Solariety – Smart Solar Lead Generation https://solariety.com Reduce solar customer acquisition cost through smart online marketing Wed, 22 May 2019 13:33:54 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.3.2 https://solariety.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/cropped-dark_logo_transparent_background-1-32x32.png Solariety – Smart Solar Lead Generation https://solariety.com 32 32 How to Beat Solar Lead Sellers and Generate Your Own For Less https://solariety.com/solar-lead-generation/ Thu, 16 May 2019 15:59:57 +0000 http://solariety.com/?p=1029 Solar lead sellers want you to believe that generating your own leads is very difficult. Here’s how they’re misleading you and how to beat them.

Local vs National Solar Lead Generation

Sites like SolarReviews, Clean Energy Experts, and EnergySage compete on a national level. This creates a problem for them that you don’t have. People are searching for solar companies locally!

One reason customer acquisition costs are so high is there’s a fundamental disconnect between solar lead sellers’ business model and what people actually want. They try and sweep this fact under the rug because if regional installers found out and took advantage of it, aggregators would lose a ton of business.

How to Beat Lead Aggregators on Google

Google wants to connect local searchers with local businesses – NOT lead aggregators.

To see what I mean, search for “[YOUR CITY] solar installers.” Here’s what it looks like for my area when searching on an iPhone.

Pittsburgh solar installers mobile search results (annotated)
“Pittsburgh solar installers” mobile search results

Let’s break it down by section.

Google Ads

Lead aggregators are nowhere to be found in this section. They may create specific ad campaigns for larger cities, but they simply don’t have the bandwidth to compete with a local installer using call only ads or avoiding common mistakes.

Local SEO aka Map Pack

Again, solar lead aggregators are nowhere to be found here. They also won’t ever be able to rank in the map pack, because they don’t have a local business!

Let that sink in. Google knows that people looking for solar installers near them want to actually see businesses nearby. For Google to do its job, they have to protect you. This opportunity alone creates a moat between you and SolarReviews!

Traditional SEO aka Organic Listings

You have to scroll all the way past the map pack to finally find a lead aggregator.

Note that Energy Sage had to create a local page to get that top organic spot! For solar installers who are actually in the area and know what they’re doing, you can outrank them, even with a lower domain authority.

That’s a lot of information to digest, but the key takeaway is this: Google wants to connect local searchers with local businesses – NOT lead aggregators.

How to Beat Lead Aggregators on Facebook

Similar to Google, Facebook rewards businesses who tailor their content to what their users want.

In the case of solar, Facebook users want to connect with businesses close to them.

Here’s how Clean Energy Experts handles this:

Solar lead aggregator's Facebook ads
Clean Energy Experts Facebook Ads

Notice a pattern?

Solar lead sellers aren’t doing anything special. They’re simply acting like they belong on your home turf.

I’ll have an upcoming blog post for how to optimize solar lead generation via Facebook. In the meantime, know that you can do it.

You Can Generate Your Own Solar Leads

I’ve already covered the downsides of buying solar leads. In short, you have to contend with:

  1. No brand recognition
  2. Inconsistent quality
  3. No control over message
  4. No knowledge of lead source
  5. No exclusivity
  6. Lower margin
  7. Lower conversions

Instead of doing that, generate your own solar leads. If you can’t do it yourself, hire someone to do it for you. If you’re going to be paying anyway, why not invest in building up your brand?


Solariety helps solar companies get more phone calls and quote requests from qualified homeowners. For a free consultation, visit our scheduling page and book a call.

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The Six Components of a Strong Solar SEO Strategy https://solariety.com/solar-seo-strategy/ Tue, 14 May 2019 20:30:00 +0000 http://solariety.com/?p=912 Search Engine Optimization (SEO) may as well be a 4-letter word for many solar companies. It’s usually a curse for the little guys and a boon for the lead aggregators. Follow these tips and you’ll give yourself a big leg up.

Local Solar SEO Factors

Solar SEO can be broken down into two main components: local SEO (map pack) and traditional SEO (website results).

