Email Invoicing: Great concept, messy reality

It’s likely your company is either already emailing recurring invoices, or is planning to. And why not? What could be better than fast, easy, and free?

Well, if you currently DO email invoices—especially in larger batches—you may have noticed that the concept is way better than the reality. Cornerstone is a recurring billing specialist, so we know why.

First, spam filters make email notoriously unreliable.

Spam filters make email notoriously unreliable. Good software can log the fact that you SENT the email…but it’s nearly impossible to prove that an email was received and read. We’ve all had legitimate emails from our colleagues and friends end up in our “Junk” folder…mystifying, but common.

Second, if the spam filters don’t get you, the spam police will.

If the spam filters don’t get you, the spam police will. Internet service providers (ISPs) like Yahoo and Google/Gmail are the largest of the spam police, and they monitor email blasting 24/7. If you blast over 100 email invoices in a group, the odds are good that your IP address will be blacklisted and blocked—for a few days, and possibly permanently. Trust us, with our volume of billing—including emails—we had to overcome this, and it’s not easy.

Third, email has become a plague.

Email has become a plague. There’s just too much of it coming in. So if your emailed invoice DOES arrive safely in your subscriber’s inbox…it may very well never get read.

Fourth, PDF attachments and embedded links…

PDF attachments and embedded links (like a link to a payment page on your website) greatly increase the odds that either an ISP or a local spam detector will block your emailed invoice, or send it to junk.

Finally, email invoices are more work for your customer.

Finally, IF your email gets through AND gets read, do you make it easy for the subscriber to pay? If they need to print out the email, then cut a check & mail…that’s work, and people hate work. If you have a link to a payment site, is it easy once they arrive there? Is there an easy/safe/quick login process, and will they see their open invoice(s), and be able to check out quickly?

That’s why emailing is messy – it’s unreliable unless done exactly right. Cornerstone has perfected the process, but it wasn’t easy. We make sure the email address “from” domain matches the actual domain the email is coming from. We queue our large email batches, then meter out the emails 95 at a time, with 10 minute pauses in between batches…to play nice with the spam police. We can ‘mask’ our payment link, so it’s doesn’t cause a block or bounce. We date and time stamp all emails sent in our software and use one of our dealer’s email addresses as the “Reply To”, so if emails DO bounce our customer will be able to address that with the subscriber. Our site is extremely user-friendly and quick, and include our dealer’s name and phone number, as well as the invoice details the subscriber wants to see.

Our advice for email: don’t make it the primary method to bill a subscriber.

You’ll end up with too many instances of “I never got the bill,” creating more work and cost. Emailing is ideal as a complement to autopay invoicing – sending the subscriber a ‘heads up’ that their card or bank account will be charged on the date due. As great as fast, easy, and free sounds—emailing alone ends up being a messy and costly way to try to bill.

Is This You?

  • You've outgrown your software!
  • Billing & Collections is too time-consuming!
  • You have too many slow pay accounts
  • You need to automate your processes!
  • You enter the same data multiple times!