Small financial services using e-mail to compete: Mintel survey

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Many large financial services firms are experimenting with a blend of direct mail and e-mail marketing to communicate with their current customers and merchandise their new products and services. In contrast, many smaller financial services have turned to e-mail to attract new customers with acquisition offers.

According to Mintel Comperemedia, a competitive intelligence service in Chicago that analyzes direct mail, e-mail marketing and print media, several smaller companies are emerging as more frequently tracked entities in the e-mail marketing arena.

"E-mail marketing has been able to serve as a more affordable option for smaller, lesser-know companies that need to reach new consumers," said Carmen Curran, analyst for Mintel Comperemedia, in a statement. "Major financial services companies continue to take advantage of e-mail as well, but they have stronger resources to market through direct mail and other key channels. They are also concentrating more on marketing to current customers through e-mail rather than acquiring new ones."

Mintel Comperemedia said that as the e-mail sector evolves, companies such as Metabank in the banking sector and First Premier Bank in the credit card sector have been identified as key players, flooding consumer mailboxes with acquisition offers and promotions. However, on the direct mail front, these companies are distributing a significantly lower share of offers than their larger competitors.

As reported March 13 on DMNews.com [http://www.dmnews.com/cms/dm-news/direct-mail/40362.html] in the direct mail category, the top 2006 overall mailers for acquisition financial services direct mail pieces were Chase (1.7 billion), Capital One (1.2 billion), American Express (1 billion), Citibank (980 million), and Bank of America (920 million). While many smaller companies turn acquisition efforts to e-mail marketing, larger companies are opting for e-mail marketing to cross-sell their products and communicate with their customers about their services.

Citibank, for example, revived efforts to promote its e-Savings account to customers via e-mail. Capital One renewed promotional efforts via e-mail for Blank Check Auto Loans to current customers. These were both offers that were featured in campaigns that initially lived through traditional direct mail outlets but used in e-mail marketing to garner additional participation.

"Since several of the larger companies already have a strong customer base, they are using e-mail marketing more at this stage as a way to communicate with current customers and better showcase their new products," Ms. Curran said. "Smaller companies are looking at ways to continue making e-mail work for them in a cost-effective manner, further chipping away at the larger companies and perhaps finding their own niche markets."

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