Better Together (Part 1 of 3)





428 Reasons Digitally Engaged Customers Matter

Hint: Each reason is a percent

If an average 428 percent increase in fee income is small potatoes to your bank, you can skip this article and my breakout session at next month’s ABA Marketing and Retail Conference. I won’t be offended. After all, the other breakout sessions look good. I’d attend them myself, but—I’m sure you understand—I’m kind of obligated to attend mine.

Back to that average 428 percent. That figure comes from Fiserv’s proprietary research. It represents the average of how much more fee income digital banks generate than non-digital banks.

The numbers behind the average are more surprising and quite telling. At the low end are customers aged 61-70, where the average increase comes in at a not-paltry 242 percent. At the other extreme is the 0-18 age group, which comes in at 1,137 percent.

In real dollars, the 61-70-year-olds account for almost twice the fee income as the 0-18-year-olds. No surprise there. Older folks have more money to throw around. That is, they have more money right now. I seem to recall that an issue weighing heavily on bankers is that our not-too-distant future depends on winning over the young’uns. If the young’uns want digital banking and don’t mind paying for it—and the numbers suggest they don’t mind at all—it takes little vision to realize that a winning bank will not just offer but champion digital services.

This article is the first of three before the conference. In the next article I’ll share some best practices, and in the final one I’ll share a few important points to remember. For the whole story, I hope you’ll join me for my session, “Better Together: Marketing Mobile and Tablet Banking with the Help of IT.” It’s on Sunday, September 7, at 3:45.

I hope to see you in Orlando.



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A lesson from a bit of yellow journalism

YellerJournalismCanYou may know that Rupert Murdoch acquired the New York Post in 1976. You may also know that Murdoch is less known for responsible journalism than for pandering to mass audiences to serve up to advertisers at top dollar.

So I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised last week to see this New York Post headline: “Bank outlets shutter as mobile services grow.” Nor to see writer John Aidan Byrne’s equally despairing lede: “Bank branches are falling like tree limbs in a storm …”

The cause of all the mayhem? None other than “America’s profit-hungry banks… ” who are “… dismantling more of their brick-and-mortar outposts with lower-cost, increasingly popular tech and mobile services …”

Curse you, you profit-hungry bankers!

Funny. I visited New York not long ago. I don’t recall stepping over a single fallen tree limb, much less a fallen bank branch. Maybe I need to pay more attention to where I’m walking.

Instead of a banks-falling-like-trees metaphor, Byrne could have used an evolution-of-stronger-banks metaphor. He could have shown how mobile banking creates jobs, drives down costs, reduces fraud, and brings opportunities to more of the world than ever before. He could have explained that profits are vital for building a strong economy.

But then, that’s not his job. It’s ours.

Byrne did his job. He spun a story in sync with the Post’s tabloid nature. Meanwhile, we, the mobile banking industry, have for too long focused on promoting the awesomeness of the mobile banking world, and the even more awesome world to come, to the banking industry. It is equally important that we promote it to the masses. Else, they are left to the voices of naysayers and sensationalists.

Mark Twain said it well: “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” Pro-active PR is easier than remedial PR. It’s not too late to tell our side, the real side, the positive side, of the emerging mobile banking world. But we need start now, before we find ourselves having to play catch-up.

On a positive note, click here to check out Phillip Ryan’s responsible reporting on the same information on But, to my point, this is an intra-industry piece. We need to address more than just one another. If consumers knew what we knew, they’d be thrilled at what is to come. Let’s no longer talk just to ourselves. Let’s get busy placing truthful, positive stories about mobile banking in the popular consumer press.

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This Digital Bank Marketing Lesson Comes from an Unlikely Source


Levenger publishes the good with the bad, along with their replies.

Some marketers avoid acknowledging even the slightest negative word. That’s not just naïve but risky. When a negative tweet can reach millions, the only question is whether you want to try turning complaints to your benefit or leave them to them run rampant on their own.

That is why last week I dared digital banking marketers to show their laundry. For a look at how that can be a winning strategy, I commend you to respected catalog marketer Levenger. They publish every customer review, good or bad, of every product, and bazaarvoice guarantees it. Even more courageous, review sort options include “rating–low to high.”

These are not acts of self-sabotage. For one thing, posting the negative increases the credibility of the positive. For another, Levenger uses bad reviews to showcase good policy. Take, for instance, the response they posted to a criticism of their iPad Mini folio: “…We apologize this case did not meet your expectations … Customer satisfaction is our first priority and we offer a 100% guarantee on all of our products. Please contact our customer service center at 1(800) 544-0880 to discuss how we can make this right.” Or take their reply to an unhappy leather billfold owner, which, besides offering a replacement, says, “… We have forwarded your concerns to our Product and Development team for review … [and they] have made improvements to the design of the wallet that will eliminate previously encountered problems.”

