4 Big Direct Marketing Trends in Banking

Look at the data and what the big banks are up to, and you'll see direct mail is still alive and well in the financial industry (along with a few other surprises).

1. Financial Institutions Ramp Up Acquisition Efforts

Repeating a yearly cycle, first-quarter checking acquisition volume increased over fourth quarter volume, but at a more amplified pace. The first quarter of 2014 produced an increase in both checking and savings offers, driving the overall increase in banking acquisition mail. The first-quarter increase in checking mail continued the cyclical trend observed for the past five years.


The total volume of direct marketing focused on customer acquisition increased in the banking sector 18% from Q4 2013 to Q1 2014. This is driven in large part by a 32% increase in checking offers mailed, and an 18% increase in savings offers mailed.

Chase and Capital One 360 continue to lead the industry in mail volume, but Discover and American Express both had significant increases in volume during the first three months of the year. Discover increased volumes for both its checking and savings products, while the efforts from American Express were specific to their savings account.

2. Banks Use Email to Promote Savings Accounts… (Gasp!) More Than Checking Accounts

Savings offers overtook checking offers in Q1 2014 and accounted for just over half of banking acquisition email. The decrease in holiday checking promotions and increase in savings offers from Chase and Capital One 360 caused the shift. Savings direct mail volume also continued to climb in Q1 2014.


3. Big Banks Are Aggressively Pursuing Checking Relationships

First quarter spend surpassed $100 million, increasing 15% from Q4, led by an increase in spend for checking account offers. Chase doubled its spend on checking offers, while a large increase was also observed from Discover.


Chase is one of the big banks favoring checking offers in Q1 2014, surpassing 40 million offers, the bank’s highest checking volume since Q1 2012. While Capital One 360 volume was steady, Discover nearly tripled the number of offers it sent. Citi and Discover are both banks that cross-sell deposit checking products to credit and mortgage customers.

Chase led the direct mail channel in checking offers with incentives. Over half of its offers featured an envelope value of $400: $200 each for a new checking and savings account. Capital One 360 accounted for nearly a third of checking email offers with an incentive in Q1 2014. Nearly all offers featured a $50 cash incentive for a new account. Checking incentive values remained high. Top banks’ preferred values ranged from $50 to $200, with envelope values reaching $600 when multiple accounts were opened.

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4. Big Banks Sending Fewer Customer Communication Emails

During the first quarter, the volume of customer communications via email followed a steady downward trend. These communications encompass general information, loyalty/renewal messages, upgrades and follow-ups sent by email.


Mobile capabilities continued to be a major selling point in new banking direct mail and email offers. Mobile features often included mentions of mobile check deposit and 24-hour account access.

BofA’s BankAmerideals customers were the recipients of nearly a quarter of banking customer communication email in Q1 2014. Wells Fargo and Citibank encouraged customers to use updated mobile apps, while Capital One 360 reminded customers of security features following the Target breach.

About the Data

This data comes from a report by Mintel Comperemedia analyzing direct marketing activity from Q1 2013 to Q1 2014 in the banking industry. It includes direct mail, email, print, online and mobile campaigns. Researchers gather direct mail pieces from over 55,000 consumers, emails from more than 1,000 online adults, display ads from over 4,000 websites, plus many other sources.

Mintel Comperemedia is a leading provider of direct marketing competitive intelligence in the US and Canada. Monitoring direct mail, email, print, online and mobile advertising, Comperemedia provides insights and intelligence concerning acquisition and loyalty strategies for financial institutions.

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