Your energy utility plays an important role in encouraging customers to go electric. However, there are several key challenges for electric vehicle (EV) adoption that prevent customers from making the switch from gasoline-powered vehicles. In fact, up to 315,000 more EVs could have been on the road last year if adoption barriers were removed.Learn more about the top four customer roadblocks and the best ways to dispel these concerns in your program promotions.

Chart listing the key challenges to EV adoption and how to overcome them

High upfront cost

What energy customers think: Today’s consumers know that electric vehicles are a viable solution to reduce their carbon footprint and improve the environment. However, one of the key challenges for EV adoption is the high upfront cost. Your customers may not be aware of the various incentives available to help lower the purchase cost.

An average electric vehicle costs $61,488, with some electric vehicles costing over $100,000 for luxury models. While this is still more expensive than many gasoline-powered vehicles, that gap is decreasing every year, especially with incentives and maintenance savings for EVs. Additionally, the cost of a Level 2 home charger starts around $500 to $800, with $1000 to $1500 for the installation of a new service panel and 240-volt outlet if needed.

What your message should be: While electric vehicles have higher upfront costs, they are less expensive to own and operate. Therefore, customers are able to save money over the long run. Since there are fewer moving parts to break down, electric vehicles are also cheaper to maintain. Plus, customers never have to worry about getting an oil change.

To counteract this key challenge for EV adoption, be sure to provide your customers with helpful resources on federal and state incentives. Another significant benefit of purchasing an electric vehicle is not worrying about high gas prices. Remind customers that they can avoid the gas station altogether as EV owners. Make this cost-of-ownership comparison clear with infographics and calculators on your website that help customers educate themselves on vehicle options.

Range anxiety

What energy customers think: One of the top key challenges for EV adoption is range anxiety, or a fear that their electric vehicle will run out of charge before reaching its destination. In fact, range anxiety is often cited as the main reason why consumers are hesitant about purchasing an electric vehicle.

Range anxiety is a feeling of dread when drivers can’t find an open charging station and worry about being stranded on the side of the road. It’s important to note that drivers of gasoline-powered vehicles can also experience range anxiety. This can happen when a driver’s fuel level drops too low and they can’t find a gas station.

What your message should be: To reduce range anxiety, educate your customers about how electric vehicles can fit into their everyday lives. According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), the average American in an urban area drives just 31 miles per day. Most EVs can travel more than 100 miles on a single charge, and some models can travel between 200 and 400 miles. For drivers who don’t regularly drive long distances, an electric vehicle can be a practical option.

Access to charging stations

What energy customers think: Another key challenge for EV adoption, your customers think there’s a limited number of EV charging stations compared to the number of gas stations. As a result, they have concerns about access to charging infrastructure. For example, when taking a road trip, customers want to be confident that plentiful charging stations are available along the route.

What your message should be: Inform your customers that charging stations are popping up everywhere as electric vehicles grow in popularity. EV charging stations can be found in various locations like shopping centers, local businesses, apartment complexes and more. There are also charging stations in every state, including Alaska. To help your customers find charging station locations, share this helpful resource from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Currently, there are 103,000 charging stations (free and private) in the United States. However, there are only 9,300 free charging stations that don’t require a parking fee to access. In comparison, there are more than 145,000 public gas stations, illustrating that EV charging stations still lag behind.

Your energy utility should educate customers on the importance of home EV chargers and offer rebates to help offset the costs. In fact, the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy finds that over 80% of EV charging occurs at home during the overnight hours. If customers make a habit of plugging in their electric vehicle every night, they will be less likely to experience range anxiety or even need access to a charging station. It’s also important to highlight that customers can charge their vehicles for free at public charging stations, eliminating the cost to charge altogether. By providing educational resources with charging station locations as well as cost-saving rebates, energy utilities can mitigate this key challenge for EV adoption.

Impact on electric bill

What energy customers think: Many consumers like the idea of owning an electric vehicle but have concerns about higher electric bills or overall power reliability. In addition to the impact on their monthly bill, your customers also have questions about at-home charging options:

  • What charging options are available?
  • How much do they cost?
  • How long does it take to charge an EV?
  • What type of equipment is required for installation?

