Maintaining and increasing adoption and usage of electronic payments services is a goal of many banks and credit unions — a goal that is hampered by lack of consumer awareness of these services and their benefits. A well-planned, multi-pronged marketing strategy is key to addressing the lack of awareness and helping to educate current and potential users of mobile and online payment service features and benefits, leading to increased adoption and usage and greater customer engagement.
This higher use of digital payment services positively impacts the ROI of mobile banking consumers as well as decreasing attrition and overall cost to serve, according to a consumer payments research study.
Here are five components to consider when crafting a marketing strategy to promote electronic bill payment and person-to-person payments:
1. Strong Onboarding Programs
It is essential to engage potential users within the first 90 days of a new customer relationship as part of an overall financial institution onboarding strategy. A robust onboarding program might begin in the branch with immediate enrollment in online and mobile banking and bill payment complete with an educational demo, or with an email containing helpful links and tips that is sent after a customer opens their account online. Adding an email and/or direct mail piece at the 30-day mark can serve as a tangible reminder to new customers to sign up for payments services.
The study found that 70% of bill pay subscribers in the United States enroll in the service within the first 30 days of joining a financial institution. Bill pay onboarding activities executed within the first 60 days of a customer joining also drove more avid bill pay usage and lowered attrition.
2. Ongoing Communication
Leveraging event-triggered email marketing as part of ongoing communications with the customer will help boost awareness and drive usage of electronic payments. Financial institutions that leverage lifecycle messaging programs, in which outreach is triggered automatically at certain stages in the customer relationship or by specific events such as the addition of a new payee, can substantially increase use of electronic payments.
On average, financial institutions that participated in a lifecycle messaging program saw a 6% increase in the number of people making electronic bill payments and a 5.5% increase in the number of payments. One financial institution saw the number of people making a payment after initial enrollment grow 32% during the 18- month period following the launch of a lifecycle program.
3. Benefit-Oriented Messaging
Consumers typically are not looking for a deep dive on the technical details of a banking service. Instead, they want to understand how such a service will benefit them, simplify their lives and help them better manage their finances.
To be compelling, messaging used in ongoing or campaign-specific communications should highlight benefits while anticipating specific barriers to adoption and use. Financial institutions can proactively address the potential concerns of a prospective user, such as security, by educating them about the service.
This is an opportunity to mention attributes such as authentication and encryption of information, as well as specific capabilities your financial institution may offer, such as the ability to monitor accounts with alerts or turn debit cards “on” and “off” from the mobile app to help prevent fraudulent card use.
4. Empowerment of Staff
Educating and empowering front-line staff is a key component of a financial institution’s overall digital engagement strategy. Employees who are well versed in digital services, and who use these services themselves, are more likely to promote the benefits.
Consumers may not be familiar with digital services or may not be using them to their fullest. Others may be interested but intimidated and unsure of how to get started. Each of these situations presents an opportunity for a staff member to step in to educate the customer or offer a helping hand.
Additionally, contact center staff have as much interaction, if not more, with the public as branch staff. Contact center staff who are well versed in electronic payments services and how they can benefit users can not only address customer issues and questions, they can become active advocates for these services.
Many organizations have contact centers with staff that handle payment inquiries on behalf of financial institution clients. It is important to leverage these contact center agent interactions to educate them on the features and benefits of electronic bill payment.
We have seen an increase of five payments for those who were introduced to the benefits of bill payment and sent emails to reinforce what was discussed. Whether in the branch or the contact center, an educated staff can help drive increased product usage.
5. Incentives and Cause Marketing
Supplementing standard marketing tactics with incentive-focused campaigns can result in substantial increases in transactions, enrollments, people making payments for the first time, and reactivations.
Connecting incentives to good causes resonates with today’s more mindful consumer. Cause marketing campaigns offer financial institutions a way to share the benefits of electronic payments while helping the community.
For instance, the annual “Season of Giving Campaign,” held every holiday season, helps people be part of a charitable campaign by completing their daily financial tasks. After completing activities such as paying a bill online or paying a friend via person-to-person payments, customers are entered to win a cash prize while a donation is made to a national nonprofit.
Consumers seek out payments services that meet their expectations for security, reliability, speed and convenience. Creating awareness of payments services early on in the relationship positions the financial institution as their customers’ primary source for payments. Financial institutions that deliver and successfully market these services can grow use and adoption, leading to more loyal, more valuable and more engaged customers.