A guide to effectively gathering email addresses for the eBilling space
"Getting end customers to go paperless is a focus for many companies and one of the easiest ways to do this is ask them to switch off paper for their bills and receive an electronic version instead."
Getting end customers to go paperless is a focus for many companies and one of the easiest ways to do this is ask them to switch off paper for their bills and receive an electronic version instead.
Companies today spend a lot of time and money developing electronic billing solutions to reach their end customers. For all of the effort that is put into developing the solution, a somewhat unequal amount of time is actually spent focused on collecting customer email addresses.
As you can imagine, your solution can be great but if you do not have customer email addresses as the gateway to electronic communication, the project will not be successful.
Gathering email addresses for billing purposes is more involved than any initiative put in place for email marketing. Merely capturing a name and email address is no longer an option, as you need to tie that address to the customer on record. However, it does not have to be a complicated endeavor. Maintaining a clean, updated email database is a critical strategy in continuously increasing your paperless adoption rate, but where to start? The two most important strategies are:
- Develop a solid email collection plan
- Leverage every customer touch point
Develop a solid email collection plan:
A little bit of planning and effort to develop a cohesive email collection strategy goes a long way. When it comes to email collection, most successful companies have a couple of things in common: they have always put their plan into writing and have received internal buy-in at all levels within their organization to support the success of this project. When it comes to writing out a plan, the following steps are recommended to include as part of a strong email collection path forward:
- Appoint a project champion. Someone (or team of people) within your organization must be in charge of this initiative and drive it forward. You constantly gain new customers, so the need to collect email addresses is a constant effort.
- Understand how and where email addresses will be saved, develop targets, milestones and responsibilities to get the email gathering done.
- Segment the customer/member base. Divide them into workable groups and approach each one differently.
- Create a platform for storing email addresses and preference management.
- Educate all levels internally about the value of collection emails.
- Incentivize email collection within the organization, wherever possible.
Leverage every customer touch point:
At one point or another, every one of your customers has interacted with you, either to become a customer in the first place, update their information or seek out answers to questions regarding their service. There are both proactive and reactive ways to reach out to the customer, but the most important thing to remember is not to let an opportunity go by where asking for an email address is not considered.
Here are some of the best touch-points to utilize for email collection:
- Call centers
Using the call center is probably your most productive method of gathering email addresses (outside of new customers). CSRs are often you most frequent customer touch point. Train CSRs as soon as possible on the benefits of email collection and make it part of their routine.
- Web-site / portal
If a customer proactively visits your website for any reason, you have already won half the battle. Even if you do not need the customer to create a profile on your website, having a page with eBilling information and a simple location where they can enter an email address and an account number will help grow your email database.
- In-store (where applicable)
If you have a store, office, walk-in payment center, etc., make sure to collect email addresses at these face-to-face points.
- Online payments
When customers pay, you can ask them to provide an email address for payment confirmation.
- Social media
Use social media to gather email address. Post links on social media to the pages on your web-site where they can provide an email address and an account number and let customers know the value they will get if they provide an email address.
- New customers
If possible default new customers to paperless communications and short of that make email address a mandatory field.
- Print communication
Bill Stuffers/Envelope messages are an effective way to gather email addresses, as it is a proactive strategy that can reach every customer.
- Text for email campaigns
Texting the customer and asking for an email address requires a mobile number to be captured in the database. There are partnerships available where texts can be sent and received from the customers at no cost to them.
Remember that email collection is a process that should always be front of mind if you have an electronic communication plan with your customers. This is never a “one and done” strategy.
Constant improvements and tweaks to your strategy will be required to meet the needs of a growing customer base who interact with you in different ways. Developing these strategies and having a clear plan that is supported internally within your organization will be the difference between mediocre and successful paperless adoption rates.