ING Direct Uses Mail to Drive Online Acquisitions

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Online bank ING Direct USA is using monthly direct mail drops to drive consumers to its Web site where they can sign up for services such as savings accounts and home equity loans.

Based in Wilmington, DE, ING Direct is part of Dutch financial services giant ING Group.

The bank, which has more than 500,000 customers and $5 billion in assets, was launched in the United States in September 2000. It has sought to build awareness ever since. It started by getting its name out to potential customers in the Northeast, particularly the Philadelphia to New York corridor. It is branching out to other parts of the region, said David Lewis, ING Direct's chief marketing officer.

"We're running direct mail promotions for savings accounts and home equity loans," he said. "They're for both new acquisitions and as follow-up reminders."

ING Direct sends 750,000 to 1.5 million direct mail pieces for its savings accounts monthly, Lewis said. The goal is to get new customers to come to the site and sign up for an account.

"They can respond by mail or open an account online," he said. "We use append data from third-party sources to build acquisition models."

About half of ING Direct's customers opened their savings accounts online, Lewis said. The response rate ranges from 2 percent to 3 percent, he said.

On March 21 the bank sent 100,000 direct mail pieces promoting its Orange Home Equity Loan service, featuring two types of creative. The bank uses the Orange branding on all of its products, in keeping with ING Group's orange and blue corporate color scheme.

"It's not very intensive," Lewis said of the home equity mailing. "There's no fine print. Our biggest challenge with consumers is overcoming their 'What's the catch?' attitude."

One of the creatives features a comparison chart detailing ING Direct's home equity loan rates against other banks' rates. The copy notes that there are no hidden fees and spells out interest rates. It includes an 800 number for consumers to sign up for an account. The second creative eliminates the comparison chart and adds a response card.

E-mail marketing is not a large part of the bank's mix.

"We've had a mixed response with e-mail," he said. "The profile of our customer is one of behavioral, rather than demographic. It's hard to find e-mail lists that are psychographically segmented."

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