In Brief: Reonomy helps solar installers find high-quality solar leads by specifically targeting commercial building owners/property managers who will likely be in need of your services now or in the near future. The below article details how to build an impactful solar lead list with Reonomy and then how to win the business.
Generating leads as a solar installer
In many parts of the country, solar power is still largely an untapped market in terms of potential. But in more saturated markets, acquiring new business opportunities as a solar installer can be challenging. Customer acquisition costs can be high in comparison to return on solar installer leads. In order to effectively increase in solar sales leads, a strategic and well-targeted lead generation plan is necessary.
Sales leads can be in the form of either inbound or outbound, and solar sales leads are no different. Inbound leads represent prospects who come to you, and outbound leads are prospects you have reached out to. By utilizing social media and other channels, you can carry out an inbound strategy and encourage potential clients to reach out to you.
As a solar installer, the inbound lead generation route offers a variety of solar marketing ideas that will positively impact on your solar lead acquisition strategy.
- SEM (search engine marketing) strategy, such as Adwords campaigns
- SEO (search engine optimization) strategy (which helps you rank high among searches of people looking for solar installation services)
- Other forms of social paid advertising, such as Facebook or LinkedIn
- A comprehensive website (one that looks professional and has a clear call to action for inbound leads to get in touch)
- A strong referral system based on quality provided to previous clients
Throughout this article, we will outline all of the above in greater detail.
How Reonomy can improve lead acquisition efforts for solar installers
The current figures around the cost of solar sales leads and the customer acquisition costs within the solar industry are alarming for both solar energy installation companies and solar lead generation specialists. Retail solar selling prices are falling while the cost of generating untouched, new solar leads is increasing.
Many solar installation companies seeking new business opportunities who once generated leads via telemarketing and knocking in doors now find that these methods are unprofitable and a waste of valuable resources. Rather than go to their customers and tell them that the solar lead acquisition cost has to increase, they are simply recycling old leads.
Reonomy is a commercial real estate database consisting of 47m+ properties – that’s 99% coverage nationwide! The power of the platform lies in the simplicity of navigating the database, and the highly effective value it brings to your marketing and sales functions. In the instance of a solar installer, Reonomy can dramatically increase your solar lead generation efforts, and by doing so, improve your solar marketing strategy.
Reonomy also provides extensive data on each property. Property level data includes sales history, tax info, property size, debt history and most importantly ownership contact information. Reonomy goes beyond the LLC to provide you with the actual ownership contact details – such as names, numbers, email addresses and mailing addresses – all of which can be leveraged to implement highly targeted solar marketing activities to increase solar installer leads.
Solar panel installers are successfully using the Reonomy platform to earn fresh solar leads, along with additional solar marketing tips for commercial solar installers. We have broken this down into three steps.
- Step A: How Solar Installers Use Reonomy
- Step B: How Solar Installers turn these leads into paying customers
- Step C: Additional Marketing Strategy Tips for Commercial Solar Installers
Step A: How Solar Installers Use Reonomy
The key to building a great solar lead list with Reonomy lies in the initial search criteria and filters applied. Below are common search filters that solar installers use to build their lists.
1. Geographic Based Searches
Reonomy provides a range of geographic filters to ensure that you are presented with leads in the area of your choice. Similar to google maps’ “restaurants near me” feature, Reonomy essentially provides a “solar installer jobs near me” filter for solar installers.
The main filters here are street name, city, county, zip code and state. One of the more advanced geographic searches is to search via our interactive map. Here you can search your desired area through our map and all the commercial properties will appear as individual parcels on the map. You can click on any of these properties to discover further information, property ownership contact details and see google street view of the property.
Another popular geographic filter is drawing on the map with a custom draw tool (as seen below). Many solar installers know the area they work like the back of their hand, and by simply drawing it out on the map this tool allows them to see every commercial property that meets their location criteria.
This feature is especially popular for off-grid solar energy installers who are familiar with areas where it is hard to connect to the grid. A quick radius draw or street input will produce all the commercial entities within this area.
2. Land Use Picker
The next common filter used by solar installers is the ‘land use picker’ which filters the search results to show a specific building class.
An example of this can be seen in the screenshot below. For solar installers focused on industrial clients they could select “only industrial properties” or even go more granular and narrow it down to the exact type of industrial property e.g. manufacturing.
3. Building Size
Many solar installers target a certain scale of project. Solar installers search for their building area specifications by filtering their searches by building area. In the example below, the search will filter for properties that have a square footage between 50k-100k.
