Where Most Solar Install Marketers Struggle
If you are a local solar install business or sales rep running your own Facebook or YouTube ads to attract new customers, you’re probably running up against one of several challenges:
- After an initial burst of customers, you’re likely seeing your ad costs going up and the number of qualified leads going down.
- Perhaps you’ve already encountered this problem and stopped running ads altogether, because you decided the platform was too expensive, or you’d already saturated the market.
- When you do reach your audience, it’s hard to stand out from the rest of your competition and drive action, especially if you’re in a crowded market.
- The quality of leads you do bring in is often less than ideal. You get a lot of price-hunters and find it hard to translate leads into sitting appointments for your closers to work their magic.
Despite these challenges, digital ads offer so many benefits over other traditional methods, like door to door, cold-calling, and getting leads from solar marketplaces.
They give you the control to attract more exclusive leads in less time, so that you can focus on closing and delivering for your customers, instead of just trying to attract them. For this reason, getting digital ads to work is well worth it, if you can overcome these challenges.
Understanding the Causes of High Ad Costs & Low Engagement
If we’re to find a solution to consistently attract qualified leads without increasing ad costs over time — in other words- without increasing the cost per acquisition– we need to understand one master equation that determines ad cost & performance:
I know this equation could look a bit daunting, but let’s just look at the overall concept it demonstrates by identifying the three main variables.
CPA stands for cost per acquisition. That’s what rises when your ads don’t perform well, which eventually makes you stop running them altogether. On the flip side, if your CPA is low, you’ll get more leads for less money, which is our goal here.
CPM is cost per thousand impressions of your ad on the platform.
CTR is click-through rate. It’s the percentage of people who click your ad’s call to action when they see it. While clicks are not the goal of every ad objective in the funnel, it is the final one that will determine how many people can sign up for your offer.
And PCCR is post click conversion rate. In other words, once they click your ad, this is the percentage of people who actually fill out a lead form and contact you.
So, looking at our equation, it’s in our best interest to keep the CPM low, and the CTR and PCCR high, so that our cost per acquisition remains low.
Most Local Solar Marketers Suffer from High CPM, Low CTR, Low PCCR or A Cocktail of All of Them
Most solar marketers will run one or several ads and keep them running over longer periods of time, which causes the CPA to go up. Let’s break down why by looking at the individual variables that affect the cost-per-acquisition:
CPM (Cost Per Thousand)
The more you show your ads to the same audience, the more your ads will suffer from audience fatigue. Audience fatigue is when your audience has seen your ads too many times, so they don’t engage with them. Engagement could mean viewing your video, messaging you, or clicking the ad–whatever objective you set up for it. You’ve battered the same people over and over with your ads. At a certain point, if they were interested, they would have contacted you. But you keep showing them, anyway, resulting in the ad engagement dropping.
The less often people engage with the ad, the more the platform charges you to show it. This is because showing your ad to an audience that has expressed disinterest in it decreases the likelihood that viewers will stay on the platform during that session, which is the platform’s primary goal, since, the more time viewers are there, the more advertising they see, and the more revenue the platform makes.
Therefore, platforms increase the CPM of that ad to balance the detrimental effect showing it has on the platform’s audience retention.
Similarly, your CTR will go up when your ads fatigue. The principle is the same. If you’ve been serving one ad to the same audience, they may click the first or second time they see it, but then they won’t after they’ve seen it multiple times.
Just like with CPM’s, the platform penalizes you for this ad fatigue. You’re giving their audience a worse experience on the platform, which means they may not stay on it as long, so the platform charges you for their loss of attention.
Lastly, the PCCR will decrease when you offer fatigue sets in. Offer fatigue is when you’ve made the same offer to the same audience for an extended period of time.
For example, if your only offer is to take advantage of tax rebates that haven’t changed in several months (or years!), your potential customers won’t feel any new reason to reach out.
Even if your ad works initially, and people click it, they’ll get to your offer page and find it’s the same one they’ve already said no to, so they’ll leave the page quickly. The platforms note this high bounce rate and penalize you, yet again.
So the key to keeping the cost per acquisition–or for each lead generated– lower is to avoid these three kinds of fatigue. So what can we do to counteract these naturally-occurring challenges?
How to Counteract Audience, Ad, and Offer Fatigue
1. Combat Low PCCR
One of these is relatively easy to correct, so let’s get it out of the way first.
