Over the past decade, digital executives and teams at banks have made strides in digital selling by upgrading and improving their public websites — and more recently their mobile apps and sites. But conversion rates on many banks’ websites remain low — in some areas, well below 10% — even as consumers’ expectations for digital experiences rise.
To take their digital selling to the next level, digital marketing and sales teams at banks should look outside the banking industry for fresh thinking. One area to look for inspiration is retail: By adapting digital tactics that best-in-class retailers use, banking digital teams can make adjustments to their websites and mobile apps that boost conversion rates and sales overall. Forrester has just published a new report that outlines “What Banks Can Learn From Retailers' Websites.” Here are just three of the ideas we discuss in the report:
Merchandise around customers’ needs and journeys rather than product silos. Retailers have found success by merchandising entire site sections, and even microsites, around customer journeys and events. Yet our research finds that virtually all banks still use products as the organizing principle on their websites. In 2013, Wal-Mart created a complete "back to college" microsite with digital marketing on key landing pages. As a result of this and other digital merchandising efforts, Wal-Mart increased the number of back-to-school products sold on its website by 30% year-over-year.
The global mobile revolution is still in its early stages! Forrester forecasts that there will be nearly 3.5 billion individual smartphone users among more than 5 billion individual mobile subscribers by 2019. Mobile will clearly be the new battleground where you must win, serve, and retain your customers globally. Mobile is no longer simply a digital channel; it is an opportunity to transform customer experiences and to invent new businesses. It will be the hub of new connected experiences in mature economies but the ultimate “converged” medium in emerging ones.
To move away from simply shrinking and squeezing their desktop PC websites and ads onto mobile, many B2C marketers have embraced the notion of “mobile-first”. They are starting to design websites and marketing campaigns with mobile in mind instead of simply retrofitting their approach to mobile. More often than not, mobile-first still implies that you consider mobile as channel. While you must design with mobile in mind and adapt your content to smaller screens, this approach won’t be enough to fully address the upcoming global mobile revolution.
Marketers must now leverage mobile to transform their customer experience and to act as a catalyst for business disruption.
■ B2C Marketers must transform the overall experience to win in customers’ mobile moments . . .Marketers must stop thinking about mobile as a goal or a strategy and start thinking about how it can help them achieve their overall marketing and business objectives. Only 14% of the companies we surveyed have started down this path, and only 4% of them have allocated the resources, budget, and organization needed to undergo their own mobile mind shift. Those that are investing in the mobile mind shift are pulling ahead.
I remember the first time I attended 3GSM in Cannes: It was primarily a B2B telecoms trade show and centered on DVB-H, WiMAX, and other technology-centric acronyms. Fast-forward 11 years, and Mobile World Congress (MWC) will be the center of the business world for a couple of days (March 2 to 5). Some things don’t change: We will continue to hear too much about technology. Simply ignore the hype, especially around 5G; it will have no impact at all on your marketing strategy for the next five years!
However, the list of keynote speakers is a good indication of what MWC has become: a priority event for leaders willing to transform their businesses. The CEOs of Facebook, Renault-Nissan, SAP, MasterCard, and BBVA will be speaking, and more than 4,500 CEOs will be among the 85,000 attendees (only 25% of which are from operators). It is fascinating to see how mobile has changed the world in the past 10 years — not just in the way that we live and communicate but also in terms of disrupting every business. I strongly believe that mobile will have a bigger impact than the PC or Web revolutions. Why?
First, mobile is the fastest and most ubiquitous technology ever to spread globally. People in Asia and Africa are skipping the PC Internet and going direct to mobile phones; they’re the ultimate convergent device and often the only way to reach people in rural areas. As Andreessen Horowitz's Benedict Evans put it, mobile is “eating the world”. It has already cannibalized several markets, such as cameras, video recorders, and GPS, and is now disrupting entire industries, changing the game for payments, health, and education, especially in emerging countries. Second, mobile is the bridge to the physical world. It is not just another “subdigital” channel. This alone has a huge impact on business models. Last, mobile is a catalyst for business transformation.
