Paul Holmes 15 Jul 2001 // 11:00PM GMT
Using in-depth research, strong survey results, a well-orchestrated press conference and an eye-catching media kit, we helped eFunds announce the service at the financial industry’s largest conference. eFunds was noticed at the huge event among the hundreds of other exhibitors, and we secured coverage in many of its target publications.
Online banks are signing up new customers at lightening speed. But they’re losing them almost as quickly. Banks told eFunds that 70 to 85 percent of newly opened online accounts are never funded because customers don’t want to deal with the “offline hassle” of printing out a lengthy application, completing it and mailing it with a paper check as an initial deposit. It runs contrary to the reason for online banking — convenience.
Despite little or no name recognition, eFunds needed to gain attention among the financial behemoths at the Banking Administration Institute’s (BAI) Retail Delivery Show, “the Comdex of the financial world.” In addition, while banks privately told eFunds that they were experiencing high abandonment rates for their online accounts, none of them would go on record admitting it.
RESEARCH AND PLANNING
We had two objectives for the project: 1) Announce eFunds’ solution to a problem that’s crippling the online banking industry. 2) Position eFunds as a payments industry leader that can help financial services companies in the new and traditional economies. It also was hoped that, by achieving these two goals, it would boost sales for the new service.
To confirm that complicated applications and funding options are a primary reason for high abandonment rates of online banking accounts, we commissioned an online consumer survey of people who had Internet banking accounts or who expressed an interest in online banking. The results confirmed a need for Integreat! and revealed attitudes toward Internet banking.
More than 80 percent of respondents said they are likely to use a service that would allow them to transfer funds electronically to an online account, and nearly 90 percent rated such a service as convenient. The survey yielded additional useful information for financial services companies: Consumers are generally pleased with their online banking experience, for example, but they would like more services from their Web bank.
Our strategy was two-fold. First, we wanted to focus on Integreat!’s break-through capability that truly was a “first” in the online banking world and that solved a problem plaguing its growth. By promoting this new service, we were confident that conference attendees would start asking “Who’s eFunds?” and learn more about the company’s other electronic payment and eCommerce products and services.
Second, we wanted to leverage the opportunity at the BAI Retail Delivery Show where all of eFunds key audiences were in attendance — financial service companies executives, potential customers, industry analysts and the media — to generate awareness for Integreat! and eFunds as a technology leader. At the show, we would present an Integreat! case study, hold a press conference, distribute Integreat! media kits and secure media interviews and analyst briefings.
eFunds launched Integreat! at the Retail Delivery Show with significant fanfare, including two news releases and a press conference. In one release, we announced Integreat! and its benefits to online financial institutions, and the other one revealed the survey findings that were of interest to everyone in the financial services community.
The releases were packaged in a media booklet, which was distributed to reporters, and posted on PR Newswire. We scheduled several media interviews in advance of the show, placing reporters one-on-one with a media-trained eFunds product manager who was closest to Integreat!’s development. The news conference, led by an eFunds vice president, was well-attended by both media and customers. The large, colorful charts we created for the news conference showing the survey percentages helped tell the story. eFunds sales reps also shared the poll results with customers and prospects.
The results were good — in fact, too good. From a sales standpoint, eFunds received so many Integreat! orders that its production staff couldn’t keep up with demand. Orders rolled in from Internet banks, financial institutions, brokerage houses and other financial services companies. eFunds still is filling orders received at the event.
From a PR perspective, eFunds’ presence at the show and the surrounding media relations efforts resulted in excellent exposure for eFunds and Integreat! through trade, consumer and online publications. Hits included feature stories in American Banker, the premier financial services industry publication, and PC World Online. Integreat! and eFunds also received post-event coverage in numerous other industry publications.
The Integreat! launch also helped establish eFunds as a player in the financial technology arena. The industry event was an important step in giving eFunds name recognition, and it helped the company lay the groundwork for future media relations efforts.