The renewable energy sector is experiencing explosive growth, and solar is leading the way.
From lower electric bills to a smaller carbon footprint, families and businesses across the country are eager to get their own little slice of the photovoltaic pie.
And solar businesses want a slice, too. In 2021, there are probably more solar businesses than ever vying for the attention and business of a vast market.
So how do you set yourself apart from the pack and reach prospective clients?
How to Market Solar
Marketing is at the heart of every successful brand, organization, or cause. It's the process of understanding what consumers need, how your offering can fill that need, and how to articulate the message in a way that converts to sales.
In this article we'll describe four marketing strategies that companies just starting out on their marketing program should consider. Each requires a different amount of investment, both in time and money. We'll give you the information you need to help make your decisions, but it's ultimately up to you to decide which ones work best for you now, and in the future.
Before we get to the strategies, let's start with the foundations of marketing: your company and your audience.
Know Your Brand
You can't sell what you don't know. Before starting your solar marketing campaign, answer the following questions to help you craft the best solar marketing messaging:
- What makes your brand stand out from others?
- What are your brand values?
- How do you want to be perceived by your potential customers?
Know Your Audience
For effective solar advertising, you've got to speak the language of your target audience. Do some research to identify the following:
- Who is your target audience?
- What are their values?
- What questions and concerns do they have? What are they nervous about, and why might they be hesitant to purchase solar equipment or services?
- How can you address their concerns and meet their needs?
If you're having trouble getting to know your audience, Sparktoro's free audience search tools help you discover more about your target demographic. You can also use Facebook Audience Insight tools to gain important insights.
Solar Marketing Strategies — How to Get Solar Leads Online
Now that we know ourselves and our audience, we're ready to look at some strategies.
The world of solar sales is trending digital, so implementing effective online marketing is paramount to generating leads and ultimately growing your business. Social media, in particular, is a very powerful factor in sales, with nearly three quarters of people using social media when making a purchasing decision.
This blog will focus on four popular techniques:
1. Organic Social Media
Social media is a great way to generate leads. The key, however, isn't in posting copious amounts of material: It's engaging and participating in purposeful discussions.
Know where to reach your audience. (Photo by Melanie Deziel)
Start by identifying what platforms your audience uses the most. For example, if you're targeting older generations, you should look to Facebook, which is seeing most of its growth in that demographic. Twitter and Instagram, on the other hand, are appealing to younger audiences. Other platforms such as Linkedin, Reddit, and Quora have their own unique demographics to explore, and TikTok is wildly popular among a wide age range and largely untapped in solar marketing.
Renewable energy and sustainability are popular on all social media platforms, with many groups focused on all aspects of solar, from emerging tech, to the latest regulations, to sales techniques. This means there are great solar marketing opportunities.
Check out solar groups on these platforms to get an idea of what's out there, who's searching for what, and what's currently being offered. Popular solar groups include:
- The Renewable Energy Group (Facebook)
- American Solar Energy (Twitter)
- Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) (Linkedin)
- r/solar (Reddit)
- Topic: Solar Energy (Quora)
Also, make sure to check out groups from your state and local area. Organizations like SEIA have active state chapters that are worth looking into.
Social media content should be linked to your website and blog content, if you have a blog. That way you're not only building organic social media leads, but directing people to your website, where you can continue to show them the value of your services and turn them into leads.
Focus on quality over quantity, though: Social media usually knows the difference between shoddy content mills and the good stuff, so purposefully engaging others with quality posts will go much farther than cranking out thoughtless content. Some quick tips for what constitutes quality content:
- Commenting on someone else's post. If you don't have a large social media audience, commenting is a great way to get in front of other people's audience (plus the person will appreciate you engaging with their content). Your comment should acknowledge the original post and add new information or perspective.
- Writing an original post that helps readers solve a problem or points them to useful information. When writing a post, try to start out with a short story that will pull the reader in before dispensing your advice.
- Be sparing with tags and hashtags. A common signal for "spammy" content is when people tag way too many people and add too many hashtags (and the algorithms have picked up on this). To get the most reach, you should only tag 1-3 people in your post and use only 1-5 hashtags.
Some social platforms like Facebook and Twitter offer customer service tools to help serve and manage your customers. Potential customers can inquire about your services directly through messages or comment on your page, allowing you to follow through immediately.
2. Paid Social Ads
Social media is a viable marketing channel, but it can be difficult to get organic leads without doing a lot of legwork. If you want to spend more money rather than time, going with paid social advertising can be a good route to take, but you should make sure your ads are personalized to stand out from the din.
Personalize Your Ads
People see so many ads these days that we've developed what's known as "ad blindness," meaning, our brains don't even see ads unless there's something interesting or unique about them.
