Winner of Tearsheet’s Best Data Marketing Campaign: Zelle

  • Zelle's awareness has grown and the company wants to translate that into everyday behavior.
  • Early Warning's used data to make “Everyday Better”, winning Tearsheet's data marketing award for 2020

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Winner of Tearsheet’s Best Data Marketing Campaign: Zelle

Tearsheet recently recognized the winners of our 2020 Data Awards. We’re running a short series on the winners and other top applicants as part of our ongoing coverage of financial data. Tearsheet’s Resilience Awards are currently open for submissions.

Tearsheet’s Best Data Marketing Campaign Award is intended to go to the marketing campaign that has been most creative, strategic and effective in achieving its objectives. Our judges looked at submissions against 4 criteria:

  • Creativity
  • Innovative thinking
  • Consumer value
  • Results related to KPIs


When Early Warning launched Zelle a few years ago, a national advertising campaign complemented bank-led marketing to help lift this service to near-household name status in record time.

Turns out that while consumers were using the P2P payment tool, they were not using Zelle as part of their “everyday behavior.” Early Warning conducted a set of bi-weekly quantitative and quarterly qualitative research studies to discover why consumers were not using Zelle more frequently. A comprehensive “Digital Adoption Study” revealed that consumers weren’t really aware of what Zelle could do for them. They needed to be shown.

The campaign

Early Warning focused its campaign to highlight ways that Zelle can help reduce the friction in daily lives. This included using Zelle between friends and family for everyday occasions, which led to the “Everyday Better” campaign.

Including women

The most enlightening finding from Early Warning’s data research was how technology is influencing financial etiquette. Women in particular found it difficult to ask to be paid back. Early Warning’s proprietary data showed that 86 percent of women reported not being paid back after covering a shared expense such a meal for friends, with 16% of women saying this happens “all the time.”

As a result, Early Warning partnered with the first financial feminist pop-up, Stacks House, aimed at educating women. Early Warning created three interactive experiences based on key use cases of Zelle (gifting, travel, and splitting bills), to empower guests to make smart money moves. In addition, Early Warning used the space to hold educational events. For example, the company partnered with HerCampus, to host a panel event geared toward women who were graduating college, giving them actionable tips on how to take control of finances post-college. The team also engaged college-aged influencers to encourage young women to see the space and learn how to gain financial freedom.

Th campaign resulted in an increase in aided awareness and quarterly transactions per sender increased. These increases translated to big movement at the network level. For the 2019 calendar year, the Zelle Network processed $187 billion in payments on 743 million transactions. Year-over-year payment values increased by 57%, while transaction volume increased by 72%.

Pandemic messaging

When the 2020 pandemic hit, Zelle took a different tack. The company found that scammers and bad actors were playing off heightened emotions, loneliness and fear to prey on the desperation that many Americans are currently experiencing. Populations like senior citizens were particularly vulnerable.

Early Warning launched the following initiatives:

  • “Pay It Safe” public relations campaign (March – present 2020): Current execution of public relations campaign focused on the consumer protection of fraud/scam issues related to COVID-19 via media interviews with trade, consumer and business press
  • “Pay It Safe” partnerships (April – June 2020): A formal partnership with Older Adults Technology Services (OATS), a nonprofit, to add critical value in ensuring Zelle is a trusted and highly visible solution to P2P payment needs for seniors.
  • “Pay It Safe” advertising campaign (Mar-Apr 2020): Educational campaign explaining to viewers how to safely use Zelle and avoid scams.

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