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Communications You Can Feel

By Blog, Marketing Strategy, Technology, User Experience

Have you ever stepped into a car, sat down and closed the door and heard a nice solid “thud” as the door closed? There were no rattles or any objectionable noises at all. And then other times you’ve stepped into a different car and you heard a metallic, clanking kind of sound when you closed the door. At the time you probably made a snap judgment about the quality of the car you were entering. You most likely concluded that the first car was a reliable, sturdy, perhaps more expensive model. And you may have thought the opposite of the second car.

I realize that most people don’t go around listening to the sound of car doors. At the same time I know there are some of you who have heard the sound of the closing door and drew a conclusion based on the sound. You may have even drawn a conclusion about the owner of the car.

The truth is the sound of a closing car door can affect your perception of the quality of the car.

Your Senses and Perception

Have you ever be awakened in the morning by the smell of fresh brewed coffee being made by your significant other? You probably got a warm feeling all over from the aroma and an even warmer feeling inside for the person who was making you the coffee. The smell of the coffee can affect your perception of that person.

Now let’s take the car door and sound, and coffee and smell one step further. Studies have shown that paper and touch affect the way people receive and retain information. These studies have also shown that touch and paper can even influence the way people feel about the companies who use paper to market their products and services.

How Does the Medium Shape the Message?

Dr. David Eagleman is an adjunct associate professor at Stanford University. He has worked with a team of researchers in the Psychiatry Behavioral Sciences Department of the university to determine if the weight and type of paper can affect the perception of individuals who touch and read marketing materials.

“In humans touch represents a powerful form of non-verbal communication. Our sense of touch plays a fundamental role in daily life, from learning about objects to communicating with other people.” – Dr. David Eagleman

He and his research team created marketing materials for three fictitious companies. The materials were presented to test subjects on heavy coated stock, on lighter uncoated paper and on a website.

According to his research, he found that when subjects read a message on heavy, high quality coated paper they remembered it better, even when asked about the massage a week later.

He also found that when the message was printed on a high quality paper stock the individuals had a more positive first impression of the company. And they were more likely to recommend the company to a friend or a colleague. The test subjects rated the quality of the company based on the quality of the paper stock.

Direct Marketing Strategy

Let’s take this research and apply it to your marketing. You want consumers to remember your message and have a positive feeling about your company. I’ve previously discussed how effective direct mail is in reaching new clients and consumers. Now imagine a direct mail piece that goes beyond heavy coated stock.

Imagine a dimensional mail piece where you can go beyond the weight of the paper to the touch and feel of the image on the paper. Imagine feeling the feathers on an image of a bird. Touching and feeling the lines in an image of a circuit board. Or the rough, bumpy feel of the waffle cone in the video below.

We’re talking texture that makes people want to engage and experience your marketing piece. A message that people will share with their friends and colleagues. A marketing piece that will capture attention, and be memorable. A message your customer will see, read and feel!

Our senses help us gather information, draw conclusions, and make decisions. If you want your marketing to make an impression then take advantage of the sense of touch.


Millennials are about to move into their prime spending years

By Blog, Direct Marketing, Marketing Strategy, Millennials, Mobile Apps, Technology


One of the largest generations in history, millennials, is about to move into their prime spending years. How best can you get your products and services in front of the millennial generation?

When most people think of millennials they think digital. According to Forbes, it is not uncommon for millennials to use multiple tech devices. “87% of millennials use between two and three tech devices at least once on a daily basis.” Perhaps this is why millennials are always pictured with a mobile device in their hand.

With an estimated $200 billion in annually spending and more than $10 trillion during their lifetimes, millennials are the “holy grail” of consumers.

Determining the Best Marketing Channel

There are a number of marketing channels that can be used to reach customers. Online video, social media, and email are channels that seem best suited for an “online” digital generation. But traditional marketing channels should not be ignored. In fact, research show that millennials react better to traditional forms of marketing, like direct mail, than to online electronic marketing.

