T-Mobile and BillShrink.com: Friends with Benefits?

Over the next two years, I could save $721 in cell phone bills if I switched to a 1000 anytime minute individual T-Mobile plan plus 300 text messages and unlimited web.

That’s according to BillShrink.com, a site that tells you which wireless carrier could save you money when you enter information about your cell phone usage, what you are paying, and where you use the phone. The site offers a similar service for saving money on credit card bills, as well as helping users find the cheapest gas. To give you a better sense of what the BillShrink.com results look like, I’ve included a screenshot of my top result.

BillShrink.com has recently been given a lot of publicity due to its relationship with the wireless carrier T-Mobile, as T-Mobile consistently – though not always- comes up as the best value for a wireless shopper. Billshrink.com is prominently featured in T-Mobile’s new online and TV ad campaign (alongside Catherine Zeta-Jones) that encourages anyone and everyone to use Billshrink.com to see which service and plan will save them the most money while providing them with ample coverage.

So how has this relationship affected T-Mobile and BillShrink.com? Is it a mutually beneficial relationship, or is one side reaping more benefits? We can start by looking at traffic to BillShrink.com over the past year.

  • From this chart we can see that T-Mobile appears to have had a large impact on traffic to BillShrink.com. Though T-Mobile started including links on its site for BillShrink.com in March, it’s clear the largest impact occurred when it began its broader campaign in May.
  • In addition to an increase in traffic, we can further tell this relationship with T-Mobile has impacted Billshrink.com as 43% of visitors to Billshrink.com used the Wireless Plan area of the site in May, compared to only 22% using the wireless area in March.

Looking at data on Compete.com, we found that the T-Mobile campaign seems to be giving Billshrink.com a significant boost: the carrier accounted for 12.8% of all referrals to BillShrink.com, and was the destination site for 7.4% of all visitors to BillShrink.com.

All this data certainly tells me that the T-Mobile relationship has benefited BillShrink.com. T-Mobile, however, is the one that went out on a limb by telling consumers to check this site and see which carrier will save them the most money. So has this campaign benefited T-Mobile too? To get a sense of the impact, we looked at how many T-Mobile shoppers are also visiting BIllShrink.com.

This chart is looking at the volume of T-Mobile.com visitors also visiting BillShrink.com, represented by the blue bars and mapped to the right axis. The diamonds represent the % of overall T-Mobile.com traffic that also used BillShrink.com in the given month, and is mapped to the right axis. So what does this chart show us?

  • Since the relationship began, there has been an increase in T-Mobile.com visitors also using BillShrink.com, shown by the blue bars. Unfortunately for T-Mobile, even with a 211% M-O-M increase in the volume of visitors visiting both sites in May, this still represents less than 2% of overall traffic, shown by the diamonds.
  • Breaking this down a little further, we found that 49% of the T-Mobile.com visitors also using BillShrink.com in May were T-Mobile Customers, which is likely not the target group T-Mobile is hoping will use BillShrink.com.

To further investigate the impact on T-Mobile, I also took a look at how many of the T-Mobile.com visitors also using BillShrink.com went on to purchase within the same month (either a phone and plan or an upgrade) on T-Mobile.com. The results were negligible, indicating sending T-Mobile shoppers to BillShrink.com has not yet had an impact on shoppers purchasing on T-Mobile.com.

So it seems as though this relationship is mainly benefiting only one side, but there is an important additional factor we should not ignore. I’ve been in three T-Mobile retail stores lately, and all of them have computers set up for shoppers to use BillShrink.com (though we should note we cannot track activity on BillShrink.com from T-Mobile stores). I imagine this is a very powerful tool for T-Mobile Sales reps, as it is hard for a shopper to argue that they need to continue to shop when BillShrink.com is showing them T-Mobile will save them the most money. I have a hunch that BillShrink.com is actually having a larger impact on offline sales than we’ve seen online so far.

This campaign only truly began in May, so in the coming months we will be watching to see if it starts to have a bigger impact on T-Mobile.com sales. Still, T-Mobile’s use of Billshrink.com in its campaign was creative, and in the long run will likely benefit the carrier as T-Mobile continues to promote it heavily and more shoppers continue to use BillShrink.com. T-Mobile has found a way to promote its value and its growing coverage area while using an independent company to validate its claims.

So, now that I know I could save $700 over the next two years by switching to T-Mobile, am I going to? To be honest, I replaced my 1st generation iPhone with the 3rd generation iPhone last Friday. For me, more went into my wireless phone and plan purchase decision than just the cost.

BillShrink.com may not have convinced me to switch, but I have no doubt that for many wireless shoppers finding the best value is the most important thing in their wireless phone and plan decision, and BillShrink.com will likely help them in that decision.

About BeckyBitzenhofer:
Becky Bitzenhofer is a Senior Associate at Compete. Becky spends her time at Compete managing a data team and delivering competitive analysis to wireless clients. Before Becky joined the Compete team she was a student at the University of Vermont. Becky hopes to continue to use and improve her analysis skills, and develop new and better ways use data to improve website performance. You can find and follow Becky on Twitter under the name Beckybitz.