Thinking about Google Ads for Solar? Things you should know before going live

Are you planning on using Google Ads to generate qualified leads for your solar business?

Read this first!

I am a little obsessed with the solar industry right now (ask my long-suffering family and friends…). It is booming! Anything that’s good for the planet and saves people money also gets my vote and renewable energy ticks these boxes.

Most solar installers and solar equipment suppliers have made the same comment to me:

I wish I had more leads and sales. I don’t like sales and marketing, I just want to get on with installing and operations.

Every solar installer ever

The beautiful thing is that there is massive search demand for solar solutions and you just need to follow some best practice when it comes to search marketing to tap into this.

Search marketing covers both search engine optimisation and paid search advertising. In this article I will cover Google Ads and paid search advertising specifically.

Why should you consider Google Ads for your solar business?

Your marketing strategy must align with your overall business strategy.

If your business strategy is, for example, to grow your solar business in a specific part of the country or from a specific type of client (commercial, residential, agricultural etc) then your marketing strategy must align with this.

Google Ads makes it possible to deploy tactics that allow you to meet your overall business objectives through the power of relevant audience targeting and messaging.

Need to reach people in a specific town? Want to find people interested in solar, renewable energy and sustainability? Looking to grow your client base of shopping malls and office parks?

No problem.

Google Ads gives you the power to reach your ideal client through multiple touchpoints.

Multiple touchpoints are important

The old way of thinking about marketing is this: If I get 100 people to my website and 5 of them become paid clients my conversion rate is 5%. The rest fall out of my “marketing funnel” and I never hear from them again.

This is a fallacy because marketing doesn’t work in a straight line. It’s not some linear process where people see your ad, click on it and then buy.

Marketing Attribution

Image source: https://marketoonist.com/

When it comes to a really big ticket item like a solar installation, solar rental or buying solar equipment, you can be assured people are going to take their time before they make the decision to buy from you. It’s not like buying a pack of gum at the checkout counter.

They might ask a friend who they recommend. Then they might Google you or check you out on Facebook. They might search Google for “best solar installer near me” or go onto YouTube to research if DIY solar is the right option. After a few weeks of research they might be considering you and 5 other solar installers nearby. They might ask for quotes from multiple companies.

All this is happening and you’re running ads and wondering why they haven’t converted yet and you’re thinking that your Google Ad or Facebook Ad campaign is just wasting money.

You’ll have this going on for multiple prospects at the same time and each person will follow a different path to conversion along multiple touch points.

What touchpoints or “moments” can you create with Google Ads?

You can create the potential for your prospective client to experience multiple touchpoints through the following:

  • Google Paid Search advertising – someone searches Google and sees your ad
  • YouTube advertising – someone sees your ad before or during a video about solar
  • Google Display network – someone sees your ad on a news article about solar
  • Google partner networks – someone sees your ad while using an app or some other Google partner platform

Remember, Google is first and foremost an advertising platform and not a search engine.

Why do Google Ads work well?

Google Ads are effective because of two things:

Firstly, Google has a significant amount of data about people based on their search history, the YouTube videos they’re interested in, the type of emails they subscribe to, the apps they use, where they travel and a billion other data points related to their lives. Google knows about our interests and our behaviours and can use this data to predict what we will do when we see specific messages in the form of ads.

Secondly, Google Ads use highly intelligent algorithms powered by machine learning to serve the right message to the right people at the right time on the right platform.

In the old days of Google PPC advertising you would need a specialist or digital marketing agency to set up and manage your Google campaigns – but all that is changing fast.

Machine learning is doing a lot of the heavy lifting and much more effectively than a human can.

What must you do first before you set up Google Ads?

As a solar business owner you need to define your objectives. Do you want more leads? Do you want more sales? Do you want more brand exposure?

Check this out to find out how to get more qualified leads

You also need to define your conversion events. What would you consider a conversion? Is it when someone completes a lead form to become a qualified lead? Is it when they complete a sale on your ecommerce platform and buy a solar panel?

Conversion events are set up as Goals in Google Analytics and Conversion Events in the Google Ad platform using conversion pixels and analytics tracking code. It is absolutely vital that these are correctly set up before you begin advertising!

Contact me if you need help with this

You also need to define your daily and monthly advertising budget. Your budget will be determined by a budgeting and forecasting process so that you get return on ad spend while meeting your business objectives and remaining profitable. It’s no good investing in marketing if you don’t make money from it. Marketing’s only job: increase revenue and profit.

Learning to trust the algorithms

Google’s algorithms will manage your campaigns in the best way possible to meet your objectives. If you use a digital marketing agency or paid media specialist they will (hopefully) tell you the same thing: let Google do its job through automated, machine learning powered campaign optimisation so that you get the best return from your paid media budget.

It starts with a LEARNING PHASE during which time ad platform collects data about what works best. What messages appeal to your audience? Which audiences are the best fit to meet your campaign objectives?

Once the learning phase is over your campaigns will start to perform at their peak and bring you the qualified leads your solar business needs.

Landing page and your lead form

It’s no good sending all this qualified traffic to your website if your landing pages offer a poor experience. You must optimise your landing pages for conversion by showcasing the value and benefits you offer in a neat, easy to digest and customer-centric way. Give them the info you promised and show them the value they will get.

Your lead form should do two things: make it easy for people to request a quotation and pre-qualify prospects into qualified leads through the use of qualifying questions.

When you do this you filter out the people who aren’t your ideal client and this means less time and money wasted for everyone.

Solar has a very long conversion cycle

Look, when you buy a solar installation you’re not ordering a pizza.

You need to remember that some people need to arrange finance to pay for the solar installation and this can take weeks or months. They will need time to consider all the options and get quotes from multiple installers.

The money you spent on ads in January might only see return in March or April, for example. It all evens out over time but must remember that this is a long game.

In summary

For successful lead generation for your solar business through Google Ads you need the following in place:

  • Business and Marketing goals and objectives
  • Definition of conversion events
  • Correctly set up conversion event tracking and analytics
  • A paid media budget
  • Optimal landing page and lead form experience
  • Trust in the algorithms
  • Be patient as you nurture leads into clients

I work with sustainable companies (like the solar industry) to optimise their marketing strategies and work with their teams to enable the implementation of these strategies.

Let’s chat to see if we’re a good fit.

About Tony Lopes

I help sustainable businesses grow. I have more than 20 years experience in digital marketing strategy and analytics. I live in Johannesburg, South Africa with my wife, daughters and 2 Rhodesian Ridgebacks.

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