Grow Your Solar Business with Lead Generation Marketing - Shape Software - Automate your business!

Grow Your Solar Business with Lead Generation Marketing

With the recent rise of renewable energy, it’s not surprising that the solar business has quickly become one of the fastest growing industries in the US. More and more people are buying into the idea of clean, renewable energy, while also noticing the potential savings of going solar.

 

Exciting as this may be, solar companies of all sizes are at risk of being left behind in this supply and demand surge. Using Shape Software such as Shape Solar CRM to manage your clientele will always be necessary, but don’t disregard the first step of the process—generating leads. With a growing number of competitors in the solar industry, the ability to identify qualified leads and work them through your sales funnel has become more important than ever. In this post, we’ll probe into the solar industry and the importance of using lead generation marketing to acquire qualified leads, as well as how to choose the best lead generation service for your target audience.

The Growing Solar Industry

Massive industry growth can be a double-edged sword for both small and large businesses alike. Since 2012, the number of solar related jobs more than doubled, crowding the market for both the purchase of solar panels and the hiring of solar installation. From the buyer’s perspective, this rapid increase in supply is fantastic. As solar businesses see more competition, consumers gain more options to choose from—leading to better products sold for less. This, in turn, also leads to more customers in the market.

 

From the company’s perspective, they see both an increase in buyers and an increase in competitors—hence the “double-edged sword”. Any solar company that remains static during this time is at risk of losing customers—both old and new—and falling behind in this solar energy gold rush. Intimidating as that sounds, companies that adapt to this growth can capitalize on this influx of new consumers, cementing themselves as a giant in the industry. 

 

So, besides having a good product, how does one take advantage of this situation? Put simply, you need to be actively gaining customers while also maintaining past ones. And the best way to do that? 

 

Acquire qualified leads by motivating potential customers to approach you through lead generation marketing.

The Importance of Lead Generation for Your Solar Businesses

Although you should be actively pursuing customers as well, getting consumers to reach out to your business is the ideal situation for any sales team. This is why lead generation marketing, commonly referred to as lead gen marketing, has become increasingly popular in not just solar marketing, but the industry as a whole.  

 

Before we address lead gen in the solar industry, let’s first look at some general statistics regarding the benefits of lead generation marketing:

 

Only 18% of marketers believe outbound marketing methods produce quality leads On average, cold calling only produces 1% of paying customers Almost 80% of marketers noticed an increase in both leads and conversions when using automated marketing software Nurtured leads spend 47% more per purchase/contract compared to non-nurtured leads

  • Only 18% of marketers believe outbound marketing methods produce quality leads 

  • On average, cold calling only produces 1% of paying customers 

  • Almost 80% of marketers noticed an increase in both leads and conversions when using automated marketing software

  • Nurtured leads spend 47% more per purchase/contract compared to non-nurtured leads

Lead gen marketing eliminates the need for outbound marketing through the use of automated marketing software, which aids in the nurturing of new leads through your marketing funnels. 

 

There are various implementations of lead gen, however the general process revolves around potential consumers contacting you. Once a lead enters your marketing funnel, proper lead gen marketing should gently reinforce your product, guiding them to the end of your funnel and prompting them to contact your sales team. 

 

To better understand the idea of lead generation, here is a very simplified walkthrough of what goes on during the process:

With the recent rise of renewable energy, it’s not surprising that the solar business has quickly become one of the fastest growing industries in the US. More and more people are buying into the idea of clean, renewable energy, while also noticing the potential savings of going solar.

Exciting as this may be, solar companies of all sizes are at risk of being left behind in this supply and demand surge. Using Shape Software such as Shape Solar CRM to manage your clientele will always be necessary, but don’t disregard the first step of the process—generating leads. With a growing number of competitors in the solar industry, the ability to identify qualified leads and work them through your sales funnel has become more important than ever. In this post, we’ll probe into the solar industry and the importance of using lead generation marketing to acquire qualified leads, as well as how to choose the best lead generation service for your target audience.

