The demand for solar energy isn’t abating. Companies of all experience levels are jockeying to take advantage. As the competition grows, it can feel overwhelming trying to differentiate yourself. But, one of the first ways lies with generating leads.
Lead generation is the lifeblood of any solar company. Whether you buy leads from a list or plan to generate your own, there are pros and cons to each method. Here we’ll discuss these pros and cons, steps to generate leads through online and offline channels, and marketing strategies that help.
How to Generate Leads for Solar Sales
Solar energy sales aren’t a matter of building it and they will come. Your reps have to find the customers, but not without a little research, planning, and homework before then.
Know the Audience
This is crucial for any solar lead generation campaign, regardless if you’re targeting online or offline. Where people live and how they communicate can affect how they receive targeted information, such as Facebook ads having more reach and impact than direct mail flyers.
One avenue to this is by contacting local municipalities and federal jurisdictions for permit information. While it might not be accessible to the public, there’s a wealth of information attached for which areas, businesses, and households are most interested in solar power.
If your solar sales team can get this information, it’s time to find an answer for what kind of marketing message resonates with the audience. Some rely on traditional media and marketing sources, such as door-to-door, newspaper ads, or word of mouth. Others use social media and search engines, making them more likely to see and click on a digital ad.
Understand the Product Inside and Out
If a prospect comes to one of your solar sales reps with questions about solar for their home, does your team know the products and services inside out? This means understanding the capabilities of the product and your team.
It’s also recommended to have high-quality photos and videos of your solar products. Home and business owners are making large, long-term investments and value the ability to see the final solar equipment.
These may be solar installation competitors in your local area or a nationwide company. Take time to look at their websites, social media accounts, direct mailers, and customer emails. If they’re known for always having a full sales pipeline, studying their marketing may give you an idea or two to help your company. Yet, if their lead generation is lacking, this is a great opportunity to improve on a tactic they’re using.
7 Tips To Help Generate Solar Leads With Facebook Ads
Facebook Lead Ads have been around for nearly a decade. And in that time, these ads have become a major asset to companies in need of lead generation. Harnessing the power and depth of the social media network, these ads can be built in a relatively short amount of time and provide a return on investment.
Yet, as with any type of ad campaign, you can’t set up the ads and then watch the leads pour in. Here are seven tips to make sure your solar leads from Facebook are the quality you want.
1. Include Contact Information at Every Stage of the Funnel
Home or business owners interested in solar power do have many ways to contact you. But, it’s still a good idea to verify, and if needed update, contact information for every stage of the sales funnel. Periodically check the contact phone numbers and emails listed on your website, social media, emails, and so on. Out-of-date information may mean a missed sale.
2. Refine Your Targeting
It may be hard to refine your ad targeting in the first few weeks until you have enough information to segment audiences. But once the ads have run, and you’ve refined your buyer personas, it’s time to make that information work.
A/B testing is a great way to do this. For example, a target audience is homeowners between the ages of 35 and 50 in a suburban area. For one part, you might test ‘solar power’ and ‘energy savings’ as keywords. The rest of the audience sees ‘sustainable energy’ and ‘lower electric costs’.
When A/B testing any ad or marketing material, it’s important to monitor the metrics and make changes as necessary. We address why later in this guide.
3. Use Custom Audiences
Retargeting to custom audiences on Facebook is a popular way to stay front of mind with someone who interacted with your brand. The interaction may have come from a website visit, ebook or case study download, or watching a video.
To retarget, the assets have a tracking tag attached which pings when an action is taken. The tag then activates a targeted Facebook ad for the user, which follows them through the platform.
4. Set Up Conversion Tracking
Each conversion is a prospect who enters your solar sales funnel. Every Facebook ad should have a hook. This may be signing up for your monthly emails or downloading a case study. These actions — signing up or downloading — are conversions that can be tied back to the original Facebook ad. It’s also easier to determine an ROI from the ads when tracking conversions.
5. Understand How Dynamic Products Work
Dynamic product ads are good when a product price changes on different factors, such as color, size, and features. Customers are then able to see an estimated price based on their preferences. These highly customizable ads help you show the right solar product to the right prospect when the prospect uses Facebook.
6. Expand Reach with Lookalike Audiences
These audiences are similar, yet slightly different, than your targeted audiences. It’s a good way to grow a customer base without extra time and energy. And because they’re based on a source audience, you have an increased possibility of developing more high-quality leads plus more value for the ad spend.
7. Use the Facebook Lead Format
Your team might have a great ad format in mind to run on Facebook. But, it’s better to use the Facebook Lead Ads format for these reasons:
- Better functionality and user experience: A user submits their information, such as name, telephone number, and email, without leaving Facebook. Being able to stay on one platform increases the odds of a conversion.
- Mobile friendly: The Facebook app, or mobile browser view, is designed for any mobile device. A user won’t experience a distorted ad view or struggle to fill out the form.
- Easy data collection: Lead ads capture your prospect’s information without the need for a landing page or extra step in the buyer’s journey. The data also integrates with most CRMs.
Buying vs. Generating Solar Leads
Perhaps you’re starting a new solar energy installation company. Or your established company is looking to expand its customer base. Either way, you need leads to convert into customers.
Enter buying or generating solar leads, and several pros and cons related to each option.
Pros and Cons of Buying Solar Leads
The biggest pro of buying a list of solar leads is almost instant sales. But, it’s important to try out a handful of reputable lead companies to find the best fit for your company. From there you can measure and compare results until you find the one that provides the best ROI.
- Instant business from good leads: If a purchased lead is hot, you may make almost instant, direct contact with an interested customer. Because these leads have spent time looking into solar, and determining how it fits their needs, they’re more likely to make a purchase.
