Using the Web

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					Using the Web

 Utility Communicators International Workshop
          Orlando, Florida – January 9-10, 2007
                                Discussion Overview

   Potential Audiences
   Who’s Coming to the Site?
   Why Are They Coming?
   How Do I Communicate?
   Usability 101
   Usability Best Practices
   Accessibility 101
   Value of the Channel
   Email Marketing
   Tracking Success
                       Potential Web Audiences

 Same as all other channels.
     Investors
     Regulators
     Job Seekers
     Environmentalists
     Customers – existing and potential

 Discussion focuses on customers.
                    Who’s Coming to the Site?

 Of the major customer segments…
     Residential customers make up the majority of visitors
      to Southern’s family of sites.
     They account for over 85% of our online transactions
      at Southern.

 Building customized portals will improve usage
  by other groups.
     Energy Managers
     Builders & Developers
     Property Managers
     Architects & Engineers
                         Why Are They Coming?

 Residential customers
     Bill related items (account/usage history, view and
      pay bill, view/enroll in billing/payment options,
      payment arrangements, and efficiency information)
     Find contact information (find a phone number)
     Storm related information (storm preparation and
      outage details)

 Energy Managers
     Usage and pricing related items
     Electric equipment and technologies information
                        Why Are They Coming?

 Builders/Developers & Property Managers
     Service requests and status updates
     Metering Services Handbook
     Building programs/end-use rebates

 Architects & Engineers
     Building programs
     Electric equipment and technologies information
     Metering Services Handbook
                         Why Are They Coming?

Efficiency Information – the residential message.
 It’s all about the bill.
     Our customers are interested in saving money
      (lowering their bill), not necessarily energy.
                          Why Are They Coming?

   Provide tools and content that emphasize the cost
    savings associated with given actions.

    Maximize impressions by incorporating into
    “View/Pay My Bill” function.
      Build in-house or use a vendor’s solutions.
                  Why Are They Coming?

Nexus Sample                  How does my
                              home/facility use
How much do I                 energy?
                              How can I control
How do I view                 my costs?
and pay my
                              How does my
Why is my bill                home compare?
different than
                              When do I
                              use energy?
How does my
                              Am I on the
bill compare to
                              right rate?
last year?

                              Are there
                              programs that
                              would benefit
                         How Do I Communicate?

 Communicating over the Web is different than
  other mediums in that…
      It can be highly interactive.
      It can be personalized for the user.
      It can be customized by the user.

 And remember, your customers are comparing
  the experience they had on your sites, with all
  other sites, not just other utilities. Learn from the
  best of the best.
                                                  Usability 101
What is it?
 Testing the ease with which users can learn and use a
How is it conducted?
 Done via a variety of ways including:
      Direct user observation (task/path analysis)
      Card sorting (navigation/architecture preference)
      Heuristic review (feedback from a usability professional)

Why do it?
 Gain direct input/feedback from the audience intended.
  More traffic, higher conversions, less calls to CSRs.
                     Usability Best Practices

1. Use short sentences and bulleted lists. Use of
   more info or details can lead interested
                          Usability Best Practices

A Quick Note on Web Users
 Navigation Preferences
       ~ 85% click from link to link within the main section
        of your page
       ~ 10% will use your main navigation
       ~ 5% prefer to use your site’s search to find
                     Usability Best Practices

2. Black text on a white background is the best,
   but at a minimum ensure contrast. 10 pt font is
   the ideal size. Limit the use of multiple font
                     Usability Best Practices

3. Limit use of “utility” speak and branded names.
   When you can’t, have a one sentence intro on
   the landing page.
                    Usability Best Practices

4. Use images and animations where appropriate.
   Image should reflect message.

      Ineffective                 effective
                       Usability Best Practices

5. Use consistency in annotating links or actions
   Links should be used for navigation.

   Buttons should be used for action items.

                                   Good practice to emphasize
                                   desired action.
                     Usability Best Practices

6. Pre-populate and auto-tab fields, use process
   indicators and provide confirmation/closure
   when building functionality.
                                Usability Best Practices

 7. Limit use of marketing/advertising messages on
    transaction pages and make sure they are
At Southern, we have
incorporated “tile ads” on
the Bill Summary and
Payment Confirmation

Note: To track effectiveness,
utilize unique URLs for these
                             Usability Best Practices

 Here are some sample tile ads that are currently on
 our operating companies’ sites.

