Chase Bank Targets WaMu Overdrafters in Google Search Ads

image Someone’s getting creative on Chase’s search-engine marketing team. Look at the ad they placed on the RSS feed of a recent Payments News article (see first screenshot below, note 1). Using Google AdSense, the bank cleverly placed an ad against a story about Wells Fargo’s same-day bill pay service.

Chase probably figures consumers reading about same-day payment capabilities might also have experienced problems with overdrafts in the past. But, I’m not sure why Chase used a call-to-action aimed at driving prospects to a branch:

Wamu Overdraft Forgiveness 
Help Take Control of your Finances. Find a Chase Branch Near You Today! (emphasis added)

Prospects that clicked through on the first ad landed on a microsite with a large branch finder at the bottom. This is a good microsite, although it doesn’t directly mention taking control of your finances (see second screenshot).

Over at the main Google site, Chase used a pitch that seemed more likely to induce clicks (see third screenshot): 

Welcome to Chase
Chase Checking Alerts Help You Avoid Fees. Learn More Today!

These search ads were not displayed in searches today, so perhaps they were pulled after performing poorly.

Lesson: There’s a lot of attention in the press these days about overdraft fees (see NY Times editorial today). If you have good tools to avoid them, especially mobile alerts, it might be an effective way to attract new customers.

And even though these particular ads may not have worked, it demonstrates that Chase is being creative in its search engine marketing efforts. The only way you can find what works in your market is by continuous trials (note 2).

Google ad on Payments News RSS feed (29 July 2009)


Chase landing page from ad shown above (link, 29 July 2009)


Google AdWords ad for “Wamu overdraft forgiveness” (29 July, 12 PM Pacific, from Seattle IP address)


1. Viewed in a soon-to-be-defunct NewsGator reader.
2. For more info on search engine marketing, see Online Banking Report: Searching for Customers 3.0 (March 2008).

WaMu’s New P2P Funds Transfer Service, WaMu Send Direct

image When’s the last time you Googled something and found nothing? Evidently WaMu’s innovative P2P funds transfer service got lost in all the “excitement” this year and word never got out.

Luckily, I was seated beside Aliaswire (see note 1) SVP Keith Smith at dinner in Orlando two weeks ago. His company powers WaMu Send Direct, a service for P2P payments service for WaMu credit card holders, launched earlier this year at <>.

WaMu Send Direct uses a variety of methods to transfer funds with as little hassle or with as much privacy as desired (see note 2). Cost to the sender is 2% of the amount sent with a $2 minimum. Recipients pay nothing.

This makes for a good pricing model for such things as parents sending money to a child, but not so good for consumer-to-business payments, UNLESS the consumer can avoid a late payment and/or finance charge (aka, expedited payments).

In addition to the 2% fee, the amount sent is posted to the WaMu credit card as a purchase and is subject to the prevailing APR and presumably an interest-free grace period if applicable (see note 3).  

Transfers all come out of a WaMu credit card, but they can go to the recipient in any of the following ways:

  • Directly to a checking/savings account if the sender has the bank account info of the recipient
  • Directly to a debit card, ATM card, or credit card if the sender has the recipient’s card number
  • To the recipient’s phone or email address, requiring the recipient to call or log in at WaMu to claim the funds by providing bank account info; however, on subsequent transfers the recipient would not be required to contact WaMu so long as they signed up for Automatic Claim

Transfers can be initiated via:

  • Website <>
  • SMS message to specific short code
  • Telephone call to a toll-free number

It’s a cool service. It will be interesting to see if Chase continues the service as they assimilate the WaMu credit card portfolio. 

WaMu Send Direct Homepage (5 Dec 2008)


Note the text message box at the bottom offering to text a bookmark to the user. 

1. The name comes from the ability for a user to transfer funds (aka “wire”) to other users via “alias”, e.g., email address or mobile phone number.

2. Despite my longstanding policy of avoiding flow charts in NetBanker, here’s a schematic of how Aliaswire’s mPay works. mPay is the service that WaMu has private-branded as WaMu Send Direct


3. The Terms & Conditions states that the payment is considered a “purchase,” which sounds like it would qualify for an interest-free grace period on accounts not currently revolving; however, the terms did not specifically say that.