What your message should be: Reach out to EV customers to share time-of-use (TOU) rate options to help them reduce their monthly bills. By charging during off-peak hours, they can save energy costs and help lower demand on the grid. Also be sure to share opportunities for customers to save money when they purchase an electric vehicle, whether through your utility or a government program.

If your energy utility has a smart charger rebate program, educate customers about the pros and cons of each charger. For example, Level 2 smart chargers offer faster charging times but do not plug into a standard 120-volt household outlet. Customers are looking to their energy provider to help them decide what charger is the right fit for their lifestyle and budget. Infographics, videos and articles on your website can help educate customers on the best option for them. By countering these key challenges for EV adoption, your energy utility can help drive interest in electric vehicles and increase customer engagement in your EV program promotions.

A content strategy from Questline Digital can help you overcome the key challenges to EV adoption.

My Account makes your customers’ lives easier. They can set up their payment options, sign up for paperless billing, explore their energy use and more. My Account isn’t just beneficial for customers — it’s an essential tool to help energy utilities achieve long-term customer satisfaction.

Beyond personalizing their experience, My Account helps customers be more digitally connected with your energy utility. However, it’s not always easy to encourage customers to enroll in this convenient service. Try these five proven strategies to increase My Account enrollment.

Promote My Account Enrollment in Welcome Series

The best time to promote My Account to customers is at the start of service. We recommend taking advantage of a new customer onboarding campaign such as Welcome Series to introduce the features of My Account. In fact, nearly half of all Welcome Series emails are opened, and one in 10 customers click on at least one email.

Promote My Account enrollment throughout your welcome messaging, especially in communications focused on setting up service and billing options. Our benchmarks data shows that the welcome and billing message have the highest customer engagement, with open rates of 43% and 53%, respectively. In these emails, highlight the key benefits of My Account and include a CTA directly to the enrollment page.

Example of email promoting MyAccount enrollment

For example, Questline Digital helped these energy utilities highlight My Account in their Welcome Series campaigns. The billing and payment email features prominent links for customers to create an account. The My Account messaging reinforces how customers can customize their utility experience.

Example of customer welcome email marketing MyAccount

Create an Eye-Catching Email Campaign

Customers are drawn to emails that are fun, engaging and stand out. Instead of simply listing the benefits of signing up for My Account, it behooves utilities to create a compelling theme.

In other words, tell a story that speaks to customers’ needs, interests and lifestyles. For example, show an image of a customer relaxing on the beach while checking their utility bill. This lets customers envision how on-the-go account access can benefit them.

Questline Digital worked with a large Southeast energy utility to deploy a My Account email campaign. The campaign showcased how residential customers can manage their electric account wherever they go. The imagery of a customer relaxing on a hammock during a camping trip emphasizes the benefit of “anytime and anywhere” account access.

Example of engaging marketing email to promote My Account enrollment

A Midwest utility focused on women, a large segment of their customer base, with this creative campaign. The campaign highlighted how the utility’s online user profile is designed for “the Super You.” In other words, creating an online user profile will help these customers accomplish even more in their day.

Example of segmented marketing campaign to increase My Account enrollment

Segment Your Audience

An engaging message has the power to increase the effectiveness of your promotions. Segmentation helps increase My Account enrollment by promoting specific benefits to smaller, targeted audiences.

We recommend segmenting your audience by customers’ needs and interests. For example, business customers are more interested in no-hassle payment options like auto pay that make their busy schedules a little easier.

You can segment your residential customers by homeowners and renters. Homeowners are interested in keeping track of their monthly energy usage. Budget billing or payment assistance programs may be more relevant to a renters.

A large Northeast energy utility segmented their My Account email to business customers. The email, part of a four-email Welcome Series, featured the billing and payment options that businesses care most about, including paperless billing, auto pay and flexible payments. The email includes multiple call-to-actions (CTAs) to sign up for My Account.

Example of marketing email to business customers to promote My Account enrollment

A Pennsylvania-based energy utility created an email campaign targeting residential customers who have not signed up for My Account. The email features an eye-catching animated GIF that illustrates how easy it is to choose various My Alerts, including billing alerts and payment confirmations, available through My Account.

