The bank account becomes a marketing space
A data-driven transformation that creates stunning opportunities
1. Goodbye, marketing funnel
The so-called intent, as Google has codified it, is the new protagonist of marketing: the elusive intention, but strongly contextual, that guides the purchase paths, never being linear and predictable. Users don’t go from left to right or from the top down — from awareness to loyalty — as in traditional models anymore; they move in every possible direction instead, often going in circles, and in a way that’s very difficult to predict (we talked about that in a previous article).
Some examples: more than 125 touch points visited to buy cosmetics. More than 350 for a headset. More than 500 for a trip. It’s a maze-like space where behaviors like webrooming (exploring on line to purchase off line) and showrooming (visiting physical stores to purchase on line) appear, extending the retail jargon with terms like ROPO (research on line, purchase off line) and ROTOPO (research on line, test off line, purchase on line). Behaviors that cannot be stopped with aggressive actions such as a “tax” for people who try shoes in a store without buying anything.
In this context is decisive for any brand to fulfill intent in the shortest possible time. Let’s call it time-to-intent. The proximity to payment and money management tools will get more and more crucial.
Enter the bank account.
2. From bank statement to experience hub
The momentous transformation of the bank account into an active space, powerful management tool and operational dashboard, also opening to the outside with the EU directive PSD2, creates tremendous opportunitites for marketing and sales.
The bank’s knowledge about daily needs, actual expenses, habits and preferences shown by transactions, and also about customers’ goals set through personal financial management tools (PFMs), is certainly smaller than Facebook’s or Amazon’s, but it’s definitely accurate and actionable.
Money spent and actual shopping patterns are the most reliable proxies for people’s real behaviors.
Enriching these data with the information collected on line by players outside of the finance industry could feed the most effective prediction engine.
The bank account as a channel has been used so far by banks mostly to promote financial products and services from their own catalogue. But new models are appearing, providing account holders with any kind of customized offers — not just about credit cards or mortgages. With highly targeted call-to-actions (such as promotions about flights, accommodations and activities for a trip I’m saving for) and suggestions embedded in the very fabric of the banking experience. Aimed at influencing people’s intent and put it into effect in real time.
This is the field of action of Meniga, the Icelandic fintech whose mission is to bring retail marketing practices for engagement and loyalty to the banking space, including challenges and social media mechanics, like in the ecosystems they have already built with mBank, ING Direct, Santander. Providing relevant added-value services to users is key, with tools that make money management easier and more effective and promoting behavioral change by using data and machine learning in a smart way. Enhancers is already working on solutions like these for groundbreaking projects in Italy.
Another example is Curve, a credit card aggregator allowing users to generate cashback when purchasing from their favorite brands. Current partners include Amazon, Carrefour, Apple, Just Eat, IKEA, easyJet and Netflix, and new ones are added to the list constantly.
3. Lifestyle banking
The potential is immense, and new business models include subscription-based services, the integration with vocal assistants to boost “a-commerce” (purchases managed by AIs), data enrichment and monetization, and much, much more.
What’s at stake is creating and strengthening an emotional bond between the customer and the bank, which can also help both incumbents and challengers in standing up to external challenges: some years ago the Millennial Disruption Index revealed that 73% of people born between 1981 and 2000 would be more excited about a new offering in financial services from Google, Amazon or Apple than from their own nationwide bank.
Numbers speak volumes: customers that have an emotional bond with their bank are less likely to try new solutions and generate up to 6 times the profit of a “very satisfied” user (source: Net Promoter Score and Motista). A groundbreaking player like buddybank, that has already carved a space as the first conversational mobile bank in the Italian market, is also paving the road in this new direction, with new services and features that will hit the App Store anytime soon. The multiplier is huge; the challenge is open.
Roberto Maggio is Partner, Director of Content e Head of Verbal Design at Enhancers. He’s been teaching digital marketing and growth hacking at IED, at Università Cattolica in Milan and at the Interaction Design course of ITS ICT in Turin.