1. Be discoverable
The first part of the journey for digital domination is to be able for people to find you.
For people to find you, you’re going to need to start off with a website.
Create a website
Your company’s entire digital marketing strategy comes down to having a storefront for your customers to find out more about you.
The salesperson inside this storefront is your website.
This salesperson searches for leads, knows your products inside out, does not take leave and treats each customer equally.
It also works 24/7.
The better your website is, the more visitors will become a paying customer. When a visitor becomes a paying customer, we call this a “conversion”.
Your website’s purpose should be to acquire as many conversions as possible.
If you don’t have a website, go here and learn how you can create one easily.
Create a google listing
The section on the right is what will happen when we create a Google business profile.
To create this, follow these steps:
- Go to https://business.google.com/create
- Sign in using your Google account, or create one if you don’t have one.
- Type in your business name. If Google can find your business, choose it. Otherwise, click on “Add your business to Google.”
- Enter your business name and follow the prompts to completion.
- As a minimum, verify your business and complete the listing.
Now that’s completed, you will need to wait for a confirmation letter from Google to verify your address.
After verification, your business profile should be visible within a few days.
Now that your website is discoverable, here are some low-cost ways for others to find you.
2. Create a blog on your website
You’ve heard of blogging.
You’ve read many blogs before. In fact, you’re reading one right now!
Why are you reading my blog?
Are you getting any value so far? I hope so.
Would you like to give something similar to your audience?
If yes, keep reading.
Benefits of a blog
A blog will give you the avenue to:
- Teach people
- Add value
- Give your opinions
- Show your expertise
- Bring in leads
It’s hard to fool people into buying your services these days. It is all about giving value and building trust.
You can do that with a blog.
If you have WordPress, log into your backend. Hover on “Posts”, and click on “Add New”.
And off you go.
Here are some successful blogs within the Solar Industry in Australia. Let’s look at what they’ve managed to produce.
Mark Cavanagh from MC Electrical has been consistently writing articles on his website. His site boasts more than 100 well written and informative articles on solar panels. It contains content for both the residential and commercial market.
Here are some helpful articles he has written:
- What size solar system do I need?
- Solar voltage rise – why you should care
- How do solar panels work?
It gives readers an insight to who Mark is as a person and what he stands for. More importantly, it shows that he is an expert in this field.
Below is a diagram showing estimated traffic to the top 20 pages on his site.
In total, his site gets approximately 5000 visitors per month across all pages. This data only counts for organic traffic. Organic traffic refers to visitors from a search engine. This is most likely Google.
No doubt, they would get a never-ending influx of leads every month. They can then pick and choose the jobs that they take on. They can charge higher fees while ensuring delivery is top-notch.
Furthermore, these leads are free.
Energy Matters is another website that has written hundreds of posts.
From the data, it looks like they receive approximately 30,000 visitors per month to their site.
Energy Matters looks like they have been around for a long time. It’s not unexpected that they have many blog articles. Yet, it is still impressive the traffic they can generate by blogging regularly.
Now that you can see the power of a good blog, how do we get started?
How to start blogging?
If you are just starting, Google doesn’t know who you are, and what your credibility is. Until you start producing helpful content, Google will show more established and authoritative sites over a smaller site like yours.
As a result, it would be a waste of your time to create content in an attempt to rank for highly competitive terms.
For example, these are high traffic but extremely hard to rank for:
How do solar panels work?
How many solar panels do I need?
What is a solar inverter?
Instead, try and answer extremely specific questions that your customers might ask Google.
Will a Fronius Symo Hybrid fit inside my garage?
What is the difference between Enphase IQ7 vs Enphase IQ8?
Choosing a topic is called “Keyword Research”. Here are some ways to do this:
Go to your google search, and type in “why do solar panels”.
Don’t press enter.
Wait for Google to show you their suggested queries.
Have a look at each one, and see whether it is a question you can answer.
If you can answer, let’s see the competition.
Choosing “Why do solar panels face north”, brings up the top 10 search results.
The top 6 results show that it is quite a competitive search term.
Unfortunately, even the 10th result is from solaranalytics.com, which is quite an authoritative site on Solar.
You may need to try another less competitive search term.
You can try wildcards such as:
Best * solar panels
Fronius * review
Whirlpool is a fantastic resource to find out what questions the general public are asking. You’ve got enthusiasts, amateurs and experts all lurking in the same place.
