Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Bank Marketing Strategy Named A Top Financial Marketing Blog

For the second consecutive year, Bank Marketing Strategy was named a top 5 financial marketing blog by The Financial Brand

With the intent of providing a list of valuable resources for bank and credit union marketers to reference, this year's honor was bestowed on blogs that met a defined set of weighted criteria including relevancy, quality, originality, frequency, longevity and design.

The top five blogs recognized this year were:
          1. Snarketing 2.0 - Ron Shevlin, Senior Analyst from Aite Group
          2. Acton Financial Marketing Insights - Steve Topper, Joe Swatek
          3. Bank Marketing Strategy - Jim Marous, SVP of New Control Direct and Digital
          4. Visible Banking - Christoph Langlois, Social Media Planner and Speaker
          5. The Gallop Blog - Various authors
A description of each of the top 20 blogs, as well as a list of blogs receiving honorable mention are provided in The Financial Brand Top 20 announcement post.

In ranking Bank Marketing Strategy number three in 2013, Jeffry Pilcher, the publisher of the Financial Brand wrote:

"Of all the banking blogs out there, Jim’s is most similar to The Financial Brand. Jim regularly discusses the design of retail banking products/services, pricing, marketing and the customer experience. Jim’s posts will also frequently gravitate towards new/emerging technologies and channel integration, with a slant towards mobile. Some financial marketers will struggle putting the insights in some of these posts to use, but they will always find the material interesting and engaging."

This is the second year in a row Bank Marketing Strategy has been recognized as a top blog for bank and credit union marketers. Last year, Bank Marketing Strategy won both the Reader's Choice (#4) and Editor's Choice distinction from The Financial Brand (last year's winners).

It is an honor to be named in a list that includes so many blogs that I enjoy reading, learn so much from and provide such great insights. I consider the authors and publishers of these great resources both my professional and personal friends.

Thanks also to Jeffry Pilcher for setting such a high standard for each of us with his Financial Brand publication. His insatiable appetite for financial marketing news and ability to publish such a massive amount of invaluable insight daily makes his digital publication the 'go to' resource first thing each morning.

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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Banks Sit On Sideline As Tablet Growth Continues

According to PEW Research Center, tablet adoption has almost doubled over the past year and for the first time, a third (34%) of American adults currently own a tablet computing device, including almost half (49%) of those in their late thirties and early forties and a majority (56%) of those in higher income households.

With this platform becoming increasingly important to customers, banks and credit unions can no longer sit on the sidelines and watch as the digital landscape develops around them. Unfortunately, with limited resources, new research indicates that development of native tablet apps has occurred at a snails pace due to limited resources and a focus on developing new smartphone applications.

In a just released report from Celent entitled, Tablet Banking: An Evaluation of Tablet Apps at the Top 13 Banks, it was found that only seven of the top thirteen US Banks have a live iOS tablet app, and only two of the top banks have a native Android app. In many cases, banks are using their online banking platform as the foundation for tablet users or are making adjustments to their web portals for tablet use.

“Consumers are rapidly growing more accustomed to interacting with their financial institution through devices other than PCs,” says Jacob Jegher, Research Director with Celent’s Banking Group and co-author of the report. “Celent believes that tablet banking represents a tremendous opportunity. However, banks aren’t exactly scrambling to release tablet specific apps.”
Unfortunately, the lack of commitment to the tablet user is not a new phenomenon. In May of 2011, I covered this problem in a post entitled, Banks Slow to Embrace Potential of Tablet Computing

Tablets Require Special Attention

As part of the Celent study, it was found that many banks remain unclear as to how the channel should be classified. Is the tablet platform an offshoot of online banking? Is the platform better supported by the mobile banking team? In reality, tablets are a unique platform that deserve individualized attention. According to Stephen Greer, Analyst for Celent and co-author of the report, "Tablets take the best of the PC and the best of mobile and combine them into a device that offers functionality, portability and a rich user experience."

Use cases also need to be taken into consideration when working with multiple platforms according to Greer. "Online banking is functional, complex, and a daytime/work activity, while mobile is quick, contextual and on-the-go. Tablets, in contrast, are often leisure devices, catering to casual couch browsing and intermittent time killing." In addition, since many people multi-task with a tablet device (watching TV, etc.), the visual and tactile functionality of the tablet must be leverage to optimize the user experience.

