviews from satisfied customers. Positive reviews help get you hired, and they also minimize the impact of negative reviews (it’s said that it takes 10 positive comments to negate one negative comment. Make those negative comments an anomaly (someone’s having a bad day and took it out on you) by actively soliciting reviews from your customers, and featuring the best ones on Houzz. 

6. Keep it fresh.

Update your Houzz listing frequently with your latest projects. Keep in mind that a free Houzz listing does NOT get you preferential placement, meaning that Houzz Pro+ profiles get more traffic and leads than free Houzz profiles. Many people won’t bother to look past the first page (or two at most) of search results and paid listings are prioritized on Houzz, which means that if you don’t opt for Houzz Pro+, you may not get much traffic. With that said, getting noticed by the Houzz algorithm depends on the quality of your images, the value/information on your profile, your use of keywords, your presence and interaction on the site, and your response times. Your audience will see updates when you create new ideabooks, upload new photos, create ideabooks, or participate in forums.

7. Follow your pictures.

If your images end up featured in a lot of ideabooks, then your’re getting valuable exposure. Ideabooks are important in that they give you a solid idea of what people like, both in terms of design and image quality, and also which keywords get the most traffic. Create more targeted ideabooks to increase your engagement and traffic on Houzz - study and model the ideabooks that get the most traffic.

RELATED: ANGIE'S LIST: WHAT LANDSCAPE CONTRACTORS NEED TO KNOW

Other (non-Houzz) marketing options

If you want your work to be the reason for someone’s party-filled summer, there are a couple of alternative options to consider when it comes to generating leads and converting them into paying customers. You have to spend money to make money, but these options, when combined with a free Houzz account, may be more effective than springing for Houzz Pro+.

1. Focus on your website first.

Your site is the hub of your online marketing strategy and should be your primary focus. First create a great site that features your best work, offers value to the visitor, and has strong calls to action. It’s well worth hiring a professional photographer to help you showcase your work in the most appealing way! If you hesitate at this cost, think of it this way: people like to do business with contractors who are doing well (doing well equates with doing good work) - and a profitable business can certainly afford a 2-hour shoot with a pro photographer. Once your site is perfected, focus on being found using SEO practices that make sure your site is easily searchable.

2. Be listed locally.

Local listings are key. People conduct “near me” searches on Google. You can Google “where to list landscape businesses” for about a dozen or more places to list your business. Make sure you provide your logo, high-quality images of your work, video testimonials from satisfied customers, and of course contact information. 

3. Vehicle advertising.

Brand each of your vehicles! Investing in an eye-catching wrap is a bit of an upfront cost, but will do your advertising for you while you work or while you’re driving around town. Catchy branding on your vehicles puts you in the public eye, and helps you reach a wider audience.

A more sophisticated strategy can involve:

4. Find out what your ideal customer wants, and do that.

Who do you really want to work for? Unfortunately many business owners mistake being "busy" with success but breaking your back for the low-hanging fruit customers isn’t worth it in the long run, certainly not when you’re established. Take the time to figure out who your ideal customer is, learn what they want, and build a niche business around that.

Finding customers can be a challenge, and there are many ways to do it. These three options may not be ones you have considered.

Based on our work with hundreds of landscape contractors, we recommend you create a free profile on Houzz. A free Houzz profile can be part of your overall marketing strategy. However, don’t spend money on Houzz Pro+, as there are more effective ways to market your business.