For companies that do residential or commercial solar, sales leads you generate yourself on your own website are better than solar leads you buy from a list for two main reasons:
- Sales leads from your own site belong to your company alone; you don’t have to share them with other companies who’ve bought the same list of solar leads
- Leads that convert on your own site are potential customers who are not just interested in solar, they also know about and are interested in your company
You may want to continue buying leads because they can lead to faster sales, but to plan for a future of better leads, why not add solar lead generation to your own website now?
The process of lead generation through inbound marketing is well established by now. The first couple steps include focusing on your ideal customer(s) by developing one or more buyer personas and then locating keywords that people who fit your persona profile use to search the web when they want solar.
Blogging is the third step in the inbound marketing methodology and if you do it right, your company blog will be key to solar lead generation. Whether you write it in-house or hire a digital marketing agency to do it for you, there are a few things you need to help your blog generate qualified solar leads:
1. Post regularly
Once a week is good and twice or three times a week is better. Bigger companies can even blog daily. Don’t worry too much about overwhelming your audience. Even if they subscribe to your blog and get every post by email, readers won’t read them all. They’ll just skim over the post titles to find what interests them. But you’ll get most traffic to your blog posts not from subscribers but from Google searches of people who may not know either who you are or that you have a blog. So, the more blog posts you publish, the more chances you have to reach new visitors searching for your carefully chosen keywords (see below).
2. Blog about topics that interest your audience
A solar blog should be at most 20% promotional, with news and offers about your company and its services. The other 80% of your blog posts should be entertaining or helpful to your audience, the kind of things they’d want to read whether it came from your company or not. Lists and how-tos get the most clicks, according to research but if you have the ability to produce multimedia, infographics, memes and videos also do well.
And by all means, don’t put company news releases on your blog. Create a separate section on your site for the specialized audiences — news media and investors — who want information in a news release format.
Get ideas for blog posts here.
3. Optimize for keywords — but don’t over-optimize
Once you’ve developed a list of a couple dozen keywords for your buyer persona(s), then pick one keyword per blog and include that keyword phrase in several crucial places in your blog post: the headline, alt text for at least one image, subheads, bulleted and numbered lists, outbound links and post tags. You can pick your keyword before you start writing or you can just write a great working title first and then try to optimize it for a keyword afterwards.
But you shouldn’t write just to use a keyword. Instead, keep the keyword in the back of your mind as you write, but be sure that your text is created for humans, not search engines. Then, once you’ve got nice text that your audience would want to read, tweak it here and there to include a few instances of the keyword. By all means, avoid black hat SEO tactics like keyword stuffing. Not only will your audience hate that, but Google could penalize you for trying to play the system by downgrading your site or even removing it from search listings.
4. Include a call-to-action to convert visitors to leads
At the bottom of each blog post, include a an offer of valuable content that the visitor can get for free as long as they give you their contact information. This is crucial to convert a visitor into a solar lead that you can pass along to your salespeople.
Your call-to-action should be appealing enough that your visitor will find it worthwhile to surrender their contact info. So, “Contact Us for a Free Quote” is probably not good enough for someone brand new to your site who’s not ready to talk to a salesperson. Instead, offer a piece of content that your buyer persona would find valuable such as an e-book on how to make your home energy efficient before you put solar on your roof.
Create a snazzy banner ad on the offer that visitors want to click on. The link will take the visitor to another page where the visitor can enter his contact information and download the offer. (See our call-to-action at the bottom of the page).
5. Integrate your blog with analytics and marketing automation.
To know what’s working on what’s not, you need data on your blog posts. Using Google Analytics, check on views and unique visitors to your blog posts and what percentage of those clicked on your call to action and converted to leads. To get more bang for your blogging buck, connect your website to a marketing automation system such as InfusionSoft or HubSpot which can send out an automated email response to everyone who downloads your content offer to help move them along the Solar Buyer’s Journey and encourage them to take the next step of engagement with your company.
6. Build audience with social media and blog subscriptions
If you’ve written your blog posts around good solar keywords, eventually, your posts will start to attract traffic from Google searches. But you don’t have to just sit around and wait for web searchers to find you. You can speed up the process by pushing your blog posts out to your audiences on social media and by offering a way to subscribe to your blog. Do that by tapping into your blog’s RSS feed. If your site is built in WordPress, Jetpack Subscriptions is a simple way to do RSS subscriptions. Connecting a service like MailChimp’s RSS-to-Email will give you more control over your subscription, for example, by allowing you to send out a single weekly email on a certain day each week with multiple blog posts.
Sometimes solar company managers are skeptical of the value of blogging. If you follow these steps, not only will your solar blog start to bring in qualified leads that your salesforce will be glad to have. You’ll also be able to measure your success and show documented ROI for your blogging efforts.
— Erik Curren, Curren Media Group