 

The Growing Solar Industry

Massive industry growth can be a double-edged sword for both small and large businesses alike. Since 2012, the number of solar related jobs more than doubled, crowding the market for both the purchase of solar panels and the hiring of solar installation. From the buyer’s perspective, this rapid increase in supply is fantastic. As solar businesses see more competition, consumers gain more options to choose from—leading to better products sold for less. This, in turn, also leads to more customers in the market.

From the company’s perspective, they see both an increase in buyers and an increase in competitors—hence the “double-edged sword”. Any solar company that remains static during this time is at risk of losing customers—both old and new—and falling behind in this solar energy gold rush. Intimidating as that sounds, companies that adapt to this growth can capitalize on this influx of new consumers, cementing themselves as a giant in the industry.

So, besides having a good product, how does one take advantage of this situation? Put simply, you need to be actively gaining customers while also maintaining past ones. And the best way to do that?

Acquire qualified leads by motivating potential customers to approach you through lead generation marketing.


The Importance of Lead Generation for Your Solar Businesses

Although you should be actively pursuing customers as well, getting consumers to reach out to your business is the ideal situation for any sales team. This is why lead generation marketing, commonly referred to as lead gen marketing, has become increasingly popular in not just solar marketing, but the industry as a whole.

Before we address lead gen in the solar industry, let’s first look at some general statistics regarding the benefits of lead generation marketing:

  • Only 18% of marketers believe outbound marketing methods produce quality leads 

  • On average, cold calling only produces 1% of paying customers 

  • Almost 80% of marketers noticed an increase in both leads and conversions when using automated marketing software

  • Nurtured leads spend 47% more per purchase/contract compared to non-nurtured leads

Lead gen marketing eliminates the need for outbound marketing through the use of automated marketing software, which aids in the nurturing of new leads through your marketing funnels.

There are various implementations of lead gen, however the general process revolves around potential consumers contacting you. Once a lead enters your marketing funnel, proper lead gen marketing should gently reinforce your product, guiding them to the end of your funnel and prompting them to contact your sales team.

To better understand the idea of lead generation, here is a very simplified walkthrough of what goes on during the process:

  1. The consumer discovers your brand or product (becomes a new lead) either through your marketing channel or the marketing channel of a hired agency. This includes exposure from social media accounts, posts from relevant blogs, and any visits to your websites, both organic and direct.

  2. The lead is then marketed at and directed through various mean towards some sort of call-to-action button (CTA), which is often an image, button, or link. When clicked, the CTA should send the consumer towards a landing page where they can learn more about your product or your industry, which in this case would be solar.

  3. On the landing page, the visitor should be prompted to fill out a contact form to schedule a call/email. This page often has some sort of “deal”, further encouraging the visitor to fill out the form.

Again, this is an extremely simplified explanation, however this hopefully shows how the lead generation process emphasizes the nurturing of leads over time. Through constant exposure and communication, lead gen excels at turning someone from being interested in solar to committed to solar.


The Challenge of Generating New Leads in the Solar Industry

As mentioned, the beginning of most lead gen processes start by generating a new lead through some type of marketing channel. The difficulty of this step will vary depending on your industry and company size, but for solar specific lead gen this step is often the hardest. There are a couple different reasons for this, but the most notable and impactful is the oversaturation of solar suppliers in the market.

Right now, the profit margin for solar suppliers and installers is through the roof, and people have taken note of this. The demand cannot keep up with the current supply, and leads are becoming scarce. Even industry giants such as SolarReviews and EnergySage—who spend millions each year on content and marketing—only generate a couple hundred new leads a day throughout the country.

Of course, you could try running ads for your solar company yourself, however this is not advised. In general, new and inexperienced marketers with a small budget are essentially forced to spend more money per ad compared to companies like SolarReviews and EnergySage. The main reason behind this, put simply, is that social media platforms and search engines charge less per ad the more successful it is. Because of this, having more experience and a larger budget allows you to create, target, and A/B test your ads much more efficiently, reducing the cost of your ad over time.