Scrolling down the page, you might find a question or two.
You can see that this person is confused whether they should add panels, or upgrade.
Within the thread, they post a very specific question.
You can write many articles in answer to these questions.
“What panels are compatible with 255w Black Hanover Solar Panels”?
“How many panels can Growatt5000MTL Inverter support?”
Consistent blogging is very hard work. It’s going to take a long time.
At the start, you’re going to feel like it is a waste of time.
You’ll doubt why you ever started.
But if you want to get started, now is a good time.
If you need help with creating your first blog post, get in contact with us, and we’ll be happy to guide you through.
3. Develop online tools
You’ve dipped your toes into blogging. Maybe you’re having some success with it, and want to get to the next level.
You want to give valuable content that drives a lot of traffic.
Online tools are your answer.
They are a bit like a toy that your visitors can play with on your website. The perceived value of these tools is higher than blog content on average.
In the solar industry, these could be
Solar System size calculator:
A solar system calculator asks you to put in details about your electricity usage. Given how much electricity you usage, this tool will tell you how big your solar array is going to be.
Or a solar payback calculator:
A payback calculator will give you information on how long it will take to get your money back. A solar system is a big investment. The faster the payback period, the better it is for your back pocket.
Generally speaking, the more energy from the solar panels you use, the faster you can earn it back.
Will my competitors see my prices?
Yes, your competitors will be able to use these tools to their advantage.
But consider this.
Your main concern is offering value to your competitors.
While your competition is busy copying your strategy.
Who do you think your customer thinks is the authority?
Creating something that others have already thought of is not a sign of a real thought leader.
You may need to be a little more brave and creative.
Start brainstorming all the questions you usually get from customers. Are they asking about pricing? Length of installation? Solar eligibility?
Once you get a list of the most common questions, group them into similar questions.
Do you get some that keep popping up?
Is there a way that you can help these people with a tool?
If so, do you want to get it realised? Get in contact.
4. Extract Statistics
Do you know what is most likely to get a link from another website?
Data that you have surveyed, extracted or researched is going to get others to link back to your site. When others link to you, Google treats this as a sign that you are the authority on the subject.
Think about this. A scientific paper either conducts all their own experiments, or places all their sources at the bottom. If they cannot back up their findings, peer reviews will tear them up.
When you want credibility on your article, you tend to link to a source that has statistics.
Just for funsies, 73.6% of all statistics are made up.
That was a joke. Don’t do that.
Don’t make it up.
Either look into your data or do the research.
Here’s an example of what I did.
Australia’s solar generation
I found some interesting data over at BP. The data showed how much each country is investing in solar energy.
My disappointment, being from Australia, was that our investment was lacking.
It would’ve been easy to plot the data over a graph. But I went just a little further, and created this:
As a result, thousands of people watched it on Youtube and Linkedin.
Dozens liked it.
The data was interesting, but the animation was what sold it.
I also received many high-quality backlinks to the post.
It was a big success, and you can do it too. Follow how I did it here.
If that wasn’t your cup of tea, here’s something else you can try.
Infographics are data represented in an image form. Statistics are pretty dry. But infographics can bring life to them.
Infographics are highly shareable and have the potential to be viral.
They don’t need to be flashy.
Even something like this packs a ton of information.
It is very easy to see comparisons in energy creation and consumption.
So long as you have the data, an infographic designer can create something meaningful for your visitors.
For the cheapest designers, you can find many designers over at Fiverr.com.
A word of warning. A low-cost designer is unlikely to bring you a high-quality infographic.
If infographics are still a bit too complicated, you can try displaying a table.
Statistics is better represented via an image than in written words.
Let’s say you wanted to find out the average payback period of a solar system in each state.
You can read a blog post that starts with:
Average payback of a 5Kilowatt Solar System is 4.0 years in Adelaide. It is 4.7 in Brisbane… etc.
See how dry that is?
Alternatively, if you can show this in a chart, our brains can digest this much faster.
5. Help a reporter out (HARO)
Help a reporter out is a website that connects journalists with industry sources. Three times a day, an email gets sent out from journalists to sources asking for their expert opinion.
If you sign up as a source, you get the opportunity to respond to these queries.
