There was once a time when the only communication between electric cooperatives and their member-owners was a bill. As the bills were paid and the lights stayed on, both the electric cooperative and members were content. Nowadays, member-owners expect a diverse method of communication. From the palm of their hands, members expect technologically advanced service through digital communications.
How can electric cooperatives and other consumer-owned utilities intuitively engage with their consumers? Here are 5 simple ways to improve online connections.
1. Understand Your Target Audience
Member-owners’ expectations and technology needs are rapidly growing. How can your cooperative or utility website meet these needs? Understanding your site visitors will drive effective communications strategies.
Know your niche and own it. Most site visitors of an electric cooperative or other utility website engage for bill payment, a change in service, or in the event of a power outage. Websites have great potential to reach member-owners with personalized messaging and connections. Understanding your audience provides insights into unmet needs and solutions.
2. Ensure Simple Navigation
Website navigation contributes to the overall user experience. Ensuring simple navigation allows website visitors to access the information they need in a timely manner. Well-designed navigation makes a website visitor feel confident clicking through your website. When they feel confident on your website, they are more likely to regard the website and organization positively. Simple navigation also encourages website visitors to stay on your website longer because it eliminates barriers and frustrations.
Consider testing your navigation on different people that range in age and familiarity with your utility organization to determine if the navigation is intuitive enough for them to identify top tasks.
3. Create Compelling and Simple Content
Utility websites include an abundance of information. However, website visitors do not want to read through walls of words. They want to find what they are looking for immediately. To improve website engagement, prioritize important information. How? Plain language.
Clean and concise writing helps everyone. With the assistance of plain language, your site visitors will engage with information they easily understand. Plain language includes short sentences, bullet points, active voice, and everyday words; it avoids technical jargon, acronyms, and meaningless words.
Writing in plain language is not merely just switching out one word for another word. It has developed into thinking about the style, voice, and diction intended for the individual organization. Steering away from stuffy and technical jargon will humanize your utility’s content by infusing the voice of your utility with personality and energy. As a result, your website content will effectively mix engaging and simple content—sure to satisfy site visitors.
Instead of using phrases such as, “on the grounds that you fail to comply” – try, “if you don’t”.
4. Maintain Consistency
Consistency is key. The foundation of your website lies in brand and design consistency. It helps communicate your core messages, values, and identity through repetition. As a result, your brand image becomes powerfully recognizable. Recognizability and reliability go hand in hand. When the site visitors recognize your brand, they rely on you and thus create a personal connection.
Consistency is a driving factor in building trust with your member-owners. To instill a positive brand image, emphasize your values and unify your visual elements.
5. Provide Resources
Build trust and rapport with member-owners by providing helpful resources. Implementing resources within your utility website helps website visitors learn, solve problems, answer frequently asked questions, and more. An intuitive website makes information easy for website visitors to find quickly. When member-owners answer their own questions, your organization’s phones rings less, leaving more time to attend to other tasks.
Establish trust by indicating your expertise in the cooperative community. Sharing valuable knowledge builds your cooperative brand while proving your commitment to member-owners.
Prioritizing site visitors is reflected in improved communication efforts. Add value to the consumer experience by understanding your audience, ensuring simple navigation, creating compelling and simple content, maintaining consistency, and providing resources.