Since 2010 the solar industry has been experiencing a boom, and as of the beginning of 2017, solar has been growing twelve times faster than the United States economy. This is producing thousands of jobs, and increasing competition among solar companies to gain new business. For solar companies both old and new, the heightened competition is also pushing a need for successful inbound marketing strategies and lead generation.
There are four steps to solar lead generation: (1) Know your audience and industry, (2) Build an organic foundation, (3) Develop an online presence, (4) Track and analyze progress.
KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE AND INDUSTRY
The solar industry is still rapidly evolving, so it is important to keep up with industry trends such as changing technology, and to understand your customers and their pain points. In solar, these pain points generally include: utility bills, rising cost of fuel, and guilt about emissions. These are good nuggets to keep in your toolbox, and use them as highlights when developing marketing campaigns, or trying to close a sale.
BUILD AN ORGANIC FOUNDATION
Stand apart from your competitors by keeping a good reputation for quality, durability, performance and good customer service, while still offering a competitive price. You want to be able to build trust and credibility in your community, and within the relationships that you build with customers or business partners.
There are two channels you can use to create a solid organic foundation for generating leads. The first is customer referrals. Good customer referrals can make up 30-50% of all solar leads, so developing good relationships with current customers is key. Encourage them to share their experience with others by starting a customer referral program that offers incentives. The second channel is establishing a presence in your local community. You can do this by tabling at local events such as farmers markets, fairs or festivals. Allowing people to get to know who you are and what you do will help build up trust and credibility, and also gives you an opportunity to gain leads.
DEVELOP AN ONLINE PRESENCE
You can establish yourself online through a good website, social media, and a blog. These are all key lead generation tools that are essential in the modern market.
Keep your website clean and easy to navigate. Large, clunky and overly complicated websites will load slower, and aren't ranked as high by search engines. Include helpful or insightful content on your website and blog that will drive users to your site. This may include content that answers frequently asked questions about your company or industry, and testimonials that reiterate your reputation. It's also good to include CTA's throughout your website to give your potential customers a next step to follow. CTA's can include asking visitors to subscribe to your blog (on your blog homepage), request an e-book (on a landing page) or to request a free appointment (on pricing page).
Social media is also a necessary segment to your online presence. Although there are many social media sites to choose from, keep in mind that not every social site fits the needs of each type of industry. Pick two or three that fits your audience best, and manage them well.
TRACK AND ANALYZE PROGRESS
Following your progress in generating (especially online) leads, is a good way to keep up with how your marketing is doing. Not keeping up with SEO will render your company practically invisible to many searches. Statistics show that despite the 100 billion online searches that happen every month, only 8.5% of those make it to the second page of results. In other words, if you aren't on the first page, you don't exist.
Many types of websites like Wordpress and Squarespace have plugins or features that make it easy to track SEO. Take advantage of it. When building your blog and website, include popular industry keywords and integrate them into your body and paragraph headings to boost your chances of being found on search engines. Google AdWords is a great free tool to use to determine the source of your website traffic, how users are behaving on your site, and which CTA's are working and which aren't.
Many smaller businesses within solar struggle with lead generation, and will purchase leads from vendors. However, by generating your own leads, you will see up to a 62% cost savings per lead. Why? Because they are higher quality and more relevant to your company. So, by knowing your painpoints, building an organic and online presence, and keeping up with your progress, you will be ahead of the curve - and can begin generating your own solar leads.