10 Energy Marketing Strategies to Attract and Retain Customers

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6min. Read

The energy sector has transformed dramatically in the last two years. Traditional energy marketing approaches can’t satisfy changed customer expectations because customers now have more ability than ever to seek out alternative providers as deregulation increases. So how do you retain current energy customers and attract those that you have lost?  Here are 10 energy marketing strategies to help you attract and retain customers.

1. Personalize Offerings

According to Accenture, 33 percent of customers who abandoned a company did so because of a lack of personalization. And it’s not just residential customers: They also found 42 percent of SMBs believe customized solutions are vital components in customer satisfaction. Similarly, if a utility provides personalized customer service, SMBs are more likely to sign up for additional services.

New customers want individualized information and offers that are suited to their specific needs. According to J.D. Power’s digital experience study, easily viewable energy-use data is a crucial driver of a great web experience for energy consumers and leads to considerable increases in overall customer satisfaction.

Pro Tip

  • When showing personal usage data use barcharts. Our research shows that customers prefer them over pie or circle charts.

2. Make use of Text and Chat Features

Millennial customers want a two-way connection with businesses and prefer to communicate with them via SMS and chat (not email). In fact, according to a recent McKinsey poll, 60 percent of customers are dissatisfied with the present communication channels offered by retail energy companies, and 45 percent prefer to communicate via digital media.

If you want to engage and build trust with customers, reach out to your largest demographic using the channels they like. To be effective, these two-way dialogues must be relevant, so seek ways to make your consumers feel heard. Yes, this means you will need to increase your overhead costs by adding headcount (text/mobile specialists) to your marketing department as well as your legal review team (most need to quicken the approval process for text and social).

As an aside, don’t forget to make an extra effort to make your social media posts visually appealing – increase your use of video too!

Pro Tip

  • Integrate a customer service app with a live chat feature to allow your customers to interact with your CSRs (customer service reps) and PR staff whenever they want.

Energy Marketing - The New Fundamentals for Every Marketer

Whether you are new to the energy industry or a seasoned program implementer who wants to better how marketing works in your industry, our free guide was designed for you. 

3. Harness Digital Marketing

This may sound simplistic and self evident but…

This year, millennials will overtake Baby Boomers as the largest customer demographic in the United States. Their digital proficiency means they are less likely to respond to traditional marketing tactics. This generation has spent the majority of their life online, and according to an Accenture research, only 52 percent of 25-to-34-year-olds believe their digital experience with their energy provider is positive.

According to J.D. Power and Associates, the energy sector is one of the worst-performing industries in terms of digital marketing, leaving a big segment of customers dissatisfied – yes, this negatively impacts your JD Power scores! 

So what are the digital marketing areas most utilities need to improve? Here they are: 

  1. Video – don’t think you need an expensive production company; keep them simple authentic, raw and even a little rough around the edges
  2. Content & Content Marketing – install a company content lead and task them to create a content strategy and calendar for the entire company; then hire great writers that know how to write in familiar tones (most writers in utilities use off putting vanilla corp-speak) plus make SEO (both content and technical) mandatory for every piece of content. Take a newsroom approach to content creation.
  3. Text (see section #2)
  4. SEO – search engine optimization has become vital to online success and with the new privacy rules in full swing discoverability is becoming necessary for survival (energy companies need to break new ground and hire an in-house SEO expert or an agency and make sure they are as proficient with the technical requirements as they are with keywords)

Pro Tip

  • Look for an energy marketing agency that has a bullet-proof digital marketing background, knows how to help you transition from traditional channels and knows the needs of millenials.

4. Don’t Create a Detailed Customer Journey Map

Yep, that’s not a typo; we said don’t. So we are on the same page… A customer journey map depicts the key points of customer interaction from start to finish, allowing you to pinpoint pain points and discover new strategies to build long-term relationships. A light and doable map should absolutely be designed; however, all of the energy companies and utilities we’ve worked with created very detailed (and expensive) maps prior to hiring us. None of them have the resources to execute against them so frustration and embarrassment has put those maps on a shelf never to be seen again. Just do a high-level map and work out the details as you progress.

Pro Tip

  • Spend no more than a week or two mapping the journey out, use tools like Mural to make the map collaborative and easily edited; and make it a living document that you add to as you learn.

5. Unify Each Touchpoint

If you’ve spent any time on a site built by an energy provider you will notice how fractured the experience is. Internal links send you down a rabbit hole, menus are missing and the information is 4+ clicks deep (2-3 is the ideal). This sounds worse than it is from a solvability perspective. Yes, it’s a bad customer experience that brings down your JD Power scores but it’s often improved by revamping linking, fixing menus and reorganizing the great content you already have. Focus on unifying the customer journey and your content.

