Solar Lead Generation Strategies
Strictly advertising and/or buying solar leads is not a sustainable business model. Not only is the lead quality poor, but the costs are high and out of your control.
The No. 1 reason companies go out of business is they’re never able to get the cost of acquiring a customer lower than that customer’s lifetime value.” – Kevin O’Leary (a.k.a. Shark Tank’s Mr. Wonderful)
If you want your solar contracting company to succeed, and be sustainable for years to come, you’ll have to develop lead generation strategies that drive down costs while also increasing lead quality.
Existing customers and your mailing lists can be the lifeblood of your solar business, and they’re the secret ingredients to creating a successful business that can last for decades and generations.
Growing customer reviews, video testimonials, case studies, increased lifetime values (LTV), and high-quality referrals are just a few solid reasons why your company should be staying connected with your existing customers.
No matter what marketing campaigns you run and what channels you run them on, you must test, track and measure the success. Test, track, measure, optimize, then rinse and repeat.
Let’s take a look at 20 marketing tips that have proven to help generate leads for solar companies and other home service businesses.
3 key rules & 17 marketing tactics to help your company grow!
Rule #1 – stop advertising or marketing without tracking the results.
How do you know what’s working and what’s wasting your money if you don’t track the results of every ad and marketing campaign? Answer = you can’t and don’t and so you’re wasting a ton of money. Stop that nonsense today.
Use a unique call-tracking phone number for every advertisement.
Test two versions of every ad, each with it’s own call tracking number, then measure the success of each. Drop the poor performer, change one thing on the best ad, and test again. Rinse and repeat for the best possible return on your investments.
We recommend and use Call Rail for our clients.
Rule #2 – use custom landing pages for your online and offline ads.
Stop sending advertising traffic to your home page or a service page. Create unique landing pages for every online ad, use unique Campaign URL’s and Google Analytics to track and measure their success.
Use unique call tracking phone numbers on every landing page that uses a phone number so you can track and compare the success of each landing page.
Once again, test two different versions of every landing page using Google Optimize and Google Analytics. Measure their success, drop the loser, keep the winner, and then test another version of the winning page. Rinse and repeat until conversions can’t be improved any more.
Rule #3 – use a customer relationship management system (CRM).
So many home service companies do NOT use a CRM, which is absolute blasphemy to your business and costing you a small fortune every year.
What does a great CRM do for you? It provides you with tools for scheduling, dispatch, inventory control, customer service, customer histories, payment processing and accounting integration, project management, sales pipelines and visual presentations, booking rate tracking, marketing campaign tracking, payroll processing, appointment follow ups, notifications, and so much more.
A great CRM will improve your companies efficiencies and allow you to effectively grow your company.
We recommend ServiceTitan to all our plumbing, HVAC, electrical, water treatment, landscaping, and garage door service companies.
If your company doesn’t have an effective CRM, then you’re working twice as hard as you need to for a lot less sales revenue than you should be.
Fast Lead Generation thru Advertising
Advertising is expensive and you’re subject to an ever-changing auction market, but it is where immediate lead generation can be created while you develop more sustainable marketing tactics.
Here’s a list of several advertising tools and channels that your company should consider deploying to generate solar leads quickly:
1. Online Advertising
Advertise through Google Ads, Google Local Service Ads (available to some home services), YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram ads.
These are the traditional pay-per-click (PPC) ads used to target homeowners with high-intent search keywords and topics in your service areas.
These platforms allow to target prospects in your local area by county, city, or zip code as well as numerous other demographics.
The more you know about your customers, the better you can choose demographics that will find your ideal prospects and produce better returns on your ads.
You can refine your search to homeowners by city and include interests that relate to your business.
In-depth keyword research is the key to uncovering the best long-tail keywords to target.
Test ad variations with different headlines, conversion goals, phrase match, exact match, and broad match keywords, and more.
See our blog post, What is Local SEO?, for more info search engine results pages (SERP) analysis and click-thru-rates.
2. Remarketing Ads
Remarketing ads let you show ads to people who have already visited your website, clicked on your ads, or watched your videos.
Remarketing ads usually provide the best return of any online advertisement, because those people had already showed an interest in your company.
There are also retargeting direct mail companies that send your custom and personalized mail piece to visitors of your website or chosen URLs on your site. They’re able to get the name and mailing address for about 50 percent of all visitors. For more info see Modern Postcard.
