Pillar To Post is a corporation of professional home inspectors that has been in business for over 25 years. With over 550 locations, they are the industry leader in home inspections in the US and Canada.
President and CEO, Dan Steward, has been the CEO of Pillar To Post for the past 14 years. In recent years, he recognized a significant challenge the company faced – how to compete in an age of an ever-changing digital landscape. Steward knew that in order for Pillar To Post continue dominating their industry, they would have to also dominate online. Pillar To Post decided to partner with Online Image® in July of 2017 to address this most critical need and seize an opportunity for greater growth.
Pillar To Post partnered with Online Image to discover issues hampering successful online marketing for their home inspection company. Online Image quickly identified a few specific points that needed to be dealt with for Pillar To Post to move towards having an online presence and rank on search engines.
- Pillar To Post’s website was the biggest issue. Home buyer’s account for a considerably significant portion of Pillar To Post’s revenue, however, their website was geared to realtors. The verbiage on the site was industry jargon for realtors and therefore confusing to a home buyer.
- Online Image discovered the interface for booking a home inspection was difficult and time-consuming. Most realtors would not utilize it, resulting in a dramatic loss of viable leads.
- Pillar To Post has over 550 franchisees that were competing against each other both online and in the market. There were no clear boundaries that prevented overlap between the areas each location served. Everyone was competing for the #1 spot in search engines and the same home inspection job leads.
- By competing against each other, franchisees were driving up the cost of their marketing, essentially spending money unnecessarily.
- Several franchise locations had no online presence. The lack of showing up on search engines meant a significant loss of home inspections, qualified growth and revenue.
To resolve the problems uncovered in their initial investigation, Online Image created a brand new website. Every aspect of Pillar To Post’s online structure and web-based marketing had to change direction to drive growth and encompass more.
Persona Driven Design
To identify the areas different audiences would interact with on the website, personas were built to define them. The personas drive the users to experience the design, model and layout of the site in an engaging way.
Buying a home is stressful, so the personas have been modeled with calming color tones and an easy-to-use interface.
3D Home Model Reference Tool
Online Image programmers built a 3D model of a home to minimize homebuyer confusion regarding a home inspection. The tool includes interior and exterior hover-overs that explain components of a home inspection and why that aspect is needed. This model has been so successful that realtors have recommended this page of Pillar To Post’s website as a reference tool, increasing the company’s online traffic.
Changing Voice and Tone
The website voice was changed to address homebuyers first, then realtors. The tone was changed to omit industry jargon and include educational aspects of home inspections. In 2015, approximately 1/5th of all residential real estate transactions in America did not utilize the services of a realtor. Today it is closer to 30 out of every 70 homes purchases don’t include a realtor. This ratio is forecasted to continue to rise. With homebuyers and home sellers taking a more active role, it is imperative for Pillar To Post’s website to speak to them.
Creating Territory Pages
Online Image created territory pages with the concept of implementing fair lead distributions. Franchisees with the most availability have precedence in the search results based on a customer’s requested service and time. If the client does not specify a time, then the requests are distributed in a round robin to all the inspectors with their information showing in the top left corner of the page.
Creating Micro-Sites for Franchise Owners
The previous Pillar To Post website did not have a way for franchise owners to access their site. Online Image corrected this by building out a system allowing each franchisee to access aspects of their website without compromising the Pillar To Post Home Inspectors brand. Creating micro-sites enables inspection requests to go directly to the location specified and provides the franchisee with a little creative control regarding blog posts, local realtor highlights and community engagement.
Based on extensive experience, Online Image knows the challenges of launching a website. Add to those complexities launching 550 Pillar To Post franchisee sites simultaneously. To combat any difficulties, Online Image launched a beta site first as part of a diagnostic process designed to discover unforeseen problems. As part of this process, Online Image created a section where franchise owners could provide feedback, make edits and correct errors. Online Image made nearly 220 corrections to franchisees’ information on the initial beta test from this simple solution.
Online Image’s considerable background in building and launching multifaceted websites for multi-unit businesses provided them with the knowledge that the launch day would be a resounding success and a critical turning point for Pillar To Post Home Inspectors. The launch took place between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. and was manned by staff who made corrections in real time based on franchisee feedback.
Pillar To Post saw an astounding 148 percent increase in new users to their website within the first three months of the new site being live compared to the prior year. The rise in home inspection requests were so significant the scheduling company had to verify legitimacy before acting on them.
As a result, Online Image and Pillar To Post’s partnership is a success. Pillar To Post’s online marketing strategy enables the company as a whole and individual franchisees sites to gain a strong presence on the web, generate viable leads and increase revenue. Online Image successfully launched a highly complex and sophisticated website, continuing their history in achieving measurable and attainable goals for their clients.
Russell Burnett II, founder and CEO of Online Image, knew his team could produce the results Pillar To Post needed. Both partners were equally engaged in the drive for success, making the process effective from day one.
The journey to a great online marketing strategy has bumps in the road and Online Image is grateful to have been chosen to partner with Pillar To Post to work side by side with then through this process, says Burnett.
Dan Steward was just as appreciative of the newly formed partnership.
The team at Online Image® did an excellent job in the discovery phase of our website development project. We were impressed by the extensive research done to understand the underlying issues. Their post discovery presentation displayed their creative abilities and technical knowledge. We confidently walked out with a clear understanding of the expectations. I would highly recommend Online Image® to any business for their internet marketing needs.
President & CEO of Pillar To Post