Atlanta-based ControlScan Inc. provides security services to customers of merchant and acquiring banks. Specifically, the company helps small retailers—often mom-and-pop stores or online merchants—achieve the Payment Card Industry (PCI) Security Standards Council's PCI Data Security Standard (DSS). The standard was designed to help eliminate credit card fraud and reduce data and customer information breeches.
It's a difficult process, said Heather Foster, VP-marketing at ControlScan, because even though the banks mandate that their customers become compliant, it's usually not at the top of their to-do lists.
“None of the merchants has any desire to become compliant,” she said. “You have businesses that every month are fighting to stay ahead. They don't want to allocate the time and technical resources to do this. As a security provider, we've got an obstacle to overcome before we even get started.”
And it's not just ControlScan. Industrywide, compliance figures range from 1% to 9%, Foster said.
Six to eight months ago, the company launched a new e-mail marketing engagement program using Silverpop's Engage e-mail marketing tools to help boost security and credit card protection compliance rates for its customers' customers. In the past ControlScan sent out a single e-mail to all its lists explaining compliance—why it is important and how to sign on to its service. That didn't work, Foster said, because it didn't take into account where in the process a user actually was.
“What we did before was your standard mass blast to our customers' merchants,” she said. “It wasn't building on relevance of what state they were in in the process. If you think about it, with 20 partners and each partner having thousands of merchants, there really is no way to help people become engaged by sending a single mass blast.”
So Foster introduced a three-step engagement e-mail program, with all e-mails going out within the first 60 days of a customer's starting to work with ControlScan. At the same time ControlScan also sends a direct mail piece and includes a link to a custom microsite that explains the program. It also includes a custom 800-number for merchants that prefer to speak directly with a customer service representative.
Every merchant gets the same first e-mail. “It's an introduction: "ABC bank has partnered with ControlScan to help you become compliant.' If people get involved right away and become compliant, they drop out of the e-mail campaign,” Foster said.
If they don't, they are remarketed to based on the actions they have taken. Merchants that haven't logged on to the ControlScan site get a stronger, more urgent call to action.
The results of this approach have been impressive. One of the first bank customers to work with ControlScan's new e-mail marketing program saw open rates and click-through rates double. Even more important, its customers achieved a 22% compliance level. Other ControlScan customers are seeing similar compliance rates.
Going forward, ControlScan is about to start remarketing to these groups to ask those who have complied to do so again for the coming year and to remarket to those who ignored the requests.
“We don't expect that we will ever hit 100% compliance, but our partners are finally seeing higher levels of compliance, which is really their ultimate goal,” Foster said.
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Originally published May 21, 2009