Leverage Online Service and Transaction Messaging

Retailers send email newsletters to customers with great regularity, but according to the “Retailer E-mail Communication” report released by Epsilon Interactive, communications fall short when it comes to leveraging service messaging.

Twenty-nine percent of the consumer market receives opt-in email communications from retailers. While marketers take advantage of their reach of a third of the consumer base, 70 percent of those messages are strictly for marketing and promotional purposes. Few are of a service nature.

“The study was focused on understanding what marketers are doing,” said Al DiGuido, president and CEO of Epsilon Interactive. “There is an opportunity that we believe is being missed by not leveraging those relationships they have with customers.”

Service messages include online bill paying or electronic bill presentment and payment (EBPP). It’s expected online bill payment will become more prevalent as postage rates continue to rise. Twenty percent of consumers say the most recent increase will make them more likely to pay store and merchant credit card bills online. Currently, about 13 percent of consumers pay store and merchant credit card bills online, and 36 percent are interested in the service if it becomes available.

Awareness of the bill payment offerings is an issue. Sixty-six percent of consumers who made a purchase in the three months prior to the survey say they’re unaware whether the retailer accepts online payments A monthly statement is an opportunity to include a few marketing messages based on a consumer’s behavior.

“In the offline world, it’s likely that if you got a printed bill in the mail, you’d have all these envelope stuffers,” said DiGuido. “If you’re managing your account online with a specific store, those messages can and should contain some type of upsell message. Right now service messaging is being seen by a marketer as a necessary communication.”

Online bill paying is more widely accepted. Internet users opt to pay an issuer directly or send payment through their financial institution more often than in the past.

“Consumers are increasingly managing their accounts online and more and more move in the direction of managing all accounts online,” said DiGuido.

The survey was conducted or Epsilon by Gfk NOP’s weekly OmniTel study, which includes 1,000 interviews distributed almost equally between male and female respondents over age 18. Interviews were conducted in January of this year.

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