According to the Harvard Business Review, 73 percent of customers are “omnichannel,” meaning they conduct their research and shopping across various platforms. According to Demand Metric, brand consistency results in a 23 percent revenue gain on average. Customers are confused by inconsistency, and your credibility suffers as a result. 

Pro Tip

  • To create a seamless experience, ensure your digital design system is consistent across all pages/platforms. This sounds too basic to mention but almost every energy company we’ve worked with has odd orphan pages that don’t look or behave in harmony with their other digital assets.

6. Identify High-Value Customers

Customer relationships that last a long time have the greatest impact on your company’s performance. To discover high-value consumers who engage with your brand, use the data from connected touch points as well as NPS data.

It costs five to twenty-five times more to acquire a new customer than to keep an existing one; thus, retaining existing high-value consumers is critical. NPS, for example, can assist you in identifying promoters who have a CLV of six to fourteen times that of detractors.

Utilities and energy companies are not immune to needing to target high-value customers so don’t dismiss this. Competition is growing from all angles so this will matter more and more each year.

Pro Tip

  • Be prepared to make a case to your evaluation and regulatory bodies to do more targeted marketing that may not always include all customers – this can be an issue with regulators that are hyper-concerned about marginalized customers.

7. Focus on Local

By adopting corporate social responsibility (CSR) and establishing yourself as a beneficial member of your society, you may improve client retention. Increase your presence with customers and local community leaders by sponsoring events, donating to local causes, and supporting local groups. Customers will notice your brand’s CS if you establish a positive presence in your community.

This can leave a lasting impact, especially among people under the age of 40. In a study conducted by McKinsey, it was discovered that in addition to increasing employee retention, encouraging CSR increases brand recognition and consumer loyalty, driving more sales and goodwill.

Pro Tip

  • Generally the energy industry, especially renewable energy, is good at this but what most are not good at is promoting their efforts. Do more self-promotion in this area; not necessarily more programs.

8. Let Your Customers Do the Talking

One of your most powerful marketing tools is your loyal consumers. With new audiences, your company’s messaging can only go so far. However, positive customer feedback and suggestions can be incredibly persuasive.

Positive evaluations make 68 percent of consumers more likely to purchase from a firm, according to BrightLocal’s Local Consumer Review Survey. By tailoring your services to match your consumers’ demands, you may transform them into dedicated brand champions. According to BrightLocal’s report, 70% of customers are willing to post a review for a brand if requested, therefore don’t be scared to ask your customers.

Pro Tip

  • Allow customers to speak openly about your products and services and reply immediately to any unfavorable criticism.

9. Become a Trusted Advisor

Customers now, more than ever, want to be well-informed about their energy options especially with all of the media around the threat of dramatic price increases. Providing neutral and trustworthy information is an excellent method to address this requirement. A dedicated content strategy that targets frequent search terms can convert your website into a trusted resource, resulting in more clients finding you through organic search engines.

71 % of Consumers want to be able to resolve customer care concerns themselves, according to Aspect Software. According to Microsoft’s current State of Global Customer Service Report, one of the more annoying aspects of solving their issue is not being able to address problems on their own.

Pro Tip

  • Determine the search keywords that are most likely to reach clients in your area using accurate data. Then produce customer service content that enables clients to resolve issues without contacting your service or sales department.

10.  Make Offers Visually Appealing and Easy to Understand

Visual content—like energy conservation success stories, energy-efficient technology, energy trading strategies, and energy-saving tips—can help paint a picture of the energy company that young energy consumers can relate to. With this knowledge at hand, energy branders can start to create compelling energy marketing materials that include relevant visual content.

When you offer energy price plans that are not only straightforward, but also visually appealing and simple to understand they improve the impact greatly.

After all, millennials tend towards simplicity and minimalism in their energy usage. Keeping presentation elements simple and straightforward is a strategy that you need to employ in your marketing efforts. This also means keeping those that create rate structures away from naming them. Too many quants are allowed to do communications/marketing and it doesn’t work.

Pro Tip

  • As marketers you need to draw clear lines between product/rate/service development and the communications of those things. Marketing needs to be left with the experts. Think about this, would a rate designer/quant let a marketer build a rate structure? Nuff’ said.

Conclusion

There are many ways for a utility or energy companies to attract and retain customers, but the most important thing is knowing which tactic to use at the right time and understanding how it impacts the overall customer relationship.  This is why finding a seasoned energy marketing agency is so important.  If you have questions or need more information about any of these details, let’s talk. 

Energy Marketing - The New Fundamentals for Every Marketer

Whether you are new to the energy industry or a seasoned program implementer who wants to better how marketing works in your industry, our free guide was designed for you. 

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