Less than one month ago, much of the U.S. fell victim to the polar vortex. All across the nation, severely cold temperatures led to canceled flights, closed schools, and dangerous conditions. According to weather.com, at least four locations tied or set all-time record lows, including a bone-chilling negative 43 degrees northwest of Mather, Wisconsin, on January 30.
Not surprisingly, the extreme cold weather is affecting heating bills, as well. According to the Department of Energy (DOE), the weather is the number one factor that influences a homeowner’s utility bill. When it’s really cold, it simply takes more energy to maintain comfort in your home. The DOE offered a few suggestions to help homeowners minimize utility bills:
- Turn the thermostat down by 10 to 15 degrees. This can save 5 to 15 percent a year on utility bills.
- Use a programmable thermostat to turn down the temperature overnight or when away from home.
- Open curtains during the day to let the sun naturally heat home; close curtains at night to keep heat inside.
- Add weather-strips around doors and windows to prevent warm air from escaping.
- Change the heating unit air filter as needed.
In a previous blog, I discussed the regulated and deregulated energy markets and how this impacts utilities’ need for marketing. For example, because I live in Pennsylvania, I receive acquisition direct mail offers from energy companies. But not everyone in the U.S. can receive marketing offers from energy providers, because energy market deregulation varies from state-to-state. As of 2018, Pennsylvania is among the 28 states, including the District of Columbia, with a deregulated or partially-deregulated energy market, where consumers can choose electric or natural gas utility suppliers.
My IWCO Direct colleagues in Minnesota don’t have the option to choose, since their state is among the remaining 23 states that do not have a choice when it comes to selecting either an electric or gas utility provider. If you are unsure whether or not you live in a regulated or deregulated energy market, you can find out here.
How to Use Utility Marketing Mail to Acquire and Convert Customers
With a deregulated energy market affecting 60% of the country in one way or another, companies in the utility vertical are competing for consumers’ business, resulting in an increase in acquisition direct mail volumes. According to our friends at Competiscan, utility companies mailed more than 356 million pieces of direct mail in 2018. The top three mailers were CleanChoice Energy, Reliant, and TXU Energy, with each mailing more than 30 million mail pieces annually.
Several utility companies are using proven direct mail best practices to get the attention of prospective customers. Here are some examples of how energy companies are using direct mail effectively:
- Sunrun mailed letters to prospective customers containing an affixed generic card promoting a $600 savings when they switch to Sunrun solar. A toll-free phone number and website were provided to give recipients a choice in how they responded to the offer.
- Dominion Energy Solutions mailed a letter with a chart showing the saving advantage of the one-, two-, and three-year lock-in rate plans compared to the prospective customer’s current provider’s rate. A toll-free phone number, website, and reply card were provided to respond to the offer.
- Reliant mailed a letter and used the side bar to highlight their $600 bonus offer for switching electric providers. A toll-free phone number and promo code were provided for offer redemption.
Personalization Makes All the Difference for Utility Marketing Mail
Since consumers are likely seeing high utility bills, now is the perfect time for utility companies to launch acquisition marketing campaigns that focus on saving money. Utility companies can improve results with a smart direct marketing strategy by incorporating personalization into their direct marketing efforts in the following ways:
- Personalized Cards: Affix a personalized savings incentive card to your acquisition direct mailpiece. Personalize the card specifically to the intended prospective customer by adding their name so they feel they are getting a special offer. This is proven to increase gross response rate (GRR) and return on marketing investment (ROMI). Be sure to include your phone number and website as a call to action.
- Personalized Faux Checks: Use an eye-catching personalized check format in the dollar amount of the potential bonus new customers will receive when switching to your utility service. Just like on a personalized card, the call to action is important, so make sure the recipient knows where they can find more information.
- Personalized Charts and Graphs: Catch the attention of prospective customers looking for cost savings by using charts and graphs comparing utility provider rates. Dominion Energy Solutions did their research and added the personalized touch by including the rate their prospective customer was getting from their current provider.
- Personalized Side Bars: The side bar is prime real estate on a letter. Use it to feature the prospective customer’s specific utility savings offer and place the call to action in multiple areas on the mailpiece.
Don’t let your utility marketing efforts fall victim to the polar vortex. Contact IWCO Direct’s experts to heat up your utility marketing acquisition efforts.
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