Local solar SEO results in Pittsburgh
Local solar SEO (map pack) results in Pittsburgh

Ranking the map pack has some overlap with web results, but there are a couple crucial distinguishing steps.

1. Make sure your business information is consistent everywhere

A consistent Name, Address, and Phone number across the web is an important ranking factor for local SEO (e.g. best solar installer in [your city]).

However, almost no solar SMBs get this right. Here’s how you can check how you’re doing.

Visit moz.com/local and enter your business information. They’ll spit out an easy-to-read graph telling you how other sites are listing your information (called local citations). The closer you are to exactly the same all across the web, the better.

Moz local SEO audit example
Moz local SEO audit example

2. Actually complete your Google My Business listing

Most people use Google to find what they’re looking for. Of course, Google is going to push their product (Google My Business) to the top of the search results. Check that you at least have these components:

  • verified listing
  • local service area defined
  • website link
  • appointment link
  • services
  • hours
  • description
  • category
  • multiple posts (3+)
  • multiple geo-tagged pictures
  • connected social media accounts

In general, try to use every single field available to you.

Traditional Solar SEO Factors

3. Acquire backlinks to your site

Google’s original thesis came down to backlinks. Sergey Brin and Larry Page surmised that search engines could order the mess that was the internet similar to how research papers’ credibility are measured: by how often others reference them.

This brilliantly simple insight formed the basis of Google’s PageRank algorithm, and it’s still the largest SEO factor.

That being said, they’re much further along than the wild west days of creating ghost-town websites with the sole purpose of linking back to yours.

Here are the pitfalls to avoid:

Focus on quality over quantity

Getting a “follow” backlink from SEIA is worth more than five from myfriendthesolarinstaller dot com (not a real website!).

Unfortunately, many marketing companies will sell you a backlinks package full of low-quality sites (low Domain & Page Authority) like these.

Diversify your anchor text

Many solar marketers will also cut corners by reusing specific anchor texts that make it obvious they’re buying links.

For example, you shouldn’t have 23 backlinks with anchors of “complete solar design installation serving los angeles cal mywebsite com” (though I’ve seen it).

If you’re acquiring links naturally or through a reputable source, this won’t be a problem.

Exception: it’s ok to have multiple links that are your name or website address.

4. Create (and follow) a cohesive content marketing strategy

If backlinks are where Google came from, quality content is where Google is going.

Remember that connecting searchers with content that answers their question is Google’s #1 goal, and it’s much harder to game the system than backlinks.

Start out by mapping searcher intents to your existing content (a fancy way of saying figure out what people are looking for and see if you have content that matches).

At this stage, you can also do a keyword gap analysis to find out what your keywords your competitors are ranking for that you’re not. Add them to your strategy.

Once you’ve mapped this out, create a content marketing plan that addresses the gaps.

Google is always trying to get better at matching what people search for with what they actually want. Stay ahead of them by producing helpful posts and videos.

Remember that connecting searchers with content that answers their question is Google’s #1 goal

5. On-page SEO: make your content easy for Google to crawl

After you’ve written your brilliant blog post, you still have a little work to do: you need to make it easy for your readers (and Google) to make sense of it.

This comes down to

  • creating a good headline
  • using an optimized URL
  • having a compelling meta description
  • using alt tags for your images
  • weighting your keyword appropriately
  • linking to your own content
  • linking to high-quality external content

I’ve seen some bloggers find success without optimizing their on-page and technical SEO, but it’s like trying to lose weight through your diet alone. You can do it, but exercise can make the difference between being slim and having a six-pack.

6. Don’t skip the technical stuff

You likely already have Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster Tools) and Google Analytics set up (if not, jump on that ASAP).

There are other factors that some business owners neglect.

  • set your sitemap up properly
  • use your robots.txt file
  • minimize 404 errors
  • avoid cannibalizing your content
  • maximize your page speed
  • implement schema markup

Again, don’t ignore these. It’d be like trying to win a race while wearing ankle weights.

