GoBank Makes Great First Impression With Fantastic Onboarding Email

GoBank knows how to start a relationship off on the right foot. Their welcome email sent to all new customers is a case study in effective direct marketing, offering both banks and credit unions a number of strategic lessons.

Will Rogers once said, “You never get a second chance to make a good first impression.” This is especially true in banking, where a person usually does extensive research prior to switching their checking account. Unfortunately, once a customer opens a new account, few banks do a very good job of saying “thank you” or helping customers familiarize themselves with their new account.

Done well, onboarding communication should do the following:

  • Thank the customer for opening their account(s) as soon as possible
  • Tell the customer if there is anything else they should do to complete the opening process
  • Encourage the customer to take the next step towards using their account
  • Provide access to customer service areas if the customer has questions

There are significant strategic benefits for those who can engineer a well-designed onboarding process: decreased attrition, enhanced engagement, reduced need for customer service, improved cross-sell and a greater share of wallet. Ideally, onboarding should also improve the overall customer experience while reinforcing the financial institution’s brand.

Financial services upstart GoBank has created one of the best single-touch onboarding processes in the industry. GoBank has positioned itself as an alternative to traditional banks, with a focus on clarity and speed. Their onboarding email echoes the informal tone synonymous with their brand. With a skillful use of color and visuals, GoBank makes it very clear what a new customer should do next after they have opened their account.

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Leveraging the power of email and direct links to other areas of interest (customer service, direct deposit, the mobile app and required paperwork), GoBank delivers all that a new customer needs without the unnecessary overhead that some banks try to cram in their initial communications — “Now buy this, now buy that, get a home loan.”

GoBank realizes that their customer base is comprised of people on the go and who have opened the account online. Therefore, their initial communication is done through email, which may be accessed on a computer, smartphone or tablet.

Their onboarding process doesn’t stop with just the welcome email however. As part of the initial opening process, GoBank provides the opportunity to personalize the debit card associated with the account (for a cost of $9). This personalization helps to position the card at the forefront of the customer’s wallet, which is the purpose of onboarding. Interestingly, GoBank indicates that a large percentage of new customers are opting to personalize their card, which (of course) also increases their fee income.

Finally, to encourage even further engagement, GoBank also sent out a referral email that gave me the opportunity to let friends move to the front of the line to open a new GoBank account. Instead of paying customers to pimp out their friends and family, GoBank asks them to send money (at least $1) to someone to begin the referral process. When a that person picks up the money their friend sent, they get an “invite” from GoBank either through email or SMS. Similar to those mobile RDC promotions where banks give customers checks to deposit, this referral process encourages P2P transfers, a cornerstone of the GoBank product mix.

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Ways to Improve a Very Good Onboarding Process

Overall, the GoBank onboarding process earns a score of 8 out of 10. The message is clear, and its value to the new customer is high. It also is tightly integrated with their strategic initiatives, particularly their referral program.

Here are a few suggestions that could bump GoBank’s welcome email to perfect score:

  1. Make sure there are additional communications for those who did not respond to the first communication or a ‘next step’ communication to those who did what you requested (this may still occur at GoBank since I am a new customer)
  2. Use more channels than just email for communication. While email is a perfect first touch, some people still prefer direct mail, mobile SMS, a phone call, etc.
  3. Integrate a how to video. The integration of video into the referral email was great. Now, how about an instructional video(s) that shows exactly how to use my GoBank account? Oh yeah, these videos should be personalized.

The only real irritation is that it took too long to see an onboarding piece this great. Still, there are thousands of traditional banks and credit union that do nothing to thank their new customers.

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