Email Marketing Best Practices for Utilities

June 19, 2018 | Blog

Email marketing and utilities: two words that, until recently, didn’t quite go together. For a combination of reasons, the utility industry has been one of the most resistant to adopt email marketing to connect with customers, even though we’ve seen impressive, sustainable open rates of up to 50%.

So, what gives?

In the past, utilities kept customer communications to a minimum. Communications that customers typically see from their utility (aside from bills) are: outages, rate hikes, billing issues… not exactly pleasant topics.

Today, everyone is connected and customer experience reigns supreme. Utility companies must try to meet their customers with the personalized care that they’ve come to expect.

Here are a few best practices to keep in mind while planning out an effective email marketing campaign that engages your customers and builds trust.

Make a Good First Impression

Inboxes are flooded with hundreds, of emails per day. This means that a company has about 60 characters to grab a reader’s attention with a creative subject line designed to entice the reader to click open.

Often, writing a subject line can feel like you’re playing a guessing game but considering 69% of email recipients report messages as spam based solely on a subject line, you must give this step some thought. While you could research tips and best practices, you won’t get far if you don’t take the time to A/B test your subject lines to see what is and isn’t resonating with your audience. Does your audience prefer long or short subject lines? How about puns? Does announcing an offer in a subject line get more opens? The more you know, the more you can personalize and increase your open rates.

Always Provide Value (and know who you’re talking to!)

The next step is to get recipients to read the message, and that means sending them relevant content they want to read, or better yet, view your video.

You don’t want to make consumers feel like a meter count or rate payer; they are people. Instead of sending out a mass email, how about sending out a quick survey that’ll help you get to know your customers preferences? Energy companies have tons of data they can use to personalize their content beyond just segmentation. Apogee’s clients can send video bill explanations with a customer’s actual billing data when an increase is detected in their next bill. This has been proven to increase brand perception and reduce calls to the call center. Include tips on how to save, information on programs, or rebates, and you can expect customer engagement to increase.

Respect Your Customers, Know the Rules

In an ideal world, our email recipients will always be excited to receive the messages we carefully create. But, part of building trust with your customers is giving them the option to easily opt out of your messages—and it’s also the law!

All forms of email marketing are regulated under the CAN-SPAM Act, a little piece of legislation that can have a BIG impact on your business. Failure to comply with CAN-SPAM can result in hefty fines, and in some extreme cases, legal trouble. Follow these guidelines from UnsubCentral to avoid headaches:

  1. Make it clear who’s sending the email.
  2. Make your unsubscribe link easy to find.
  3. Don’t use an image for your opt-out link.
  4. Include a way for subscribers to know the subscription address.
  5. Use preference centers to provide a single opt-out.
  6. Always honor opt-outs!

I hope you’ll walk away from this quick blog post with a renewed perspective on email marketing and how it can make a big impact on your customer relationships. Have you come across any examples of exceptional email marketing from utility companies? We’d love to know in the comments!


About The Author

Karen Morris, Marketing Manager, Apogee Interactive, Inc.

Karen manages Apogee’s marketing resources service as well as Apogee’s own corporate marketing efforts. For the past 17 years, she’s worked closely with utilities across the country to help them better market their energy efficiency programs through online initiatives. She brings timely and informative webinars to energy professionals through Apogee Institute as well as directs Apogee’s user groups.

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