Be Patient with Solar SEO

In the end, winning the solar SEO game won’t happen overnight (we have other strategies for that). People normally quit because it looks like nothing is happening for a long time.

But a daily 1% improvement leads to being 37 times better in one year. To succeed, you have to be patient enough to put in the work, day by day, drip by drip.

An easy first step you can take is use our free solar SEO audit tool. You can also call or email us if you’d like to talk through your specific situation.

Phone: (610) 762-6187
Email: info@solariety.com


Solariety helps solar companies get more phone calls and quote requests from qualified homeowners. For a free consultation, visit our scheduling page and book a call.

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Getting Solar Leads to Call You https://solariety.com/solar-leads-call-you/ Mon, 07 Jan 2019 15:05:58 +0000 http://solariety.com/?p=936 Every day, there are thousands of homeowners searching for things like “best solar installers near me” and “how much do solar panels cost?”

SEO is a great strategy for attracting these leads, but it takes time. What do you do while you wait for your site to rank?

In my humble opinion, Google Call Only Ads is the way to go.

What the heck are Google Call Only Ads?

Call Only Ads are a relatively new offering from Google. Over 50% of searches are done on mobile devices. Rather than directing smartphone users to

  1. click on your website link
  2. wait for it to load
  3. hope that it’s mobile optimized
  4. find a form to submit
  5. wait for you to get back to them

they call you directly from the search page.

Even better, you only get billed when someone clicks on your phone number, and you can track everything.

Example for Solar Lead Generation

For example, I built a call only lead generation campaign for a solar company in Florida.

I set it up such that only calls lasting longer than 60 seconds count as a conversion. Every call is recorded, automatically transcribed, tagged for specific phrases that the customer says.

Within 30 days, we generated 22 60+ second calls at an average cost of $36.48 each.

Solar Lead Generation Call Only Ad Campaign

These are hot leads who are familiar with solar power and want a quote now. They’re also only calling you, not submitting their info to an aggregator site to send to multiple solar companies.

Benefits of Generating Solar Leads via Call Only Ads

After the call happens, there’s still marketing work to do.

We look at how the call came in (organic search or Google Ad). We track the keywords used to trigger our ad. We review the transcript and listen to the recording and consider whether the inside salesperson could have improved at any point. And we ensure the lead is properly tagged in our CRM for follow-up.

There are a slew of benefits of to incorporating this solar marketing strategy.

  1. Leads are hot, on the phone, and exclusively yours
  2. ROI is easily tracked
  3. Faster than SEO, more qualified leads than Facebook
  4. Campaign is quickly scalable (turn down when your schedule is packed, turn up when it’s slow)
  5. Sales team improvements based on call recordings

This is simple, but powerful stuff. It’s one of the best ways I’ve found to get new leads to your business quickly. Ask your marketing team to use Call Only Ads and let us know how it goes!

If all this seems bewildering to you, give us a shout. We’re happy to extend a complimentary Marketing Strategy Session where we review your current situation, your goals, and what it will take to reach them through smart solar marketing.

To schedule this session, visit our calendar booking tool here or email us at info@solariety.com.

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Convert Warm Solar Leads Using Remarketing https://solariety.com/remarketing/ Mon, 12 Mar 2018 09:33:00 +0000 http://solariety.com/?p=505 Remarketing (sometimes called retargeting) is a powerful way to get more out of your solar marketing efforts. In this post, we walk you through why it’s important and how you can get started.


What is Remarketing and Why Should You Care?

Picture this: your ideal customer visits your website late one afternoon at work.

He’s been thinking about solar for a while and has been meaning to contact someone about it. He clicks around to multiple pages and starts feeling good about your company.

He’s filled out half of your quote request form when just then, he gets a text from his spouse about dinner plans he’s late for. He quickly shuts everything down and forgets all about you.

Sadness hates losing leads

Sadness hates losing leads

In solar sales, this situation happens all the time. You’re rarely the most pressing item on homeowners’ minds. With all the education required, it’s easy for prospects to procrastinate and move on.