3. Direct Mail
Direct mail still works, maybe better than it has in years. Direct mail allows you to target local areas with info about your solutions to their problems.
ValPak is a trusted source for homeowners and businesses alike. ValPak can provide good returns if you target your campaign and track the results.
Coupon books other than ValPak can also produce immediate leads.
Beware that both ValPak and other forms of couponing or discounting carry with them the costs of discounting your goods or services and cheapening your brand.
Don’t always just send offers like specials, discounts, or coupons to buy from you now. Offer a “buyer’s guide” to capture the 90 percent of prospects who want to learn more about products or services they may want or need.
Refer to a specific website landing page about the same exact topic to reference in the mail piece.
Create an ad funnel with all direct mail to get a higher rate of return and build mailing lists.
Use call-tracking phone numbers or special offer codes for each creative piece so you can track it’s effectiveness.
4. Canvassing & Telemarketing
These traditional forms of marketing can still work and produce immediate results for your company.
Returns on both canvassing and telemarketing are decreasing over the years as fewer people answer their doors or their phones anymore. Prepare for both of these marketing methods to provide decreasing returns every year.
“Only 52 % of all U.S. calls are answered. As our phones continue to be inundated by robocalls, many people no longer want to pick up the phone at all. – Hiya study.
Be sure that your crews for these methods are well-trained since both of these forms of marketing are “interruption” based and have the potential of upsetting people, causing poor reviews, and damaging your brand.
5. Advertising Funnels
No matter what advertising channels you’re using, take prospects through the buyer’s journey to improve your returns.
Lead magnets (free offers) and an automated campaign email series should be used on most, if not all, landing pages.
Gain their attention, provide value to gain interest, use benefits and social proof to create desire, and ask them to take action to buy.
Ads – landing pages – lead magnets – email campaigns – calls to action
Most, if not all, ads should take visitors to fully relevant landing pages.
Tracking calls, clicks, and mailing list opt-ins are required to measure which ads are performing best and which ones to get rid of.
Call tracking numbers should be used to identify and track ad calls.
Setup Google Ads with custom coded thank you pages that can track ad funnel conversions.
Setup Google Tag Manager to measure tracking of calls, clicks, downloads, and form submissions in Google Analytics.
A/B split test your best performing ads, landing pages, and emails to optimize for peak performance.
6. Google Local Service Ads (LSA)
Local Service Ads (LSA) from Google are shown at the top of applicable local search results pages.
Research shows these ads get about fourteen percent (14%) of all clicks.
These are not currently available to solar installers but may soon be. Keep an eye on your local search results pages.
Google Local Service Ads are a pay-per-lead advertisement, you pay only for the leads you receive, not for clicks.
Your company and employees must be screened and approved.
Google guarantees all work to consumer up to $2,000.
For more information visit Google’s Local Service Ads page.
Tactics for long-term solar lead generation
7. Use an Automated Referral Program
Building a healthy referral system is paramount to creating a successful and sustainable home service business.
Referrals can and should be a significant part of your sales. They come to you recommended by customers who already know, like, and trust your company, which makes referrals the highest-quality lead you can attract. That assumes your company’s reputation is known for delivering quality products and superior service.
We hear lots of business owners say they get most of their business from word-of-mouth. And that’s awesome!
If you could multiply that word-of-mouth by one hundred, one thousand, ten thousand, or more, would that perk your ears up any?
Well… your happy customers, who used to tell a few friends about your company over the years, can now reach hundreds or even thousands of people instantly by recommending your company on social media using automated systems.
And if one or more of those people like it and share it with their friends and then poof… you’re spreading like rabbits. How’s that for growing your word-of-mouth?
Today, there are turnkey automated referral systems that get high engagement and participation, make it easy to share on social media, integrate with your website, and are easy to track and manage.
Quality systems include branded dashboards for your clients so they can see and track their earnings and redeem their rewards. Your customers get to choose gift cards from dozens of top brands or cash-equivalent pre-paid Visa or MasterCards that allows them to find value that’s unique to their likes.
Including an automated software system to help grow your Referral Program to increase high-quality leads is something every solar company should examine.
We use and recommend ReferralRock for our clients.
8. Email Marketing
Email can provide immediate results once you’ve nurtured and grown your list by providing value to your audience.
