Archive for April, 2009

Aventine Renewable Energy

Aventine Renewable Energy, a producer of renewable energy recently filed for bankruptcy protection. The website did not help the situation. Granted the problems within the ethanol industry is more a product of overall diminished demand, thanks to our deep recession, however the corporation could have used its website to inspire more demand for its product, rather than focusing on operational issues of the corporation.

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Community Energy – Iberdrola Renewables – Part II

Navigation and Design

Community Energy’s website has an excellent, easy-to-understand navigation; it certainly helps guide the reader to the appropriate sections. Unfortunately, there are significant gaps with the site that belie its professional look. The depth, surprisingly, is lacking. The marketing materials section promises an update, but until then why are they providing a link at all? This gets even worse, their link to sign up for clean energy today actually failed! The press releases are also dated, with the newest one listed as December 2008. One would hope their PR department created at least one new press release each quarter.

The design, while a bit trite for renewable energy companies, works. It elicits a positive vibe and keeps information intact.

SEO

This site fares poorly as far as SEO is concerned. The basics, such as meta-tagging, are not covered well. Often the <title> tags do not include keywords. There is clearly no link building being attempted, less than 300 external links to the site exists. At the very least, Iberdrola, the parent company, should have links to it. I could not even find that…

Before we conclude, we’ll take a look at their blog. A promising addition to the website…

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Community Energy – Iberdrola Renewables – Part I

Admittedly this has taken longer than I originally intended. I do have a full-time job and there had been some excitement lately. Publishing is indeed in a dire situation right now, hopefully renewable energy is progressing in the opposite direction.

Community Energy has a professionally designed website. It has clear calls to action and quickly segments the various types of visitors that may come to its site. However, the homepage is not frequently updated (it features news releases from December) and there are cetain aspects that are a bit amateurish. Nevertheless, they do employ some interesting, and I think compelling, techniques to maximize the utility (pun-intended) of the site.

Ecommerce/Transaction Features

The most innovative aspect of Community Energy is its ‘Gift’ feature. The site actually allows visitors to ‘Give the Gift of Wind Energy‘. This is an excellent twist for Iberdrola to expand its market and raise revenue. Most likely a significant number of visitors are interested in renewable, wind energy. They may already have opted into utilizing wind energy from their own home, this gift certificate enables them to expand on its adoption.There are some areas where this section can be improved however:

  • The ‘Buy Now!’ link should be a button rather than simply text. It makes the call-to-action clearer.
  • The introductory text should focus on the gift aspect more than the science. An interesting twist for a Mother’s Day promotion may be something like this: “Don’t just give mom flowers this Mother’s Day, give her something that helps flower grow every day.” Clearly I am not a copywriter, however by the time someone is on this page, they are already bought into the idea of wind or renewable energy, at this point the value proposition should focus on why the gift recipient will love to get this gift.
  • Clarify what the gift recipient will actually receive. From the design, it looks like some kind of certificate will be sent to the recipient. However, there is nothing stating that in the text. It is only after you click on ‘Buy Now’ that you realize a gift card is mailed to their home. The details (what does it look like?, what does it say?) should be readily available. Also, considering that the audience is especially environmentally conscious, they may prefer to simply send an e-card rather than print the information on paper.
  • The wind energy gift order page should be optimized. The reader should not be able to change the amount charged, that will confuse them. Instead, allow them to purchase various quantities of wind energy credits. You can only order one gift on the order page, so why is it asking how many gift cards to send? Supplemental information, not necessary for the transaction should be removed from this page and added later. These include: current electricity provider, billing phone number, and how did you hear about us. Those questions can be asked after the transaction. Finally, the submission button is terribly subdued. It should be louder, with more vibrant colors, larger, more positive text, along with simply being a bigger button.

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