What Do We Call PFM as it Becomes Part of Digital Banking?

mx_pfm_dead

The term PFM has gotten a bad rap. Clearly, Personal Financial Management is not a consumer-friendly term. You can’t use an acronym unless it’s ingrained in society (IRS, FBI, etc.). And stringing together three 3-syllable words to spell it out is too cumbersome (and doesn’t fit on a smartphone menu anyway).

So what do we call this thing formerly known as PFM? Today, I saw “money manager” used at America First Credit Union (an MX client). That’s a 56% reduction in syllables, but I fear it, and its longer sibling, digital money management, are still too generic to be meaningful for consumers. When you think about it, every single time you log in to your bank you are doing some type of “money management,” so that term doesn’t really call to mind the advanced feature set we in the industry have called PFM.

The best approach may be to simply not give it a name. PFM is really just additional features integrated into online or mobile banking. As those features become fully integrated, and relatively common, they become harder to single out with a unique term.

So here’s where I net out. Just between you and me, let’s keep calling it PFM within the industry (on our blog alone we’ve mentioned it in almost 500 posts). But when talking to consumers, let’s not create another confusing term. Especially since personal financial or money management is already an assumed benefit of digital banking.

Then, when looking to create more interest, use the classic marketing terms attached to “online” or “mobile” banking, for example:

  • Advanced online banking
  • Enhanced mobile banking
  • Do more with online banking
  • New-and-improved mobile banking
  • Features added to online banking
  • v2.0 mobile banking
  • Manage your money better with mobile banking

amex_cardsThat still leaves the problem of what to call it on a menu, or in a tab, if you offer a stand-alone service. Outside of banking, I think the most common term today is Advanced as in Google’s Advanced Search. Or, if you are potentially going to charge a fee, Pro is commonly used. If that seems too specific, it could be Premium or Select. Even the old credit card standbys, Gold, Platinum or Black, could be used.

Bottom line: FIs should use descriptions that fit with their other branding. Here, we are going to stick with PFM, with the understanding that the term should not be used on your website.

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Opening graphic is from MX on the cover of its white paper on Digital Money Management.

Riding the Uber Wave: Capital One Rebates 20% for 1 Year

uber_capitalone_phoneLast week, Capital One launched a national marketing promotion with Uber that provides a 20% rebate on rides for one year. And unlike many (most?) card offers, it’s good for both new and existing Capital One customers. However, the ride-rebate applies only to the bank’s Quicksilver cash-back card, so I’m out of luck with my Capital One Venture card.

But they did throw us non-Quicksilver customers a bone yesterday, with an email (see below) offering two free Uber rides (up to $30 each). For me, that’s probably about the same as the 20% rebate, so I was ready to fire up the app and swap out my Bank of America card. But wait, there’s that pesky fine print again. It turns out the free rides are only for new Uber customers. Out of luck again.

capone_uber_landder

Analysis
Overall, this is a great promotion. The bank gets both new cardholders plus a pile of Capital One cards stored in Uber’s app, a great retention tool (the primary goal?) along with a long-term revenue stream (albeit, not enough to recoup the cost of the 20% rebates, unless Uber is picking up a big chunk of the rebate).

The only thing I don’t like is the disingenuous email to non-Quicksilver customers. Capital One alludes to the fact that the free rides are for new Uber users (see highlighted body copy in screenshot below). But that statement is easy to overlook or misinterpret. It’s only when you get to the tiny type below, which is further hidden in a gray background (see highlighted fine print below), that the “new Uber customer” requirement is explicitly stated.

Why not just come out and say it clearly in the body of the email (or even in the subject line)? Existing Uber customers are going to find it anyway when they try to redeem. Just be clear up front and save everyone the hassle! Better yet, don’t send the email to cardholders who are already using Uber (that could have been determined with an email match for me).

Final thought. Why not provide all cardholders an incentive to enter any Capital One card into the Uber app? Remind rewards cardholders that Uber rides can be paid with points (e.g., Purchase Eraser). Or how about a sweeps? For example, one out of every 100 rides (or 1,000) are free to Capital One cardholders until May 30, 2015. That could be funded through interchange alone.

