A residential solar installer in New Jersey called me a couple weeks ago. He wanted help getting more sales leads.
“We’ve been knocking on doors for years. That’s how our owner got started. But it’s not really working well anymore. All the good doors in our area have already been hit. And people are getting sick of it. So, we need better leads. We’ve tried everything. We bought lists from telemarketers. We did events. We sent out direct mail postcards. We took out ads in the paper,” he said.
He was at the end of his marketing rope, so to speak. He wanted help fast. What could I recommend?
“Have you tried generating leads online?” I asked.
“Oh, no. We don’t do anything online.” Then he went on to add that, if I was going to suggest online marketing, that he wasn’t interested. “I don’t want to waste your time. Our website gets no traffic, so we don’t want to spend any money online.”
Then, I asked him how he found my company in the first place.
“I did a Google search for ‘solar leads’. You came up near the top.”
Wow. I was speechless. The irony was so thick that you could cut it with a knife.
Solar Buyers Look for Solar Installers through Google
If this solar installer found me through Google, then it would make sense that his customers would also find him through Google.
Unless he thought that people who want solar in 2017 haul out the Yellow Pages and flip to the listings under “S.”
If you think that, then let me share a hot tip with you:
Today, nobody under the age of 92 uses the Yellow Pages for anything except to prop open a door or as a puppy chew toy.
Instead, when anybody wants to buy anything, they go first to one place: Google.
And if they want solar for their home, we know exactly what kinds of terms they use, from our solar keyword research.
Let’s take an example from the Garden State, a homeowner who lives in Princeton, home to the Ivy League university. Here are some real web searches that homeowner might do
- solar panel installation princeton nj
- install solar panels princeton
- princeton home solar
- solar installer near me (on a phone)
- solar panels nj free
- nj solar incentives
And so on. A good keyword research tool can bring up dozens of real terms used by solar buyers in Google searches. Then, an experienced marketer can whittle that down to a short list of a couple dozen terms that are most promising for a solar installer that serves Princeton — or anyplace else — to reach their most desirable buyers.
In the screenshot of this search, look who comes out on top — it’s not an installer from Princeton, but the national company Sunrun. To do well in Princeton, they obviously know what they’re doing for search engine optimization.
But local installers do well too. They appear right underneath Sunrun. And the local companies are in the box, which is better. Those local companies have obviously done their SEO homework too.
But what about the companies that don’t appear near the top of the search?
They might as well be dead, as far as solar buyers are concerned. Because if you’re not near the top of a Google search for solar in your area, few people will notice you. That means you’ll get very little traffic from web searches.
What If Your Website Gets No Traffic Now?
First, if you’re a solar installer, you need to know two things about web traffic in our industry:
- Most local solar installers get little or no traffic on their websites
- It’s their own fault
So, if your website gets no traffic, on the one hand, you shouldn’t feel bad about it. You’re in good company. Most of your smaller competitors probably get no traffic online either.
On the other hand, failing to get web traffic is not the fault of the web. You can’t blame Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg or Al Gore because your old, ugly and unloved website gets no traffic.
Blame yourself for putting up an ugly website in the first place and then failing to update it in the last five years.
Nor can you say that only big-bad-bully installers like Sunrun suck up all the web traffic, leaving none for the poor little local guys. On the Princeton search above, three local solar companies popped up right behind Sunrun. That means they’re probably getting good traffic online.
Unlike Sunrun, these local companies surely don’t have a multimillion dollar marketing budget. So, how’d they do so well in Google search?
Just take the first company, Ad Energy, for example. You don’t have to be a web rocket scientist to see that their website is strong. It’s attractive, with a clean, modern design. It’s well organized, making it easy for visitors to find what they want fast. Though it hasn’t been updated since 2016, a blog helped the site stay up to date in the past, which probably still gives some SEO benefit.
And did you notice, in the Princeton search that Sunrun is there near the top, but SolarCity and Vivint aren’t. The local companies beat them out. Which shows that a local installer can beat the big guys, if they do it right.
Fix Your Website and Start Getting Traffic and Exclusive Leads
So, if your solar installation company is hurting for good leads, and traditional lead generation isn’t working for you, it’s time to take online marketing seriously.
If your website doesn’t get any traffic, that doesn’t mean it never will get any traffic. Any local residential installer can get traffic online with an effective website, which means that they can also generate online leads, the highest quality solar leads out there.
Online leads are exclusive and they’re really interested in getting solar. Best of all, they’re interested in your company, not just in solar in general. You can’t say that about the leads you get from telemarketers that you have to share with other solar installers.
Every day you wait to start on your website is another day you’ll be missing out on the best leads. More of your competitors have started to realize that their no-traffic websites just aren’t cutting the mustard in the age of digital everything.
Start now on improving your website. Download our free guide to build an awesome homepage for a solar installation company now.
— Erik Curren, Curren Media Group