If you are in the solar energy industry, you are on the right side of history. Alternative energy sources are increasingly popular in a world pushing for environmental conservation. In fact, 46% of American homeowners have strongly considered installing solar panels in their homes, while 6% of homeowners have already done so. This number is bound to increase post-pandemic with the recently-extended federal tax credit that will surely incentivize more homeowners to make the switch to solar.
The increasing affinity towards solar energy goes past residential use. Businesses and homeowners alike enjoy the financial benefits of embracing this alternative energy source. While the market is warming up to solar energy and its benefits, getting solar leads isn’t simple. Marketing successfully calls for the right amount of planning, lead nurturing, monitoring of results, and adapting to market changes. This guide will walk you through advertising your solar business to the growing user base.
Here is what you should know about advertising your business as a solar installer:
The Typical Solar Consumer Journey
Understanding the typical journey solar customers follow is essential to being successful in lead generation. The easiest conversions come from potential customers that already understand solar energy and have interacted with your business in the past. However, this doesn’t mean that you should focus any less on potential clients that are only recently interested in your services. Every potential customer matters, regardless of where they are in the sales pipeline.
When crafting your marketing campaigns, you should aim to target all stages of the sales funnel. In most cases, potential customers interested in solar energy are looking to lower their future power costs, conserve the environment, increase their homes’ value, or all of the above. Here are the four typical stages of your customers’ journeys and how you can best target customers at every stage:
Stage 1: Research and Awareness
Potential buyers in this stage make little commitment to purchasing from you. They are primarily interested in gathering information about the solar installation process and its benefits. Since going solar is often a big investment, customers desire a full understanding of how switching to renewable energy will help them cut costs and get the most value for their money. Most customers are interested in discovering:
- Average costs
- Environmental and financial benefits
- The estimated sun exposure in their region
- Legal requirements of solar in their area
- How suitable their home is for solar installation
Your website and social media presence will play a pivotal role at this stage of research. Ideally, creating content that offers this much-needed information will lead potential customers to your site and keep your business in their minds. Be sure to populate the web with articles, videos, and infographics that provide as much information as possible to these potential customers. Posting case studies, customer reviews, and success stories can also help build trust and confidence within this customer base.
Stage 2: Consideration
Customers at this stage are already armed with sufficient beginner-level knowledge and are now interested in the specifics. They want to know information such as how to get rebates and incentives and the local ordinances on installing solar. This is information they can best get from the experts, and that’s where you come in. You are no longer just an information source; you are now a potential vendor.
Potential customers will most likely call you for details and quotes, but this doesn’t make a closure a done deal. Customers at this stage are often talking to the competition, too, in order to hunt for the best deals. Here’s how you can stand out in a crowded market:
- Listen to the consumer. During interactions, find out their concerns, the vendors they are considering, and what they know. Use this time to understand their views and pain points.
- You can use any window of opportunity that presents itself to share more about your company’s products, prices, experiences, and projects. Focus on providing further education about your brand and solar energy. However, this should be a conversation — avoid overly pressuring the customers to make a purchase.
- Follow up with customers. Don’t let your lead slip away because you never gave them a call back!
Stage 3: The Decision
Buyers in this stage already have a firm idea of what they want. They understand the features they need and likely have a short list of companies they are seriously considering taking their business to. Here’s how to tip the scales in your favor:
- Use the information you collected in the second stage to determine what factors the customer values most. This allows you to address the specific concern that is keeping them from committing to your services. For instance, if they are hesitating due to your price, you can offer some discounts.
- Talk more extensively about the benefits of hiring your company over others. Specifics like financing, the installation process, and warranties can easily inform their decision.
- Make a personal connection with the customer. If done right, good customer service will make them feel more comfortable trusting your company over others.
Stage 4: Sale and Post-sale
You’ve made the sale now, but the job isn’t done yet. Behind every successful sale is the opportunity for more business. The fact that 50% of consumers will buy into solar power based on a recommendation makes online reviews and testimonials an essential marketing element. It’s important to ask customers for reviews and continue creating great customer experiences, especially when it comes to long-term services such as warranties and maintenance. Case studies can also help you attract more customers in the future.
Popular Digital Marketing Channels for Advertising Your Business
In a world that is constantly online, digital marketing is a non-negotiable. Customers will almost always search for product information online before making a purchase. A robust online presence makes it much easier for customers to find your business and inquire about your services. However, building an online presence requires careful research, measurement of results, and constant adjustments.
There are many strategies for digital advertising and lead generation. Some of the most popular options include paid search, content marketing, social media, SEO, and promotional offers. You can also use common lead magnets for advertising your business. For instance, offering customers a free ebook in exchange for joining your email newsletter can go a long way in effectively building leads. Here is a deeper breakdown of the digital advertising channels that are essential for solar companies to utilize:
Your company’s website acts as your first spokesperson. The design of your website alone can determine whether you lose leads or enjoy high conversion rates. In fact, 75% of consumers will judge a company’s credibility from its website design. You can’t afford to present a poorly-designed website when customers will go to the competition without hesitation. Having a clean and visually-appealing website is the first step for keeping customers’ eyes on your business throughout their purchase journey.
