Solar Marketing Essentials
Using solar marketing strategies to improve your lead generation.
Interest in solar energy production has never been higher—and it’s not showing any signs of stopping!
Residential, commercial, even industrial customers are looking to solar to go green and save on electricity.
But that doesn’t mean that it’s easy for a solar installer to succeed. There’s never been more competition among solar companies over every interested customer. You have to find ways to make your company known and considered among your target audience.
And that’s where solar marketing strategy comes in!
In this article we’ll discuss the basics surrounding solar marketing. What it is, why it’s important, with proven marketing strategies and solar marketing ideas. All aimed at improving your lead generation and growing your business!
Table of Contents
Why is solar marketing important?
Solar marketing allows your company to share your services with the right audience, at the right time, in the right place. It helps you grow your company in spite of competition in a crowded market.
Without marketing, your ideal customer won’t even be aware of your business. A study by Pew Research found that 46% of US homeowners have “given serious thought to adding solar panels to their home”. There has literally never been so many solar companies competing for a customer’s attention to meet this newfound demand.
Very few businesses (in any industry) can succeed without any marketing efforts. And even those exceptions have some sort of promotion channel.
Even if you know you need marketing—there’s few essentials that a huge number of businesses miss.
Too many businesses try to market and appeal to everyone. This typically has the unfortunate effect of appealing to no one. With so many solar companies competing for attention, you can’t be everything.
One way to stand out is to understand and market specifically to a target customer group.
This doesn’t mean that only one specific group of people can benefit from your services. You can have a small set of target audiences. But those audiences need to be well defined. And their problems, goals, and values need to be well understood.
What is the target audience for solar installation?
For residential installers, the biggest audience for solar consists of young homeowners who are either 1) environmentally conscious, 2) long-term finance focused, 3) value energy independence—or a mixture of the three.
Many solar installers use marketing activities that don’t align with their target audience.
Maybe they send out mailers in a neighborhood that’s predominantly rentals. Or they craft ads that have messaging for a younger audience, but use imagery of an older homeowner. If they had specific targeting, their marketing efforts would have been more effective.
Solar is a widely recognized service. As such, there’s ample market research already done for the industry. You might choose to target a specific age range of solar customers. Or perhaps a want like “energy independence”—or maybe an overlap of the two!
It doesn’t matter which group you choose as your target audience. What matters is that you market to and serve your target audience well. And if you really want to knock it out of the park, you market to where your audience is in their buyer’s journey.
The Buyer’s Journey for Homeowners Interested in Solar
Even if you’ve chosen an audience, customers don’t become interested in your company out of nowhere. Customer’s follow predictable stages of the buyer’s journey.
In the buyer’s journey, customers first become aware of a pain or problem. They then consider available solutions. And then they make decisions around who or what might solve their problems.
This process, known as the Buyer’s Journey, takes place for every purchase. (although the journey can often be quite fast)
Looking back at our audience examples, let’s consider what “pain” or “problem” might be.
- They want to do more to reduce their carbon footprint.
- They’re concerned about rising utility costs.
- They want energy independence.
The first “awareness” stage might be prompted from July’s high utility bill. Or a power outage that cut short a family member’s visit from out of town. Or concern over a pollution filled skyline.
In the second stage, customers have a huge variety of paths at their disposal. They might start visiting YouTube for “ways to reduce my power bill”. They might search on Google for “how do generators work”. Or they could attend an expo on “carbon footprint” topics.
It’s through these activities that a customer will first start considering solar. And only then do your customers start looking for installers, and exploring options.
Understanding your customer’s journey is crucial. It informs which problems you focus on, and where you can find your customer.
All that’s left is to communicate to your customers in a way that resonates with them and is focused on their problems and goals.
Communicating Solar’s Value to the Customer
You may have heard the oft-repeated advice to share benefits, and not features. This means that in your messaging you need to focus on the feelings and goals of the customer. Not static information about your product or service.
Maybe your solar company is highly reviewed by prior customers—great job! Many solar companies lean on phrases like, “100+ 5 star reviews” or “highly rated on SolarReviews.com”.
