Lead generation in the solar industry is a major issue for solar installers looking to grow their business and help more consumers take advantage of the benefits of solar.
A report published by GTM research late in 2014 put the cost of customer acquisition in the US solar market at $0.49 per watt. If the average size of a residential solar installation in America is 5 kW then the average cost of attracting a new customer in the residential solar market in America is around $2,500.00.
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At SolarReviews we have a different approach to solar lead generation. Our approach can be categorized as both organic and holistic. It is organic because we use our three websites to generate leads rather than outbound email or telemarketing methods.
Our three websites are
The largest dedicated solar reviews and ratings website in America. The site contains reviews of both solar installation companies and solar panels
Originally developed with support from the US Department of Energy this site houses the leading "solar panels payback calculator" in America.
Together these sites contain some of the most informative and unique content available on the internet for consumers who are considering installing solar panels on their home or business.
With approximately 3 million unique visitors per year and plans to double this traffic by 2018 these sites also represent the largest block of web traffic in America relating to information for homeowners that are considering installing solar panels.
All solar leads that we provide to solar installers are generated through these websites and so you can see the exact information and call to action that has led to a consumer requesting a quote.
What method of lead generation delivers the best solar leads
There are a number of different types of solar leads generated by a number of different types of solar lead generation companies.
Generally speaking there are single source lead providers. These are usually website owners that just sell the leads that are generated through consumer use of their web properties. These leads are usually organic because it is the consumer that has initiated the contact.
These are telemarketing firms that buy lists of home owners and call them. Many of these call center's are overseas.
Outbound email marketers
They buy or develop lists of email addresses and email call to action content to try and get these consumers to engage.
Lead Aggregation Companies
These are companies that get their leads form many different sources and in many different ways. The advantage of these firms is that they can offer volume but the disadvantage is that as a lead purchaser you do not know how each lead was generated. It is very hard to vet quality form these lead vendors.
Advantages of Outbound Lead Generation methods
The advantage of outbound lead generation methods is that you can target a specific location and so can generate a large number of leads within a desired geographic region. It is much harder using organic methods to to generate a large volume of leads in a targeted geographic area.
However, what is happening in the American residential solar panels market is that locations in which solar offers the best returns have become so saturated with telemarketing and email marketing efforts that it is very difficult to generate solar leads in these areas at all.
Disadvantages of telemarketing, email marketing and other out bound lead generation methods
There are quite a few disadvantages to outbound lead generation methods.
The most common telemarketing script used goes something like this:
Hello Mr/Mrs.....Are you aware that you may be eligible for a government program that could reduce your power bill by 50%. I need to confirm your details and we will get a program officer to contact you. Are you Mr/Mrs.....of.....(Address).....and would you say your power bill is over $100 per month.
At the end of the call they read a TCPA disclosure but at no stage have they actually asked them if they would like to install solar panels on their property or if their property would suit solar panels.
What makes matters worse is that it is impossible for you as a purchaser of this type of lead to know if the people in the phone recordings are real or if this recording is recent.
We trialled leads form a telemarketing source and found every possible type of lead fraud. Leads that were supposed to be sold to us exclusively had been called by many solar companies, telemarketing operators made up information when the customer would not tell them an email address or utility spend and we even had one lead from a person who had been dead for six years (seriously this is true).
Advantages of Organic Solar Lead Generation Methods
The main advantage of organic solar lead generation methods are that they produce a higher quality of lead because it is the consumer themselves who has initiated the contact.
Specific Advantages of the SolarReviews organic lead generation methods.
A specific advantage of the SolarReviews organic lead generation method is that consumers only request an estimate once they know quite a bit about you. They know where your office is, how big your company is, what brands you sell and most importantly they have read stories from your customers about what it was like to deal with you.
It is almost like they have already gotten a personal recommendation from a friend when they contact you through SolarReviews.
The only downside of Solar Reviews leads is that they are quite low in volume. Most solar installers that subscribe to solar reviews say that leads they get through this site are their best converting lead source but their biggest complaint is that they would like more volume.
Therein lies the biggest conundrum in solar lead generation.