A leading retail bank said something to me that I won’t ever forget: “More people visit our mobile app in one minute than visit all our branches combined in one week.”
Such comments make it clear how rapidly the financial services industry is transforming. For the most part, interactions in the banking space no longer need to take place in branches. Instead, a combination of digital tools like mobile apps, email, and voice assistants are increasingly becoming the go-to channels for people’s day-to-day financial needs.
As banks and credit unions race to transform their retail delivery strategy to account for these changes, they face two major challenges.
- Alternate providers are disrupting the financial marketplace. These companies are building their growth strategy around mobile transactions. Venmo and Revolut are two examples.
- Consumers — particularly younger ones — are more likely than older consumers were at this point in their lives to switch primary financial institutions.
This means it is absolutely crucial for financial services institutions to deliver compelling user experiences across their digital channels. They must be proactive in supporting consumers with digitally native solutions that deepen the relationship and strengthen loyalty. Here are five ways financial institutions can accomplish that.
1. Earn The Right To Talk To People
How many times have you downloaded an app, opened it for the first time, and seen the default opt-in prompt — unwanted, clinical, and gray — asking for permission to send notifications or read your location?
Most consumers dismiss these prompts and carry on with their lives. Once consumers opt out of notifications, it’s very difficult for financial marketers to convince them to reconsider their decision.
For banking providers, this scenario is troublesome. Push notifications can be an extremely useful communication tool, especially when used to notify consumers of a low bank balance or potential fraud. That’s why banks and credit unions must work hard to earn the right to communicate with their core audience.
Avoid asking someone on a date before you’ve even had a conversation with them.
To do so, refrain from serving up an opt-in prompt during users’ initial interaction. That’s a bit like asking someone on a date before you’ve even had a conversation with them.
Instead, incorporate such invitations and opt-in notifications into the onboarding flow. Be sure to explain the value of opting in. A notification that says “Allow us to alert you of suspicious account activity?” is much more productive than the standard “Would you like to opt in for messaging and notifications?”
When financial institutions earn the right to message consumers, they enjoy higher opt-in rates and improved communications for the duration of the relationship.
2. Incorporate Lifecycle Messaging Into Your Stream
When a new user becomes an active user, they are more likely to receive messaging campaigns for upsell opportunities — e.g. credit cards, car loans, mortgages, more personal financial advice, and rewards programs. If a consumer slips into inactivity, incorporating careful lifecycle messaging can reignite usage.
New users should receive messages that help them understand important features, such as how to make a payment or transfer.
Today’s consumer expects personalization and relevancy. For each individual consumer, you should provide that experience to them with a messaging strategy that offers the right communication at the right time.
For example, new users should receive messages that help them understand important features of your app, such as how to make a payment or transfer, then demonstrate how they can manage the entire experience. After teaching them the basics, financial marketers can send users messages touting more specific and advanced features — like credit card management — as they progress through their journey.
3. Give Consumers Continuing Discovery of Features, Not Just One Shot
Feature discovery for consumers should be an ongoing process. It is naive to think that once someone has been onboarded and has turned into an active user that they don’t need any further help with discovery.
Reality Check: Most consumers won’t spend any time tinkering with the menus in a banking app to discover what they can do in the app.
Banking and providers think about their app more than consumers do. Instead, it’s up to each bank and credit union to ensure that messages convey how and what it would like consumers to do next.
Initial onboarding might seem like the perfect opportunity to introduce an app’s fundamental features, like checking balances or setting up standing orders. However, consumers are often generally impatient to get to the core app experience. That’s why so many electronic devices come with quick-start guides.
As an alternative, consider introducing them to a rolling set of features later in the user life cycle. You can use in-app campaigns or tip overlays that point out useful features. For more advanced features, such as withdrawing cash without a card it’s best to point them out with contextual clues, such as overlaid in-app messages walking a user through every step of the way.
4. Deliver a Unified Omnichannel Experience
A study by Voicebot, a chatbot and voice AI platform, estimates that there were more than 50 million smart speaker users in the U.S. by the end of 2018. Being able to ask “Alexa, what is my bank balance today?” and receive a sensible answer is something that consumers will increasingly want from their banking experience.
Whether they interact with financial institutions via smart speakers, mobile apps or desktop websites, people typically don’t see those services as “separate channels.” They see a unified brand that they can interact with through a rich variety of channels.
Marketing messaging should reflect this vision. For example, splash screens should be unified across all channels, from banner ads to in-app messages, creating a consistent journey for consumers.
Creating a seamless experience also requires that organizations share and synchronize data across these channels, as well as all behind-the-scenes supporting platforms.
For instance, if a consumer receives an in-app message about applying for a mortgage and clicks on it, that click should trigger an email with more information to the consumer’s account. It’s this kind of precise and powerful interaction that will really help you drive engagement.
5. Follow Up Digital Ad Campaigns With Onboarding Campaigns
Marketers spend millions on highly targeted Facebook ads to get users to download their app and open accounts. But they don’t follow through — at least not logically. Having attracted the consumer, they then only serve up generic onboarding experiences that are disconnected to the ad content and thus the user’s intent on clicking on the ad in the first place.
Consider the example of a bank that created an ad campaign aimed at students, explaining the benefits of opening a student account. When students clicked on the ad and downloaded the app, they were met with a standard banking app experience, instead of the experience relevant to them. 98% of students abandoned the app after just one open.
Students who clicked on the ad and were served with onboarding designed specifically for student accounts were much more likely to set up an account and turn into a viable customer.
A personalized onboarding campaign, unique to the Facebook ad that the student clicked and delivered in real time, is exponentially more powerful than generic messaging.