Many of the large insurance and financial services firms send as much as 100 million pieces of billing and statement mail each year. All are trying to reduce their print and mail expense budgets by going electronic, but with limited success. The highest adoption rate that Doculabs has seen is for bills, which now approach 50% for electronic adoption. But the adoption rate for statements is considerably lower.

According to, if every US household stopped receiving paper bills and statements, 687,000 tons of paper would be saved every year. For the record, it takes more than 16 million trees to produce the paper needed to print that yearly volume of bills and statements (not accounting for recycling).

To encourage greater adoption of electronic documents, let’s review a few best practices to help increase those adoption rates (and save quite a few trees):

1. Offer incentives

Charging for paper statements (i.e., creating a disincentive) has met with considerable backlash and can demonstrably damage your customer relationship. Incentives provide a much more customer-centric approach and can be simple and relatively inexpensive. Small gifts or entries in drawings for larger prizes have proven effective in driving adoption and in providing a return on investment.

2. Appeal to the greens 

Provide information on your website and in whitespace on your documents that both informs and educates customers regarding the benefits of electronic communications. Make it personal by providing data points that your customer can relate to.

3. Ensure quick and easy document access 

Your customers demand quick and easy access to both current and historical bills and statements through your website. Invest in a robust content management infrastructure or repository to provide your customers ready access to documents with a defined but lengthy historical view.

4. Build trust in your online and data security 

Recent news events and data breaches have consumers increasingly concerned for the safety of their online credentials. Be clear and direct regarding the steps you’re taking to ensure confidentiality of customer credentials and data. 

5. Measure and adjust 

Don’t expect a big-bang conversion but, rather, a steady growth in electronic adoption, with a corresponding decrease in print and mail production and spend. Determine the metrics to track over time, publish the results broadly and then adjust your approach based on the successes and challenges encountered.

By following these best practices, you can increase the rate of electronic adoption by your new and existing customers and significantly reduce operating expenses. Maybe we’ll never get to the point of saving all 16 million trees, but certainly our continued efforts can move us in the direction of many millions of trees saved. Now, if they could just quit putting all the trees they’ve saved between my golf ball and the green.