This guide will help everyone from digital directors, marketing directors, and business development managers working in solar power companies and organizations. It will also be useful for the C-suite, sales, and customer-facing teams. Readers will learn the peculiarities of marketing in solar manufacturing, distribution, and industrial sectors, how to form the right strategy, and what obstacles to avoid. It’s a must-read for:
As the world progresses toward a more environmentally conscious place, solar energy is increasing in popularity. Potential solar customers are likely to use the internet as their primary source of information on the process of taking their organization solar.
A digital marketing strategy helps businesses to connect and re-engage with people who are searching for their services. It is one of the most important and valuable sales tools at a company’s disposal. However, a digital marketing strategy doesn’t happen organically. It takes research, organization, and execution to implement an effective approach.
Solar businesses looking to stand out from the competition must embrace digital marketing as a core aspect of their business. The following guide takes you through the key components of digital marketing, demonstrates the value offered by various digital solutions, and explains how these can be effectively implemented in your solar business.
Most consumers begin the buying process by performing online research. When it comes to going solar, the internet is the perfect place to learn and understand the process and identify potential solar providers.
As the internet provides a common area for businesses and solar providers to connect, solar companies need to focus on their online presence. Here are some of the key benefits of digital marketing for solar companies.
The primary benefit of digital marketing is that it allows you to connect with customers when they are most engaged with the prospect of going solar. A quality website helps to take advantage of engaged customers. It should be the focal point of your digital strategy and ties together digital marketing tools.
A website should look good and be optimized using search engine optimization (SEO). This involves using keywords and Google Adwords to increase the website’s ranking, making it more visible to potential customers.
Although solar power has existed for some time, it has only recently become a popular option for businesses. To draw in customers, solar companies must produce quality educational material about solar energy and the transition process. These materials should answer common questions that companies may have. Doing so will help you establish a trustworthy relationship with potential customers.
The main marketing materials include blogs, ebooks, infographics, videos, and guides. By adding value to services for your customer through information, a solar provider can gain a competitive advantage. This differs significantly from a hard-selling approach, which can be off-putting for many potential customers.
Once online interactions take place, digital marketing gives solar businesses several options for re-engaging with potential customers. Remarketing is a marketing effort that helps businesses to connect with online visitors with previous interactions.
Targeted advertisements can be created to appear to these customers as they browse the internet on computers and mobile devices. This re-engagement helps keep your brand awareness high, increasing the likelihood of a purchase.
If possible, solar companies should attempt to collect emails to re-engage potential customers directly.
A crucial aspect of digital marketing is the utilization of social media. Social proofing is essential in establishing trust with customers. Facebook and Instagram are particularly effective in developing advertising campaigns. Frequent engagement and communication with customers can enhance a business’ reputation.
Not all marketing activities are measurable. Some are abstract concepts that aren't data reliant. However, most digital marketing activities are quantifiable and modern businesses must be data-driven.
Applications such as Google Analytics are useful in analyzing website visits, visitors, clicks, advertisement performance, and other vital details. With data analysis, solar companies are better positioned for decision-making. After determining which aspects of a marketing strategy are working and which aren’t, the process can be refined.
Understanding your customers is crucial before implementing any marketing strategies. The first step in this process is to develop a buyer persona. This is an in-depth description of customers who represent your target market. These are not actual customers, but the description should contain all necessary information, including age, location, interests, and purchasing behavior.
In B2B, buyer personas should reflect the goals, desires, and limitations of company representatives. Their needs, challenges, values, and business relationships should be considered. For larger businesses, it can be beneficial to develop two to three buyer personas.
The best approach to developing a buyer persona is generally through a combination of market research, interviews, and questionnaires.
Reducing their carbon footprint is an important factor for businesses, particularly if they’re incentivized to do so. However, in most cases, reducing utility expenses is more important.
Establish customer reasons for installing solar power. Whether they’re attempting to reduce operating costs, protect themselves against rising utility bills, minimize their carbon footprint, or gain a perceived advantage over competitors, it’s vital to understand customers and their motivations.
