A new solar rooftop project was installed in the U.S. every 100 seconds in 2018. This is proof that solar energy has gone mainstream, and contributes to the larger pool of renewable energy technologies that now compete with fossil fuels for power generation.
This is good news for all of us in the solar industry, the only problem is market saturation—which makes generating quality leads tougher than ever.
There are many solar marketers who still try to generate leads through traditional marketing strategies such as cold calling, attending tabling events, knocking on doors, and flyering. Unfortunately, these antiquated tactics are ineffective and a waste of time and they should be left in the past for a few reasons.
First, even if they generate actual leads, chances are that the leads will be of low quality, and not from potential buyers who are actually interested in purchasing solar.
Second, it’s nearly impossible to attempt all of these strategies at once, which makes them unsustainable and unscalable.
Third, they are all excessively time-consuming and offer very little ROI, which makes them highly ineffective.
Paying for leads is another popular way for many solar companies to drum up business, but there are also many problems with this tactic:
1. No brand recognition: Because a homeowner has no prior knowledge about who you are, what your company does, or why you’re calling them, they’re caught off guard and will feel pressured, which most often ends up in a frustrating hang-up.
2. Quantity, not quality: A lead gen company is just that—a business. Because they make money based on the number of leads they sell, you’ll often be calling potential buyers who aren’t even interested in solar and don’t want to be contacted by a stranger.
3. It’s a race: Even if you get a decent pool of qualified leads, there are still four other solar companies who bought the same lead list and might have made the calls before you even had a chance to pick up the phone.
The bottom line is that with all of these methods, you’re stripped of control or assurance, and therefore will not experience the success that you could with other marketing strategies. Many solar companies continue to use these tactics simply because it’s what they’ve been taught.
But the very nature of solar lead generation relies on convincing potential buyers to take a chance with solar energy—something they may not know much about. That’s precisely why we, too, need to step outside of our comfort zones to evolve in our marketing tactics and embrace strategies that reflect such a forward-thinking technology as solar power.
Best Practices for Generating Quality Solar Leads
So how can you generate leads that are authentic and effective? And even at a more basic level, how can you establish your brand in a way that encourages visitors to trust you enough to give you their information?
The most powerful way to generate your leads in an organic way is to use inbound marketing, the strategy of using your website, blog, and social media to find online customers who come to you. Here is why inbound marketing is such an effective strategy for generating quality solar leads:
It’s more trustworthy. Your potential customers don’t want a barrage of advertisements. They want to find an experienced solar installer that they can trust. Since the very nature of inbound marketing dictates that your customers find you, the relationship is more authentic.
It’s more cost-effective. Since inbound marketing heavily relies on organic (unpaid) forms of marketing, it can, essentially, cost next to nothing.
It’s measurable. With inbound marketing, you can discover who your visitors are, how they found you, which website pages perform the best and worst, and so on.
How to Increase Solar Lead Generation with Inbound Marketing
1. Content Marketing: This strategic method of marketing attracts visitors to your website by offering relevant and informative content. This can include blog posts, video, infographics, case studies, ebooks, interviews, checklists, and more.
If you’re not sure where to start, consider a roundup of blog posts designed to answer questions from the most basic, such as how solar panels work, to financial concerns.
Anticipate all the questions a reader might have, and answer those questions in your blog posts or on your site so that visitors never have to leave your website to find the answer via a competitor.
Include links to reputable and trustworthy sources, like the EPA or Energy.gov for the most up-to-date information and costs. Make sure your content is optimized for SEO to get the highest possible search traffic (see SEO below).
2. Email marketing: If content marketing is the best way to inform and entice an audience, email marketing is the best way to drive traffic to that content.
An email marketing campaign caters to potential buyers throughout each step of the sales funnel—from learning about your company to gathering information and, finally, to a purchase—and nurtures them along the way with emails designed to reflect each step in their journey.
These strategic emails encourage potential buyers to engage and take action, which results in more leads and sales for you. Your campaign should utilize the following types of emails:
a. Promotional- for advertising offers and sales
b. Transactional- for subscriber sign-ups, welcome messages, and purchase confirmations
c. Relational- for gated giveaway content like a weekly newsletter, free e-book download, etc
3. SEO: Search engine optimization is a method of increasing both the quantity and quality of traffic to your site through organic (unpaid) search engine results.
By employing keyword research tactics, you can raise your ranking within Google’s search results, which means your website will experience a higher volume of traffic—especially if you can get your company’s site to the top of a search engine results page (SERP).
Employing a strategic keyword strategy warrants a post all its own, but there are some helpful best practices to remember nonetheless. Consider all of the ways in which a person who is unfamiliar with solar would phrase their Google searches.
Make a long list of these and include synonyms for each—or even use a keyword research tool to help. Include the top-searched words and phrases in your meta description, blog titles, social media hashtags, and so forth.
4. Social Media: Nowadays, hardly a business can thrive without the aid of social media. By engaging in this online community and creating and sharing relevant content, you’re increasing awareness around your brand, which can drive traffic to your site and result in new leads.
It’s also a shorthand way to handle customer-facing business, like messaging and sign-ups.
To make the most of your social media strategy, create goals that you can measure (whether through comments and likes or email sign-ups and testimonials, etc) and utilize trending hashtags as often as possible.
Because 79 percent of the U.S. uses a social media platform, it’s the most relevant and simple way to put a face to your business and boost engagement with your brand.
Facebook Ads- If your budget allows, consider using Facebook ads to boost your audience to reach and collect more leads. You’ll be able to target your ads to varying audiences, with a great amount of creativity and customization to best suit the goals of your business—including where you post, who sees your ads, and how much you spend.
The Future of Generating Quality Solar Leads
With the number of installations multiplying each day, it’s clear that solar is growing and is set to become the energy of our future—in fact, the state of California even requires newly constructed homes to be outfitted with solar panels.
To stand apart from your competition in the industry, there are some important best practices to keep in mind when generating leads. Knowing your audience—specifically, who they are and how to best communicate with them—is paramount for generating quality leads and, therefore, successful sales.
In the age of the internet, buyers have infinite knowledge at their fingertips, which means they want the control of making their own informed decisions before committing to a purchase.
That’s precisely why the cold-calling and flyering marketing tactics of the past are now completely inefficient.
It’s also why empowering visitors to your site with all the information they need is a way to not just generate more leads, but to earn their loyalty as a trustworthy and experienced business overall.