Because of the interactive dynamics of this platform and the large number of device manufacturers and dimensions need to be supported, a larger investment in development and testing is required. In addition, to date, many organizations have had difficulty measuring the incremental financial impact of this investment. This may be the reason supporting this platform has been so slow.

Evolution of Tablet Banking

While the primary emphasis of the Celent report was a very thorough review of each of the top 13 US banks' tablet application(s) with detailed visual support and commentary on each bank's execution, there was also a review of key trends in the tablet banking marketplace. These trends were reinforced by other research done by Mapa Research in March and Fiserv in a report last month.
          • Interactive dashboards that leverage the tactile benefits of the tablet
          • PFM tools that add value through unique visualizations of financial insights
          • Social media integration beyond customer support and promotion
          • Unification of devices to provide common looks for basic functions
          • Easily accessible insight such as balances, ATM/branch locations, etc.
          • Focus on simplicity using photo capability for account opening, mobile deposit and bill pay
          • Speech recognition to minimize keystrokes and improve user experience
          • Enhanced security potentially leveraging biometrics

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Ten Tips To Doing Finovate Like A Pro

I just returned from my second Finovate event in New York City and I realized that, despite being warned, I was totally unprepared for what was going to transpire when I went to my first event last Spring in San Francisco. As a result, I didn't experience the full benefit of the event.

For Finovate Fall, however, I was much more prepared for the onslaught of great ideas, interactions and multi-sensory experiences that are legend at Finovate.

While the next U.S. event is more than 6 months away (there are upcoming events in Asia and London), I thought I would share my survival tips for anyone lucky enough to attend Finovate.

  1. Arrive Early: Unlike other conferences where the attendees are divided into several rooms for breakout sessions, the entirety of Finovate takes place in one big hall. Even if the crowd is divided into different viewing venues (which occurred at FinovateFall), it pays to be early, since the best viewing locations (and close accessibility to outlets) go fast. While Finovate goes out of its way to ensure the free Wifi and electricity access is widely available, it's impossible to support 600, 1,100 or 1,400 people equally.
  2. Get Connected: If you have an iOS or Android device, download the free Finovate app to better understand the event, learn about the companies doing demos, rate the presentations and to capture your notes during the program. I have yet to see a mobile event app that is so well developed. Also, sign-up for FinovateConnect so that you can set up meetings or simply communicate with other attendees.
  3. Develop a Game Plan: To optimize your experience, download the program guide and keep abreast of updates and demo descriptions on the site beginning weeks before the event. Determine which innovations appeal to you and decide who you want to meet with before arriving. As with anything in life, if you have a plan, everything goes smoother.
  4. Come Well Rested: The demos always start on time and they come at you at a pace that's hard to get used to. With dual podiums, a new demo comes at you non-stop every seven minutes until a break (usually after 7-8 presentations). With global presentations, some accents may be difficult to understand and some presenters try to give a 30 minute demo in 7 minutes . . . so it helps to stay alert.
  5. Network: While Finovate is known as an innovation demo event, it may even be a better financial service innovation networking event. Not only do you have several 30-45 minute breaks between demo sets to mingle with other bankers, providers and media, there is a ramped up version of networking done after the show each day. My suggestion is to arrive the night before the event begins and stay the evening after the event because some of the best interaction occurs during the evening.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

From Free to Fee: Monetizing Mobile Deposits

Is your mobile banking channel a cost center or a profit center?

If your answer references that your mobile channel is 'saving you money' by diverting transactions from more costly channels, then I need to ask you how much you have reduced your CSR team, your teller staff and/or closed your branches as a result of mobile banking use?

You can generate revenue from your mobile channel, however, by building new pricing models that include fees for value-added services. As part of a new monthly series, 'From Free to Fee', I will be discussing revenue opportunities from several emerging financial services beginning with today's post on mobile deposits.

