A Look Inside Statement Insert Programs
Looking for another channel through which to acquire customers with a strong lifetime value? Of course this is a rhetorical question because who isn’t? Statement inserts are advertisements for products or services that ride along with monthly billing statements, and they may be your answer.
There are upwards of 200 programs on the market today, and they fall into one of three primary categories:
* Visa/Mastercard credit cards, including Bank of America, Capital One, Chase and MBNA, which account for about 125 million statements per month.
* Retail credit cards, such as Saks, Macy’s, Belk and Sears, which total about 60 million statements per month.
* Oil companies, such as Shell, BP Oil, Exxon Mobil and Chevron, which represent about 15 million statements per month.
We typically advise clients to start with Visa/Mastercard programs because they are the largest, accounting for approximately 50 percent of the available circulation. Smaller but growing categories include auto and home loans as well as utilities such as gas/electric and telephone.
Available insert formats include single- and multipanel, bangtails (advertising on the remittance envelope), statement coupons and billboard ads. Another option is statement messaging, which is a marketing message that appears directly on the statement. While response for this format tends to be lower than other inserts, the ROI is viable because there are no printing costs. Statement messages can serve as an add-on to boost response to an insert. Opportunities also exist for marketers to partner with the issuers on upsell programs.
While the majority of statement inserts ride along in small envelopes and therefore tend to be no larger than 3-1/2˝ x 6˝, there are creative, production and legal requirements that vary across the different programs. So be sure to inquire about these before you begin production on a statement insert. And be prepared: You may not be able to use the same insert across multiple programs.
Why Billing Inserts?
Statement insert programs offer a number of benefits for marketers. First, inserts in a billing statement carry an implied endorsement from the issuer. As the mailer has a pre-established relationship with the recipient, this endorsement goes a long way in cultivating the insert marketer’s own credibility.
Additionally, billing statements are virtually 100 percent deliverable since they ride along with a bill that customers must respond to promptly, and inserts are delivered in a low-clutter environment. Most programs accept only two or three inserts in each customer’s statement, because they are mailed First Class (which also aids in deliverability) and additional inserts mean additional postage. This is an important point for insert marketers, as research indicates that response to inserts declines as the number of inserts in a package increases.
This high visibility, however, does carry a caveat: Because these programs have only a few slots for advertisers each month, they can be selective in choosing which products they want to offer their customers.
This media channel also delivers a high-quality audience; these customers are credit-worthy and generally have very appealing demographics. While they often have a high lifetime value, marketers should be aware that many of these programs don’t allow you to rent out the names of customers acquired through the statement program. This means customers need to be suppressed from any lists you rent out in the future.
Picking the Right Product
A broad variety of products and services have enjoyed success in the billing statement arena. Strong brand name products, such as Bose, Sharper Image and Columbia House, collectibles, and offers with high perceived value work extremely well, as do services that require monthly billing, such as phone service, ISP and satellite television. In general, statement programs work particularly well for any product that benefits from a strong back-end.
Jackie Kern is managing director of Main Street Direct, a New York-based marketing firm specializing in credit card media programs. She can be reached at (212) 779-3000 or by e-mail: email@example.com.