Over the last five years, we’ve been on a tear, doubling the size of our business in the process. We now have over 250 clients in 42 states and more than 35 employees and freelance specialists taking care of them. We’ve achieved a 96% client retention rate.
Our business mix went from being 70% traditional advertising and 30% web-based to the exact opposite. We’re able to accomplish things for clients we could never do before. Our work is bigger, more complex and more diversified. It’s been a fun ride, but taxing.
This came up a few months ago in conversations with employees. We started hearing the words “burn out” more. Perhaps you have too? The pandemic had much to do with this, no doubt. We were doing great work, and our clients really appreciated it. But the stress on our team was not sustainable. And I love the team we’ve assembled.
So, this year, our management planning didn’t focus on how to maintain a 15% annual growth rate. It centered on how to support our phenomenal team — by leveraging technology, improving our systems and recruiting new assets who fit our culture.
We’re now set up to allow our people to work from anywhere they want. We’re helping them continue to increase their skills. We’re all still working hard, but we’re reducing frustrating bottlenecks and having more fun along the way.
We’re confident this will enable us to keep innovating and doing great work that rewards our clients’ trust and loyalty.
In the end, as many of you have taught me, it’s all about the people. Sometimes you need a pause that refreshes. After the last two years, a lot of refreshments are in order.
Rich Goldberg, President
We’re thrilled to announce that Warm Thoughts Communications continues to grow, enabling us to keep delivering outstanding service and results.
Rod enjoys the process of building websites from top to bottom. He has worked in web development for many years now and specializes in website design, keeping up with the new trends in web and technology. In his spare time, Rod can be found in Houston, Texas, playing soccer, basketball or video games.
Warm Thoughts does a lot of marketing work for our clients – but we need to market ourselves too! Kahyo develops the company’s marketing plan, content calendar and promotions to share with our clients and prospects. In her free time, Kahyo enjoys hiking, exploring a new town or trying whatever cuisine you put in front of her.
Todd is a graphic designer with over 11 years of experience in print and digital design. Born and raised in Vermont, he currently lives in Plainsboro, New Jersey, with his husband José and their dog Bowie. In his spare time, Todd enjoys jogging, swimming, playing video games and learning new recipes to cook.
Digital Marketing Intern
Paola just graduated college in July from the University of North Florida, receiving a bachelor’s degree in communications and a minor in sports management. Paola supports our SEO and Social Media specialists. While she is not working, she loves spending time with her four pets, cheering on her favorite sports teams and going to theme parks.
Staying current with ever-changing technology and security requirements is mission-critical for your website and digital presence. We write all our sites in a language called PHP, which runs on our servers and produces dynamic, interactive sites. Recently, we upgraded all existing websites to PHP 8.0.
So how does the upgrade affect your website?
The 8.0 upgrade provides better security against hackers and other vulnerabilities, keeping your website stable and your customers’ sensitive information safe.
The upgrade also supports significantly faster execution times and uses less memory, which means your visitors will have a better experience. Without getting into too much “geek speak,” your upgraded WordPress site will handle 18.4% more requests per second than your previous version!
The goal of our SEO work is to convince search engines to serve up your site more often when people search terms connected to what you sell. To boost your results, Warm Thoughts now utilizes Schema markup, a code added to the HTML of your website. It is a type of “structured data” that helps search engines like Google understand your content better, so you can be a better match for more relevant searches.
Structured data is a standardized format for providing information and classifying the content of a page. For example, on a page about propane deliveries, you can specify location, hours of operation and other information that is critical to match what people are searching for.
By adding that structured data to your HTML code, we ensure that Google will identify that information in search results, increasing your website’s visits from the right people.
By providing structured data, we explicitly tell search engines what your pages are about before they even crawl the HTML of the site, giving you a massive advantage when it comes to attracting more prospects.
Another benefit of adding structured data is that it signals to Google that your company and information is trustworthy, increasing the chances that your customers and prospects will see rich results. Rich results are experiences that go beyond the standard blue link. This can include product images or other non-textual elements. Rich results, combined with your GMB listing, indicate to anyone searching for propane and heating oil companies that you are the leading business in your area.
The oil and propane industries are under attack in many states by those who want to “electrify everything.” This approach is flawed and counterproductive. Warm Thoughts is helping to lead the fight to keep your fuel in the energy mix going forward.
