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Illustration of confused customers

Post-COVID Recommendations for Ongoing Utility Outreach

As we all continue to adapt during the coronavirus pandemic, we find normalcy amid new social structures and a constantly evolving stream of information. As digital communicators, Questline has been supporting its energy utility partners with content and insights to optimize customer communications during the outbreak.  

During the initial five weeks of the pandemic, Questline sent more than 44.2 million coronavirus-related emails to energy utility customers across the United States. These emails contained information about utilities’ preparations in the outbreak, safety tips, scam protection alerts and energy efficiency tips.

Where do we go from here?

Throughout the coronavirus outbreak, Questline has continued to focus on energy utility communications to bring you insights on what resonates with customers. We’ve analyzed 28 million emails and eNewsletters sent after the initial coronavirus response emails. These emails include a variety of topics ranging from transactional safety and storm alerts to energy efficiency programs and paperless billing. Overall, these messages are performing well, reaching an average open rate of 28.9%.

  • The top percentile of messages delivered a 38% average open rate.
  • Messages reached 53% of their intended audience with half of those opening multiple emails.

Marketing messages during the outbreak

In mid-March, our energy utility partners paused marketing communications. This strategy allowed them to focus on sending COVID-19-related information, making sure to not come across as insensitive to the developing crisis. As the environment settles into a new normal, energy utilities are resuming marketing campaigns. Energy efficiency and paperless billing campaigns are top performers.

  • Energy efficiency messages reached a 26% average open rate, surpassing the benchmark by 11%.
  • Engagement also performed well with a CTR 5% above benchmark.
  • Paperless billing campaigns reached a 27% open rate. This is a 20% increase from Questline’s annual Energy Utility Benchmarks Report.
  • These campaigns had a CTR 76% above benchmarks.

As your utility eases back into your marketing schedule, we recommend prioritizing promotions that can help save customers energy and money. For example, subject lines highlighting the sale price are performing better than simply stating a promotion.

Content strategy and eNewsletters respond to the crisis

Ongoing publications like eNewletters are seeing a significant boost in engagement. We recommend continuing newsletter deployments on your regular schedule to keep a consistent touchpoint with your customers.

  • The average open rate for eNewsletters in March 2020 was 21.6%.
  • We see utility eNewsletters achieving a 14% higher open rate and 5% higher CTR than the eNewsletter benchmark.

The top-performing content during this time continues to be coronavirus-related. These content pieces ensure the newsletter is relevant and reflect what’s on customers’ minds. Our collection of coronavirus content continues to evolve and spans many topics about life during the outbreak. As you look to round out your content strategy, other top-performing content categories include home improvement, energy efficiency and indoor air quality.

As many of us continue to spend more time at home, we are trying to find ways to make our spaces more comfortable and energy efficient. Utilities should personalize content with information and links to their programs as well as promotional snippets in eNewsletters. In April, 22% of content views generated outbound clicks to a personalized link.

Considering relevant content to include in your eNewsletters? Reflect on the top-performing Questline content in April:

  • 6 Ways to Save This Spring (Article)
  • Go Green This Earth Day (Infographic)
  • Coronavirus Action Plan: Protecting Your Power (Article)
  • Stay Home, Stay Safe and Save Energy (Article)
  • How Do Sump Pumps Work? (Infographic)

To learn more download Questline’s eBook, “How COVID-19 Transformed Customer Communications.”