4 Owner Portfolio Search
Shortly we’ll show the contact information that Reonomy gives you for each property. Once you have one property owner’s information – you can perform a search via owner that will reveal the entire commercial portfolio of one owner.
Many solar installers love this tool, as it allows them to focus their lead acquisition efforts on the commercial property owners with the largest portfolios and develop repeat business amongst their multiple properties. An example is outlined in the below image.
There are no restrictions on the number of filters or the combination of filters solar installers can implement in any one search.
Reonomy workflow tools
For ease of building solar lead lists, Reonomy also has workflow tools that allow you to bulk label properties of interest, as well as conveniently export your final results into Excel.
Once you’ve built your solar lead list or found your property of interest, you now can uncover owner information. The image below depicts how the contact information of a property owner for one building is displayed.
Occasionally, several individuals will be linked to one building. The contact information provided for these individuals includes phone numbers, email addresses and the mailing address for the owning entity – piercing through the LLC. If you don’t already see the value of this type of information or are excited to delve into what you can do with this, keep reading.
Step B: How solar installers turn these leads into paying customers
So now you’ve built your target solar lead list and uncovered the contact info – the rest should be easy right?
Well, from many of the solar installers we’ve engaged with, outbound business strategies can be a new concept. Here are common solar marketing ideas, demonstrating how commercial property service providers have leveraged the information Reonomy provides.
1. Email Campaigns tips for Solar Installers
Email can be seriously cheap, and although you should spend time in designing your copy it still makes for a strong marketing channel with one of the best ROIs out there. For most solar installation companies, finding the solar lead lists to email is the expensive part – but you’ve now got that sorted!
Not only can your message be delivered immediately, you also analyze the campaign’s effectiveness through results that are fully measurable with email campaign management software. Data results can include bounce rates, open rates and click-through rates by your solar leads. There is a range of email campaign management tools out there suitable for solar installers, one popular and reasonably priced solution is Mailchimp.
Depending on how the responses go from your solar leads, a common marketing hack is to alter the structure of your email campaign over time and compare results.
Common email variations/tests include:
- altering the number of solar lead recipients (mass emails vs more specific, personalized emails)
- altering the tone of the email (sending a direct sales pitch type email vs. providing value, like an article)
- altering the sequence of a campaign (how many emails will you send to the same solar lead in succession)
A further marketing idea to be considered in your solar lead generation efforts is to incorporate incentives in your email templates. One offer could be in the form of some free solar panels, for example, a summer special reading “purchase x amount of solar panels and get 2 for free”.
2. Cold Calling tips for Solar Installers
Cold calling, although an old, classic sales outbound method, is sometimes still the best port of call in customer acquisition strategies. The most successful cold call campaigns for commercial solar installers are deployed by experienced phone marketers. The phone marketers conducting your campaign must be well versed in your solar business and the solar energy industry and be ready to answer any question thrown at them.
By using Reonomy – you know you have a highly qualified solar lead list – with several contact numbers for each lead. This should assist cold callers who do not have the same experience as a phone marketer.
A crucial element of the cold calling process is to ensure you have motivated, committed staff who are focused on building relationships with potential solar customers and abide by strict timelines and follow-ups.
3. Direct Mail for Solar Installers
Despite the power of the Internet, there are traditional lead generation marketing strategies that have withheld the test of time. Direct mail campaigns continue to be a robust method for generating commercial leads. Solar customer acquisition costs in the form of a direct mail campaign could fetch thousands of dollars, but if it results in just one lucrative commercial solar job, the campaign will fund itself. In using this marketing strategy, thousands of mailers are sent to targeted prospects within a specific area, usually property owners or key contacts within a certain radius of mileage from a specific location.
A well put together direct mail flyer will encourage solar leads to call the solar contractor who has sent them. While slightly less cost effective than email, at times it can have more impact on your solar target list.
One of the levels of contact information Reonomy provides is the mailing address for the owning entity, allowing you to directly reach the owner/manager of that owner targeted entity.
Listed below are some best practices for a commercial solar installer in deploying a direct mail campaign.
- Make your brand stand out
Appearance is everything with direct mail. Stand-out, eye-catching ad copy including your brand’s colors and logo is crucial. High-quality materials and a high-quality printer will also assist in maximizing your solar lead acquisition efforts.
- Add Incentives
Including some form of promotion (where possible) is also a best practice for direct mail. This will support your solar lead conversion efforts by catching the prospect’s attention and adding value. Incentives can vary from discounts, rebates to any other financial deals that make your mailer more impactful.
