End of 2018 I got a request from the startup Sunbeam Energy to generate leads for them. Sunbeam Energy was just founded, had no homepage and a low media budget.
Compared to other solar companies, Sunbeam Energy offered an innovative pricing model:
- Free installation of solar systems for companies (with a minimum of USD 15,000 / month spending on electricity) in Thailand.
- Completely free maintenance of the solar panels over the entire running period.
- No hidden costs.
- Using their service, clients don’t have to invest one single dollar.
- The solar panels and hardware are provided free of charge for use, but remain the property of Sunbeam Energy!
When I heard about their offer the first time I was wondering:
“How can they earn money when they offer their services for free?”
The answer was simple:
“Sunbeam Energy installs the solar panels for free, in exchange for X% of the energy savings.”
Perfect! Usually the most advertisers in B2B have to create lead magnets / freebies to generate leads and engage their clients after a while. But in this case the offer was so attractive, that I didn’t need to use techniques like that.
The tasks were clearly defined:
- Create a landing page
- Create different attractive ads
- Create different target groups
- Implement a proper tracking
- Testing (landing pages, target groups and creatives)
I ordered a very attractive landing page from an experienced web developer to get off to the best possible start.
But after the first test run it became clear that the performance did not meet our expectations.
The cost per lead was around $ 30 and most of the leads we got were from private persons though we clearly communicated that the offer is only for companies with a minimum spending on electricity of $ 15k / month.
So there were three challenges:
- Decrease the cost per lead
- Increase inquiries from companies with high electricity expenditures (to raise the lead quality)
- Make the campaigns scalable with the same cost per lead.
The click through rate was great from the start and was approx between 11.66% and 17.25% (depending on target groups, location and creatives).
The fact that the ads worked very well from the start was mainly due to the fact that I checked the ads that other solar providers used.
For this reason I used adspy tools like poweradspy.com (paid tool but with free trial) or the facebook ad library (free). This way I was able to get a good overview of which ads were already working and adapt them to my requirements.
These tools can help you to save time and money!
Here some examples from USA and Australia:
When we have a close look most long-running advertisements contain different points:
- A great offer (i.e. “go solar without spending a Penny out of Pocket!”)
- The location (hyper local targeting – i.e. city, state etc.)
- How much you save in electricity costs
- If you can expect government funding (i.e. “Govt. will give away $ 5156 to go solar”)
- The requirements to be able to use this offer (i.e. homeowner, power bill over $ 150 / month, eligible zip code etc.)
- A call to action (i.e. “Click LEARN MORE To See If Your Roof Qualifies!”)
I considered all of the points in my ads from the start and was rewarded with a great CTR.
The Landing Page (Decrease the CPL):
First I decided to test 6 more landing pages to get better conversion rates and cheaper leads.
With each landing page that I tested I got better conversion rates.
The fascinating thing: The first landing page was the most visually appealing!
I removed the navigation, external links and other elements that could prevent the user from filling out the form.
The simpler and more minimalistic the landing page was, the better it converted, regardless whether I used static images or videos.
It turned out that I achieved the best results when the contact form was in the first view.
I highly recommend using the contact form (or CTA) IN THE FIRST VIEW (above the fold)!
Another extraordinary point was, when I tested two identical landing pages. The only difference:
One landing page required the phone number and the other did not.
The incredible result:
The landing page with the optional phone number had a CPL of $ 1.79 and all leads stored their phone numbers.
The landing page which required the phone number had a CPL of $ 2.72.
This was the first breakthrough:
From now on we’ve been getting leads at a reasonable cost: 34.19 % cheaper.
But we were still getting too many leads from private individuals instead of companies, so I continued with the targeting.
The Targeting (Increase the Lead Quality)
After we collected enough leads from companies that met our requirements (minimum spendings for electricity per month of $ 15k), I finally had enough data to create a proper lookalike audience.
This was the second breakthrough:
Instead of every tenth inquiry coming from a company (mostly below our requirements regarding their monthly spendings on electricity), every third inquiry came from a company.
And most of the requests fit with the requirements.
That’s about $ 6 per qualified lead instead of about $ 18 per qualified lead which was a further improvement of around 33%.
Facebook’s algorithm really does a great job here!
Summary and learning:
- Keep the landing page short and simple (KISS)
- Make a great offer (not every solar company can offer panels + installation for free and wait on average around 6 years until the contract is profitable).
You will find some more offers as examples of different solar companies on the facebook ad library or adspy tools like poweradspy.com
- Ask for as little information as possible (each question for utility provider, address… etc. will drop your conversion rate)
- Test different landing pages and ads (as best practice use hyper local ads and use the location in the ad text and / or ad creative from this location for a higher ctr)
- As soon as you have enough qualified leads from your target group use the facebook lookalike audience (if your company has been on the market for a while, you can also use your previous customer data)
Most solar lead traders require more lead data like address, roof shade, utility provider.
If you’re a lead reseller and ask for all this information during your lead generation process your conversion rate will drop down and the CPL will increase a lot.
For all solar companies that use the leads themselves, I recommend only to ask for the most necessary data during lead generation.
All other information such as address, roof shade, utility provider, etc. should be requested during the sales call.
This way you get a good balance between quality and quantity.
Following these tips you will drastically increase your solar lead generation performance!
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