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Capital One email to its Venture cardholders (23 April 2015)
Note: Highlighting mine

capitalone_uber_email

Holidays Promotions (or lack thereof) at Top-20 Banks

For the past 10 years, I’ve done a year-end post looking at holiday promotions at the largest U.S. banks. And surprisingly, fewer banks than anytime since 2004 were running holiday messages in the days before Christmas. This year, only four of the 20 largest banks referenced the holidays on their homepages. That compares to nine banks last year, eight in 2012, and 10 in 2011.

I’m at a loss to explain the retreat. My guess is that holiday promotions simply don’t drive measurable sales lift. But these are massive retail banks and I’d think that virtual holiday decorations would be in the branding budget. Perhaps that, too, was tapped out by year end.

Here are the holiday participants this year:

As usual, PNC Bank led the pack with its three-decade-long holiday CPI (Christmas Present Index). Fifth Third and Comerica were reasonably decked out for the holidays. Finally, Citizens (RBS) had a small holiday message in the lower right (see screenshots below).

While we catalogued only the top 20, many other banks and credit unions displayed creative holiday promotions and/or messaging. For example, Navy Federal Credit Union featured several holiday messages on its homepage the day before Christmas Eve (see screenshot) and Huntington Bank used an eye-catching graphic to pitch its rewards card (screenshot below).

The scrooge list: top-20 banks with no holiday promotions or graphics on 24 Dec 2014:
Bank of America, Bank of the West (BNP Paribas), BB&T, BBVA Compass, Capital One & Capital One 360 (formerly ING Direct), Chase, Citibank, Harris Bank (BMO), HSBC, Key Bank, SunTrust, TD Bank, Union Bank (Mitsubishi UFJ), US Bank, Wells Fargo, Zions Bank.

Following is a quick overview of the promotions, including a 1- to 5-bulb rating.

Previous year-end holiday posts: 2013, 2012, 2011 (big banks), 2011 (CUs/community banks), 2009 part 1, 2009 part 2, 2007, 2006, 2006, 2004

_____________________________________________________________________

Top-20 banks in the holiday spirit
(rated from 1 to 5 bulbs; screenshots from Tuesday morning, 24 Dec 2014)

PNC Bank

  • Animated Great Carol Comeback tied to its annual 12 Days of Christmas CPI price index (which it has published for the past 30 years)
  • Visa tie-in for holiday spending (lower left)

Score: imageimageimageimageimage

Hompage: PNC is leading with its “12 days of Christmas” price index

image

Landing page: Each of the 12 items from the famous song have humorous animations (link)

image

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Fifth Third Bank

  • MasterCard Gift Card promo (#3 in 3-promo rotation)
  • Happy holiday greeting (#2 in 3-promo rotation)

Score: imageimageimageimage

Homepage promo #3

image

Homepage promo #2

image

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Comerica

  • Gift card promo in lower-left of main homepage
  • Large gift card in main promo area on main personal page (#1 in 3-promo rotation) with engaging holiday graphics (same promo ran the last 2 years)

Score: imageimageimage

 

image

 

image

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Citizens Bank (RBS)

  • Holiday tie-in for credit card cashback

Score: image

image

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Bonus standout: Navy Federal Credit Union

  • Happy holiday message with snowman at top of page
  • Cash rewards credit card offer displayed mid-page with bright holiday colors
  • Holiday rewards reminder in lower right

Score: imageimageimageimage

image

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Bonus #2: Huntington Bank

  • Triple rewards credit card offer in mid-page with bright holiday colors

Score: imageimageimage

image

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Notes:
1. Observations taken between 6:30 AM and 8 AM, Eastern Time, on Wed, 24 Dec 2014, from a Florida IP address, running Mac Chrome browser with cookies cleared.
2. Animation from
http://www.millan.net/anims/christmas.html#

Holiday Website Promotions at the Top 20 Banks

Banks have ratcheted up the design aspects of their websites substantially during the past 18 months. But in my annual look at holiday website designs, I found little change over past years. Only nine of the 20 largest U.S. banks displayed any holiday graphics or promos this year. That’s one more than last year, but still one less than 2010.

