Energy Trust of Oregon (Energy Trust) launched the My Home and My Business campaigns in 2015 to raise awareness of its offerings and drive customers to contact one of its trade ally contractors or visit a participating retailer about installing incented, energy-efficient products. The campaigns employed a mix of traditional and online advertising, which drove people to microsites where they could find information on contractors and retailers.
In 2017, Energy Trust engaged Research Into Action to aid in its campaign planning and assessment efforts. The project sought to: identify critical metrics of success; establish campaign baselines; assess how well the campaigns aligned with target audience needs; develop a consistent approach to monitor future campaigns; and identify opportunities to enhance future strategic planning and creative ideation.
What we did
Research Into Action collaborated with Energy Trust to design research based on marketing best practices, process evaluation techniques, behavior change theory, and experimental design. This approach allowed us to examine campaign performance at both strategic and tactical levels.
Specific research activities included: in-depth interviews with staff, logic modeling, customer journey mapping, an analysis of digital analytics, A/B testing for My Business, and a panel survey experiment for My Home.
The study revealed several key findings:
- Because My Home and My Business sought to both raise awareness and drive specific actions, we identified microsite conversion rates, which look at specific online target behaviors as a proportion of total traffic, as a critical metric of success. Looking at specific actions or target behaviors as a proportion of all online behaviors (in this case “clicks”) also helped assess the extent to which the sites encouraged users to take desired actions.
- The My Home journey mapping exercise and panel survey experiment revealed crucial differences between the customer journeys associated with planned projects and emergency replacements. For example, a sense of urgency and anxiety underlies the questions, emotions, needs, and actions of an individual whose water heater suddenly breaks. Conversely, a longer-term process of deliberation and decision-making may better characterize a planned replacement.
- The My Business journey mapping session shed light on the unique characteristics of business customers. Commercial projects may take anywhere from weeks to months, and owners may require a great deal of guidance and information to navigate a multitude of complex investment decisions. In addition, no business—or business owner—is alike.
- The A/B test of the My Business campaign microsite revealed that the site that featured customer success stories at the very top produced a significantly higher overall conversion rate than the control site, which featured an animated video at the top.
This assessment revealed several key insights that might help utilities and program administrators as they embark on marketing initiatives:
- Explicit objective-setting during campaign planning and robust tracking systems will improve a campaign’s evaluability and enable continuous improvement. This requires looking at indicators of awareness such as unique pageviews and impressions in relation to behavioral metrics, such as clicks or other target online behaviors or actions. Properly setting up Google Analytics to track site traffic, target behaviors, and conversions and to automatically calculate conversion rates for target behaviors is one of the major steps involved in this process. Exercises such as logic modeling during campaign planning may help identify other important metrics and key performance indicators.
- Incorporating customer journey mapping into campaign planning and creative ideation will help pinpoint effective behavioral interventions and marketing strategies. It is, however, important to consider the customer journey in the absence of your own organization or program. Designing campaigns and programs to promote energy-efficient products first requires understanding how customers relate to and make decisions about the products in general.
- Business-to-business efforts should consider that each business owner is unique and may face complex investment-making decisions. Business owners also respond to stories from their peers. These may be key factors when developing content marketing strategies.
- Campaigns will benefit from an integrated approach that bridges the gap between awareness and action. This involves using a robust media mix, having a strong, search-optimized content strategy, and tailoring and diversifying advertising to better target and reach key customers.