Illustration of energy utility marketer running away from common email marketing mistakes

5 Common Email Marketing Mistakes

Email marketing isn’t just a buzzword industry folks throw around. Well, maybe a little. But it’s also one of the most valuable tools in a marketer’s toolbox to connect with customers. The email marketing stats collected by HubSpot speak for themselves:

  • There are over 3.9 billion daily email users
  • 73% of millennials prefer communications from businesses come from email
  • 59% of respondents say marketing emails influence their purchasing decisions

Even in the digital age of TikTok and Instagram, email still has a stronghold in the industry to reach and interact with customers. Ian Brodie, author of “Email Persuasion,” even noted, “I’ve made every classic mistake with email. One of my most costly mistakes was not starting with email soon enough.”

Luckily for your energy utility, starting with email isn’t typically the issue. However, there are many other common email marketing mistakes that you could possibly be making. Read on to discover five of the worst email marketing mistakes and how to avoid them.

1. Not Welcoming New Customers

Customers not only want welcome emails from brands, they expect them. Although energy utility customers often don’t get to choose their energy provider, welcoming them to your utility still makes a positive first impression. A simple “hello” can make a big impact in a customer’s journey.

We encourage energy utilities to not just send one welcome email, but a welcome series of four or five messages to start engagement off strong with new or moving customers. According to our 2021 Energy Utility Benchmarks Report, open rates for a welcome series reached 51%!

When customers sign up for service, your utility is already fresh in their minds. Use this timing to your advantage to:

  • Introduce your energy utility
  • Share your latest promotions or rebates
  • Promote paperless billing
  • Highlight community efforts

2. Not Setting Clear Expectations

There’s nothing worse than subscribing to a weekly email list and receiving daily emails instead. This is a surefire way to make customers lose interest and trust. The cadence and content of your emails needs to meet customer expectations. Tell them at the beginning of your digital relationship what they can expect from you:

  • How often you’ll communicate
  • What platforms will be used for communications
  • What types of content they can expect

By setting these expectations early on, it will encourage more engagement from your customers and they’ll be less likely to opt-out of communications. This also shows that your energy utility respects your customers’ inbox. After all, email users typically receive an average of 126 emails per day.

It’s also important to communicate ahead of time what customers can expect if an outage occurs. Make sure customers know:

  • How to report an outage
  • How to check restoration times
  • How to contact your energy utility

Communicating early on about how often and when customers can expect emails will help them not just open your utility’s emails, but look forward to them.

3. Writing for You, Not for Them

Have you ever gotten an email that was 100% promotional about things you didn’t care about? Of course you have. We all have. Don’t make this the norm for your energy utility.

You need to home in on your customers’ interests and needs if you ever expect to grow your relationship with them. Instead of talking about why a product is great and why they should buy it, clearly explain the benefits it would bring to customers and how it will make their lives easier.

A helpful way to ensure your utility is delivering the right information to the right people is to segment your lists into groups based on:

  • Residential vs. business customers
  • Renters vs. homeowners
  • Customer interests
  • Purchase history and program participation

In fact, Campaign Monitor data shows nearly 21% of consumers say that they would unsubscribe from a brand’s email list if the content isn’t relevant to them.

In addition, don’t let the digital delivery channel turn your communications into robotic messages. People like to know that there are, well, people behind the message. Talk to them how you would want to be communicated with. Just because an energy utility is a corporation doesn’t mean your messages can’t have a personality. Find out what makes sense for your utility and show the human side of your organization.

Michael Barber, Godfrey’s Senior Vice President and Chief Creative Officer, put it plainly when he said, “Every time we deliver a message to the inbox — whether it’s transactional, promotional or a newsletter — and we’re not as timely, targeted and relevant as possible, we’re slowly erasing the relationship [we’ve built].”

4. No Clear CTA

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Make sure your communications have a clear call-to-action (CTA).

We’ve all heard the anecdote — if a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it does it make a sound? Well, if an email is delivered with no specific CTA did it make an impact?

That answer is simple: No.

The copy in your email could be the greatest writing of our generation, selling benefit after benefit to customers and telling them exactly what they want to hear. But it makes no difference if you don’t tell customers what you want them to do.

  • Do you want them to learn more?
  • Should they reach out with questions?
  • Are you directing them to purchase at your marketplace?
  • Do you want them to follow your utility on Instagram?

Answer customers’ questions before they have them and make sure your CTA is clear, enticing and points to the outcome you hope to receive. Ashley Guttuso, Director of Marketing at Simple Focus Software, made an incredible point about email marketing on LinkedIn. She said, “Don’t be an email tease.”

Emails create too many hoops for customers to jump through to take action, she explained — from making them open the email, read the email, click a CTA, visit a landing page, click another CTA on the landing page, and on and on. It’s a tiring process.

That’s why you need to tell customers what you want them to do and make it easy for them to do so.

“You can even use two different CTAs in the email,” Guttuso added. “A button that says ‘Get Started’ and a text link that reads ‘Learn More’ that anchor links to the second section of the landing page (benefits) to deliver the experience they’ve selected.”

Here are a few simple tips when crafting your CTA:

  • Make it about the reader by utilizing “my” terminology, like “Update My Outage Alerts”
  • Visually make the CTA stand out from the rest of the copy
  • Keep the verbiage short but actionable

5. Not A/B Testing

Testing your email sends is one of the easiest ways to gather data on your customers’ preferences. For instance, A/B testing can:

  • Discover what subject lines catch customers’ attention
  • See what types of visuals connect with customers more
  • Assess what copy makes a greater impact on audiences

Once you’ve tested often enough, you’ll have a wide range of information detailing what types of images, copy, design and CTAs appeal the most to your energy utility’s audience. By utilizing this information, you’ll be able to craft compelling campaigns that increase opens, conversions and satisfaction.

However, you don’t want to test every variable at once. This will make it confusing as to which is resonating best with customers. Instead, test frequently but with only one variable at a time. We suggest testing:

  • “From” address (say, the name of an account manager vs. your utility brand)
  • Subject line
  • Imagery
  • CTA verbiage
  • CTA placement
  • Incentive amount

Testing these items will take some time, but it will be worth it in the end. You’ll create more engaging email campaigns and build stronger digital customer relationships.

Learn From Others’ Email Marketing Mistakes

Mistakes happen. It’s what makes us human. But these email marketing mistakes don’t have to hinder your energy utility’s relationship with your customers. Learn from others and try to avoid making these common email marketing mistakes. Your customer engagement and satisfaction will thank you.

The experts at Questline Digital can help you avoid common email marketing mistakes and boost customer engagement.