NYSERDA EmPower NY

Integrated Campaign

Challenge

Convincing low-income families to sign up for free upgrades provided by the EmPower NY program.

EmPowerNY is a state-funded program that provides low-income families with energy efficiency upgrades to make their homes more comfortable and efficient. However, despite offering valuable home improvements at no cost, the program still had difficulty engaging families to take advantage of upgrades.

Strategy

Go beyond “free” to uncover deeper fears, anxieties, and aspirations.

Through primary research, we found that, unsurprisingly, “free” is definitely a compelling motivator—but it has to come with transparency and sincerity. Results revealed that low-income audiences are skeptical of any deal that sounds too good to be true, and could be turned off by promises of no-cost home improvements that lower their energy bills. 

Solution

Stop selling, and start solving problems.

Taking a “less is more” approach from the outset, we developed direct mail, print ads, banner ads, an SEM campaign, monthly lead nurturing emails, and contractor engagement materials designed to be simple, helpful, and reassuring.

  • Taking a less aggressive, more helpful tack to messaging. Considering our audience’s skepticism of sales pitches and charity offers, our messaging took a “less is more” approach that emphasized reassuring notions such as “no strings attached” and ease of the application process over hard sells about free upgrades.
  • Meeting low income audiences where they already were. Research revealed that cell phones and channels like Facebook and Twitter are some of the main ways this low-income audience connects with the world, leading us to develop mobile banner ads and social media outreach that performed exceptionally well.
  • Getting feet on the street in local neighborhoods. Low-income audiences are much more likely to listen to trusted community members than advertisers, so we engaged community-based organizations (CBOs) across the state to communicate the overall benefits of energy efficiency and our specific program incentives at a grassroots level. To create consistency in message, we built a smart, compelling, easy-to-use suite of marketing support. The toolkit honed messages to the simplest, most digestible language and built customizable materials in basic, widely used computer programs.
  • Training contractors to have more compassionate conversations. Knowing that low-income audiences often feel threatened by contractors entering their homes and discussing making major changes, we provided training that helped contractors tailor their talk tracks to customers’ sensitivities. This helped to open up more customers to making upgrades while simultaneously helping contractors boost their businesses.

Results

2,200 new projects

31.5% of all new projects driven by marketing tactics

140k website visitors

10.48% website bounce rate vs. industry standard of 40-60%

91% unique website visitors

50%lead conversion from CBOs

Let’s wake up your audience.

Low-engagement categories are our favorite type of challenge.
We’d love to talk about how we can drive awareness and action for you.

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