Imagine if you could get solar leads that would convert at the highest rates because they were truly high quality — contacts that were fresh and exclusive to your company alone. Even better, they’d be homeowners who actually want to hear from you because they have expressed an interest in going solar.
Those are of course, the highest quality leads. It doesn’t get any better than that.
Such high quality leads would be expensive, right? Well, you might be surprised how affordable it is to get the best leads.
But there is one catch. You can’t just go out and buy the best leads for people who want solar at home from a lead-generation vendor. There’s a secret to getting those leads. And not every solar company is set up to get the best leads.
Read on and you’ll find out whether you can qualify to get the best leads, and then learn how you can do it.
The #1 Problem with Most Solar Leads
The poor quality of solar leads is the top complaint I hear from solar companies across the country from California to New Jersey. Whether it’s sales reps, sales managers, marketing directors or even company owners, everybody who works at solar installation companies agrees:
Solar leads that you buy these days are uneven at best. And at worst, they’re a total waste of money.
On the low end, say, $30 per sales lead, the names will convert at pathetically low rates.
Many “aged” leads are so old that they might as well be obituaries. And even before the dearly departed shuffled off this mortal coil, the chance that they really wanted solar panels ranged from little to none. Not to mention that six other solar companies had already called the same lead list before your sales reps were even able to pick up their phones.
High end leads can cost $100 or more. For that money, you can specify exclusive leads that you don’t have to share with other solar companies. You can also demand that the leads be fresh, generated within the last few days — or even the last few hours. And you can hope that the people really want solar, and that they didn’t just get pulled from some list of related interests, such as people who own a Toyota Prius or have recently purchased from a legal cannabis shop in Colorado.
But even expensive solar leads have a potential problem.
Expensive Solar Leads: Are They Worth the Money?
High-end solar leads have one big problem if you buy them from somebody else, even one of the best lead-generation vendors that offer high quality inbound leads generated online.
The people who represent the leads may have expressed an interest in solar. But they’ve not necessarily expressed an interest in your company. In fact, they may never have heard of your company. Instead, they may have just filled out a form on a lead-generation vendor’s website. Some of those websites are excellent online marketplaces for solar, such as SolarPowerRocks.com or PickMySolar.com.
But if someone goes to a solar marketplace website offering quotes from a variety of installers, then the homeowner is not coming specifically to see your company. Honestly, they probably don’t care much about the company that the website connects them with — as long as that company turns out to offer the cheapest quote.
Unfortunately, even with expensive leads that you purchase from a high-quality vendor, the conversion rate can still be under 5%. Since the people had never heard of your company before they were passed onto you by the lead generation vendor, those people have no loyalty to your company. So it’s easy for them to drop out of the sales process before the deal is closed.
You can connect with them over the phone. But before your sales rep can make it over to their place to do an assessment and get a contract signed, perhaps one of your competitors squeezes in there first. Or maybe the people change their mind, and decide to skip the appointment they set with your sales rep.
How to Get the Highest Quality Leads for $70 or Less Each
With lead-generation vendors laughing all the way to the bank, it’s no wonder that customer acquisition costs for solar installers have remained steady for the last few years at $3,000 or more per customer according to GTM Research. Whether you buy cheap leads that convert at less than 1% or more expensive leads that may convert at 5% or 10%, you can still rack up huge bills buying solar leads from lead-generation vendors.
Meanwhile, your sales reps are getting frustrated as deals keep falling through and they have to work harder and harder for lackluster commissions.
Solar installers get angry at lead vendors who rip them off year after year. But yet, they just keep buying leads from different vendors. Then they get angry at those. And on and on it goes, year after year of lost sales and frustrated sales reps.
In the past, there wasn’t much you could do about bad leads. Fortunately, today, the situation is different.
With the internet, forward-thinking solar installers are now generating their own leads online through inbound marketing.
Large national installers do a lot of the work themselves in-house. Smaller companies work with companies like the Curren Media Group to attract solar buyers to their company as online visitors and then convert those visitors into the highest quality sales leads — exclusive, fresh, and really interested in getting solar.
For example, one small installer in the Southeast that we’ve worked with for a year has now started generating inbound leads on their own website for an effective cost of $70-$80 each.
These leads represent people who’ve found this solar company online through Google or through the company’s social media posts or email newsletters. As inbound leads, these homeowners decided on their own to contact this company by name. They didn’t just want solar from any company that turned out to be the lowest bidder. They wanted this company specifically. That will make the customer less likely to try to shop around for the lowest price and more likely to just go with this company’s bid as-is.
