Did you know that most of the visitors who come to a company’s website are not yet ready to buy? This means that, on average, 97% of them won’t fill out your contact form.
For the 3% of customers who are at the point where they’re considering a purchase soon, then websites of most solar contractors are ready to accommodate them, with prominent buttons for a “Free Quote” or “Free Solar Assessment.”
But for the vast majority of visitors to their websites who are still making up their mind about whether they really want to get solar and if so, what their options are, most solar websites give visitors no way to convert into a lead, even an early-stage lead.
A Form to “Request A Free Quote” Is Not Enough
Solar companies that only offer a form to get a free quote or solar site assessment just have to hope that a visitor who came to their website as part of his education process will decide to return to the company’s website in 6 or 12 months when he’s ready to buy.
Hoping is not a very good marketing strategy.
What if the consumer never does come back? What if, when he’s finally ready to get solar, he searches Google and finds a competitor who comes up higher in the results than you do, and then goes to the competitor instead of you?
Then your company loses out on a sale. And all because you didn’t have a good way to keep contact with that consumer in the early stages of his research about solar.
If only there was some way to get that connection the first time a visitor comes to your website…
Inbound Marketing to the Rescue
Good news. It turns out that the Internet gives you an excellent way to connect with visitors who are not yet ready to buy and convert them to early-stage leads. It’s called inbound marketing.
That’s when you use educational content to lure potential buyers to your website. Then, once they find your awesome free content and see how great it is, offer them a more detailed piece of content, such as an e-book.
That e-book or other more detailed content is also free. But to get it, the visitor has to fill out a form. And once a visitor does that, they become a sales lead, usually an early-stage lead. In a few months they may be ready to get solar. But in the meantime, they need help learning more about it.
And that’s where email comes in. It’s the best way to stay in touch with early-stage leads that convert through your website.
Nurture Early Leads without Extra Work for Your Salesforce
Email followup is the last step in the inbound marketing process that attracts visitors to your site and then guides them towards more interaction with you online.
Hopefully, your e-book offer will become popular, and you’ll start getting multiple downloads every day. Great! But imagine if your sales team had to personally write and send emails to everyone who downloaded an e-book from your website?
These days, software can make automating emails easy. Stand-alone email marketing programs such as MailChimp or full marketing suites such as those offered by HubSpot or InfusionSoft allow you to create workflows or drip sequences of email messages timed to start going out in response to an action by a website visitor and then to keep going out automatically at intervals that you determine.
And of course, these programs all follow the principles of permission marketing – not to mention the federal CAN-SPAM Act which regulates commercial email which we’ll discuss below. All that means these email marketing providers offer an easy way for the recipient to unsubscribe to your emails at the bottom of each message. Not only does this keep you in compliance with the law but it also keeps you from annoying your prospects with unwanted email messages.
Creating a Solar Drip Email Campaign
By now, you may be wondering, how would a drip email campaign work for a solar installer?
For example, let’s say you offer an e-book on the “Top 10 Myths about Home Solar.” The e-book is free, but in exchange, you ask for the visitor’s name and email address through a web form.
On the back end, the form is connected to your email automation system.
- Once the visitor submits her information in the form, that form sends her email address to the email system.
- In turn, the email system sends her the first email in a series of eight or ten in a solar email drip campaign or workflow.
- Then, for the next few months, the email system will automatically send the visitor additional email messages every ten days.
Those email messages will help to nurture this new sales lead into a prospect and will contain content such as links to blog posts, offers of additional e-books or, towards the end of the series, product and service information that compares you to other solar companies.
The messages can contain any content that would interest a potential customer who downloaded the original e-book on myths about home solar and would help to move her along the buyer’s journey from awareness to decision-ready.
If you want to get fancy, you can even set up your solar drip email campaign to respond to an action that the recipient might take when she gets any of your automated email messages.
For example, email #3 contains an offer for a second e-book, this time on the subject of how to avoid solar scams.
- If she doesn’t click the link and download the offer, she will continue to receive the remaining emails in the original series based on the solar myths e-book.
- But if she does click on the link and download the second e-book, then you can take her off the first list and put her on a second list, to start receiving emails from a series based on that second e-book.
Or, if at some point while receiving email messages from any series on your website, your reader might get so far along in her decision-making process that she takes the step to request a free solar home assessment. Then you can remove her from any email workflow she may be in, and let your salespeople start making live contact with her by email, phone or in person.
Sample Solar Drip Email Campaign
Here’s what a typical automated email series might look like for a website visitor who downloads an e-book on “Top 10 Myths of Home Solar”:
|#1||0 days||Thank you for downloading our e-book, here’s a link to it just in case, along with three links to learn more about the reality of home solar|
|#2||7 days||Teaser and link to a blog post about how affordable home solar is|
|#3||10 days||Video from a customer who was skeptical but now loves her home solar system|
|#4||10 days||Offer of another e-book on avoiding solar scams and finding a reputable solar installer|
|#5||10 days||Teaser and link to a blog post about the newest trend in solar financing|
|#6||10 days||Teaser and link to a case study of a customer who got solar because he cares about the environment|
|#7||10 days||Offer of a checklist on what to look for in a good solar installer|
|#8||7 days||Teaser and link to a chart comparing your solar offering with likely competitors|
|#9||7 days||Link to solar savings calculator on your website, which triggers a separate email sequence to follow up on prospects further along in the buyer’s journey|
Remember, for one reason or another, the prospect might not complete the whole series. She may unsubscribe. Or she may take an action that moves her out of this series and into another drip campaign, or even into personal contact with your salesforce.
If you build your authority and trust with a potential solar buyer with a months of educational emails offering helpful, non-salesy advice, you’ll help that person to feel empowered to make a decision on solar when she’s ready.
And when she is ready, she’s more likely to think of your company, with whom she already has a relationship, than to seek out some other solar installer that hasn’t been sending her emails for the last few months.
That’s how you’ll get more web visitors converting into solar leads that your salespeople can really use.
— Erik Curren, Curren Media Group