My colleagues and I attended the Financial Brand Forum just the other week. As a former banker myself, now on the marketing side, I found this experience fascinating and enlightening. Here are my high points from the conference, and how you can employ them for your bank.

  1. You have 8 seconds to make an impression to determine if a recipient opens and read your email. You have to think about subject lines, design, brevity of copy, the ”from” address, and nowadays almost most importantly, you have to be mobile-ready. 81% of recipients read email on a mobile device; however, 59% of emails sent by banks are not designed for mobile. On average, a person looks at their phone 150 times a day, so even during business hours, bankers must think mobile first.
  2. $7 billion has been lost in insufficient funds income nationwide since changes in overdraft regulation. Relying on NSF revenue is no longer an option, and banks must adjust to this loss through a greater focus on marketing and lending. Checking still remains the biggest door opener, but onboarding and cross-sell programs must be integrated to expand account and service openings.
  3. Affluent households prefer direct mail over email. Also, direct mail is the most effective media for onboarding messages because people love paper. Targeted direct mail remains overwhelmingly the strongest channel for marketing ROI, outperforming all other channels combined (by nearly 600%!) in a recent DMA Response Rate Report.
  4. Benchmark and measure the most indicative metrics. Instead of measuring response rate, you should be measuring frequency of purchase or visit, lifetime value and if the average transaction size is increasing. Response rates mean nothing if conversions aren’t occurring. Identifying and auditing gaps in the customer journey can help rectify this issue.
  5. In banking today, we have 4 generations serving 5 generations of customers. Think about that. The newest and oldest generations have thinner representation, and the technology that the bookend generations use is drastically different from each other. Millennials are on average two to five years older when they start their first job, enter the workforce, finish their education, marry for the first time, and have their first child, than any prior generation.
  6. Perceived convenience matters more in the decision making process when choosing a new financial institution. Online banking has become more of an expectation than a perk, and the convenience offered by a robust eStatement or mobile banking solution can be a deciding factor in customer attrition or to choosing a bank as a new mover.
  7. Social media is where a financial institution should listen and learn in order to serve its customers better. 50% of the banking customers who use social have used it to research or discuss a product or service in the past six months. Although “social banking” isn’t likely to become a reality anytime soon, having a strong listening presence in social media can serve as an arm of the customer service department and greatly enhances brand sentiment and the journey to engagement.
  8. 72% of digital consumers are willing to bank with a non-bank. Traditional brick-and mortar banks no longer have a stranglehold on checking account acquisition or lending options. Between online-only banks and non-traditional lending avenues, customers have more choice than ever. Banks must consider the appearance of their locations, their ATMs and satellite offices, their online portal, their call center and their marketing together as a single synergistic element of the customer experience.
  9. Designing good emails is difficult. Each email client has a different subset of codes, and different approaches to handling mobile responsiveness. Also, I enjoyed the notion that we must replace the terminology “email blast,” because emails are not weapons of mass destruction!
  10. The first year attrition rate among the top 100 banks ranges from 25 to 40%.Onboarding is more important than ever, as the first year of a customer relationship is integral to every aspect of retention. This statistic blew me away, but makes sense, as the convenience to switch between banks is easier than ever, and a bank must fully embrace lifecycle marketing.

So those were my key takeaways – what were yours? In tandem to my colleagues and me being at the conference, some of our other team members prepared a whitepaper on the customer journey for banks – “Beyond Big Data— 6 Steps to Mapping the Retail Banking Customer Journey,” that elaborates on a lot of the themes I heard at this year’s show. Take care, and hope to see you at the conference next year!