Mobile banking continues to gather momentum worldwide and is also developing rapidly in China. Nearly half of metro Chinese consumers pay bills at least monthly on a mobile phone. While consumers are rapidly embracing mobile moments, most banks have yet to follow them. My recent published Brief: Smart Banks Tap Into Customers’ Mobile Moments tells B2C marketing professionals working at banks how to better address customers in their most relevant mobile moments throughout the customer journey.
Forrester sees the following key trends in China:
Banks are embracing mobile channels to serve mobile-mind-shifted customers. Top retail banks, including China Construction Bank and China Merchants Bank, have already adopted a mobile-first strategy.
Bank customers’ mobile moments occur throughout the customer journey . . . Leading digital banking teams are addressing customer needs in mobile moments throughout the customer life cycle across a range of mobile platforms, including WeChat.
. . . but most banks don’t always serve customers in all moments. Most banks’ mobile presence primarily focuses on the buy, use, and ask stages and less on the discover, explore, and engage stages (see figure).
Marketers in China are increasingly investing in social marketing: Three-quarters of the marketers we surveyed in 2015 plan to increase their social marketing budget in 2016. However, they struggle to determine the best social marketing strategies and tactics to engage with their target audience. My report, Take Three Steps Toward Social Success, introduces Forrester’s Social Technographics® model to help them.
Step 1: Use the Social Technographics Score to evaluate how important social media is to your marketing plan. Based on how much social media matters to consumers’ interactions with companies (from high to low), your audience falls into one of four groups: Social Stars, Social Savvies, Social Snackers, and Social Skippers. As the majority of metro Chinese consumers are Social Stars or Social Savvies, social marketing is an urgent priority for marketers in China.
Step 2: Use the Social Technographics Life-Cycle Rankings to craft the right social strategy. These reveal the stages of the customer life cycle — discover, explore, buy, use, ask, or engage — in which your customers are most likely to use social media. Metro Chinese consumers use social media the most when they’re considering products. So to succeed, marketers in China should leverage social marketing more in the explore stage of the customer life cycle.
Mobile banking is gaining momentum all over the world, and China is no exception. In August 2015, for the first time, Forrester evaluated the mobile banking offerings of five of China’s largest retail banks plus Alipay; we’ve just published the results in our 2015 China Mobile Banking Functionality Benchmark report.
To help mobile banking teams benchmark their mobile banking capabilities, identify critical mobile features, and plan for the future, we used our Mobile Banking Functionality Benchmark methodology to evaluate the mobile banking services of six of the largest retail banks in China, including five traditional banks — Agricultural Bank of China (ABC), Bank of China (BOC), China Construction Bank (CCB), China Merchants Bank (CMB), and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) — and one nontraditional bank: Alipay.
The Chinese mobile banking services we reviewed achieved an average score of 55 out of 100; while this is slightly better than banks in Singapore and the UK, many Chinese banks still lag behind their peers in Australia, Europe, and North America. The headlines:
Alipay outperforms the five traditional banks. Alipay started as a third-party online payment platform but now fulfills the same functions as a bank. The only nontraditional bank in our review, Alipay not only earned the best overall score of 67, but also scored highest in four of the seven categories in our benchmark: account and money management, transactional features, service features, and marketing and sales. Alipay excels with many mobile features that none of the major traditional banks currently provide. For example, it allows customers to easily find a past transaction using sorting, filtering, and natural language keyword search.
Based on the survey results, we will update the Benchmarking Social Marketing Efforts In China report published in November 2013. The updated report will help marketers check if their social marketing efforts are keeping pace with those of their peers.
Why is your input important? This survey will help us:
Understand your key focuses in social marketing. Marketing leaders in China put a lot of faith in social marketing and adopt various social platforms and tactics. This data will help you benchmark your key focus for social marketing.
Outline your pain points in achieving your social marketing goals. Marketing leaders in China are increasingly investing in social media and expect positive returns, but face internal and external challenges to achieving their business goals.
We will use the results to help marketing leaders in China:
Understand key trends to prioritize social marketing efforts. We will highlight the most important social platforms and tactics that you need to focus on and help you prioritize your social marketing efforts effectively.
Overcome key social marketing challenges. We will analyze the main challenges that social marketers face in China and help you plan and evaluate your social marketing strategies better.
Marketing leaders face the challenge of achieving a positive ROI —in fact, it is the top challenge for the digital marketers we surveyed in China earlier this year. Fortunately, a few marketers have managed to achieve this, and Spring Airlines is one of them. My recently published report, Case Study: Spring Airlines' Digital Business Takes Off With Social Marketing, tells its success story. From it, B2C marketers can learn how to achieve positive returns on their investments in social marketing initiatives and support their transition to a digital business.
As a private airline and the first budget carrier in China, Spring Airlines is performing well despite fierce competition from much larger state-owned competitors with more resources. Since the airline’s launch a decade ago, Spring’s B2C marketing professionals have focused on making the airline's business operations as digital as possible in order to:
Keep operating costs low.Unlike its main competitors, Spring receives no financial support from the government. To keep operating costs low, Spring bypasses travel agents, selling tickets exclusively via its official website and some designated ticket offices.
