Is your residential solar company still buying lists of solar leads from third-party vendors? Are your salespeople still cold calling those leads? And how’s that going for you?
I hate cold calling, but it does make sales — right?
Your salespeople may hate cold calling, but they suck it up because management says it’s the way to make sales. Unfortunately, given that your potential solar customer hates getting cold calls even more than your salespeople hate making them, the part about sales is not as true as it used to be.
There was a time a few decades ago when consumers were more open to cold calls because the salesman on the other end of the phone had lots of information that the consumer couldn’t get on her own. But as the American public became more overwhelmed by ads and more saturated by all sorts of new media from cable TV to the Internet, the consumer’s tolerance for cold calling has fallen.
And as the Internet has empowered consumers to find information themselves, buyers have become less dependent on company salespeople to educate them. By now, potential solar buyers will make up to 90% of their buying decision before they ever contact your company.
Homeowners can and will look into solar options themselves online. And they don’t want to be interrupted during dinner by one of your salespeople calling them. Using their phone, a consumer will research home solar on their own schedule, maybe while waiting in line at the grocery store, maybe during their subway commute home.
That’s why cold calls and other old school interruption marketing tactics like ads are on their way out everywhere — not just because consumers hate them, but because cold calls are no longer the best way to make sales. Cold calls can even backfire in residential solar, because buyers hold clean energy companies to a higher standard of business practices. Solar buyers will be put off if your solar company seems to fail their ethical marketing test.
Marketing that buyers think is awesome
A better approach is inbound marketing, where you attract buyers to you online by creating content on your website that your buyers want to see. To get started on inbound marketing for solar lead generation, you need to develop a buyer persona, a profile of your ideal solar customer. Then, you need to find out what that persona is searching for online, and use those keywords on your website. The best place for that is in blog posts offering helpful advice to your potential solar customer and setting your company up as a trusted authority (you do have a blog, right?).
Once you’ve published a blog post and optimized it for keywords (what used to be called SEO), potential solar customers will find it through Google searches. But getting any traffic to your blogs through web searches will take a few months. Fortunately, in the meantime, you don’t just have to sit on your hands and wait for web searchers to find you. Instead, you can push your blog content out to them through social media, email and other channels online.
Once you’ve published blog posts that your customers would really want to read (not advertorials for your products and services, but articles that entertain and offer good advice), then you’re ready to let the world see them. Follow these five steps to generate traffic to your solar blog:
- Go Social. If you don’t have them already, create a presence for your solar company on 3-4 key social media services: Facebook, Twitter and Google+. Add LinkedIn if you sell commercial solar or if your residential solar customer is likely to be a businessperson. And consider photo-centric services like Pinterest if you have great visuals to share that go beyond solar-panels-on-a-roof, such as unusual installations or intriguing shots of customers.
- Post your Posts. Post your blog articles to your company social profiles when they come out. For well performing pieces, consider re-posting them after a couple days, weeks or even months, perhaps using different text to introduce them.
- Subscribe Me. Offer your website visitors the chance to subscribe to your blog by email. Ideally, you should offer options for subscribers to receive new posts daily as they’re published or else together in a digest once a week. But even a simple subscription system such as Jetpack Subscriptions (for WordPress sites) that sends out posts as soon as they’re published is a good start.
- Be My Guest. Offer your blog articles as guest posts for other blogs or top solar news sites that accept guest articles. This is a win-win for both parties. Web publishers always need more (quality) content and in exchange, you may get more traffic from the other site’s visitors.
- Reuse and Recycle. Once you’ve got a few blog posts on the same topic, consider bundling them together as an e-book that you can offer on your site for free to any visitor who fills out a form with basic contact information. Write a blog post about the e-book and then share it using the methods above.
If you integrate your blog well into your site and make it part of an inbound marketing program, blog traffic will spill over to the rest of your website. You’ll then be on your way towards converting web visitors into solar leads and customers for home installations.
— Erik Curren, Curren Media Group