Web-based Self-Service Debt Collection Makes the News


It’s not often that bank collection techniques make the business press, and when they do, it’s usually not a good story. But last week’s WSJ article by personal finance writer Jane Kim featured a relatively positive spin on how banks are working harder to collect revolving credit debt.

She cited two examples of Web-based self-service applications trying to turn early collection efforts into a non-confrontational, positive experience including:

  • WaMu’s self-service website, <>
  • The Virtual Collection Agent powered by Online Resources that is being rolled out by three of the top-10 card issuers. The system was first shown to the public at last year’s Finovate conference (video here)

You can only look at the WaMu collection site if you have a WaMu credit card (screenshot below), but in perusing domain-ownership records, it appears to be hosted by Online Resources, so it likely resembles the screenshot below, a generic mockup from the Online Resources website.

Note the settlement offer listed at the bottom of the page. This offer can be produced dynamically based on input from the user as they use the self-service site.

What’s innovative?
While it won’t work for everyone, collecting past-due debts is one of the trickier areas of bank operations. Financial institutions have to be careful not to be too aggressive early on so they don’t appear heavy-handed and end up driving away an otherwise profitable customer, not to mention that customer’s friends and family.

That’s why a gentle email/text reminder with a link to a self-service support area makes so much sense. Not only can you speed repayments from delinquent borrowers, but also garner valuable goodwill by offering a positive experience via a collaborative online tool. Given the current environment, Web-based collection efforts could maintain precious account relationships.

Virtual collection agent from online resources (19 Sep 2008Virtual Collection Agent from Online Resources 19 Sep 2008

WaMu’s Web-based collection website <> requires a WaMu card number for login  (19 Sept 2008)


Login, Logoff Marketing Messages from Bank of America, PayPal, US Bank, WaMu and Wells Fargo

image After returning from some R&R in Iowa and Kansas, I logged into my banking and credit card accounts to see what I'd forgotten to attend to before leaving town. Luckily, everything seemed in order this time.

Always on the lookout for online marketing examples, I thought it would be  interesting to compare and contrast the marketing messages presented to users as they logged in and logged out of five major banking sites. 

  • Bank of America (business and personal credit cards): BofA typically has a marketing message at login and logoff.
    Login  The bank's brokerage division is pitching free Morningstar mutual fund research. I haven't seen this one before, and it seems a bit wordy, so it may be the first time for this offer (see screenshot #1 below)
    Logout  A pitch for a cash-back business credit card. It's a good offer, but perplexing, given that I already have a business and personal card with BofA. Not sure why they want me to have three (screenshot #2).
  • PayPal (verified account): PayPal has used log-in splash-screens almost since it began in 1999 with a mix of marketing and service messages. But they don't overuse the technique, so it's noticeable when they have a new splash-screen running.
    Login  No marketing, just direct entry to main screen
    Logout  No marketing, just a landing at the usual PayPal merchant emporium (screenshot #3)
  • US Bank (multiple accounts): I don't think I've ever seen a marketing message from US Bank at login or logoff. I believe I've seen a service message at login a few times over the years, but it's extremely rare.
    Login  No marketing, just dropped on main account page as usual
    Logout  No marketing, just a brief "you've been logged out" message
  • WaMu (business checking): I've had the account only a few months, but WaMu has frequently posted marketing messages at login, and they've been relatively creative, as you'd expect.
    Login  Pitching its WaMu Live concert promotion which provides exclusive access to summer events to WaMu credit and debit card holders (screenshot #4). 
    Logout  No marketing, just a solid recap of security precautions, a good message to leave with online banking users (screenshot #5).
  • Wells Fargo (credit card): Wells uses marketing messages frequently at both login and logout.
    Login  Electronic statement (paper turnoff), something I've not done yet (screenshot #6).
    Logoff  Home equity loans (screenshot #7)

What's Innovative?
There wasn't anything particularly enlightening in these examples. The WaMu Live pitch was the only truly unique message. For the most part, they were typical, well-crafted marketing messages you'd expect from these major players. That's fine now, since most customers don't yet have "banner fatigue" at their online banking site. But going forward, the messages will need to be more targeted and more interesting to get attention and action from jaded online users.