Copy like this is okay. But it could be great!
When a customer is looking at online reviews, they’re not trying to check a box for “company with 100+ 5-star reviews.”
The customer wants to feel confident in a large purchase that they’ve likely never made before. They want to experience life with your solar services—before they’ve made the purchase.
Speak to this need.
Maybe you’re crafting an ad for the “future finances” audience, when they’re considering installer options.
“Check out our 100+ 5-star reviews on SolarReviews.com”
You could write:
“Confidently invest in solar. Hear from customers on their solar savings.”
It’s not a drastic change. But it makes a big difference! Craft messaging that hits what the customer is actually looking for.
If you’re targeting a specific audience, considering their buyer’s journey, and writing to convey customer benefit—you can’t go wrong.
All that’s left is to choose the marketing channels that you’re going to use.
3 Proven Solar Marketing Channels
Your customers use a variety of channels. Here are 3 proven opportunities to connect with prospects and increase solar leads.
Solar Search Advertising (Paid Search Ads)
The terms “marketing” and “advertising” are frequently used interchangeably. But advertising technically refers to promoting a company through paid channels. Paid search, paid social, billboards, commercials, etc. are all advertising channels. Paid search is the most used digital marketing strategy within the solar industry.
Paid search ads put your company’s ads in from of customers using search platforms. These platforms include Google Search, YouTube, Bing, as well as other search platforms.
Paid search ads give your business access to customers at the end of the buyer’s journey. It’s one of the few marketing channels where you can target users that are actively searching for solar installers.
All it takes is a little planning and you can be right in front of customers that are ready to buy.
The basic ads process
- You set up a Google Ads account.
- You tell Google what phrases your customer would be searching.
- You give Google the ads you’d like shown on these searches.
- Google shows your ads (text, display, or video).
- You pay Google when a customer clicks on your ad.
- You read that last part right. With the Google ad platform you only pay as customers interact with your ads. So you know that for every dollar you spend customers are engaging with your content.
At RELLO, we recommend ads for the standard search results page. And we also strongly recommend video ads on YouTube.
Nothing brings your business straight to buy-ready customers quite like paid search ads.
Search Ads Pros
- Unique opportunity to identify and serve a very niche audience.
- You only pay when visitors interact with your ads.
- High customization – You can create unique ads, copy, and landing pages for specific audiences and keywords.
- Online search is a part of the vast majority of customers’ buyer’s journey.
Search Ads Cons
- High value keywords can have an expensive cost per click rate. Every market and audience is different but it’s not uncommon for each click to cost more than $10.
- Google’s built-in recommendations often lead to spending more than necessary.
- Some customers automatically skip or block ads.
- To have a cost effective ad campaign you need a decent website buildout. This includes tagging, tracking, along with quality landing pages.
Solar Email Marketing
Most businesses don’t realize just how much can be done with email marketing.
An effective solar email marketing strategy proactively nurtures customers towards purchase. It responds and reacts to a customer’s website engagement. And it acts as the direct line of communication between the business and individual.
The basic email marketing process
A customer’s email is acquired (typically through lead bait).
- Their device receives a tracking cookie.
- The customer is enrolled in a long term email campaign related to the lead bait that interests them.
- Emails are sent to the customer slowly nurturing them down the buyer’s journey.
- More specific email automation is set up to respond to “high purchase intent” actions. These are triggered by the cookie.
- The customer becomes more interested in the product over time and eventually buys. Or, they determine the product isn’t the right fit and they are eventually removed from email.
Lead bait is typically a digital asset (although it doesn’t have to be) like an infographic, eBook, podcast, or estimate. The customer wants said asset, and is willing to give their email in exchange.
In this exchange, the customer’s device receives a tracking cookie. This cookie informs your CRM of when they return to your website along with what pages they visit.
After the download, the customer is enrolled in a longer-term email campaign specific to the kind of lead bait they downloaded.
More specific email workflows can also be built out to directly serve the customer and their needs.
- The customer is frequently visiting pages that compare panel brands?
- Send them an infographic comparing panels.
- They’re visiting pages about the tax incentives?
