Looking forward in times of adversity: utility providers

Posted by Fox&Bear

During times of hardship, the nation’s utilities must go on and continue to supply essential lifelines. But in an increasingly competitive environment, as a result of most people working from home and spending time indoors, and tighter profit margins, knowing how to make the most of limited budgets can be a challenge.

The Fox&Bear team has created these channel-specific considerations to adopt within your digital marketing strategy and generate more leads for your business.

Key takeaways:

  • Reinforce your presence and activity
  • Keep information consistent and relevant
  • Use familiarity to cut through the noise

Paid social

Prioritise the information your customers need

Right now, your main aim should be to reassure existing customers that you’re still here, ready to help. However, reaching audiences to communicate updates is particularly tricky when businesses in all sectors are trying to do the same thing at the same time. Your paid social channels are a great opportunity to capture the right people and direct them to targeted content, such as a blog, FAQ page or bespoke landing page.

Review ad copy

If you’re able to currently, it’s always beneficial to maintain brand awareness to reach prospective customers. With more people now spending time at home, they may start to think about their need for alternative utilities and essential services, even as a decision to be made later down the line. Take this time to review your messaging for brand awareness ads and what information you want potential customers to know about you.

PPC advertising

Update ad copy with messaging around the home

It’s a good idea to update your ad copy with messaging that reflects the current environment and resonates with potential customers. Could this centre on how your services and utilities are dedicated towards keeping the home connected, for example?

Stay front of mind

Switching providers is never going to be an instant decision and it’s one that consumers spend time researching. Create remarketing campaigns for users that have visited and engaged with your site to encourage interest and keep your messaging at the front of their minds.

Consider the use of ad extensions (such as seller ratings) to reflect your reputation with existing customers, such as those that embed TrustPilot or Feefo reviews. Placing your customer service ratings front and centre is an encouraging factor for those who may be considering switching.

Consider your competitors

Monitor what your competitors are doing using the Google Ads dashboard. If you’re seeing others with a good (or better) impression share, it’s a good idea to see what you can learn from their messaging, particularly at a time where businesses may be taking different approaches.

Organic search

Consistent information accessible from multiple places

As with any other essential service or utility, the main thing your existing customers need right now is clarity. They’ll likely be looking for contact information and answers to key queries, so making sure these are visible and accessible from multiple touchpoints is essential.

First and foremost, communicate any major updates around your services and team by placing a prominent message on your homepage that links through to more information. You might want to consider placing this on your contact pages as well, or simply ensuring the message or banner is visible from all pages.

With many of your teams working from home and strains on telephone lines, update your Google My Business listing with the best possible contact information and any changes to working hours as a priority. It’s important to make sure this information reflects what you put out on your website and other channels to avoid confusion for customers finding you in different ways.

Content and social media

Break information down clearly

Every business has been busy producing updates on how the coronavirus outbreak affects their sector, but it’s important to keep your end customers at the heart of anything you’re putting together. What does the current situation mean for the services you provide and, ultimately, how will it affect your customers? Keep information and terminology simple and consider how you can support it with digestible content such as infographics.

Creating dedicated landing pages or FAQ areas is also useful at this point, as many users expect to be able to navigate to one place for answers.

Showcase the positives

For a lot of typically more formal businesses, there have been some silver linings in that the current climate has allowed them to show a different, more human side to their business.

Have any interesting new employee incentives blossomed out of your teams’ new working structures? Could you consider a regular appreciation spotlight for those going above and beyond within the business right now? Or perhaps the business has been at the forefront of helping the community out? This has to be genuine though, and not something created simply for the kudos.

In adapting to adversity, organisations big and small are finding a new sense of teamwork and innovation, which makes for great on-site content and a nice change to users’ social feeds. Plus, just because you’re adapting to a temporary set-up, it doesn’t mean that you can’t take some of ideas forward when business as usual resumes.

Email marketing

Pay attention to your messaging

Whilst it is going to be a crucial time to get urgent messages out to customers around your services and how it may affect them, ensure you’re putting thought into your subject lines and email pre-headers. Unsurprisingly, it’s a very busy time for email marketing right now, which means a lot of updates are getting lost in the noise. Focus on your key message for customers and what you need them to know to catch their attention.

Personalise where possible

Similarly, with so many emails flying out with the same subject lines at the moment, it’s a good time to take the opportunity to personalise your messaging with an update from a key figure within the business, such as the CEO. Adding this more human touch helps to let your customers know there is an important message or update attached, which should help boost open rates.

Creative and branding

Call out key information

All communication channels are being bombarded with information around COVID-19 right now, which can run the risk of message fatigue. You need yours to stand out from the others and a good way of ensuring this is with visual assets.

Try creating a simple graphic that calls out your main points, using statistics or quotes where necessary to stand out whilst users are scrolling social feeds or glancing through emails.

Infographics are a really powerful way of communicating vast amounts of information in easy-to-digest visuals, as they focus on the most important takeaways and simplify what can otherwise be an information overload. Consider creating these to answer frequently asked questions from your customers and distribute through your channels.

Clear and familiar branding

Likewise, keeping your creative and visuals clearly in line with your branding will make it easier for your customers to spot updates from you amongst otherwise cluttered channels.


It’s a challenging time for nearly all businesses right now, but we’ve all got to keep the wheels keep turning to be able to look beyond the next few months. Delivering the things your customers really need at this moment is a key part of ensuring they can do the same thing.

Whilst this should be the case at any time, it’s clear that this crisis has helped many of us achieve better focus. We can all survive this, but the ones that are agile, listen to what their customers want and add value will be the ones in the strongest position. It all starts with a good marketing plan.

If you’d like to discuss how we can help you, please get in touch with us and we can schedule a video call, a voice call or simple email response.