3 Trends in Digital Customer Engagement for Utilities
Maintaining a strong digital relationship with customers is no longer optional for energy utilities. It’s required in order to sustain customer engagement, program participation and long-term satisfaction. In fact, it’s not just a best practice for your business, it’s a basic expectation among your customers.
Each year Questline’s Energy Utility Benchmarks Report takes a deep look at marketing performance across the industry. In 2021 we identified three trends that are driving digital engagement and helping utilities build stronger relationships with their customers.
1. Customers with a digital relationship with their energy provider are significantly more receptive to programs and other services.
2. Customers can’t get enough energy efficiency information from their energy utility.
3. Customers that receive personalized messages are much more likely to engage with their utility.
Let’s take a closer look at these trends to see how energy utilities can harness them to improve the customer experience.
Trend 1: Digital relationships drive program participation
Customers who have an active, ongoing digital relationship with their energy provider not only engage with their utility at greater rates, but are significantly more receptive to programs and services. For example, Questline performance metrics consistently show that customers who are introduced to their utility with a series of welcome messages respond to future communication at a rate 30% higher than customers who did not receive an introductory message.
So, what does a digital relationship look like? It connects with customers from day one with relevant messaging as part of new service signups. The relationship also needs to include regularly scheduled, informational and educational communications such as a monthly eNewsletter. From that starting point, program promotions and other utility messages are proven to be more effective throughout the customer journey.
Trend 2: Customers can’t get enough energy efficiency information
Energy efficiency was the top content topic for utility customers last year. This trend peaked during early days of the COVID pandemic, with energy efficiency messages driving an impressive 26% open rate. Video content in particular has boomed. In fact, 96% of consumers say they have increased the amount of video content they watch since the pandemic struck.
This interest in energy efficiency extends beyond content, with related programs and services seeing increased signups as customers continue spending more time at home — and working from home — for the foreseeable future. Customers are more aware of their energy use than ever before. With education and effective digital engagement, this is the time for utilities to help customers take control of their energy use and save.
Slide 3: Personalization is key to customer engagement
Many utilities have accelerated their use of customization and personalization in their marketing and communications. Customers who received these messages — tailored to their specific interests and needs — are much more likely to engage with their utility’s programs and services. For example, segmented eNewsletters for business customers that are customized for specific industries have a 22% higher open rate and 44% higher click-through rate compared to general, unsegmented newsletters. For some industries, the engagement is 84% higher!
Today, the standard for digital engagement is set by companies like Google, Amazon and Netflix, all of whom have built their business models around personalized customer experiences. Your energy customers are also customers of these companies — they know exactly what engaging, personalized content looks like.
By building a digital relationship with customers, and maintaining engagement with a consistent cadence of personalized messages, energy utilities will not only increase participation in relevant programs, they will improve the customer experience and long-term satisfaction.
Dave Reim is the president and owner of Questline, a digital agency that provides content marketing and program promotion solutions to energy utilities who want to build long-term relationships with their customers.