Here’s a rundown of the 2013 holiday UIs:

Once again PNC Bank led the pack with its three-decades-long holiday CPI (Christmas present index). Zions Bank and Comerica (with the same promo as last year) were decked out in full-screen holiday graphics. Union Bank, BB&T, US Bank, TD Bank and Wells Fargo also displayed notable holiday imagery. Chase just hinted at the holidays, earning a single bulb.

Many smaller banks and credit unions post creative holiday imagery. For example, Austin, TX-based Amplify Credit Union ran four holiday elements on its hompage on Christmas Eve (see last screenshot).

The scrooge list: top-20 banks with no holiday promotions or graphics on 24 Dec 2013: 
Bank of America, Bank of the West (BNP Paribas), Capital One, Capital One 360 (formerly ING Direct), Citizens (RBS), Fifth Third, Harris Bank (BMO), HSBC, Key Bank, SunTrust, Union Bank (Mitsubishi UFJ)

Following is a quick overview of the promotions, including a 1- to 5-bulb rating.

Previous year-end holiday posts: 2012, 2011 (big banks), 2011 (CUs/community banks), 2009 part 1, 2009 part 2, 2007, 2006, 2006, 2004

_____________________________________________________________________

Big banks in the holiday spirit
(rated from 1 to 5 bulbs; screenshots from Tuesday morning, 24 Dec 2013)

PNC Bank

  • Animated Gift Maker tied to its annual 12 Days of Christmas CPI price index (which it’s published for 30 years)
  • Visa Gift Card promo (lower left)

Score: imageimageimageimageimage

Hompage: PNC is leading with its Gift Maker and 12 days of Christmas price index

image

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Comerica

  • Large gift card in main promo area (#3 in 4-promo rotation) with engaging holiday graphics
  • Gift card promo in bottom center position with green background

Score: imageimageimageimage

image

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Zions Bank

  • Default “Merry Christmas” message with holiday graphics across the page (#1 of 4-promo rotation)

Score: imageimageimageimage

image

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Union Bank

  • Rewards credit card (#2 in 3-promo rotation)

Score: imageimageimage

image 

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BB&T

  • Checking account promo with holiday graphics
  • Small Visa gift card promo near the bottom of the page

Score: imageimageimage

image

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TD Bank

  • Holiday budgeting tips

Score: imageimage

Homepage

image

Landing page

image

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US Bank

  • Customers (1st screenshot) saw some PFM messaging, the “Holiday money manager,” which was touting the bank’s online banking and alert functions (U.S. Bank does not offer advanced PFM functions)
  • Non-customers (2nd screenshot) saw a “Tis the season” checking-account promo

Score: imageimage

Hompage displayed to visitors known to be customers (via cookies)

image

Homepage displayed to non-customers

image

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Wells Fargo

  • Holiday message in lower left (below the fold)
  • Plush pony for opening new account

Score: imageimage

image

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Chase Bank

  • Credit card offer: “Save on holiday balances and new purchases”

Score: image

image

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Bonus standout: Amplify Credit Union

  • Holiday bells integrated with logo
  • Skip-a-payment promo to free up holiday cash, with humorous holiday graphic
  • Holiday closures schedule
  • No payments until 2014 on auto loans

Score: imageimageimageimage

image

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Notes:
1. Observations taken between 9 AM and Noon, Pacific Time, on Tue, 24 Dec 2013, from Seattle IP address, Chrome browser with cookies cleared
2. Animation from http://www.millan.net/anims/christmas.html#

Top 11 U.S. Financial Services Advertisers and their Online Spend

image The annual U.S advertising spend-report just arrived from Advertising Age. As usual, financial brands were big spenders. Eleven financial brands were in the top 100, including two in the top 10 (JP Morgan Chase and American Express).

Internet spend (note 1): Experian was the #1 spender online among all companies in all industries with a reported $350 million. That amounts to more than 3% of the entire $10 billion spent online in the United States last year across all industries. The credit-reporting giant didn’t spend enough offline to crack the top 100 in total advertising, which means at least 80% of its total spending is online.  

Among the big overall spenders, estimated Internet spending varies widely. American Express, BofA, Capital One, and State Farm all spent a bit more than $100 million.

In terms of percentage of all advertising, the totals varied widely. On the low end, JP Morgan, Discover and Visa devoted 2% to 3% of their budget to online advertising. On the other side, Capital One, Citi, and Progressive all placed around the 9% mark.   

