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Optimising Form UX to Attract Price-Savvy Energy Customers

Form Optimisation

In the competitive and growing energy market, customers are overwhelmingly interested in one thing: price.

OFGEM’s State of the Energy Market 2017 report shows that 91% of respondents cite saving money as the number one reason for switching suppliers. Getting better customer service comes in second with just 9%.

When searching for the best deal, some quotes will be much higher and quickly dismissed while others which are closer in price will be more carefully compared and considered.

So, energy suppliers need to not just focus on the lowest cost but also on value: what extras can we offer within our online form? How we can persuade this potential customer to sign up and increase our conversion rates? What will make our deal stand out to the value-hunting user?

The Two-Tier Market

The energy market is the perfect place to find a bargain for those who are willing to engage. Consumers who actively look for lower prices can make large savings by spending a little time on research.

However, many aren’t engaging and are getting left behind. 60% of gas and electricity users are on a default variable tariff which can be around £300 more expensive each year than the cheapest fixed-term deals.

58% of these less-engaged users have never switched or only done it once: they fear admin hassle, potential loss of service during the changeover and aren’t convinced savings can be made.

Reaching and reassuring these consumers, as well as retaining the 17% of users who did switch supplier in 2016/17, is the challenge faced by all energy companies.

Using Form UX To Express Value

With 20% less energy used than 10 years ago and 12 new suppliers entering the market in 2016/17, the battle for profits has never been hotter.

Form design is playing an increasingly important role as challenger companies build their brands and keep the established Big 6 on their toes. It needs to be sufficiently streamlined and optimised to ensure switching supplier is a pain-free journey to saving money.

Our research reveals that four of the top five in our UX league table are relative newcomers to the market: Glide, Bulb, Octopus Energy and Solarplicity. They’re incorporating frustration-reducing, user-friendly form design into their marketing strategy.

When it comes to conveying value, this needs to be expressed clearly: if the difference between two quotes is just a couple of pounds, potential customers can be swayed by how extras are presented to them.

Bulb shouts its value loud. Their estimated quote appears below the message “100% renewable electricity and save up to £307 per year” in extra-large type.

Source: Bulb

The page goes on to explain via bold icons that 10% of their gas is renewable, they have a UK-based support team and that they’ll pay your exit fees.

Bulb also visually represent how their prices compare to the Big 6 with a simple graph showing the difference between annual costs.

Source: Bulb

Straightforward, persuasive text and graphics don’t overwhelm the user and act to simplify what has historically been a complicated comparison process.

Solarplicity, who came fourth in our UX league table, also choose bold designs to highlight possible savings, applied discounts and a free offer of LED lightbulbs.

Source: Solarplicity

Consumers are clearly presented with the quote, the saving, the discount and the free gift: a simple list of extras that can be compared with other suppliers quickly and easily.

Octopus Energy succinctly sum up the mentality of the challenger brands: “We believe buying energy should be as easy as buying cornflakes.”

They use a tariff comparison table as an upselling technique to convey value and potentially boost profits. Three tariffs are presented with monthly quotes and added-value features, such as renewable energy percentages and whether the price is fixed or variable.

Source: Octopus Energy

In addition, they work hard to address any concerns of those difficult-to-engage consumers who are reluctant to switch. User-friendly icons explain why switching is simple, smooth and hassle-free.

Source: Octopus Energy

The Big 6 energy suppliers account for 81% of gas and 82% of electricity domestic retail supply but Scottish Power is the only one in our league table’s top ten.

They also use a comparison table to upsell more expensive tariffs, listing the benefits of each such as boiler care, no exit fees and even charity support.

Source: Scottish Power

This approach means future customers can easily assess what they’re getting for their money. Scottish Power appeals directly to those who may be concerned about price rises by including the message “longer term peace of mind” in bold.

At the bottom of the table, the UX becomes more muddled. Co-operative Energy offers ten different tariffs to choose from, a selection which could overwhelm the hesitant user and lead to form abandonment.

The cognitive load of digesting so much information and making a decision could easily put people off completing the process, especially if they feel the upselling has been taken too far.

Source: Scottish Power

Robin Hood Energy presents users with text-heavy tables which could deter browsers from switching. While other suppliers can also provide this in-depth information, it is available to view as an option rather than the default display.

Source: Robin Hood Energy

If a user progresses past this tariff-selection stage, they’re then shown even more text which requires them to invest yet more time and effort. Introducing this level of detail at such an early stage of the sign-up process will significantly impact on cognitive load and could lead to decreased conversion rates.

Source: Robin Hood Energy

Energy suppliers need to recognise the split in their market between those who are actively hunting for a good deal and those who need persuading that there’s a deal to be had.

For the value-savvy customer who’s eager to switch, if they can get a quote quickly they’re more likely to add it to their shortlist.

For those more reluctant to make the move, they need to be convinced of the value of switching as well as having access to a quick quote mechanic.

Both these goals can be reached via efficient form UX which will help energy suppliers keep up with the competition.