Solar Customer Engagement with Content Marketing: Page 4 of 5

CRM Platforms

Once you have attracted potential customers to your site, engaged them with content designed to meet their needs, and convinced them to interact with you in some way, you need a way to collect information and begin converting prospects into customers. A CRM system is the key: This software platform collects your prospects’ information, including all communications and their progress through your marketing and sales funnels.

A CRM platform to manage leads and sales is a great tool to have in your solar business, but selecting the right one makes all the difference. Agile CRM (agilecrm.com) is a good choice, offering several marketing automation and tracking features, with competitive pricing. Other options include HubSpot (hubspot.com), Infusionsoft (infusionsoft.com), Marketo (marketo.com) and Salesforce (salesforce.com).

A CRM system can also be the hub of your content marketing strategy. It helps you move your prospects forward, from the first time they enter the system until the moment you convert them into customers. Along the way, the system collects data that allows it to forecast future sales. With a CRM system, you can track metrics such as scheduled appointments, actual appointments, proposals and sales.

In our imaginary company, we know that one out of four appointments leads to a new customer. So if we have 20 appointments scheduled, we can forecast five new sales. We also know that our average sale is $25,000, which yields a sales projection of $125,000. Essentially, the more data you have, the more accurate your projections will be.

It is important to identify prospects who made it through the sales funnel but did not buy. Knowing why they did not ultimately make a purchase allows you to identify trends and develop strategies that will open the door to new sales opportunities. Perhaps you identify a common reason such as “I want to lower my power bill, but solar is too expensive.” This may lead to a new sales opportunity: for example, your company could offer a range of modules at different price points or services scaled to a range of budgets. This valuable information can help you uncover areas of your business you were not even thinking about.

Streamline the sales process with automated marketing. Lead nurturing is the process of providing information to and engagement with prospective buyers who are not yet ready to buy. Many CRM systems have an automated lead nurturing system that allows you to strategically plan a prospect’s engagement in advance and execute it automatically, which can improve your salesforce’s productivity. For instance, when a prospect responds to an opt-in offer by providing an email address, the system, in addition to routing this information to a salesperson, can trigger an automated marketing sequence associated with the offer. (See “Automated Communication: Case Study” for an example.)

You can use automated communication features to fine-tune your marketing efforts, since you determine the actions that go into the sequence. For our imaginary solar business, we would want to focus our efforts on the top-of-funnel prospects who come to our website via social media and referral sites, perhaps contacting them more frequently with offers than we do our prospects who appear to be ready to buy. Regardless of what an automated marketing sequence includes, your lead begins the journey through the marketing and sales funnel, guided by strategic communications. A full-featured CRM system can generate an automated sequence that includes many channels of outreach—emails, text messages, voicemails and tweets. The goal of this process is to initiate customer engagement and provide valuable information to leads who have an interest in solar energy.

Most CRM systems provide email templates to give your communications a professional look. The messages you send should be informational and educational. If you have videos that describe your process, define the competitive advantage of your company’s offerings, or provide product information, it is a good idea to include links to them.

Once a prospect has shown a desire to learn more about your products or services, and thus is further along the marketing funnel, sending text messages with special offers can be a good way to establish rapport. In addition, if you are having a webinar or if company representatives will be at a local event, using an automated telephone message is a great way to broadcast this.

You can embed additional triggers, known as if-then responses, in your automatic marketing sequence based on your leads’ behaviors. If your lead takes a survey announced in an email message and gives you a mobile phone number, then that would trigger the next step in the sequence, a text message. However, if the lead does not engage in the survey (and hence you do not have a phone number), then the next response in the automated sequence would be another email.

You may also develop automated marketing sequences for current customers and prospects who received a proposal but did not buy. Each segment might have a different strategy, which is why you need to create them separately. For example, by staying in touch with a customer who has purchased solar services from you already, you can convert that customer to an advocate who will refer business to you on a regular basis.

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