There are also a couple of overlooked motivations that individual customers may have for buying and installing solar panels or investing in solar energy solutions:
Solar panels can protect against grid power surges or blackouts, keep appliances safe, and ensure that homes and businesses are never out of power.
Solar energy solutions have a certain level of prestige, so people often buy these units to impress neighbors and demonstrate their environmentally-conscious lifestyle.
B2C and B2B in solar are very different for several key reasons. The needs of a residential or private customer are unlikely to be the same as those of a business. Therefore, marketing strategies have to be framed differently.
The decision-making model in B2B is a lot different from B2C. Where a residential customer is generally the main person involved in negotiating, making purchasing decisions, and paying for goods, there may be a host of different people involved in a B2B scenario. In many situations, the person paying for the goods doesn’t necessarily manage or implement them.
Understanding the solar customer’s journey is crucial in adopting the right marketing approach. Businesses generally go through five key stages:
Awareness stage: This is the initial point of awareness when the customer discovers that a particular product exists.
Interest stage: After becoming aware of these products, the customer passes into the interest stage. At this point, there has been no decision made. Customers should be targeted with information-based ads giving them more information on product offerings.
Consideration stage: B2B is different during the consideration stage compared to regular consumer purchases. Businesses often have to adhere to strict budgets and decision-making protocols, meaning the process can take much longer (sometimes even years).
Purchase stage: Once the business has decided to make a purchase, they must determine who they’re buying from. At this point, there is now purchasing intent.
Advocacy stage: After making a purchase, a customer still has value. They can make referrals to other businesses. Positive customer experiences can contribute to increased sales in the long term.
Seasonality has a significant part to play in the solar industry. In the sunnier and warmer months of the year, people take a much stronger interest in solar power. This tends to be when customers are more willing to purchase, meaning this period of the year is critical for effective marketing.
When the weather gets colder, the interest in solar power drops. However, it remains crucial to market throughout these periods to maintain brand relevance.
A business’ location is a major determining factor as to whether solar energy is a realistic option. The more hours of peak sunshine that a solar panel is exposed to, the more electricity it can produce. Due to cloud cover and the sun’s rotation, specific geographical locations are better suited to solar power than others.
Some of the top US states for solar power include California, New York, Texas, Pennsylvania, Florida, Massachusetts, and Missouri. Key demographics also occupy major US cities, including Los Angeles, Boston, Washington DC, Anaheim, and Oakland. Some countries globally suited to solar power are the USA, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, Nigeria, South Africa, and Honduras.
During the off-season, or colder months, customers may still carry out research, but they might not be ready to purchase. This means they lack purchase intent. Seasonal offers and email marketing campaigns are effective in keeping the customer engaged throughout the cooler months.
When the sunny weather emerges, businesses are more likely to have purchasing intent, increasing your chances of making a sale.
Retaining customers through website best practices should be a major focus for solar businesses. As the primary communication means that a company has, an easy-to-use, well-designed, and fully-optimized website is ideal. We recommend working with a professional web designer to build an engaging site for your prospective customers.
A significant amount of website traffic is generated by mobile users. While a website can appear and function correctly from a desktop or laptop, it doesn’t always translate to mobile devices. Solar businesses must have websites that are mobile-optimized, giving the best user experience possible.
Google core web vitals are the factors deemed important by Google in terms of the overall user experience of a webpage. For digital marketers, web vitals are an excellent tool for creating a high level of user experience for a webpage.
Due to the fluid nature of digital marketing, the metrics tend to change over time. Solar businesses must consider three core vitals:
A metric that measures visual stability. A page with a good user experience should maintain a CLS score of less than 0.1.
A metric that calculates loading performance. A good LCP score is when the page loads within 2.5 seconds.
This is a measure of interactivity. A good FID for a page is under 100 milliseconds.
Web hosting is crucial in creating a fast website. Modern consumers have grown accustomed to exceptionally high standards when it comes to browsing websites. A slow or unresponsive website can cause people to leave. Prioritize good web hosting to ensure your website runs quickly.
