One of our big focuses at Billtrust is how to help companies implement an effective EBilling strategy. An EBilling strategy is not a web site where customers can review and pay their bills. An EBilling strategy is not emailing or faxing bills to customers. An EBilling strategy is not an auto-debit product. These are all pieces to a strategy.
The first part of an EBilling strategy is a comprehensive set of solutions that allow you to distribute bills and accept payments electronically. Sending out paper bills and accepting paper payments is incredibly expensive (some studies have it pegged at $10 per invoice!). It's only going to get worse with postage hikes and material cost increases. The second part of an EBilling strategy is having a well thought out plan on how to motivate customers to migrate to EBilling. We're firm believers that you shouldn't do the first without the second because you're results will be disappointing.
We have some of customers with over 50% adoption of EBilling. While we think the we have a great EBilling product suite, this isn't enough. There have been plenty of other vendors who offer good EBilling solutions that have single digit adoption rates.
The key in my mind is part marketing and part economic.
First the economic - EBilling software vendors have an economic incentive to sell you a large ticket product and then move on to the next prospect. Whether you get 5% or 25% of your customers online doesn't affect their revenue stream. Legacy print & mail vendors actually have an economic disincentive to have customers move to EBilling because each customer moved is one less paper bill that they can make money on. Billtrust has crafted our revenue model so we make about the same amount of money on a paper bill and an electronic bill but our margins are far better on the electronic side. Therefore every time a customer moves to EBilling, our biller partner saves money, we make better margins, and the customer is happy. A Win Cubed (A Win-Win-WIn situation for you non-geeks).
Second is marketing - EBilling has proven that "if you build it, they will come" is a complete fallacy. You can't just throw up a EBilling web site and expect people to show up. You need a plan. About 18 months ago I sat down with Mitch Rose our VP of Marketing to strategize and we came up with that plan.
We call it e-Adoption and it is a complete marketing strategy that we devise for our customers on how to motivate customers to move to EBilling. Without sharing all of our secrets, I will tell you that customers have no interest in moving to EBilling to save the biller money. They want to know "What's in it for them?"
So the key take away for this is: When you're looking to get into EBilling, make sure your economic incentives align with whomever you partner with and that you've got a strategy to motivate customers to make the move.