The Fuel Merchants Association chose Warm Thoughts to create a multifaceted campaign aimed at generating awareness and opposition to the Governor’s plan to eliminate fossil fuels entirely from homes and force conversion to heat pumps. The organization raised $1.2 million from members to fund the battle. Warm Thoughts created the messaging strategy and ads that ran on digital and social media, cable and connected TV, radio, print and billboards throughout the state. The campaign reached hundreds of thousands of people and generated over 12,000 letters to the governor and legislators in just five months. Industry leaders credit this campaign with empowering opposition to the plan that looks promising. Check out the SmartHeatNJ.com website. You can also see several of the ads by going to the SmartHeatNJ channel on YouTube.
The New England Fuel Institute and nine state associations chose Warm Thoughts to conduct extensive research into attitudes towards carbon reduction options. The polling will provide all states with deeper insight into how their members should message to gain greater support for keeping their fuel in the energy mix. We expect to have results in the spring.
In 2019, New York passed the most radical climate change law in the country. Implementation plans were just released that would eliminate virtually all fossil fuels within 13 years, force conversion to electric heat pumps, institute Carbon Taxes and reshape the electric grid with unproven, less reliable power.
The New York Propane Gas Association chose Warm Thoughts to spearhead a campaign that would educate New Yorkers about the severe consequences of this approach. In the past six months, members have distributed over 400,000 Propane Matters bill inserts to customers. This generated 4,000 letters to legislators. In a few weeks, a much bigger statewide digital, social and video ad campaign will launch to generate public comments on onerous new regulations. Check out StopNYCarbonTax.com and SmarterNYEnergy.org.
Warm Thoughts is proud to have been selected to create the new website for Women in Propane. WIP supports the advancement and success of all employees in every scope of business operation and professional development. If you want to learn more, check out their new website at WomenInPropane.com.
Digital marketing is leaving traditional approaches in the dust for a simple reason — it is much more effective. Leveraging technology and “big data” enables you to reach more of the right people, at the right time, more often, for less cost. But understanding how to blend various tactics to grow your fuel or service business is not simple.
For many oil and propane companies, the gateway drug into modern marketing has been Google AdWords. We often refer to it as “pay per click” because you are only charged if someone clicks on your ad. It’s like the old-fashioned yellow pages on steroids. It works exceptionally well to capture people searching the internet for a new fuel company, furnace, water heater, etc.
But you can’t be a great pitcher if all you have is a fastball. Increasingly, we’ve been implementing complementary strategies that are causing results to multiply. This is definitely a case where you can make 1 + 1 = 3. If generating leads is important to you, it’s time to get a little more complicated.
As much as marketing technology has radically changed, many of the fundamentals haven’t. For instance, your brand really matters. It’s just that the way you promote your brand now needs to include the design of your website, reviews, your Facebook and Instagram presence and more.
Likewise, targeting the right prospects is key. In the old days, people would buy cable TV ads on shows that Nielsen said were popular with certain age groups. Now, you can select audiences based on age, location (down to the individual street and house address), income levels, whether they own or rent, how long they’ve been in their house, what other types of items they shop for, etc.
Finally, repetition matters. For years we’ve learned that it takes someone seeing you multiple times in multiple places before they pick up the phone. Well, people now spend their time in front of a screen, and there are multiple ways to ensure you stay in front of them there.
The breakthrough we’ve discovered is that when you put it all together for fuel or HVAC customers, good things happen. Take the example of one of our clients in New England. They have approximately 6,000 customers. Previously, they had sent prospect postcards to communities and ran newspaper and radio ads, along with a separate promotion targeting property transfers. It generated close to 400 leads every fall.
A few years ago, we introduced a pay-per-click program funded at the right level. We refined their prospect postcard and reengineered their property transfer approach. Plus, we increased positive reviews and dramatically improved their website and search optimization, so they attracted three times the number of people. Leads increased to 800.
This year, we created an even bigger breakthrough. We cut down the postcard mailing from twice annually to once and eliminated 25% of the targeted areas. Instead, we used “addressable geofencing” that served up display ads to those customers who received the postcard. It was cheaper and hit them far more often than a second mailer.
We refined the Google AdWords campaign to eliminate a couple of areas that were unproductive. We then used targeted prospect email to a proprietary list, using six different criteria. We could hit 50,000 people twice for a measly $2,500, with guaranteed open and “click-through rates.” We then used “site retargeting” so everyone who came to the site to check them out, for any reason, started seeing Facebook and Google display ads for a month whenever they were on the web/Facebook.
Finally, we decided to focus bigger investments in four towns that our client wanted to grow in. We used Facebook branding and several other tactics to saturate the area.