————————

Table: U.S. advertising spending
Total of measured media and estimated unmeasured*

Company** 2012 2011 %Chg Internet % Internet Top-100 Rank
1. JP Morgan $2.1 bil $2.4 bil (11%) $46 mil 2.1% 8
2. AmEx $2.1 bil $2.1 bil (3%) $120 mil 5.7% 9
3. BofA $1.6 bil $1.7 bil (5%) $110 mil 6.9% 18
4. Capital One $1.3 bil $1.0 bil +22% $110 mil 8.5% 26
5. Citi $930 mil $980 mil (5%) $81 mil 8.7% 41
6. Progressive $800 mil $800 mil $77 mil 9.6% 51
7. Allstate $790 mil $740 mil +8% $52 mil 6.6% 54
8. State Farm $780 mil $800 mil (3%) $110 mil 14% 55
9. Discover $600 mil $460 mil +30% $12 mil 2.0% 68
10. Wells Fargo $580 mil $610 mil (5%) $21 mil 3.6% 70
11. Visa $480 mil $490 mil (1%) $12 mil 2.5% 83
Total $12.1 bil $12.1 bil $750 mil 6.2%
Experian INA INA INA $350 mil 80%+ NA

*Source: Advertising Age, 24 June 2013; methodology; The % change number was calculated with more precise annual spend numbers than what appears above
**We did not include Warren Buffet’s conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway which owns Geico and had the following numbers: 2012 = $1.6 bil; 2011 = $1.4 bil; +13%; Internet $31 mil, 1.9% of total

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Note:
1. Internet spend covers desktop display/search only. Does not include mobile or video ad units. 

Mobile Marketing: USAA Embeds Preapproved Loan Offers within Mobile App

usaa_mobile_preapproved.jpg

Now that the U.S. personal credit crisis of 2008 to 2010 is in the rear-view mirror (but still visible), banks and credit unions are getting more aggressive with credit. And guess what new marketing vehicle is available in 2013 that didn’t exist five years ago? Yep, mobile this and mobile that.

So far, the sales component in mobile banking has been minimal. Generally, users must already be a customer of the bank and even pre-registered with online banking. And cross-selling? About the only thing you can buy remotely is an ATM withdrawal.

But that will change as more customers only deal with their bank and cards through mobile apps, a number that is already pushing 30% of the online banking base of Bank of America (see previous post).

Eventually, most financial products will be sold through the mobile app. Not convinced? Look internationally where mobile was a thing even before the iPhone. I still remember Bankinter’s 2007 BAI Retail Delivery presentation where they said 20% of their retail interest-rate swaps were done via mobile phone.

In the United States, we are starting to see banks pushing the envelope. USAA has been the leader in most areas. So no surprise that they are the first (that I know of) to place preapproved credit offers within their mobile app (see screenshots below).

In the bank’s Dec. 2012 update (see inset), it added the ability to:

  • Accept pre-approvals in the app
  • Apply for checking and savings accounts in the app
  • Apply for life insurance after getting a quote in the app

Bottom line: The power of the pre-approved credit offer is well known. Traditionally, snail mail has been the medium of choice. But that’s expensive, time-consuming, and oftentimes not delivered at the optimal moment. Delivering offers via mobile phone can solve all those problems.

And as an added bonus: The sales results will create a better business case for your entire mobile initiative.

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USAA delivers preapproved credit card offer within its mobile app (Dec 2013)
Note: Screenshots shown are from a customer with an existing USAA life insurance relationship.
Price disclosures (right screenshot) displayed after clicking “Rates and Fees” under “Accept Offer” (left screenshot)

image         image

Source: comScore Q4 2012, Mobile Financial Services Advisor

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Note: We cover online mobile delivery and marketing in depth in our subscription-based Online Banking Report.

Duke Energy Advertises Savings Account Alternative on NYTimes.com

image Above a Paul Krugman Bitcoin commentary on NYTimes.com today, Duke Energy is pitching Premier Notes, a liquid savings account alternative that pays 1.5% for "deposits" of $50,000 or more, 1.3% for $10,000, or 1.1% for less than $10,000 (see screenshot below). Minimum opening amount is $1,000. There is no online application, but you can print a PDF and mail it back with your check.