Outside of marketing campaigns, a significant number of leads are produced through organic traffic to websites via search engines like Google. In general, larger companies such as SolarReviews and EnergySage have a much higher Google Domain Authority than smaller competitors, allowing them to rank higher for solar related searches. This means that when a potential lead searches “best solar companies” on Google, they will likely see SolarReviews or EnergySage on the first page of the results. Overall, appearing on the first page of any search result greatly increases organic traffic to your website, however this can be near impossible for smaller companies with poor search engine optimization.


Why You Should Hire Someone for Your Lead Generation Marketing

It should be clear by now why generating leads on your own can be challenging, and yet that is only the beginning of the lead gen process. Even if you manage to secure leads on your own, you still need an experienced team of marketers to manage the constant interactions and moving parts commonly seen in most lead gen strategies.

For example, popular lead gen agencies in the solar industry turn new leads into solar qualified leads by doing the following 24/7:

  • Contacting leads as soon as they generate, including text messages, phone calls, and emails

  • Nurturing leads for up to 6 months, assuring that no potential leads are lost or neglected

  • Qualifying leads by presenting them valuable information about solar energy, while also asking clarifying questions to determine if solar installation can work for their home/business

  • Booking on-site appointments for you sales team, allowing them to focus only on potential buyers with the highest chance of converting

If your marketing team is capable of generating the initial leads, large enough to handle this workload, and experienced enough to manage these interactions, then you may be able to perform this lead gen process without hiring an agency. But for those that don’t fulfill these requirements, outsourcing your lead generation to a marketing agency that specializes in solar leads is strongly recommended, as it will save you money, time, and effort.

Outsourcing Saves You Money

Ironically, outsourcing your lead gen marketing will often save your company money compared to developing an in-house team. To understand this, consider the costs of creating your own in-house lead gen team:

  • Paying salary/wage for each team member, including benefits if they apply

  • Paying for the training of new members

  • Paying for necessary equipment, which could include software, computers, company phones

  • Paying overhead costs such as rent for office space

These costs add up, as opposed to the singular cost of an outsourced agency.

Outsourcing Saves You Time

If you’ve never managed a marketing team before, there is a good chance you may fail to realize how much time and effort must be committed to ensure success.

For the marketers, a significant amount of time needs to be spent researching and strategizing their lead gen campaign. The amount of time needed for this can range from a few weeks to a couple months, depending on the experience of your team. This may seem unnecessary, but in marketing you often spend more time figuring out the correct approaches than anything else.

Over time, this lead gen process should become much more efficient. Your team should accumulate experience dealing with solar lead gen, which ideally will translate to less time spent planning and analyzing their strategies. But this could take a while, and if your team has a high turnover rate this may never come to fruition.

By outsourcing, you get access to an experienced team of marketers from the beginning, who already have knowledge about the solar industry.

Spend Less Effort Managing 

The lead generation process is by no means simple, so you will definitely spend a significant amount of effort managing your in-house team.

To start, you must undergo the hiring process, as well as supply training to those you hire. Then, because you are adding a new team to your business, you will most likely need to create or expand the HR department to accommodate the new hires. Lead generation generally uses some form of computer software, so you will need to provide and maintain the necessary equipment for your team. And last but not least, you will need to constantly monitor the results of their campaigns, which can be relatively complex compared to evaluating a single agency.

All of these hassles would be avoided by simply outsourcing your lead generation.


What to Look for When Choosing an Agency

For the solar industry, there are two main things you need to look for when choosing a marketing agency: the type of leads they provide and the space they target.

Understand Who They Target

First and foremost, make sure the agency specializes in solar lead gen. This should be obvious, but every lead gen company works in different fields. Once you found someone who focuses on solar leads, you then need to understand who they prefer to target.

For solar companies, sales happen in one of two areas: residential or commercial. Residential sales happen more frequently than commercial, but commercial sales are generally much larger. Because of this distinct difference, some solar companies focus their marketing efforts on just one of those two groups—and the same can be said for marketing agencies.

