Jennifer Hughes, Director, The Marketing Pod, urges energy companies not to stop marketing, but to take the opportunity to do things better – and the firm has a free guide for marketers on how to go about it.
Reflecting a trend across multiple sectors, March 2020 saw many marketing professionals across the energy industry press pause on their campaign plans. Suddenly, carefully created strategies made less sense and even the most tried and tested tactics either became impossible to execute or felt less relevant. Several months later, many are working with reduced budgets, displaced workforces, and regularly shifting customer sentiment – in response to a crisis that’s affecting everybody in different ways. While it’s certainly a difficult road for energy marketers to navigate, the good news is that it’s not an impossible one.
You see, if there’s one thing that’s certain, it’s that the energy industry is up to a challenge. Amidst the chaos and uncertainty, opportunities remain for forward-facing energy businesses. And while it won’t always be easy, those able to use the pause as an opportunity to reset and refocus will find themselves better equipped for the future. Just as history tells us that those who continue to invest in marketing through a recession emerge stronger than those who don’t, we wholeheartedly believe that businesses who continue to build their share of voice and brand equity now are setting themselves up to thrive in the future – they might just need to take a different approach for a while.
We’ve already seen many organisations begin to innovate and adapt; to engage customers and reconnect with stakeholders in new ways, and make the necessities of our new circumstances work for their business. To help others do the same, we’ve created a Guide to Energy Marketing in 2020. The intention behind the guide is to provide inspiration and support to businesses who want to future-proof their strategies, stay relevant to audiences, and get more from their budgets. And to further that intention, here are three top tips for shaking up your strategy and making sure your marketing can still support your objectives.
- Don’t stop, do pivot.
2020 is the year of agility. While it’s true that the approach you were using at the beginning of the year is less likely to be successful now, withdrawing campaigns and waiting it out is also unlikely to deliver the best results. Instead, why not think about how you can quickly adapt what you already have? The Covid-19 crisis has proven that the energy industry can be brave and act fast; by implementing new ways of working to keep staff safe and maintain vital operations, for example. Applying this bravery to your marketing could deliver amazing results. Now is the time to try new things. This might mean something as simple as adapting the creative you already have for use on new digital platforms, or it could mean shifting the focus away from lead generation towards brand awareness or nurturing your existing customer base. The two most important things energy businesses need right now are a willingness to adapt and accurate insight. Which brings us to our second tip:
- Make the most of your martech
If your martech stack has been built in response to several different needs over a period of time, it might be in need of review and rationalisation. Dedicating some time to this now is a wise investment for the future; it will help you to identify which tools are less cost-effective and where streamlining could deliver savings. It will also help you make sure the stack you have can support a data driven approach in your future marketing strategies. With data volumes rising exponentially, thanks to smart metering and the Internet of Things, and customers expecting increasingly personalised experiences, your martech is the key to real and valuable insight. Used well, it will help you develop products that fit marketplace needs, and shape effective campaigns that respond to changing consumer behaviours.
- Keep creating content
High quality content is a marketers best friend at every stage of the sales funnel. What does this look like for an energy business? Right now the focus is on digital, so it probably means: firstly, timely news-style or blog content that reaches people through social media, to build brand awareness; secondly, gated long-form expert content that helps you capture leads; then finally, tailored, personalised content sent by email that converts leads into sales. It might also mean genuinely helpful, useful content that lets existing customers know you’re still there for them. Building a catalogue of content online is a cost-effective way to give your SEO an organic boost and keep you visible on social channels. Ideally, split your time between creating evergreen and time-sensitive content and don’t be afraid to try podcasts, videos, webinars or online events for the first time. They’re a brilliant way to push engagement up and easier to create than you might think.
So, as we all adapt how and where we work, marketing needs to adapt too. However, this is not the time to pause – it is the time to pivot and try new things. If you do, we think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
If you’d like to read more about how to reshape your energy marketing strategy during this time of crisis, and deploy the tactics that will keep your sales funnel active, you can download the full Guide to Energy Marketing in 2020 here.