Secondly, your website needs to provide sufficient information to the customer about your business. A consistently-branded website will offer customers information like your company’s address, contact information, product categories, and USPs (Unique Selling Points). It should also be easy and intuitive for customers to find the information they require. Using a self-explanatory navigation menu and having an updated sitemap will increase ease of use of your site.
You should also ensure:
- Your site has a responsive design and is optimized for both desktop and mobile use. It should be easy for it to adjust to different screen sizes and devices.
- That your site is fast enough. Sites that too long to load content will easily lead to you losing potential customers to the competition.
- That the site has effective call-to-action buttons (CTAs). Great CTAs will guide customers into making the right decision.
- Your site has key security features. Security certifications are a great way to earn the trust of security-conscious customers, especially considering how common cybersecurity threats have become.
Local SEO (the channel is Google Search)
Technically, SEO isn’t advertizing.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a digital marketing practice with the goal of improving a company’s ranking on search engines. Many company’s ultimate goals with SEO is to appear on the first page of search engine results. Since most customers will search for information about your business and its activities online, it is in your best interest to invest in SEO. As a solar installer, local SEO is essential to growing your online presence.
Local SEO aims at helping local customers find businesses offering services close to them online. For instance, a customer who wants to install solar panels will look for solar companies within their vicinity, and local SEO will make your business visible to these customers.
Great SEO involves creating quality site content that addresses key customer questions and search intents. At the same time, it will make the content easy-to-find for search engines. The goal is to find the perfect balance of content that pleases both target customers and search engines.
While it is possible to attempt DIY SEO, it is better to work with experts. Perfecting local SEO will call for a level of commitment that can best be provided by experts. In fact, pursuing SEO without enough know-how is one of the top reasons why most businesses fail to rank highly in search results.
Google’s online advertising program is known as Google Adwords. You can use this program to reach target solar installation customers and persuade them to take specific actions like buying your products or services. The program works on PPC (pay-per-click) advertising, which means you have to pay each time a visitor clicks your ad. Google has a vast reach considering that it is the primary search engine for most people.
Google Adwords allows you to control every detail of your campaign. You can stop the campaigns whenever you feel like it, which is beneficial especially if you want to allocate resources to other aspects of your business. Google Adwords gives you an advantage over the competition by placing you ahead of organic search results.
However, the effectiveness of using Google Adwords as part of your marketing campaign hinges on the landing pages you link the ads to. The more inviting and action-provoking your landing page is, the easier it will be to get conversions.
Much like with SEO, it’s best to work with professionals in this field who know how to avoid common mistakes. PPC experts understand how to analyze the target audience, use the right search intent phrases, and will suggest ways to launch future campaigns.
72% of people prefer video to text-based content when learning about new products, which makes video content ideal for targeting stage one consumers. The fact that 82% of consumer internet traffic will come from online video content by 2022 makes video marketing a necessity for any business looking to build an online presence. As a business dealing with solar energy products and services, you need to capitalize on this growing trend. One effective strategy for embracing video marketing is through the world’s second-largest search engine, YouTube.
In order to do this, your company must create a YouTube account and strategize video content. YouTube will provide helpful data on consumer behavior that can help you target ideal customers. You can use its data analytical capabilities to analyze the competition and look for ways to stand out from them. Conveniently, you can link or embed your YouTube content on your other social sites to get more views.
However, succeeding in video marketing on YouTube also calls for successful SEO.
- Use catchy video titles to attract the target customer. YouTube’s search results allow for up to 100 video title characters — anything past this is cut off.
- Write action-provoking video descriptions. While the site allows up to 5000 characters for descriptions, only 157 characters will show up on the search result page.
- Use interesting custom thumbnails to make your videos stand out from the crowd.
- Add appropriate and carefully-chosen hashtags to make finding your video easy.
As it’s the largest social media site in the world, Facebook will provide countless valuable lead generation opportunities for your solar business. Its extensive user database makes it easy to target potential customers based on location, demographics, lifestyle, interests, and work. You can use it to advertise your business to precise demographics. Conveniently, the site also offers select ads at low costs with effective remarketing opportunities.
Facebook remarketing allows you to show your custom ads to any users who bounced during their last online visit. This helps trigger brand recall in the minds of potential customers and increase sales chances.
Whenever a customer visits your social media page or website, a pixel or cookie is added to their web browser. This ensures that your ad follows them to other digital platforms they visit. In fact, 70% of site visitors are more likely to convert once they see remarketing ads.
Email marketing requires crafting carefully targeted commercial messages and sharing them with prospects in your email list. Email lists is essential when it comes to connecting with potential customers, building strong relationships, and sharing valuable information to drive sales. You can launch email campaigns with a variety of objectives, including:
- Direct sales
The trick to getting email newsletter subscribers is to incentivize them to opt-in. You can use eBooks, discounts, and offers to urge customers to subscribe. For a more targeted approach, you should segment your email campaigns according to the different parts of the consumer journey. This way, customers looking to learn more about solar energy get different emails from those looking to make a purchase.
Keep Revamping Your Advertising Strategies
Digital marketing is a dynamic process. What might work for your business today could easily become obsolete in six months. Additionally, being an early-adopter of new trends will give you an added advantage.
When targeting customers, be sure to consider the stage they are in the consumer journey. Use the success stories from previous solar customers to attract more customers, too. Positive brand impacts will improve your advertising ROI, which makes providing positive experiences throughout the consumer journey essential.