Citi focuses more marketing online

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With the cost of customer acquisition continuing to rise, Citi Cards continues to shift marketing dollars away from direct mail to the Internet.

The company is investing in search keywords and its Web site and the percentage of new customers who are applying online is growing every month, even if they initially received a direct mail, according to Rob Rosenblatt, EVP of e-business and cardholder experience at Citi Cards.

The Web is a great way to help prospective customers find the best card for them, Rosenblatt said. But traditionally, a large amount of consumers industrywide who initiate a credit card application online abandon it before completing it, even when they say that they intended to apply.

With this in mind, Citi Cards updated its site earlier this year to make it easier to apply online. By keeping in mind the best practices of some of the biggest Internet retailers, Citi Cards has created a credit card application site that more closely resembles an e-commerce site, according to Rosenblatt.

For example, there are a series of questions in place that ask what a consumer wants in a credit card. After that, the site brings up a page where they can choose between the several cards that Citi Cards has determined would be best suited for them.

As part of this initiative, Citi Cards has also increased the visibility of its URL in direct mail to encourage people to apply online. The company is also looking to improve the experience for customers who might want perform other account transactions online.

It recently started a campaign in which it plants a tree for every customer that switches to e-statements. This strategy has proven more successful than when the company offered them money back or other incentives to switch to paperless statements, according to Rosenblatt.

In August, Citi Cards launched the ability for customers to retrieve up to 15 years of back statements online. The company provides the information as a PDF, so that the files can be used with the IRS and for other official purposes.

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