June 9, 2014

Smarter online shopping for energy-efficient appliances with rebate programs & closed-loop marketing

You might have wondered where the ads are getting their ideas from.

Written by
Toby Welch

If you’re one of the 195 Million people in the US that are shopping online, chances are you’re already in the middle of a closed marketing loop. What that is and what that has to do with energy efficiency you ask? Let me explain!

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Have you ever bought a baby toy for a friend’s kid on amazon and — weeks later — seen ads on pages like Facebook and gmail that make it seem like you are 8 months pregnant and in desperate need of diapers and a stroller? You might have wondered where the ads are getting their ideas from.

That’s what closed-loop marketing is all about: Using browsing data to anticipate what a consumer is looking for and showing them ads before they even know they’re looking for it. Buyers today are more informed than ever before. When they walk into the store to pick up their new fridge or when they click the “buy now!” button in an online store, they have already done all their research. They have spent a significant amount of time on the internet comparing tech specs, prices, other peoples’ reviews and they know exactly what they want and why they want it.

That especially applies to electronic devices and home appliances, but what many buyers don’t know and factor into their decision is that there are rebate programs that reward choosing energy-efficient products. Those rebate programs are run by utility providers to meet government policies and they provide a nice incentive — not only is the customer getting a washer that saves them money each time they wash their laundry, they also receive a $50 rebate for choosing an energy-efficient one over an energy-eating device. But if the buyer doesn’t know about the rebate, he might not buy energy-efficient and will definitely not claim the $50. How can we change that? How could the researching and buying process look in the future?

A potential buyer is interested in a new fridge. Weeks before he comes to a decision on which one to buy, he starts researching online. We know quite a bit about this buyer by the time he’s ready: we know where he is and therefore which utility provider he’s using, we know which products are available to him locally, and from his search history we know his budget range for the product and which features are important to him.

This data can automatically be analyzed and used to show the buyer relevant ads: Next time he turns on his computer, instead of seeing ads for those diapers and strollers (remember?), he’ll see ads saying such as “Claim your $50 Prepaid Card when buying a top efficient refrigerator!” accompanied by a picture of the most energy efficient fridge that meets his budget range and that has all the features that he’s looking for. Clicking this ad takes the buyer to the Appliances & Electronics Marketplace provided by his power company where the Enervee data lets him search, sort, filter and compare all fridges available to him and shows him the rebates that he can get.

This leads to a win-win-win situation:

  • The utility provider wins because they save a lot of money, time and effort marketing their rebate programs to buyers in order to meet government policies.
  • The consumer wins because he gets an energy-efficient product and saves money buying it.
  • Finally, all of us win because the energy saved by using energy-efficient products is significant: The potential savings from energy-efficient products in the US is enough to power about 16 Million households.

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