A 2016 USPS Marketing White Paper reported that:

  • 84% of Millennials take the time to look through their mail
  • 64% would rather scan for useful info in the mail than email
  • 77% of Millennials pay attention to direct mail advertising
  • 90% of Millennials think direct mail advertising is reliable

And when it comes to marketing and purchases:

  • 82% read direct mail they receive from retail brands
  • 57% have made purchases based on direct mail offers

The chart below demonstrates that despite their digital appearance, millennials read, open and interact with direct mail.

The Top 200 Direct Mail Service Providers

Direct mail gets your message in the door and into the consumer’s hand, where it can be seen, read, and felt and generate a response! That’s why a big part of what we do is focused on direct marketing. In fact, it’s so big we’ve just been named to the Bell & Howell Top 200 Direct Mail Service Providers list for 2017.

The reason direct mail works for millennials, and all other generations, is simple. As Nabeel Jaitapker, Senior Communications and Marketing Manager, Content Development and Demand Generation at Bell and Howell stated, “Direct mail marketing is getting more personal, more real, and more effective thanks to affordable high-quality digital printing and technologies that simplify integration into a multi-channel campaign.”

The USPS White Paper highlights some of the new technologies that can engage millennials with direct mail. They include:

  1. Incorporate multimedia and digital: Embed QR Code® barcodes, near field communication, or augmented reality to link your mailer to video and interactive materials on your website or social media sites.
  2. Keep your messaging succinct and easy to read. Provide bite-size pieces of information.
  3. Be authentic. Millennials distrust traditional advertising, so avoid hard-sell language. Use a straightforward, transparent approach.
  4. Use enhancements such as scent, sound, or texture to make your piece stand out.
  5. Help them feel good about their purchase. Millennials are compassionate and want to improve their world. Campaigns that donate a percentage of profits to a worthy cause or in some other way demonstrate corporate responsibility can resonate—if they’re seen as authentic.
  6. Use slang with caution, even if you are a Millennial. You risk turning your audience.

When you’re looking to engage millennials, or any other generation, you need a variety of proven marketing channels. A direct marketing campaign that includes mail, video, email and social media, is sure to accomplish your goal.

Going Mobile: Tips on reaching consumers when they’re on the go.

By Blog, Financial Marketing, Millennials, Technology

Going mobileMobile is still booming. People now spend more time on their smartphones than on their desktops and laptops combined. And the gap is widening. We are now officially past the smartphone tipping point. Now that users are in the mobile world, how do we get them into our mobile world? Here are a few tips to encourage them to download and use your mobile banking app.


Tip #1 — Keep it simple


Work with your IT team from the very beginning to make the process of downloading and using your banking app as painless as walking into one of your branches and opening up a checking account. On the other end of the process, train your in-branch team members as well as your online and telephone helpline staff on guiding your users through downloading and setting up your app.
These associates should know everything about this process just like they are expected to know everything about the other products you offer. The people jumping into a mobile banking app at this point aren’t exactly early adopters. They’ll need a little technology hand holding, and the financial institutions that do that will capture this end of the adoption bell curve.


Tip #2 — Get them watching


We all know how much it costs to process a check deposit at the branch level. If we can get our customers to utilize mobile bank deposits, we’ll be able to provide a more convenient service for a fraction of the price.


Enter video tutorials. By creating an easy-to-view, easy-to-follow video on how to deposit checks with your phone, you will send adoption rates soaring and ease up on all the time consumers spend on customer helplines.The phrase “Content is King” has run its course and is now about as trite and worn out as “You go girl”. But it became a cliche’ for a reason. And video content is the perfect way to train your new user on how to utilize their handy dandy new mobile app.


Tip #3 — Use every option


This moment is the perfect chance to leverage every marketing channel you have. When you launch an app shout it from every marketing rooftop you can find. Make sure you hit them with the formats they are most familiar with and then branch out to make a splash. After your launch, don’t abandon your promotion. Too many marketers make this mistake. Support your application with continuous marketing support.


