You can be the best PV installer in town. But without a steady stream of solar leads, your company won’t survive for very long. That’s because qualified prospects are the lifeblood of any installation business.
And when it comes to consistent solar lead generation, you really only have 2 options:
You can buy solar leads.
You can create your own.
Both approaches have pros and cons. But for long-term results, in-house solar lead generation is usually the better (and cheaper) option.
And in this article, we’ll explore why that is.
But first, let’s look at the benefits and drawbacks of buying solar leads.
When Does It Makes Sense to Buy Solar Leads Online?
There’s no shortage of online marketplaces that sell solar leads. Some will even screen leads before selling them – meaning you don’t have to spend as much time weeding out unqualified prospects.
Another advantage of “outsourced” solar lead generation is that you only pay for what you use. So this strategy is sustainable indefinitely – provided that what you make per lead is consistently more than what you spend.
But there are many potential drawbacks of buying solar sales leads.
1. Quality Assurance
One of the biggest disadvantages of outsourced solar lead generation is that you have little to no control over the screening process. And this means you may end up paying more than you bargain for.
There’s the money you spend to buy solar leads. But there are also many hidden costs associated with chasing down prospects. If those poorly screened customers have no chance of ever converting – you’re wasting valuable time and money.
2. Exclusivity Rights
Does each solar energy lead belong to you exclusively? Or are you receiving a prospect list shared with dozens of other installers in your area?
If the latter, your sales pitch better be legit. Everyone you contact will have already heard the usual spiel.
3. Freshness Factor
The older the solar lead, the less chance of converting a fence-sitter into a customer. That’s why most vendors charge a premium for newer prospect lists.
4. One Size Fits All
Even when solar leads are fresh, exclusive, and carefully vetted – there’s no guarantee your prospect list will be the right fit for your business. Solar may be a commodity, but homeowners come to the table with a diverse range of different goals and needs.
This is why cookie-cutter approaches to solar lead generation don’t work for everyone. Sales opportunities that may be perfect for one installer could be a waste of time for you – depending on your niche and offerings.
It’s possible to find reputable marketplaces that sell high quality solar leads. But if you go this route, you’ll eventually run into the next hurdle – namely cost.
5. Buying Solar Sales Leads Is Expensive
When you outsource your prospecting efforts, solar lead generation becomes an ongoing cost. And the moment you stop paying, the well runs dry.
“No problem,” you say. “I have the budget to keep going.”
And maybe you do. But remember that solar energy leads are market-driven. And this makes it easy for:
Prices to change rapidly.
Competitors to outbid you.
That’s why it’s not uncommon for fresh, exclusive, and carefully vetted solar leads to start in the $100 range.
Can you afford to drop $1,000 for a list with only 10 prospects on it?
Again – maybe you can. But what about tomorrow? Or next month?
Solar Leads Are REALLY Expensive
If you’re like most installers, $100 a pop is tough to manage.
And that price is actually quite generous.
According to a 2017 analysis by SolarReviews:
The average cost per solar lead is $578 nationwide.
The average solar lead conversion rate is 5.98%.
For this approach to work in the long run, your own profit margins and conversion rates have to be off the charts. But that’s hard to do in an industry as saturated as solar is.
This is especially true in markets like Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York – where solar panel leads routinely cost more than $1,000 per prospect. And if you’re buying solar leads in California, be prepared to drop nearly $2,000 per name.
Note that I have nothing against buying leads. In fact, this strategy makes a lot of sense if you’re just starting out. When you buy solar leads, you can:
Test the waters on a fairly limited budget.
See how customers respond to your offerings.
Tweak, refine, and perfect your solar sales pitch.
Improve your conversion rate with lead nurturing.
But once you reach a certain point, you’re almost always better off bringing your solar lead generation efforts in-house.
Let’s explore why.
The Pros and Cons of “In-House” Solar Lead Generation
With the right content marketing strategy, you can generate your own solar leads in-house – without having to outbid other installers.
This process involves:
Publishing valuable content that anticipates and answers the types of questions your ideal customers have.
Using SEO to optimize your content and make sure it ranks well in the major search engines.
When prospects research online, they’ll eventually stumble across your site and fill out a lead generation form (to “learn more”).
Just as with buying leads, the primary downside of launching your own lead generation campaign is cost.
At least in the beginning.
This is because the process is front-loaded, requiring a substantial investment of time and money before the solar leads ever start rolling in. And that’s why this strategy is best reserved for more established installers who’ve already refined their lead funnels and sales pitches.
But despite this upfront investment, the setup is worth it.
And here’s why.
Going solar is never an impulse purchase. Homeowners typically invest weeks of online research before pulling the trigger. And that makes perfect sense. It’s only natural to have questions when spending thousands of dollars on a professional PV installation.
Truly motivated homeowners will eventually find the answers they’re looking for. And the goal is to make sure they find this information on your site – instead of on a competitor’s.
That’s where content marketing comes in.
With enough valuable content, your site will emerge as an authoritative resource that potential users come to know and trust.
Here are some other benefits of in-house solar lead generation:
1. Forever Traffic
Every asset you publish online lives in perpetuity, meaning it has the potential to continue generating new solar leads forever.
2. Better Coverage
By publishing many different types of content, you can better target customers throughout the buying cycle:
Some are just starting out and are researching the benefits of going solar.
Others are closer to making the plunge. And they’re exploring their options.
And still others are ready to buy. They just need a reason to choose you.
3. Quality Control
You can implement stricter controls, allowing you to quickly weed out unqualified solar PV leads that’ll never convert. For example, a “Zip Code” field can help ensure you only follow up with prospects in your service area.
4. Low Pressure Sales
With solar lead generation, customers have explicitly given you permission to follow up with them. This means you don’t have to bombard these interested prospects with cold calls or high-pressure sales tactics (like many do when buying solar leads).
5. Less Guesswork
Another benefit of in-house solar lead generation is that you can answer real questions collected from real customers.
Here’s what I mean.
Anyone can come up with a list of hypothetical FAQs:
What are the benefits of going solar?
Is it better to lease or buy my panels?
How does net metering work in my state?
But your installers are in the field – hearing “non-hypothetical” questions all the time. Again, these are real concerns from real users. And answering these questions throughout your Web site allows you to:
Generate more traffic by targeting search engine keywords your competitors may have missed.
Attract higher-converting solar leads that have been “self-screened” based on the questions you’ve address.
Receive fewer questions during the sales pitch. Your users are better educated and require less persuasion.
Brief Recap: Buying Solar Sales Leads vs. Generating Leads
Whether to buy solar leads or generate your own ultimately comes down to personal preference.
But as a general rule:
If you’re just starting out, buying solar leads is usually the better option. This approach keeps your investment to a minimum as you test the waters and refine your sales pitch.
If you’re able to consistently convert the solar panel leads you buy, you can continue with this process indefinitely. But it makes more sense to begin generating your own. Doing so is much cheaper in the long run. And the benefits are cumulative since every asset you publish lives online forever.
In other words, generating your own solar PV leads means the well will never go dry.
Need Help Generating Solar Leads?
By providing you with fresh, persuasive, and SEO-optimized copy, I can help take your solar lead generation efforts to the next level. If you’d like to discuss your content marketing needs, contact me today for a free consultation at firstname.lastname@example.org.