Journalists are usually on the clock in trying to get their article out. If your response was the earliest and / or the best, they may feature your article and name you as their source. This usually comes with a link back to your website and a mention of your name and company.
This is how you get started.
- Go to https://www.helpareporter.com/
- Click on “Sign up”
- Follow the prompts to completion.
- When you reach this screen, check Energy and Green Tech. If you’re want to add value because you’re a business owner, you can check “Business and Finance” also.
- Press “Save and Update”, and you’re good to go.
You will start to receive 3 emails a day.
Most requests will be in topics or niches that won’t interest you. But sometimes, a request might pop up that is in your niche.
Example of a recent request
Here’s an example of a request that came up recently.
If you think you are an expert in this field, reply to the email with your response.
If your response is top-notch, you will get a mention and a link back to your website from a reputable source. In this case, it is Greenmatch.co.uk
I responded to a request a few weeks ago. Because of my response, I was able to get a mention.
- Choose topics that are an expert in. Don’t waste your time on other topics.
- Answer the question succinctly.
- Try to give answers between 300 and 400 words. Too short and you’ll appear as not an expert. Too long, and the journalist will likely skip it.
- Offer clear bite-sized text that is quotable.
- Give data and statistics. Back it up.
- Don’t ask the journalist for clarification. They don’t have time.
6. Get featured on a podcast
Are you a good talker but a little introverted and scared of being in front of a camera?
Podcasting may be right up your alley.
Podcasters are always on the lookout for interesting guests for their show. That is how they create their content.
This is a great way for you to get more people to know about your company. Not only will you be able to build a relationship with the hosts, but you can also add value to their listeners.
Being a thought leader
You probably have a lot of opinions about the state of things. Such as climate change, energy policy, market trends. You may also have some really good ways to solve these issues.
Give people an avenue to listen to your thoughts and opinions.
Once you become a thought leader in their head, this opens doors for you, allow you to charge higher for your projects, and spread your brand.
The more you get your name out there, the more opportunities for others to know about you. These people may become leads for you. Those leads could turn into customers.
Link back to your website
The podcast host will write an episode summary, and place that on their website. The summary likely contains a paragraph about you as the guest, and may even include a link back to your website.
Solar Insiders example
Here’s an example. Have you heard of Solar Insiders? It’s a fortnightly podcast hosted by Nigel Morris and Giles Parkinson.
Almost every episode, Solar Insiders interviews a guest. The guests are usually owners of solar installation companies. The companies range from small startups to well established large organisations. The interviews give an insight into the guests’ stories and opinions of the industry.
For example, Solar Insiders podcast had Doug Fletcher as a guest on their podcast in September 2019. In that episode, we learnt a lot about Doug, his history, his values, his company etc.
How to get featured
Type in google using the search terms:
Solar Podcast Guest
Or a combination of these.
Once you find a podcast you like, send them an email with a pitch. Show that you’ve listened to them and offer something unique.
Hi (Name of podcast host),
I love your podcasts and I listen to them on my daily commute to work. Your last episode contained an interview of a large solar installer. Great insight! Your guest mentioned they were able to offer quotes over the phone. No site inspections needed. I was a bit surprised.
I have a different opinion. I believe site inspections for all homes are critical because you can’t appreciate the difficulty of the job unless you see it for yourself. Do you think your listeners will appreciate a different perspective? If so, I’d like to be a guest on your podcast.
Hope to hear from you soon.
7. Guest Blogging
Guest blogging is a method where you write a piece of content on another blog. In that article, you provide value to their readers in your particular niche.
It’s a great way to:
- Promote your brand
- Build relationships with industry professionals
- Increase traffic back to your website
There are dozens of ways to do guest blogging incorrectly. But there are very few ways to do it right.
Here are some ways to do this correctly.
Research on a topic that you would like to write about.
Is there a topic that has recently come up in the news? Have you uncovered interesting data? Do you have some helpful ideas for others?
Let’s say you want to write about the Victorian Solar Rebate, and how it has affected your business.
Go to google and search with these terms:
Renewable energy guest blog
Solar guest blog
"Victorian Solar Rebate” blog
I’m sure you can think of a few more.
As you scroll down the list, you may see something that interests you.
Let’s see what this brings.
Fantastic. This looks like a reputable blog that accepts guest posts.
Pitching your idea
Pitching is the process of introducing yourself to the owner of the blog and seeing if they would accept your blog post.
