Marketing Automation

Direct Mail Automation for Utility Billing and Financial Communications

April 7, 2020
Author
Inkit Team

Even when the whole world goes online, some industries cannot fully reject offline communications with their customers. Either their business is largely dependant on offline communication, or mail is required for them to stay regulatory compliant. Even though automated utility billing providers and financial institutions are allowed to send official communications online, a large share of consumers still prefers direct mail. Traditional mail is perceived as a reliable channel and is shown to make 57% of customers feel more valued.

Besides, direct mail allows companies to get proof that the information was sent and received on time. Such records are essential to stay regulatory compliant and be able to guard the interests of the service provider.

utilities

With advanced direct mail automation, sending, recording, and tracking offline communications is easy and safe. Easy — because it takes several minutes to configure mail automation software. And safe, thanks to the full direct mail automation. You don’t need to leave your house and breach the quarantine – mail production and delivery is 100% remote.

That’s how automated utility billing and financial services offline communications can help you ensure business continuity and compliance. Keep reading to find out:

  • The rules of sending direct mail in the financial services industry: Official documents and financial services marketing and communications
  • The rules of sending utility billing data and other communications
  • Benefits of direct mail automation for automated utility billing, financial services marketing and communications

The Rules of Sending Direct Mail in the Financial Services Industry: Official Documents and Financial Services Marketing

You don’t need to consult with your financial advisor to know that all financial institutions are strictly regulated. They handle tons of confidential consumer data, issue invoices, fines, send adverse action letters, and more. In addition, many of them use direct mail automation to enhance financial services marketing strategies and attract new customers. So let’s discuss the cases when you need to use snail mail in finances.

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How financial institutions provide print communications

Generally, banks, insurance agencies, and other financial services companies are obliged to inform customers about any critical changes in their accounts, be it an upcoming credit card expiry or refusal to provide a loan.

If customers explicitly choose to, many of such communications happen online. Yet, people usually prefer to receive documentary confirmation. It makes consumers feel more secure and allows financial institutions to keep a record of all messages they send, including:

  • Credit card, deposit, savings, or combined statements
  • Invoices and bills
  • Credit card receipts
  • Adverse action letters
  • Credit approval notices
  • Privacy policy updates
  • End-year tax forms
  • Upcoming card expiry notifications

Although the timing for each type of communications differs depending on state and federal regulations, the key takeaway is that accuracy and deadlines matter. Consumers must be given enough time to check bill payments and file a complaint in case something seems wrong. Besides, it’s important to include only critical information to protect recipients from identity theft. The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA) is one of the resolutions that require financial institutions to shorten or truncate account numbers on credit card receipts.

documents

If you are a part of the financial services industry, you should also get acquainted with the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act, Fair Credit Reporting Act, the Truth in Lending Act, FINRA rules, and other applicable regulations.

How financial institutions use direct mail for financial services marketing

Accurate and timely reporting is obviously a great boost for financial services marketing and brand image. Still, official communications aren’t the only way to engage your customers and make them convert.

For example, you can launch a welcome pack mail marketing campaign to greet customers that have just joined you. Or complement your official mailers with print materials offering your products and services. The options are unlimited.

The only thing you must always remember when it comes to financial services marketing is transparency. Tell your consumers how you are going to handle their personal data and ask their permission to do that. Provide them with an opt-out mechanism to refuse your mail or digital marketing. It’s the only right approach to ensure you comply with data protection regulations, including the GDPR. For more information about GDPR compliance for direct mail campaigns, visit this article.

The Rules of Sending Utility Billing Data and Other Communications

Utility bills are a true challenge for both utility companies and consumers. The payment periods are really short, sometimes 10-20 days only. This often results in misunderstandings, service shutdowns, late fees, and exhausting disputes.

That’s why to meet the regulatory demands and reduce the percentage of late payments, many utility business owners choose automated utility billing. When connected with direct mail automation tools, such software allows you to optimize the billing process and all print communications.

Automated direct mail remains an optimum solution for utility companies since they are required to deliver bills every billing interval through physical mail by default. To start receiving automated utility billing with another method, consumers need to give explicit consent for that. Nevertheless, 63% of people still prefer direct mail over digital channels for utility bills.

A utility company could be required to send official communications in the following cases:

  • Utility billing data at the end of each billing month or another billing period (On average, 20-30 days are provided to pay the bill depending on the type of utility service).
  • Catch-up bills if the first bill wasn’t delivered due to an automated utility system failure, the previous estimate was too low or had a mistake.
  • Late fee notification if the previous bill wasn’t paid by the due date.
  • Termination of service notice.
  • Changes in the bill payment conditions (some utility companies decided to provide a COVID-19 relief, postponing payments and shutoffs).

Regardless of who you serve — small businesses, large business owners, or individuals — proper mailing benefits everyone. You will optimize all your processes and improve response rate, enabling consumers to better plan their expenses and avoid late fees. Remember that accurate information and regulatory compliance are life-critical in utility billing.

Benefits of Direct Mail Automation for Automated Utility Billing, Financial Services Marketing and Communications

In addition to the tools for automated utility billing, the modern tech market also offers direct mail automation software. This means that with the right approach to data processing and mail printing, you can minimize the manual efforts of your team.

So, how can you do that? Connect Inkit’s API integrations platform with your system to collect data on all offline communications with customers in one place. The system will automatically keep track of customers’ accounts and trigger utility bills and financial communications printing when necessary. The integration will also allow you to connect digital marketing channels, such as social media, content marketing, or email newsletters, with direct mail.

receipt

If you start using direct mail automation for automated utility billing and financial services marketing and customer communications, you will:

  • Reduce the cost of mail production and delivery thanks to batch printing and the resulting discounts
  • Record all communications with customers using audit logs and reporting available in Inkit
  • Run multichannel financial services marketing campaigns (For example, you can start sending an email to customers who ignore your mailing)
  • Stay regulatory compliant thanks to secure automated data processing
  • Better comply with the quarantine limitations (if applicable) since direct mail automation enables you to produce and ship mail remotely.

Want to see how direct mail automation works in practice? Schedule a demo and start optimizing your automated utility billing and financial communications.

Ready to captivate your customers?
Send personalized direct mail automatically based on customer actions.
Start for free