Bank of America Boosts Web Response With Mailing

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Bank of America Corp., Charlotte, NC, has found that using the Web as a response vehicle for direct mail credit card offers is cutting down on the number of respondents who choose to reply via telephone or by mail, a company spokesman said this week.

This summer the bank began rolling out direct mail offers in which prospects could choose to respond either through traditional means or by visiting micro-sites that offer personal greetings and customized marketing messages.

"I'm happy with the results, and I'm continuing with it," said Peter Berbee, vice president of new product development and Internet marketing at Bank of America. "We have seen a movement from the phone and traditional mail to the Web."

He declined to reveal what the specific response rates have been, however, but he did say that "people have been responding positively" to the sites, which are created individually for each campaign. He said the bank has mailed more than 10 million pieces since it began using the sites as a response vehicle.

"This is just another response option," said Michael Browning, president of advertising agency Douglas-Danielle Inc., Chicago, which has contracted to create the micro-sites for the bank through next year. "What it does is that it eliminates return postage and return mail, and it also eliminates costs because you don't have operators sitting at the other end of a 1-800 number."

Bank of America prints an individual code on each mail piece for the visitor to input when entering the site, and the database technology detects this code and places it on the site of the specific offer the customer is responding to. Customers can then submit questions about the offer via e-mail.

The bank also is compiling a list of prospects who have Internet access, according to Browning. It will be able to target those people with specific offers in future mailings, he said.

Next year Browning and Berbee expect to make the sites more responsive in real time so that other offers might be presented to customers based on data obtained while the prospects visit the sites. This technology also might be used to provide online credit card approvals to those prospects who have been mailed an invitation to apply. Browning said the agency is conducting some tests of real-time online marketing, but it would probably be a few months before such a system is activated on a wide scale.

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