- Send them an email outlining federal and state incentives as they currently stand along with their expiration dates.
All these emails auto-send as a part of a robust email marketing buildout. A strong email marketing strategy can make a small marketing team have an outsized impact.
Email marketing is among the most profitable marketing channels available—and it’s clear why.
A well developed email marketing strategy:
- Meets your customers where they are
- Connects directly to them.
- Offers value exactly where the customer is looking.
All without having to devote human resources to each interaction.
- The only digital channel that is truly direct to the customer.
- Can leverage technology to increase the impact of small teams.
- Nurtures customers towards purchase automatically without time and attention from the company.
- Is ready to respond whenever the customer is interested.
- The best email marketing strategies require decent amounts of content on the site as well as across platforms.
- The company will need to invest (in either paid ads or SEO) to get customers to the initial lead bait.
- Longer term marketing. Offers few revenue impacts for today.
Solar Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO stands for search engine optimization. It relates to the actions required to push your company to the top of relevant online search engine results. Very few people venture past the first page of a Google search. So it’s extremely important to not just “be on Google” but to be on the top of Google search.
Similar to paid ads, it’s highly lucrative to be easily and readily found when potential customers search online. But unlike paid ads, if you want to be shown at the top of a given search organically, your content needs to earn you a place at the top of the pack.
This is not always easy!
Luckily, you have a variety of options available to win at search. Here we’ll briefly cover local SEO, blogging, and review sites.
With local SEO, your company puts an emphasis on being found when a search includes local modifiers like “near me” or a city name.
When these are included in a search Google often first shows a map block instead of the standard list of blue links.
Companies can perform well in this map block by:
- Having a fully fleshed out GMB profile.
- Maintaining a full citation buildout.
- Posting detailed location information online.
- Frequent, thorough (and real) Google reviews.
Posting unique content freely available on your website is called blogging.
The basic blogging process proceeds as follows:
- Identify phrases your target customer would reasonably search online related to your product.
- Create high-quality content that would meet the searcher’s wants. Include call to action invites (CTAs) in the content.
- Ensure that the content is optimized for success on Google.
- Google finds the content and delivers it to searchers.
- Searchers read or watch your content and follow its CTAs.
- Through the CTAs the reader eventually becomes a customer.
This is only a basic outline of blogging. But you might be wondering what “optimized for success on Google” means.
Google wants to deliver the best result possible for a given keyword. To do this, it considers a huge number of factors when deciding which pages should rank at the top.
If you’re looking to really invest in SEO, you’ll want to consider working with an expert. But If you identify a keyword and find the current search results lacking—write up what you would have hoped to find!
A well written, thorough page for a specific keyword will go far, even with no expert-level SEO work, assuming the keyword isn’t highly competitive.
But even if your preferred terms are too competitive, there’s still a way to rank on the top. Hitchhiking off the strength of large review sites.
Large review sites like Yelp and SolarReviews.com perform extremely well in search. And lucky for us, their primary form of content is sharing your business on their platform.
Many installers don’t recognize that performing well on these review sites is basically SEO. High standing on these sites puts your business front and center for highly competitive search terms.
When a customer searches “top solar installers” and a Yelp page is at the top of the results, no one that clicks on Yelp is looking to learn more about Yelp. They’re looking to find you.
Put in the work to perform well on Yelp. And when those customers search “top solar installers” they’ll find you.
- Extremely cost effective lead generation over the long term.
- Build your company’s brand.
- Search results are an essential part of most buyer’s consideration.
- Content can be used within sales and email marketing campaigns.
- Little short term conversion opportunities.
- The solar panel space is typically very competitive in search.
Invitation from RELLO
There’s never been a better time to be in the solar industry! But with that opportunity has come the need to stand out from the crowd.
With proper marketing principles, and solar marketing strategies, your company can push through the noise and grow.
If you’re interested in working with the marketing experts at RELLO you can fill out the form below to speak with a strategy specialist.
If you’re interested in seeing some of our work within the solar industry you can click here as well.
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Fill out our form and a member of our team will be in contact soon. Let’s discuss your marketing needs and see what RELLO can do for you.
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