While some websites have specific requirements (depending on the industry), a solar company website layout doesn’t have to be complex. Although you may want to add particular sections, ensure the following pages are present and well-structured:
Search engines rank websites in relevancy, fit, and what internet users are searching for. Search engine optimization (SEO) involves improving a website, so it contains targeted keyword phrases and themes to match these terms.
Siloing a website is a way to instill a supportive architecture by clarifying the relevance of its contained subjects and laying the foundations for keyword rankings. Well-structured websites should be carefully organized, similarly to how an academic dissertation is structured.
There are four key steps involved in siloing a website to create a proper architecture:
Decide on a website theme
Build this theme using physical silos
Reinforce the theme with virtual silos
Develop keyword-dense content
Inbound marketing involves developing your business by creating long-term, worthwhile relationships with customers and potential customers. This is generally done by providing valuable content that customers can benefit from.
Inbound marketing requires a change of approach, whereby solar companies prioritize adding value for customers over pushing for sales. An effective way of determining what represents value to a customer is understanding their stage in their buying journey.
Generating leads through inbound marketing is more sustainable and cost-effective than buying them. Solar businesses should avoid targeting their audience with annoying and intrusive ads. Focus on your target personas through valuable content and drive potential customers to the next stage of the buyer journey.
Through omnichannel marketing, businesses provide customers with a comprehensive shopping experience from the first point of contact to the very last. All marketing channels are interlinked and come together to create a unified strategy, identity, and brand.
The most important channels, as well as their key components, are:
Businesses should refer to the buyer personas when coming up with keywords. Think about what customers are asking and searching for and important search factors.
Keyword intent must be valued. This means finding out what purpose customers have when they search for particular words.
Long-tail keywords are more important than head keywords in this regard as they encapsulate what customers are searching for, giving you a better indication of how to market to them.
Map keywords to specific pages on your website by relevance.
Meta tags, meta descriptions, ALT tags, and name pages are essential areas for keywords. These help your pages score higher in search engine rankings.
Internal links are important for on-site optimization. In particular, link accessibility, link volume, and anchor texts are critical. However, keyword stuffing should be avoided.
Technical SEO makes your website relevant to search engines. This process can be complicated, but basic knowledge can help you achieve excellent results when working with a developer. Some important aspects to be aware of include:
To outrank other competitors in the market, businesses must establish authority with their websites. This can be achieved through link building with other sites that are relevant to their industry.
As well as having relevant links, they must be written as relevant text. An anchor text helps describe the topic of a content page while sharing an internal or external link.
Most solar companies service a particular region, meaning local SEO is very important. NAP-W stands for name, address, phone number, and website. NAP-W consistency involves keeping this information relevant across all business listings, social media pages, and websites. This plays a crucial role in improving your local SEO performance.
Google MyBusiness (GMB) is an excellent tool for regional or local solar companies because it is free and helps them promote and manage their online presence. Solar businesses should set up a profile and focus on the following:
Citations from high authority websites are another critical approach in improving local SEO rank. Solar companies should register their information with authority review sites and directories such as Google, Yelp, Foursquare, Universal Business Listings (UBL), and Yahoo Local.
SEO-optimized content should be written specifically with the target market in mind to elevate them to the next stage of the buyer journey.
The type of content that creates value for and entices solar customers includes blogs, case studies, white papers, industry trend insights, and FAQs.
Another key content area is trending topics that fall under the renewable energy umbrella. Subjects such as batteries, smart home energy systems, electric vehicles, and commercial solar installations are all relevant examples.
Develop topical relevance through content siloing. This is an approach whereby website and content information is organized into a topical hierarchy. It helps give your site structure and increases its favor in search engines.
Once topics are registered as a hierarchy, multiple subtopics (usually four to eight) can be developed from each core topic.
Apart from content marketing, there are other ways to increase ranking on search engine results pages (SERPs).
