One of the responses I received from my ongoing solar marketing survey was from an installer who said that they didn’t have enough time to educate all of the customers. That’s understandable if you’re a small solar shop with a few sales people. One solution is what’s called an email marketing “drip campaign.”
An email marketing drip campaign is basically a series of automated emails. With today’s email marketing providers, you can set up a series of 1 to 10 solar education emails that can be sent to prospects who have given you contact information.
So, say you get a call or email address from a residential solar prospect who is requesting more information about your solar services. A drip campaign may cut down the time of those calls or eliminate them entirely. Here’s how.
Step One: Get an email provider. First, you’re going to need an email provider that has some type of automated response campaign. I personally like Mail Chimp, but there are many other programs out there, such as AWeber or Constant Contact. It will cost you 10 to 15 bucks per month to do automated drip campaigns, but it will be worth it as a time saver.
Step Two: Set up a template and email campaign. One of the great things about email marketing programs today is that they’re very cut and paste. You don’t have to be a website designer to create a very nice looking email. Just pick a pre-designed template, upload your logo, add content, and you’re good to go. Here’s a great video I found that explains the mechanics of a drip campaign in Mail Chimp:
Go through those steps or the equivalent process with other email programs. In terms of frequency, you could set it up daily, every 2 days, or weekly. Try two days first, and if you get too many unsubscribes after the campaign starts, change the frequency to weekly. If you have good content, chances are that prospects will stay for the long haul.
Step Four: Add solar drip campaign content. The above video shows you how to mechanically set up a drip campaign, but what content are you going to use for each “drip?” Think about it in terms of Frequently Asked Questions, as well as an introduction to your company. With that in mind, here are Solar Fred’s suggested topics for 8 drips:
Drip #1: Thank you for contacting us. This first introductory email will be sent immediately after the person is manually added to the list from your brief initial contact over the phone, or automatically through signing up through your website. (Your email provider can provide a direct link to a sign-up form that triggers the drip campaign.) In this first email, describe your company in a sentence or two and explain that over the next few days/weeks, that they’ll receive x number of emails that answer their most frequently asked questions about going solar.
- Include the titles of the suggested drip topics listed below.
- Also include a statement that if they’d rather get a free solar quote, they can email you at email@example.com. On the one hand, this defeats the purpose of automated solar education. On the other hand, if the person clicks that email address, they’re more serious about making a purchase decision.
- Alternatively, you could provide a link to a PDF download of the same information contained in the entire drip campaign, but I think that can be overwhelming to new prospects. A drip campaign gives them the same information in little chunks.
Drip #2: How much does solar cost? It’s the top FAQ of any new customer. Briefly explain why the cost is different for every home and perhaps give a range of what it might cost. Also be sure to mention that there are different ways to finance solar, including solar leases/PPAs, but add that they’ll receive more information about that in the next email. End the email with a call-to-action, such as “Ready to get a quote? Contact us for an appointment,” and tell them about the upcoming topic that will be delivered next:
Drip #3: Available Solar Rebates and Incentives. Briefly explain all of your local rebates and incentives, as well as the Federal ITC and net metering. Once again, end the email with a call-to-action and include a mention of the next topic:
Drip #4: The Different Ways to Finance Solar. Here’s where you explain about any financing options you have, including home equity loans or any national solar financing options. Once again, end the email with the same call-to-action, and prime them for the next topic:
Drip #5: Is My Home Right for Solar? Some might argue that this should be Drip #2, but cost is the consumer’s number one question, so don’t keep them waiting. But if you want to make this Drip #2, be my guest. In any case, include roof age, shading, roof area, owning the home, etc. If you want to reinforce credit requirements for solar leases/PPAs, do that too. As before, end with same call-to-action and mention of the next drip:
Drip #6: How does solar work? Briefly explain how solar works. Email programs allow you to use images too, so be sure to include helpful diagrams. Include the call-to-action at the bottom and set up the next drip:
Drip #7: How to choose a solar installer. Here’s where you’re going to mention all of the reasons why you’re a quality solar installer. Frame it as “Qualified solar installers should have x, y, and z,” and show that you have x, y, z, and more. That is, you’re licensed with the state, you have a great BBB rated, you’re NABCEP, have been in the business x number of years, and have performed x number of installs, etc. So, whatever solar authority you have, put it in. As always, end with the call-to-action and a mention of the (possibly) final drip:
Drip #8: What our customers are saying about us. In this potentially final drip campaign, add your verified customer testimonials. DO NOT MAKE THEM UP. If you don’t have truly satisfied solar customers who are willing to take a call and recommend you, then you have more serious problems with your business than customer education. So, ask these happy customers if you can include their testimonial and their email address as a reference. Include a nice picture of the installation next to the quote, but don’t give out their physical address. Make one last call-to-action to set up a time for a quote. If you want to add more drips, set up the next one. If this is the last one, say that and urge them to contact you for any further questions.
If you want to add more drips, go for it, but keep in mind that people have short attention spans today. So, make sure all of your drips are brief, and if possible, include helpful images.
The beauty of this type of solar education is that it really is effortless once you’ve set up your program and added the content of each drip. Of course, you may need to edit/refresh content or frequency. Nevertheless, it’s a low cost/minimal-labor method for building trust and authority….and UnThinking Solar.