Whether you’re joining a cheese of the month club or signing up with a new video streaming service, you’re sure to receive some kind of welcome message.

Whether that message will be helpful or worthy of the trash bin is to be determined. You might not be wowed by the content (or find it very helpful), but it will be in your inbox waiting for you.

Some energy customers find their welcome experience to be similarly lackluster when starting service. But what if that welcome was truly valuable?

What Should Your Welcome Message for Customers Include?

A new utility customer will need to be informed of many things. Your utility will want to provide answers to common questions and guide them through an optimal customer journey.

But be careful not to overwhelm your audience. You can’t effectively answer all questions at once. A single email with “link soup” will make for a complex customer experience.

Instead, prioritize what you need customers to know or do first.

How many emails in a Welcome Series

Most marketers send just one welcome email, but Questline Digital data shows three to five email messages is best.

Going beyond five emails in a Welcome Series tends to result in lower open rates for later sends. If you need to include more than five emails, make sure important information like billing options, outage alerts and My Account setup are frontloaded in your communications.

Pro tip: Consider numbering the emails in the subject line or header (for example, first of four-part series) so subscribers know to look out for the subsequent messages.

How often to send welcome messages

The cadence of your welcome emails shouldn’t overwhelm customers or be drawn out. We recommend sending an email every two to three days or once every week. This frequency keeps your utility top of mind but doesn’t bombard customers.

Additionally, it’s important to send the first email of your welcome series within 24 hours of account setup. If possible, reduce lag time to 10 minutes or less from the time of the service signup. Given the multitude of other marketing messages competing for consumers’ attention, you’ll want your welcome message for customers to hit inboxes while your utility is still top of mind.

What to include in your welcome message for customers

Within your series of messages, it’s essential to answer commonly asked questions, point to available resources and prompt customers with actions you want them to take.

An example Welcome Series could look like:

  • Email #1 – Welcome and community message
  • Email #2 – Instructions on how to set up My Account preferences
  • Email #3 – Explanation of billing options
  • Email #4 – Prompts to sign up for eNewsletters and/or programs
  • Email #5 – Resources to help you save energy

Case Study: Optimizing Welcome Messages for Customers

Questline Digital worked with an energy utility client to develop and send a new residential Welcome Series. One year later, we took a deep dive into the performance metrics to see how we could enhance the series to achieve even greater engagement.

We found that how many emails in a Welcome Series matters, and so does the cadence of information. With small tweaks, customer communications can be optimized. Let’s take a look.

Year One Welcome Series

Six emails sent to residential customers starting new electric service:

  1. Storm and outage resources
  2. Sign up for our energy utility newsletter
  3. Explore our My Account resources
  4. Tools to help you manage your energy bill
  5. Tips to reduce your bill
  6. Resources to help you save energy

Overall Open Rate: 32.9%

Overall Click-to-Open Rate (CTOR): 26.6%

Year Two Welcome Series

Five emails sent to residential customers starting new electric service:

  1. Explore our My Account resources
  2. Storm and outage resources
  3. Sign up for our energy utility newsletter
  4. Billing payment options
  5. Resources to help you save energy

Overall Open Rate: 41.7%

Overall CTOR: 31.7%

By looking at the overall email content, design and key messages, our team determined:

How many emails in a Welcome Series matters

Five emails were more effective than six. Emails five and six from the original series were comparable, with both offering savings tips and resources. In the revamped series, only one savings email was sent.

Less content was more

In the first series, each email was jam-packed with links, images and multiple messages, which could have distracted from the main point and call to action. In the updated series, supporting content was pared down and the visual design was refined.

New branding elements could be easily incorporated

The energy utility had recently refreshed its branding, making this Welcome Series a perfect place to include new identity requirements. There was also an opportunity to add links that connected customers to new website content.

The customer journey needed a little guidance

While much of the content was similar from the first series to the second, the order of those messages shifted. For example, the original series began with a message about storm alerts and outage resources. In comparison, the second series opened with a message about taking control of one’s utility account — a topic of much higher interest to a new customer.

By restructuring the order and number of emails and adjusting the content, the second Welcome Series was able to better connect with customers, boosting the open rate by nearly 27% and driving 19% more engagement.

