SYRACUSE, N.Y. — When contractors need brand and purchase decision-making information, their go-to source is Google, according to the Connecting with Contractors survey from EMA Contractors, a specialty group at Eric Mower + Associates. In the second annual survey, 84% of contractors said they consider search engines to be their top resource, with 39% searching Google before choosing which tools and materials to buy. 

"Search engine marketing has been an important part of any contractor marketing program for some time, but our research indicates that it is becoming absolutely critical," said John O'Hara, EMA partner and leader of EMA Contractors. "With the emergence of social media, some brands have lost focus and aren't paying enough attention to paid search and website/on-page optimization."

More than 80% of all contractors surveyed said they turn to the Web during the purchase decision-making process. General contractors are using search engines the most (96%), while more than three-quarters (80%) of plumbers, electricians and HVAC specialists use search. Here's what they search for:

·      Specific tools and/or building materials: 51%

·      Brand information: 49%

·      Product comparisons: 45%

·      Price comparisons: 27%

"While only 13% of contractors say they actually buy online, most are using the Web to figure out what to buy,” O’Hara said. “If marketers want to show up in the results at the precise moment contractors are looking, they need an aggressive search strategy.”

EMA conducted the Connecting with Contractors study among 200 U.S. plumbing and HVAC contractors, electricians, and general contractors.

EMA Contractors, part of EMA Group B2B, includes experts from EMA Insight, Strategy + Planning; Creative Ideation; Design + Branding; Public Relations; and Social Media divisions. The group works with leading brands including Charlotte Pipe & Foundry, Gastite, TimberTech, Legrand/Pass & Seymour and Southwire.

Additional information about EMA's Connecting with Contractors study is available from John O'Hara at johara@mower.com.