Marketing solar is unique, but we can certainly learn from other industry marketing trends. One great resource is Marketing Sherpa, which recently published some terrific insights from a survey of non-solar marketers and their plans for 2014.

Here are some key takeaways and how I think they might apply to solar:

1. Send emails on Tuesdays.

According to their survey results, the most effective day to send an e-newsletter is Tuesday. Wednesday and Thursday are also highly ranked, whereas the weekend days and Monday and Friday are seen to be significantly less effective.

Sherpa-Tuesday most effective

From my own solar email marketing experience, I’ve also noticed a higher open rate during the middle days of the week. Why? I think it’s because people can focus better then. Mondays have a flood of emails and on Fridays, people are thinking about the weekend. As for the weekend days, people don’t want to be bothered by anything except their friends and silly cat videos. So, if you have a silly cat video that you can integrate with your solar newsletter, send that kitty on Saturday and Sunday! … Otherwise, use the hump days.

2. Content marketing budgets are going up in 2014.

Of all the marketing tactics, a huge 64% of non-solar marketers are increasing their budgets for content marketing in 2014. People differ on what includes “content,” but in my view, content marketing includes blogs, e-newsletters, webinars, videos, infographics, and white papers.

Content budgets going up

Why the increase? Because in our short attention span world, people pay attention to content that is useful, relevant, and/or entertaining, and increasingly ignoring everything else. Opt-in content marketing combined with social media delivers what people want. Nobody likes telemarketing, junk mail, spam, or annoying pop-up windows.

From now on, think of yourself as a publisher, and in the residential solar business, an informative and friendly entertainer, as well.

3. Blogs are most effective social media platform for SEO.

I’ve written so many posts here about the super powers of blogging, so it’s great to get outside validation from non-solar industry marketers. Of all the social media tactics, 52% of survey respondents said that a blog was somewhat effective, and 32% said it was very effective. So a combined 84% of marketers agree that blogging is important for SEO and other inbound marketing goodness.

Blogs most effective

Yes, blogging takes time and effort and you need a strategy, but it’s worth it. You’re building community, brand recognition, and so much more. Do it internally or hire someone, but blog, blog, blog, blog. End of rant.

4. E-newsletters are most effective for lead nurturing.

Also under the content marketing umbrella, 57% of respondents said that e-newsletters are the most effective tactic for lead nurturing.

newsletters effective

That’s a huge insight for solar marketers. When people opt-in to your newsletter, they’re asking you for useful solar product or service information. Essentially, they want to think about it and to get to know you and your product. That’s where your blog comes in. The two work great together. So, build trust, educate, and send e-newsletters—but only to those who ask for it. No buying lists! They’re not only filled with worthless leads, they could ban you from newsletter services, like MailChimp.

5. Webinars are the most effective content marketing channel.

49% of the surveyed marketers say that webinars work best, and that’s great news for the solar industry, which can thrive on webinars.

webinars effective

While blogs and e-newsletters are great lead nurturers, I think webinars are the marketing closers. A well-executed webinar with a Q&A and a friendly host can pull the solar tire-kickers over the finish line. It also allows multiple people to get visual information, as well as interact with a knowledgeable and trustworthy sales team member. The downside is that if you conduct a poor webinar, you could scare this same huge audience away, so make sure you’re prepared.

Like any industry, solar marketing has its own nuances, but I think it’s important that we compare our tactics with non-solar marketers, adjust accordingly… and UnThink Solar.