With careful planning, thoughtful strategy and inspiring writing and design, you can achieve real results. As our data demonstrates year after year, crafting a series of welcome messages for customers can set the stage for a long, strong relationship.

Welcome new customers to your utility with a proven Welcome Series solution from Questline Digital.

Customer journey mapping is essential for energy utilities. As the industry focuses on becoming more customer centric and improving the customer experience, utilities must optimize every interaction.

Where once customers were seen merely as account numbers or “ratepayers,” new technologies and advancements across all industries are changing customers’ expectations of how they interact with their utilities.

Energy utility customers interact regularly with many other businesses, and it’s their experience with those industries that sets expectations. The more businesses like Disney, Amazon and Apple improve their customer experiences, the more consumers expect from their energy provider.

The importance of utility customer experience management

Because of this dynamic change in relationships, utility customer experience management — the intentional planning and implementation of interactions across all channels and touchpoints — is critical to deliver a consistently excellent experience.

Why is utility customer experience important? For a variety of reasons, but primarily because well-designed and implemented experiences increase customer engagement. Increased customer engagement in turn builds customer satisfaction. The outcomes of customer satisfaction can include:

  • More participation in programs
  • Increased enrollment in paperless billing
  • Higher use of self-service channels
  • Lower cost to service
  • Greater customer advocacy and loyalty

Mapping the customer journey for energy utilities

A great way to approach the process of improving the customer experience is by developing a utility customer journey map that looks at these events collectively.

McKinsey describes a journey as “the process a customer goes through to complete a particular task, such as opening an account or resolving an error.”

These journeys often encompass multiple departments and varying mediums. For example, a customer journey to purchase a smart thermostat might involve touchpoints in multiple channels — website navigation and search, e-commerce, email, phone calls, a technician visit for installation, etc.

When developing a utility customer journey map, be sure to capture the key moments of truth. Those specific positive and negative touchpoints that make or break how customers perceive their utility.

Other journeys might include customer onboarding, bill payment, an outage, interacting with customer service or various program enrollments. These journeys work together to build the entirety of a utility’s customer experience.

To truly be customer centric, utilities must map out and understand all the possible touchpoints and outcomes along the customer’s journey.

Here are key journeys your utility should consider:


First impressions are everything. This is when your new customer decides if it’s easy or cumbersome to work with your utility. Can they easily find all the information they need? Do they know where to turn for help? Is your utility going to be an ongoing resource? Or will they face headaches down the road?

Answering these questions upfront and setting the right tone is essential for the launch of your customers’ journeys. Build an onboarding workflow that gives customers everything they need.

Through deployment of thousands of Welcome Series, Questline Digital has determined that it’s best to send between three and five emails upon the start of service. These emails include the following information:

  • Welcome message from leadership
  • Instructions for My Account set up
  • Prompts for eBill enrollment
  • Payment assistance resources
  • Guidance for eNewsletter or Preference Center sign up
  • Outage alert enrollment reminders
  • Explanation of available programs
  • Energy efficiency and cost savings tips

Depending on your community, your energy utility may need multiple welcome workflows that speak to different audiences. Common targets include first-time customers, moving customers, commercial business owners and small business owners.


Ensure clients are aware of the payment options available to them. Look at the experiences for those who pay via mail and online. What hurdles do they hit along the way? Where can improvements be made?

Paperless billing enrollment is known to increase customer satisfaction. According to Fiserv’s Eighth Annual Consumer Billing Household Survey, 68% of consumers acknowledge increased satisfaction with their biller when they receive electronic statements.

So, set the stage early and get customers enrolled in My Account and eBill as early as possible. The sooner customers are enrolled, the better their overall utility customer journey will be.


An outage experience is a key moment of truth, as it will certainly impact a utility’s J.D. Power customer satisfaction score. Customer journey mapping before an outage could include:

  • Ongoing outage education
  • Outage preparation communications
  • Registration for outage notifications
  • Inspiring interaction and two-way conversation

These steps would be delivered as emails, texts, automated calls, social media posts or conversations, website tools, bill inserts and brochures.

Other forms of outage communications would then occur during a planned or an unexpected outage. Whether your utility is providing a single report, or sending updates along the way, every touchpoint must be thoughtfully executed.


