It’s no secret that many utilities have not invested in digital marketing compared to print. But that’s changing rapidly. Today, utilities are seeing more and more that their satisfaction ratings and take rates are directly tied to their ability to communicate online. The challenge for today’s utility communicators is being able to translate their messages across multiple platforms with strikingly different audiences and usage patterns.

Meet Loretto Telecom — A Company in Search of a Fresh Start

Since its founding, Loretto Telecom had been a family-owned operation. In recent years, the company’s reputation had suffered significantly in the community. This set the stage for a dramatic re-introduction to the community after Loretto Telecom’s purchase by SkyLine/SkyBest Communications. Under new local management with investment and support from SkyLine/SkyBest, Loretto Telecom has quickly made major strides in fiber deployment, communications and marketing, and its overall image in the community.

Loretto set out to enhance their brand identity in a way that appeals to both existing and new customers. They wanted to engage members by showing them how broadband is relevant to their daily lives through simple imagery. And, they were committed to strengthening their rural identity and ties to the local community they’d served for decades.

An advertisement produced for Loretto Telecom.

Start by Knowing Where You’re at with a Content Audit

To get started with these ambitious goals, Loretto worked with WordSouth to come up with a plan. The first step was to perform a Content Audit. WordSouth visited their office, studied all their collateral — digital or print — and came up with a plan.

Here’s just some of the questions we asked Loretto, and we encourage you to ask the same in trying to ascertain where your digital presence is today:

  • How many channels are you operating on, and how active are you on those channels?
  • Who is responsible for updating each of those channels?
  • Where are you getting your content from? Do your employees feel comfortable sending you photos of things they may find interesting?
  • What kind of calendar are you using to organize all the weekly/monthly/yearly posts you have?
  • What kind of voice do you want your utility to have online?

There are lots of ways to take stock of your online presence, and WordSouth can help you walk through that process as we’ve done for many others.

Don’t be Intimidated by Comments, but be Trained on How to Respond

If you’re committed to expanding your digital presence, it’s going to happen eventually: Someone is going to get angry at your utility and say nasty things on your Facebook page.

We see a lot of utility communicators who are intimidated by social media just for this reason. Mean comments from an angry customer are there for everyone to see, and knowing how to respond can be difficult. But, don’t be dissuaded!

WordSouth has worked with CSR teams and other key utility staff to know how to moderate a social media channel and use best practices to respond to your customers. Part of growing or resetting any digital presence is knowing how and when to engage. Armed with training, your staff can confidently engage customers and keep your channels a friendly, positive space for your brand.

Learn to Drive Traffic to Where the Sale Happens: Your Website

Today’s communicators have to know how to work across some combination of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, email newsletters, Google ads, and more. It’s a lot to understand, and even more to master.

Advertisements such as these led people to Loretto’s new website.

But one fundamental rule applies to all of these channels: They exist to engage your customers in a way that drives them back to your website.

Loretto was determined to drive traffic to their new fiber landing site. To that end, they worked with WordSouth to start an email newsletter, Google ad campaigns, and more. With a few simple additions to the channels they were already using, they saw results: Their click-through rate was three times the national average, and people started to spread the word about their fiber project. Through articles in their newsletter, they were able to educate their customers about what their values were and what their product — broadband access — could mean for their families.

Raising your Reviews, one Satisfied Customer at a Time

Google and Facebook reviews are another common concern for utility communicators. It’s perhaps too easy for a few disgruntled customers to bring your scores down and leave scathing reviews for all to see. But, in this case, Loretto found that digging in and committing to an online presence helped increase their average score by 1.1 stars.

Growing a digital presence takes time and commitment, but the rewards are worth it. If you’re ready to rethink your digital presence, WordSouth can help you as we have done many others. Your customers expect you to provide the same digital experience as Amazon or Google, and they can be frustrated when you don’t. “Being online” is more than just having a functional website and an infrequently updated Facebook page. It’s being there to help explain who you are and participate in the conversations that your customers are having.