In the free consultations that I do with solar companies from across the United States, the number one question I get is this:
How can companies can stop buying sales leads from vendors and start generating their own?
Great, I’m glad that you’re interested in getting better leads, I say. Then I explain that, since the best way to generate leads yourself is through inbound marketing on the Internet, the first step is for you to get a website set up for solar lead generation.
How, they ask?
First, Don’t Do This
Here’s what I tell them to do and not to do. Let’s start with what you should avoid because, unfortunately, that’s exactly what too many solar companies are doing now:
- Use the text and graphics from your sales brochure with a few minor tweaks to create a website
- Make the pages all about your products and services with the usual talking points about “Why You Should Go Solar Now!!!”
- Post some boring press releases from the HR department about new hires
- Slap a “Solar Savings Calculator” or, even worse, a form to request a “Free Home Solar Assessment,” at the top of the homepage
- Expect hundreds of visitors to fill out the form and convert into leads by next Tuesday
- Wonder why nobody’s filling out the form
- Buy pay-per-click ads on Google and Facebook to drive traffic to your website and get clicks on your darn form
- Wonder why nobody is still filling out the form
- Rinse and repeat until you’ve blown your budget or you get fired, whichever comes first
Unfortunately, a lot of my callers have already done a lot of this stuff. Now, they’re just at the waiting stage. Waiting. Waiting for what?
But Everybody Does It This Way
My callers are frustrated. Why doesn’t anybody fill out the form? Every solar company does it the same way. Should we take out more pay-per-click ads? Or maybe run a 20% off sale?
No, no, no, please don’t do any of that, I say.
You’ve already wasted enough money on clicky-clacky ads. The traffic they bring you is temporary. Once you turn off the ads, the traffic disappears. It would be better for you to build an audience organically through SEO. But that takes time.
Meantime, running a sale just makes you look desperate. Why offer someone 20% off something they aren’t ready to buy anyway? Do you think that will hurry them up? It’s not a half-liter of soda, where ten cents off could make the difference between Coke and Pepsi. It’s a solar array. That’s a big commitment. Don’t kid yourself that cheap promotions will get you many sales.
Clearly, you need to understand your website visitor better.
Perhaps 5% of the total visitors to your website are almost ready to buy. They’re the ones who will fill out an online form that leads to a sales call.
What about the other 95%? They’re just looking around. And since they’re not ready to fill out your form, you’re not giving them anything to do on your website except poke around for a few minutes…and then leave. Probably they’ll go straight to your competitor, don’t you think?
You wouldn’t ask somebody to marry you on the first date, would you? That would be creepy. And your first date would probably be your last date.
Of course not, you say. You’d take them to coffee first, then lunch, then piña coladas, walks in the rain, etc. You know the drill. It’s called courtship. And it’s a process.
So is selling solar. It’s a process. Which means it takes time. And it takes being lovable enough to build trust. Once people love you, they need time to move through the stages of the Solar Buyer’s Journey — three stages at least, from Awareness, through Consideration and finally, after months or even years of education and mulling it over, will your buyer reach the Decision Stage.
Do This Instead to Build An Awesome Solar Lead Generation Website
To reach that satisfying fist pump of success, start by developing your new solar lead generation website in a six-step process with proven results.
- Strategy and Plan. Using research, develop profiles for 3-5 target customers (Solar Buyer Personas) and develop your messages for each different persona.
- Content. Knowing what your ideal customers want to see, develop content that is not sales-focused but instead, is helpful — both educational and entertaining. Through blog posts and e-books, give advice that will position you as your buyers’ mentor as they learn more about solar at their own pace. Optimize it all for search engines.
- Design. Create a clean, contemporary visual design that appeals to those same ideal customers and also works well on phones (mobile friendly).
- Develop. Use a high quality content management system like WordPress and add adequate security to keep the bad guys from taking your site out, a system to track leads and conversions, and yes, interactive features like a solar savings calculator. (Note: this feature is only worthwhile once the rest of your site is ready).
- Add A Lead Gen System. Here’s the money shot. I call it out separately because most solar companies forget it. You need a way to exchange your e-books for your visitor’s email address. And that means leading that visitor through a set sequence on your website, from a call-to-action to a landing page, a contact form, a page to download the e-book, and follow-up email. If you forget this, you might as well forget everything else.
- Test and Launch. Make sure everything works and looks awesome on half a dozen web browsers on desktops, laptops, tablets, iPhones and every brand of Android. Then, to get the word out, set up 2-3 social media accounts and start making friends. Actually, you should have done that six months ago. If you’ve already cultivated an audience by sharing helpful, non-promotional information about solar, they’ll be ready to hear about your new website.
Set it and Forget It? Fuggedaboudit.
Of course, even the most awesome website won’t generate sales leads if nobody can find it. So, after you launch your new solar lead generation website, your work is not done. In fact, the fun is just beginning.
You could take out a few pay-per-click ads at the beginning to prime the pump. But at the same time, you should also start right away on building organic audience through SEO. That will mean publishing regular blog posts and other helpful content that appeals to your Buyer Personas.
Once your buyer finds your site through Google, easily locates the content on your site tailored to his needs, and starts to see you as a wise and trusted guide who has his best interests at heart — the Yoda of Solar — instead of a pushy huckster who’s just trying to get him to sign on the line-that-is-dotted, he might be ready to download your e-book.
Then, voilá, you’ve generated your first hot solar lead. Congratulations!
And that, my friends, is how you build a solar lead generation website. It’s a formula that works.
— Erik Curren, Curren Media Group