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.

The iPad: One Million Shipped in First Month, but Still No U.S. Bank or Credit Union Online Banking Apps

image Apple today said it has shipped one million iPads (one of which went to a lucky Mint user, see inset). I don’t think that’s a surprise to anyone who’s even mildly interested in tech.

It’s debatable whether the iPad is a laptop killer, but if nothing else, it’s a really capable portable media and game player. Given its appearances on The Grammys, Modern Family, Lettermen, and so on, and with Apple’s cachet, how could the iPad not sell a million?

But the iPhone arrived with even more hype, and it took more than two months to sell a million back in the summer of 2007. But it was much more expensive considering the price of the phone and $800+ per year to AT&T. And there was no App Store back then: it was just email, SMS, Safari, YouTube, stock tracking and of course, my personal favorite, the weather button.

So I’m not surprised the iPad has consumer appeal. But I am surprised that no major U.S. financial brand, other than E*Trade (see screenshots below) has a native iPad app yet in the U.S. store (notes 1, 2). I expected at least a half-dozen by now. But there have been very few new apps in the iPad store across all categories. Only nine new apps have launched since April 3 in the finance category, bringing the total to 39 (see note 3; original post here ).

So, it may not entirely be the fault of the FIs. There is probably a logjam of apps waiting for approval from Apple. We look forward to seeing what the FIs and PFMs bring to the iPad throughout 2010.

E*Trade Apps: iPhone vs. iPad
Note: Relative size is accurate; see CNET’s comparison of iPhone vs. iPad versions across 20 popular apps (previous post on why you need an iPad app here)

image      image

Notes:
1. Square also had its app available at launch, although they have yet to launch credit card processing, so it’s not really functional yet. Card processing is expected to launch later this week when the iPhone app becomes available.
2. (Updated May 4 with “la Caixa” info and search info) They don’t show on my U.S. iPad, but Spain’s “la Caixa” added an iPad app to the U.S. store a few days ago (link) and Banco Sabadell has one in the U.S. store (link). Also, I just learned (May 4) that if you search specifically for the Spanish banks on my U.S. iPad, they do show up and have been successfully downloaded.
3. There are many mysteries of the App Store. One new one is the discrepancy between what’s shown on my iPad vs. what’s in the iTunes store. On my iPad, 30 finance apps showed on April 3, and there are now 39, for a growth of 9. iTunes shows 61 available today, up 18 from the 43 available on April 3. None of the extra 22 in iTunes are from financial institutions.
4. For more on mobile banking and payments, see the most recent issue from Online Banking Report.

Out of the inbox: Great call-to-action from E*Trade, “Re-Plan your Retirement”

imageOver the years, E*Trade has been consistently innovative in both product development and marketing, two areas that provide natural synergies. The company didn’t disappoint with its latest missive to existing customers. 

An email arrived yesterday afternoon (Thurs., 11 June 2009) and immediately grabbed my attention with its clever and timely subject line:

Re-plan Your Retirement with E*TRADE and Get Up to $500

Analysis
One thing I’ve heard consistently from my friends, no matter how secure their jobs, is that they will “be working forever” now that the Great Recession has slammed their net worth with the double whammy of a bear market and home-price declines.

So this is a great time to get in front of customers with new efforts to help them re-plan retirement with new investment ideas, asset rebalancing and just a general reboot of their portfolio. And it’s also an excellent time to discuss 401(k) rollovers, as E*Trade did in this message, with an “up to $500” (see note 1) incentive to roll over a retirement account to the company (see landing page, third screenshot below). As Americans change jobs by necessity, there will be millions of retirement accounts in play. 

Security features in email
E*Trade also demonstrates another best practice to improve trust in customer emails: personalization. The company includes customer name and last four digits of their account number to help distinguish the message from fraudulent phishing attempts. E*Trade draws attention to the feature with a Security Enhanced icon on the top-right (see first screenshot below).

Clicking on the Learn More link drops readers to the bottom of the email message where product URLs provide direct-navigation alternatives to paranoid readers (see second screenshot below). I hadn’t seen that before, a nice touch.