In marketing, there are two areas as well: B2B and B2C. B2B refers to marketing a product or service to another business, while B2C dictates marketing towards regular consumers. From the perspective of a solar business, B2B can be seen as “commercial” and B2C can be seen as “residential”.

With this in mind, if your solar company specifically sells or installs solar panels for commercial use, an agency that specializes in B2B marketing should be who you hire, and vice versa.

Getting the Correct Leads

In marketing, there are several different types of leads. New leads, working leads, nurturing leads, unqualified leads, and qualified leads are a few common types that marketing agencies often work with. Without going into too much detail about each individual lead type, just know that an ideal lead provider should be supplying your sales team with qualified leads.

When a lead becomes qualified, this essentially tells your sales team that there is a much higher chance of converting that lead into a sale (compared to others). These leads have either shown an interest in your niche (which in this case would be solar) or have interacted with your brand (social media, ads, website visits).

As nice as a qualified lead sounds, each one requires a fair amount of effort to generate. Marketing agencies that rush through the lead generation process or buy bulk lists of solar leads from lead distributors should be avoided. They might supply your sales team with leads, however most of these will be a waste of time and money.

No marketing team is perfect, and not every lead you receive will be qualified. Just try to make sure whatever agency you choose operates with your best interest in mind.

If You Use CRM Software, Make Sure it Integrates with the Lead Gen Software

This should be obvious, but make sure your CRM software can integrate with the marketing software used by your lead gen agency. CRM software, such as Shape Solar CRM, work best when they have access to the most data/sales points. If the software your hired agency uses does not integrate with your CRM, you will be losing out on some of the benefits a CRM can provide.

In general, most CRM’s should be designed to integrate with all types of marketing software, but it never hurts to make sure before you commit to an agency.


Best Solar Lead Gen Agencies 

Now that you have a general idea of what you should be looking for, here is a list of a few popular solar lead generation agencies available:

1. SolarExclusive.com

SolarExclusive provides lead generation marketing for solar businesses of all sizes. Because their entire focus is solar, they have accumulated a plethora of industry experience that contributes to their success in lead generation. SolarExclusive will both provide leads to your sales team and filter out unqualified leads, however they prioritize the supply of leads rather than the nurturing process.

One of the strong points of SolarExclusive is their emphasis on organization. They use a proprietary booking system synched with your calendar to schedule appointments between you and your qualified leads. These pre-set appointments give your sales team an ample amount of time to prepare for each lead, while also allowing SolarExclusive to ensure your potential buyer is fully educated about the solar industry. In general, this process helps your sales team stay organized and prepared for future leads.

Strengths:

  • Entire focus is solar industry

  • Leads are exclusive to you

  • Scales well with a growing business

  • Possess authentic and up-to-date homeowner information

  • Filter out unqualified leads

2. CleanEneregyExperts.com

CleanEnergyExperts (CEE) is a lead generator focusing solely on the solar industry. In contrast with verse.io, CEE foregoes some of the nurturing process to concentrate almost entirely on generating the initial lead. To be clear, CEE does provide standard quality control with their leads, as they assure their clients only receive leads showing interest in either their business or the solar industry. Their strength, however, is in the number of leads they produce for your company, which they achieve by combining their brand recognition with their years of industry experience. Through the use of affiliate marketing and social media ad campaigns, CEE can cover a wide range of potential buyers while filtering location. From this, they determine which leads should go to your business depending on location, intent, and brand awareness.

Strengths:

  • Precise geo-filtering

  • Real-time lead delivery

  • Exclusive leads

  • 24/7 availability

  • Highly experienced in the solar industry

3. Verse.io

Verse.io is a marketing agency that can specialize in lead generation for the solar industry, although they also work in the mortgage and real estate field. Unlike the others on this list, verse.io does not offer any services that will generator leads for you. Instead, they focus solely on the nurturing aspect of lead generation, ensuring that any lead that comes to your sales team will be 100% qualified with a high chance of conversion.