Example of marketing email to promote MyAccount enrollment

Make it Easy with One-Click My Account Enrollment

A potential roadblock for customers is a complicated, multi-step enrollment process. One-click enrollment features an easy-to-use landing page with customers’ account information dynamically prepopulated in the form. All they need to do is click a button to enroll.

Our energy utility clients have found success with one-click enrollment for various promotions, from paperless billing to rebate programs. For example, we helped Eversource Energy create a one-click enrollment landing page and enrollment confirmation page for their paperless billing program. As a result of this easy enrollment, Eversource experienced the largest annual gain in five years with an increase to 33%.

Add an Incentive

Incentives are an effective way to increase My Account enrollment. Questline Digital performance metrics have found that a small reward for every customer who signs up is more effective than a single grand prize. Promotions with an incentive have a 17% higher open rate and 28% higher CTR.

Here are some best practices when choosing a smaller incentive:

  • Awarding a $5 gift card to all signups converts better than enter-to-win contests of $1,000 or more.
  • Products like LED lightbulbs rank second to gift cards among the best drivers of click-throughs.
  • Thermostats and smart-home device giveaways are also top performers.

While less effective than small rewards, a single grand prize (tickets to a sports game or free electricity for a year) is better than no incentive at all. These prizes will still encourage opens and drive customer interest in your promotional email.

Example of My Account enrollment promotions that uses an incentive

A large Midwest energy utility utilized a sweepstakes to motivate residential customers to sign up for an online account. Customers could win up to $3,000 in home improvements by creating an online account, enrolling in e-Bill and other helpful tools. The “Click It to Win It” sweepstakes was a successful way to increase online account sign-ups, while also helping customers make energy efficiency improvements to their home.

Connect on Social Media

The demographics of energy utility customers are changing — and younger generations are a growing share of the population. To reach millennial and Gen Z customers, you need to be where they are online. With 90.4% of younger generations being active social media users, this is where to find them.

Don’t miss out on reaching younger audiences — share the benefits of My Account through an engaging social media campaign featuring fun videos or imagery. While it’s important to stay true to your brand, social media is the perfect opportunity to show off your brand’s personality.

Example of social media posts promoting MyAccount

A Pennsylvania-based energy utility utilized Facebook and Instagram to promote My Account’s home energy savings capabilities, including monthly bill comparisons and personalized energy savings tips. The social media campaign featured fairytale-themed imagery of houses with the tagline, “Everyone’s home is unique — so is their energy use.”

Making Moves with My Account

Opportunities abound for increasing My Account enrollment. Since every energy utility is unique, test out these different tactics to discover which one works best for you.

Learn how a digital marketing campaign will boost My Account enrollment for your energy utility.

The pace of change for the electric vehicle (EV) industry has hit warp speed as funding and government mandates continue to be approved. “Faster than a sprint” is how Whitney Skeans, Senior Program Manager of Electric Vehicles at National Grid, describes it.

Utilities nationwide are under pressure to reach aggressive EV goals. For example, National Grid is one of six utilities supporting the implementation of New York State’s EV Make-Ready Program. Specifically, Skeans and her team are focused on installing 16,000 charging ports by 2025 in their upstate New York electric service territory. On the other side of the country, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) is committed to having 100% zero-emission vehicles by 2025.

With so much to accomplish, how are utilities progressing toward these large EV initiatives? Through discussions with National Grid and SDG&E, the following tactics stood out:

  1. Focus EV education on specific audiences among key customer segments, no longer using a mass awareness approach
  2. Tell the stories of EV owners throughout the community with events, videos, media relations and more
  3. Help underserved audiences access EV infrastructure
  4. Facilitate test drives for commercial and residential customers
  5. Focus on medium- and heavy-duty fleet electrification, the higher carbon-emitting vehicles
  6. Build digital self-serve hubs about available incentives, installers and more
  7. Encourage cross-departmental collaboration within the utility to accelerate innovation

Getting Specific with EV Education

Consumers know what EVs are, but some people are just now starting to pay attention. Utilities may feel like they have been talking about EVs for a long time, but this new audience needs education on both EV basics and options.