Staying connected to your customers is the most vital ingredient to operating a sustainable business.
Your existing customers can provide reviews, case studies, video testimonials, future repair calls, and increased sales of other, or future, products or services.
Use email marketing to send a regular newsletter to your existing clients. Do not always sell but instead provide value, syndicate content, and promote services.
Provide helpful energy savings tips, DIY tips, maybe review energy products, etc.
Give, give, give, and then let them know “Oh by the way, we sell something.”
See the book by Gary Vaynerchuck titled, “Jab, jab, jab, right hook.” It speaks of giving value more than you’re promoting or selling in order to stand out among your competitors. Use at least a 3 to 1 give:selling ratio.
People want helpful information for ninety percent of their buying journey. Only once they feel confident about deciding, do they actually buy.
If you’re only looking for ready-buyers in that final decision stage, you’re missing out on most of your prospects.
Integrate email opt-ins on your website. Create lead magnets (free guides, checklists, coupons, specials, etc.) that are available for download if they join your mailing list.
Create one or more educational emails series that your website visitors can subscribe to.
Setup email lists and autoresponders by topic and create a series of automated emails, after which they get moved into your main newsletter list.
We use AWeber for all of ours and our client’s email marketing services. (Disclaimer: this is an affiliate link , we get paid a commission if you click on it and subscribe with them. It does not affect your price and we only recommend what we use.)
9. Add live chat to your website
Studies by Drift, Survey Monkey, Salesforce, and others show that live chat and automated chat bots are a growing channel of communication for customers.
We live in an instant gratification world and live chat provides consumers with simple, fast communication while they’re on your website.
More than one-third of consumers prefer to use chat to communicate with companies according to those studies by Drift and others.
If you’re not providing a live chat option for your prospects and customers, then you may be frustrating consumers and losing business.
Show consumers you’re in tune with the times and provide them with call, email, form, and chat options on your website.
Don’t lose customers because you don’t provide the communication channel they prefer.
We recommend Tidio chat software to our home service clients. (Disclaimer: this is an affiliate link , we get paid a commission if you click on it and subscribe with them. It does not affect your price and we only recommend what we use.)
10. Facebook Ads
FB ads can be effective for top-of-the-funnel information ads and growing mailing lists with targeted campaigns.
Since most people don’t go to Facebook looking to buy something, these ads work best when informing instead of selling.
Facebook allows for showing your ads to a highly targeted demographic that you choose such as:
- Homeowners by city or zip code
- Household income above ($)
- Has interests in pool or spa
- and over 52,000 more data points
In Facebook, you can upload your customer list and then create a “look-a-like audience” of people with similar interests and buying patterns as those on your list.
Facebook has an average of 1,500 data points on their users that allows them to zero-in on your ideal prospects.
Video ads on Facebook can have very low costs and provide a great platform for growing mailing lists and using segmented email campaigns.
11. Content Marketing
Your blog should be regularly posting useful content about the solar energy buyer’s journey.
Why go solar? How does solar work? How does solar financing work? Should I lease, use a PPA, or buy the solar power system? Etc.
Your company blog should be regularly creating new content that’s search engine optimized to attract prospects at all stages of the buyer’s journey for your products and services.
Remember, it’s about them and their needs, questions, and problems. It’s not about you, how great you are, and the boring features of your products and services. It’s about helping people. What benefits them?
“You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.” – Zig Ziglar
Perform keyword research to find the content your prospects are seeking then create the best content possible that helps them.
Use tools like Ahrefs to research your competitors and discover what content is bringing them the most website traffic then create better content to siphon some or all of that traffic from them.
12. Syndicate Blog Content
Start syndicating your blog content across the major social media platforms and through email.
Your blog content should be edited into multiple pieces to share and syndicate.
Customize the art and content amount to the social channel you’re posting on. Include a segment of the article and link back to your blog for the visitor to read the whole thing. Be sure to engage with all comments on each platform.
Regularly share job photos, customer reviews, office and employee photos, videos, etc. The more active and current your company is, the better.
Your customers are on Google and social channels like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and others. Share your content so you can get more eyeballs and ears on them.
Many prospects will find you on one platform and search for you on others to see what kind of content you provide, how active you are, how responsive you are, and what your online reputation is.
13. Use An Automated Reputation Management System
Your company’s online reputation is more important than ever, nearly every one of your prospects will search to see what others have to say about before they ever call or message you.