There's no shortage of platforms to reach potential customers. (Photo by Adem AY)
According to a study by Adobe, 67% of consumers think it's important for brands to adjust content based on current context. When it comes to solar, personalizing your digital ads can be done fairly easily. Click on the images below to see examples of personalized solar ads. Paid ads show up on sidebars and news feeds of social media channels, pushing your brand front-and-center above others clamoring for premium social real estate. Most social media platforms have well-established ad services ranging from $1-10 a day.
LinkedIn boasts being the #1 platform for business-to-business lead generation. If you're targeting professionals or businesses, LinkedIn is a great place to advertise. LinkedIn has the most expensive ads on this list, so using it for B2C engagement might be risky.
If you're wondering how to sell solar on Facebook, the platform's Ads Manager lets you manage your entire solar ads campaign in one place. Ads Manager provides exhaustive tools to select your audience, set goals, create ads, and establish firm budgets and timelines to ensure you don't spend more than you're comfortable with.
Twitter is unique in that a lot of trends happen there before they hit other platforms. Twitter's ad platform taps into this advantage, allowing you to be among the first to engage folks at the front-end of trends and movements. Twitter offers over 20 product options to showcase your product or service, and provides powerful targeting tools to help you gain impressions with the audiences that matter most. What's more, Twitter's powerful analytics tools give you insight into impressions, engagements, and cost-per-result across your ad campaign.
If bootstrapping your way through social ad marketing isn't your thing, there are many ad agencies ready to craft marketing campaigns suited for almost any budget.
3. Paid Search Ads
Google is the most used search engine on the web. When people search for "solar installers near me," they're actively seeking your services out. These are "high intent" leads, so they'll likely have a much higher conversion rate, which is why they're worth spending money on. Google knows this, and offers a suite of tools and services to help get you there.
Google Ads provides specialized ad solutions for sales, leads, website traffic, product and brand consideration, brand awareness and influence, and app promotion. Within these, you can select different campaign formats to showcase your product or service. Google only charges you for results, so you only pay when someone clicks on your website or calls your business.
Like Google, Microsoft Advertising offers decent targeting options for your ad campaign. But it's not quite as robust. Microsoft does allow you to target geographic location, dates, time zones, demographics, and more, all features less developed or nonexistent in Google's service. Another advantage of Microsoft Advertising is the density of competition. You'll be battling with far less competition on Bing, giving you a lower average cost-per-click.
As always, if you're in over your head with search engine ads, hookup with an ad agency to manage them for you.
4. SEO & Content Marketing
Search engine optimization, or SEO, is the act of optimizing content for higher placement in search results. So, for example, when a potential client searches "solar installer in Delaware" or "best residential solar installers," good SEO practices can help your business show up close to the top of the search results.
A concept that goes arm-in-arm with SEO is content marketing. Like SEO, content marketing is all the rage, but it can be exceedingly hard to drive traffic without a lot of investment.
Developing and building an SEO strategy and content marketing plan is far from a "beginner" marketing strategy, however. They both take deep expertise, lots of time and dedication, and, you guessed it, money. The best bet here is to not engage in either until you're ready to hire someone dedicated to the task or have the resources to put into the effort.
Those just getting into marketing their solar business should be looking for the most bang for their limited time and resources. Our advice? Focus on our first three topics (social media, social ads, and search ads) to start, then look into SEO and content marketing as you build your marketing strategy and staff.
Turning visitors into leads
Click on the picture to see how Lead Capture AI can help your business.
Now that we've looked at strategies for driving traffic to your website, let's look at how you can turn them into leads. After all, if they go to your site and there's nothing to engage them, they'll just click away, and your effort will be for naught.
One quick and easy way to engage visitors to your website is through a tool like Lead Capture AI. Lead Capture AI lets your website visitors actually see what solar will look like on their home, and how much money they can potentially save.
This helps you convert more traffic into qualified leads, quickly, engaging users with an exciting, visual presentation rather than a series of boring forms.
Learning how to market solar is a journey. In this post we've laid out three techniques that can help you get started, and one to avoid until your marketing program is more robust. Let's review the key takeaways:
- There are multiple steps to marketing solar, including knowing your brand, knowing your audience, and choosing the best digital marketing strategies and advertising for solar.
- Make sure your brand messaging is consistent, from initial pitch to contract.
- Adopt a mix of organic and paid internet advertising, and utilize social media and search engine ad tools to create advertising campaigns suited to your needs.
- Content is king. Make sure any content you produce on social media, in ads, or on your website is engaging for your audience
- Turn visitors into leads. Use tools like Lead Capture AI to make sure all your hard work getting visitors to your site turns into more leads for your sales team.
For more information to help you get started, check out some questions your solar sales pitch has to answer, and then see how to make the most of remote solar sales. Stay tuned for the next blog in our series, on advanced solar marketing, for more information on making the most out of your marketing efforts.