Living in a Digital World

Aug 26, 2019

The internet is an increasingly important part of our daily lives and being immersed in technology has become a part of our culture. Things around us are continuing to get smarter, faster, more connected, and increasingly digital. Most transactions consumers have today include a digital, online, or mobile option.

Although utilities are turning to digital marketing, according to JD Power1 they are among the lowest-performing industries in this area and also update their digital properties at a slower pace, compared with other industries. This is not a newsflash to those of us within the industry, we have historically lagged behind other industries when it comes to emerging marketing tactics, and digital marketing is no different. Some utilities still use paper bills, the industry is starting to pave a path forward and broaden the ways in which we engage with customers.

Digital Marketing Defined

According to Marketo, digital marketing refers to advertising delivered through digital channels such as search engines, websites, social media, email, and mobile apps.

Digital marketing is an important tool for utilities and other energy efficiency companies. Because the internet is entwined in our daily lives, it is important to communicate to customers not only through traditional mediums, but digital channels as well -- websites, emails, mobile apps, social media, and others. This ensures that your message is reaching all audiences, young and old alike. The utility workforce is also aging and retiring at an increasing rate. By connecting with younger audiences now, you could also potentially draw some of them into our industry as employees.

Digital Marketing and Utilities

The JD Power Survey provides an analysis of a company’s digital presence and measures the complete digital experience of utility customers. The 2019 study ranked these 5 utilities highest in overall satisfaction based on customers’ perceptions of the available websites and mobile apps as well as the social, email, chat and text functions:

  • SRP
  • AEP
  • SMUD
  • Florida Power & Light
  • Georgia Power

Below we’ve highlighted examples of how utilities are starting to pave the way with digital marketing.

 

Salt River Project: Social Media.

Salt River Project (SRP) is an electric and water utility based out of Phoenix, AZ. They are doing a lot of things well with digital marketing, which is why JD Power ranked them so high in their survey. Their website is clean, well thought out, and easy to navigate. They communicate with a large number of customers through various digital networks -- Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and LinkedIn, as well as a corporate blog. They have garnered quite a number of followers on these channels by sharing fun photos and videos, information on jobs, events they attend, contests, storm updates, outage information and more.

 

ComEd: Facebook Ads.

Advertising has always been difficult. It’s hard to say how many people will see a billboard, or read a magazine ad, and how many of those people are actually your target audience. Then social media platforms (like Facebook) came along. They offered a captive audience which had provided tons of demographic data to help advertisers reach a greater percentage of their target audience. We’ve all seen the ads from big and small brands alike, and utilities are joining in as well. ComEd has advertised to both residential and business customers through this digital medium.

 

 

AEP: Content Marketing.

AEP has done a great job of providing relevant and useful content to both their residential and commercial customers through blogs. By having two separate blogs on their website they are ensuring that each audience finds the information that is most relevant to them. The content they provide is strengthening relationships and building trust.

 

Gulf Power: Mobile Marketing.

Through Twitter and a text campaign, Gulf Power is promoting bill pay options. The text campaign provides you with a map of the nearest location to pay your bill and the locations include non-traditional places such as CheckFree Pay and Western Union, located within Walmart and other locations.

 

Alabama Power: Mobile App.

While a mobile app is farther down the list of digital strategies for most utilities, Alabama Power (who shows up 18th on JD Power’s list) is already engaging with their customers through this digital medium, and using digital tactics (like Twitter) to promote the app. The app allows customers to check account balances, pay bills, make billing arrangements, view energy usage, and get the latest news and updates.

The social media landscape is a vast one. It goes well beyond sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. In 2008, Brian Solis and JESS3 launched The Conversation Prism. It is a visual map of the social media landscape which can help you navigate the digital world, as well as brainstorm new channels and ways to benefit from social media.

Whatever digital marketing you choose to do, make sure you choose to do it well and keep it fresh. Make sure to review and refine your efforts to ensure that you are resonating with your customers and continuing to meet their expectations.

1 JD Power 2019 Utility Digital Experience Study

Related Resources:

Generation Z and its Potential Impacts on the Energy Industry
Connecting with Generation Z
Show Some Emotion in Your Marketing
Energy Program Marketing Services