E*Trade email promoting 401(k) rollovers (received 11 June, 3 PM Pacific)

image

Security “fine print” at bottom of above message

image

Landing page for email offer (link)

image 
Note:
1. Detail on the rebate:

  • $500 for rollovers of $250,000 or more
  • $250 for $100,000 to $250,000
  • $100 for $50,000 to $100,000
  • $50 for $25,000 to $50,000

RIM’s New Blackberry App World Includes Wells Fargo, E*Trade, Fidelity, and Bank of America

image_thumb[12]It will be a long time before the new mobile application markets, Google’s Android Market and RIM’s Blackberry App World, get anywhere close to Apple’s App Store in breadth or depth. Currently, there are 162 apps listed across all categories in the Android market and 88 for the Blackberry (North America), compared to more than 25,000 for the iPhone (U.S.).

However, Blackberry already has tied the iPhone in one sub-category, big-name U.S. financial services companies. As of today, each has four. Bank of America is the only one supporting both.    

iPhone App Store Blackberry App World*
Bank of America Bank of America
Chase Wells Fargo
Citibank E*Trade
PNC Bank Fidelity Investments

*Blackberry App World also has an Obopay mobile payments app with ties to Citibank.

Financial institution opportunities: The list of participating financial institutions won’t stay short for long. You must support iPhone and Blackberry users, the sooner you do so, the more free publicity you can garner. For more information, see our latest Online Banking Report, published today, Mobile Banking 2.0: iPhone Edition.

Blackberry App World Finance & Banking section
(9 March 2009, 10 PM Pacific)

image_thumb[2]

E*Trade Casts a Wide Social Net to Support the "Baby" Campaign

image In my pre-Super Bowl post about E*Trade’s “baby” franchise, I wasn’t aware of several other ways the company is using social media to increase awareness:

  • Baby’s Twitter page (screenshot #1 below and note 1;): This is a new effort launched Jan. 22, the same day the 2009 outtakes clip was released into the wild via YouTube and press release. The baby Tweeted a few times on the days leading up to the game, and a few since, but the funniest part was the 26 game-day Tweets that actually incorporated real-time events into the script. There are only 650 followers today, but that’s up 150 since Monday morning  not a bad start for a low-cost marketing tool. 
  • Baby’s Facebook page (screenshot #2 below): Also launched around Jan. 22, the E*Trade baby Facebook page already has 3,825 fans. The commercials are posted along with a photo album. 

The E*Trade homepage has also been used before and after the game to take advantage of interest in the baby ads. The baby dominated E*Trade’s homepage the day after the big game (see screenshot #3 below of the Monday morning homepage). 

Lessons for financial institutions
You don’t have to be a Super Bowl advertiser to use social media to support your advertising campaigns. Banks and credit unions of any size can use these relatively low-cost tactics.

Here are the eight key support elements to consider for your next campaign:

   1. Press release
   2. Blog entries
   3. Facebook page
   4. Twitter stream
   5. YouTube page
   6. Homepage placement
   7. Landing page
   8. Google keyword buys (see screenshot #4 below)

1. E*Trade baby Twitter page (link, 3 Feb. 2009)

image


2. E*Trade Facebook page
(link, 3 Feb. 2009)

image


3. E*Trade homepage the morning after Super Bowl XVIII
(2 Feb. 2009)

image

4. E*Trade is running Google ads on searches for “etrade baby”
(3 Feb. 2009, 6PM Pacific)

image

Note:
1. Thanks Jeffry Pilcher for the Twitter tip.

2. See our Online Banking Report: Bank 2.0 for more ideas.

E*Trade Rides the Popularity of its “Baby” Super Bowl Ad

image16 Even before the next installment of its popular talking baby runs later today during the Super Bowl, E*Trade has already scored.

Through advance publicity and select print ads highlighting the “baby URL” <etrade.com/baby> (note 1), the online broker/banker has already landed more than 2 million views of the outtakes for today’s Super Bowl ad. And the clip was posted to YouTube just nine days ago (22 Jan. 2009). 

The E*Trade outtake clip (below) currently ranks 13th on the most-viewed videos of the month at YouTube, an extremely high level of popularity for a corporate-sponsored clip unrelated to music or film.