“We need to be the trusted resource for all of our customers,” said Natasha Contreras, Clean Transportation Customer Engagement Manager at SDG&E, referring to the importance of supporting residential and commercial audiences.

“We shifted our role from generic mass awareness to more specific education,” she continued. “We’re trying to fill in the voids and segments we feel are the hardest to electrify. Over 50% of housing in San Diego county consists of multi-unit dwellings, which means that many local residents may not have the benefit of having a garage of their own to install charging.”

This shift in focus has led many utilities to prioritize commercial audiences, where there are opportunities to build charging infrastructure that provides equitable access. Hotels and multi-unit dwellings (MUDs) sit at the top of the priority list.

We’re dealing with the classic chicken or egg scenario. Some businesses hesitate to invest in charging structures until they see more EVs on the road. But consumers are hesitant to buy because the infrastructure isn’t yet widespread. Utilities are working relentlessly to help solve both sides of the equation.

Focusing on Fleet Electrification

The six-person EV implementation team at National Grid is working hard to share incentives and help its commercial customers safely build infrastructure. “The dirtiest vehicles on the road are medium- and heavy-duty, so the sooner they can be electrified, the closer we can achieve climate goals,” added Skeans.

School districts are ideal candidates for fleet electrification. In New York alone, 44,000 diesel buses need to switch to electric. By 2027, diesel buses will no longer be for sale, leaving utilities in a time crunch to build the necessary electrical charging.

Yet, school districts find themselves daunted by the expenses associated with buying the buses; electric vehicles can cost 3x the diesel price. How do they schedule routes and prepare for weather-related issues negatively impacting battery performance?

National Grid provides schools with complementary fleet assessments, putting together recommended plans for buying vehicles, looking at site feasibility and grid capacity, then guiding customers through the steps to get there. Over 100 school districts were invited to pursue these programs in 2022.

Across the country in San Diego, where battery reserves don’t endure as much stress from cold temperatures, SDG&E is working with school districts to run Vehicle to Grid (V2G) pilot programs with their existing electric fleets. Sitting idle most of the day, a parking lot of electric buses offers a new energy source.

But timelines are causing anxiety for some. Electrification plans take a customer two to 12 months to implement. But if distribution upgrades are needed, that could jump to one to four years. And if transmission or substation upgrades are required, that timeline can extend beyond four years.

Customers need to be engaged early if goals are to be met. Utilities are stepping up to ensure their customers have access to all the education, guidance and financial aid available.

Telling More EV Success Stories

To properly help customers navigate the EV landscape and build organic connections, the National Grid team is talking to people in their community. “My superpower is outreach,” explains Skeans. And that’s highly evident when looking at how broadly she’s telling the story of EVs.

Skeans has connected with local Chambers of Commerce, business affinity groups, architectural, engineering and construction management firms, tourism boards, electrical contractors, risk management associations for banks, insurance providers and more. She is also leveraging digital tools like webinars to host virtual sessions that help audiences understand what the new EV requirements and opportunities mean.

“Business customers aren’t going to invest in chargers unless there is public demand, so let’s educate, let’s boost everyone’s awareness, get people excited about EVs and ultimately behind the wheel of one,” said Skeans. Event presentations and first-person case studies top the list of successful strategies. “Telling stories is really, really key.”

For San Diego Gas & Electric, in-person events have dropped from 75 pre-pandemic to just a handful post. But their annual EV Day event remains strategically significant.

SDG&E provides attendees the opportunity to experience and test drive the latest consumer electric vehicles. Without on-hand inventory at the dealerships due to supply chain issues, many buyers cannot drive before they buy. SDG&E aims to overcome the barrier of accessibility, even hosting adaptive ride-and-drive events, providing customers with functional needs a chance to get behind the wheel of EVs that have been retrofitted with hand controls.

Facilitating first-hand experiences and sharing the journeys of like-minded consumers is helping utilities nationwide to connect with target audiences.

Offering Self-Service Tools

Digitally, many utilities are building self-serve hubs where information is easily navigable and incentives may be applied for. Helpful articles and videos allow customers to self-educate about program benefits and next steps.

