The solar photovoltaic panel market has had a hard time recently. Having reached great heights over the last 3 years, making the UK the fastest growing market in the world for PV installations in 2010, the government’s sudden announcement of an immediate reduction in the feed-in tariff last November caused chaos amongst customers and installers alike. Following an explosion in orders at the beginning of November, demand came to a virtual halt over the Christmas period, causing much concern and even some company closures.
Fortunately this dip was short-lived for several reasons: legal challenges meant that the reduction was delayed and that the ongoing timetable for reductions was reorganised; installers realised that the new FIT, running from 1st April (with eligibility from 3rd March) was still a pretty good deal for customers as the cost of panels has come down considerably; demand for solar PV panels picked up again on what has become a key marketing channel - the internet.
It’s pretty obvious really. If you’re thinking about installing solar pv panels on your house, how do you do your research? You can ask friends. You could buy a book or scour the papers for information. But the font of all knowledge these days is the world wide web, and this is where most people go to find out what they need to know so that they feel well-informed and less likely to be scammed when the time comes to contact a sales person. This approach has also created an advantage for said sales person as he/she can be more sure of the genuine level of interest of any potential customer who gets in contact via the web.
This type of contact is known as a ’sales lead’ or ‘lead’, and it’s online leads more than anything else that have helped the UK solar panel industry grow in the way that it has. Existing installers have realised that by providing contact forms on their web sites they can have a steady flow of interested potential clients to call back. Newcomers to the market have been encouraged to launch with little or no contacts, knowing that strong online marketing can help them generate leads quickly. And, most importantly, lead generation companies - marketing companies already expert in generating leads for industries such as finance and health, have opened for business in the renewable energy world.
Solar lead generation companies, as with their partners in other industries, generally work on a cost per lead basis, charging only for the correct details of interested potential customers delivered. This helps installers minimise the risk of investing in leads, knowing that a certain amount of leads purchased will result in a customer signed up. In addition, a good lead company will focus on quality and not on quantity, knowing that to ensure a long term relationship it is important to deliver leads that are likely to become customers and thus constitute a good investment for their clients.
In many ways the internet has changed the way we sell. That’s not to say there’s not still a role for door to door, face to face selling, or for the all important ‘tell a friend and get a reward’ approach. But it’s pretty safe to say that most installers of solar PV panels today would be lost without the internet and the leads it produces.