Solar EPC businesses can be quite diverse in terms of their target customers and the scale of their projects. Different marketing strategies are suitable for these different types of solar installation businesses.
The marketing channels that work for a large scale utility solar EPC contractor, may not work for a local residential rooftop solar installer.
Email marketing is an important online marketing channel which is often under-utilized. Let’s look at when email marketing can be effective and how you can use it to get more leads.
In general, email marketing is more suitable for B2B marketing. Business owners are comparatively more approachable over the email channel. Most marketing emails sent to personal email addresses get ignored unless the prospects had explicitly requested for those emails.
In case of solar, commercial and industrial solar EPC contractors can benefit from email marketing, as they are selling solar PV solutions to other companies.
Well organized businesses are better targets for email marketing. For example, manufacturing plants, banks, hospitals, hotels, malls etc. where you can reach owners and managers on their email addresses.
So if you are selling your solar solutions to any of the above, email marketing may be a good choice for you.
But how exactly should you go about this email marketing thing?
There are two possible approaches –
Make a list of all target businesses in your city / state. Start sending them emails in mass. If you send thousands of emails in a day, 70-80% will land in SPAM, few will reach inbox and only 10-20% will get opened. Response rate will be much smaller than that.
Eventually, you will reach only 1-3% of your audience for a meaningful sales discussion. Bulk of the email addresses from your mailing list will go to waste.
Instead of a single marketing email, create a sequence of messages. Use this chain of emails to step by step warm up your prospects. Send a limited number of emails per day (less than 100-200/day). Make sure all of them reach inbox with cold email automation tools.
Track who opens, clicks and replies to your emails. Send the next round of emails to only those people who are engaging with previous emails. This way your email volumes will remain small, so that they don’t get flagged as spam.
You will only send emails to people who actually open and read them. So your sender reputation will be strengthened over time. Email deliverability for your account will also go up.
This approach takes longer time. But it ensure that you reach a high percentage of prospects from your list. Cold email automation can land more than 90% of your emails in inbox. You can even end up having meetings with 20-40% of your audience, depending on how strong your messaging is.
In case of solar EPC, most installers operate in specific cities or areas. They have a very limited audience to target. If you make a list of 10,000 prospects in an area, you can’t really afford to waste any of those prospect emails.
It makes a lot of sense to approach each and every prospect carefully without spamming them. Cold email marketing is best suited for such solar businesses. Even if you send 1000 cold emails per month, in 10 months you would have covered your whole target area.
If you use email tracking, you can identify who has engaged with your first round of emails. Then in the next round you can just target those people who are responsive, for better productivity from your email campaign.
Now let’s look at some cold email marketing best practices for solar installers.
If you are targeting a small niche of customers – geographically or industry wise – you have a limited number of businesses that can be approached on email.
If you have only 10,000 emails in your marketing database, you cannot afford to waste any of those contacts.
So instead of the ‘spray and pray’ strategy, your focus should be on maximizing the success rate of each email campaign. This is only possible with a carefully crafted sequence of drip emails.
Drip emails take longer time but give you much better cumulative results at the end.
In case of B2B sales, it is also important that your sales cycle matches with the buying cycle of your prospect. This will happen if you always stay on their radar in a non-intrusive way. Marketing emails sent 1-2 times in a quarter will do this trick.
When your prospect is ready to invest in solar, he should be able to recall about your business and ask for a quotation.
When we say “carefully crafted” sequence of emails, it refers to customizing your content for different types of recipients.
When you send your first round of marketing emails, some people will not even open it, some will open. Some of them will even come to your website and ask for pricing.
In the second round, would you send the same email to all three types?
No. Clearly these people have very different interest levels in what you have to say. So your second email should resonate with each of these different interest levels.
For example –
You can divide your audience into different buckets according to their interest / engagement levels. And then send them the next email accordingly.
Once you have divided your mailing list into multiple buckets, you can write different email content for each of those buckets.
But you also need to customize the ‘Call To Action’ (CTA) for each bucket as well. Without a clear CTA, you reduce your own chances of meaningful responses from your audience.
So every email in your drip sequence should definitely have a clear CTA. This CTA should be customized for the corresponding bucket.
For example – you can ask fresh prospects to download an ebook about – “Benefits of solar PV”, as they still need to be convinced.
For warmer prospects, you can ask them to “Download ROI calculator”. Because at evaluation stage they are most likely thinking about ROI.
Similar to the CTAs, your actual email text should also be customized for each bucket.
Send marketing emails with educational content about – the benefits of solar PV, how it makes economic sense, reduced pricing, long term cost savings etc. These marketing emails should go to fresh prospects who are not yet fully convinced to go to the next stage and evaluate a solar PV solution.
Once they are ready to evaluate, they will start engaging more with your emails. They may reply on your mails or visit your website or request for pricing. At that time, you can start sending them sales emails with ROI analysis, customer testimonials, pricing for different panels etc.
Of course, most of the recommended tips above require that you continuously track how your audience is engaging with your emails.
You need to track all bounces, opens and clicks. Accordingly you can divide your mailing list into different buckets as the campaign progresses.
You can either use a free tool like – mailtracker to track and manually record the email opens, or you can run your campaigns with a tool like Fuzen’s cold email marketing app.
It runs your campaigns in a spreadsheet and then updates the engagement data in the same spreadsheet.
Once you have the engagement data, you can either manually divide your mailing list into smaller buckets, or you can use an email marketing platform that can automate this based on cofigurable workflows.
For example – Fuzen’s cold email marketing app allows you to create workflows in a simple spreadsheet. These workflows will automatically divide your mailing list to smaller buckets based on latest engagement data.
For each round of emails, different email content will be sent to different buckets as per the predefined workflows.
When cold email marketing is done the right way, it can be very effective for solar lead generation. But you can further increase the success rate of your email campaigns by using other complementary channels.
Use Google and Facebook remarketing ads to actively stay on the radar of your prospects. These ads are most effective, when any prospect has previously shown interest in your offering.
So the simplest thing you can do is to run Google and Facebook remarketing ads for your ‘sales bucket’ where you have the prospects who are actually in your sales funnel, evaluating your PV solution. Put all your recent website visitors and people from your engaged bucket in a custom audience for remarketing campaign.
This will help you get more visibility in front of prospects who are deciding between you and other competitors.
You can also try out other ways of combing email campaigns with remarketing. Increased visibility can give you better results. But you have to balance it out with the additional costs for remarketing ads.
If you don’t want to spend a lot on online ads, ask your engaged email recipients to follow your Facebook or LinkedIn pages. This way you will have another free channel to reach them.
When they see a message twice – once in your email and again on your facebook page – that’s definitely going to have a deeper imprint in their memory.
Further you can also explore different recommended lead generation channels for residential solar and commercial solar businesses, in those respective links.
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