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The Complete Guide to Using Google Ads for your Solar Business

If you're a solar panel installer who wants more customers, you have many different options to promote your business. You could advertise with social media, newspapers, flyers or radio. While all of these techniques are part of an overall marketing strategy to boost sales, in this post we're going to dive into how Google Ads can be a key part of your solar digital marketing toolkit.

What is it?

Formerly known as Adwords, Google Ads lets businesses buy targeted advertising on Google as well as a wide range of affiliated websites. Among other places, your link can appear at the top of the search results when potential customers look for information about solar panels. Google Ads take some effort to set up, but they're affordable and highly effective.

Advantages

Unlike mass-media promotions, Google enables you to target buyers who have specifically searched for nearby solar installers. The statistics prove that this method truly increases website traffic and sales in a cost-effective way. For example, about 13 out of 20 people click sponsored links in search results before they make purchases.

Google reports that businesses achieve an average 800 percent return on their marketing investments. While it's certainly in the company's interest to make such a claim, no one can deny that Google ranks as the world's top search engine. Most people turn to it when they want to find products and services to buy. A newspaper, blog or social media outlet can influence spending decisions, but customers don't often use it as a business directory.

Another advantage of Google Ads is that it delivers web traffic quickly. Many marketing methods take considerably longer. Search engine optimisation often boosts sales in the long run, but you won't see any traffic until search engines rank your website well. Likewise, Google advertisers needn't wait for the next issue of a magazine or newsletter.

Google Ads lets you easily control your marketing costs. You only need to make a very small upfront investment, and you'll have the option to limit monthly spending to a certain amount. If your spare cash runs low, you can immediately pause a campaign without closing the account.

Google supplies plenty of helpful statistics on the performance of ads. This will help you enhance your promotions in ways that maximise sales and minimise costs. It's harder to track the results of search optimisation, radio, TV or print media campaigns.

So in summary, here are the advantages of using Google Ads:

  • Allows specific targeting options to discover people searching for solar in your area
  • Improves traffic volume to your site
  • Better control over marketing budgets 
  • Reporting data allows you to make better decisions.

How it works

You'll need to bid on relevant keywords that determine where your ads appear and who reads them. Higher bids cause more people to see the advertisements over a shorter period of time. A high bid also raises the placement of a search ad to a higher position, increasing its visibility.

Setup process

It's relatively easy to create an account. After you select "start now," Google will quickly guide you through the setup process. You'll need to decide how much to bid and select a geographic area to target. However, it takes time to write new compelling ads and choose the right keywords for your campaign.

You can opt to buy video, search or display ads. Video advertisements show up for short periods of time when people watch related videos on YouTube. Display ads may consist of pictures or text, and they appear on a wide variety of websites. Search advertising is text-only and limited to Google search results.

Keywords

Advertisers use keywords and phrases to attract people searching on those terms. For example, you could bid on the key phrase "Sydney solar panel installer."  Searchers who enter these terms will see your ad. You choose search advertising to appear in the Google search queries, or choose display advertising and Google will promote your business on webpages that contain the desired keywords.

Using negative keywords will cut costs by targeting your campaign more precisely. They'll prevent your ads from appearing when searchers enter unwanted words like "cheapest" or "become" or "jobs." You wouldn't want to spend money advertising to people who search for "how to become a solar panel installer."

Targeting options

Remarketing provides an effective targeting option. If you choose this method, Google will only show your ad to people who have already viewed your website. This usually increases the chance that visitors will make purchases, but it only works if you've been able to attract potential customers in the first place.

Google also lets you use demographics to target internet users as well. For instance, you could focus on middle-aged men and women in their 30s who live in Western Australia. The best options differ depending on your solar company's location, size, marketing strategy, pricing, history and other factors.

Below is an example of geo-location targeting.  You could choose to target a radius in Melbourne as your desired location.

google-ads-location-targeting

 

However if you want to get even more granular, and you know exactly where your ideal customer is, Google allows you to enter postcodes to narrow your targeting and prevent wasted clicks.

google-ads-postcode-locations

 

Bidding methods

Google allows you to bid on ad space manually or automatically. Manual bidding takes longer but gives you more control and may cut costs. On the other hand, automatic bidding allows Google's computers (machine learning) to set your bids in an effort to maximise visibility while staying within your budget.

You'll also have to choose between cost-per mille (CPM), click (CPC), acquisition (CPA) or engagement (CPE) bidding. A CPM bid represents how much money you'll spend to show your ad to 1,000 viewers. The popular CPC method involves paying a certain amount for every visit to your website.

If you select CPE, you'll pay for a specific action; Google could charge you when someone watches a promotional video linked to your ad. Finally, CPA bidding only requires you to spend money if a user actually purchases solar panels. This option costs the most but involves less risk.

For typical search ads, these are the bidding option available:

google-ads-bidding-strategies

When you're getting started we recommend a manual CPC strategy so you have more control over your spend.

How Ad Rank works

A high bid doesn't necessarily guarantee a prominent position for your advertisement. Google wants to display relevant, high-quality ads that will achieve high rates of clicks and sales. Consequently, it uses a complex formula to calculate an Ad Rank for each campaign. This rating affects how often and where advertisements appear.

Google multiplies the quality score for your campaign by your top bid to find its rank. Among other factors, the design of your website and the pertinence of your ad to the selected keywords will influence its quality score. You might achieve a higher score by choosing more relevant keywords like "solar contractor" rather than "alternative energy."

Why Your Ads Aren't Showing

An "impression" occurs every time someone sees an advertisement. If you set up a campaign but the number of impressions stays at zero, there are a few different things you can investigate:

  • Google may not have approved your ad yet; sometimes this can take one to two business days
  • It's also possible that your keywords are too obscure
  • You have a low Ad Rank.

Good Ad Examples

We have found a lot of conversion success with solar ads that are simple and to the point. Ad variations allows you to see which messaging resonates best with the person searching.  Take a look at the following ad examples:

Solar Example Ads-1

Measurements

After people start seeing and clicking your ads, it's wise to keep track of result statistics in an effort to gauge your campaign's impact. The conversion rate reflects the percentage of website visitors who contact your business. A low number might call for design improvements or more compelling ads.

The click-through rate reveals the percentage of ad viewers who click the image or link and visit your company's website. Google often gives preference to advertisers with fairly high numbers, and a low rate increases the total cost of a CPM campaign. Few click-throughs may mean that you need better keyword targeting or a more attractive ad.

Although Google has made an effort to create a user-friendly internet advertising system, it can take a considerable amount of time to develop and maintain an effective campaign. 

Here's a snapshot of one of our solar ebook campaigns.  The following are considered average industry benchmarks to aim for in your search campaigns:

Click Through Rate: 2%
Cost Per Click: brand terms are usually under $1.00, and
general solar terms can range between $2 - $17 per click.
Cost Per Conversion: 2.5%

 

google-ad-summary_stats_conversion_rate

In looking at the results above you can see:

  • On brand terms, the dealer is paying $20.44 per conversion
  • On general solar terms, the dealer is paying $84.57 per conversion.  

When you consider the cost of a residential solar system on a standard 4 bedroom home, paying between $20-$85 per customer is a solid return on investment.

Benchmark source: Wordstream

Need Help Managing Google Ads?

We understand that not everyone is comfortable delving into new platforms. If you’re looking for help with Google Ads, talk to us about setting up and managing your campaigns for you.

Topics: marketing for solar dealers, solar marketing tips, Google Ads for Solar

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Markus Lambert

Markus Lambert

National Manager, Solar Sales
LG Electronics Australia Pty Ltd
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