Monday, May 31, 2010

Reg E Opt In Results Better Than Expected

As I travel across the country and talk to bankers about their early Reg E opt-in results, many are experiencing significantly higher than expected acceptance rates. In fact, some banks have indicated that they have achieved opt-in rates of as high as 85% or more from the highest impacted segments (those who have the highest use of overdraft coverage) and more than 95% from new customers who are opening a new account.

This level of acceptance should provide some comfort to financial institutions who have been concerned about a massive outflow of fee income as a result of Reg E beginning on August 15. Alternatively, this level of opt in sets the bar rather high for those organizations who have either not begun their Reg E communication or had thrown in the towel expecting customers to opt out on a massive basis.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Use of Online Banking and Bill Payment Continues to Grow

According to the 2010 Consumer Billing and Payment Trends survey published this week by Fiserv, the number of households that use online banking increased more than six-fold between 2000 and 2010, and the number that use online bill payment increased nearly eight-fold. In fact, 72.5 million U.S. households (80 percent of all households with Internet access) use online banking, while 36.4 million households (40 percent of all households with Internet access) use online bill payment.

Illustrating that online bill payers are not just the youngest and wealthiest demographic, in 2010, consumers age 21-34 made up 28 percent of online bill payers, consumers age 35-54 made up 48 percent, and consumers over age 55 made up a surprising 24 percent of all online bill payers, while more than a third of online bill payers had a yearly household income of less than $50,000.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Interchange Amendment Could Change Reward Programs

As if we haven't seen enough regulatory changes over the past 12 months with the Card Act and Reg E, now there is the possibility that Washington will limit interchange fees for debit transactions.

As noted in a recent Client Briefing from Celent Research, part of the proposed legislation requires the Fed to determine a “reasonable and proportional” interchange fee, which is no easy task given that interchange fees are there to balance the incentives in the payment system and tend to cover such difficult-to-quantify items as the payment guarantee and convenience.

In other words, the government can't look at just the operational and fraud prevention costs. In addition, current interchange fees differ by sector and are not standardized currently.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Banking on Social Sites Unlikely

According to a new research report by Forrester, Banking On Social Sites Is A Work In Progress, while social networking sites have a 30-day active population of more than 400 million users of which more than half visit on any given day, that love doesn't extend to banking through social networks. In fact, more than 70% of online households surveyed showed little or no interest in accessing their accounts through social sites like Facebook. Not surprisingly, the reasons for the lack of interest revolves around privacy and security concerns more than anything else.

So, while the majority of large financial institutions continue to look for more ways to leverage social networking's ability to engage customers, resolve problems and ultimately build loyalty, the reach of these sites beyond stronger interactive communication remains to be seen. At the very least, consumers will need the stronger security guarantees, authentication and more that is already afforded customer who use online and mobile banking.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Comparing Results to Industry Norms

I am frequently asked about what response rate a client should expect based on 'industry standards' or results from similar programs at other financial institutions. While the DMA does compile statistics and reports on direct marketing response rates with their Response Rate Trends Report, and there are other tools available from alternative sources such as MarketingSherpa, there are significant flaws to using general standards or even the results from another bank's program as a guide for setting expectations.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Be Careful of 'Mental Opt-Out' With Email Marketing

For those who read my Blog, you know that I feel strongly that the email channel is significantly underutilized by the banking industry. Not only do marketers not effectively leverage this channel in conjunction with other direct and mass marketing options, most banks do a terrible job at even collecting email addresses in the first place.

Unfortunately, for those who have begun to use email marketing in support of customer communication efforts, some have gone to the opposite extreme by viewing email as a 'free' marketing tool without giving adequate thought to the importance of relevancy. As many realize in their daily scanning of their email in box, overusing the email channel can have a detrimental effect of the value of this channel and negatively impacting the overall customer experience.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Banks Can Accelerate Revenue Growth by Managing Digital Experience

According to the March issue of the McKinsey Quarterly, digital channels can assist companies in unifying the customer experience and help move customers from interest to loyalty. In the article, "Four Ways to Get More Value From Digital Marketing", David C. Edelman discusses how companies can increase revenues through a better coordination of the digital end-to-end experience (see exhibit).

By focusing on the capture of a larger amount of Internet traffic through improved mass media key word positioning and SEO, increasing customer engagement through easy to navigate sites and targeted messaging, converting more of the digital leads to sales with strong offers and building digital loyalty through online and offline channels, revenues can be optimized.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Seven Predictions for the Future of Banking

Today, Susan Wolfe, Vice President of Financial Services from Mintel Comperemedia, presented a webinar entitled, "Seven Predictions for the Future of Banking" where she explored trends in the industry based on the research and direct marketing examples from their custom consumer surveys and mail panel. Each of these trends correlate with what I have seen in the marketplace even though many trends have been impacted by the massive influence Reg E has had on the focus of many bank marketing departments over the past few months.

The predictions presented in the Webinar were:

Monday, May 3, 2010

Innovation as a Growth Engine

Apple officially confirmed today that it has sold 1 million iPads. According to the press release, the company sold its one millionth iPad on Friday, April 30, just 28 days after the device’s release. More than 12 million apps from the App Store and 1.5 million e-books have been downloaded from the new iBookstore.

“One million iPads in 28 days—that’s less than half of the 74 days it took to achieve this milestone with iPhone,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “Demand continues to exceed supply and we’re working hard to get this magical product into the hands of even more customers.”

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Is Cash Really King?

The competition is again heating up in the checking account cash wars. In addition to banks that have traditionally offered cash incentives to open checking accounts such as JPMorgan Chase, Capital One, Fifth Third and PNC Bank, banks that in the past have offered premiums for the opening of new accounts like KeyBank are now also joining the money for checking acquisition game.

While incentives with some institutions are still $50-$75, many of the more aggressive institutions are offering rewards of $150-$200 to new customers that open accounts and meet some qualifying stipulations such as signing up for direct deposit, online billpay or a minimum number of signature debits. A recent program by Capital One offering $300 for a new account was the highest premium seen in years.