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Improve Energy Brand Loyalty with an Energy Marketing Agency

The internet has closed the gap between companies and consumers, and potential customers expect more from the brands they want to do business with. To meet the demand for immediate, personalized service, companies in every industry, including energy, have to transform their marketing strategies and keep pace with customer expectations. In fact, two-thirds of companies consider customer experience the most important facet of their competitive strategy.

For energy providers, these changes represent an incredible opportunity for innovation and growth. The seven strategies presented here will help your organization develop meaningful relationships with new and current customers alike.

1. Get to Know Your Customers

In the age of deregulation and increased competition, energy providers cannot play by commodity market rules to stand out from the crowd. Customers are making active and informed decisions about their utilities, and they are keen to develop lasting relationships with companies that engage with them intelligently. The next generation of energy consumers are investing in companies that match their own values and priorities.

Supplemental support from a performance marketing agency can help you get to know your customers and help drive awareness about what differentiates you from your competitors.

Today’s energy consumers overwhelmingly support renewable energy goals. According to a recent Consumer Reports survey, 81% of US residents support reducing pollution in energy generation and 76% think increasing renewable energy is worthwhile. At the same time, many consumers have predominantly negative opinions of their energy providers—they don’t believe companies offer fair prices or are committed to reducing prices, and think utility companies have too much political power. Upending these preconceptions requires clear communication of shared goals and meaningful engagement with consumers.

While national trends provide important insight, remember that attitudes vary by region. Understanding what is important to your customer base will set you apart from your competition. Supplemental support from a performance energy marketing agency can help drive awareness about what differentiates one energy company from another and provide further clarity for consumer choices in a commoditized industry.

2. Provide Meaningful Data and Information

Energy consumers want to work with energy companies that are transparent about their practices and services. Customers want to stay informed and are hungry for information about peak-load shifting programs, bill credits, renewable energy investments, and energy-saving smart home technologies.

Start looking at your customers as informed partners and empower them with tools, information, and data to make smarter decisions.

If you’re looking to attract the growing millennial and renter markets, start looking at your customers as informed partners. Your content strategy should empower your customers with tools, information, and data that allow them to make decisions about their energy usage. Providing information about energy conservation and smart grid technologies can also increase your operating efficiency, making these approaches mutually beneficial.

Beyond access to this information, these consumers want active educational opportunities and hands-on control as well.

3. Give Customers More Control

Give your customers more control in their energy decisions and you’ll quickly develop a more positive relationship with them. With the wealth of digital tools available to retail energy companies and consumers alike, it’s easier than ever to encourage active customer participation in power distribution and efficiency.

Smart meters, meter-reading apps, smart home technologies, and consumption monitoring tools help customers make informed decisions about their behavior to reduce demand during peak hours and reduce costs. Incentives that help your customers save money will also encourage brand loyalty by demonstrating a partnership around shared energy goals.

Encourage brand loyalty by demonstrating your commitment to creating a partnership around shared energy goals.

App-integrated outage maps give customers immediate access to information during critical moments like a service interruption, which will increase trust through transparency. Apps and online tools also provide a direct conduit between you and your customers, allowing them to engage more meaningfully with your brand across multiple channels.

4. Utilize Multiple Communication Platforms (Online and Offline)

If your customers can only contact you by phone, you’re not engaging with your audience effectively. Customers expect to be able to communicate and engage with companies in a variety of ways. Integrate customer journey mapping to determine and capitalize on the ways customers interact with your brand across online and offline channels.

Optimize your online and offline channels of communication to overcome trust barriers and meet customer expectations.

Using multiple channels to meet customers where they are can increase your support efficiency across the board. Online tools like customer care content, chat interfaces, and apps are more effective alongside expected offline channels like phone support. Together, these tools can help improve customer experiences significantly.

Retail energy companies face a significant trust barrier with customers, and this barrier can hinder customer engagement. A holistic look at your brand’s image is an important prerequisite for effective communication across multiple platforms. Your digital footprint is an opportunity to tell a story about your brand’s values and priorities. Think beyond the usual tactics to make the most of the communication channels you have available.

5. Learn from Other Sectors

The energy industry has been slow to adapt to emerging customer demographics like millennials and renters. In deregulated energy spaces, energy companies closely resemble businesses in consumer-facing industries, and businesses like Netflix and Amazon can serve as models for progressive approaches to marketing and customer engagement. Review how these successful companies provide a holistic customer experience and look for ways you can apply those approaches to your brand offerings.

Look to leaders in consumer-facing industries for new, innovative tactics for improving the energy customer experience.

Adjacent sectors like solar and wind, electric cars, energy storage, and energy consulting firms are becoming important partners in the new energy market as well. Customers actively look for energy companies that invest in a diverse portfolio of energy sources and technologies. Consider how partnerships with other businesses might benefit you and your customers.

6. Partner with an Energy Marketing Agency

An energy marketing agency can help align your brand’s development with the trends and demographics that matter for differentiating your company from competitors. Many traditional oil and gas marketing companies have fallen short of the challenge posed by a rapidly shifting market, and many energy companies have already collapsed due to poor customer engagement.  

As the new energy sector continues to emerge, customer experience will continue to define the most effective brands.

A power marketing agency that puts customer experiences first will be better equipped to help you respond successfully to future change. A creative, research-driven approach that integrates customer analytics into an adaptive marketing plan will be inherently flexible, which helps reduce risk and uncertainty. Using expertise from across industries and channels, for example, Clearlink was able to reduce support call volume of Frontier Communications by 20%, streamlining the online-to-offline transition and saving the company money by improving overall customer experience.

As the new energy sector continues to emerge, customer experience will continue to define the most effective brands.

7. Make Positive Change Part of Your Organization’s Identity

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is emerging as a major driver for today’s most successful businesses. Socially responsible actions have huge potential for improving the way customers think and feel about energy companies. But companies that promote their CSR without meaningful action can easily sabotage themselves. When Volkswagen used software to fake diesel efficiency scores, the erosion of consumer trust led to a loss in brand trust and loyalty and a decline in sales.

Socially responsible actions have huge potential for improving the way customers think and feel about your brand.

Identify local causes or events that could benefit from your company’s support. Dedicated outreach professionals can find the confluences between these efforts and the image of your overall brand. If your company gains a helpful, community-focused persona, your marketing penetration will dramatically improve with younger buyers.

Conclusion

Surviving and thriving in these new and emerging marketing environments requires a brand identity that centers on the positive experience of your customers. A customer-driven strategy provides significant opportunity for growth.

Energy companies that adapt quickly to new trends and new technologies can gain greater market penetration. Analyze your marketing strategy from the ground up and work with an energy marketing agency to identify the tactics that will align your company’s brand with the preferences of your ideal customer.

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Hilary Biggart

For Hilary, marketing has always been the engine to drive meaningful customer relationships. Her expertise in the energy industry helps deliver those for Clearlink’s energy clients. Prior to joining Clearlink, Hilary has delivered full-funnel customer experiences to increase brand awareness and build customer advocates with companies like Mercedes-Benz, Adobe, Solera, and Franklin Covey. Hilary is an avid runner, reader, and mother.

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