In the second quarter of this year, stand-alone savings direct mail acquisition offers decreased by a significant 62%, while checking offers increased by 15%. Banks also scaled back the number of savings offers they sent in email, although the decrease was not as significant as it was in direct mail. Along with the fluctuations in mail volume, Comperemedia has tracked some notable changes in banks’ strategies in acquiring new checking customers. Those changes include combining product offers, highlighting ATM functionality, and changing product positioning.

One of the most impactful changes in strategy was made by Chase. The bank contributed to the precipitous decline in savings offers, by shifting its strategy from stand-alone checking and savings offers, to combining the two products into one offer. In February of this year, these combo offers constituted 84% of Chase’s checking acquisition direct mail tracked by Comperemedia, compared to last year when these combo offers constituted only 5% of its mail. As Chase increased the number of combo offers mailed to consumers, the bank also scaled back on the number of stand-alone savings offers it mailed out. With the switch to combination offers the bank promised new customers “up to $400” in cash incentives. The incentive was split across the two products – $200 each for the checking and savings accounts.

Banks have long emphasized their large ATM networks, and more recently their deposit capabilities

Banks have long emphasized their large ATM networks, and more recently their deposit capabilities. Recently they are now emphasizing the ever increasing capabilities of the ATMs, as they build them to handle more complex tasks. Chase is rolling out its Express Banking Kiosks in additional locations and emphasizes these ATMs as a feature in acquisition efforts targeted to Jacksonville, Florida residents. Bank of America has launched something similar called “ATMs with Teller Assist,” which allows customers to video conference with a teller while at an ATM. Customers can use the advanced ATMs to cash checks for the exact amount, and receive cash withdrawals in a variety of denominations. In the future they will be able to deposit checks with cash back, split a deposit into two or more accounts and make loan or credit card payments. The kiosks are interesting because they encourage customer to self-serve, but to come in to the branch to do so. This allows the customer to be served faster, the branch to process the transaction in a less expensive manner, but still provide the opportunity for conversations for more complex needs.

Fifth Third has added a twist to how it has done incentives this year. The bank began working with Stand Up To Cancer in 2013, when together, the two organizations launched the Fifth Third SU2C credit and debit cards, which generate donations to SU2C for every qualifying purchase made using those cards. Fifth Third then launched its “Pay To The Order Of” campaign in January. For each new customer who opens a checking account with direct deposit and makes three online bill payments, Fifth Third gives $150 to the customer and donates $150 to Stand up to Cancer. The partnership allowed the bank to create a strong and relevant social media presence, something banks have struggled with as companies from other sectors have embraced social media.

Attracting new customers has gotten ever more competitive as banks compete for the same customers. Banks will continue to experiment with different benefits, specifically in the self-service space, in ways that still encourage the potential for deepening relationships with customers. Additionally, banks will seek, more than ever before, to highlight the benefits that differentiate them form the other banks, whether that’s in the form of new digital tools, advanced ATMs, more convenient hours, or that lack of branches. Finally, incentives will continue to play an important role in the customer acquisition space, but banks will seek new ways of offering them.

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Susan Wolfe is the VP of Financial Services at Mintel Comperemedia, focusing on the banking and investment industries. Susan brings over 20 years of experience in marketing and research to her role at Mintel.

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