- Straightforward ROI: Buying solar leads gets rid of the ambiguity associated with other, harder-to-track marketing tactics. When buying solar leads, you can track every lead from the moment of purchase until the buyer’s journey ends. This creates an easy-to-determine return on investment each month.
- Filter qualified leads from the rest: The key here is to purchase qualified leads. These are leads who’ve entered the sales funnel from another channel, have done their homework, and are ready to buy solar.
But, there are two main downsides to buying solar leads.
- Intense competition: Like every company, solar lead companies want to make money. This means they’ve likely sold the qualified lead you want to other solar companies. You’re back to fighting competitors for the sale as if you hadn’t bought the lead(s).
- Wide cost range: There’s a more than $1,700 difference in the average cost of solar leads in the U.S. California is the most expensive at $1,929 while North Dakota is the least expensive at $225. These variances can quickly dampen budgets unless planned for.
Plus, a lead may have signed up a long time ago and may not be as interested in switching to solar energy now.
Pros and Cons of Generating Your Own Solar Leads
No matter the industry, generating sales leads is about building and maintaining relationships.
- Lower entry cost: Organic channels, such as search and social media, are free for anyone to take advantage of. It’s also notorious in marketing for producing quality leads if planned and executed correctly. Plus, targeted search and social media ads are relatively cheap and, like organic, offer good returns if done right.
- Authentic interaction: Organic leads frequently turn into authentic relationships. It’s because these leads develop over time, allowing you to establish trust and rapport through interactions.
Conversely, one big downside of generating organic leads is time.
- Leads don’t happen overnight: Generating your solar leads is a long game. Plus, it may take a hybrid or multi-channel approach over time to build a leads pipeline.
- Lower quality leads: Most leads you receive won’t be ready to purchase solar installation. The majority will likely have a fair to middling interest at most. You can count on spending more time filtering leads than making a sale, unfortunately.
- Difficult to measure ROI: By its nature, organic lead generation is difficult to quantify. This is especially true if your sales managers are relying on a multi-channel approach.
If your solar installation company needs leads ASAP, a paid strategy may be the best way to start.
Advanced Marketing Strategies for Solar Lead Generation
The key is finding the blend of organic and paid strategies that work for your solar business. And, each is flexible to changes over time as needed.
Who is your ideal customer? This is the first question to ask when developing buyer personas. These are semi-fictional representations of your ideal customer(s) who’ll be targeted in your lead generation strategy. Questions to answer for each persona include:
- What are their needs, now and in the future?
- What does this customer value?
- How do they prefer to communicate, such as over the phone or through email?
- How are they currently being served, and how could this be improved?
You’ll also need demographic information for each persona, such as age, gender, income level, and geographic location.
You’ve figured out who your buyer personas are, but how do you begin reaching them — and for a budget-friendly price? That’s where content marketing comes in. Each piece of content your solar company produces, such as a blog or video, needs to provide thoughtful but useful information.
But, don’t develop content for the sake of development. If you or your team has never undertaken content marketing before, start small. Take a topic or question your buyer personas are interested in and turn it into one well-researched and well-written blog per month. Or, begin with a frequently asked questions page related to solar and questions a new residential or commercial customer may have. Videos don’t have to be long productions either. A short one to two-minute video answering an FAQ or high-level overview of solar installation is a great way to begin.
Case studies are a perfect example of proof of product. They’re essentially an in-depth testimonial of your solar business and how it changed the life of a satisfied customer. Plus, if your company is relatively new or looking to expand into a new market area, case studies are great for building trust.
Once written and approved, a case study can be used in paid search and social media ads, organic social media posts, and as standalone sales collateral.
Unlike organic search which focuses on attaining a high page rank for every search, paid search is about appearing in the right searches. And while it’s not quite as efficient as other solar lead generation tactics, it can be a successful endeavor for any solar company.
Google Ads and Microsoft (Bing) Advertising are the two main platforms used for paid search campaigns. Whether you use one instead of the other, or try both, here are five tips to improve a paid search campaign for generating solar leads.
1. Frequently Check Your Keyword Performance
Paid ads start with targeted solar installation and sales keywords. But, if a keyword or several you started with isn’t meeting KPIs, remove it. It’s better to have quality here instead of quantity.
2. Focus On Your Buyer Personas
The focus comes from figuring out what search terms your buyer personas are using to find solar information. Free tools such as Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and Answer The Public can help you get started. Once you know what words, phrases, or questions are being asked, you can tailor ads accordingly.
3. Focus On Campaigns That Are Working
If one campaign is working and bringing in mid- to high-quality solar leads, don’t be afraid to shut down underperforming campaigns. It makes financial and logistical sense to support converting campaigns providing an ROI.
4. Enhance Underperforming Ads With Elements From High-Performing Ads
High-performing paid ads usually contain two elements — an emphasis on the benefits and a clear call to action. Consumers care about benefits because these directly impact their everyday life.
5. Follow Relevant Trending Searches
Google Trends is a free tool to help you look for and monitor trending searches related to the solar industry. It’s useful for forecasting new search queries or keywords to use in targeted ad campaigns.
To take advantage of link building, you need a foundation of high-quality content. Link building helps your search engine optimization, telling search engines you’re an authoritative, relevant, and trustworthy reference for solar information.
But, don’t go crazy putting links on your web pages. Only link to reliable sources,
and use anchor text wisely.
Empower Your Solar Sales Team With Lead Generation
You’ve set your goals, defined buyer personas, and unveiled a surefire marketing strategy to generate leads like a pro. Once those leads begin rolling in, it’s time to let your solar sales reps turn the leads into customers!
The AJC Group offers high-performance solar sales training to large and small companies. We know what it takes to create a streamlined and effective sales team, which turns into a trusted solar energy company for home and business owners. To kickstart your sales, contact AJC Group today to schedule a meeting!