Beyond the basic customer lifecycle and outage communications journeys, utilities are also now exploring customer journey mapping for specific programs and products.

Solar program customers, for example, will not only rely on their utility for educational resources ahead of making a decision, but also throughout the financing, contract, installation, monitoring and maintenance phases of their solar use.

The more holistic a utility can make specific interactions along a product journey, the higher customer engagement, satisfaction and advocacy will be later.


We see consistently stronger engagement metrics with customers who receive ongoing communications, as compared to customers who receive only sporadic, one-time messages from their energy company.

In-between journeys, there is the overarching and long-term utility customer experience. This includes what happens between traditional bill payment and outage alerts, including:

  • Providing energy efficiency advice to customers during high bill seasons
  • Encouraging customers to take advantage of available rebates and promotions
  • Signing customers up for your monthly eNewsletter

Stay top of mind and enhance the customer journey by giving customers helpful information exactly when they need it.

Map out your utility customer experience

Start your conversation today about the importance of customer centricity and journey mapping a positive customer experience.

How do customers begin their journey with your energy utility? Build a strong relationship from day one with a Welcome Series.

After new customer onboarding, energy consumers are accustomed to receiving billing notices and outage alerts from their utility. While these are essential messages, you need more than just transactional communications to build a long-term positive relationship. Anniversary emails can help increase engagement by recognizing a meaningful touchpoint in the customer lifecycle.

What is a customer anniversary email?

Anniversary emails celebrate a customer’s annual milestone with their energy utility. A customer’s anniversary offers a chance to reach out one year post service enrollment and show that you care.

We recommend sending an anniversary email one year after a customer receives their first Welcome Series message. An easy addition to your email marketing strategy, these personalized messages are automatically sent to customers when they reach the one-year milestone.

Why should you send a client anniversary message?

Customer and client anniversary messages are known to boost engagement. Questline Digital data shows that customer anniversary emails achieve an 89% higher open rate than our baseline.

In addition to providing a reason to connect with customers, anniversary emails help to humanize your energy utility — something not possible with a program promotion or other transactional messages.

They are also the perfect tie-in with content marketing.

In addition to the celebratory message, you can share seasonal energy savings tips or promote a product. If a customer hasn’t yet used a service, this is a great time to remind them of what’s available or what’s new.

Make it extra personable by including a special discount and/or overview of individual energy use over the last year.

A customer anniversary email is especially great for first-time homeowners or customers that finally moved into the home of their dreams. Moving is a major milestone in everyone’s life and sending an anniversary email that offers congratulations, assistance and remembrance stands out. Your customers will appreciate this personalized message.

Customer anniversary email examples

Check out these anniversary email examples. They include a mix of product promotions, personalization and thanks.


Wemo reaches out to customers one-year post initial purchase to offer a unique discount code. This not only reminds customers of their previous purchase, but it also highlights how they can continue turning their home into a smart hub with other Wemo products.

Example of customer anniversary email


The grocery delivery company uses its annual client anniversary message to recognize accomplishments and encourage continued account growth. They highlight a customer’s key moments in the past year, making the recipient feel proud of the work they’ve done while also showcasing where they might have room for improvement.

Example of customer anniversary email

Utility example

This Southwest utility says, ‘thank you’ and directs customers to available resources to help them save on energy. Just because a customer is celebrating their anniversary doesn’t mean they know about every available tool or program – it’s essential to remind them. The message is also populated with the customer’s name to make it more personal.

Example of customer anniversary email


Airbnb follows up with customers a year after they sign up for booking services to suggest travel destinations. Sometimes a timely reminder is all a customer needs to prompt action. Don’t miss the chance to celebrate your customer anniversary and encourage deeper engagement.

Example of customer anniversary email

Setting up automated anniversary emails

When building your onboarding email cadence, add a customer anniversary message to the workflow. An anniversary email should be scheduled 365 days after your first Welcome message.

This added touchpoint makes customers feel special, gives your utility an opportunity to promote important content and services and is proven to boost overall engagement.

Learn how a Welcome Series and Anniversary Emails can build strong digital relationships with your energy utility customers.

As the old adage goes, “You never get a second chance to make a good first impression.” This is especially true of the first interactions between energy utilities and engagement with their new customers.

