If there's one thing that's on every solar company's 2016 wish list, it's leads — new, plentiful, high-quality leads. So let's get right down to it. Here are some inbound marketing-inspired lead generation tactics particularly attuned to the solar industry.But beware: before you "go live" with these tactics, also make sure the fundamentals are in order — namely your solar buyer personas. Make sure you have a clear idea of who you're writing for, the persona's needs, and any potential obstacles you may encounter. Once you do this, you can then...
Revisit your keywords. Your choice of keywords will influence how people find you, especially on places like Google Search. In addition, you'll want keywords to be reflected in other places, like your Web content and blog posts. While keywords may not be as influential as they once were — search algorithms increasingly prefer "social signals" like Likes and Shares, which show that real-live humans like your content — they're still a good foundational ingredient to your lead generation strategy.
Consistently publish cool stuff on your blog. This is probably old news, but worth repeating. There's no shortage of content out there to help you position your brand as an expert in the field. For example, we entered "California Solar" in Google News, and, as you can imagine, came across dozens of great articles. In fact, the top hit was an article called "Solar Power Soars to New Heights in California." This is a great article because it's not overtly sales-y. Instead it talks about how Californians continue to embrace solar power while providers can't keep up with demand. It's a subtler message that can also be educational. Post it, add some commentary, and — most importantly — ask for reader feedback.
Publish white papers and eBooks regularly. Generating leads can be particularly difficult for solar firms because the average public may not understand how solar works. Therefore, a white paper or fact sheet spelling out answers to the most common questions is a must-have. We're thinking things like, "Six Things to Consider When Looking for a Solar Provider," "Is Solar Right For You? Fill Out Our Questionnaire," "How Can Solar Save You Money?" and so on.
Make a video. As we note in this post, Google AdWords for video can be an affordable and effective online marketing channel, as solar firms have to work extra-hard to educate customers around how solar "works." For example, a homeowner may be reluctant to go solar because of the installation process — a very valid concern. So address this concern by creating a video showing what the installation process looks like — a technician spending 2-3 days on-site, cutting branches, and ensuring sufficient sunlight reaches the panel. Show the viewer that the process isn't painful, lengthy, or disruptive.
Use social media to exude expertise and strengthen your brand. Avoid the temptation to "sell" on social media and instead, position your firm as a trusted solar expert by, among other things, re-posting blogs and white papers, publishing customer testimonials, posting pictures of happy customers or successful installations, and encouraging follower dialogue. You may also want to consider spending money on Facebook advertising.
Revisit your web design. Viewers will be more likely to reach out if their web experience is simple and intuitive. Therefore, optimize navigation, design with mobile users in mind, make your customer testimonials stand out, and pay attention to your calls to action. This latter piece, in fact, may be your best weapon in transforming visitors into leads. Click here for more tips on how to create an effective solar CTA.
What do you think? What other solar lead generation tactics did we neglect to mention? Which tactics have proved particularly successful at your firm? Has paid advertising on sites like Facebook or Twitter yielded a compelling ROI?