The timing of the advertisement is no coincidence. March and April are the months when deposit balances swell temporarily with tax refunds. 

The Duke Energy rate is pegged at 0.25% higher than the taxable money market average, though that benchmark is essentially zero right now (2 basis points last week). So, it’s hard to know whether this is a promotional rate that could decline to 27 bps in the near future, of if Duke Energy will keep it above the highest bank rates. That will likely depend on how much money they attract.

The notes were introduced in early 2011, and have carried similar rates since for at least the past year. A May 2012 post at DepositAccounts.com lists the top rate at 1.6% and lowest tier at 1.25%. Apparently, GE and Ford offer similar programs. Those two are both paying 1.0% (for $10k) and 1.1% (for $50k+).

Bottom line: Banks have been competing for deposits with non-insured money market vehicles for decades. So, this isn’t a new threat, nor one that you are going to lose sleep over. But it could become a material issue if more non-financial companies target the retail saver.

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Duke Energy banner ad in today’s NT Times website (link, 15 April 2013)
Note: Capital One 360 maintains its NYTimes.com presence in the small upper-right-corner logo

Duke Energy pitches Premier Notes on NYTimes.com

Duke Energy Premier Notes landing page (link)

Duke Energy Premier Notes landing page

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Note:
1. For more info, see our Online Banking Report (Nov. 2008, subscription) detailing various ways to leverage your online/mobile channel to boost deposits.

Holiday Website Promos at the Top-20 Banks

In my annual look at holiday offerings from major banks, I found that Scrooge still roams the halls at many of the big names. Only eight of the 20 largest U.S. banks are using holiday-themed promotions or graphics (note 1). That’s one more than last year, but still two less than 2010.

As usual, PNC Bank is the exception with their two-decade long holiday CPI (Christmas present index). BB&T, Comerica and Fifth Third are also festive this year with gift card promotions supported by seasonal graphics. And US Bank, Citi, Key and Regions Bank used some holiday imagery.   

The scrooge list: top-20 banks with no holiday promotions or graphics on Dec. 20): 
Bank of America, Bank of the West (BNP Paribas), Capital One, Chase, Citizens (RBS), Harris Bank (BMO), HSBC, ING Direct (Capital One), SunTrust, TD Bank, Union Bank (Mitsubishi UFJ), Wells Fargo

Following is a quick overview of the promotions, including a 1-to 5-bulb rating.

Previous year-end holiday posts: 2011 (big banks), 2011 (CUs/community banks), 2009 part 1, 2009 part 2, 2007, 2006, 2006, 2004

_____________________________________________________________________

Big banks in the holiday spirit
(rated 1 to 5 bulbs; screenshots from Thursday, Dec 20)

PNC Bank

  • Gift Hunt tied to its Christmas CPI (based on the song 12 Days of Christmas)
  • Visa Gift Card promo (in rotation of four homepage promotions)

Score: imageimageimageimageimage

Hompage: PNC is leading with its 12 days of Christmas price index

image

PNC Bank microsite with gift hunt link

image

Also running gift card promo in rotation

image

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BB&T (20 Dec 2012)

  • Holiday themed graphic featuring mobile check deposit
  • Small ad for gift cards

imageimageimageimage

image

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Fifth Third

  • Rotation of three holiday themed promotions
    — Holiday billpay sweeps
    — New Years savings pro
    mo
    — Gift cards

imageimageimageimage

image

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Comerica

  • Prominent gift card promo across page and in lower-left corner

imageimageimageimage

image

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Key Bank

  • Holiday graphic, but no product promotion

imageimage

image

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Citibank

  • Toy shopping background image

imageimage

image

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US Bank

  • Pitch for online banking, convenient while shopping

image

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Regions Bank

  • Small saving money tips

image

image

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Notes:
1. Observations taken between 2pm and 3pm Pacific on Thurs Dec 20 from Seattle IP address, Chrome browser with no cookies
2. Animation from http://www.millan.net/anims/christmas.html#

Oklahoma Employees Credit Union Posts Seven Specials for Black Friday and Cyber Monday

imageDuring the past few years we’ve reported on Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions at financial institutions (last year). ING Direct is the only large bank that has consistently used the post-Thanksgiving holiday in its marketing (see below) and we are glad to see it continue under Capital One ownership.

imageThis year we found another new entrant for our database of holiday offers, 42,000 member Oklahoma Employees Credit Union. It has a prominent black tag on its homepage announcing a "Black Friday Money $ale" (see first screenshot). 

