With South Africa’s restrictions on energy generation and household interest in personal solar power booming, it’s a great time to get into the solar business.
As with most businesses, however, you need a deliberate strategy on how and where you want to compete in the industry.
In markets like solar, where the products and services are largely interchangeable, it’s our view that competition is largely around who can reach the consumer at the right time.
That’s not to say it’s the only factor. Credibility, trust and branding all play an incredibly important role too. But, we think it’s the most important one.
That’s why in this article we’re going to go over our top 3 suggestions for the best ways to market your solar business online.
Our own proven strategies for reaching consumers at the right place and at the right time.
1. Search Engine Marketing (SEM) for Solar Businesses
When’s the best time to product to someone? Why, when they’re actively searching for it of course.
Search engine marketing is, we think, the single most powerful tool for businesses with “generic” offerings that are largely interchangeable with one another.
This is because both forms of SEM, both paid and organic, are focused on putting your business in front of customers right as they’re making buying decisions.
The stage of the buying decision your strategy targets varies – from people higher up in the “research” phase to people who are looking to buy your product right now.
The way SEM marketing works is that you decide on a list of “keywords”, words or phrases you think customers search that could lead them to your business at an opportune time.
Long-tail keywords target people lower down on the funnel who are closer to purchase, for example, “solar geyser installation company in Centurion”.
Short-tail keywords always have more traffic attached but are harder to rank for organically and reach people higher up in the buying funnel such as at the “research” phase, for example, “solar geyser”.
Paid Search Engine Marketing – Pay-Per-Click (PPC) for Solar Businesses
Paid search engine marketing refers to any marketing strategy based on paying a search engine for preferential treatment, or exclusive real estate.
The most common form of paid SEM today is the Google Ads suite. They run on a pay-per-click model, where you pay every time someone clicks on your search result, which is why the term PPC marketing is often used interchangeably with it.
Paid SEM has two main advantages over organic SEM:
- It can get you instant results. You pay to automatically be at the top of the search results – meaning customers can start discovering your business right now.
- Control. Unlike SEO, which can be somewhat unpredictable and hard to manage the process, PPC lets you control exactly which keywords your business shows up for and when. It’s also instantly scalable – increase your budget and you immediately reach more people (as long as you haven’t exhausted the total search traffic of your chosen keywords).
Organic Search Engine Marketing – Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) for Solar Businesses
Organic search engine marketing, or search engine optimisation (SEO) as it’s often called, is the process of trying to rank your business more highly in the “organic” algorithm of search engines.
The most popular search engine today, by far, is Google – so the majority of SEO is focused on trying to decipher how to rank better in the Google algorithm.
The algorithm itself is a trade secret – which is why the SEO process can be so unpredictable and difficult to manage.
The advantage of organic search engine marketing is that, ostensibly, it’s completely free.
Once your business ranks high organically – you get free traffic from the search engines that can be just as valuable as paid traffic if you targeted your keywords well.
The main disadvantage is, as we said, it can take a long time to “get going”, unlike paid SEM, and the process can be somewhat unpredictable and hard to manage without any prior experience.
2. Content Marketing for Solar Businesses
The second main characteristic of the solar industry we want to hone in on is that, in addition to being largely generic, the products and services in the industry tend to be high-ticket items.
Granted, solar power becomes exponentially more affordable year after year, but as it stands it’s still a major purchase for most people.
What do people do when considering a major purchase? They research.
That’s where content marketing comes in.
Content marketing ties in heavily to SEO – in that it can be an amazing driver of organic keywords and organic traffic to your website.
The most common form of content on the web are blogs, like this one, designed to educate and inform potential customers in the hopes it’ll pay off when they come to the consideration and purchase stage down the line.
Video content is also an increasingly popular medium – because it’s much more engaging than text, albeit harder to produce and manage.
Try to think of the questions a customer might experience in researching the problem your business solves – and your specific product.
Then, create content that answers all these questions. Eventually, you’ll be the “authority” in your niche or industry, tremendously boosting both your visibility and credibility in the eyes of customers.
From then on, simply keep it up and the leads will come to you.
3. Social Media Marketing (SMM) for Solar Businesses
Lastly, social media marketing can be a powerful tool, both for boosting the above strategies and raw lead generation capability.
Each social media platform can be considered a “search engine” of sorts too – meaning that if you can improve your visibility on the platforms, it can also lead to tons of new business.
Social media is also another ideal destination for sharing content.
It lets you create an organic following, using content to drive interaction with potential customers. For example – by answering frequently asked questions on your pages.
Lastly, social media can be a great tool for generating leads when used correctly.
The main consideration you need to have is the type of customer you’re after.
Are you targeting other businesses looking to upgrade offices or plants with solar solutions? Focus on professional platforms like LinkedIn to reach key decision-makers.
Are you looking for large volumes of individual customers? Try a more social platform like Facebook – and tailor your engagement towards them.
It’s all about context – both what you’re trying to achieve and what the platform is for.
If you create content that’s completely mismatched with the platform – you’re never going to succeed. Likewise, if your ideal customer isn’t on the platform, you can’t reach them.
We hope this helped you along your journey towards successfully marketing your solar business online.
What we listed above is a great starting point to look into – taken from experience running marketing for many clients in the industry – but bear in mind every business’ needs are unique. What works for other people may not work for you – but it’s always a good reference point to work from.
The important thing is that you keep experimenting to find out what works for your business – or partner with somebody who has experience in marketing your industry to manage it for you.
If you enjoyed this article or found it helpful, check out more e-commerce marketing content on the inSyte blog or listen to the inSyte Podcast.
This article was brought to you by Syte.
We’re a specialist e-commerce and lead generation digital marketing agency dedicated to driving up your bottom line.
If you need any help running your solar business’ online marketing strategy, feel free to reach out with the form below or check out our case studies page to see what we’ve been able to do for our clients.