What recourse do you have?

Curse the internet gods for the fickle nature of the medium? Pour more money into your campaigns? Quit internet marketing, lamenting its lack of effectiveness?

Enter Remarketing, your conversion-boosting savior.

Remarketing, as its name implies, is marketing to people already familiar with your stuff. There are plenty of ways to set this up.

Why spend tons of time and money advertising to cold leads when you’re abandoning high-value warm ones?

Taking our initial example, you could set up a pixel event to fire when the prospect enters some info in your form but leaves without submitting it. Or has spent over two minutes engaged on your website. Or has clicked your company phone number from his cell phone.

The possibilities are endless and powerful. Why spend tons of time and money advertising to cold leads when you’re abandoning high-value warm ones?

That’s why I almost always recommend remarketing as a first step for solar lead generation. You can remind prospects of your services and provide a gentle nudge back to your page, when they’re browsing the web or Facebook and have the time to convert.

Done tastefully, everybody wins.

Solar Remarketing: By the Numbers

GTM reports customer acquisition costs of $0.52/W in 2016, or $3,668 per customer on a 7-kW system. Remarketing has been shown to increase conversions by 100% or more (sources: WordStream and HubSpot).

Most solar companies we’ve spoken with have lower CACs and we recommend conservatively estimating a 50% increase in conversions.

To sort all this out, we built an easy calculator for you to estimate your additional profit through remarketing. Check it out!

Getting Started with Remarketing

So now that you’re all excited about the potential, how do you get started?

One option is to go it alone and try to figure things out yourself.

Most companies don’t get too far down this path because even though they know remarketing is incredibly effective, it’s too time-consuming and complex for them. Don’t get me wrong, this option works – it’s just expensive and by no means assured.

The alternative is to hire an expert.

A competent, data-driven marketer can take this burden off your hands, allowing you to retain your marketing spend while improving your tactics and supercharging your sales.

Residential solar installers that have used remarketing have seen their sales increase by 100%.

We specialize in designing and executing cost-effective remarketing campaigns for resi solar companies – contact us today to schedule a free consultation!

SCHEDULE A CONSULTATION

Set on going it alone? Read on.

The single most important remarketing step to take is enabling proper data collection. As you’ll see below, this is more than just installing Google Analytics and without this set up correctly, you won’t be able to remarket to any of your unconverted visitors. Each advertising platform is different but the basic steps are similar.

  1. Update your privacy policy. You’ll need to comply with strict PII (Personally Identifying Information) guidelines among other things. Again, every provider is different.
  2. Install the correct tracking code. At a minimum, you’ll want Google Analytics, AdWords, and Facebook.
  3. Create tracking events. Site visitors who didn’t complete your quote request form is a good starting point.
  4. (Turn on remarketing features.) This one is optional as it depends on your platform. Easy to do if you’ve done the above steps (see example from Google Analytics below).
  5. Create remarketing ads. Not to be overlooked, you need to create ads that draw unconverted prospects back in without being creepy. Take heed.
  6. Profit.

Google Analytics Remarketing Settings

If you have any questions on this process, please reach out. Remarketing can be a very powerful source of leads when done correctly. Take the time to do it right.

If all this seems bewildering to you, give us a shout. We’re happy to extend a complimentary Marketing Strategy Session where we review your current situation, your goals, and what it will take to reach them through smart solar marketing.

To schedule this session, visit our calendar booking tool here or email us at info@solariety.com.

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7 Reasons Buying Solar Leads Hurts Your Business https://solariety.com/buying-solar-leads/ https://solariety.com/buying-solar-leads/#respond Mon, 09 Oct 2017 04:22:47 +0000 http://solariety.com/?p=469 Paying for solar leads is a common way installers jumpstart their business. Unfortunately, solar companies who buy 3rd-party leads sacrifice more than they know, hurting long-term growth and profitability. This article describes the hidden downsides of buying solar leads, and what you should do instead.