Hot off the presses: We’ve just published our 2014 US and Canadian Bank Digital Sales Benchmark reports, in which we assess the public websites of the five largest retail banks in each country — as well as their mobile sites and downloadable apps for smartphones and tablets. Our benchmark looks at a range of criteria across four categories: discover, explore, buy, and onboard (see image below).
Read the full reports by clicking on the following links:
Here are some of the findings from the research:
Bank of America narrowly edges out the competition to take the top US spot. For the second year in a row, Bank of America earns the highest overall score among the five largest retail banks. The firm excels by simplifying the online application process (it takes just a few minutes and guides the user with clear feedback and progress indicators) while supporting digital shoppers with chat and click-to-call options. At the same time, Bank of America enables easy cross-channel shopping for digital researchers who want to move offline to apply, with branch appointment scheduling available online.
Marketing teams are expanding their use of mobile across functional, geographic, and brand boundaries, and the mobile vendor ecosystem is still fragmented and increasingly convoluted. The result? Marketing leaders are unsure about how to organize and support their growing mobile initiatives — they’re not even certain what responsibilities and talents they should allocate to mobile.
While CMOs are the primary leaders of mobile strategy among C-Suite executives, there’s rarely one clear mobile leader simply because mobile is not solely the domain of marketers. A third of marketers we interviewed still lack CMO support. While executives consider mobile as strategic, only 35% of marketers we surveyed consider they have the budget they need to support their initiatives. More often than not, we have found that marketing leaders lack mobile skills and ways to coordinate mobile across the company.
Looking down the road, the widespread adoption of mobile technologies will deliver unprecedented levels of change for marketing leaders and their teams as:
Agile approaches to marketing will become standard. To embrace the velocity and agility required to reap the benefits of the mobile world, marketing leaders will need to transform their teams’ organization and processes. Mobile’s data granularity and velocity will drive the need to constantly iterate marketing campaigns and tactics.
Mobile reached a tipping point in 2014 as it solidified its position as one of the most disruptive technologies for businesses in decades. Not since the advent of the Internet, has a technology forced businesses to rethink completely how they win, serve and retain customers. Mobile has completely shifted consumer expectations. Today, consumers expect to get anything they need immediately, in context. Forrester refers to this as the mobile mind shift.
Forrester believes that, in 2015, the gap will increase between leaders and laggards. Leaders will use mobile to transform both their customer experience and their business. They will anticipate the needs of their customers and engage them at exactly the right moment with the right content and services. Forrester refers to these moments as mobile moments. Doing so will require massive spending in the tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars to put the infrastructure, technology, processes and organization in place to engage consumers in their mobile moments.
Most companies will fall short. They have a myopic view of mobile. Why?
Treat mobile has a squeezed down version of a PC experience or a portion of their digital strategy. Why? That is how they are organized and goaled. As a result, they fail to optimize the use of mobile for their overall business. Second, they fail to serve the needs of customers.
As the hub of our offline and online experiences, mobile interactions are a powerful catalyst for contextual marketing. The untapped opportunity in mobile for marketers will be to get an extremely granular understanding of their customers, then anticipate their expectations, and develop unique insights to power better marketing across all channels, not just mobile.
Few Marketers Make The Most Of The New Customer Data Gold Mine
Because smartphones are the hub of our offline and online experiences, they generate valuable insights for contextual data-driven marketing. However, the majority of marketers are not yet ready to exploit the convergence between mobile and big data.
Short Term: Engage Your Customers In Real Time In Their Mobile Moments
Harnessing and extracting actionable insights from this unprecedented wealth of customer data will enable marketers to serve customers in their mobile moments on a channel where they will increasingly spend the majority of their digital time.