Before your prospects decide to buy from you they will its customer reviews on one or more sites.
Your online reputation is a major ranking signal for your website in Google searches. Google looks for not only how many reviews you have and the average rating, but also the diversity of reviews of your company across many platforms (Yelp, Bing, Facebook, HomeAdvisor, Angie’s List, etc.), as well a review velocity (constant stream of reviews coming in every day, week, or month) and compares that to your competitors.
To effectively grow customer reviews where you need them, monitor reviews around the Internet, and easily reply to reviews, every business needs an automated reputation management system.
Most of our current clients had tried to grow reviews on their own and even sent emails to request them, but their results were poor. An automated system made all the difference in the world for every one of them. Now, reviews grow steadily each and every month.
Be proactive and subscribe to a reviews software platform that allows for integration with your CRM and automatically sends out multiple review requests, and catches bad reviews before they go to Google or Yelp or elsewhere.
Beware, some of these systems only write reviews to their own website, you don’t want that. You need one that allows you to direct reviews to your website, Google, HomeAdvisor, Angie’s List, and more… wherever you need them.
Every company needs first-party reviews written right onto your website. The system you choose should include writing aggregate reviews structured data code to your testimonials page.
Structured data code is a machine language that talks to Google, Bing, and Yahoo’s robots and has shown to help improve search rankings.
We use GatherUp’s automated reputation management system for our clients.
14. Google My Business
According to a Bright Local survey, more than 80 percent of consumers use Google to search for local products and services.
Google Maps shows near the top of every local business, product, or service search.
Over 30% of all clicks go to local pack in Google Maps.
If your solar company shows up in the top 3 maps listings that are shown (called the local pack), then you’ll discover a nice stream of leads coming your way.
Optimizing your Google My Business listing should be a top priority for every local business.
Check out our free Google My Business Optimization Guide for step-by-step process to empowering your listing.
15. Local Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Having your website content rank well in Google for searches people use to learn more about the solutions to their problems and answers to their questions that are related to your products and services can be lead generation gold.
Take them through the entire buyers journey for the benefits and solutions your services provide. Attract, inform, and help them find the solutions for their needs and desires.
Regularly produce blog content as stated above and continue to provide valuable information to help them make informed decisions.
*Unlike advertising, the time and/or money you invest in search engine optimization, keyword research, and content marketing continues to last for months or years.*
Over time, you can generate a ton of free leads through local searches.
According to studies by Bright Local, about 50% of all clicks so the organically-ranking websites below the map.
Your website needs to be optimized for search engines so it shows up on page one locally for all search variations of “solar company near me” and “solar + [city].”
Use tools like Ahrefs to research your competitors and discover what content is bringing them the most website traffic then create better content to attract some or all of that traffic from them.
See our free Local SEO Guide for Contractors for 50 DIY tips on how to optimize your company for local searches to generate more leads.
16. Use YouTube to Grow Search Traffic
*The content you put on YouTube can be searched for, found, consumed, and engaged with for years.*
Like a highly optimized website, it can inform, create impressions, and produce leads for years.
YouTube is the second most used search engine after Google, and it’s owned by Google.
What are the most common questions prospects ask your staff? Make a video to answer each of them.
Use video to show off every solar installation. Take drone footage from above.
Create a business introduction video, how and where can people find and contact you?
Do a video on the differences found in the solar panels and inverters that your company offers.
Create a video on the costs of solar power vs. the electric company.
Take them through the solar buyer’s journey with a series of videos.
Highlight your special employees.
Give a tour of your office and warehouse.
Having a company outing? Bring the camera along and share the fun.
Help the consumer and brand yourself at the same time. You get the idea.
Create a call to action at the end of every video, and point them to a page on your website for them to learn more about that topic.
Provide a link in the YouTube video description for them to click on, or copy and paste.
Embed videos on your website where they apply.
Syndicate videos through your branded social channels and email marketing.
17. Press Releases
Create press releases for all news-worthy events in your company – new hires, new products and services, new contracts, employee promotions, sponsorship events, company events, milestones, and more.
Press releases can increase traffic to your website from news publishing websites.
Reporters may read the article, like the content and quotes from key personnel in your company and reach out for interviews.
You may gain some do-follow links from other sites and strengthen the domain authority of your website.
Try to publish at least one press release per quarter.