With these ads, a specific goal is set, such as increasing sales or leads, then customers performing specific searches are targeted with ads that are usually pay-per-click.
Extensions can be added to provide additional information (e.g., a call button). These typically increase click-through rates.
These use imagery and video, along with text, to encourage customers to take a specific action, such as clicking through to a particular landing page. These campaigns are generally charged as cost per click (CPC).
Due to the nature of solar, ads that contain rich product information are often necessary. Shopping ads are developed using data and are shown to potential customers who have been searching for the type of product being advertised.
Video ads are effective in spreading information about a product. They are usually displayed within digital video content or before, during, or after a video stream (e.g., a YouTube video). These ads are targeted and can have interactive options.
Bing is a Microsoft-owned company that has three search engines: Bing, Yahoo, and AOL. Bing ads appear on all these platforms.
While Bing ads are similar to Google Ads, they can be cheaper because these search engines don’t have as many users.
Retargeting involves approaching those who have visited your web page or viewed your products without buying. It allows you to retarget them with relevant advertisements when they browse other sites.
Your ad copy, landing page information, and offer details must be consistent. For example, similar long-tail keywords can be used to increase clicks on ads and create a conversion when a user visits your site.
Dedicated landing pages for paid advertisements should be set up to maximize conversions. Whereas a customer may purchase from a homepage, a sales-focused landing page is much more influential. A singular path to conversion via landing page is an effective sales approach.
Even if a dedicated landing page doesn’t lead to a conversion, it is continually generating leads which you can use for retargeting or other advertising methods.
Social media is undoubtedly one of the most important platforms for advertising. With more than three billion social media users worldwide, virtually every industry can benefit from targeting these websites. What’s more, these web pages are enabled for advertising, ensuring you can easily track and monitor campaign results.
With approximately 2.7 billion monthly users, Facebook is the most used social media platform and the key for solar advertising.
A Facebook business page is the best approach for this platform.
Instagram has experienced steady growth and has emerged as an influential marketing tool. With more than one billion monthly users, it’s the second biggest social platform.
An Instagram business page is a good option for a solar company and provides the opportunity to present your products as high-quality images.
With a large presence of high-earning professionals as well as commercial enterprises, LinkedIn is one of the best platforms for lead generation and B2B marketing.
Solar companies should encourage their employees to create LinkedIn pages geared toward the target market.
Solar companies should also register an official company page to provide information regarding the business, products/services, employees, and other important content.
Twitter isn’t always the best avenue for marketing products and services. However, it is an excellent platform for connecting with industry influencers, ultimately leading to conversions.
As a niche social platform, Twitter can be helpful for granular marketing toward specific market segments.
YouTube is undoubtedly the leading platform to target regarding video content. It has two billion active monthly users. Two billion are 72% of all internet users. It’s experiencing consistent ad revenue growth, demonstrating its effectiveness.
A branded YouTube channel provides an excellent opportunity for solar companies to connect with their customers on a deeper level.
Solar businesses may utilize this platform to create content that answers common questions about solar, dispels myths, and provides educated opinions on industry trends.
Pinterest effectively reaches customers interested in a particular visual niche, such as home remodels and renovations. Pinterest users are much more likely to discover new brands than users of any other social platform.
The key to an effective Pinterest page is to optimize the smart feed (the Pinterest visibility algorithm). The main focuses of content should be domain quality (your website), pin quality (engagement on your post), pinner quality (engagements on your posts in general), and relevance.
Not all social media advertising is organic. While taking advantage of algorithms was all you needed in the past, today, paid advertising is essential.
Facebook paid ads are custom advertising from a business that helps them reach their target audience. Facebook allows users to choose specific images, text, and an audience to maximize ad performance.
These ads are highly recommended to increase the reach and exposure of your Facebook page and content.
Instagram paid ads work similarly to Facebook ads. Businesses choose a specific post to promote, and they can monitor its performance.
These ads are beneficial for promoting content such as eBooks, how-to guides, and whitepapers.
