solar Surveys

Whatever solar sector you’re in, email marketing with relevant content marketing should be a key instrument in your marketing toolbox, and it’s not just me saying that, but other marketers in other industries surveyed by Sales Force.

Before I give some specific tips for solar email marketing, let me share a few of these results from Sales Force’s 2015 State of the Marketing Report:

  • 73% of marketers agree that email marketing is core to their business.

That’s huge, and yet I still know a lot of solar companies in all sectors that do very little email marketing. Why? Perhaps it’s due to staff concerns, because:

  • 43% of businesses have email teams of 2-3 people.

That’s not a majority, but it is nearly half of the survey, so email marketing can be labor intensive, even with today’s automated email programs. Solar companies are lean so, devoting two people, let alone one, to email marketing is tough. Nevertheless….

  • 74% of marketers believe email produces or will produce ROI in the future.

So, even if you have two email staffers, most marketers seem to think that it’s worth the time and effort. Besides, it is what the customer wants:

  • For 69.7% of US internet users, email is the preferred method of communicating with businesses. (eMarketer)

I recently wrote about a similar stat from Marketing Sherpa, which found that regardless of demographic, the overwhelming majority customers prefer being contacted through email.

So, let’s agree that email is a great solar marketing platform and that solar companies should be taking more advantage of it. With that in mind, here are five tips to enhance your email marketing, whether you’re a solar manufacturer or installer:

1) Try some creative content with segmentation.

Every email marketers knows you need to segment your subscribers into lists and create relevant content. But I urge you to study your lists for creative content opportunities that will resonate more personally with each segment.

For example, for both solar manufacturers and installers, you could make your emails more geographically personal. You could create useful O&M content for cold weather zip codes and separate content for hot weather zip codes. You could also design one template with images and copy that reflect California customers, and another that reflects New York customers, etc.

The more personal that you can make your email, the better.

2) Be careful how often you send emails.

While most consumers prefer email, there’s no real consensus about frequency. So you’re going to have to do your own testing and analyzing to see what’s optimal. Any modern email program should be able to answer:

  • How many emails does it take to convert a solar sale for your business?
  • How many emails do people receive before they click unsubscribe?
  • Why do the people unsubscribe? The MailChimp program gives every unsubscriber a quick multiple choice survey asking why they unsubscribed.

Use all of this information to create the right frequency for your business and for your segment’s goals.

3) If you have an offer, use buttons in your design.

I don’t know why, but studies show that people really like to click on buttons more than they do on text that is hyperlinked. In fact, one marketer increased their click through rate by 127% just by using a button. Once again, many email programs include buttons, so use them for offering a download or for a call-to-action to set appointments.

4) Offer something.

Related to the above, but every now and then, offer something valuable that the recipient can get immediately. This could be a discount for any solar service or product with an expiration date, or it could be an e-book that increases your authority as an expert, leading to a solar sale down the road.

5) Surprise subscribers—in a good way.

I love it when email marketers are personal. Beyond codes to insert my name, they can also know information about, for example, the date I first became a customer.

For solar manufacturers, you could have a birthday email that warmly congratulates the installer for being a client for x many years. You don’t have to offer a customer birthday present, but a birthday discount couldn’t hurt (using the button, naturally.)

For installers, you could do the same, reminding a customer that their solar system is a year old, and that you’d like to set a time for a free onsite checkup. That kind of unexpected, warm, customer service interactions will show your customers that you care. In turn, that will inspire them to speak about you to their family and friends again. “Guess what? My solar system is a year old and my solar installer is doing a free checkup.”

As the Sales Force data shows, email marketing is a core content marketing tool for other industries. And with a little “UnThinking,” it can also become a core tool for the solar industry.

(P.S> If you’re going to Intersolar North America, join me for some great Tapas, Beer, and Prizes at the 5th annual Intersolar lunchtime Tweetup!)

Tor Valenza a.k.a. “Solar Fred” is the Chief Marketing Officer of UnThink Solar and the author of Solar Fred’s Guide to Solar Guerrilla Marketing. For more solar marketing info, sign up for the UnThink Solar newsletter or follow @SolarFred on Twitter.