How does your eBilling ROI stack up?
A few points to consider on user adoption and the effect on ROI:
Expecting customers to just sign up:
The main source of paperless adoption for many companies is to rely on customers to proactively seek out eBilling on their website and sign up. The success of this approach is reliant on those customers who do everything online and hate receiving paper. This adoption rate tends to plateau at 5 – 10% as a result. While it is the least expensive strategy, if you don’t invest much to market paperless billing, it also doesn’t set ROI calculations alight with savings.
Promotions on your website:
The second most common way of promoting eBilling is to place banners, buttons, and links on the company website to get customers to enroll. This model still relies heavily on customers visiting the website, seeing the promotions and then being in the right frame of mind to sign up for eBilling. Again, it can be a relatively inexpensive option and should certainly form part of the strategy, but shouldn’t be relied upon to reach customer adoption targets.
The next approach involves promotions within the paper statement or bill sent to customers. We see everything from overlays on the bill itself (fairly inexpensive) to high quality bill inserts and even “hot notes” or sticky notes stuck onto the envelope or document inside. This is where companies need to accurately measure the cost of each of these printed options against the number of sign-ups for paperless delivery. One way to do this is to have a unique URL for each promotion, or even start using personal URLs so that all customers who sign up can be associated with that marketing drive.
The ‘green’ movement:
Many direct mail initiatives are designed to entice customers to sign up online and go paperless. Companies appeal to the environmentalists amongst their customer base by pledging to plant a tree for every customer that agrees to “go green”. I’m all about giving back to the environment, so I cannot fault the intent to undo some of the damage caused by paper billing, but in terms of measuring the ROI, how much does it cost to plant a tree? And how many eDocuments must be delivered per customer to reach break-even?
Many companies have used sweepstakes to promote eBilling. Some go as far as to offer a hybrid car to one lucky enrollee. Excluding the cost of the prize(s), sweepstakes promotions – if executed well, also require a considerable marketing investment to make customers aware of the prizes and what they need to do to enter. What is the total cost of the campaign and how many customers turned off paper as a direct result?
Sending out sign up emails with a link back to the eBilling registration page is a cost effective approach, but has been met with only mediocre adoption results due to customer apathy or even a fear of phishing / identity theft. In addition, companies are reliant on the email addresses on file, so the pool of potential paperless customers is limited. Email is an extremely viable source of adoption, but the key is in the execution.
All good ideas, so why the poor adoption?
All the methods outlined above require the customer to take the time to visit a website and go through an authentication process during registration. In most cases it requires customers to have their account number or some other unique customer identifier on hand. Have you ever tried to sign up for something, but didn’t have all the information? Having to go to the extra effort to retrieve the missing information and then go back to complete the enrollment process dramatically reduces adoption numbers (and hence ROI).
The recipe for success:
Adoption strategies can be based on two main principles
- Minimize the effort from customers to go paperless
- Do not rely on marketing investment to drive adoption
Fundamentally, all of the strategies outlined above will provide results to a greater or lesser degree, depending on the target market and execution. Test the waters and see what works before embarking (or relying) on a particular strategy.
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