In Questline Digital’s Plugged In webinar, “How to Build Lasting Engagement with New Customers,” Questline Digital’s Josh Hanna and Sigma Computing’s Danny Codella provide insights on the value of implementing a Welcome Series to create a positive first impression and how this best-practice solution can transform digital customer relationships.

Make a great first impression with utility customers

A welcome email is the first impression your energy utility has with a customer after they sign up for service. According to Hanna, this is a great opportunity to acknowledge customers and educate them about your energy utility’s offerings. With digital engagement expectations already set by retail brands and other industries, your customers expect to hear from their energy utility. In fact, 74% of email subscribers expect to receive a welcome email from a company.

“Imagine yourself shopping at an online retailer where you get 20% off your next purchase if you join a loyalty program or submit your email address,” Hanna says. “As a customer, you already know that within minutes you’ll receive a thank-you email with the promo code. It’s a norm, not an anomaly, that customers want to hear from you.”

For energy utilities, a Welcome Series of three to five automated emails is a best-practice solution that creates multiple touchpoints and engages customers with valuable information. This is an opportunity for energy utilities to continue the dialogue with new or moving customers, become a proactive advisor and answer questions your customers don’t even know they have yet.

Each Welcome Series email should touch on a different topic:

  • Welcome message
  • Billing and payments
  • Outage resources
  • Community involvement
  • Safety or energy savings

The top-performing Welcome Series topics are billing and payments. Your customers are looking for information on when they can expect their first bill, how to understand their bill and information on available payment options. This message is also an ideal time to encourage customers to sign up for paperless billing.

In the energy savings message, Hanna recommends incentivizing customers to shop at your energy utility’s marketplace. In a study of energy utility customers, 56% didn’t know their energy utility offered a marketplace to purchase energy-efficient products. Keep in mind, the most important information should be included in the beginning and middle of the series.

Key benefits of Welcome Series:

  • Increases credibility of your energy utility
  • Potential for increasing program conversions (i.e. paperless billing and outage text alerts)
  • Incentivizes customers to shop at your energy marketplace
  • Provides background on your energy utility
  • Introduces customers to other programs/services offered by your energy utility

Exceed expectations with new customers

According to Hanna, 8 out of 10 customers expect to receive welcome emails after they sign up for a mailing list, such as joining a loyalty program. This expectation is happening outside the energy utility industry and is important for energy utility marketers to be aware of. In fact, 51% of all Welcome Series messages are opened and achieve high customer engagement (21.9% CTOR), according to Questline Digital performance metrics.

Codella shares that welcome messages will typically have the highest open and click-through rates of any communication you send. In fact, welcome messages have five times the number of click-throughs as standard marketing emails. “A welcome email series is absolutely critical for establishing customer relationships,” Codella says. “It’s a huge opportunity — the momentum is high and your brand is top-of-mind to customers.”

Welcome Series also has a profound impact on customer engagement with future marketing communications sent by your energy utility. Questline Digital’s performance data finds that Welcome Series graduates — customers who engaged with at least one Welcome Series email — engage with future utility emails at a 30% higher rate.

Codella adds that to be successful in building engagement with new customers, there are six components that your welcome emails should have.

Six components of an effective Welcome Series:

  1. Have a clear sender name and email address, subject line and preheader text
  2. Make the email personalized
  3. Say thank you
  4. Set expectations
  5. Give rewards
  6. Tell customers what you want them to do next

Beyond educating customers about your energy utility’s resources, each Welcome Series message should communicate next steps for customers. For example, do you want your customers to enroll in a program, download an app or click on a link to learn more information? A clear call-to-action is essential to increase program conversions.

Game plan for personalization

According to Codella and Hanna, segmentation and personalization are key to a successful Welcome Series. Welcome emails with personalization have six times higher transaction rates. However, before personalizing your messages, you need to understand who your customers are.

For example, are they residential or business customers? Renters or homeowners? Are they new customers or existing customers moving within your service area? Your energy utility can personalize emails by a customer’s geography, job title, purchase behavior, interests, anniversaries and more. Personalization is also beneficial in subject lines, helping to increase open rates by 26%.

“In the old days, you put a customer’s name on their email and that was considered personalization,” Hanna says. “Today, it’s about understanding the individual and who they are. From a customer experience standpoint, what information do they want or need to know?”

