Digital marketing has changed a lot in the last three decades, and so has Questline. From our original telephone hotline, to fax newsletters (yes, fax), to our pioneering use of email newsletters for energy utilities, Questline has spent years developing and deploying new technologies to build customer engagement for energy utilities.
Let’s take a look back at the marketing innovations through the decades that led us to today’s customer engagement strategies.
It was 1991 and the company was given the then-cutting-edge name “Tech Resources Inc.” and a snappy green Death Star logo. In our early years, we were co-owned by Battelle Institute, a large, non-profit R&D firm that invented Xerox technology and ran large, federal laboratories including Sandia and Pacific Northwest Labs, as well as by Dominion Resources, a holding company for Dominion Power.
We were primarily a consulting company, a team of engineers and researchers that focused on energy utilities by helping their large industrial and commercial customers use energy more wisely to improve productivity and reduce environmental impact.
Our first offering was a phone service called Questline, which helped energy utility clients’ commercial and industrial account managers. About 40 calls every week came in for this one-on-one phone support, which included library research and faxed written responses to energy utilities’ account teams.
To promote Questline, we began using an emerging technology to communicate: the fax machine. Our newsletters were faxed to all of our energy utility clients and featured the energy, technical, environmental and/or industrial-related questions we’d answered recently. No one had done this before. Our approach was to share, via hand-fed fax, the wide-ranging requests that we tackled within Questline.
The data we published for clients served as a communications tool — we answered questions, learned about the industry and began anticipating what was needed. Questline’s flagship newsletters were born organically, bringing our team of researchers and engineers into the forefront of energy utility communications.
Around this time, Questline began making our content searchable from a web portal for energy utility account managers to readily access for their commercial and industrial customers. Now, we had a business.
As the company grew, we discovered that Questline’s ability to produce and deliver relevant and interesting content to commercial and industrial customers was of significant value to our utility clients. We began customizing digital newsletters by account manager, launching a new era of content marketing before the term had been coined.
Questline’s software development team assembled our first web-accessible portal and included new content like energy calculators, benchmark data of industry energy use, business segment tips and recommendations, a library of 1,000+ energy-related documents, and even a digital version of the Questline phone service.
Seeing opportunity, the newsletter package, including client-branded and customer-facing content, moved from a fax-delivered service to email. With this new channel, Questline ramped up its customer segmentation and customization in line with the new focus on digital communications.
The success of the Account Manager newsletter soon led to the production and delivery of Small Business, Residential and Trade Ally versions with equal amounts of success for our clients.
The company officially began doing business as Questline (that’s how everyone knew us), changed the hotline to “Ask an Expert” and renamed the email newsletter “RelationshipBuilder.” All versions of the newsletter included an admin portal for each client to customize and edit content. We also introduced the ability to manage customer lists through a CRM-type tool and added a real-time reporting engine.
Questline produces and delivers client-branded and account manager-personalized email newsletters on behalf of energy utilities in all 50 states and Canada. We brought in new creative talent to expand our digital communications portfolio to include custom marketing campaigns. We built and launched Engage, a best-in-class platform that puts our content marketing technology directly in the hands of energy utilities.
Best of all, though, we’re still working closely with the same energy utility professionals we always have: you. The technology we use has changed — a lot — but our goal has always been to help you build strong, long-lasting relationships with your customers.