And from the looks of it, the CU has created a pretty hot offer, leading with car loans as low as 1.49% with no payment due for 90 days (well after holiday spending subsides). But that’s just one of the seven holiday offers (second screenshot). The CU is also offering:

From Black Friday to Cyber Monday (Nov 23 to 26)

  • 1.49% APR* on New or Used Auto Loans 
  • 1.00% APR^ Off Unsecured Loans
  • Surcharge Free Gift Cards***
Black Friday to the End of the Year (Nov 23 to Dec 31)
  • 90 days no pay**
  • $149 Mortgage Loan Origination Fee^^
  • $49 Credit*^ with New MasterCard
  • 0.49%tt Business Loan Origination Fee

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    Oklahoma Employees Credit Union homepage with Black Friday specials (Wed, 21 Nov 2012)

      image

    Black Friday landing page (link)

    image 

    ING Direct homepage with Black Friday offers (21 Nov 2012)

    image

    ING Direct Black Friday teaser page (link)
    Note: The bank does not reveal the actual offers until midnight Thursday

    image

    —————————–

    Fine print on Oklahoma Employees Credit Union offers:

      *Annual Percentage Rate. 640+ credit score. Max term 60 months; estimated payment $17.31 per $1,000 borrowed. Min amount $10,000. Existing OECU loan min advance $2,500. Requires automatic payments and eStatements. 
      ** Borrower may defer initial auto loan payment up to 90 days. Interest will accrue from date of advance. 
      ^ Annual Percentage Rate. Reduction from regular earned rate as determined by credit score. 
      *** Up to 5 cards
      ^^ Max 12 years up to $250,000 and 75% loan-to-value as determined by appraisal or AVM. 
      *^ Initial transaction must be made by 1/10/13. Credit to be issued by 2/10/13. 
      tt Owner occupied commercial real estate. Max loan $500,000. Additional closing costs may apply. Normal lending policies apply.

      Display Ads in Gmail Morph into Email Ads with One Click

      image Evidently, Google has been testing new Gmail ad formats for a year. But yesterday was the first time I’d tested it. It’s a very different experience, one that could be appealing for financial advertisers.

      How it works
      Yesterday, Lifelock served me a display ad within Gmail. Once you click on it, the ad  morphs into an email (see first screenshot below). It is not only a quick way to evaluate the offering (saving the trip to a web-based landing page), but also allows users to treat the ad like an email by saving it to the inbox, forwarding it, or dismissing the ad forever (the action items run above the message).

      If you choose “Save to Inbox” the message shows up in the Everything Else category as a message from yourself (see second screenshot). At that point it’s just like any other message and can be flagged, archived, forwarded or deleted.

      Bottom line: The ad format could make offers more sticky. It’s a promising model for financial products, which are usually not quick, spur-of-the- moment purchases. It’s worth testing anyway, if you have a big enough customer base using Gmail.

      ——————————-

      Lifelock display ad in Gmail opens up into an embedded email (16 Oct 2012)

      image

      Once saved in the inbox, the ad shows up under “Everything Else” as a message from yourself

      image

      Lifelock landing page (after clicking on Join Lifelock Now) in email ad

      image

      Mobile Marketing: Leveraging the iPhone App Update Process

      image As customers have adopted ever-more convenient delivery methods, the customer communications process has changed dramatically. Each channel has its own ways of communicating with customers:

      • Branch/mail: Signage, statement inserts, chance conversations in line, direct sales pitches
      • Phone: On-hold messages, prompts on the phone tree, direct sales pitches
      • Online: Email, interstitials, display ads, website content, popups, online chat
      • Mobile: Similar to online plus notifications, text messages and app updates (see below)

      In the mobile channel, the process for updating native apps provides a unique marketing opportunity that is virtually without cost and guaranteed to be read by a large portion of your mobile customers (previous post). App publishers have a screen of free real estate to explain the benefits of the new feature(s).