Note: Another “Best Practice” is to keep these from looking like
      ads to increase impressions/click-thrus.
                                            Accessibility 101

 Visually impaired users are able to navigate Web sites
  thanks to software that read your pages out loud.

 Some tips to help maximize your user’s experience
      Ensure all of your images have alt tags – what you see when
       you hover over an image.
      Avoid using, “click here” when creating links. Use descriptive
       links (Enroll in eBill, Take our online home energy audit.
      Limit use of PDFs and Flash files because readers may not be
       able to handle.
      Limit use of drop-down navigation menus, because they are not
      Consider offering the user the option to enlarge the site’s text.
                               Value of the Channel

 Brand building
 Required communications
 Media communications
 Customer self-service
     This is by far the main value proposition for a utility –
      especially as the demographics shift favorably.
 Marketing/advertising
                              Value of the Channel

 “Tile Ad” space already discussed – remember to keep
  it relevant and avoid making it too “flashy”. Also try
  personalizing if it is in a secured area or if cookies are
 Lead Generation – consider incorporating a pop-up or in-
  line tool/program that can ask a visitor for contact
  information if they are interested in learning more about
  a certain product if they spent a certain amount of time
  on a particular page/content group.
 Email Marketing – at less than a nickel a piece
  (depending on your cost structure), a very effective
  channel to communicate with your customers.
                                               Email Marketing

 Many vendors offer excellent email management tools
  that are easy to use and inexpensive. Southern
  currently uses Premiere Global’s Accucast product.
 These tools provide excellent tracking/metrics
  capabilities and using a vendor also ensure maximum
  email deliverability since they are aggressively managing
  this for all of their customers.
 The keys to success are:
      Make your messages relevant to your customers
      Don’t over email (aka spam) your customers (at Southern we will
       only send 1 marketing email every 30 days)
      Develop an email list growth strategy
                                    Email Marketing

 Transactional related email are not considered spam.
  This would include monthly e-Bill notices, program
  enrollment confirmation, etc.
 Email addresses of your customers are useable because
  you have pre-established relationship with them.
 According to the law, you can send unsolicited
  commercial e-mail (with limits on where you obtain the
  addresses). However, it must include four elements.
                                       Email Marketing

CAN-SPAM Act Email Requirements
1.   A subject line identifying the mail as advertising
2.   A method for opting out of the list
3.   A working postal address of the sender
4.   A working return e-mail address
                                Email Marketing - Samples

4. A working return e-mail address

      1. A subject line identifying the
         mail as advertising

      2. A method for opting out of the list

      3. A working postal address of
         the sender
                                             Email Marketing

4 Easy Ways to Build Your Email List

1. Hitch a Ride – get your call centers to collect email addresses or
   consider including a space to capture it on the return portion of the
2. Word-of-Mouth Marketing – consider adding a “forward to a friend”
   function to your existing campaigns.
3. Lead Generation – as discussed earlier, provide an option for more
   information on desirable content (end uses, billing/payment
   programs, etc.)
4. Email List Rental or Appends - you can purchase an email list or
   email addresses from a vendor. This can be costly from our
Email Marketing - Samples
Email Marketing - Samples
                                Tracking Success

 Many tools are available on the market to assist with
  web tracking. Southern uses WebTrends.
 Traditional metrics have included visits/hits,
  program/product enrollment, etc. which are good but do
  not necessarily provide actionable steps or entice
 The following are examples of action and management
  focused metrics that we are using or hope to implement
  in Q1 of 2007.
                                                      Tracking Success

