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I recently attended BAI in Chicago. BAI is a tradeshow that not only hosts vendors who showcase innovative solutions but also holds sessions focusing on key industry issues to help banks and credit unions form successful business strategies. Additionally, visionary and motivational speakers help FIs refine their approach to banking and reimage the world of retail banking, as was this year’s theme.

BAI 2014 General Session

BAI 2014 General Session

What a show! I was definitely among some rock stars of the digital, tech, and banking spaces. The first general session I attended was led by Gary Vaynerchuk, self-trained digital and social media expert. He has a really inspirational story of entrepreneurship and palatable energy and passion around digital marketing. He asked one simple yet amazingly provocative question that set the stage for his talk, “Are you marketing in the year we actually live in?” Boom. Done. He could have walked off stage after that. OK, probably not. Gary shared many examples of how digital marketing and social media work and have changed how we live and communicate daily. He sprinkled in various entertaining anecdotes, encouraged audience participation, and both shamed and congratulated those who were behind the times. Like myself, although an avid digital marketer, Gary simultaneously seems to appreciate a simpler life. He also expressed admiration for those who have somehow managed to avoid technology and social media platforms that can be a time-suck or that arguably disconnect more than connect us. Anyway, the bottom line was that traditional marketing and advertising like TV, radio, and maybe even print, can still be effective (nominally) but digital and social are much cheaper, have longer legs, and create more waves. Not to mention, it’s where this particular group of elusive individuals are. The Millennials.

Gary Vaynerchuk

Gary Vaynerchuk

Big Data, Little Data, and User Experience

That leads me to a discussion that took place during the fintech FORWARD President & CEO Panel. Jeffery Yabuki, President and CEO of Fiserv said, “We make it hard for people to bank. Companies like Square and Amazon make it easy for people to do the things they want to do.” This idea came up over and over again at the conference. And that’s why we all attend these kinds of conferences – to get reinspired in order to do something different and up our games. Convenience and relevance is key for most people but particularly for millennials who were raised with the ease of technology.

Jeffery also brought up the fact that customers are telling FIs more than they did in the past by virtue of their devices. Here, we are referring to user behaviors like what functions they might use in their banking apps or what they do when they visit your website. It’s about aggregating data and making it easier for whoever is consuming that information to digest so they can make informed decisions on what to do next when it comes to marketing and product roadmapping. I believe it was Nadeem Syed, CEO of Misys, who said we have been experiencing a “big data renaissance.” Data, he said, lets us capture the essence of what motivates the consumer. Marketers and their cohorts over the past few years have realized the true value is in what we call little data at Malauzai. That means taking big, or lots of data and filtering it into buckets of little data – information organized into specific, more digestible categories. For example, with Monkey Insights, Malauzai’s Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer Robb Gaynor reports on user behaviors we have insight into via REBA, our real time analytics tool, to share trends in mobile banking. In this same way, as marketers, FIs can use that data to generate conversations with consumers and give them what they want.

fintech Forward President & CEO Panel

fintech Forward President & CEO Panel

Both Gary, during the General Session, and I believe Michael Bielamowicz, Executive Vice President, Global Solutions, Glory, during the session The Next Generation of Self Service, said consumers pick what they want. It’s about making their decisions easier and showing the value in your offer. For example, buying something online (with no shipping fees or having to leave your couch) is easy. During the President & CEO Panel, the following converse example was given: There are limits on how much money you can withdraw from an ATM. You can go into a branch and withdraw a much larger amount. What are people going to do? You force them to go into the branch, rather than serve themselves … opposite of self-service, which saves FIs beaucoup bucks. Referring back to the President & CEO Panel, Yabuki said when it comes to retail banking, things like Picture Pay or Mobile Check Deposit, the camera really excites him because it engages the user. Not to mention it saves both consumers and FIs time and money.

The Millennials

Back to millennials. I was able to catch a discussion about what they want and what they expect in an FI. What are their needs and challenges? Here’s the net of the presentation. It’s actually really simple. They want financial guidance; they want to get out of debt; they want easy access to relevant information.

Now, I promise, this is not an intentional toot of our own horn. Throughout the conference when I heard speakers talking about how to transform banking in response to consumer demand, stay up to date, and innovate, a specific feature or two within Malauzai’s SmartApps would always come to mind, relevant to the given topic. So when it comes to what millennials need as discussed during this particular session, here’s what immediately popped into my mind:

Personal finance management (PFM) = Financial guidance, debt prevention

MOX (Mobile Only Experience) = Easy access to relevant information

These two aspects (PFM being a feature and MOX being more of a design/tech philosophy) of Malauzai’s SmartApp solutions really solve for those overarching needs. First, let’s talk about PFM, which in part, addresses the desire for financial guidance and to get out of debt. PFM helps consumers organize and manage their finances. With that, you grow lifelong customers who purchase additional goods and services through you. You solve an important need for millennials, and one that will build trust and loyalty. In combination with PFM, branch employees should be proactive, informative, and consultative rather than acting as order takers or human ATM machines. The example has been given repeatedly of banks missing product offering and branding opportunities where Quicken and even AOL took advantage of this particular consumer need for personal finance management. That was many years ago and we’re still talking about how we need to provide a different type of customer service and transform the branch.

