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Industry Discussion

Email Marketing for Energy Suppliers

Energy Supply & Services Industry Discussion
The Energy industry hosts a broad range of specific requirements for particular styles of email and social network marketing to suit the customer profiles. These variances span the gamut between strictly B2B and broadly horizontal B2C:
Oil Companies
Oil companies primarily engage in exploration and production of oil, known as upstream activities; the midstream involves oil transportation and refining. Petroleum product wholesale and retail distribution is known as the downstream activities. The largest multinationals are known as the "majors" and are vertically integrated with a full spectrum of business operations from international exploration to local gasoline stations. Smaller oil companies, known as "independents," are often only involved in local scale exploration and production. Some oil companies focus only on midstream and downstream activities, as they operate refineries to distill crude oil into its various commercial petroleum derivatives, like solvents, gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and asphalt. Depending on the scope of the business of the specific oil company a wide range of email stratifications and approaches may be desirable. The extremes of the industry have obvious impact on the type of email marketing that each company will choose to engage in. Upstream major companies generally have a very well developed public relations component, thus they may have millions of energy and environmentally aware individuals and organizations on their email list. Independent oil companies may be limited to only strictly B2B email marketing to solicit the availability of their services to very narrowly vertically integrated sectors of the energy industry.
Oil Services Suppliers
Oil services suppliers provide the full range of outsourced operational support to all sizes of oil companies, such as conducting seismic testing; owning and renting out oil rigs; and transporting equipment. The volume of business for these companies is directly linked to the price of petroleum: when the barrel price increases, oil companies increase their drilling in order to sell the petroleum at the highest price possible, and slow down when the price plummets. This type of volatility leads to business volume and revenue roller coasters for their oil service supply contractors. In July 2008 the price for a barrel of oil hit $145, while barely five months later in December the crude oil spot price fell to just $30. Although little can be done by oil services suppliers to override these spikes and troughs, email marketing can help in the slower times to consolidate equipment, promote services for the busy times and continue to nurture the breadth of B2B relationships necessary to ensure long term success in the industry.
Pipeline Operators
Pipeline operators own and manage untold thousands of miles of petroleum product and natural gas pipelines. Many of these types of companies also operate petroleum intake terminals, engage in a variety of commodities trading and energy marketing, and operate natural gas storage facilities or petroleum refineries. Unlike the majors, pipeline operation companies may not be well known household names. The largest companies report annual revenues sometimes tallying several billions dollars – a sum comparable to the income of a medium-sized oil company. Pipeline operators are unknown by the general public; therefore, their email marketing requirements are strictly B2B and essentially similar to those of oil services suppliers.
"Utility" in the Energy Supply & Services industry is actually a generic term referring to gas utilities and all types of power generation companies such as: government-owned utilities, investor-owned utilities, municipal power companies and rural electric co-ops, as well as non-utility generators (NUGs) and independent power producers (IPPs). Utilities differ widely in terms of their types of business, as some are no longer in the energy generation business and are primarily distribution companies with power lines as main assets while others may own and operate regulated power plants (they may also own NUGs or IPPs). As the electricity market became widely deregulated and chaotic in the early new millenium, many IPPs sold off assets piecemeal to larger utility holding companies or financial institutions. More than almost any other type of Energy industry sector, utilities have the greatest requirement for successful B2C email communications, with some having email lists totaling in the millions of individual addresses.
Transmission Grid Operators
Transmission grid operators, generally referred to as Regional Transmission Operators or Independent System Operators, provide power generation dispatch functions to regional electricity markets. Generally, they do not have an ownership stake in the actual electrical transmission lines, but direct how much, when and where electricity is generated to ensure that supply and demand are balanced at all times. These types of businesses also have little need for B2C email communications and concentrate their online communications efforts on the B2B side exclusively.
Equipment Manufacturers
Equipment manufacturers make pumps, boilers, compressors, turbines, pollution control devices, software control systems, well drilling and pipeline construction equipment and industrial batteries. A number of them also supply engineering services and construction as well as installation of their equipment. As in the previous cases, their requirements for online communications are almost exclusively B2B.
Government Agencies
Government agencies at the federal and state levels legislate the energy markets and regulate public energy policies as well as the various protections for the environment. Federal agencies are primarily located in Washington, D.C., while each state has agencies in its state capital. The requirements for government agencies for email promotion are consistent: Each agency must have a component of online communications specifically directed towards businesses throughout the Energy industry; however, federal agencies have constituents numbering in the hundreds of millions, therefore it is imperative to keep a well developed and refined email communication strategy in place in order to keep citizens informed about energy issues in America.
Energy Services Firms
Energy service firms assist individuals and companies in any sector to reduce their overall energy costs. The usual operation of an energy service firm is conducting a comprehensive energy audit to determine where energy expenditures are being directed (electricity, heat and, in the case of commercial ventures, industrial processes). Then the energy service firm physically implements energy-saving measures within the location of the client, whether it be a home, a commercial building or an industrial facility. These measures can involve investments and activities such as upgrading the HVAC systems, replacing incandescent light bulbs with CFL equivalents and placing them on motion sensors, negotiating better rates with the utility suppliers or, in the cases of large corporate or industrial power consumers, they may be able to develop a cogeneration power plant adjacent to the location. In many cases the energy service firm receives payment for these services as a share in the net energy cost savings that the client enjoys.

Different energy service firms cater to various markets. A company concentrating on household energy savings would have their email marketing skewed primarily in a B2C model. Firms assisting corporations and industry in the savings of massive energy bills (which often tally up to millions of dollars per year) are naturally focused on B2B email marketing.