Experian Offers Credit Card E-mail Service

Banking that credit card marketers now doing business via direct mail will want to cut costs by moving online, consumer data giant Experian is rolling out a new service to pre-screen Internet consumers for card applications.

The company, a unit of Great Universal Stores plc with U.S. offices in Costa Mesa, Calif., already handles credit prescreening for a number of major credit card issues, banks, retailers and other grantors. Now, Experian says its new Email Prescreen list processing service is designed to help those firms improve their profitability on issuing new credit cards, by reducing printing and mailing costs and deployment time — and most importantly, to do so without adding risk.

Central to the plan is Experian’s database of more than 230 million credit card users, against which clients’ e-mail lists will be compared. After identifying consumers on the list and scoring their risk, Experian also will distribute the campaign and track results. For bouncebacks, the company said it would distribute an offline mailing.

“In response to the continuing decline in response rates for credit offers sent through the post office, Experian has developed Email Prescreen,” said Laura DeSoto, vice president of marketing at Experian Information Solutions.

While some consumers already receive loads of unsolicited online credit card solicitations — which are simply disregarded by many as spam — Experian said test campaigns have indicated tremendous success with its new product. One recent trial generated a 1.9 percent click-through rate — three times better than typical offline response rates.

The company expects to be able to migrate its existing, offline client relationships to the new service — spelling bad news for the e-mail marketers and data shops currently involved in distributing such offers, but could also result in better client work, Experian claimed.

“In an arena where smaller, single-point suppliers have promoted technology over service, Experian’s customers can rest assured that the reliable, trusted provider they have worked closely with in the offline marketing space brings that same brand power to the e-mail … arena,” DeSoto said.

The product launch comes as Experian is looking for ways to leverage its massive database for interactive marketing. Earlier this month, the firm signed a deal with Wink Communications to use its data as the basis for interactive TV audience research, segmentation and targeting.

Last year, Experian bought the Exactis e-mail delivery unit of 24/7 Media, now 24/7 Real Media .

Experian’s not the only major credit reporting and data player working to build an Internet practice, however. Equifax last week shelled out $135 million for online marketer and database firm Naviant. In the process, Equifax will take over a permission database of more than 100 million consumers.

Equifax also inherits a majority stake in Naviant’s 24/7 Mail list management practice, which had also been previously owned by 24/7 Real Media.

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