Octopus Energy Case Study

Prototype Quick Links

Variant A

Desktop – Mobile

Variant B

Desktop – Mobile

The Scenario

Octopus Energy customers receive monthly reminders that we’re about to take a Direct Debit payment. It’s a fairly straightforward, utilitarian email at the moment. And this is the issue – every month we remind people we’re doing something painful (taking money from their bank account) without any real justification for taking it.

The Brief

How might we make this painful monthly reminder a more positive experience? How might we reassure customers that the money they’re paying each month is giving them great value year-in, year-out, while also helping the planet?

Wherever possible, we aim for our communications to be:

  • Straight-talking – To respect the reader’s time, we explain everything you need to know right up front, before going into things you might want to know.
  • Specific to recipient – we talk about a customer’s actual usage or monthly payment and what it means, rather than, say, a national average.
  • Personal – you can reply to every email and get a response from our support team, so it’s good to make all our communications feel very one-to-one, even for more transactional emails.
  • Accessible – we believe it’s important that technology is for the benefit of everyone, regardless of your background & needs. So contrast levels, language, and visuals should be as inclusive as possible.

My Approach

Discover – Define – Design – Deliver
  • Understand the problem statement
  • Review existing email experience
  • Review Octopus branding and tone of voice
  • Research other utility providers and engaging emails
  • Persona creation
  • Sketching/wireframing and ideation
  • Copywriting
  • UI toolkit
  • Visuals in Sketch (mobile & desktop)
  • Prototyping
  • User testing planning and results
  • Recommendations and next steps

Understanding the problem statement

My interpretation of the task is to improve customer satisfaction by making their monthly Direct Debit email a more positive experience by reminding them of the saving and environmental benefits of being an Octopus customer.


  • What data do I have?
  • Who am I designing for?
  • What are the existing customer behaviours?
  • What is the typical dwell time on the email?
  • What is the typical open rate on the email?
  • What are the most popular devices for viewing emails?
  • What percentage of customers interact with the referral?



  • The copy is concise and straight to the point.
  • The dark background of the Octopus brand makes it stand out from traditional white emails.
  • Awards give reassurance the company is good.


  • No mention of renewable energy.
  • Referral links take up a large amount of space.
  • The ‘Share referral link’ text is misaligned.
  • Some of the copy in the awards sections seems in-accessible.


  • Show the value of being an Octopus customer in terms of price and environmental factors.
  • What have Octopus been up to/how they are being innovative.
  • Make it easy for customers to get in touch.

The Tone of Voice

I have got to know Octopus Energy’s products and brand online. The tone of voice is straight to the point with friendly, down-to-earth language and emojis. The email needs to be personal, informative, educational, short and punchy, have the feel-good factor, engaging, with interesting facts.

Competitor Analysis

I have researched into how some other utility providers handle their Direct Debit reminder emails. I have no data as to how well these perform but they are generally very straightforward. Imagery and positive messages make the Ovo email more engaging. I have also looked at some other examples which show the customer how they are saving money or helping others. In addition, I have done some research into how some brands portray the benefits to the environment by reducing/offsetting carbon emissions.

Persona Creation

Without data about the customer base, I have created a persona based on assumptions about one segment of Octopus’ audience and their values and the name in the existing email.


After gathering research, I began noting down some potential ideas to explore.


I then sketched out some wireframes and generated ideas as to how these elements could be laid out within the email. I decided to bring forward 2 concepts into UI design.


My notes for writing the copy, looking at potential scenarios and taking into consideration the Octopus tone of voice and values.

UI Toolkit


The UI

Variant A

Prototypes are available here: Desktop & Mobile

My approach to Variant A was to create a more engaging and positive experience through the use of graphics to help highlight in a simple way how customers are saving money and the environment, and how they can continue to save more. I’ve adopted the positive message of saving trees, used on the existing quote page, to re-enforce the environmental values of Octopus.

Variant B

Prototypes are available here: Desktop & Mobile

My approach to Variant B was to emphasise the value of being an Octopus customer in order to deflect from the pain of the Direct Debit reminder. I wanted to make this approach more visual with more imagery and data visualisation. I have also included blog articles which highlight the environmental efforts of the company.

User Testing Questions

I went on to create a test plan in order to test the variants to confirm whether the brief has been met and the emails provide a positive experience.

The Scenario

As an Octopus Energy customer, you have received an email reminding you that your Direct Debit payment is about to be taken. Please take some time to read the email and when you are ready I will ask some questions.

Variant A/B questions

  • Is there anything particular that stands out to you in this email?
  • What do you like and why?
  • What do you dislike and why?
  • If you received this email what would you do next?
  • Please rate how you feel about your experience from 1-5 with 1 being extremely negative to 5 being extremely positive. Why?
  • What would you change?

Concluding questions

  • Having viewed both variants, which is your preferred version and why?
  • Please explain your perception of the Octopus Energy brand.

User Testing Results Summary

View the full write up here

Who I tested with:

4 participants

2 male, 2 female

2 tested AB and 2 BA

1 existing Octopus Energy customer, 3 with other providers

Main Takeaways

  • 3/4 participants preferred Variant B
  • Version A scored 4/5 and Variant B scored 4.38/5 on average for the overall experience (5 being most positive)
  • 4/4 liked the message around their environmental impact


“Mostly the emphasis on renewable energy. It’s clear and grabs my attention. It makes me feel positive about the bill.”
It no longer feels like it’s just reminding me they are going to take my money. Interesting but simple data.”
“I like the emojis, very modern, like Monzo. It’s good it shows the percentage of energy your saving. I like the referral to save money. It’s good to know I can get in touch if I’m having problems.”
“Saving the trees, that’s a good thing to see as reducing carbon footprint. Clear and straightforward layout and images.”


I believe the results show that the designs meet the brief of making the monthly reminder a more positive experience and reassures customers that the money they’re paying each month is giving them great value and helping the planet. The emails are straight-talking, personal, specific and accessible.

Recommendations & Next steps

  • Take the user testing results to refine the design of Variant B.
  • Based on user feedback reduce the use of emojis as not everyone relates well to them.
  • Explore and test more ideas to keep the email fresh and interesting each month.
  • Create different versions of Variant B depending on the customer segments e.g. if their energy usage has increased.

Thank you for reading!