So, at $70 or $80 per lead, the cost per lead alone is very competitive for this company, considering that the leads are better than leads they could get from a vendor that would cost $100 or above. In a busier area than the Southeast like California or the Northeast, the cost per lead could be even lower.
But, as they say on informercials, wait, there’s more!
The benefit to this solar company goes far beyond the leads they get today. The system they’ve set up will help them also generate leads for years to come.
Of course, there’s one little catch.
Should You Buy Apples or Plant Your Own Apple Tree?
It’s the difference between buying apples and planting your own apple tree.
Let me explain.
If you buy a bag of apples at the grocery store, for example, you get apples. And you get them right away, no waiting, as long as the store has apples in stock. But when you run out of apples at home, you have to drive back to the grocery store to buy more. If you stop going to the grocery store, then you won’t have any more apples.
By contrast, if you plant an apple tree, then once it starts producing apples, you can have free apples that you grow yourself for the next 30 years.
But here’s the catch: maybe your apple tree won’t start producing fruit right away. You might have to wait a while. You might also have to nurture the tree for a while as it grows up. For example, you may need to fertilize the soil or prune off branches.
It’s exactly the same with solar leads.
If you want leads tomorrow, you can buy them from lead-generation vendors — provided that you can find leads in your service area. You can get those leads right away and without having to do any of the work to generate them yourself. The quality can vary greatly, as we saw above. But if you’re a gambling person, you can plan for that.
The big disadvantage with buying leads is that once you stop buying them, the flow of leads shuts off. You can buy leads for a year, but when you stop buying those leads, you’re no closer to generating your own in the future. If you’re hooked on buying leads, then it’s very difficult to wean yourself off.
Just like planting an apple tree, if you plant your own lead-generation system online, you’ll get leads for years to come. This allows you to break the cycle of addiction to lead-generation vendors. Once your online inbound marketing system is set up, you’ll have a reliable lead flow that, with proper care, can grow as long as you want.
So, to continue the apple metaphor, comparing $70 inbound leads to $100 leads you buy isn’t really an apples-to-apples comparison.
With every $100 lead you buy, all you get is a lead. You get no extra benefit in terms of branding.
But with every lead you generate yourself for $70 now, you’ll be building your brand up to generate more leads yourself in the future. When you consider the branding benefit of inbound marketing to generate leads, then over time, each lead might wind up costing much less than $70.
The catch is that generating your own leads doesn’t work right away. It takes time, anywhere from 3-6 months, to start generating your own leads online.
If you already have a great website optimized for lead generation that gets good web traffic now, you’ll have a head start that could speed things up.
But if your website isn’t lead-ready, and if don’t get much web traffic yet, then you’ll have to start and nurture your lead system before it starts to produce fruit.
Which Solar Companies Qualify to Generate their Own Leads
Both large and small solar installers can generate their own leads online.
To have success generating leads yourself online, you need two things.
First, to generate your own leads, you need a reputation for integrity and high quality work. If you have bad customer reviews splashed all over Yelp and SolarReviews, the less attention you draw to your brand online or anywhere else, the better. In that case, just keep buying leads. And good luck to you!
Second, if your company is committed to quality and your customers will say that, then you need a modern website that’s ready for lead generation.
If your website is outdated and unfriendly to visitors, then your company won’t generate many leads online, no matter how much inbound marketing you do.
- Since more than half of web traffic these days comes from phones, your website needs to look good on mobile devices.
- Then, the site needs to offer enough good content to build trust among solar buyers. Running a blog can give you an unfair advantage over competitors who aren’t.
- The content should be fresh and optimized for SEO to get traffic from web searches. Otherwise, you’ll have to buy ads, which can waste a lot of money.
- And of course the site needs to have an online contact form that makes it easy for visitors to ask for a quote from your company.
- You’ll get even more leads if you offer a lead-magnet such as a downloadable ebook in exchange for a visitor’s email address.
Online marketing agencies like the Curren Group can help a solar installer build a website that’s optimized for lead generation. Then, you can start inbound marketing to generate leads online.
The longer you wait to start building your own lead-generation system, the longer you’ll have to wait to start generating your own leads.
The sooner you plant your online lead tree, the sooner you’ll enjoy the delicious fruit of exclusive, fresh, high-quality solar leads.
— Erik Curren, Curren Media Group