Some marketers will have you believe that email isn’t a viable outreach tool and they site the emergence of social media as the reason. While I believe social media is an important communication channel, I also believe that a well thought out email strategy will provide higher ROI for energy program outreach than social media alone.

According to McKinsey & Company, email marketing is nearly 40 times more effective in soliciting a response than Facebook and Twitter combined. And it makes sense. Over 90% of consumers check their email daily and there are over 3.6 billion email accounts today.  But more importantly, every single aspect of an email can be controlled by the program team. The same can’t be said for Facebook. And with email outreach you own 100% of the data.

The first step in email outreach is managing your email address list. As your list grows you need to think about quality, segmentation, and database management.


The beauty of today’s marketing tools is that they facilitate one to one automated conversations with your customers.  You have the ability to send marketing messages that appeal to specific customer groups, and thus are more likely to illicit positive responses. The first step to achieving this is through list segmentation. In other words, categorizing your contacts by interest, demographics, geography, and purchase behavior. For instance, if your service area includes gas and/or electric only territories, one customer segment you need to include is “gas only”, “gas & electric”, and “electric only”.

There are many ways you can segment your lists.  What’s important is to find category segments that best pertain to how you do business.

Database management

Managing the integrity of your email list is just as important as developing click-inducing emails. Email marketing databases naturally degrade by over 20% annually due to customers abandoning old email addresses or opting out of your email communications. Keeping track of all of this while managing your customer segments can be a daunting task. As such, I recommend that you pull email lists directly from your utility’s Customer Relationship Management and use that as your “single source of truth”.

Quality over quantity

If you’re just starting with your email outreach efforts, it’s ok to start small. And in some cases it’s ok to prune contacts who haven’t engaged in a while. For example, you wouldn’t want to send information for a CFL rebate program to households who have already marked you as spam. Not only is it illegal is some areas, but too many unsolicited emails to your customers will degrade your brand over time.

Being labeled as a spammer decreases future deliverability of your emails. A focus on quality over quantity improves deliverability of your emails over time and ensures a targeted list of engaged customers who are more likely to answer your next email’s call to action.