Two Takeaways for Utility Marketing and Advertising During COVID-19

By Courtney Staufer and Anthony LaRosa on

During the novel coronavirus health crisis, utilities have shifted marketing strategies, with many utilities wondering if they should even promote programs and products at all. As customers have gotten used to the new norm of staying at home and social distancing, they are overall still receptive to hearing from businesses and utilities–provided the message is sensitive to their needs. For many customers, the right message from their utility can alleviate fears and provide a much needed sense of stability. Here are two takeaways for utility marketing based on recent consumer behavior.

Continue online advertising, but adjust messaging

Many utilities are grappling with whether to advertise at all during the COVID-19 pandemic. Advertising can address customers’ main concerns around energy usage and bills, while also strengthening the customer-utility relationship. With stay at home orders, customers are spending more time online than before–making online advertising and digital communication critical channels to reach customers.

Utilities should offer helpful recommendations to help customers reduce energy consumption, lower their energy bills, and improve home comfort. In initial re-launches among select Utilities, many of Uplight’s clients with marketing campaigns  in process have seen equal or higher engagement and sales than forecasted.  Paid search also saw no drop-off in volume, or click-through rates. And campaigns haven’t resulted in more complaints to the contact center. Customer care contact volume is the same as before the crisis. 

Pivot offers to help customers be more comfortable at home

Stay at home orders have caused big changes in consumer needs and purchase behavior, and many industries have shifted as a result. For example, many distilleries are making hand sanitizer and Jimmy Johns is selling loaves of bread. 

For utilities, this might mean offering products that haven’t performed well or those products that haven’t resulted in large volumes of purchases in the past.

For example, Smart Home products that can aid in connecting people and make working at home easier are more relevant for customers now. Around Earth Day, several Uplight clients had a high click through rate from an email with discounts on smart home products. Bundling energy-efficient products have also had better than average results during. Some of our clients are offering an energy saving kit consisting of LED light bulbs, an advanced power strip, an aerator, and a low-flow shower head. 


This is an unprecedented time for utilities, marketers, and consumers. Utilities have several effective tools to help their customers save energy and money–which is more important than ever. Through empathetic, relevant messaging and offers, utilities can continue to be a trusted energy advisor for their customers during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.