Illustration of email list growth for energy utilities

Best Practices: Email List Growth for Energy Utilities

Effective email list management is critical to digital marketing success for energy utilities. By building digital relationships with residential and business customers, and growing lists to reach more customers, utilities can achieve marketing goals, increase program participation and boost customer satisfaction.

At the same time, there are negative consequences to poor list management, from complaints and reduced satisfaction to potential legal implications of “spamming” customers who don’t want to be emailed. An effective email strategy should focus not just on list growth but on maintaining effective engagement with your energy utility’s customers.

By following these best practices, utilities can boost open rates, reduce opt-out and complaint rates, and improve digital marketing performance by connecting with the right customers.

Establish clear goals for email list growth

Don’t add customers to your list just for the sake of growing it. Set clear goals for your expanded outreach so you can develop effective growth tactics and measure the results in increased engagement — not list size.

Identify programs that would benefit from list growth and focus on getting opt-ins from members of those specific segments. This also allows you to tailor signup messages to their interests. For example, if electric vehicle owners are seeking EV information on your website or via your call center, you can ask them to opt-in to your email to receive program updates.

A bigger email list is not better

Marketers often wrongly assume that bigger is always better when it comes to customer email lists. While it is true that you generally want to reach as many customers as you can to maximize the impact of your message, that effort is only effective if you email engaged customers who want to hear from their energy utility. Adding unengaged customers to your list, on the other hand, could have a serious negative impact on email performance.

  • Open rates and click-through rates will decline when unengaged customers ignore or delete your messages. That makes it harder to analyze metrics and optimize the campaign for customers who do want to receive it.
  • Unengaged customers may unsubscribe from your list, allow your message to languish in junk folders, or mark it as “spam.” This will not only impact your deliverability metrics, it could affect your reputation with email service providers — threatening your ability to deliver future email to engaged customers.

Follow opt-out rules and opt-in best practices

The way you manage customer info on your email list is not just governed by common sense and courtesy, it’s regulated by federal law. The CAN-SPAM act, which is enforced by the Federal Trade Commission, gives consumers the right to have you stop emailing them — with potential penalties of more than $40,000 for each email in violation. While that could be expensive, the longer-term cost would be the loss of customer satisfaction from repeatedly emailing people who don’t want to hear from you — and ignoring them when they ask you to stop.

Follow these best practices to properly add and remove customers from your email list:

  • Ask customers to opt-in to your lists and use active opt-in methods (avoid passive or automatic opt-in tactics such as a pre-checked opt-in box). You want customers to choose to receive messages from you.
  • Make it clear to customers what they are signing up for. Allow separate opt-ins and opt-outs for different lists and explain the purpose and cadence of each one.
  • While customers may opt-out of receiving certain types of messages, you must also include an option that allows them to stop all messages from you.
  • Make signup easy and unsubscribing easier. Every email message must include a conspicuous explanation of how to opt out that is easy for an ordinary person to recognize and understand.

Add new customers who want to hear from you

The reality is that many customers want to hear from their energy utility. There are several ways you can grow your list by encouraging this engaged audience to opt-in to your emails.

Add intuitive questions to call center scripts that demonstrate the benefits of receiving emails from your energy utility. For example, customer service reps can ask, “What is the best email to share cost-saving energy tips for your home?” This is especially effective when new or moving customers call to add or change their service and they are open to starting an engaged relationship with their utility.

Add simple email signup forms to your website that correspond to the content on each page. For instance, on an energy efficiency program page you could suggest, “Enter your email address to receive energy-saving tips and rebates.”

Your Facebook, Twitter or Instagram followers might be interested in relevant updates delivered via email. When you post on social media sites asking customers if they are interested in receiving updates, make sure you emphasize convenience and interests that appeal to social users.

Build connections with the right customers

Your email marketing strategy will not be successful by reaching the most customers, it will succeed by reaching the right customers. With these list management best practices to acquire new contacts, grow and maintain email lists, you can reduce complaints from unengaged customers while nurturing long-term relationships with engaged customers.

Download Questline Digital’s marketing tip sheet, “Best Practices: Email List Management for Energy Utilities.”