“We consider ourselves a central location,” explains Contreras. “There is a constant need to keep up with the latest funding incentives. We’re shifting more toward self-service tools on our website, including rate cost estimators, electrician finders, charger finders and incentive qualifications.”

Today’s consumers prefer to research independently before involving third parties. These hubs allow utilities to act as a resource without taxing call centers.

Working Together to Drive the Future of Electric Vehicles

SDG&E takes a holistic approach to ensuring customers can access available EV aid. The entire utility gets involved. “It takes a village. It’s not just getting the car, it’s everything that comes with it,” said Contreras. “The whole package. It’s the chargers. It’s the rates that are applicable to make sure the transition is smooth. It’s the construction that has to take place.”

Mass EV adoption is going to require widespread influence. As more people plug in, EVs’ significant role in reaching larger sustainability goals becomes more apparent.

National Grid is also experiencing the benefits of departmental collaboration. “Our teams are more integrated as we grow and develop,” explains Skeans, referring specifically to the ties between the utility’s EV and demand response programs.

No one department can operate independently. Everyone today, from key account and program managers to engineers and legislators, has their hand in the EV mix.

Interest in EVs has never been higher. But much work still needs to be done to reach the aggressive adoption goals set for 2027 and beyond.

Utilities nationwide are working tirelessly to educate key audiences, increase charging access and support grid resiliency. Through industry collaborations and proactive customer engagement, we’re on the road — a collaborative journey — to reaching zero emissions.

Educate your customers about the future of electric vehicles with a content strategy from Questline Digital.

To capture the attention of energy utility customers, the copy in your marketing campaigns is just as important as the design. As an energy copywriter, you have the power to increase customer engagement and participation in your energy utility’s programs and services. For example, a strong subject line will encourage email opens, while a successful call-to-action will motivate customers to take the next steps.

With 15 years of writing and marketing experience in a wide variety of industries, Questline Digital’s Senior Energy Copywriter, Breanne George, shares copywriting best practices to transform your utility’s marketing promotions.

Chart listing the best practices for an energy copywriter

Tip 1: Tell a story

When you think of storytelling, you probably think of your favorite book or magazine article. However, your marketing campaigns can tell a story too. As an energy copywriter, you should create a theme around a specific benefit or motivation that resonates with your target audience.

Example of utility email campaign for paperless billing created by an energy copywriter

For example, we focused the above ebill message around the benefit of “anytime, anywhere bill access” for a major Northeast utility’s paperless billing campaign. Since a majority of the utility’s customers were commuters who used public transportation, the copy and imagery aligned to tell a story about easy bill payments that resonated with this audience.

In another email campaign to promote a Southeast energy utility’s security lighting program, Questline Digital created a story about the importance of security all year round. Through creative copywriting, the email campaign expressed how security lighting gives customers more time to enjoy summer fun, whether at a barbecue or basketball game. They don’t have to worry about their safety when the sun goes down.

Example of a program promotions email written by an energy copywriter

Tip 2: Get Personal with Segmentation

Whether your energy utility is targeting electric vehicle owners or low-income customers, narrowing down your audience to a smaller segment will improve email engagement. In fact, 74% of customers feel frustrated when content is not relevant to their interests. In today’s age of personalized digital communications, segmentation is an essential tactic for energy copywriters.

Your campaign should draw in customers by appealing to their needs, interests and lifestyles. To achieve this, you need to think about your audience:

  • What would make their life easier?
  • How does your program or service benefit customers?
  • Does the copy motivate them to keep reading?

To connect with customers who would benefit from a Time of Use (TOU) rate plan, PSEG Long Island utilized segmentation to send personalized emails to distinct groups of customers. For example, one email targeted electric vehicle owners and another email targeted customers who would benefit most based on their energy usage behaviors.

Instead of sending one mass message to all eligible customers, the emails were tailored to each individual and how much they could save based on their energy usage. The utility leveraged smart meter data to create these targeted messages.

Examples of segmented emails written by an energy copywriter

For segmentation success, energy copywriters need demographic information, marketing personas and any other research that breaks down your audience and what matters most to them. The more insights you have on your audience, the more the copy will reflect customers’ unique needs and interests. 

