Natasha Crowe heads up marketing and PR for Octopus Energy in the US. Here she answers Press Gazette’s questions for the latest in our Marketing Maestro series, produced in association with Lead Monitor – New Statesman Media Group’s marketing solution.
What media channels do you see as most important and best value when it comes to marketing spend and activity?
For customer acquisition (which is our main goal), we’re focused on cost per acquisition-led channels, such as Google, Facebook and Amazon. For our brand awareness we are exploring all angles, though we’re currently leaning heavier on owned and earned. I come from an ‘earned-centric’ agency prior to this role so have carried that with me.
How important to your brand is the news media (both B2B and B2C)?
Very. While less tangible in terms of direct-to-consumer value, we care deeply about our brand and how it is perceived in the world and where we stand on important issues such as decarbonisation and climate change. This is where news media can help amplify your message as well as establish our team as thought leaders in the ‘entech’ space.
Consumers are very picky these days, and rightly so – there’s so much choice that it makes sense to align yourself with brands that are authentic, trustworthy, and align with your values. Delivering relevancy through a good newsroom and being seen to be part of crucial conversations on the global stage are all part of that.
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What’s been your proudest achievement in your current role?
Overall, I think it’s been launching an energy brand in a pandemic, remotely, during a winter energy crisis.
A bit of background: Octopus Energy acquired Evolve Energy in Texas in late 2020. As we awaited certain approvals to officially launch as Octopus Energy US, we brought on some new members to the marketing team and were heads down planning for a successful brand launch early this year.
As it happened, things finally came together one fateful week in February, one day before an extreme weather event drove the entire state of Texas into an energy crisis. We were already planning to communicate to all existing Evolve customers about the big brand change. We didn’t realise at the time quite how much we’d be communicating with them and under what circumstances.
As most of our customer service team was in Texas, they were sadly without power for days, so it came down to the marketing department, who are based mainly in New York, to drop everything associated with the launch and pivot into acting as the customer service front line.
The quick thinking, dedication to customers, and re-imagining of what it means to introduce a brand to the world during a crisis was really an incredible achievement and one that will stay with us for years to come.
What for you is the key to any successful marketing campaign – what makes a ‘good lead’?
I’ll probably offend several folks here, but, actually, to a certain degree, the key is not to overthink it. At Octopus, we remind ourselves constantly to just think very singularly about human behaviour and what consumers want from their energy company, how do we provide it, and how do we tell that story in the simplest, most digestible format.
I come from the agency world, but here at Octopus we don’t use any creative or ad agencies (other than PR) – we do everything in-house, and whilst at first that was daunting, I now love it. Agencies need billable hours, which equates to a lot of unnecessary time on planning, strategy, personas, etc. Removing that layer gives us the ability to stay agile, pull together campaigns in weeks or sometimes days, and quickly pivot if we don’t see the results we like.
In terms of a good lead – for us, it’s simply a customer who wants cheaper, greener energy and is willing to give us a try!
How important is technology in modern marketing?
Essential. I started my career at a digital marketing agency (and that was years ago!) so I can’t imagine any other way. We use tech to communicate with our customers on every step of their journey with us. From pre-sales all the way to delivering great content to them once they are on board.
Also, one way to think of Octopus Energy is as a tech company that does green energy really well. It’s the heart of what we do – from our proprietary billing and customer service platform, Kraken, to the way we help customers seamlessly manage their energy usage in our app.
What are the biggest pain points in a marketing campaign?
Being resilient is hard. What I mean by that is the trial-and-error nature of any campaign. You can be so sure that your approach is going to work and lead to all the conversions, but then it doesn’t resonate and you have to move on to the next idea. Even the most meticulously planned campaign can fall flat, so being able to brush yourself off and learn from it is essential, but, of course, sometimes painful. The key is to make sure you take something from every experience and put it towards your next endeavour.