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How to Accelerate Digital Customer Relationships

Our world revolves around relationships — from romantic love to rapport with coworkers. For energy utilities, digital customer relationships are vital to grow customer engagement, increase program conversions and improve customer satisfaction scores. In fact, brands that lead in great digital customer experiences outperform the competition by nearly 80%.

How does your energy utility build stronger digital customer relationships?

Just like you need to join a club to make new friends or download a dating app to meet someone special, your energy utility needs the right tools to connect with customers. Questline’s 2021 Energy Utility Benchmarks Report provides industry trends, insights and data to help energy utilities build digital relationships through consistent customer touchpoints. Read on for key takeaways from this year’s report.

Infographic showing how energy utilities accelerate digital customer relationships with performance metrics

Digital engagement is booming

The coronavirus pandemic has forever changed consumer behavior — and customers in 2021 expect to have a digital relationship with their energy utility.

This relationship goes beyond transactional messages like billing notices, outage alerts and other generic emails. Your customers are looking for ongoing touchpoints that address their unique needs and interests, such as relevant program promotions, educational eNewsletter content and behavioral emails based on their actions. 

With record-high email open and engagement rates last year, it was clear that customers wanted to hear from their energy provider during the pandemic. In fact, the average open rate of 40.4% in March 2020 was 49% higher than Questline’s previous benchmark rate. Even customers who are less digitally savvy opted for the convenience of digital communications. For example, paperless billing promotions experienced a 7.5% CTOR in 2020, more than 53% higher than the previous year.

In 2021, as life begins to return to normal, maintaining strong digital customer relationships will continue to be a driving force of energy utility communications.

Personalization is powerful

Today’s consumers are accustomed to a world of personalization and expect a similar experience from their energy provider. Personalization is a must-have marketing strategy to drive customer engagement and build stronger digital relationships.

The latest research finds that personalized emails deliver six times higher transaction rates, and targeted emails generate 58% of all revenue for marketers.In 2020, energy utilities took advantage of personalization in virtually every touchpoint, including Welcome Series, eNewsletters, program promotions and ancillary messages. For example, many energy utilities now use abandoned cart emails, popular in the retail industry, to boost traffic to their marketplaces.

Segmentation is a popular tactic in the “personalization” bucket, especially when looking to capture attention with program promotions and eNewsletters. Instead of sending a generic message to an entire email list, many energy utilities are now sending relevant messages to a targeted segment. Whether creating marketing personas for paperless billing campaigns or industry-specific eNewsletters to reach business customers, energy utilities have successfully utilized segmentation to increase conversions and engagement.

Digital engagement: The gift that keeps on giving

Digital engagement with one customer touchpoint offers far-reaching benefits and extends to other types of energy utility communications.

For example, Welcome Series graduates — customers who have opened at least one Welcome Series email — engage with future email communications from their energy utility at a 29.8% higher rate compared to non-graduates. The higher engagement from relevant, consistent eNewsletters is another benefit of ongoing customer touchpoints. Our Benchmarks data finds residential eNewsletter readers open promotional emails at a 16.1% higher rate.

In 2020, energy utilities discovered the true value of digital customer relationships, in good times and in bad. Engaged customers with an established digital relationship with their energy utility were much easier to reach than unengaged customers. That’s why it’s essential for energy utilities to start building stronger digital relationships now, so they can easily connect with customers when the unexpected happens.

Accelerate your digital customer relationships

Two-way communication is key for any successful relationship, and this is especially true between energy utilities and their customers. It’s all too easy for customers to lose interest in their energy utility’s marketing messages if they aren’t relevant or don’t provide some benefit to their daily lives. To accelerate your utility’s digital customer relationships, start planning your engagement strategy for every touchpoint throughout the customer journey.

Download the Energy Utility Benchmarks Report to discover more industry trends, data and insights to build stronger digital customer relationships.