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My approach to asking for referrals at scale can be summed up as: Just A-S-K.

  • Automate
  • Send
  • Keep Going

The third part – Keep Going – isn’t directly related to referrals, but it’s such a slam dunk, especially if you’re creating content like emails or articles for your newsletter.

If you’re taking the time to write articles, you should definitely use those articles to help your website rank better on Google, and if the articles fit within the theme, I recommend repackaging them as an eBook.

Creator vs. Curator

I’ll say more about both online rankings and eBooks, but first I want to make it clear that you don’t necessarily need to write custom articles to have a successful newsletter.

There’s actually a lot of good content out there already. For example, the US Department of Energy and ENERGY STAR program are prolific.

One approach is to serve as a curator, finding the best of what’s out there, and sharing it with your audience to help them overcome challenges and get what they want.

The advantage here is that it’s quicker and less expensive to curate content from other people. This makes a lot of sense if you’re just starting out or if you’re working with a tight budget.

The challenge is that you have a lot less control over the specifics. For example, it may be hard to find content that aligns perfectly with the messaging that your sales team is uses in the field.

The other approach is to create your own content, which is more expensive but gives you a lot more control. It can also help with organic rankings, which I’ll get to in just a minute.

The last thing to say here is that it doesn’t have to be black and white. One of m clients uses a hybrid approach, where we send a weekly email with alternating weeks between curated content and custom content.

This allows us to do more with a moderate budget.

Ranking on Google

When it comes to organic search, content and links are the two most important factors for ranking pages on Google. You need to add new, relevant content to your website to rank higher and connect with more customers.

Of course, if you’re writing articles for your newsletter, you don’t need to write totally separate articles for your blog – use the same articles for both.

The topic of search engine optimization or SEO requires a separate article, but the basic strategy is to write an article on your website (typically on your blog) that serves your audience and helps you rank better. Write a short summary of the article for your newsletter, and invite your audience to read the full article on your site.

If you have articles that serve your audience at different stages in their buying cycle, you can link to those articles from your main service pages. For example:

Awareness: Your customer realizes that they have a potential problem or opportunity. Perhaps they notice that their energy bills are really high. It sure would be great if they could pay less.

Consideration: At this stage, the customer has clearly defined or given a name to their problem or opportunity. They definitely wants to reduce their energy bills, BUT they’re concerned about putting money into solar and not seeing a noticeable decrease.

Decision: Customers at this stage have defined the strategy or approach that they’re going to use to solve their problem. They get an estimate, but they feel like they can’t afford a system right now.

You may be tempted to write only about concerns faced by customers in the final decision-making stage of their buying cycle – concerns like costs and payback. This would be a mistake. It’s important to spread out your content so that you’re also addressing the goals and concerns of customers in the first two stages.

When you create content like this and link to it from your main service pages, you serve your audience. They see pictures and links to articles about the types of systems that you recommend and the costs of installing them. They’re more likely to continue clicking, reading, and spending time on your site – all of which shows strong customer engagement and will help you rank better over time.

The best part is that when you provide your audience with content that speaks to to their fears and aspirations, they’re more likely to schedule estimates and move forward with projects.

Work Smarter, Not Harder with eBooks

Take a look at your list of ideas for newsletter topics. Do the topics fit together within a theme? Like, “What are the top priorities for saving energy at home?” If so, then you could repackage your newsletter articles as chapters in an eBook.

This would effectively double the mileage that you get from the effort that you put into writing content to serve your audience.

Why an eBook? Because you can offer a high value eBook to website visitors in exchange for their email addresses. When someone downloads your eBook, they give you the opportunity to continue sharing valuable content and earn their trust over time.

Downloading an eBook is what’s referred to as a “transitional conversion.” On your website, you probably spend most of your time prioritizing “conversions” like calls and messages that result in estimates and projects.

That’s good, but if you focus only on conversions, then you’re missing out on a large number of site visitors who are interested in energy efficiency but aren’t ready to schedule an estimate. Give them a way to stay in touch by downloading your eBook and subscribing to your newsletter.

Bill Hoelzer

Bill is the Principal at Volta Strategies. He’s spent almost a decade marketing solar and energy efficiency companies, driving sustained, double-digit growth and millions of dollars in new revenue for his clients.

Grow Profitably

No-nonsense growth strategies for solar + energy efficiency contractors. Delivered once a week.


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→  Referrals

→  Email

→  SEO


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→  Automation

→  Sales