As I was publishing my earlier post on the Thanksgiving message on the Zions Bank homepage, I noticed a small Holiday Gift Planner banner in the lower left corner (see inset below). Expecting to find a pitch for Visa or MasterCard gift cards, I clicked on it and was surprised to find a very cool holiday microsite called at MyHolidayGiftPlanners.com (see screenshot 1 below and note 1).
The gift planner is a personal financial management tool for planning, budgeting, and tracking holiday gift expenditures. Users create a gift list for each person by entering a budget amount per person, an estimated cost for each planned gift, and then later the actual amount spent.
The tool does all the math, tracking progress against each recipients’ gift list and how the total holiday budget is faring (see screenshot 2). It even includes a space for capturing gift-buying notes (see below). This year’s list will be archived to provide a handy reference for next year. Hopefully, the bank will use email to draw users back next year.
Consumers could do the same thing on a spreadsheet or within most personal finance programs. However, Zions has built an elegant solution that is faster and more convenient. I’ve always done this for my kids on a piece of paper which I inevitably lose and/or leave out on the table where anyone can read it. I look forward to keeping this list bookmarked and password-protected on my computer this year.
Anyone can use the program, you needn’t be a Zions customers. It takes seconds to sign up inputting name, email address and password (see screenshot 3). The site gently cross sells credit cards to pay for itself. There’s a banner that runs across the top of the planning page (screenshot 2) and a link to special cardholder discounts on the main page (screenshot 4).
Zions should turn the planner into an iPhone/Android app to help users track gift purchases on the go and avoid the need to print the list prior to the trip to the mall.
Bottom line: The Zions gift planner is a great example of how to creatively use branded financial management tools to both help customers and create synergy with banking products. We’re giving Zions our sixth OBR Best of the Web 2008 award for creating a simple solution to help customers avoid holiday overspending, a pesky personal finance issue that is top-of-mind this year.
1. Homepage of Zions Bank’s gift planner (28 Nov 2008)
2. A credit card cross sell runs across the top of my personalized gift planner
3. Email address is captured for future marketing purposes
4. Credit card discounts are displayed along with an credit card application
1. Evidently the planner was available in early December last year. The first blog mention was 7 Dec 2007.