Tip 3: Avoid Energy Industry Jargon

For energy copywriters, it can be all too easy to forget that most utility customers aren’t experts in renewable energy, rate plans and other popular industry topics. Your readers may not understand complex terminology or programs that are common knowledge in the energy industry. That’s why writing copy that’s easy for customers to understand is essential for your email campaigns.

When you’re promoting a complex topic, such as an energy efficiency rebate or financial assistance program, put yourself in your customers’ shoes. They want to know what the program entails, key benefits and how to apply. They don’t need to know “everything but the kitchen sink.”

As an energy copywriter, you should avoid using industry jargon or technical language that your customers may not understand. To help customers learn more about a particular topic, try linking to educational articles, videos or infographics to provide extra assistance.

Examples of educational emails written by an energy copywriter

To help increase participation for a Midwest energy utility’s complex demand response program, Questline Digital created a segmented email campaign. The goal was to encourage participation among two groups of commercial and industrial (C&I) customers: prospective participants and past program participants. The emails were clear and concise, highlighting the benefits of participation and providing a helpful video testimonial from a local business.

Tip 4: Keep it Short and Sweet

In today’s fast-paced world, your customers don’t have time to read a long, text-heavy email. That’s why it’s best to write short and succinct copy.

Energy copywriters should be clear and concise, making the utility program as easy to understand as possible. This is where bulleted lists, headers, pull quotes and other call-outs help to break up the copy and make the information more digestible. Remember, your customers will get the full details when they click on your call-to-action.

It’s not always easy to write short and sweet when describing complicated utility programs. By using the copywriting tactics mentioned above, energy copywriters can avoid massive blocks of text. Use simple words and short sentences, focusing on the value propositions that resonate most with your customers.

Example of My Account email written by an energy copywriter

In this example, part of a welcome series for a West Coast energy utility, the email copy is easy to read with bullets and iconography. This email makes it easy for new customers to find important information, including payment options, billing alerts as well as energy-saving tips and tools.

Tip 5: Craft an Impactful Subject Line

Before your customers can engage with your marketing campaign, they first have to click into the email. A great subject line makes all the difference for energy copywriters. According to Questline Digital performance metrics, the sweet spot for subject lines is 50 characters or fewer. Your subject line should make it clear what customers will learn in as few words as possible.

We recommend using power words that encourage customers to take action. Consider the following subject lines about outage text alerts:

  • Subject line #1: Text alerts to stay informed during an outage
  • Subject line #2: Stay informed! Sign up for outage text alerts

While both subject lines have a similar message, the second option is actionable and encourages the reader to click into the email to sign up. For this example, you could also use a lightning bolt emoji to help the subject line stand out in customers’ inboxes. When it comes to subject lines, energy copywriters should try A/B testing to see what engages your utility’s audience.

Tip 6: Choose a Powerful Headline

Your headline captures attention and encourages customers to keep reading your message. As the first piece of copy your customers will see after clicking into your email, it’s vital to get your promotional message across in a simple, direct and engaging way. No pressure, right?

Energy copywriters should follow these helpful tips for writing an effective and engaging headline:

  • Be clear and concise: Your headline should be simple and direct, while articulating what customers will be reading in the email.
  • Lead with key details: Think of the most important message from your email and write it in a fresh way so the message stands out. This could be the dollar amount of an EV rebate program or the main customer benefit in a paperless billing campaign.
  • Consider the imagery: Make sure the headline and visuals work together. For example, “Protect Your Palace” was a headline for a Southeast energy utility’s security lighting campaign featuring a royal guard in the hero image.
  • Generate curiosity: By giving away just enough information — but not too much — your headline should persuade your audience to read further for more details.
  • Get creative (within reason): Avoid copywriting that is too whimsical, cutesy or irrelevant. Think creatively but don’t stray from the ultimate goal of your campaign.

For this paperless billing campaign for a large Northeast energy utility, an entertaining headline paired well with the campaign theme, which showed humorous yet true reasons why customers should make the switch.  

Example of an effective headline written by an energy copywriter

This headline for a Southeast energy utility’s charitable campaign helped to pull at readers’ heartstrings. The focus of the holiday-themed email was to encourage customers to round up their energy bill to give back to neighbors in need.

