Online Resources Plugs Online Bill Paying

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Online Resources, McLean, VA, a provider of e-commerce services to financial institutions, will launch a direct mail test campaign in March to help convert its clients' customers from home online banking users to online bill paying customers.

According to Ron Bergamesca, senior vice president of product and consumer marketing at Online Resources, the campaign will target more than 30,000 customers from a cross-section of the 315 banks and credit unions it provides services for.

"The goal is to get the people who monitor their bank accounts and transactions online to use the bill paying portion of the offered services," he said.

The test will start in the latter part of March. Bergamesca said the pieces are still being designed but they will contain educational information on the service and its benefits.

"The piece is going to be a conversion package as opposed to an acquisition package," he said. "We will be providing them with a specific offer as well. There will either be a free trial period of two to three months where they can use the service or a premium cash reward."

According to spokesman Robert Griendling, the test will drop 30,000 to 40,000 pieces.

Aside from tracking respondents, Online Resources will identify which of its institutions have the highest percentage of customers most likely to respond and become online bill paying customers. Its clients range from $60 billion institutions to small credit unions and community banks.

If the test is a success, Bergamesca said it plans a major roll out of the campaign by summer to the balance of its clients' remaining customers.

"Online Resource recognizes the need for these banks to get people to take part in online banking and that the marketing of it is one of the most important things," said Ed Neumann, a bank consultant focusing on e-banking issues. "It's all about the marketing of it, providing consumers with the information and benefits of the service and educating them. The struggle for all banks will be getting over 10 percent of their accounts to participate."

Neumann said trends indicate that within the next five years, 15 percent to 20 percent of all consumers will be participating in online banking.

According to Griendling, currently 6 percent of the people in the country with bank accounts participate in online banking services.

Follow-up mailings to those who don't respond are being considered, Bergamesca said. "We'll want to see if all they need to try the service is a reminder," he said.

Other mediums for marketing the service are being considered such as e-mail messages, telemarketing campaigns, statement stuffers and branch incentive programs.

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