To avoid low PCCR, change your offers (or how you position them) regularly, and make sure your funnel flows well by testing & improving it. Look at the different value propositions you have–whether that’s cost, warrantee, financing, rebates, or any other differentiating elements. Then rotate these offers on a consistent basis to consistently give your audience a new reason to get solar now.
2. Battle Audience Fatigue
On the other side of the spectrum, when operating as a local solar business, audience fatigue is probably the most challenging cost-increaser to battle. That’s because there are only so many people in one area.
You can, and should always be testing new audiences based on interests, behaviors, demographics, etc. But at the end of the day, depending on where you live, you may be marketing to the same 40,000 people over and over.
There are two ways you can continue to generate leads from this group and avoid audience fatigue:
1. First, speak to as many segments of your potential customers as possible by creating content that appeals to problem and solution-aware level audiences, instead of just product-aware.
This may seem obvious, but we rarely see solar install businesses doing this. Instead, they target only the smallest group of people– those who are already aware of solar and are comparing businesses.
They talk about pricing, offers, rebates, and warranties– all details of the solar product–instead of speaking to the larger pool of people who know they have a problem, like the emotional strains caused by high utility bills, environmental concerns, or those who are living out of alignment with their social values, but who may not be aware solar could be the solution to solve them.
By expanding your messaging to problem and solution-aware people and creating several ads and retargeting sequences to introduce yourself, position solar as the solution and THEN offer them a specific product offer, you’ll be able to appeal to the largest percentage of that audience.
Otherwise, you’re targeting the same, tiny number of people that all your competition is targeting, you’ll wear them out quickly with your ads, and you’ll pay a lot more for the privilege of continuing to reach them.
You may think that by serving several stages of ads, you’d be paying more. However, by serving relevant content to a larger audience and refining it over the course of several ads to people who have already expressed interest in your initial content, the platforms will reward you with lower ad costs, which actually make the total ad costs less than if you were just to try to run conversion ads to a cold audience.
3. Eliminate Ad Fatigue
Now we know we can expand the audience to include all stages of customer awareness; including, problem, solution, and product-aware people, instead of only product aware. But we’re still, ultimately, capped at a relatively small audience size in many local markets.
So the second way we can overcome this audience size problem is to regularly change our ads to provide them with new experiences, education, brand alignment, and reasons why solar is perfect for them. Conveniently, frequently changing ads is exactly what helps us eliminate ad fatigue and maintain a high CTR, which is the last variable in the equation we need to control.
The longer the ad runs, the less likely people are to engage or click, and the more the platform will charge you as a way to compensate for all of the attention it took for someone to engage with your ad.
By regularly serving different ad creative & copy, more people will engage with them, so the amount the platform charges you per ad objective–like CTR– will stay low.
If we serve relevant, engaging, new ads and different offers, we can continue to serve ads to our smaller, local audience without the CPA going up. By introducing new creative and offers, it’s like we’re re-setting the clock.
That being said, even though regularly creating new ads is probably the most important variable in keeping ad costs low, regularly creating, adding, and testing new ads is also probably the most difficult part of running ads for local solar businesses, because it takes time and creative expertise.
Moreover, there aren’t a lot of great examples of problem-aware stage ads to emulate, since most solar businesses run primarily bottom-of-funnel ads, so it’s not a quick copy and paste situation.
Traditionally, this means, you need to hire an in-house creative, a freelancer who you need to manage, or an agency to run all your ads for you, because they’ll have built-in creative services of varying degrees of quality. And any of these solutions can work. They just require extra up-front time and investment.
An Easier Solution
Here at Vybrary, we’ve set out to create solutions for local solar businesses who are running their own ads to keep CPA low, without adding the extra cost, risk, and time of hiring an outside agency to take over the entire process or needing to manage a creative freelancer who may or may not actually know the solar niche inside and out.
We offer a range of video-centric creative ad solutions to help local solar businesses create and frequently update video ads that stand out (therefore, keep their cost-per-acquisition low). We then offer video content & automations for every stage of the funnel to improve the PCCR and ensure you’re generating the maximum number of warm leads you can from each ad engagement. If you’re interested in learning more, you can view our video solutions here.
If DIY is more your flavor, we recommend checking out Canva, which is hands-down the best creative-generation platform we’ve encountered. It’s great for non-professional creatives to generate images and short, ‘thumb-stopper’ videos. We wouldn’t recommend them for your anchor-ad creative. But it can be a great solution for certain awareness-building objectives and day-to-day organic content.
Regardless of what tool you use, feel free to reach out with any questions, and we look forward to serving you further!