Demonstrating the power of making YouTube’s most-viewed list, the E*Trade outtake clip is only 100,000 views shy of surpassing the Trading Baby clip from the 2008 Super Bowl, a video that’s been online for a full year.

Here’s the view count as of 9:30 AM Pacific today (Feb. 1):

2.2 million   Trading baby from the 2008 Super Bowl (posted 1 Feb. 2008)

2.1 million   2009 outtakes (posted 22 Jan. 2009)

1.6 million   Banking baby from the 2008 Super Bowl (posted 1 Feb. 2008)

270,000      Mobile  baby (posted 30 June 2008)

All clips are posted on the company’s official YouTube page (see below).

E*Trade’s YouTube channel (link, 1 Feb. 2009)

image_thumb2

E*Trade “baby” landing page six hours before the 2009 Super Bowl
(link, 1 Feb. 2009)

image_thumb4

Note:
1. The E*Trade baby teaser ad ran in the 31 Jan. 2009 Weekend Wall Street Journal. The quarter-page ad, one of only six ads in the entire paper, ran on page W6 (West Coast edition).

E-Loan to Stop Direct Mortgage Lending but Will Maintain Loan Portal/Referral Business

image In the early commercial Web era (1995 to 1998), five financial startups inspired me in terms of their innovative products and services: 

  • E-Loan for mortgage
  • E*Trade for stock brokerage
  • Netbank for deposit-taking
  • NextCard for credit cards
  • LendingTree for lead generation

These were my go to companies for ideas and inspiration when covering the space in the mid-to-late 1990s. In those days, traditional financial institutions were just getting started and were not as far along in features and functionality. 

Sadly, two of the five have failed, NextCard in 2002 (here) and NetBank in 2007 (here). And the other three are struggling through the credit crisis.

The latest downer: This week, E-Loan, owned by Banco Popular, announced its exit from the online mortgage origination business. Reading the headlines, I first thought they’d thrown in the towel altogether. But it turns out they are discontinuing only direct mortgage originations. The company will continue to use its popular website (see traffic below) to attract potential borrowers who are handed off to other lenders, something it already does today for student, auto, personal and business loans, along with credit cards. This is a potentially lucrative fee-based business with zero credit risk.

It’s a cautionary tale of how critical, and difficult, the execution piece is. These were industry darlings, always in the news and at the top of the search results. Yet, in financial services especially, you have to temper innovation with prudent underwriting and business practices. All three were brought down by credit-related problems. 

E-Loan traffic has stabilized at around 250,000 uniques per month:

image

E*Trade Bank Posts Savings Rates on Twitter

imageI was searching Twitter today to see if any major brokerages were using it to reach out to customers. The only hit was E*Trade which is using Twitter to update its Complete Savings Account rates. It seems to be coming from the bank, but it's possible someone else, perhaps an employee or fan, is responsible for the two entries: the first on March 12 announcing a 3.45% yield and then on April 1 when the rate dropped to 3.01% (note 1).

Regardless of who's responsible, it makes sense to use the new channel for outbound communications. If nothing else, the 90 seconds spent creating those two entries have already generated a favorable mention in this blog. 

For those of you not familiar with Twitter, it's a communications tool that allows users to post short (140 characters max) updates about what they are doing, what they are thinking, or anything else. Unless the user chooses to make their updates private, anyone can read them, just like a blog post. That's why Twittering is sometimes called micro-blogging. But it's more like "broadcast instant messaging" for most people who's musing will be seen by just a handful of friends, family and/or colleagues.

For more info from an actual Twitter user, read Ron Shevlin's recent post.

image

Note:

1. I suspect it's an "unofficial" Twitter page because they didn't put APY behind the percentage, although that is spelled out in the short bio section in the upper right, and they are not using the company logo.

E*Trade Leverages Super Bowl Commercials with YouTube and Google Search Ads

Link to video on YouTube Even before the big game Sunday, E*Trade was showcasing its SuperBowl ads on YouTube. Six hours before kickoff this ad (inset) was displayed next to search results for "etrade," "banking" and other terms (note 1). The "trading baby" video had been watched just a few hundred times when I saw it yesterday; this morning, it has had more than 90,000 viewings.