Your solar leads need a reason to keep reading, to open the envelope, and take action.
- Have a clear Call To Action
Ensuring your solar mailer includes a clear CTA (Call to Action) is also a crucial aspect. Call to Actions typically include an email address, a phone number and social media handles. Your goal is to want to make it as easy as possible for solar prospects to reach out to you.
Step C – Additional Marketing Tips for Commercial Solar Installers
Outlined above are solar lead generation activities that Reonomy directly adds high impact to such as email marketing, direct mail, and cold calling by providing you with accurate, tailor-made lead lists. The ownership information lead lists pierce through the LLC and provide mailing addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses for all owners of a property.
However, as a solar installer, there are also several other marketing methods to be considered for your business.
Paid Ads for Solar Installers
Another popular marketing tactic for solar providers is to run digital paid advertising campaigns. An abundance of marketing channels to run adverts on now exists, each with their pros and cons depending on your objective and resources (internal knowledge and budget).
We’re going to look at three here – SEM (Search Engine Marketing) basically Google Adwords, Facebook Ads and LinkedIn Ads. Other platforms that you could consider advertising through include Bing, Quora, Reddit, and Twitter.
1. Google Adwords (SEM)
A powerful tool, that should be considered by solar installers to increase views on a website is the use of Google Adwords.
Google Adwords serves ads to people searching for a particular keyword or term. In a practical sense, this allows solar contractors to target ads at people searching for their particular services. For example, if you are a commercial solar installer, a key term to bid on would be “solar installers near me.”
When developing a strategy to bid on keywords and advertise through Google Adwords, it’s important to target a strong mix of terms that will appeal to your target audience (commercial solar installer services, solar energy installers near me, etc). Targeting search terms specific to an area is especially helpful. Carry out searches within Adwords’ keyword search function to determine the most searched for terms and then use them to your advantage.
In the screenshot above, we can see that the search term for ‘solar providers near me’ has a monthly search volume of 6,600 and a suggested bid price of $10.42. That bid price is what you are bidding on for a click on your solar ad. While this price appears high, people searching for solar installation services are high converting prospects as they are specifically looking for your services. This bid can be refined to a target geography. For example, a company with contracts that are within a 50 mile radius of Lubbock, TX would enter in geographic details as per below.
2. Facebook Ads
How to Conduct a Paid Ad on Facebook
Determining a target audience is arguably the most important step in Facebook advertising. There are multiple ways to build an audience on Facebook and below we cover several methods solar installers could use as targeting strategies for property owners. These target filters can be combined or used individually, depending on how refined you want the target audience to be.
What is the End Goal for the Ad?
You can optimize Facebook ads for different results, depending on whether you want people to click on them and be diverted to your website, to fill out a contact form or to build brand awareness by generation a high volume of impressions (views on the solar ad). A simple way to start is to run a solar ad lead form. Here you can have solar leads fill out the form if they are interested in hearing more about your service.
Targeting via Job Title
Targeting by job title can prove very effective as it develops an audience that identifies themselves as decision makers of a property. In the example below, we list a couple of property manager job titles. Solar ads here could be served to people with titles such as facilities managers, maintenance managers, and senior property managers.
Targeting via Interests
Targeting by users’ interests on Facebook places your solar ads in front of an audience that has expressed an interest in or liked a page related to your target. This option can really help expand audience size. For example, people interested in a “Building Owners and Managers Association” are most likely either property owners or managers and these are individuals that you want to advertise your solar installation services to.
Targeting via Geography
Refining a solar ad’s audience based on geographic location can prove very useful in lead generation strategies. If you currently operate in a particular area or are interested in servicing a new area, for example, due to an increase in property development there, you can implement this on Facebook ads. Geographic targeting is very flexible and can be done via state, city, zip code and/or address. As most solar contractors know their area very well, you can simply place the pin wherever you like on a map and bob’s your uncle.
3. Linkedin Ads
A key requirement in leveraging the power of social media is building a presence and establishing trust through social channels that your prospects are present on. Linkedin, the world’s largest online professional network and currently boasts 530 million members globally, serves as an excellent platform to incorporate into your solar lead acquisition strategy. LinkedIn Ads come in various formats such as banner ads, skyscraper ads and native newsfeed ads.
Targeting via Job Title
LinkedIn ads can be targeted towards professionals with a specific title. In this case, you are a solar installer and are looking to target property owners or maintenance/property managers. LinkedIn ads will place your solar ad in front of any individual with those titles listed on their profiles.
