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Successful content marketing starts with a plan, strategy and a deliberate set of actions. However, many
companies report that they don’t have a defined plan for content marketing. Effective content marketing for utilities is driven by frequent posting to blog sites about topics that are keyword-driven and centered on issues that interest both business and residential utility customers. Utility marketing should also take advantage of social media as an additional channel for reaching customers with content that casts the utility as a thought leader.
Understanding these basics of content marketing for utilities doesn't always guarantee that the content will hit the mark. Digital marketing has a number of nuances that go into creating successful content for utility marketing purposes. This article will discuss the five basic characteristics essential for successful utility content.
1. Quality Content
When crafting content marketing for utilities, quality is king. Fluff won't grab and hold the attention of users you want to reach and doesn’t typically perform well by search engines such as Google. Focus on the topics your target audience is concerned about, and create content that addresses these issues such as tips for signing a green lease or choosing the proper lighting controls for specific businesses.1 Articles, blog posts and other digital marketing content that offer advice on the issues important to your customers will get more mileage because they get shared via email and also have value for social media.
2. Put the Customer First
Effective utility content is customer-centric and meets users’ needs on their terms. For utility marketing this means making the shift from talking about energy efficiency products to addressing situations when a customer may need a new piece of equipment or appliance. For instance, utilize a blog post that highlights four warning signs that an HVAC system is headed for trouble. In addition to listing the cautionary indications, though, the article should also offer solutions, such as tips for maintaining HVAC efficiency and a link to an online directory of professional technicians. The article can even direct users to learn more about specific energy efficient products. This form of digital marketing and these types of articles hit the mark because they anticipate a customer's problem and provide several useful solutions.
3. Be Easy to Find
Many marketers are aware of search engine optimization (SEO) are unsure how to use content marketing to their advantage. The key is to find the keywords and phrases that customers are searching for and incorporate these terms into digital marketing. By nature, many utility websites have domain authority and can provide a strong springboard for additional content marketing efforts. A prime example is crafting content around the high-volume key phrase "HVAC contractors." You’ll get high marks with search engines and utility customers by incorporating this phrase into an explanatory title like one of these: "Considerations Before Contacting HVAC Contractors" or "How to Evaluate and Compare Commercial HVAC Contractors."2
4. Capture Data
Many utilities consider it a priority to improve their email address collection process but aren’t always sure how to accomplish this goal. Content-rich downloads are an effective way to provide business and residential customers with information they want in exchange for their valuable email address. The customer reads an article or blog post on energy efficiency projects, for example. At the end of the informative article is an offer for a free guide to financing those projects. The customer gains access to the downloadable guide by filling out a simple form with his name, job title, company name and email address. Content marketing for utilities can also be a strong supporter of social media. Post a link to the article or point to the free download offer on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter, sit back and start raking in the email addresses.
5. Use Every Available Channel
Successful utility marketing plans use content in the form of emails, articles and blog posts and social media. Connecting the dots between all the channels ensures digital marketing is working as hard as possible to support the customer journey. Ensure content is widely integrated into existing newsletters, promoted via banner ads on the site, leveraged in social media and integrated into other key customer touch points. Channels almost always work more effectively together than alone.
Every utility marketing program is different and working with an agency that has both content marketing and utility industry experience is likely the best way to get the most desirable results.