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How one utility launched a successful content marketing program

Posted by Michelle Keefe on April 14, 2015

One utility in California recently drove thousands of views to its website, invigorated interest in energy management and rose to the top of search engine rankings in just four months. How? Content marketing.

Content marketing is a digital form of marketing that provides customers with relevant and instructive information to guide them to take action. For utility marketers, this action could be anything from clicking through an article about energy management to signing up for an online tool that helps the customer reduce monthly energy expenses.

Before the utility launched its content marketing program, some of the biggest challenges facing engagement had to be considered.

Breaking through a low-involvement category
Energy management tends to be a low-involvement category for business owners and managers due to their heavy workload. Daily operations, employee satisfaction and budgeting usually get in the way, making it easy for decision makers of small and medium-sized businesses to forget what is arguably just as important as all of the above.

In order to avoid this drop in engagement, the utility’s content marketing program intercepted decision makers with engaging content and energy management ideas. For example, to most business owners and managers, finances are not a low-involvement category. People want to manage their expenses responsibly. The problem is, most don’t know about all the initiatives available to help them reach their goals.

The utility marketer noted above leveraged this knowledge by providing resources that educated business customers about saving money and being more efficient and sustainable. Articles with titles like “14 Ways Restaurants Can Save Money on Refrigeration” and “Smart Lighting in the Classroom” helped decision makers quickly identify the right source material for their most pressing needs and explained how energy efficiency planning works to their benefit.

The utility also positioned itself as a trusted advisor in energy management because it addressed the needs of multiple industries. The utility developed content for foodservice, laundering and educational facilities, building lessees and others. The content covered a wide range of topics, including heating, ventilation and air conditioning maintenance, working with a contractor, the benefits of solar power and how to select the right lighting controls for a business.

Overcoming time constraints
Another challenge facing utilities is that business customers simply don’t have time to spare for energy management. Most decision makers sign up for an energy plan, set up a recurring payment method and then forget about it. As far as they’re concerned, their part of the work is done. And it better be, because they’ve got about 100 other concerns on their plate.

Consider this statistic from the Huffington Post: Small business owners report that one extra hour a day is worth more than $500.1 This only underscores the necessity of content marketing because it proves that decision makers likely won’t consider new initiatives unless they produce tangible results.

Content marketing puts utility marketers in the right place at the right time by anticipating any service or functionality problems their business customers might encounter. To help streamline the troubleshooting process and save businesses time, the utility developed a resource center to house in-depth and relevant material online for their business customers. Included in the mix were articles, infographics, ebooks, guides and other downloadable content about energy efficiency and sustainability – all easily accessible in a search field – to provide business customers with comprehensive, solutions-based information. By varying the source material, the utility was able to reach multiple segments, which in turn extended the reach of its content marketing communications.

In addition to creating a resource center with instructive content, the utility also engaged businesses and generated hand-raisers through data collection. Email addresses are essential to any marketing program and, coupled with a content marketing strategy, they can significantly boost a utility’s marketing success. To collect data, the utility encouraged customers to provide their email addresses through downloadable forms within each content article in exchange for access to more helpful information. This allowed the utility to leverage behavioral data with follow-up email communications tied to a topic business owners and managers demonstrated an interest in.

The results
The results were undeniable. The utility engaged businesses across multiple industries and drove thousands of views to its website and articles. The utility’s content marketing program exceeded the conversion objective of users completing forms and downloadable content, and the utility rose to top search engine rankings on selected keywords within four months.

Customer engagement can be an especially murky area for utility marketers because they need to be in the right place at the right time to break through to customers. To learn how Jacobs & Clevenger can take your content marketing communications to the next level, sign up for our webinar. We’ll explain how to build a solid content strategy that will solidify your utility’s position as an industry authority.


Topics: Utility Industry

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