Holy cow! Day 1 of the 4th Annual E Source Utility Marketing Conference just ended and I seriously feel like I’ve been drinking nonstop from the water hose. I don’t know how we managed to get so many amazing speakers packed into one day—and there’s still another full day to go!
The predominant themes of Day 1 were to “go where your customers are” (which is not your website, that’s for sure!) and the value of segmentation.
We started out by hearing from the guys who are doing the marketing to get butts in the seats for NASCAR. Mike Burch, VP of national sales and marketing for Speedway Motorsports, and Logan McCabe, VP of the consumer group at Bristol Motor Speedway, spoke about understanding your customer and driving your marketing campaigns to meet their needs. I won’t go too deep into their amazing talk because Stephanie Spalding already wrote a thorough recap. You can see a little clip of Logan talking about being nimble but consistent. And I love their five Ts of keeping customers happy: tickets, traffic, tummies, trash, and toilets—talk about meeting your customers where they’re at.
I think I had two favorite speakers of the day, and Suzie Adams, VP of marketing and customer experience for Duke Energy, was one of them. She shared so much amazing information—I don’t even know where to start. In her talk, called “Making the Customer Central to the Mission,” she started off by saying, “The NASCAR talk was a little discouraging because we are never going to have someone tattoo a CFL on their arm.” So true! Utilities have it tough because it’s nearly impossible to rouse passion in a utility customer. Some of her great takeaways include:
- Make your offers relevant to your customers. It’s all about them! We think about us and we think we’re totally fascinating. Customers aren’t going to spend a lot of time thinking about us, so we have to make it easy. Don’t sell them products, offer them solutions.
- Expectations are high and resources are scarce, so you have to segment. To make your marketing lists great, you’ve got to mine your data.
- Social media scares conservative people. Utilities, by their very nature, are conservative. Take the genie out of the bottle and you can’t put him back. Scary, but necessary! Whether you want to be or not, you’re on social media; you’ve got to join the conversation that’s happening with or without you.
Then, the residential break-out sessions began! (You can read a great blog post about the business track from Jenny Field.)
From High Tech to Low Energy: Finding the Key to Behavior Change. Susan Mazur-Stommen, with the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, an incredibly dynamic speaker who grabbed my attention right away, worked the floor and kept the audience engaged. She spoke about user experience and user-centered design. She said that when products are designed from a “we know best” perspective, it’s a problem. She said, “If your product needs a manual, it’s not a product designed with the user in mind.” This really resonated with our audience and was one of our most-tweeted-about lines of the conference. See a little video of her talking about the insights you can get by just asking your customers what they want.
What’s in a Game? Drawing in Consumers Through Innovative Gaming Techniques. According to Eben Myers, VP of design for Etcetera Edutainment, games are central to our lives—everything from Angry Birds to poker to sports. And now we can use it for training, engagement, and getting a message across. You need to keep your game in that perfect middle ground of being interesting, engaging, and educational.
Customer Engagement and Energy Efficiency Through Social Game Mechanics. Sarah Hill, customer programs marketing manager with San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), and Yoav Lurie, founder & CEO of Simple Energy, shared how SDG&E worked with Simple Energy to apply social gaming to an energy-saving program with great results. They explained the amazing results they got by creating a platform for customer engagement that had three key features: many winners, constant engagement, and social comparison. They made it fun, social, and simple. I’ll let Yoav explain.
Advancing Utility Marketing ROI Measurement. Madlen Massarlian, energy-efficiency programs manager at Consolidated Edison, explained that measuring the return on investment for marketing is difficult. Marketers wonder what the right marketing budget is, how to allocate the funds, and which elements provide the highest return. By using marketing mix modeling (MMM), you can take all of your marketing data and any other relevant data (like the state of the economy) and apply advanced regression analysis to show how efficient your marketing efforts are, allowing you to reallocate the budget to increase your return.
PG&E Case Study: The Winter Gas Savings Progress Tracker. John Oldham, digital marketing manager for Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), shared how his utility introduced the first Facebook-enabled, web-based tool to help customers track and compare their energy use. PG&E stopped to ask, “Where are our customers?” and decided to create a tool to help customers interact with their personal data. They don’t have to log in to a utility account and can use a digital channel they already love. One of the key things the utility did to make the campaign a success was to make a mid-campaign adjustment to increase participation. I love hearing stories of companies that are willing to change course midstream.
After that session, we were all back together to learn about who’s most likely to participate in programs and the best way to engage them.
Who’s In, Who’s Out: National Trends and Drivers of Efficiency-Program Participation. E Source dynamos Aleana Reeves and Rachel Cooper highlighted the trends over the past three years that showed the correlation between program participation and customer satisfaction scores. Interestingly, the more a customer participates in a program, the higher their customer satisfaction scores. Although people will say that reliability is the most important utility attribute, it actually seems that availability of energy-efficiency programs leads to greater satisfaction. The more programs a utility offers, the higher their customer satisfaction scores.
Best Buy Innovation: Designing and Delivering a New In-Store Customer Experience. Kris Bowring, senior director of the New Business Customer Solutions Group at Best Buy, started his presentation with a great quote: “It’s a healthy thing to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted.” He then said, “Demand response? Really? Can’t we call it something else?” I have to say, this really made me laugh. He said there’s a small group of people who love everything you do, so how can you capitalize on that and grow that pool? Make it more fun; be more personal. Help your customers feel good about what they’re doing. Encourage them and reward them, make it real and tangible to keep them motivated. Help them see how it’s benefitting them, not you.
Okay, those are some of the high points. Stay tuned for my recap of Day 2!