In order to do that, start sending them an email.
Show that you’ve read their articles, and be helpful.
Here’s an example:
Subject: Victorian Solar Homes rebate guest post proposal
I run a solar installation company in Melbourne, Victoria. We have recently been hit by a lack of new leads due to the Victorian Solar Homes rebate.
Residential customers are waiting for the rebate, but because there is a limited quantity every month, they tend to wait for the following month. This has hit our industry hard. I was looking around for stories of how other solar installers have coped with this, but I couldn’t find any on your website.
I’d like to give my experience and opinion on this. Would you accept an article around this topic? Attached are 3 articles I’ve written in the past that shows my writing style.
Many thanks. I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Pitch your article to as many blogs as you see fit. If you get multiple acceptances, ensure the article you’ve written for each blog is unique.
Writing your article
Pitching is the hard bit. Writing is the easy bit.
Depending on your topic, try to keep your article between 800 and 1500 words.
Too short, and it feels like there is not enough substance. Too long and you’ll lose your reader.
Use statistics to back your claims.
Use your own experiences to help as well.
Once completed, send it over and ask for their feedback and review.
8. Nominate yourself for an award
Are you more likely to hire someone who has won an award than someone who hasn’t?
Of course, you’re more likely.
Your customers will feel the same about you.
Also, you are likely to get:
- Coverage across media platforms.
- A link back to your website from the Award organiser
- The chance to network with top industry leaders
But that’s not all. Getting an award is not about others. It’s about how you feel inside.
It’s the recognition of all the hard work you’ve put in.
You’ve taken a lot of risks to start your own business despite your family advising otherwise. Winning an award will give you the confidence to know that you are on the right track.
Clean Energy Council Solar Design and Installation Awards
The Solar Design and Installation Awards are held annually. They recognise the best solar installations in Australia that range from under 30kW and over 240kW.
You can find criteria for selection here. But briefly, you are judged on:
- How well you met the brief
- How you overcame challenges
- What innovative ideas did you come up with?
- What was the outcome of the project?
Here’s an example of the winner under 30kW in 2019.
Nigel Phillips from Electrical Sensation designed and installed a solar system on St Anthony’s Catholic Church. The beauty of the installation can only be appreciated when viewed from above.
Such a simple, yet elegant design.
Can you be as innovative and creative?
Of course you can.
Tips on getting that award
Do you know what all these winners have in common? They were nominated in the first place.
Who nominated them?
Sometimes we are all a bit too shy to raise our hand for recognition. But on occasions, we should step back and be proud of what we’ve accomplished.
Is anyone else going to nominate you? No.
Do you need to spend time to gather up all the information and submit the nomination? Of course!
If it was easy, everyone would do it.
So what are you waiting for? Get on it.
9. Build an email list
Not everyone who visits your website will call you for a quote.
Not everyone will submit an enquiry on your contact form.
Why? Because you haven’t had enough time to build trust with them yet.
It is like asking someone to marry you on the first date.
You could try it, but she is unlikely to say yes.
After they leave, that’s it. They’re not coming back.
How can we continue our conversation with them to build trust?
How to get a visitor’s email address
We try to get their email address before they leave.
But we need to give them something in return first. Something that is of value to them.
For a potential customer that is looking to get solar installed, they might be interested in any of these:
- 10 tips on choosing the right solar company
- Your roof may not be right for solar. Read this to find out more.
- How shading on your roof can affect your solar output.
Once you’ve decided on a topic, create the document that will entice them to leave their email address. Usually, this is called a lead magnet.
Creating the lead magnet
It doesn’t need to be anything fancy.
Be informative and deliver the value that you’ve promised.
Package that up into a nice looking ebook cover.
Something like this looks ok.
Here’s a great tutorial on how to put a drawing onto a cover and make it look enticing.
Afterwards, put it on your website, and wrap it up in a form so your visitor can submit the email address.
Make sure to send them the ebook when they give you their email address.
To capture these email addresses and to have the ability to send them emails afterwards, sign up to Mailchimp.
It is free and easy to use.
Mailchimp has a fantastic article on how to get started. Check it out.
What do you think?
Now its your turn.
Which solar marketing tip from this list was your favorite?
Or maybe you have a tip that I didn’t cover here.
Either way, let me know and leave a comment below.