One of the best things a solar installation company can do to market itself, according to Oz Gurtuna who runs the marketplace Sunmetrix.com for homeowners to connect with solar installers, is to get good reviews from their customers.
Social Proof Establishes Trust
This echoes what marketing experts say about any industry: third-party endorsements provide some of the best social proof necessary to give a company credibility.
On the Internet, where connections are less personal than by phone or face to face, having other people say good things about you is even more important than in real life.
On the Sunmetrix solar marketplace, having at least five reviews will help an installer appear more prominently, says Gurtuna. And appearing well is the best way to get noticed by potential customers who are using Sunmetrix to research solar installers in their area.
(By the way, for solar installation companies tired of buying low-quality sales leads, Sunmetrix offers an appealing alternative to connect with solar buyers in key areas around the US. But be forewarned: you’ll only get leads if customers notice you. And unlike Google pay-per-click ads, Sunmetrix is not pay-to-play. Instead, the site makes you earn your way to customer attention with reviews and a good profile. You can get started by creating your profile for free on their site.)
Key Sites for Solar Customer Reviews
Gurtuna explains that Google also puts weight on reviews, both from within Google’s own review system and from third-party sites like Yelp, when it displays listings for solar companies in web search results.
My experience with solar company websites shows that several services seem to appear most often to display reviews of local residential installers:
- Angie’s List
For bigger solar companies including SolarCity, Vivint and SunPower, Consumer Affairs comes up high in Google for reviews.
Don’t Ask for Reviews Directly
Review sites want to offer their visitors credible reviews, so of course they threaten to punish companies that post fake reviews. Going even further, review sites even discourage companies from soliciting their customers to post positive comments.
Yelp, for example, explains that if a company pushes too hard for good customer comments it will produce unconvincing reviews that Yelp’s algorithm will de-emphasize in its search results.
Imagine, for example, the business owner who “asks” for a review by sticking a laptop in front of a customer and smilingly invites her to write a review while he looks over her shoulder. We don’t need these kinds of reviews, so it shouldn’t be a surprise when they aren’t recommended [by their algorithm].
Indeed, Yelp says that businesses shouldn’t solicit reviews from their customers at all.
Encourage Customers to Do Reviews On their Own
Don’t let that discourage you from encouraging your satisfied customers from reviewing you on their own. Just stay out of trouble with Yelp and other review sites by following a few guidelines to keep things clean.
Yelp expert Paul Chaney offers “7 Ways to Get Yelp Reviews (without Violating Its Policy)” with advice for any business to encourage rather than request reviews that applies well to solar installers:
- Give customers a heads up
- Place a Yelp badge on your website
- Put a ‘Find us on Yelp’ sign in your place of business
- Add a link to your business listing in your email signature
- Share your ‘People Love Us on Yelp’ recipient status
- Share reviews on Facebook and Twitter
- Use reviews in marketing materials
To give a bit more detail, on the first point, “give customers a heads up,” Chaney explains:
Instead of saying “Write a review about our business on Yelp,” instead say, “Check us out on Yelp.” The first is a solicitation while the latter is a “heads up” — an FYI that raises awareness. The difference may be slight, but it’s worth noting.
Read the whole article to get the details for each point. Basically, it boils down to showing customers that you’re connected with Yelp or another review site, showing off your existing reviews everywhere you can, and making it easy for people to link to your listing on review sites so they can add their own review.
Good Customer Reviews Need A Good Company Website
Do this and you’ll do better on the Internet in general, and especially on online solar marketplaces like Sunmetrix.
By the way, along with customer reviews and a convincing profile on Sunmetrix, Gurtuna advises solar companies in his marketplace to have their own strong website.
This article explains three ways for sales reps and startup solar companies to get a website whatever their budget.
— Erik Curren, Curren Media Group