Tip #4 — Keep it digital


By reaching out to your base with your digital channels, you’re one step closer to application download and adoption. Carve out a consistent and noticeable spot on your banking home page and use it to drive your customers to mobile. Use your social channels to promote the release of the app and then gently remind your audience of the mobile banking advantages.


Tip #5 — Don’t forget email


Recent studies have shown that 49% of all emails are now opened on mobile devices. In this particular case, your email list is very useful because email from your financial institution gets opened. Once your customers do open your email make sure it’s mobile-friendly. Also, make sure there are direct links to the most popular app stores — iTunes and Google Play. Finally, make sure you’re tagging these links for tracking and analytics.


Tip #6 — Include snail mail


Yes, as outdated as this might sound, consider the audience. Reaching the percentage of your customers who have yet to start using your mobile banking app through a more traditional form of communication makes a lot of sense. Nothing crazy or flashy is required. Something as simple as a statement stuffer might work wonders and, at the very least, be a solid reinforcement of your message. For these reasons, this traditional form of advertising still has a useful place in your campaign.


Tip #7 — The human touch


What better place than your branch to walk people through downloading and using an app? If a member of your staff can make the life of a customer easier and more convenient, you’ve hit a home run. The branch is also a great place to promote your mobile banking with signage and collateral.



To sum it all up, the best branch your customer could have may not be a branch at all. The idea of banking convenience is being redefined one smartphone at a time. Get them to use your app and you’ve deepened the relationship that leads to a customer for life.



Keeping Track — ROI measurement tools to better assess your marketing


Advertising legend has it that in 1951 many major cities began to experience a massive loss in water pressure at the same time on the same night of the week. After studying this odd phenomenon, a wise water department official soon made the connection.


It was The Lucy Show.


The red-haired comedianne was so popular that nearly the entire city was quickly going to the bathroom and flushing their collective toilets all at the same time. And tracking advertising effectiveness (or lack thereof if your commercial ran at the beginning of the break) was born.


Oh, how things have changed! Gone are the Mad Men days of throwing a message out into the vast semi-empty world and waiting with bated breath to see if sales somehow magically went up. It was a golden era when marketing wasn’t trackable and in turn, marketers weren’t completely responsible. Media buying was less about direct results and more of a “spray and pray” discipline.


Define ROI? These guys couldn’t spell ROI.


You, on the other hand, market in a world where you need to show a substantial return on nearly every dollar.


Here are five tips that will help you become a more effective marketer:

  • Plan ahead. Put measurement into your marketing plan from the start. It’s vital and will help you make many of your channel decisions. And add a channel hierarchy into your plan. When you have multiple channels working together, the analytics on each channel can be blurred. But they should be. That means that your efforts aren’t siloed. Just manage those expectations in your plan with a clear channel hierarchy.
  • Use control groups. To determine true results, you’ll need to create a control group. With the growth of multi-channel digital marketing, this can be a difficult endeavor, but it’s worth the effort. Without a control group, your results can easily be criticized. Credit for success can be given to other outside events beyond your marketing’s influence. With solid marketing planning and campaign management tools, you can create and maintain a pure control group that will in turn maintain the integrity of your results.
  • Define your metrics. To gain a more accurate measurement of your marketing be sure to define the metrics of your successes. This step seems elementary, but when the metrics aren’t well defined, marketing results can be seen as “fuzzy”. Your results, on the other hand, need to be crystal clear. Making sure your metrics are defined and well communicated to all stakeholders will get you the detailed measurements your well-spent money deserves.
  • Give credit per channel. Each channel should have its set of measurements for the simple reason that every channel is different. So make the rules different. Rolling out a campaign means that certain channels will get the credit for a first impression, and other channels may get credit for a sale. They all work together but manage the results by the different definitions of success that each different channel will have.
  • Manage and communicate the results. With all the pieces of communication going out and the massive amounts of information from your analytics coming in, it may feel like you’re trying to drink from a fire hose. Automation is the key. Leverage the many great tools out there to automate your information gathering. Then make sure your results are effectively distilled and expertly communicated.