With a few lines, Levenger shows that they willingly replace or refund, that feedback does not fall on deaf ears, and that the design team actually uses feedback to improve products. You may be dissuaded from buying the folio or billfold, but your confidence in the risk-free nature of doing business with Levenger will only rise.

Occasionally there is the odd complaint from the customer who thrives on being displeased. (We all have them.) Levenger doesn’t take the bait, and counts on reasonable customers to understand.

Do not turn up your nose because the catalog business isn’t the banking business. Catalogers were the original interactive marketers. (Benjamin Franklin had a mail-order catalog.) We ignore 200-plus years of the art of customer interaction and satisfaction at our peril.

So, bankers, back to you. Do you have the courage to publish pans as well as praise, put on display your approach to handling complaints, and use valid feedback to improve products and practices?

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What’s in YOUR credit score?

Capital One deserves five stars for launching, free of charge, the kind of digital tool you’d expect from a brand committed to serving cardholders’ best interests.

CapOne Credit Tracker Graphic

A new Credit Tracker tab on Cap One’s mobile app shows cardholders: their credit score; factors making up the score; calculators showing how increasing, paying down, or paying off balances can affect the score; and alerts.

Besides providing information for its own sake, the tool shows promise for helping people better manage their credit. Capital One reports that, during testing, customers with access to the tool improved their credit status.

Surveys and voting-with-wallets show that today’s consumers value transparency. The Credit Tracker provides that, along with useful tips. Capital One should create a commercial with Samuel L. Jackson promoting Credit Tracker, and they should air it

every damn day. I mean, every single day.

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Functional is so last-decade


Things have flipped. Not long ago the likes of Starbucks and McDonald’s enjoyed a competitive advantage by providing free onsite Wi-Fi. Today, that’s pretty much de rigueur. Providing onsite Wi-Fi is not so much a competitive advantage as not providing it is a competitive disadvantage.

Likewise, offering mobile banking, once the sign of a forward-thinking financial institution, no longer impresses. To do that, mobile banking must do more than function. It must connect.

We have made strides since the original hardware-delivered bank experience known as the ATM. Though you could name them, paint them, network them, and install more of them in more places than the competition, still, an ATM was pretty much an ATM. Today’s digital banking, however, needn’t be so clone-like. As yet, not too many banks seem to realize that. Unlike old ATM technology, today’s digital technology and devices allow for positive interactions, even personal ones, with a strong brand.

Here’s a quick look at how a few forward-thinking financial institutions are breaking out of the “Functional Only” box.

Tip: People will spend time on your site—when it’s fun. Walk into any public place and watch the number of people interacting with portable devices instead of with each other. While you’re at it, note that no one is making them do it. People willingly engage with the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Minecraft, Flipboard, and more because, well, these virtual places have personality, and they’re fun. Some financial institutions have given their websites social and entertainment appeal, and found that clients return more often and linger longer. Need I point out that returning more often and lingering longer build loyalty and present a marketing opportunity?

Get ’em young. Ordinary financial institutions stew about attracting rising generations once they come into money of their own. Smart financial institutions start earlier, when those generations are still kids. They load their sites with educational pages, games, social tools, and more. By the time young people with no money morph into young adults with careers and money of their own, they have been already won over.

Personalize the impersonal. At first it seemed that the use of technology in banking would eliminate the personal touch; instead, it turns out that technology can convey it. A good interactive system connects clients with bank people via live chat, tweets, social media, and even, when desperate times call for it, telephone. A screen is no longer a barrier. It is a conduit.

Check register? What’s a check register? Even the staunchest paper defender must concede that checks are obsolescent. If the majority of people do not want to write checks, it follows that the majority do not want to write their transactions in a check register, either. But that doesn’t mean they want to give up oversight and control of their money. Hence the rise, indeed, the inevitability of online Personal Financial Management (PFM) tools.

I dare to you to show your laundry. It’s becoming increasingly fashionable for companies, financial institutions included, to post client reviews on their websites. But if readers suspect that you parade the praise while conveniently hiding the pans, you lose all credibility. At that point, posting reviews is no more effective than not posting reviews. That is why some brave banks post negative comments right along with positive ones. With the negative ones, they also post the bank’s response as to how it plans to make things right. This validates the rave reviews, which creates trust, and shows clients how you deal with problems, which, if you handle them properly, also creates trust. Don’t worry about the occasional irrational client who can’t be pleased. Your customers are on to them more than you think.

There are two problems with ideas like the above. First, they cost money. But then, it costs more not to make the investment, thereby losing clients to a competitor who does. Second, they require vision, which, let’s be honest, is often what “can’t afford it” really means. If someone anonymously printed this article and left it on your desk, you know who you are.

For details and examples of the above plus other ideas, I commend you to the The Financial Brand post, “12 Technology Trends Shaping Financial Marketing.”

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