5 Ways Banks Can Increase Mobile App Revenue and Engagement

  • JJ Hornblass
  • July 30, 2014
  • 2

© Can Stock Photo Inc. / dolgachovI’m not one for “list” blogs, such as “The 13 Worst Things You Can Buy On eBay That Are Made Out Of Loom Bands” or “29 Genius Ways To Consume More Tequila,” which means I might not be Buzzfeed‘s optimum visitor.

Sometimes, though, list blogs have merit.

Now that you are back on Bank Innovation after clicking on the tequila list-story (don’t worry, I won’t tell), I can share a marketing list that deserves bankers’ attention. The post is titled, “5 Ways to Increase Revenue and Engagement with Mobile Apps,” by Adam Marchick, the CEO of a mobile marketing company called Kahuna. The post was written for consumer mobile apps — and that’s exactly why I found it so compelling for banking apps. When you think about mobile banking apps through the lens of consumer apps, the deficiencies in banking apps become obvious. What follows are Marchick’s points (“The Consumer Angle”) and our take on what they mean for mobile banking apps (“The Banking Angle”):

1. Provide Value to Encourage Engagement

The Consumer Angle: Cultivate user engagement and retention by sending marketing messages with relevant, valuable content. Personalized recommendations, based on ‘last brand viewed’ or ‘most recent purchase’, provide value to your users and warm them to your mobile app experience. The key is to target specific segments of users and to incorporate personalization.

The Banking Angle: Is any banking app doing this today, or at least doing this effectively today? There isn’t even much personalization, let alone cross marketing, via mobile. This has got to be a priority going forward.

2. Inspire Urgency to Drive Mobile Conversion

The Consumer Angle: Once your users are engaged with your brand on mobile, it is time to start encouraging them to make a purchase. Research shows that 48% of users worldwide list mobile as a key media for impacting purchasing decisions. Develop a robust cart abandonment strategy that incorporates real-time customer behavior across channels (i.e. if a customer adds an item to their cart on desktop, mobile web, or through your app), and leverages push and in-app messaging to encourage immediate conversion. Make sure to customize your marketing message for each user by referencing the specific item waiting for them in the cart.

The Banking Angle: There are still too few product sales executable via mobile. If your customers cannot use their mobile app to add a credit card to their account, there is something wrong. Banks need to just get to Step 1 of allowing for product sales. Let’s worry about Step 2, the cart abandonment strategy, later.

3. Offer Social Proof to Cultivate Brand Loyalty

The Consumer Angle: Encourage your customers to share on social – this is a great way to transform your customers into brand advocates, and to generate network effect organic user growth. Consider a VIP campaign or special promotion message to encourage your top mobile customers to spread the word to their friends.

The Banking Angle: We have seen various attempts at this, and obviously there are privacy issues here. Suffice it to say, there are still ways to get consumers to pronounce their love for your brand. Don’t let regulatory compliance become an excuse for listless marketing.

4. Find the Risk Rhythm to Retain Users

The Consumer Angle: As you continue to engage with your mobile customers, prevent over-messaging by tailoring your push strategy to accommodate each user’s unique time of day preference and message frequency tolerance.

The Banking Angle: Banks aren’t even close to getting to this level of “over-messaging.” If anything, consumers are craving more and better messaging.

5. Build Trust to Onboard Effectively

The Consumer Angle: New mobile users need to understand the value of your app — why is it a must-have? Make a great first impression with an informative splash page (an extra screen that pops up the first time a user opens your app). Use this prime real estate to guide the customer through your app’s top features, and to demonstrate the value of opting into push notifications. On iOS, you are only allowed to officially ask for push permissions once. Don’t waste your only shot by asking for push permissions in a splash page. Instead, start with an informal ask, and only prompt them to the official permission page if they answer “YES.”

The Banking Angle: This is good advice. Most bank app design tends to center on cleanliness and user experience. It’s time to start thinking about marketing within the app, too. Back when (we are talking five years or so ago), just having an app was the goal for most banks. The focus needs to move from a “check the box” mentality of having a mobile app that is “good enough,” to one that can facilitate a more aggressive marketing agenda. The status quo is not good enough anymore. This is 2014, after all.

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JJ started the first iteration of Bank Innovation back in 2007, and has been working on it ever since. He also serves as President & Chief Executive Officer of Royal Media, Bank Innovation’s parent. He founded Royal in 1995 and oversees all aspects of the New York-based diversified media company. Prior to forming Royal, JJ was on the editorial staff of American Banker, the daily newspaper, and worked as an editor of a business magazine in Hong Kong. As a reporter and editor, he has won journalism awards from the National Press Foundation, Newsletter & Electronic Publishers Foundation, and the Reader’s Digest Foundation. He has a BS in Economics from Yeshiva University and a Master’s from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He was also a Fellow at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Graduate School of Banking. He lives in New York City with his wife, two daughters, and son. He counts among his accomplishments one New York City Marathon, two New York City Triathlons and the 2010 Father’s Day 5K, the first race he ever ran with his daughters. He can be reached at hornblass@gmail.com or 212-564-8972.

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