Solar Customer Engagement with Content Marketing: Page 3 of 5
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How should you engage these prospects? When considering how you want to engage visitors to your website, you should answer this simple question: Were the prospects looking for you or were you looking for them? In other words, are they actively shopping for solar panels or did you pique their interest? You also want to keep your business goals in mind. For example, our imaginary solar company needs to make 20 new sales to meet our goal of 25% growth. We want to choose customer engagement strategies that educate prospects who may be new to solar, as well as offer incentives to schedule sales appointments; we also want to focus on incentivizing our current customers to upgrade.
SEO and keyword advertising both target phrases that prospects are interested in. If you are purchasing keywords related to specific search terms such as “buying solar panels for my home” (which would be a good search term for our imaginary solar company to buy), you know these prospects are highly interested in your service. They may even be ready to schedule an appointment. However, if you focus your sales efforts only on these potential customers, you will be missing out on the lion’s share of solar prospects. Winning the business of these customers is also highly competitive, as they are probably calling other solar contractors and getting quotes. When you are competing against other companies, even if you win a third of the deals, you are still expending a lot of effort to win over clients who are price shopping. Nonetheless, for our imaginary company, we would want to target these prospects with our content marketing—we would just not make them the primary focus of our efforts.
When traffic is coming from social media and referral sites, these prospects are usually just learning about your business—they are in the “awareness” or “interest” stages of the marketing and sales funnel. They are intrigued by solar energy, but there is a good chance they do not know very much about it. These prospects are right at the beginning of the funnel, and it will take them some time to move through the process; however, you will reap a few benefits by focusing on this group.
First, if you have established yourself as the local industry expert by offering valuable and relevant content, prospects who are new to solar will trust your expertise. Second, when they are ready to buy, you will be able to position your company as an industry expert, and most likely they will not bring in a second contractor to price the job. Finally, if they do have additional contractors price the job, you may still be able to win a lot of these deals even with higher prices than your competitors’. This is due to the perceived value you have established with them by becoming a trusted advisor. For our imaginary company, we definitely want to reach out to these potential customers. They will take longer to move through the marketing and sales funnel, but since we are looking for 20 new sales in the coming year, we have some time to make those conversions.
Here’s where lead magnets come in. Lead magnets are incentives you offer prospects in exchange for contact information. Many people will trade their email address for an incentive, a special offer or valuable decision-making information. Offering an incentive targets prospects who are in the “desire” and “prospect” stages of the marketing and sales funnel and incentivizes them to take the next step. For instance, your site could offer the option to “schedule your in-home, free, no-obligation appointment today and receive five free LED bulbs.” To reach prospects who are in the “awareness” or “interest” stages, you will want a lead magnet tailored to their more general need for information. For instance, offering a report such as “Seven Important Steps to Buying Solar” capitalizes on these prospects’ need for educational material.
To offer a customized experience to site visitors, you could use technology from a company such as AddThis, HubSpot or Marketo to deliver customized web pages to targeted customers. Entrepreneur magazine makes a compelling case for this option (see Resources). Another option is to design your website’s home page so that visitors can choose a pathway through your site. For example, you could add buttons such as “New to Solar” or “Looking to Upgrade” that would lead visitors to web pages with information tailored to them. These pages could include lead magnets targeting specific customer personas. (See HubSpot’s article on this practice in Resources.)
Of course, you could simply place your lead magnets prominently on your home page—as a banner ad, in an advertising box, or even in a pop-up box that displays when a visitor has remained on your site for 5–8 seconds. You would switch out your lead magnets periodically to reach different segments of your audience. In our imaginary company, since we are focusing our efforts on prospects at the very beginning of the marketing funnel, yet also giving attention to site visitors who are lower down, in the prospect stage, we would probably create three banner ads with lead magnets and place them in rotation, with one of those ads targeting our prospect stage visitors and the other two focused on those new to solar.
The lead magnet’s design should include an image, describe the benefits of the offer and have a prominent space for visitors to enter their email addresses. For example, the headline could be “Buying solar panels is an important decision. Get all of the information you need first.” Next, you would have the lead magnet “Download our FREE buyer’s guide to solar,” accompanied by an image of the e-book. Under that would be a response form titled, “Yes, I want the ‘Seven Important Steps to Buying Solar’ e-book!” You should always include a statement such as “We care about your personal information and will not share it under any circumstances.” When prospects decide they want your lead magnet and sign up with their email address, they are opting in.