The YouTube ad contains three links:

  1. Clicking on the arrow launches the funny "baby trading" video embedded on that page
  2. Clicking on the "Press to Watch" takes you to the E*Trade page on YouTube <youtube.com/etrade> where you can watch a series of commercials (screenshot below)
  3. Clicking on "See all the E*Trade videos" takes you to this landing page at E*Trade's website (see screenshot below)

Later in the day on Sunday, E*Trade also added a link to the videos from its homepage (screenshot below).

The Commercials
E*Trade ran two ads within a few minutes of each other early in the second half. "Trading baby," shown above, uses an adult voiceover to discuss how easy it is to trade online. The second ad, "banking baby" (embedded below), showcases the company's high-yield savings account. This has to be the first, and probably last, time a savings account product received SuperBowl advertising exposure. It has 107,000 views in less than 24 hours.

Both ads ended on an upbeat note, saying that E*Trade was opening a thousand accounts per day, a great message against the backdrop of negative publicity the company received a few months ago with its subprime problems.


Screenshots:

E*Trade Ad Next to YouTube Search Results (3 Feb 2007)

E*Trade ad on YouTube search results

E*Trade YouTube Landing Page <youtube.com/etrade>

E*Trade's YouTube Page

E*Trade Advertising Landing Page <etrade.com>

E*Trade landing page

E*Trade Homepage (4 Feb 2007)

E*Trade homepage

E*Trade Google Ad (4 Feb 2007)

image

 Note:

  1. Searches conducted from Seattle IP address: YouTube Sunday, Feb. 3, 9AM Pacific, Google Monday Feb. 4 at 10 AM 

E*Trade Bank and Flushing’s iGoBanking Join the 5% Online Savings Account Club

<Updated 12/1/06 with more details>

Two new entrants in the so-called high-yield savings market launched this week:

  • E*Trade Bank <etradebank.com>: Its new 5.05% Complete Savings Account was advertised in the Wall Street Journal today and took next-to-top honors in Google search results for "best savings accounts" (see end note 1, screenshot below).
  • iGoBanking <igobanking.com>: The new online brand from Flushing Financial launched Monday with a 5.3% rate on an online savings account (see end note 2, screenshot below).

iGoBanking (click to enlarge)

Flushing Financial's iGoBanking CLICK TO ENLARGE

As previously reported, Flushing Financial launched its entry into the online savings market. The 5.3% APY no-minimum account ranks as the fourth highest in the nation according to the Bank Deals blog (see list here). The rate leader continues to be E-Loan's at 5.5% (see our coverage here).

However, iGo can claim the highest no-minimum rate in the nation since E-Loan and the others require at least $5,000 to qualify for the higher rate.   

The bank will focus on deposits, CDs, and savings in 2007 and may expand to home equity and mortgage lending in the future.

Analysis
The website is attractive and relatively well designed. The online application is hosted by CashEdge (see related post here). Unfortunately, the outsourced application fails to maintain the look and feel of the main website and may cause a few applicants to second guess their decision to sign up (click here for a more thorough analysis of its application design). 

E*Trade Bank (click to enlarge)

E*Trade Bank Complete Savings page CLICK TO ENLARGE

E*Trade's Complete Savings account builds on the direct bank's lineup of award-winning products (see previous coverage here). The bank flat-out understands the market and the medium.

The landing page for the new savings offering is brilliantly laid out with Google-like simplicity using just 25 words of copy (other than the table and the below-the-fold fine print). Notice how they show specific competitive prices, including high-yield market leader ING Direct. But what most consumers will remember from the chart is the "6X national average" rate.

Finally, the "Open an Account in Minutes" and "Free, one-click transfers to and from any institution" address user concerns on both those issues. And the small padlock with E*Trade's protection guarantee helps users understand security issues.

End notes:

  1. Search conducted at noon PST, Nov. 29 from Seattle IP address (see screenshot below).
  2. Source: American Banker, 29 Nov. 2006 (article here)

Google search results for "best savings account"

Google search results for "best savings rate" CLICK TO ENLARGE