Example of community focused PR email written by an energy copywriter

Tip 7: Encourage Customers to Take Action

After engaging with your message, you want customers to take action, whether enrolling in paperless billing or taking advantage of a rebate program. As an energy copywriter, your call-to-action (CTA) is one of the most important elements of your marketing campaign.

Keep these best practices in mind to create a powerful CTA:

  • The shorter the better: Your audience will tune out an overly long and complicated CTA. Keep it short and simple so your customers understand what you want them to do.
  • Urgency is effective: Use time-sensitive language to help boost program conversions and create a sense of urgency. Some examples include “Time is running out,” “Don’t wait” or “Sign up today.”
  • Get creative with button copy: Sometimes a simple button like “Learn More” or “Get Started” works best. However, there are times when energy copywriters should switch things up and make it fun. For example, “Enroll. Enter. Win?” for a sweepstakes email or “Start Saving Now” for a rebate program promotion.
  • Placement matters: If your email is lengthy and requires readers to scroll, include two CTAs: one near the top and one near the bottom. This ensures customers can click through at any point in the email.

In this example from Duquesne Light Company, a Pennsylvania-based energy utility, there are two CTA buttons at the top and bottom of the email. The first button, “Enroll for a chance to WIN” gives readers an immediate opportunity to take action. The second button, below the benefits box, gives those who read the entire email an easy click-through to the enrollment page.

Example of effective CTA buttons written by energy copywriter

To help FirstEnergy promote its financial assistance programs, Questline Digital created an email campaign series with multiple CTA buttons. Since the email goes to both homeowners and renters, there are two buttons that link to the specific application pages.

The first two CTA buttons are located directly below the headline. Since the headline makes it clear what the email is about (connecting the customers to bill assistance), a CTA directly below the headline is appropriate in this instance. As an energy copywriter, you’ll need to determine what placement and number of CTAs are best for the subject matter and email length.

Example of call-to-action placement in email written by an energy copywriter

Copywriting is More Than Creative Writing

As these examples demonstrate, there are many things for energy copywriters to keep in mind when writing for utility marketing campaigns or program promotions. Copywriting is more than just creative writing — it’s about crafting an effective, concise and persuasive message that motivates your target audience. With these best practices in mind, you can transform your utility’s marketing messages, one word at a time.

Learn how Questline Digital’s energy copywriters can help you craft an effective message that connects with customers.

Program promotions are among the most important email campaigns for energy utilities. They help increase conversions, boost participation and generate revenue. However, keeping program promotions from getting stale can be a challenge.

It’s not easy to develop program advertising ideas for paperless billing, EV charger rebates, time-of-use rate plans, and other utility programs. The reality is, if customers don’t find the message valuable or exciting, they will quickly tune out emails from your utility.

Bring life to your energy utility campaigns with these creative promotion ideas to increase customer engagement and participation.

Creative Promotion Ideas to Boost Program Participation

  1. Tell a story
  2. Add an incentive
  3. Keep up with trends
  4. Segment your audience
  5. Try an animated GIF

Idea 1: Tell a Story

When looking for program advertising ideas, focus on crafting a story around your target audience. Whether residential or business customers, each audience has unique reasons why your utility’s program or service would benefit them.

Maybe paperless billing would be convenient for a customer’s on-the-go lifestyle, or an energy efficiency assessment would help them save on their monthly bill. Ask yourself how this would make their life easier or solve a problem. These are your support points to build a strong story in your promotional campaign.

To showcase how security lighting could benefit customers, this creative promotion idea for a Southeast energy utility pulled at their heartstrings. The campaign illustrated how special moments in life are made even brighter with the utility’s security lighting program.

Example of creative promotion ideas with emotional message

Questline Digital also partnered with a major Northeast utility to create a successful paperless billing email for customers who are frequent commuters on public transportation. This email performed 1.5 times better than Questline Digital’s benchmark metrics, based on unique clicks. This is just one idea of how creative promotion ideas can hugely impact customer engagement and program participation.

Example of program advertising ideas with easy signup

Idea 2: Add an Incentive

Another excellent program advertising idea is the almighty incentive. If customers can receive a prize for their participation, that’s a win-win for them and your utility.

