If you work in the US solar industry, then you know that growth has been phenomenal over the past couple years. Of course, that’s of great news for solar installers, financing companies, and suppliers. But hand in hand with that growth has come increased competition and sky high customer acquisition costs, which now typically fall into the 3 – 5k range for larger installers.
YES, that’s three to five thousand dollars to generate one new solar customer!
You already know which channels work best for you. But what you may not know is that solar direct mail marketing is making a big comeback. There are a few reasons for the growth, but the core pus comes from a new generation of direct mail technologies that make direct easier to send, more personalized, and a lot more effective than it used to be.
It’s not just the solar industry that’s seeing the growth – the increase comes from companies big and small, including technology startups, auto dealerships, and even fresh food service companies like Munchery and Amazon Fresh – who sending tens of thousands of postcards to introduce their new products.
But even with this growth, the opportunity is relatively untapped. If you’re wondering how your solar installation company can capitalize on the opportunity, read on!
These six proven tips will help you boost your response rate and make the most of your next solar postcard campaign. Read on!
JUST 2 SECONDS: If you can’t grab your customer’s attention and interest within 2 seconds after viewing your postcard, they’re usually gone. Sure, postcards help build brand awareness, but most marketers are looking web leads or phone calls. That means your creative needs to be powerful, unique, funny, or catchy.
Whatever it takes, you need to get the recipient to stop what they are doing and read your offer.
MAKE IT COMPELLING: Once you’ve got their attention, make sure you have single compelling value proposition that explains why need to be doing business WITH YOUR COMPANY. In solar, everyone offers no money down – what is it about your company that sets you apart? Put a different way, why do your current customers love you (assuming they do).
CALL TO ACTION: It’s simple: Make it impossible to miss. I’m always surprised which call to action, whether print or digital, works best, but your safe as long as it’s front and center.
WHO TO TARGET: Targeting is always important, but when it comes to solar, it’s essential. Some neighborhoods are better opportunities for others, some households can qualify for credit for a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), and some residences use more electricity than others.
All this means that if you’re targeting new prospects with bulk direct mail, it makes sense to go the extra mile to use quality data
WOMAN OR MEN: Should you target a specific person in the household? I recommend testing different options. According to the First Ever Women-Oriented Solar Survey Highlights Unveiled at SPI, a few years back, you can boost your response by targeting woman for bigger ticket home services like solar panels.
Every postcard should have a next step and marketing is always more effective when it’s integrated. That means your postcard, landing page, email, and even referral program should work together for maximum impact.
LANDING PAGE: I always recommend including a link to a targeted landing page front and central on your postcard. Most people are still more comfortable filling out a webform than calling customer service. Your landing page design should match your postcard creative as much as possible. If you’re offering a promo, include it on both the postcard and landing page.
Of course, if you’re using a platform like CustomMail, the content will automatically integrate between both your postcard and landing page!
MOBILE: Don’t forget about mobile – a lot of people, if not most, will go to your URL on their phone. That means your landing page should be built specifically for mobile viewing. That means shorter, simpler, with the webform and click to call near the top. Assume you always need mobile responsive for an enjoyable viewing experience.
Your current customer list is probably the most valuable, yet overlooked, source for your new deals. That’s because you already have the data. Whether it’s active customers or incoming leads, don’t miss out what could be some of your lowest handing fruit (or new solar panels soaking up the sun).
NEW LEADS: Assuming you have a steady flow website or 3rd party leads, use direct mail to help close more deals. One approach is to send triggered postcards to complement your emails immediately after the lead comes in or by reaching out to all the old leads that still haven’t closed.
Keeping in mind that you’re almost always competing for that customer, anything that your company can do to boost prospect engagement and win the deal can be worthwhile. If your prospect’s inbox is anything like mine, it’s full with a lot of email, including some unwanted spam solar offers.
REFERRALS: Hopefully you are already generating a steady flow of referral leads. Either way, postcard marketing can help you get more refer-a-friend customers. Send each new customer a refer a friend offer right after they sign up and have their system installed – why wait? It will be hard to not get a positive ROI on this segment of your direct mail campaign.
YOUR CUSTOMER DATABASE: Get familiar with your customer and lead database. Figure out the best way to identify specific customer segments within your data that you believe offer the most potential. Even if you’re combining your internal data with a 3rd party list, building a well thought out segmentation strategy can be very worthwhile.
There’s nothing like a touch of personality – aka personalization – in your next postcard design. In a previous blog post on postcard personalization, I offer a few ways to take your personalization to the next level and response rates. But solar energy offers unique personalization opportunities.
SOLARIZE YOUR POSTCARD: Personalization usually starts with simple things like the recipient’s name and city. But that’s just the start. Maybe you want to add roof sunlight data, information on their neighborhood, or a limited time promo to peak your future customer’s interest? Get creative!
As with any marketing campaign, you’ll want to know what’s working, and what’s not. That means you need to have all your tracking and analytics in place.
A/B TESTING: To be successful, it’s always best to test, test, and then test some more. As with a digital campaign, test one creative concept against a second is great to get a high level reading. From there, keep it going by testing creative concepts, offers, or other key design options.
ANALYTICS: While we don’t have the type of analytics we do with a fully digital campaign, there is still plenty to track. Tracking of phone calls from each campaign, website visits (i.e, Google Analytics), inbound leads, and of course closed deals are obviously the most important. That said, I think most direct mail marketers would agree that it’s safe to attribute around 25+% of your direct mail cost to your general “advertising” budget since you are getting your brand name in front of prospects.
With your testing and tracking in place, you’ll know what working best and improve results as you go.
As with any new marketing channel, the first step is to test, then optimize, then grow. Consider running a 2 or 3-month program to get some verifiable results. One nice thing about direct mail as compared to other channels – and this is particularly true for solar marketing – is that it’s actually less competitive than it used to be. That could be good news for your company.
I’d love to get feedback and hear other ideas that have worked for you with solar or postcard marketing. If you want to learn more about how Custommail works, schedule a 15 minute demo with us or visit our website to learn more.