Support its challenger status and catalyze customer obsession. To compensate for its smaller scale and resources, Spring successfully differentiated its brand as an early adopter of digital, mobile, and social and built an extremely close relationship with its customers.
One-third of the digital marketers in China who responded to our survey indicated that eCommerce is one of their job responsibilities (see the figure). Forrester sees this trend developing in China as well as in Western markets. For example, in the US, Gap redesigned its global CMO role by merging eCommerce and digital marketing in a single executive position earlier this year.
However, the fusion of digital marketing and eCommerce teams is happening more extensively in China because:
Social and commerce are more closely intertwined in China than anywhere else. The bond between social media and eCommerce is extremely close in China, exemplified by the strategic partnerships between WeChat and JD.com and between Alibaba and Weibo.
With a whopping 549 million monthly active users, WeChat has become the largest mobile social app in Asia Pacific. Smart marketers not only borrow mobile momentsfrom WeChat, but leverage its power across the customer life cycle. My recently published report, Reinvent Customer Relationships With WeChat Mobile, helps B2C marketers understand the dynamics of the WeChat mobile ecosystem and learn how to best ride the wave of the WeChat-dominated mobile revolution in China. The report:
Shows how dominant WeChat is in Chinese consumers’ mobile lives.WeChat has become the default social networking tool in China and has disrupted consumers’ mobile behaviors. Metro Chinese consumers already spend more than half of their mobile Internet time on it. In the past year, WeChat users consumed US$15.3 billion worth of mobile data— more than Weibo, shopping, video, music, mapping, and email services combined.
Identifies the core features and services of the WeChat mobile ecosystem.WeChat is far more than a messaging app; it’s a rich mobile ecosystem filled with powerful features and services. The key ones that marketers can leverage include branded public accounts, advertising, WeChat Payment, eCommerce, smart services, and linking online to offline.
When it comes to engaging Chinese mobile consumers, top digital-native apps like WeChat attract more attention than brand-owned ones. Smart marketers are starting to borrow mobile moments rather than create their own. So how can you pursue a similar strategy? My most recent brief, The Power Of Borrowed Mobile Moments, provides marketers with the guidance needed to successfully borrow mobile moments.
Forrester defines a mobile moment as a point in time and space when someone pulls out a mobile device to get what they want in their immediate context. Mobile moments are the key to winning the mobile battle, as they create an opportunity to transform consumers’ perception of a brand. For B2C marketers in China, the opportunity is great — the country is the world's largest smartphone market — but so is the challenge: Chinese consumers have extremely high expectations when it comes to mobile services.
Our research indicates that, of the different types of mobile moments, borrowed moments are the most essential to winning over Chinese consumers. There are a few reasons for this:
WeChat and a few mega-apps dominate consumers’ mobile moments. Metro Chinese consumers already spend more than half of their mobile Internet time on WeChat. A few other popular apps, such as Didi Dache and MeituPic, have attracted hundreds of millions of users and enjoy high daily usage.
“Owned” mobile moments are less likely to work in China. The country’s relatively slow mobile Internet speeds have shaped consumers’ preference for data-light apps and resistance to downloading and using individual brand apps.
Mobile expectations are high in the world’s largest smartphone market. However, marketers lag behind consumer mobile adoption in China and need to do a better job understanding trends in mobile behavior in order to develop effective mobile strategies. My most recent report, The New Mobile Mind Shift Index: China, introduces Forrester’s new Mobile Mind Shift Index (MMSI) to China.
MMSI is a tool to enable marketing leaders to determine how urgently they should provide mobile services and which features to include. It measures how far an individual has shifted in their approach to mobile across three components:
The Mobile Intensity Score determines if it is appropriate to connect with customers. This score, on a scale from zero to 100, indicates how intensely people use interactive mobile devices.
The Mobile Expectation Score determines the urgency to create mobile applications. This score, also on a scale from zero to 100, indicates what people expect from companies on their mobile devices.
Three Mobile Behavior Scores determine which types of features people are ready for. We calculate three behavioral scores, each on its own scale of zero to 100. The Communicate Score indicates participation in mobile communications behaviors like reading email and texting. The Consume Score measures behaviors like reading news and watching video. The Transact Score tracks behaviors like online buying and service.
In China, digital disruption is affecting nearly all industries, including telecommunications (WeChat); transportation and travel (Didi Dache, Kuaidi Dache); and banking and financial services (WeChat Payment, Alipay Wallet). In this digital era, marketers in China face opportunities and challenges in digital marketing:
Opportunities: fast-growing digital marketing budgets and more digital marketing duties. More than three-quarters of the marketers responding to Forrester’s Q1 2015 China Digital Marketing Online Survey indicated that they will increase their digital marketing budget in 2015. Also, they are increasingly expanding their digital marketing duties into newer areas such as social and mobile marketing, customer relationship management (CRM), and eCommerce.
Challenges:meeting increased pressure to deliver business outcomes. Marketing leaders are bearing more responsibility for business outcomes. As a result, they face the challenge of measuring the results of digital marketing efforts and achieving positive ROI. Marketers are increasingly concerned with the effectiveness of their digital marketing spending and are striving for better strategies, tactics, and targeting.