      I’ve read thousands of these update descriptions and there is huge variety of approaches. Some publishers take maximum advantage of the “free publicity” to engage their customers (see Yelp below), pump up the new features (see USAA), and seek additional feedback (see Redfin, SimplyUs examples).

      Other publishers don’t pay enough attention to readability (Wells, Bank of America, US Bank examples, see note 1) or just put the minimum effort into a bulleted list (E*Trade). 

      Bottom line: Each time you push out a new update, use it as an opportunity to educate users and reinforce your mobile brand.

      ——————————-

      iPhone App Update Examples

      Good
      ———

      Yelp reinforces its playful brand with        USAA is more matter of fact, but  
      enthusiastic and humorous copy                   does a good job highlighting new
      announcing its v.6.0.                                           features in its v.4.9.

      image     image

      Redfin released a minor bug fix in             SimplyUs gets right to its bullet
      v.3.3.2 but includes its email address        list of features, with just enough
      to report any issues.                                           info to explain the v.1.0.17 update.
      Nice touch!                                                            Plus email and Twitter handle.

      image     image

      Need work
      ——————

      Wells does an OK job, but the first               Similarly, Bank of America has an
      bullet reads like something lifted from        acceptable message for its v.3.3.351. 
      project checklist. And the second                  But the copy is a little confusing and
      is too long-winded. Plus, a floating             has an asterisked point floating mid-page.                       “Bug fixes” hovers at  the bottom                        
      of its v.2.1 update.

      image     image

      US Bank’s v. 1.6.8 message is                    E*Trade’s 2.6 update sounds like it
      confusing. Something about being             has a bunch of new features, but
      asked to accept a quick update, but 
               it did nothing but list them with
      no specifics on why or what has                no explanations.
      changed.

      image    image

      —————–

      Note:
      1. These examples were all taken from updates I downloaded today. They are not necessarily indicative of every update from these companies. At major releases (such as Yelp’s v6.0), most publishers will step up the copy-writing quality.

      First Arkansas Homepage Goes All In with Social Media

      image I don’t know how long First Arkansas Bank & Trust has had a big Facebook-like image dominating its homepage (see below), but it’s timely given all the attention the social network has received of late. Despite a little blip with the IPO, Facebook is one of most significant brands on the planet. So associating your financial brand with it is a good move.

      FAB&T is using the homepage to create awareness of its four social network outlets:

      • Facebook | Like
      • Twitter | Follow
      • YouTube | Watch
      • Blog | Read

      The huge Socialize With Us image is eye-catching and would garner a fair number of clicks, except for one problem. The entire center graphic, including the social media icons, are not clickable. The only way to get to the sites is to click on their icons in the upper right corner of the homepage (note 1). This is a strange design decision.  

      Bottom line: While I like the approach of exposing all the trendy social media icons, I’m not sure FAB&T should be sending people to all four. The bank’s Facebook page is good, with a modern design, frequent updates, and 755 fans (see second screenshot). So, it makes sense to encourage users to visit and like it.

      However, the other social media sites are a little anemic. The blog hasn’t been updated since the end of 2011; there has only been one tweet in the past 2 months; and the YouTube channel has limited content.

      Like most financial institutions, FAB&T would probably be better served by focusing on Facebook (note 2) and letting the other sites go, or at least stop referring customers to them from the homepage. 

      ————————————————

      First Arkansas Bank homepage (31 May 2012)

      First Arkansas Bank homepage (31 May 2012)

      First Arkansas Bank Facebook page (link)

      FAB&T Facebook page  

      First Arkansas Bank Twitter page (link)
      Note: The bank had one tweet in May, zero in April and a couple in March.

      image

      First Arkansas Bank Blog (link)
      Note: The last post was almost six months ago. And the site is hosted on the Google’s free blogging platform, Blogger, which doesn’t really do much to help with the brand image.

      image

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      Notes:
      image 1. And those all require users to click through a "third-party warning" before redirecting the user to the social network sites. That further gums up the user experience.
      2. See our Online Banking Report "Banking in Facebook" published in Feb. 2012 (subscription).