Targeting via Geography
Another effective method on LinkedIn is filtering an ad to a particular geographical focus, especially if certain areas are of more interest to you compared to others. For example, if you are a solar panel installer operating in LA and are looking to target maintenance managers there, you can execute this with LinkedIn ads.
2. Content Marketing for Solar Installers
Content is a core contributor in terms of effective marketing. A lack of content generates low-quality leads from prospects who are purely looking for the lowest price offering. If solar prospects are given no other materials to help them evaluate a company, the decision will be completely based on pricing. Typically, content refers to pictures, videos, blog posts, case studies or any other published materials that represent your brand.
The creation and publication of solar installation related content does several things. Firstly, it improves search rankings and company credibility. Nowadays, your online brand is everything and companies must leverage this to their advantage. When a potential customer searches for a solar installation service, you want them to both find you very quickly during their search and to simultaneously like what they see.
Strong content kicks in once a prospect has landed on your site or social media account because the desired effect is to create interest and hook them in.
If a solar company is seen to regularly post helpful, relevant content around the topics of solar power and solar energy such as user guides or trend reports, along with high-quality imagery and/or video, this automatically creates a sense of credibility and trust between the company and the solar prospect. If you flip the situation onto yourself and consider the last time you searched for a product or service – if the website you landed on appeared stale with poor quality content, would you be pushed to get in touch or would you continue your search for more reputable offerings?
Strong content and brand awareness is a two-way relationship
Strong, impactful online content naturally harvests customer reactions to which you can leverage for the increasing of brand awareness. Customer interactions can range from’ likes’, to comments, to sharing the content, depending on what platform is involved. Joining, contributing and responding to comments online such as on Facebook or review sites like Yelp, and within Google businesses can be helpful in supporting your solar lead generation efforts. Customers appreciate being listened to, so by engaging with them, you are personifying your brand – positively contributing to your lead acquisition efforts.
3. Ranking high in Google as a Solar Installation Company
To ensure strong efforts are in place for solar leads to find your website and for your website to rank high in searches (also known as effective SEO), a marketing strategy should be formulated to combine all (or as many as possible) of the solar marketing ideas detailed in this article, as they are all interlinked. The biggest factor to ranking well in Google or to improve SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is to produce high quality, relevant content. For solar installation companies, SEO ranking is hugely important as 92% of consumers use search engines to discover local businesses. The diagram below outlines the major factors impacting your SEO ranking that should be considered.
SEO – What exactly is it?
SEO (search engine optimization) is the optimizing of websites to rank as high as possible in the search results. Local SEO is the optimizing of websites to appear in local search results.
As a solar installer, local search results can operate as the main driver for high quality new solar leads. Local search results are triggered at the top of a search engine results page by a relevant query and often presented with a map directing viewers to the location of the businesses listed. Location can sometimes overrule quality in terms of search results.
When creating or editing a Google business listing for your company, selecting a category is one area that has a significant impact on search results. Select the most specific category, unless there is a competitor ranking higher. If so, find out the exact category they are using, and if it makes sense, switch to that category. Also important to note – selecting too many categories can lower your search results.
With constantly evolving search engine algorithms, how do businesses thrive in a highly competitive and ever-changing environment?
Being distinctive in search engine optimization is also based on information that Google has about a business from across the internet (like links, articles, and directories). Reviews, counts and scores from Google are also all factored into local search ranking, so the more reviews and positive ratings will help improve a business’s local ranking.
How to Improve Ranking in Google
The first step as a solar installer in improving your ranking in Google is to carry out an audit of your current performance. A simple site audit for local SEO begins with reviewing a website and asking the following questions:
- What webpages exist?
- Is content relevant to customers in the area?
- Is the business name, address and phone number present and clearly identifiable on the homepage and any other necessary pages?
Another key question is: How long are viewers staying on each page? What is the bounce rate? The idea is to engage viewers with content long enough to take the desired conversion step for a particular page and not “drop off”. If solar leads from your website not converting, this is a sign that content updates are needed and a clear CTA (call to action) is required. The goal is always to reduce your bounce rates and increase your conversion rates.
How high do you rank in local search results? How about traditional search results? How do these rankings compare to your competition? Typically, higher rankings equal more traffic and more revenue. That’s what SEO is all about.
If you have read all this and would like to grow your business now, sign up for a free trial of Reonomy National today.