Long Term: Power Better Marketing Initiatives Beyond The Mobile Channel
Mobile is more than simply another digital channel. Marketing leaders should combine mobile data with other sources of customer intelligence to get a deeper understanding of customers, anticipate their expectations, and act on these insights to improve all marketing initiatives.
I’ll be curious to hear if there is a business strategy update, but I don’t think we’ll have more insights on what “unbundling the big blue app” really means. I think one possible option is that social data and contextual identity will be the layer on top of Facebook’s new social conglomerate.
I personally will be looking more specifically for an update on mobile app installs. There's no doubt that Facebook has disrupted the app marketing space by becoming a key player in app discovery — which is the key driver behind its mobile ad revenues.
A growing and significant part of this business comes from direct marketers looking to drive app installs, primarily from gaming and other businesses that are increasingly dependent on mobile, such as travel and retail companies. These players know the lifetime value of their apps and have calculated how much they can spend to drive each app download and still have a positive return on investment (ROI). But marketers in more-traditional businesses or who are pursuing other marketing goals should pay close attention to the unique attributes of their mobile social users and optimize their social strategies to engage them.
According to Reuters, Japanese messaging app Line has filed for an IPO valued at over $10 billion.
No doubt the space is heating up. Competition is increasing. Facebook acquired WhatsApp for $19 billion. Japanese Internet giant Rakuten purchased Viber for $900 million. More recently, Kakao Corp (the maker of KakaoTalk, South Korea’s top messaging service and a direct competitor to Line) and Daum (one of South Korea’s largest Internet portals) announced they would merge through an equity swap, creating a company with about $2.9 billion market capitalization!
To put all this activity in perspective, I recently published a new piece of research explaining how messaging apps are morphing into new media portals and are becoming the new face of social.
WeChat is jockeying to become a global digital platform, thanks to the deep pockets of its parent company, the Chinese Internet giant Tencent. The other Chinese Internet giant, Alibaba, which recently invested $280 million in Tango, could also connect the dots between its commerce, payment, media, and social capabilities.
Soon to have 500 million registered online users, Line is definitely a key player in the space. The money to be raised will help in developing the already significant international expansion and further develop the positioning of Line as a “smartphone life platform.” The majority of the $335 million in revenue generated in 2013 came from games and about 20% from stickers — “emoticons on steroids,” as my colleague Julie Ask called them.
Japanese consumers are among the most mobile-savvy in the world: They were shopping, banking, and gaming on mobile phones long before consumers in other nations. The Japanese mobile ecosystem used to be unique; telecom operators specified to Japanese handset manufacturers the design of services to implement on multimedia phones. This is changing in an app world.
Indeed, the mobile market is opening up quickly to the smartphone app ecosystem. While Japan is a mobile-centric society, smartphone adoption has lagged behind other major markets. Many international brands launched their first mCommerce initiatives in Japan several years ago, but the market subsequently disappeared from the innovation radar due to the US-centric smartphone app ecosystem. But this is changing. It is time to take another look at Japan to uncover how the nation is combining innovation and scale as its market embraces smartphone apps.
More than a decade ago, I had the opportunity to work with NTT DoCoMo to introduce i-mode — the mobile multimedia service in France. At that time, Japan was clearly two to three years ahead of the rest of the mobile world. The Japanese market — and more specifically, the i-mode business model — is rumored to have inspired Steve Jobs to launch the Apple App Store. After that, Silicon Valley became the new source of innovation and inspiration for mobile marketers. Now that the app ecosystem has come full circle, marketers should again consider mobile marketing in Japan, benefiting from a more open ecosystem to distribute their apps and engage with Japanese customers. I recently spent a full week in Japan, and it is fascinating to see the relationship people have with mobile phones over there.
There are lots of lessons to learn from the likes of Rakuten, Line, Felica, Softbank, or NTT DoCoMo and from a mature ecosystem of mobile contactless and connective-tissue technologies.