The numbers from your findings won’t mean a lot if they can’t be properly digested. Visual representation of your results through dynamic graphs and infographics will make your results shine. They will also make your findings easier to understand.

And there you are. By creating a plan, using control groups, metrics, separation and automation you can garner effective measurement ROI for your marketing. This practice is part art and part science. The more experience you have analyzing your results, the more accurate your results will be.


The opportunities are out there. By tracking the channels that lead to a successful sale, you’ll ensure your marketing is working. By making decisions and changes based off your analytics, you’ll be able to speak to the right person at the right time with the right message.


And that is the ultimate goal of all effective marketing.




Same Banking Services, Fewer Pixels

By Blog, Technology

mobile BankingA wise man once said, “Today is so yesterday.” In the ever-changing world of technology, those words couldn’t be truer. In this arena, the only constant is change. Compared to other historic changes in the banking business, the rise of online banking happened at near breakneck speed. If those rapid adaptations made your head spin, pop some Dramamine and get ready for the wild ride that is mobile banking and mobile banking apps.

It is the future. And at the risk of trotting out a tired cliché, the future is now. The rise of the smartphone has lead to the rise of the smartphone lifestyle. By the end of 2014, 85 percent of Millennials aged 18 to 24 owned mobile devices. And chances are the other 15 percent were in lines outside various Apple stores to buy one. For the new and emerging demographic, mobile banking is not a nice benefit. It’s a necessity. Currently, 70% of millennial see mobile banking as a priority when handling their finances. And they are not alone. Every study shows the other generations are close behind in mobile usage and mobile banking.

Convenience has been redefined.

For years, convenience to consumers meant more hours, more locations, and more ATMs. Oh, how that has changed! Today, convenience means free online banking, mobile banking apps and most recently, mobile bank deposits. Soon all generations of consumers may go weeks, months, even years without stepping into a traditional branch.

Customer service has been redefined

So how do we serve consumers who don’t require face-to-face contact? Easy. We make their online, connected experience as pleasant and fulfilling as their traditional branch experience. Technology is meant to serve a purpose. In this context, it’s also meant to deepen your relationship with your patrons. Of course that’s easy to say in a blog; it’s much more difficult in practice. Even the largest international financial institutions are struggling with delivering what their customers want while still maintaining security. Finalizing a home loan online is a tad more complicated than say, buying a t-shirt.

Speed vs. security

Recent studies have revealed that nearly 50 percent of banking apps are vulnerable to hacking. Protecting our patrons while serving them online will be a constant balancing act. Fortunately, mobile banking will provide some solutions along with these added threats. Namely, the advent of fingerprint authentication. While not available on all smartphones, this solution could be the closest thing to the security/speed silver bullet many financial institutions are seeking. That being said, as every new security solution presents itself a new more sophisticated way of hacking that solution will appear. The trick here is to stay ahead of the security curve and offer your members the latest options available while still being fast, easy and seamless. It’s an ongoing investment, but it will pay off in the long run by keeping your patrons happy and secure, positioning your institution as a vital facet of their financial lives.

Net neutrality is a game changer

In the app world, speed is king. Studies have shown that nearly half of app users will abandon an app if it takes more than three seconds to load. Three seconds. The time it has taken you to read the last few sentences. Because of the latest net neutrality ruling we can’t pay for the added bandwidth that would translate into added speed. Internet and app access is now a utility. Our best response to this change is app optimization. Our mobile banking apps will need to be lean and nimble to survive in the current mobile-friendly, attention span deprived, need-it-now environment that consumers occupy.

Split the bill lickety split.

