SMS marketing is a rare innovation in the energy and utility industry, which has been communicating with consumers the same way for decades. With text marketing, these professionals are finally talking to homeowners through their smartphones, which 68% of people spend 3 to 6 hours using every day.
Let’s take a look at how marketing trends 2023 are shifting toward text messaging and how to expand energy and utility customer base.
Compared to email, people read texts quickly and more frequently. The open rate for SMS messages is about 98%, and most are read within 5 minutes of receipt. As an energy or utility supplier, this is an ideal scenario. Imagine you have word of a natural disaster that can affect service. A windstorm might bring down lines, or a fire may cut off access to power. You want to get notice out to your customers right away.
While an email may suffice for compliance and other legal issues, it’s not always great customer service. Almost two-thirds (66%) of customers want to get service notifications by text message. When your business is an essential service people rely on, you want the quickest and most efficient method of communication.
But texting isn’t just great for emergencies and service updates. It’s also a great way to keep your customers up to date on the status of their accounts. Think regular billing notices a few days before an invoice is due. When consumers have so much on their minds, a quick text message reminding them of a utility bill may be the nudge they need to make the payment.
Same when bills are overdue — a quick text message can get the job done. It can also be a friendly way to let people know you offer options for repayment if they are behind.
SMS text messages are great for marketing campaigns, but they have another key role: a way for your customers to get in touch with you.
A full 43% of customers have texted a business, and not just in response to a solicitation message from the company. Their action was proactive, which means they have chosen text over email or phone to get in touch.
If you have SMS in your communication toolkit, it’s not just an automated process for marketing. You can offer it to customers as a way of contact if they need service, have an unexpected outage, or just want an alternative to a phone conversation.
You can set up Quick Reply with launch.ai, which lets customers know you’re on it, and a person will take care of their needs as soon as possible.
If you’re concerned about AI-supported text messaging, consider this: 74% of people prefer interacting over text with a person instead of a chatbot. But that doesn’t mean a preset quick reply message can’t help get the ball rolling for customer interaction.
“Having launch.ai has helped us save on ‘people cost’, we no longer need to pay our administrative assistants to answer texts all day they are now managing social media and other aspects of the business.”
Gerald, New York City
There’s a common problem among utility and energy professionals: their customers forget about them. It’s all too often the case that your info is sent into the recycling bin or deleted off of email. That’s one reason to be proactive with marketing — to keep your contact list aware of your services so they know who to call when their needs change.
When do their needs change? With the seasons, of course. Like going into summer when power usage shifts from indoor heating to air conditioning and when solar panel installations are more common. Or when window seal leaks let in cold air as the fall months turn into winter.
You can wait for your contact list to call you, but you can also be proactive with an SMS text message marketing campaign. Redirect clients to your blog on ways to fix window seals or how to save money on heating and cooling costs.
Worried no one will reach your website from text? Worry not. SMS click-through rates for e-commerce brands are about one-third (36%) in some cases.
Perhaps one of the most overlooked benefits of text messaging is the ability to talk directly to your customers.
Yes, you spent time developing an app. But do your customers really want to clutter their phone with yet another app, especially one they only use infrequently?
Over half (59%) of consumers prefer direct communication to having to download an app. So feel free to offer that opt-in option to consumers. Give them a choice when they sign up for your service to receive text messages. Then, send the message to their phone. You may want to make an app available but also provide an alternative for those who prefer their icons to be for payment platforms and games.
Nurturing Cold Leads
There are clearly a lot of benefits to using SMS marketing to reach your existing customer base. But what if you are trying to grow your business? Can text marketing help with that?
The answer is clearly yes. There are many ways you can use this technology to acquire more clients. One way is to nurture cold leads. Once you have an interested party on your contact list, you can convert them with a few different techniques:
- Send discounts or coupons on services
- Link to free information about energy savings
- Offer a referral bonus when new customers bring a friend onboard
There’s a good chance you can turn those leads into clients. About one-third (33%) of people respond to calls to action in SMS messages.
Ready to Get Started?
If you are trying to grow your energy or utility business, SMS text message marketing can be a key component in your promotional toolkit. It’s also a still underutilized way to retain your current customers. You can provide faster, more efficient customer service in times of crisis or for routine issues or calls.
Launch.ai wants to help you increase your customer reach without sacrificing the privacy of your contact list or blowing your marketing budget.