I am not the first to propose that banks and credit unions take a harder look at mobile banking from a revenue perspective. In fact, in May, 2011, Jim Bruene, publisher of the Online Banking Report and the NetBanker blog and founder of Finovate, proposed that new pricing models could propel online and mobile services to the next level in his Online Banking Report entitled, 'Creating Fee-Based Online Services'. He stated, "Unlike the $35 debit card overdraft fee, there are rational and understandable reasons for charging fees for value-added online and mobile services."

In his report, not only did Jim provide an historical perspective as to why and how banks and credit unions continually end up giving away their services, he provided 33 different services that could generate a fee and offered a perspective on the acceptance level by eight different customer segments.

In my post, I am going to try to tackle the opportunity for charging a fee for mobile deposits . . . even if your institution currently does not charge for the service. I will be referencing several research reports to provide rationale, especially a recently released pricing optimization study produced by Market Rates Insight entitled, Growth and Revenue Potential of Emerging Financial Services. This 168-page study covers 13 different emerging financial services, with insights into fee optimization, targeting, institutional differences and bundling options (I reviewed this study in a recent blog post).

I will also provide implementation and marketing recommendations based on my travels across the country and my work at New Control Direct and Digital

Note: A audio podcast of a 'Breaking Banks' interview by Brett King of Jim Marous and Dr. Dan Geller from Market Rates Insight around how and why banks should generate revenues from value added services is available for download here.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Six Years of Financial Services Innovation

Anticipation is building as FinovateFall 2013 is returning to Manhattan on September 10 and 11 for the seventh consecutive year. With more than 70 cutting edge firms doing 7 minute demos in front of a sellout crowd of more than 1,000 bankers, investors, analysts and the press, it is the premier showcase and networking event for what is new in the world of fintech.

While the overarching innovation theme remains the same, it is interesting to see the ebbs and flows of presenting categories and companies through the years. It is more interesting to realize how fast things have changed in the financial services industry.

Finovate 2007: When Mobile Was Young

The brainchild of the Online Banking Report and NetBanker blog publisher, Jim Bruene, the very first Finovate conference was held in New York City on October 2 of 2007, when 20 of the most innovative companies in the financial, banking and lending space gathered in front of a handful more than 200 banking executives, analysts, investors and the press to offer a glimpse of the future using the now familiar 7 minute demo format (no PowerPoint slides allowed!). The one-day event was quickly sold out, with overflow space provided for late registrants to view presentations via a video feed (see all 20 videos from the first Finovate conference here).

While only six years ago, a lot has changed in the financial marketplace. In 2007, mobile banking was in its infancy, with just a few hundred thousand users across three different platforms ('mobile website' was the most popular). Interestingly, the discussion at the time was whether mobile banking would be a standalone profit center or just another cost center for banks (still up for debate by many). And despite a lot of hype at the time, only one bank (Citibank) and one vendor (mFoundry) had launched a fully downloadable, custom mobile banking app.

The themes for the 2007 show and number of companies presenting were PFM (5), mobile banking (5), payments/billing(4), P2P Lending (2), online tools (2), mortgage lending (1) and security (1).

The presenter list included (in alphabetical order); Andera, Billeo, CheckFree (acquired by Fiserv), Clairmail, Firethorn (now Qualcomm Retail Solutions), Geezeo, Digital Insight (an Intuit company), Identity Theft 911, iPay Technologies, Jwaala, Lending Club, Metavante (acquired by FIS), mFoundry, Mint, Monitise, MortgageBot (now part of Davis + Henderson), MShift, Online Resources (acquired by ACI Worldwide), Prosper Marketplace and Yodlee.

The Best of Show winners of the first Finovate were a two-week old online personal finance start-up named Mint, a mortgage marketplace from MortgageBot named Marvel and the peer-to-peer lender Prosper. The biggest winner, however, may have been the financial community, since the success of Finovate 2007 was the foundation for a growing series of global Finovate events that now include an expanded 2-day FinovateFall event in Manhattan, a second two-day U.S. event, FinovateSpring in California, a one-day FinovateAsia (30+ firms) and the two-day FinovateEurope (60+ firms).

With technology always at the forefront, Finovate 2007 was the first financial services conference to proactively court the blogging community, with bloggers from four countries covering the 2007 event (live blogging and a ton of tweeting continues during all events). In addition, all of the presentations are streamed for later viewing for attendees and non-attendees on the Finovate web site.