The other issue is frequency. You'll figure this out through testing, but there's a line you don't want to cross where a splash-screen message presented at every login ceases to be effective and is just plain annoying.

Finally, for financial institutions, such as US Bank, still not using this login real estate for sales messages, your customers thank you; however, quick-loading, targeted messaging, used with discretion, should benefit your bottom line.   

1. Bank of America login screen for business-credit-card only account (1 Aug 2008)image

2. Bank of America logoff screen (1 Aug 2008)


3. PayPal logout (1 Aug 2008)


4. WaMu login screen (31 July 2008)image 

5. WaMu logout screen (1 August 2008)image

6. Wells Fargo login splash screen (1 Aug 2008)


7. Wells Fargo logoff screen (1 Aug 2008)


Who Has the Holiday Spirit?

image With consumer confidence diving, the banking industry reeling, and even Starbucks closing 600 stores, what we need is a national holiday! Well, happy Fourth of July to U.S. readers, and happy Friday to everyone else.

What are the big banks doing to celebrate the holiday online? Not much it seems. We are 25 hours away from the birthday, and of the 30 largest banks, only ING Direct and WaMu (in the Seattle area at least) are showing the red, white and blue.

Anyone else know of a financial institution with an Independence Day theme on its homepage? Drop it in the comments. Enjoy!

ING Direct’s homepage features a fireworks animation (2 July 2008)

ING Direct homepage with july 4th theme (2 July 2008)

WaMu trumpets its July 4 Seattle fireworks sponsorship (2 July 2008)

WaMu homepage (Seattle cookie) 2 July 2008

WaMu Launches Text-based Mobile Banking

imageWaMu just launched its first foray into mobile banking, a text-message-based (SMS) service believed to be powered by New Zealand’s M-Com (previous post here). Thanks to Brandon McGee, blogging from his vacation via iPhone, for the tip (here).

The free service provides text-based access to balance and history of checking and savings accounts. To use the mobile services, WaMu customers must first register through online banking to activate their phone. Up to five phones can be registered through a single online banking account.  

Chase is the other U.S. top-10 bank using a primarily text-based approach for mobile delivery. See our Online Banking Report on Mobile Banking for more information on the growing market, including a 10-year adoption forecast.

More info at the WaMu website:

WaMu Posts Best Banking Facebook Page So Far

image As a marketer you have to love WaMu. They are bold, quirky, and not afraid to poke fun at conventional wisdom. I haven't liked all their advertising campaigns, but that doesn't matter as long as the bank is reaching its target markets and delivering results.

While the bank has its challenges cleaning up the mortgage mess, its marketing department and ad agency are still producing good work. Case in point: WaMu's new Facebook page (below).

I realize that all banking pages in Facebook will appear lame to just about every 20-something that happens to stumble across them (see previous coverage here). But 20-somethings do still need checking accounts, debit/credit cards, vehicle loans, and so forth. So they will buy banking services. And what brand will they choose? The one that is at least making an effort to meet them on their turf with Facebook pages, text messaging, and humorous advertising, such as the talking banner campaign shown below.  

WaMu's Facebook page, which looks like it was posted April 17, contains videos, a crossword game, a branch finder, a checking account application form, a fan area and a communications app (note 1) that can be added to your Facebook profile. Take a look yourself here.

Excellent work: A

WaMu Facebook Page (23 April 2008) (note 2)

WaMu Facebook page

1. Even though I added it to my profile, I'm not sure what the WaMu Facebook application does. It appears to be a way to communicate with friends on Facebook and has 49 daily users.

2. The bar across the middle of the page is unrelated to the WaMu page; it's the new Facebook chat feature, that appears along the bottom of all screens, and messes up my screenshot. It does show you where the "fold" exists on a 13.3 high resolution laptop screen.