Next, let’s talk about MOX, a mobile only experience. This omnichannel approach differentiates FIs and sets them apart from competitors. MOX is Malauzai’s design philosophy that emphasizes the simplicity, usefulness, and flexibility of a mobile interface regardless of the device or channel consumers choose to use, including the desktop. MOX brings a consistent experience to end-users and allows them to access their mobile banking SmartApps anywhere and at any time. This approach to design and functionality enables consumers to easily find what they’re looking for, cutting through and eliminating the clutter that is often experienced on poorly designed apps as well as websites for online banking. Nadeem (MiSys) brought up the influence of consistency because innovating in one channel without matching that in others most often does not lead to sustained success. Consistency is important when it comes to your brand and messaging. It’s critical when we’re talking about giving users a seamless, intuitive experience across all channels. Why? They’ll go elsewhere, to your competitors. And sadly, branches do close.

Here’s what was recommended that banks do to accommodate millennials:

  • Be proactive, informative, & consultative rather than order takers
  • Differentiate yourself
  • Cross-sell through important channels
  • Have personalized communication (use your customer data) through preferred channels (i.e. email)

Digital Marketing Strategy

When we talk about making banking easier for consumers, we have to look beyond the technology itself and think about how we create awareness. How do we let people know we have really awesome banking apps? How do we get the technology into their hands? And what does being relevant mean when it comes to marketing and sales messages? The session Creating a Digital Marketing Strategy addressed these essential marketing topics.

The following stats were shared during the session:

  • 40% of the population will be digital natives by 2020 and will account for 39% of the nation’s personal income
  • 1/8 of banks say they have the skills they need for digital marketing
  • Over 40% of marketers budgets are allocated to digital marketing
  • FIs put money toward it but don’t have the skills needed to execute … You need a strategy

Some of the suggested activities for a digital marketing strategy:


  • Allows you to create ad, email, even newsletter content based on real data/user behavior
  • Allows you to test different content to find what works for you
  • Allows you to track ROI

Content/SEM (Search Engine Marketing)

  • Create content using consumer language. Focus on the consumer need rather than the product. i.e. Instead of creating an ad or website content using the keyword “home loan” incorporate a phrase like “buying a house”, something a consumer might type while searching online.
  • Have clean & simple navigation on your website
  • Provide clear CTAs (calls to action) in your website, app, and ad content

Social Media

  • User generated content in social helps so link back to your social profiles often
  • Social cues/listening relates to sales
    • If your social media manager knows how to listen to cues, you can generate leads. For example, if someone posts about getting a new job, now you can talk to them about their wealth management portfolio. If someone posts about needing a new car, talk to them about an auto loan. If someone gets married, time to talk about a home loan. By listening to social media conversations you can create targeted/personalized email campaigns as well as ads. The cues are the same, they’re just ripe for the picking in different channels now.

A really handy feature that relates to social media is Malauzai’ Social Sharing/Refer-a-Friend solution. Social Sharing enables peer-to-peer marketing, which has become increasingly important and effective. It helps FIs increase word-of-mouth and stand out from the competition. Word-of-mouth recommendations from peers influence buying decisions. Often times, friends trust each other more than they trust businesses so when someone follows you on social media and/or refers you to a friend – that’s powerful. It’s an immediate endorsement that lends you credibility. Social Sharing/Refer-a-Friend can positively influence your online reputation and breadth of voice. It helps you:

  • Strengthen your brand via social channels
  • Extend your brand reach & create your digital footprint
  • Be where consumers are; connect, engage, & develop loyalty

Additionally, the SmartApp offers the option for end users to post a status update to their own Facebook page with whatever message they want! For example, a message FIs might share with their customers/members could look something like this:

Did you just make the final payment on your car? Brag a little, you earned it! Share an update right from your banking SmartApp to let your friends know the good news and see who wants to celebrate tonight!

One of the recurring takeaways during the conference panels and sessions was, yes the banking industry has strict rules and regulations. So do doctors and lawyers, so do liquor brands but we see them everywhere online, including social media. Point being, there are no excuses. “We justify lack of action by regulations … but we’ve fallen behind”, said Yabuki. For example, “There are other ways to access the banking system to make it easier for people, like social tokens.” Continue to follow rules you have to follow but don’t rule digital out altogether because you’re afraid of the unknown.

It was refreshing to see so many people at the digital marketing, virtual banking, and customer experience sessions. That means FIs understand what we’re doing, they know innovation and differentiation is key to their survival, and it means they’re interested in learning how to promote their SmartApp.

Here are some predictions from the Creating a Digital Marketing Strategy session:

  • We’ll see more digital leaders in the boardroom
  • Disruptor organizations will take a bigger piece of the bottom line. Every single one of them has digital leaders in the boardroom.
  • Mobile wallet will become the mobile you

If you would like to learn more about how to market your SmartApp and are interested in our new marketing support program, SmartMarketing, please contact me at tara.cuccia@malauzai.com.

Let’s get the party started!

Tara Cuccia, Demand Creation Manager, Malauzai Software