In 1992 the National Energy Policy Act paved the way for energy deregulation in the U.S. Since then states followed by slowly deregulating energy supply to create a free and competitive market. As of today, there are eighteen states with various levels of deregulated electricity and twenty-seven states with deregulated natural gas.
This chain of events opened the door for Retail Energy Providers (REP). Retail energy providers are companies you agree with on price rate terms for how much you pay for electricity (per kWh) and natural gas (per therm).
Why the history and current state of deregulation is important for marketers at REPs
For marketers working at retail energy providers this is vital information that informs regional and national marketing campaigns focused on acquiring and retaining residential and business customers.
As a person who works at a REP, you know this history, but do your ideal customers in each state understand their ability to shop for energy? If they do, then how are you targeting and measuring marketing success for multi-channel campaigns that account for online and offline touchpoints?
These questions lead into a conversation about how your marketing team targets customers online, what messaging is utilized, and how marketing is attributing for all touchpoints of the customer buying journey, online and offline.
Are you investing in the right marketing channels to acquire new residential and business customers online?
It is critical to know how to reach residential and business customers with the right messaging. This type of targeted outreach comes through knowing where your customers live online and offline. Are you adequately mixing in direct mail (offline) with online advertising and content marketing campaigns? Are you targeting through Google and Bing (depending on their demographics and regions) campaigns as well as exploiting every opportunity to educate and engage on paid social?
Investing in Google PPC ads is one approach to capture new customers within their buying journey. Although the retail energy market isn’t as overrun with online comparison websites as other industries, there are options for customers to easily compare and purchase electricity and natural gas. If you do any simple search for home electricity or natural gas rates, you will find ChooseEnergy.com, CompareElectricity.com, or ElectricityRates.com. These are newer channels allow customers to compare regional retail energy providers.
This angle is only one of many online channels for customer acquisition. Even if you closely examine one of the above mentioned websites, you’ll see the presence of phone numbers below each of the competing price rate quotes. Phone calls are a critical part of the customer buying journey, especially in retail energy where pricing is very competitive. As a marketer focused on increasing the ROI on their advertising and overall campaign spend, you want to ensure inbound calls from comparison websites and other relevant affiliates are receiving the correct attention from sales reps in their conversations.
Due to highly competitive pricing, the phone conversation is often the difference maker in gaining a new customer.
Know what referral channels result in new customers
Call tracking software tells your call center, sales, and customer support representatives the call source and if on the company website, the exact page the call comes from. For a customer calling in from a referral lead source, such as one of the comparison websites referenced above, this information provides insight into the caller’s intent.
The same logic applies to online advertising through Google, Bing, Facebook, and other advertising channels. For customer sign ups, capture the highest quality calls of visitors more likely to convert into paying (ideally long term) customers.
Are you tracking every interaction of the customer journey, online and offline?
Call tracking provides a timeline of the complete customer journey, from lead source to website pages viewed, across a year or longer that leads to phone calls or other online event actions, such as chat interactions and form submissions.
British Gas Business, an energy provider in the UK, utilized Infinity’s call tracking solution to save money on advertising spend and increase the high quality calls into their business that most likely resulted in new customers. Infinity enabled their customer acquisition team to optimize their marketing campaigns once they gained visibility of the online and offline customer journey.
The U.S. market is a robust landscape to tackle, especially when considering the varying deregulation policies across states. When combining that information with similar market trends, such as predictions in the homeowner market, marketers and customer acquisition teams for REPs can begin to develop a comprehensive view of what new customers to target across cities, states, and greater regions across the US.
Are you a marketer working in the energy industry? Read our eBook on “5 Homeowner Trends in 2018 that Matter to Companies in the Energy Industry” to see if your marketing team is accounting for the whole strategic picture when implementing and executing marketing campaigns. Download it now