Digital Engagement Is Growing For Energy Customers

by Bethany Farchione

Energy utility customers are engaging with digital communications from their energy providers more than ever before. Data from the newly released 2021 Energy Utility Benchmarks Report showcases a rise in digital engagement across the board. 

Utility customers opened more emails and engaged with more content than years past. Overall email open rates in 2020 hit an all-time high at 28% – a 14% increase from the previous year.

The pandemic was a major driver. Digital adoption accelerated among all audiences – business and residential – as they looked to their energy service providers for help. During the initial months of the pandemic email open rates were 44% higher than the overall benchmark.

How to Maintain and Grow Digital Engagement with Energy Customers

Maintaining and growing these digital relationships will be a priority for 2021. While initial open and click improvements can be traced back to COVID-19 concerns, energy providers now have the opportunity to capitalize and grow customer relationships for years to come.

Be consistent – Maybe you launched a monthly eNewsletter or webinar series during the pandemic to get information out about payment programs. Don’t stop these communications. Consistency in messaging goes a long way for engagement. 

When customers can expect to receive monthly communication from their energy provider, they are more likely to remain loyal readers. Don’t stop sending just because the pandemic is leveling out. Your customers will wonder where you went. Instead, fill in with relevant, helpful content and continue sending. 

Clean up your data – The 2021 Energy Utility Benchmarks Report shows a 1% decrease in email deliverability over the last year. Many energy providers tried to contact customers via digital channels that had never been reached that way before. This increased bounces and lowered overall deliverability. 

Make sure your customer contact information is correct. Run a campaign to encourage customers to update contact information or sign up for alerts.  

Survey your customers – Ask your customers what they want to hear more about. Send a survey to identify if they want to learn about things like energy efficiency, solar, renewables or electric vehicles. Then use that information to build segmented campaigns. 

The easiest way to lose digitally engaged customers is to send them information they don’t want. Take the extra time to identify interest and build communications that meet those particular needs. 

Try video – Data from the 2021 Energy Utility Benchmarks Report highlights a rise of interest in video. eNewsletters alone earned 90,591 video views in 2020. Further, 96% of consumers say they’ve increased the amount of video content they’ve watched online during the pandemic.

Use videos to educate customers on key topics like smart technology and energy efficiency. Video is now a preferred learning platform for younger generations and a communication tool that shouldn’t be ignored. 

Surprise and delight – Customers love to feel special. Send them something unexpected to put a smile on their face. Anniversary emails are a simple yet impactful way to show you care. Touchpoints that go above and beyond customer expectations can impact loyalty in a big way. 

The Long-term Impacts of Engagement

Customers that engage with your digital content are more likely to continue opening your future communications. During the pandemic, the 2021 Energy Utility Benchmarks Report shows that engaged energy customers opened utility communications at a 16.4% higher rate than customers who were not. Similarly, customers who opened initial welcome email messages were 30% more likely to open future emails. 

Today’s consumers expect and want digital communications from their service providers. Continue sending engaging content to raise satisfaction scores. 

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Bethany Farchione is Marketing Director at Questline, a content marketing agency that provides solutions to energy marketers who want to build long-term relationships with their customers, increase program participation, drive customer engagement and grow customer satisfaction.

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