Online Customer Care Transactions
                                                    Details regarding the transactions
                              January            Trend          YTD
                      Web      % All    Conv        being completed online.
                                                        Web    % All Conv
Start (Res)            1250     0.90%   25.00%    +     1250   0.90% 25.00%
Stop (Res)              350     0.80%   25.00%    +      350   0.80% 25.00%
Transfer (Res)          500     0.70%   15.00%    -Why?  500   0.70% 15.00%
Start (Biz)             300     0.50%   30.00%    +      300   0.50% 30.00%
Stop (Biz)              250     0.30%   30.00%                 0.30% focused site, these
                                                  -As a self-service 30.00%
Builders (New)          500   100.00%   75.00%    +      500 100.00% 75.00%
Builders (Dis Temp)     475   100.00%   88.00%    -are the key numbers that show the
                                                         475 100.00% 88.00%
Builders (Dis Perm)     487   100.00%   82.00%           487 100.00% 82.00%
                                                  -value/usage of the channel.
Outage (all types)     1110     0.70%   22.00%    +     1110   0.70% 22.00%
Payment Arrange        1200     0.50%   15.00%    +     1200   0.50% 15.00%
Letter of Credit        500     1.00%   22.00%    -      500   1.00% 22.00%
Letter of Residency     300     0.50%   28.00%    +How?  300   0.50% 28.00%
e-Bill Enroll          2250    100.0%   12.00%    +     2250 100.0% 12.00%
EFT Enroll              250     1.50%   22.00%    +Web – collected via web logs.
                                                         250   1.50% 22.00%
Budget Bill Enroll
FlatBill Enroll
                                        15.00%    +
                                                         – provided by our customer
                                                  -% All 900
                                                               0.90% 35.00%
                                                               0.80% 15.00%
ECU - EZ                700   100.00%   35.00%    +management/billing tool.
                                                         700 100.00% 35.00%
ECU - Full              685   100.00%   28.00%    -      685 100.00% 28.00%
TOTAL                 12607     1.25%   25.00%    +Conv – the 1.25% 25.00% rate for the
                                                       12607   conversion
                                                   transaction provided by WebTrends.
                                             Tracking Success

Transaction Conversion Explained

• A conversion rate is simply:

      the number of completed transactions
       the number of initiated transactions

• It is a true indication of the usability and effectiveness of a particular
  online process.
• With WebTrends, you define the online process and can easily see at
  what step in the process the customer is bailing.
                                                Tracking Success

                      Sample WebTrends Conversion Funnel
Entry Pages                                                       Exit Pages

This indicates that                                               This is where
customers have                                                    your customers
multiple points of                                                are bailing and
entry to your                                                     to which pages
process.                                                          they are bailing
Could indicate a
need to improve
                       Steps in our e-Bill Registration Process   You want to
process flow.                                                     minimize this
                                                                  column because
                                                                  it is how you
                                                                  improve your
                                                                  conversion rate.
                                           Tracking Success

Conversion Funnel Success Story
• e-Bill’s conversion funnel showed a bail-out rate of nearly 50% at the
  first step in the process – a stand alone page dedicated to our Terms
  and Conditions which required significant scrolling to find the “I Accept”
  button and also came with a pop-up stressing the “no paper bill” part of
  the product.

• We launched a new implementation
  approach to our T&C without changing
  the actual text in mid January.

• Results since the change show an
 18% improvement in our e-Bill
 conversion rate.
                                                  Tracking Success

E-mail Campaign Details
Campaign                                       Do Not     Take
Name         Date Sent    Delivered   Opened   Contact    Rate ROI
e-Bill       1/12 11359     95%        12%      0.03%    2.90% 11%
Heat Pumps   1/24 12905     91%         9%      0.05%    0.87% 8%

Details of recently launch or completed e-mail campaigns.

Informs management of our e-mail marketing efforts and
shares the knowledge with OpCos who may not be fully
utilizing this channel.

Our outbound e-mail campaigns are implemented with
Accucast – a third party software vendor via an asp model.
                                                         Tracking Success

Key Financial Details                                   What?
                                      Jan        YTD    The cost of having an online self-
Cost Avoidance                                          service site and the associated
  Printing & Postage (ePresent)   $ 750      $ 750
  Mail Remittance (ePay)          $ 700      $ 700      savings/revenues.
  Call Avoidance (OCC)            $ 500      $ 500
                          TOTAL   $ 1,950    $ 1,950
Revenues                                                Why?
  E-mail campaign sales           $     75   $     75 Net Profit               $     25   $     25   This is what management focuses
  White Fence Affiliation
                                                  150   on – the bottom line .
  Site Development                $ 350      $ 350
  Software & Licenses             $    50    $    50    How?
  Hardware                        $ 100      $ 100      This is still being determined but it
  Web-Related Calls               $ 300      $ 300
  Web-Related E-mails             $ 250      $ 250      appears to be a mix of web log
                          TOTAL   $ 1,050    $ 1,050
                            NET   $ 1,050    $ 1,050    details and financial/budget
                                                        information from several

         Contact Information:
              Sonia McCollum

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