The result of all this was outstanding. All these pieces worked together to increase the results of each part. We saw an increase in the pay per click even though they invested less money. Overall leads increased by 40% to over 1,100, even though cost only increased by 15%. New sales numbers followed suit.
One of the great advantages of working with Warm Thoughts is that we are constantly learning from all our campaigns for propane, oil or service. We can then take that learning and apply it to you, so you can generate more results for less, with fewer costly missteps.
Talk to us about how we can upgrade your efforts.
Recent changes to Google’s algorithm have made reviews more important than ever. Our SEO expert, Peter Kang, reports that a December 8th update rebalanced multiple factors which Google considers when generating search results. It will be harder to rank high when a search originates in towns where you are not physically located.
This update also impacts search results on Google Maps, prioritizing the searcher’s location and displaying a wider variety of local businesses that may have been shut out of results before.
One solution? Positive reviews — and lots of them!
Although Google’s general guidance remains the same for improving your local ranking, we can see that online reviews weigh more heavily than before. Online customer reviews and your overall star rating are now a stronger signal to search engines that your business is trustworthy. As a Warm Thoughts customer, you can always count on us to manage your reviews to differentiate your business and raise your visibility and ranking in search results. However, we have some new ways to skin this cat that may increase your numbers.
There is much more to understand about this subject. You can learn how to “Win the Review War” in our recently published article.
Facebook’s ad revenue has skyrocketed over recent years for a simple reason: they offer a better mousetrap, enabling you to generate more leads and increase brand presence in your market area for a lower cost. Facebook’s ability to identify individuals based on demographic information, interests and behavioral data enables us to target better prospects and get you in front of them for less.
Our best practices for creating Facebook ads include:
Eye-catching images. “Scroll-stopping” images get the audience interested. We test different images to get the user to stop and give your ad some attention.
Short but informative copy. Much like your images, ad copy needs to be specific to your audience. Your offer and call to action are critical for generating leads on social media and driving prospects to your website.
Bid Strategies. Testing different bid strategies in your Facebook advertising can significantly drive down your cost per click and, more importantly, your cost per lead. There is no one-size-fits-all bidding solution, so testing will determine which works best for your goals and campaigns.
Warm Thoughts has developed unparalleled expertise in marketing oil, propane and HVAC services using Facebook. Talk to us to explore the innovative ways we can put it to work for you.
You may not have met him, but Jake is a major driver of the success of your Warm Thoughts website. Jake has been with Warm Thoughts for ten years. His expertise and dedication are a large part of why we now host more than 200 websites!
Recently, he talked to us about the dramatic changes in customer expectations over the past few years. He also discussed the steps Warm Thoughts takes to leverage technology that focuses on the user experience and our websites’ security.
The changes in what our clients and their customers expect in terms of digital marketing have been drastic since I started with Warm Thoughts. The move has been even more dramatic in the past couple years as more people shift to doing things online.
The importance of convenience, new modern design practices and the ability to support various devices has driven much of our focus. Increasingly, today’s homeowners expect nothing short of full online access. Many still call, but they want the ability to transact business how and when it’s convenient to them. As a developer, this has been an exciting and challenging change to implement.
Customers want to be able to find the right company, find information they need, order fuel, request service, see their statements and pay their bills online. And they want to do it all from their phones! At Warm Thoughts, we have three full-time developers to make it happen.
One of the many benefits of having your website created by Warm Thoughts is that we don’t just rely on cookie-cutter website templates or plugins for added features. Plugins are just shared code, and sharing code among multiple websites can become a major vulnerability. When your website is relying on a plugin that is no longer supported, you are out of luck, and, eventually, it will crash.
Warm Thoughts uses a cloud server, so we are never without a redundant backup system. If one server should fail, the other is immediately ready to use. Cloud technology has been around for many years but only recently has become the new standard. Many development companies are still using sharedhost systems, with all resources, including data storage, being shared between every website on that server. This makes these websites incredibly vulnerable to attacks and simple power outages.
There have been a lot of changes in website development through the years, but nothing is as important as our clients’ website security and the ever-changing technologies we implement.
We install a software-based firewall on all websites, which adds a security system against brute force attacks. With our firewall security, we can see what regions web traffic and login attempts come from. If a website experiences an attack, the firewall automatically blocks the attacker’s IP address and notifies us.
We automatically monitor our websites every five minutes. If a website experiences an outage, our whole team receives alerts immediately, and we mobilize to restore any misconfigurations or issues as soon as possible.
If you ever have any questions about your website’s functionality, or if you’re just looking to provide more services to your customers, give us a call! We’re always happy to come up with the right solution to fit your business.