Solar Customer Engagement with Content Marketing: Page 2 of 5

Business Plan

You need to design your content marketing campaign to meet the goals of your solar business. Make these goals well defined and descriptive, with the support of a plan that is achievable, time focused, equipped with milestones, trackable and easily analyzed.

For example, we can imagine a solar company with a goal of growing new business sales 25% over the next year. The first step would be to look at the numbers and quantify the goal. If our company’s new business sales were $2 million last year, we would like to see that grow to $2.5 million this year, for an increase of $500,000.

Key performance indicators. To achieve your business goals, you need to define key performance indicators (KPIs), which you will use to measure and track the success of your content marketing efforts. Asking the right questions about your solar business uncovers the KPIs you should track to develop a realistic plan for achieving your business goals.

For example, what is your average sale? How many more sales must you make to accomplish your business goal? How many appointments does it take to make a sale? How many prospects do you need to get an appointment? For our imaginary company, the KPIs would be average sale price, appointment-to-close ratio, prospect-to-appointment ratio and quarterly milestone numbers.

Once you have developed your KPIs, you can define an approach to achieving your goals. For instance, if your solar company’s average sale is $25,000, you would need an additional 20 new sales next year to reach your goal. You can create quarterly milestones based on achieving five additional sales per quarter. Assuming it takes four appointments to make a sale and eight prospects to make an appointment, you need 80 appointments and 640 prospects to reach the goal. In this case, the target is to increase your weekly leads by 12.5 prospects. Knowing this, you can begin developing a plan to reach out to potential customers, lure them to your website, and engage them in your marketing and sales funnel.

Website Engagement Strategies

Once you have your content marketing program up and running, you can turn your attention to website engagement strategies. These vary based on where your traffic is coming from. The main traffic sources are search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, direct response, social media and referral websites. Your strategies will also vary based on the business goals you have identified. For our imaginary company, we are targeting the goal of growing new business by 25% next year, which works out to an additional 20 sales. This means we are looking to attract new prospects and engage them in our marketing and sales funnel fairly aggressively.

Where is your traffic coming from? Visitors to your website might have begun their journey by entering a search term into a web browser—for example, “solar installers in Phoenix, Arizona.” If you are a solar installer in Phoenix, how do you increase the chances that your business will show up on the first page of web search results? One answer is by optimizing the content on your website to attract the attention of major search engines such as Google. The art and science of SEO is too vast to go into here; for an overview of the topic, read Christopher Ratcliff’s Search Engine Watch article (see Resources). You might also want to visit Lynda.com for a tutorial on SEO (also in Resources). Another way to drive traffic to your website is to purchase search keywords—which in this case means that you are paying Google to put your company’s website at the top of its search results for those keywords.

You can also lure prospects to your website with good old-fashioned advertising. On the internet, PPC advertising is the standard model. Put simply, with PPC you pay a fixed cost each time someone clicks on one of your advertisements, which redirects the visitor to your website. Direct-response marketing efforts such as mass emails sent to purchased lists of leads can also entice prospects to your site. And do not dismiss the power of traditional print advertising, such as a postcard with a compelling online offer.

You can also use social media such as Twitter and Facebook to promote content on your website. If your content is compelling enough—for instance, a blog entry on a hot topic or an interesting case study—another blogger might link to it, generating referrals (meaning that the blog’s readers click on the link to your website). The linking website is a referral site.

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