Fulfill Internet Billing's Promise

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Companies worldwide are realizing the promise of online billing and are investing in electronic bill presentment and payment (EBPP) software solutions to quickly get their bills online.

Considering the numbers, it's a smart move. Each American spends an average of two hours a month paying his share of the 18.2 billion bills Americans receive each year. The cost for a biller to print, process and distribute a paper-based bill ranges from 85 cents to $1.50, while the cost of sending and receiving an electronic bill or statement is only 35 cents to 45 cents per trip.

More than half of Americans have a home PC, and the number of Americans with Internet access is rapidly growing. That is why Internet billing is widely recognized as the next "killer app" for corporate America. It completes a paperless round trip that delivers substantial cost savings, enhances customer service, opens new marketing channels and creates revenue from online advertising, cross-sell, upsell and one-to-one marketing.

The benefits for consumers are equally compelling. Internet billing is faster, easier and more convenient. Nine out of 10 online users surveyed indicated they would like to pay their bills online. So why hasn't Internet billing enjoyed mass adoption yet?

First, many progressive billers have been in pilot EBPP programs so far. Leading utilities, telcos, financial services and credit-card issuers are only now preparing to aggressively market their Internet billing solutions.

Billers everywhere must realize that to get consumers to use electronic billing, they must market it. Consumers respond to communications in the way they are presented. When they receive a paper bill, they will pay with a paper check. When companies send bills electronically, consumers will be more inclined to pay online. Only after consumers migrate to Internet billing can corporations realize its benefits. And the billers that are "first-movers" to introduce and market EBPP will reap the rewards.

By attracting even a small fraction of customers to pay their bills through your Web site each month, your company's bills can become a valuable vehicle for delivering online advertising for your products and services, as well as offerings from other target marketers.

Companies eager to realize the benefits of their Internet billing systems should be guided by four principles:

• Attract. To attract consumers to online billing, companies must first create discounts and incentives.

• Retain. Once a consumer is paying online, keep that consumer satisfied with the online billing process. Point and continuity programs have proven to reinforce consumers' online billing habits.

• Add Value. Consumers must be offered recognized products and services as a benefit of billing online.

• Custom Marketing. Specific premium items or products must be offered to consumers who fit certain demographics.

Make sure that once you select an EBPP solution you don't opt for an "out-of-the-box" EBPP marketing campaign. EBPP benefits will be realized by your organization as quickly as marketers embrace the new rules of engagement for demand marketing in the Internet age.

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