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Do Bill Inserts Still Make Sense for Your Utility?

image credit: Photo 212921918 © Golib Tolibov |
Andy Gotlieb's picture
Editor of a specialty publication, former public relations practitioner, Freelancer

I hold 35 years of experience in communications, mostly in journalism, with a decade in public relations, too.  The first 17 years were spent in print journalism, where I covered, at various...

  • Member since 2016
  • 1,078 items added with 580,102 views
  • Jul 7, 2021

In the communications world, everyone’s always looking for the next big thing.

Whether it’s a new kind of social media or some other flashy way to connect with people, communications is an always-changing field.

But tried-and-true things are tried-and-true for a reason: They work. So, even if something isn’t flashy, that doesn’t mean it won’t have value.

A perfect example: bill inserts.

Many utilities still make frequent use of them, whether it’s to supply company news, energy-saving tips, local events you’re promoting or notices about rebate programs, to name a few. It’s space you completely control, which makes it especially valuable.

Because you have an established relationship with customers, the readership rate of inserts is likely to be relatively high, meaning the messages get across. Given that you have plenty of older customers (who still like paper bills) not attuned to the latest social media outlet – and that you’re not a trendy retail business – readership should continue to remain high in the future.

(Yes, plenty of people, both young and old, will ignore them, but that goes for any kind of media).

So how can you get the most out of inserts?

The utility should think of itself as an educator or customer supporter. Be a resource for your customers, taking advantage of the strong public regard there is for utilities.

That means inserts should cover things such as how to read a bill, tips on ways for customers to minimize their carbon footprints and details for buyback programs for old appliances that aren’t energy efficient.

As for the information itself: Keep the wording on inserts clear and concise. Avoid jargon.

Use short, descriptive words, and don’t overload the insert with too much text. Stick to a few main points, offering resources for those who want more information. Make the inserts colorful without being gaudy and use both sides of the paper.

Don’t overload your customers with inserts. Include no more than two inserts per month and stick with one a month, if possible.

Don’t simply include the same inserts month after month. It’s OK to repeat an insert, but space them out.

Properly used, bill inserts remain an effective way to communicate and educate your customers. Their low-tech nature won’t revolutionize the way you interact with customers, but they still have their place.


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Andy Gotlieb's picture
Thank Andy for the Post!
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