eBill Interest Rises Among Energy Utility Customers

image credit: Questline
Bethany Farchione's picture
Marketing Director Questline Inc.

Marketing Director at Questline Digital, a marketing and technology agency that builds engaging experiences throughout the utility customer journey, boosting program participation and overall...

  • Member since 2020
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  • May 6, 2021

More energy utility customers are opting for digital payments. With an accelerated focus on safety and convenience propelled by the coronavirus pandemic, paperless billing is more in demand than ever.

Data from Questline’s 2021 Energy Utility Benchmarks Report shows that email promotions for eBill sign up experienced a 53% higher click-through rate in 2020 compared to 2019.

Customers everywhere are looking for more accessible and secure options, including 24/7 bill access from the comfort of home, no-touch payments and less reliance on snail mail.

Benefits of eBill

There are the obvious benefits – lower postage and printing costs for your energy utility, general convenience for customers and the environmental benefits of going paperless. But did you know eBill can help your energy utility better engage with customers and raise satisfaction?

  • After signing up for eBill, customers are 31% more likely to open and 25% more likely to click on subsequent emails from their energy provider, according to Questline data.
  • 68% of consumers acknowledge increased satisfaction with their biller when they receive electronic statements, according to Fiserv’s Eighth Annual Consumer Billing Household Survey.

Once customers receive their bills electronically, they start paying attention to other digital communications from your energy utility. They immediately become a more engaged consumer.

Best Practices for Promoting eBill

So, we know more customers want eBill options. But how can your energy utility get more customers signed up?

Campaign success rates vary depending on a variety of factors, including messaging, accessibility, incentives and multi-channel support.

Here are tips to keep in mind:

  • Make it easy with one-click enrollment. A lot of customers start the process of eBill enrollment but abandon it halfway through because they don’t have all their account information on hand. Streamline the process to make it easier for customers to sign up. Emails and landing pages can be programmed to pre-populate customer information, saving time and removing barriers.
  • Provide incentives: Paperless billing promotional emails with incentives have a 17% higher open rate and 28% higher CTR than messages without incentives. Improve conversions by offering a chance to enter big-ticket sweepstakes or providing a guaranteed giveaway like LED bulbs for anyone who enrolls.
  • Tout the benefits: The benefits of eBill may not be obvious to all customers. Make sure to educate audiences on WHY they should make the switch, not just that they can. 
  • Segment audiences based on interests/concerns: Younger customers have different needs and concerns than older customers. The same message for paperless billing is unlikely to work for both audiences. Break your campaign apart to include variations for different segments. Younger audiences may be swayed by the convenience while older audiences may appreciate the added security.
  • Multi-channel promotion: Marketing messages need to be seen, on average, seven times before someone takes action. Put your eBill message in front of customers repeatedly to encourage more adoption. Use not only email but social media, website banners and callouts, app or text alerts, bill inserts, direct mail and other complementary tactics.
  • Try behavioral sends: One email message is unlikely to convert all your customers. Some people will open but not click and others may not open the email at all. Set up automated emails for these folks so they receive a follow-up email as part of your campaign. This will increase the likelihood that they see your message and convert.
  • Be consistent: Similar to the need for multi-channel promotions, sending your message consistently to customers can make a difference. Don’t rely on just one eBill campaign to reach your goals. Send monthly emails and test tactics and messages to find what works best for your energy utility.
  • Try an opt-out campaign: As eBill becomes more accepted and expected by consumers, some utilities are seeing success with automatically enrolling customers but giving them the opportunity to opt-out.

There is undoubtedly a rising interest in digital solutions. People who had aversions to technology adoption before the pandemic are seeing solutions in a more positive light.

That’s why now is the time to switch your customers over to eBill.

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Henry Craver's picture
Henry Craver on May 14, 2021

It's interesting that e-billing causes customers to open other non-bill emails from the utility. I wonder if they're actually interested to see what's happening, or if they just want to check if it's not another bill. 

Bethany Farchione's picture
Bethany Farchione on May 19, 2021

It’s likely a combination of both. They open more emails because they know digital communications from their utility includes information they need to take action on. But if done well, also see that subsequent emails provide value. They may open initially because they are conscious of bills, but continue to open and engage because of quality content.

Paul Korzeniowski's picture
Paul Korzeniowski on May 27, 2021

Paying bills is something that no one likes to do. The old fashion way of using a stamp and mailing the payment in was time consuming and prone to error. Automating the process simplifies it for consumers -- as long as they maintain a balance in their accounts. So, it is not surprising that interest in such services is rising. 

Bethany Farchione's picture
Thank Bethany for the Post!
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