Incentives always motivate customers, especially smaller incentives awarded to everyone who signs up, like gift cards or LED light bulbs. In comparison, contest entries that award a single large prize (such as $1,000 cash or major league sports tickets) have not been as successful. Yet, every utility is different, so it’s essential to test incentives to see what works for your customers.

Questline Digital data shows that paperless billing promotional emails with incentives have a 17% higher open rate and 28% higher click-through rate than messages without incentives. Additionally, subject lines that clearly state the incentive reach 13% more of their intended audience compared to subject lines that only imply an offer.

Example of program advertising ideas with incentive

Duquesne Light Company took advantage of a smart thermostat giveaway to encourage customers to enroll in its e-Bill program. Because the email was sent ahead of Earth Day, this program advertising idea centered around the environmental benefits of smart thermostats (and paperless billing).

Idea 3: Keep Up with Trends

As utility marketers, paying attention to the latest trends and current events is essential. By incorporating the latest references or topics in your promotions, you’re creating not only a fun narrative, but a timely one. Sometimes a subtle nod to a trending topic is all you need to come up with creative promotion ideas.

To increase interest in a Southeast utility’s security lighting program, Questline Digital created a royal guard-themed campaign that ran shortly after the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. This creative promotion idea was a success, achieving 160 leads in the first 24 hours.

Example of creative promotion ideas with trendy message

Questline Digital helped a Northeast energy utility promote paperless billing during the coronavirus pandemic. This campaign, which spoke to our virtual lifestyle during the pandemic, effectively increased conversions. When thinking of new program advertising ideas, be mindful of the current environment to create messaging that resonates with customers.

Example of program advertising ideas with trendy message

Idea 4: Segment Your Audience

Today’s customers expect relevant communications that speak to their needs and interests. Segmentation is a best-practice solution to deliver promotional campaigns that connect with your customers.

With this program advertising idea, you’re only targeting customers who would find your product or service beneficial. To take advantage of this creative promotion idea, segment your target audience into smaller groups with similar characteristics, including:

  • Demographics
  • Geography
  • Psychographics
  • Behaviors
  • Industry

According to Hubspot, segmented campaigns can see as much as a 760% increase in revenue. Plus, your utility will see increased customer engagement and loyalty. When you send relevant, targeted communications, customers feel understood and appreciated.

Example of program advertising idea with email using personalization

PSEG Long Island utilized segmentation and personalization to promote its time-of-use (TOU) rate program. The emails targeting a segment of prospective customers highlighted the benefits of participation, including compensation for reducing energy use and a no-penalty switch back to regular rates if they didn’t like the new program. The emails sent to past TOU participants announced that the pilot rate program would no longer be available and encouraged them to choose from new TOU options.

The campaign included detailed personalization for each customer, such as the annual savings they would expect to see on the new plan based on their current energy use and that amount calculated as weeks of free electricity. The messages to both segments also promoted a bill credit as an extra incentive to switch.

Idea 5: Try an Animated GIF

Another program advertising idea is to give your customers an eye-catching visual to increase engagement. An animated GIF captures more attention than a static image, helping to increase customer engagement in your program promotions.

According to Litmus State of Email data, more than 51% of marketers use animated GIFs in their campaigns to draw customers in. Research finds that emails with GIFs are more successful, with a 6% higher open rate than emails with static images. According to an Experian study, 72% of marketers who took advantage of animated GIFs in their email campaigns saw higher transaction-to-click rates.

GIFs are a great alternative to video because most email browsers support them. Plus, this creative promotion idea can tell a story much better than a static image, engaging customers before they read the copy.

Example of creative promotions ideas with animated gif

Questline Digital helped PSEG Long Island promote the utility’s $500 Smart Charger Rebate through a fun animated GIF. The animation illustrated the money that EV owners would get back through the rebate.

Improve Engagement With Creative Promotion Ideas

When it comes to program promotions, there is no one-size-fits-all formula. Use these program advertising ideas to infuse some creativity in your promotions, keep your campaigns fresh and improve customer engagement.

Reach your goals and boost participation with creative promotion ideas from Questline Digital.