An investment in long-term engagement with new customers

To emphasize the importance of welcome emails, Codella notes that it takes 12 positive impressions to make up for one bad impression. First impressions are essential, as 51% of customers will never do business with a company again after a bad experience.

“A well-planned Welcome Series builds trust, gives customers valuable information, helps with upselling and sets the tone of your energy utility’s customer relationships,” Codella says. “First impressions are hard to shake — that’s why an investment in a Welcome Series is a must for energy utilities.”

Welcome new customers to your energy utility with an automated Welcome Series campaign from Questline Digital.

At the start of their energy service, business customers need the right tools to succeed. By connecting with this target audience from day one, your energy utility can welcome business customers, help them better manage their account and take control of their energy use.

A Welcome Series is a great way to connect with hard-to-reach business customers in your service area and show them your energy utility is a helpful resource and energy expert. As Questline Digital’s performance metrics show, establishing a digital relationship at the start of service is the foundation of long-lasting customer engagement and future program participation. Read on for what to include in your personalized Welcome Series to business customers.

Share resources for easy bill management

With endless tasks on their to-do list, business customers want to save time and embrace convenience. That’s why they need an easy way to manage their bill. In your Welcome Series, promote programs and services that can make business customers’ daily lives a little easier, including:

  • My Account: Emphasize the ability to access all of their account information in one place online, similar to an electronic filing cabinet.
  • Paperless billing: Business customers are always on the go. Focus on 24/7 bill access from their smartphone or tablet.
  • Auto pay: Promote the convenience of never forgetting a payment. Auto pay is a valuable service for busy business owners.
  • Mobile app: Highlight the benefits of your mobile app as a fast and easy way to access account information, which improves business customers’ energy experience.

Promote efficiency upgrades and DIY solutions

Energy efficiency has a profound impact on a business, both on its bottom line and reputation. A business with a focus on energy efficiency is viewed favorably by customers, employees and the public. However, many business customers may not realize how to become more energy efficient. Help local businesses make valuable efficiency upgrades by promoting:

  • Rebate programs and upgrades: Promote programs that make it easy for businesses to improve their carbon footprint and bottom line, whether through an in-person site assessment or an online energy tracking tool.
  • Demand response programs: Show business customers how they can reduce the risk of grid overload and help their utility meet clean energy goals while also improving their bottom line by participating in demand response programs.
  • Your energy utility’s marketplace: Promote the offerings in your energy marketplace, such as LED lighting and ENERGY STAR appliances, along with the benefits of choosing your marketplace over a major retailer.
  • Energy efficiency tips and advice: Business customers appreciate upgrades they can do themselves to improve energy efficiency. Share simple, no-cost tips to help them transform their facility.
  • Electric vehicle information: Provide information on EV rebate programs specific to businesses, such as electric warehouse equipment. Many businesses are also looking to electrify their fleets.

Prepare businesses with safety and reliability information

For business customers, reliability and keeping their business running smoothly is top of mind. However, power outages can happen at any time. An outage has the ability to negatively impact business operations, including reduced output, decreased employee productivity and lost revenue.

We recommend sharing outage information at the start of energy service, so they are prepared before an outage happens at their facility:

  • How to report an outage: Provide customers with all the ways they can report an outage, whether online, by phone or via social media channels.
  • Online outage map: Business customers want to know the details of an outage, such as the number of customers affected, estimated restoration time and cause of the outage. This is why sharing a link to your website’s outage map is helpful.
  • Outage alerts: Encourage customers to sign up for outage text or email alerts to receive real-time updates throughout an outage. This is the best way to keep business customers informed, while improving customer satisfaction scores.
  • Gas leak information: Share helpful safety tips your business customers need to know, including what to do and what number to call if they smell or hear a gas leak.

Welcome business customers on day one

Your business customers have distinct needs — that’s why your energy utility benefits from a Welcome Series personalized to this audience. From easy ways to manage their account to energy efficiency upgrades, business customers are looking for ways to save time, improve their carbon footprint and increase cost savings. By reaching businesses at the start of service, your energy utility can help them get closer to their goals while achieving long-term customer satisfaction.

Learn how a Welcome Series from Questline Digital will build an effective digital relationship with your business customers.