A great test of a robust mobile banking app is its ability to share payments. While not the newest thing to come along in mobile conveniences, the speed and ease in which your members can send money to others has become a priority. By leveraging a real-time EFT network solution, your app user won’t have to wait hours or even days for transactions to clear. It’s the perfect example of a service meets user expectations. It’s quick. It’s secure. And most importantly to consumers, it’s wonderfully effortless.

We’re still in the service business.

No matter what the next change will be, one thing hasn’t changed. We’re here to serve our patrons. Through pixels or people, we will continue to make them happy. Be it a branch or an app, our patrons will always need to do more than balance checks and bill payment. They will always need solid advice and help to navigate the next stage in their financial lives. Our technology should be robust enough to deliver this deeper need.

In the end, an app should be an experience, a natural extension of your highly respected and highly reliable member service.




Using Technology to create better account holder experiences.

By Blog, Financial Marketing, Technology


The bar keeps getting set higher. The expectations for superior service continue to grow. An investment in the right technology will help you meet and exceed consumer expectations.

Consumers are more informed and more connected than ever. With the blinding speed of banking technology advancement and new online offerings, keeping consumers happy and engaged means you’ll need to find new ways to surprise and delight them. And leveraging technology to improve your relationship is vital in the online age.

Here are a few ways we can make their lives better:

Polish your social skills.

Social networking has introduced us to the recommendation era. Consumers are online giving and receiving advice about everything from cars to ballpoint pens. Everyone has an opinion, and every opinion can be broadcast. This fact presents an unprecedented opportunity to join and shape the conversation. And that word “conversation” is key. Social networking is an amazing medium for two-way communication. We get to listen as much as talk, and we get to guide the conversation. So make your posts about “something that starts something.” Because once the conversation begins, the relationship deepens. It’s all part of a well planned social engagement strategy.

Branch out.

Today’s member needs to be connected to their money 24/7/365. Their laptop and their smartphone are their new branch. This fact doesn’t mean that the personal service and relationships are less important. The brick and mortar branch is still a vital part of your relationship. But it’s now simply one channel of a multipart network.

The complete relationship has extended to other options. It’s why mobile banking and mobile check deposits need to be more than technology. ..they need to be personalized. Make those features a positive experience by making your banking technology as easy and friendly as dealing with one of your very own representatives.

Crunch the numbers

The hyper-informed member can now easily shop around for the best rate on loans, deposit accounts, and credit cards. With smartphones, they can find a better offer while standing in your branch. In addition to price, the breadth of offerings and perceived stability are additional considerations for your member. Translation? The battle for their business is fierce. The personal relationship you have with your account holders will often give you the one competitive advantage that might make the difference in maintaining the account. Keep your rates competitive and easy to find to improve your chances of client retention.

Make a dynamic statement

The monthly banking statement is a tried and true facet of your relationship with your members. A jaw-dropping 95% of transactional statements are opened and read. Compare that to the open rate of promotional materials and you can see why this particular opportunity to deepen your relationship with your accounts holds some real promise.

Enter the Dynamic Statement.

Imagine the deepened appreciation that will come with an interactive, intuitive and inviting statement. Suddenly your account holders will become an engaged participant in their finances and you’ll get all the credit for helping them! The enhanced functionality allow users to be just a few clicks away from information that’s relevant to them. With access from any laptop, tablet or smartphone — they can personalize and customize their accounts.

Imagine users starting with the expected overview of financial data. With a simple click, they could analyze different charts and graphs and see more detailed information displayed in full-color down to the transaction in a particular month, week or even day. They could then sort their expenses by date, category or even amount spent.

As the definition of convenience shifts from the amount of traditional branches and ATMs to staying connected digitally to your money 24/7, the dynamic statement could change the way your accounts see their finances and their financial institution. It very well could redefine online banking.

Cultivate a deeper relationship

From digital banking to social networking to dynamic statements, every new advancement in technology is an opportunity to become a vital advocate in the lives of consumers. By being high tech and high touch, we can win loyalty and deepen trust. Technology is power. Harness it and you will have the competitive advantage needed to succeed in this new era.