NICEIC represents 38,000 registered electrical contractors across the UK. Registration involves considerable investment from contractors and they must pass rigorous annual assessments. For consumers, it provides reassurance and trust in their abilities in what can be a ‘cowboy’ industry, but there is no legal requirement for electrical contractors to be registered. Therefore, it’s imperative for NICEIC to provide a robust programme of benefits to ensure contractors reapply and renew their registration. Its quarterly magazine, Connections, is integral to this.
We started working as NICEIC’s agency in 2021, with a brief to make Connections more engaging; to showcase technical excellence throughout, and to give contractors the content they craved – case studies and trends alongside practical and business advice.
The new magazine needed to knit technical content and wider themes together while introducing strong images, clever covers and clear sections to help time-poor readers navigate each edition. It needed to speak the right language, be authentic and include the right level of technical detail. Most importantly, the magazine needed to celebrate the work of contractors to make them proud to be registered with NICEIC – and give them a reason to re-register when the time came. In order to meet this brief, we launched an innovative new magazine structure and new sections with clear identities to give readers multiple access points into their preferred content:
• ‘Check this out’ showcases innovative projects from electrical contractors, and has featured hospital refittings during the pandemic; home cinemas and even ‘serenity zone’ panic rooms for the ultra-rich.
• ‘This will be big’ focuses on the latest trends in the industry. Power banks were the topic of the first issue, featuring Robert Llewellyn and his viral YouTube video, followed by EV charging, hydrogen and ventilation systems.
• ‘Need to know’ is now unashamedly technical. Differing from the rest of the magazine, it includes important legislative updates, technical questions answered by experts and the holy grail – the technical reference guide, which is now CPD-accredited.
• All tied together: Content from Connections is now part of a revamped, content-led newsletter programme that ties the magazine, webinars, and technical content together. Launched in November 2021, open rates jumped up 10% instantly and have stayed there.
• Improved reach: While Issuu isn’t always the most desirable reader experience, the full catalogue is now available in the customer portal, which saw engagement levels double. Plus, incorporating video magazine covers has both amplified the Connections cover stories and increased impact on social media.
• Improved commercials: Revenues were up 23% year-on-year in the relaunch issue of Connections, and increased a whopping 70% in the Summer issue. We overhauled the sponsored e-newsletter programme too so we could utilise content from the newly-improved magazine – with that, the NICEIC saw a 70% uplift in Q1 and a 501% increase in Q2 vs the same period in 2020.
• Glowing feedback: The NICEIC Managing Director’s initial response of “it actually makes me excited about all things electrical” was echoed by readers – one customer said: “I read it back-to-back now and never picked it up before”. Two thirds of customers also said the new magazine was as good as or better than the previous iteration, and cover star Robert Llewellyn even supported it on Twitter!
• Inspired further comms: Not only is Connections magazine more relevant and engaging for customers, it also motivated the NICEIC to overhaul their whole marketing and communications programme. The brief? ‘Make it like Connections’.