LinkedIn paid ads are either in the form of sponsored content, sponsored email, or text ads.
LinkedIn is an excellent platform for targeting specific industries and roles with your ideal client list. You can set precise goals for accurate measurement of campaign performance.
Twitter paid ads are useful alongside an organic content strategy. They are developed as promoted tweets and can appear to a broad audience.
These ads are effective in promoting content such as eBooks.
YouTube advertisements are all paid, apart from original content that you develop on a brand channel. YouTube has a diverse advertising structure that can be adapted to suit all types of businesses.
Pinterest paid ads are available to business accounts. They appear as regular pins for your chosen demographics.
Pinterest ads are excellent for increasing brand awareness.
Native adverts are paid ads that match the appearance and feel of the platform on which they appear.
The main advantage of native ads is that they provide a seamless experience for a target audience. For example, a solar business may place an advertisement on a Facebook homepage that perfectly blends with the other content.
Well-executed native advertising effectively promotes content as it discreetly disrupts the user’s internet use to provide information about your business and offerings.
Email marketing is an excellent way of engaging directly with customers. You can send customized messages to specific clients and demographics, enticing sales and encouraging them to move along the buyer journey.
Don't use a free webmail address as your "From" address to give your email the best chance of reaching the inbox. Email addresses from Yahoo, AOL, Outlook.com/Hotmail, or Gmail, for example. Instead, use an email address that is registered under your organization's domain.. Solar businesses can send a mixture of informative content and offers without being overly sales-focused.
There are several valuable tools for developing comprehensive and measurable email campaigns, including:
Ensure you are sharing valuable content for your target audience. For instance, if your company’s focus is residential solar installations, position your brand as the expert for this audience in your area with insights they they cannot find elsewhere.
Measuring and analyzing data allows businesses to establish which approaches are working and what needs improving. By utilizing key performance indicators (KPIs), solar companies can quantify their actions, allowing them to get better results.
Some essential digital marketing metrics or KPIs for solar companies include:
Useful tools for analytics and tracking include:
This is a free application offered by Google that allows you to track virtually all your website traffic aspects. For solar businesses, it provides crucial information that can help inform marketing strategy and decision making, such as:
This is another free tool by Google that helps businesses monitor and maintain their website’s presence in Google search results. It also works as a learning tool to help you understand how Google views your web page, enabling you to optimize it.
CRM is a business strategy that helps companies develop relationships with customers. It involves using technology, strategy, and processes to create streamlined communication with consumers to improve relationships and customer service, increase sales, and ultimately, profitability.
There are many great providers of CRM systems. However, HubSpot sets itself apart as there is a free version that provides a range of integrated features. It also offers social management, connecting your social media profiles and allowing you to extract critical customer data. It allows for communication tracking across various platforms and if you opt for the premium version, it can be fully integrated with your company website.
A CRM system allows you to gather granular data on how website visitors entered your funnel. They also provide key information on website behavior and how customers navigate your site.
What does it look like when all these elements work together for your solar company’s digital presence? Often, it means having a team dedicated to your digital efforts to expand your brand’s reach and impact.
Growing your presence online takes time and effort, but the payoff can be enormous as you develop your website as an asset that generates new business. There is no “magic bullet” for digital solar marketing, so combine a strong, user-optimized website with other initiatives such as Google Ads, SEO, and content, and you’ll reap significant benefits.
Are you looking for a trusted partner to help develop your solar brand’s presence online? Our team of digital marketing experts can provide a wealth of experience, with projects ranging from SEO campaigns for commercial solar installation companies to paid media campaigns for renewable energy commodity companies.
About a month after we finished our sprint with them, our company is showing up on the first SERP for every state we operate in. Cannot express how happy we are that we went with Destiny!! Leonard & his team are amazing.
- Aurora Energy, Commercial Solar Installer based in Maryland
We are a solar digital marketing agency that specializes in developing custom lead generation systems and digital marketing strategy for solar companies at each step of the value chain.
Learn more about how we can help you achieve your goals.