Wait, What’s Wrong With Buying Solar Leads?

Paying for leads is a common way to jumpstart a solar business. It’s quick. It takes low overhead. And you can get some decent customers from it.

However, many installers have experienced some downsides when buying solar leads. Can you empathize with any of the following?

1. No Brand Recognition Prior to Call

When you call your purchased “lead,” they usually have

  1. no idea who you are,
  2. what your company does, and
  3. why you’re calling

It’s a really rocky way to start a conversation, and often causes people to hang up on you or say “I’ve already got three quotes from other companies.”

It’s very challenging to establish your credentials and why your company is different if they have no former impression of you and are just hearing about you for the first time on the phone.

purchased lead unhappy response to phone call - liam neeson

2. Inconsistent Quality

As shared at one of SPI’s education sessions, purchased lead quality seems to be getting worse. Oftentimes, your “lead’s” phone number is disconnected or their email address is invalid.

Even if you get poor quality leads refunded, this wastes the time and morale of your team.

3. No Control Over Advertising Message

An ad saying “Free solar installations in your neighborhood!” will definitely draw in some people, but they’re not going to be happy when they find out they’ve been duped.

Some providers have better messaging than others, but you can be sure it’s not catered to your situation.

4. No Knowledge Of Lead Source

Is there a particular source that’s converting like hotcakes for you? Good luck finding that out when relying on someone else’s black box marketing.

Rather than building your proprietary customer targeting knowledge, you’re paying someone else to develop their asset.

5/6. Non-Exclusive & Lower Margin

As alluded to above, most purchased leads are non-exclusive. Price is the prospect’s easiest differentiator, so reputable providers (which hopefully you are!) face an uphill battle explaining the value of your product and your service.

Not only does this create a confusing situation for homeowners, it also leads to lower margins and unhealthy competition among installers. Negative-margin, low-quality installers drive everyone (including themselves) out of business in this model, and you’re facilitating them by paying into it.

roll safe on solar installations

7. Lower Conversions

Since potential customers don’t know your brand from the next, you become a commodity to them. This makes them shop around, completely unattached to working with you.

How frustrating is it to spend hours educating a prospect only to lose the deal to someone undercutting you by $0.10/W?

Buying Solar Leads Is More Expensive In The Long Run

Combining all the above, 3rd-party leads end up being quite expensive. Your business becomes built around

  1. Disloyal
  2. Low-quality
  3. Uncontrolled
  4. Untracked
  5. Non-exclusive
  6. Low-margin
  7. Low-converting

“leads.” You know in your gut there must be a better way out there…

Smart Solar Lead Generation

Naturally, the solution to these challenges is to generate your own leads. But that comes with its own set of issues: It’s more work. You don’t have the expertise. It requires more overhead.

These are very real and valid concerns that keep many solar installers stuck buying leads. It’s easier to fight fires and ignore this hard-to-solve problem.

There’s a better option that savvy installers employ: hire a marketing consultant to build your own solar lead generation system.

Here’s what one of our clients said about working with us:

Karl Markeset of Solimax

Karl Markeset

After modifying our campaign (e.g. developing highly effective key words, changing ad types, etc.) he consulted with us regarding spend rates and activated our campaigns. Within about 5 days our website was receiving substantial traffic and several more inquiries/leads about our services began arriving in our mailbox!

We went from getting 1 or 2 leads every 4 weeks to getting close to 2 to 3 leads a week and our elegantly-worded ads started showing up on many pages of several search engines. We are currently closing deals with several of the leads that we acquired through Solariety’s improved campaign and we should see revenues increase significantly because of the lead closures!

In addition, Chris provided us with critical feedback on our website design to increase load speed and thereby reach and retain more customers with little time on their hands. His website changes have had very positive impacts on our web presence and he even tied in our Facebook advertising with our current campaigns to further enhance lead generation.

Karl Markeset

Hiring a consultant is the best of both worlds, since you get to

  1. Keep control
  2. Retain exclusivity
  3. Boost conversions
  4. Increase profits

without a lot of work and a large budget on your end.