More so than anything else, verse.io emphasizes their ability to support 24/7 lead coverage with both AI and human communication. Most agencies that provide lead generation claim to cover leads 24/7, but they do this strictly through automated messaging systems and AI. Verse.io provides in-person lead coverage 24/7, which greatly increases the likelihood of a lead converting. In addition to this, verse.io also nurtures both responsive and unresponsive leads, while also supporting omnichannel communication depending on the preference of the lead.

So if you’re looking for an all-in-one lead provider for your solar business, verse.io probably isn’t for you, but for those who already have a proper marketing funnel, verse.io is highly recommended.

Strengths:

  • 24/7 lead coverage

  • Use both human and AI

  • Nurture both responsive and unresponsive leads

  • Communicate however the lead wants to

  • Great customer service

4. SolarReviews.com

As one of the heavyweights in the solar lead business, SolarReviews is a great option for directly purchasing solar leads. Although their service can be pricier than other lead gen agencies, their leads are high quality and often have the highest chance of converting into a sale. The key to SolarReviews’ lead gen is their use of organic traffic along with PPC advertising to generate leads. Not only are they experienced with solar lead advertising, but their website has a high Google Domain Authority in the solar industry, allowing their website to receive a large amount of organic search traffic every day. Then to make their lead gen even better, they also require phone number verification for every lead they receive and manually vet all leads that are eligible for being sold. All-in-all, SolarReviews ensures that their leads are qualified for the solar industry.

Strengths:

  • Does not require any marketing from your company

  • Leads are high quality

  • Very informative website

  • Highly experienced in the solar industry

  • Will manually vet leads

5. RGRMarketing.com

With close to 20 years of experience with lead gen, RGRMarketing is a trusted lead generator in the solar industry. Similar to Verse.io, RGRMarketing focuses on the process of qualifying new leads produced by your marketing channel, as opposed to providing leads on their own. Although this may be a problem for those with underperforming marketing channels, RGRMarketing will help your business reform your marketing channels and get them producing new leads on their own.

The lead qualifying process RGRMarketing uses starts with a lead capture forms integrated into your marketing channels. Once a lead fills out a form, it will automatically be reviewed by RGRMarketing software to determine whether it passes as a qualified lead. If the lead gets approved, it then is sent to your sales team for immediate follow-up. So far, this process is fairly industry standard. Where RGRMarketing breaks away from the rest is their review of leads that don’t pass the automatic review. Leads that aren’t spam yet still didn’t meet the requirements are manually reviewed by members of RGRMarketing, ensuring that no quality leads slip through their process.

Strengths:

  • Provide qualified leads

  • Leads are unique to your business

  • Improve your marketing channel

  • Tailor leads to your business objectives

6. EnergySage.com

Technically speaking, EnergySage does not qualify as a lead generator in the same way the other companies on this list are. They are not a marketing agency for hire, but instead a website that allows potential solar buyers (leads) to receive quotes from a list of pre-screened solar installers. Essentially, EnergySage is a place for both solar installers and potential solar buyers to aggregate, which can produce leads for your business.

Note: To be listed on EnergySage, you must meet their solar installer qualifications.

Strengths:

  • Leads come to you

  • Leads are relatively cheap

  • High volume

  • Leads should be educated about solar

7. Modernize.com

Modernize is a well-respected lead generator specializing in home improvement leads, such as home remodels, roofing, HVAC, and solar installation. They produce your leads through their own digital marketing channels, using their wide-spread coverage of the home improvement niche to reach a far greater audience than other lead providers. The downside to this is that they don’t specialize exclusively in solar leads, however every lead they generate is fully qualified, so this should not be a major issue.

In terms of service, Modernize has everything a lead gen provider should offer. They emphasize seamless communication between them and their clients, as they provide each client a partner manager for easy 1-on-1 discussions. Their lead gen software is designed to integrate with CRM software, which helps the transfer of information from one side to another. For the leads, once qualified they are instantly delivered to your sales team, allowing for immediate follow-up for better conversion. Overall, Modernize is a solid choice for anyone looking for solar lead gen services.

Strengths:

  • Flexible pricing plans

  • 1-on-1 partner manager

  • CRM integration

  • Provides qualified leads

  • Homeowner feedback