By Eric Leiserson, Fiserv
More than 80 percent of U.S. online households use social media, and more than half of those households connect to a business or service provider through social media.
The timing is right for utilities to leverage social media to boost e-bill adoption.
Unfortunately, social media is a channel many billers are not using as an effective and low-cost means to achieve e-bill adoption goals.
A recent Fiserv whitepaper, “Social Media E-Bill Marketing Study: Insights Into Boosting E-Bill Adoption,” audited 65 companies across five industries to understand social media trends among consumers and billers.
The audit found that only 35 percent of the billers promote e-billing on social media, and most of these (83 percent) are utilities.
Nearly all utilities incorporate social media tactics to engage with their consumers and leverage social media for e-bill promotion, but many are unsure how to use social media to effectively promote e-bills and increase e-bill adoption beyond what they are doing.
Based on analysis of the audit findings are five industry best practices to help utilities continue to increase e-bill visibility, engagement and adoption.
1. Set e-bill goals that leverage social media promotion. It begins by setting measurable goals. Social media e-bill promotion goals should align with overall e-bill adoption campaigns. Make sure e-bill promotion content on social media is part of an integrated e-bill adoption campaign and is in line with the overall social media mix to maintain a consistent brand voice.
2. Choose appropriate platforms to help accomplish goals. Utilities need to choose the appropriate social media platforms based on their goals and target audiences. For most utilities, prioritizing Facebook and Twitter makes the most sense so their social media e-bill strategies have a presence on both.
3. Develop content strategies specific to the social media platform. E-bill promotion content should stress the value propositions customers care about, such as convenience, ability to receive reminders and alerts, and opportunities to enter sweepstakes. Key messages should be consistent, but it is important to match them with the features of each platform. For instance, Facebook allows for richer, more visual content; tweets need to be shorter and concise. But utilities need to balance organic with paid content to reach their target audiences.
4. Measure performance, revise and evaluate results. Social media listening tools make it possible to gauge the impact of social media e-bill promotion through metrics including reach, engagement, click-through rates and website traffic referrals. Utilities also can track results by asking customers how they heard about e-bill during the e-bill activation process and adding social media as an option. They also can modify content to highlight the type of posts that drive the greatest engagement.
5. Keep pace as social media evolves. Social media is rapidly changing and constantly evolving. Utilities must stay on top of the latest advancements for each platform and determine how these changes affect e-bill promotional opportunities. For example, based on the rapid consumer adoption of the mobile channel, billers should create mobile-friendly content. For many demographics, the primary points of social engagement are smartphones and tablets.
Utilities can and should use social media to promote e-bills and increase e-bill adoption.
To deliver a full and effective marketing and customer adoption experience, billers must place social media e-bill marketing strategies into the mix of corporate marketing goals and make it a natural new channel for outreach.
Utilities that incorporate these practices can increase visibility and engagement of e-billing through posts on social media, resulting in boosted in e-bill adoption, lower costs, enhanced customer satisfaction, improved relationships and increased retention.
Eric Leiserson is a senior research analyst at Fiserv, where he is responsible for the development of consumer-related electronic billing and payment research, adoption strategies and marketing programs. Prior to joining Fiserv, Leiserson held marketing and sales positions at Unisys Corp. and Intuit.
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