For a fraction of the cost of a full-time hire, you get an experienced professional who specializes in residential solar marketing build and optimize a powerful, predictable, in-house lead generation system for you.

Given this option, it's hard to imagine many local installers surviving if they rely on purchased leads.

Do you agree?


To see how we can help you generate leads in-house, schedule a free Marketing Strategy Session with our residential solar marketing expert. Visit our schedule link or email us at info@solariety.com.

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3 Google Ads Mistakes Most Solar Installers Make https://solariety.com/google-ads-mistakes/ Fri, 06 Oct 2017 08:39:23 +0000 http://solariety.com/?p=438 Google Ads (formerly AdWords) can make or break a residential solar business.

Make one or more of these mistakes and your solar lead gen campaigns may become an unforgivable cash burn on your business.

Directing leads to a(n unoptimized) home page

Picture this: you’re the manager of a Gap standing outside your store hustling to get some customers. A man walks up and says he’s looking for chukkas.

chukka boot

Would you say

A) “Yup, we’ve got those.” and send him inside, immediately turning around looking for the next prospect? OR

B) “Yup, we’ve got those, by the jewelry in the back right of the store. If you have any trouble, ask for Steve. He’s great and loves those shoes.”?

It’s definitely easier to do the former. As long as you have what they’re looking for, you can answer everyone the same way.

Dresses, watches, shorts, whatever…it’s in there. Leave it to them to go find it as they’re faced with a wall of polos and a confusing layout.

But which way makes your customer feel more cared for? Which way do you think generates more sales?

It’s doubly important to do this in the internet age, as solar prospects’ attention spans may be worse than a goldfish’s.

In the real world, you wouldn’t act lazy when a valuable prospect shows interest in what you offer. Don’t do it online.

Writing generic ads

This may even be worse (read: cost you more money) than the first example. Imagine if that same person had walked up to you and asked how much chukkas cost. Would you respond with:

A) “we have chukkas” (bad)

B) “we have shoes” (worse)

C) “yes, we have clothes” (terrible)

I know this sounds ridiculous, but it’s not as far off as it seems. Take a look at the bottom ad for the search term “how much do solar panels cost.”

solar google ads

Ouch. That’s not answering the question at all, and they’re surely paying for it.

In contrast, there are still several items that the top bidder could improve upon, but they’re doing several things right. Most importantly, they’re directly addressing the searcher’s question. On top of that, they’re making good use of ad extensions, giving their prospects more opportunities to go directly to what they’re looking for, and giving their ad more real estate.

I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re paying less per click than the second or third spot (yes, the top spot isn’t always the one who spends the most).

Bidding on the wrong keywords

What’s the difference between home solar panels and homemade solar panels?

If you’re using Google’s default keyword settings, none.

Broad match keywords (the default) give Google great leeway in determining what search terms trigger your ads. The above keywords could also trigger diy home solar panels or free home solar panels, which unless you’re Tim “the toolman” Taylor or a philanthropist, you probably don’t want.

Tim Taylor from Home Improvement

“The Toolman” doesn’t need your help in installing solar panels

There’s no simple answer for fixing this, and many go the costly, brute-force route of adding negative keywords to the wide net they cast.

A better way is to use a combination of phrase match and exact match keywords, especially when you’re just starting out with Google Ads, to make certain your ads are showing up exactly when you want them.

One’s loss is another’s opportunity

If your solar ad campaigns have these issues, don’t worry, you’re not alone.

We at Solariety have seen several of these mistakes in action and though it kills us (we need to get CAC down to help stop climate change!), it opens opportunity for those who know how to capitalize on it. Hopefully you take advantage!

If all this seems bewildering to you, give us a shout. We’re happy to extend a complimentary Marketing Strategy Session where we review where you are now, your goals, and what it will take to reach them through smart solar marketing.

To schedule this session, visit our calendar booking tool here or email us at info@solariety.com.

 

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