There is nothing better than having members engage with your utility. Unfortunately, people have thousands of messages competing for their time and attention every day. It can be challenging to get your messages across. 

Electric and broadband utilities often use mobile applications to help members easily manage an account anytime, anywhere, saving precious time and money in the process. 

While helping our utility members drive engagement with NISC’s mobile app, SmartHub, we noticed several creative ways Utility Pioneers are increasing engagement and mobile app adoption.

Convince to Convert

Mobile apps have been a helpful tool for a few years now. It’s easy to get early adopters to download your app. The conversion of late adopters or those terrified of technology takes a stronger focus on staff education. Here are some easy-to-implement ideas that should drive immediate results.

1. Start With Staff Contests

  • Give your member engagement team a new conversion target to hit in a month (say 10 people each).
  • Challenge them to adopt an “every person, every time” mentality. For every person who calls, emails, drives up or walks through the door, you ask them, “Have you heard about SmartHub?”
  • Then list some of the challenges you can solve for them. For example, “If you give me five minutes, I can save you around 30 minutes a month driving your check to our office.”
  • Have handouts, webpage instructions and/or videos that you can provide to guide them.
  • If the team hits their monthly goal, you’ll throw a pizza party for them, and the top individual converter will win a $100 Visa gift card (or similar prize).
Make sure utility staff are familiar with your mobile app. NISC created this internal training document for staff to explain SmartHub’s dashboard.

2. Partner With Another SmartHub Organization

If you have another co-op or a neighboring broadband organization also using SmartHub, remind your members/customers that they only need to download one app to take care of multiple bills. Encourage the other organization to do the same.

3. Give Excitement!

Promote paperless billing with a prize. If a member registers for paperless billing (or a similar service) using your mobile app, enter them into a monthly drawing for a prize. You will knock a few late adopters off the fence with this tactic.

Here are two paperless promotion examples from Heartland Rural Electric Cooperative, Kansas, and Salem Electric, Oregon.

Note: Always check your state’s legal rules for giveaways. Some states require you to allow anyone a chance to win without consideration (i.e., signing up for your app). Here’s a handy list of state giveaway guidelines.


Lead With Problems

Think about your inbox for a moment. The subject lines that grab our attention tend to address a problem that we need fixing. Our brains are wired to help us survive and thrive. When we see a headline that promises a resolution to a challenge we have, we click.

Look at your current headlines, subject lines, videos or presentations. Are you talking about your consumers’ challenges? Are you offering a solution to those problems?

Try leading with their problems, and save the information about how long you’ve been in business or how many meters you serve for the About Us page.

Here are a few other SmartHub benefits our members have highlighted:

  • Saving time and money on utility bills.
  • Staying informed, especially during an outage.
  • Monitoring property or equipment, even when out of town.
  • Overcoming the fear of technology by showing them how secure your app is.
Use videos to explain how your app solves a problem, and be sure to show consumers how to register for the app on the web and mobile.

Look at the top of every page on your website. Many sites use images of surrounding landmarks and talk about themselves. Instead, try using images and words that answer these three questions within 15 seconds:

  • What are you offering me?
  • How will it change my life?
  • How do I get it?

The bottom line for creating better engagement is to tell them WHY you have made the investment in helping them survive and thrive every day. Then tell them what they need to do next.

Have you successfully marketing your mobile app? Post a comment with messages that worked for your utility!