WaMu’s CD/Savings Account is Perfect for that New Years Resolution to Save More

A full-page ad in the front section (page A8) in yesterday's Seattle Sunday Times/PI alerted me to WaMu's latest offering called Savings for Success (see note 1).  

It's not a new invention, essentially a 1-year CD funded with automatic monthly deposits instead of a one-time deposit (see note 3), but WaMu uses its marketing prowess to dress it up like a super-high-yield savings account with an attractive 5.5% yield. It also delivers the ultimate marketing coup: turning what is normally a negative, not being able to get your money out for a year, into an account FEATURE, saying that the savings is "out of sight and out of mind" for the one-year CD term.

According to the Bank Deals blog, the savings account has been made available in select markets as far back as July. At that time the rate was higher, 7% in Illinois and Texas and 6% in Washington and Georgia (note 1).

It's great marketing that plays right into the new year's resolution mindset this time of year. Surprisingly, the account is not mentioned on the bank's website, even though the call to action (below) includes the bank's Web address. Also, WaMu has not used search marketing to support the print ad. Google searches do not lead to the the bank and a site search at leads nowhere. 

This is a great product and a good fit for online banking users. Assuming it pencils out in the four test markets, look for the account to debut nationwide in 2008.  


1. Apparently, the same ad has also run in the Houston Chronicle, but with a 6.5% APY. In the disclosures on that ad (reprinted here), the offer was said to be available in Illinois, Georgia, and Texas. The Seattle Times/PI ad says the offer is only available in Washington.

2. Here's the text in the main paragraph of the ad above:

Your checking and savings needs are officially over. To complement our WaMu Free Checking account, we've created Savings for Success. It's simple. You choose the amount you'd like to save each month – by automatically transferring as little as $25 and up to $500 from your WaMu Free Checking account to your Savings for Success account. There it is kept out of sight and out of mind, earning big interest, and helping you save without even having to think about it. After one year, it's yours to access when we sweep the savings into any savings account you choose. So save like never before and still get free checks for life, free ATM cash withdrawals, and all of the other features of our WaMu Free Checking account. It's banking bliss. To learn more stop by a WaMu near you, call 1-866-808-1396 or visit

3. Update Jan 8: The product, with the 6.5% rate, has also been advertised in The Dallas Morning News (link to the ad here). Also, I neglected to mention that the account can ONLY be funded with automatic debits with a miniumum of $25 per month to a maximum of $500 per month, so it's not an account aimed at large depositers. 

Keeping Your Credit Score at 98.6 Degrees

Just like a fluctuating body temperature is an indicator of your underlying health, your credit score is a similar measure of your financial well being. Yet, in a recent poll of Facebook users age 18-24, we found that fewer than 20% had seen their credit report or credit score within the past year (see note 1, 2).

Furthermore, today's tightened credit market has put a premium on having a good credit score, even in the upper end "prime segment." Here's the tease from the top of the Personal Journal section of today's Wall Street Journal, "Lending squeeze raises the bar on credit scores." (article here, see note 3).

Clearly there is a need here. Most U.S adults, especially younger ones, should track their credit score at least quarterly. However, fewer than 10% of adults subscribe to credit monitoring services, partly because of their cost and partly because of the hassle (see note 2).

Banks, credit unions and card issuers are ideally suited to fill this gap. At a minimum, low-cost one-click access to their credit score would provide customers with an important early warning system to stave off potentially debilitating personal finance woes (note 4).


1. Be aware that this is a completely unscientific online poll of 200 Facebook users who say they are age 18-24 in their Facebook profile. The results should NOT be projected to the larger population. It was conducted on July 23, 2007 by Online Banking Report (see note 2).

2. For more information, see the latest Online Banking Report on Credit Monitoring.

 3. And over at another Dow Jones effort, the FiLife blog, the writers have been on a bit of a mission to pressure banks and card issuers to make credit scores freely available to customers (see post here). FiLife is a joint effort between Dow Jones and IAC, the parent of Lending Tree and GetSmart.  

4. According to the FiLife article cited above, among top-10 banks, only WaMu currently provides free access to credit scores for its credit card customers (see inset).