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Mail-in rebate vs digital – How to make the most out of your rebate program

Nothing frustrates an individual that is used to working in the digital landscape more than being launched into the world of paper with a mail-in rebate. Over 70 percent[i] of individuals prefer to deal with organizations in the digital world as opposed to dealing with paper. That’s a significant number, and as technology tends to get more advanced, this number will only increase. Don’t let your rebate programs fall into the trap of depending solely on paper because your systems aren’t up to date. Instead, improve response times and engagement by making digital an option for your customers.  

The problem with mail-in rebate

Consider for a moment, the timeline of a customer filling out a mail-in rebate request:Day 1: Your customer goes shopping, they find your product and the sales rep informs them of the rebate program. After careful consideration, the customer buys the item and brings it home.Day 10: After a busy week at work your customer finally has down time to attend to the mail-in rebate form, they photocopy the receipt along with the proof of purchase. They then take the photocopies and forms, stuff them into an envelope, stamp and mail them. (Often within a few days, depending on a customer’s schedule).The rebate forms then sits in postal transit for the next few days.Day 20: The completed rebate forms finally arrive to your office. The documents are added to a stack of mail-in rebate claims, so it will take time to reach this specific claim.Day 25: The rebate finally lands in the hands of a team member.Day 30: Your team has been manually analyzing and checking for accuracy, fraud and eligibility for several days. Upon review, there are several portions of the form that need to be further investigated. The receipt wasn’t clear and the customer hasn’t documented the serial number properly.Day 40: After contact with the customer and further investigation, the rebate has been recorded accurately and confirmed. The rebate forms are now sent to finance and accounting.Day 46: Your accounting and finance team review the forms, and acquire a rebate check that can be sent to the customer. The payout process begins, and it takes time to process internallyDay 55: The payout has been processed, the rebate check is stamped and mailed. It sits in transit for the next few days.Day 60: Your customer finally receives their payment in the mail.

The intent of digital rebates

All-together, a process as simple as claiming a single consumer rebate holds an industry average of 60 days (taken from the appliance vertical), and that’s assuming all the details on the forms are logged in correctly and nothing goes wrong on the clerical end of operations. By implementing a digital, end-to-end solution, your processing time can be reduced to as little as 14 days, less than half the amount of time it takes to collect a rebate by mail.So why does the amount of time it takes to fulfil a rebate claim matter? Consumers care where their rebates are going. In an industry study, brands that use more mail in than online received a higher interaction rate, which can be detrimental to your ROI and more importantly your brand. One client in particular with an 89% mail in rate had a 1.28 interaction rate per claim, compared to another client who had a 15% mail in rate resulting in an 0.18 interaction rate per claim. The numbers say it all.Mail-based rebate claims have their shortcomings within an increasingly digital world. If you want to keep your customer base happy and engaged, it’s time to switch to digital.Breaking down the fundamentals of digital processingAdopting a digital rebate process simplifies operations reducing the amount of time your staff spends on a single claim.Digital processing lets your finance or accounting departments send out rebate payments with minimal delay, allowing your claim to be processed much more quickly than you would have been able to handle via mail.Digital processing also allows your customers to take photos of receipts and needed documents on their phones, attach them to a digital form and send the file to your organization in a matter of minutes.A rebate technology within a channel management program can also aid your internal team by automatically analyzing data within the form to detect eligibility issues or apparent discrepancies. Your team can then review the rebate claim, or allow the software to automatically pass the claim on to finance.With digital’s numerous capabilities and fast turn-around time there is no wonder why so many businesses are switching from mail. Not only are modern rebate technologies making the lives of consumers easier but they are also revolutionizing the way businesses do rebates.


Burstein, D. (2017, February 3). Marketing Research Chart: How do customers want to communicate? Retrieved February 24, 2017, from

About the Author

360insights is the leading channel engagement and business optimization company, that enables brands to better influence, manage, and engage with their complex channel ecosystems. The company offers a suite of channel solutions including a SaaS-based platform that empowers brands to fully orchestrate their complex partner networks, while also delivering a powerful Incentive Automation solution for consumer rebates, SPIFFs, volume incentives, MDF/Co-Op, sales allowances and points programs. Combining incentive management and ecosystem orchestration with a powerful data analytics engine, 360insights serves 300+ enterprise organizations globally, across multiple industries, helping them boost their indirect business. Learn more at

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