Solar Marketing 101: Walking Visitors through Solar Energy Incentives, Pt. 2

Solar Marketing 101 - Solar Energy IncentivesIn Part 1 of this post, we explored the importance of solar incentives and how promoting them could help combat some of the very powerful misconceptions surrounding solar PV affordability.

Today, we continue the discussion and look at a couple more options for educating users and making your solar marketing efforts more effective.

Option 2: Link to Official Solar Incentive Websites and Programs

If you don’t want to rewrite a ton of information, you can always link directly to the official solar rebate sites that you want your readers to know about (check out DSIRE and Energy.gov to help you get started).

There are pros and cons with this approach as well.

Advantages:

  • Minimal upkeep is the main advantage here.  When programs change, you don’t have to worry about it as much (unless the program itself dies completely).  Again, Google Alerts can help you remain abreast of changes.
  • Less legal exposure.  Since the information is not directly on your site, you’re not responsible for the wording or “promises.”  You’re just referring users.
  • Your site is still useful since it alerts visitors to these opportunities and explains (more or less) what the incentives are and what resources they should explore to obtain them.

Disadvantages:

  • There isn’t much SEO value – unless you include a lot of unique content of your own.  This means you won’t receive as much search engine traffic.
  • A portion of the traffic that you do receive will leave.  After all, you’re directing people away from your site.

Option 3: Cutting and Pasting to Your Own Site

I’ve seen some solar sites that simply cut and paste information about incentives, rebates, tax credits, etc.

This is relatively easy to do – you don’t have to put much thought into cutting and pasting.  That’s the primary advantage.

But to me, this option is actually the worst of both worlds, and I don’t recommend it.

Here are the cons:

  • There is very little SEO benefit in posting duplicate content on your site.  In fact, you may expose yourself to potential blowback from Google, Yahoo, and Bing who downgrade your site specifically because it has duplicate content.
  • You still have to go through the trouble of monitoring solar incentives and making sure that the copied version on your own site reflects the most recent changes.

You’re better off just writing the content yourself (and staying on top of changes) or linking to the official rebate and tax credit sites.

But which should you choose?

Solar Incentives: Making Them Your Own vs. Linking to the Authorities?

As mentioned before, I’m an SEO junkie, and my general preference is to make the content your own.

But there are very compelling reasons why you might prefer linking to the official Websites of whatever solar incentives could best help your customers.

Below are 3 of those reasons:

1.  Your Solar Marketing Budget Is Limited

Perhaps you don’t have the budget or bandwidth to rewrite all of this information.  It does take some time getting the core content up.  And of course, you need someone who can stay on top of changes.

Not everyone can afford those kinds of resources.  It may make sense to keep the copy light and use hyperlinks for the most important components.

Then again, if you’re the only game in town that provides this type of information, you can set yourself apart from the competition.

2.  You Serve a Very Large Solar Market

This is pretty similar to the reason above.  If you’re a regional distributor or installer, you only have to worry about the solar incentives in New Jersey or California or wherever.

But if you cater to the national market, it may be impossible (or at least very difficult) to stay on top of all the programs out there.  With 50 states to deal with, you’d have to make changes constantly.  This can be very taxing – even if you start with a generous solar marketing budget.

I don’t think anyone would get mad at you if you opted to link to solar incentive programs directly.

3.  Solar Incentives Are Your Core Business (or a Value Added Service)

Some companies charge a fee to help customers seek and apply for solar incentives.

If incentives are a part of your core business or a value added service, you may want to tone down the access a bit and highlight how your company can help customers overcome the “very real difficulties” of applying for solar incentives.

In other words, you:

  • Briefly explain the who, what, when, and how of solar incentives
  • Provide links to official program sites (for users who want to learn more)
  • Sell users on your ability to help them secure these incentives if they decide to sign up with your company

Comprehensive Solar Marketing Can Be a Pain – But It’s Worth It

Very little of what I just described sounds like fun.  The technical side of you probably prefers to deal with efficiency rates and power output.  The marketing side is likely more comfortable with social media and conversions.

The prospect of sludging through legalese, terms & conditions, and application deadlines – it’s probably not very appealing.  I don’t blame you.

But you know what?  As unpleasant and daunting as solar incentives may be for you – they’re even more uninviting for the customers you hope to convert.

This is why spoon-feeding your visitors is such a critical part of solar marketing.  The goal is to remove as many barriers to entry as possible.  If you make their jobs easier, you paradoxically make your own job easier as well (despite the initial and ongoing effort involved).

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  If 97% of Americans overestimate the cost of going solar by as much as $20,000 – we haven’t been doing our job.

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