Case Study:


Energy Upgrade California

Energy Upgrade California

The California Center for Sustainable Energy (CSE) manages Energy Upgrade California, an initiative supported by the heavy hitters in California energy. The California Public Utilities Commission, the California Energy Commission, public utilities, regional energy networks, local governments, businesses and other organizations are all behind Energy Upgrade California. They're united to help California meet ambitious regional and local energy and climate goals—and educate Californians on how they can take action to save energy and save natural resources.



Increase in Consumer Sign-ups

From Program Site to Comprehensive Resource

California's initiative to use less energy to live better is an important mission, yet there was no online destination that could sufficiently support it. In 2013, Energy Upgrade California's website was merely a program-centric home upgrade site. What CSE needed was a comprehensive, new site that could be an all-inclusive resource for Californians on all things energy management—and give them action steps they could take to more effectively change their behavior. To create a best-in-class digital experience for all things energy management in California, CSE turned to Extractable.

Plugging into Our Users

Before we could get started reimagining and rebuilding the site, we needed to do some comprehensive research. We sought to understand every aspect of our prospective user—what would drive them to the website, what topics and actions would be most appealing to them, what features they would most expect to see, and what content they value most.

We conducted a detailed assessment, engaging several hundred residents, small business owners, contractors and stakeholders. We learned that the average utility customer spends about 8 minutes per year thinking about energy—roughly the total time spent reviewing their monthly bill. We knew we had a tough row to hoe. We also analyzed more than 75 similar websites, looking at best practices employed by other state governments and non-profits seeking to achieve similar goals. Scorecards were created and presented for each of the benchmark websites, providing a clear breakdown of what was and was not working for the audience.

Mapped current user ecosystem to show success/break points

A Lightbulb Goes On

Finally, we spent many hours pouring through data and analytics to gain a deeper understanding of the user needs and their journeys. Through our insights we were able to map which users were making successful journeys and which were not. This helped us pinpoint what types of features might help users be more successful in the future. For instance, providing more rebate program details on social channels and linking back to the main website. Or creating a more robust finder tool that would make it easy to find programs, rebates, contractors and financing, and allows a user to save all of the information to his profile.



Increase in Engagement

We then began the process of creating and designing a new, robust website for Energy Upgrade California. We knew that discoverability of the site and user engagement would be paramount. To appeal to humans’ naturally competitive nature, we created a series of multi-part quizzes that test users’ knowledge in various energy and climate topics while also imparting valuable information. A different quiz is highlighted on the home page each month to hook users and pull them into the site. Also featured on the home page are videos, customer testimonials, links to tips, and of course, rebates.

One of the things we learned from research was how important it was to connect all aspects of a rebate action. So we created a finder tool that connected every step of the action—from browsing rebates and related contractors to finding products and financing needed to complete the job. We then removed all barriers for the user to take action by inviting them to save any program, rebate, contractor, tip or financing to their own personal action plan for follow up on later.



Increase in Organic Search Traffic

To ensure that we could capture search traffic among an already-crowded field, we employed a clever "What, Why, How?" approach to strategic sections of the educational content. This enabled us to capitalize on and optimize for the natural way that users frequently research using phrases such as, "What is a home area network?" and "How can I better manage my energy?" This strategy combined with keeping the site fresh with newsfeeds and social media paid off in a big way. Within a month, nearly 100 of the 175 target SEO keyword phrases were ranking in the top 5 search engine results pages (SERPs), and over 50 were on the first SERP.

On the Grid, But Off The Charts

Energy Upgrade California's next-generation digital experience is part of a multi-channel communications plan (TV, radio, print, experiential, social, digital). It's now the central source of content that educates and compels users to take more effective steps to better manage their energy. We're glad we could contribute to turning on more light bulbs—in Californian's heads.