Having a mobile first marketing strategy has become an imperative for credit card marketers in 2015. In an increasingly omnichannel marketing environment, taking a mobile first approach means being able to view the customer journey through a mobile lens and prioritizing the mobile experience.

Marketers have been talking about mobile first marketing for a while but here are three reasons why 2015 is the year in which mobile first has shifted from being an emerging trend to being a marketing imperative for the credit card industry:

  1. This year Millennials surpassed Gen Xers as the largest generation in the US labor force according to Pew Research Center analysis of US Census Bureau data.
  2. Mobile commerce is on the rise and is expected to account for a third of all online shopping by 2020 according to Mintel’s Mobile Advertising and Shopping US 2015 report.
  3. Nearly a third of all credit card applications, submitted in Q2 2015, were via a smartphone or tablet, according to Mintel Comperemedia.

These three developments are, of course, interrelated. As the emerging millennial segment begins to take center stage in the workforce it is driving growth in mobile commerce. As consumers become more comfortable with mobile shopping it makes sense that they will become increasingly comfortable submitting applications for credit cards via smartphone or tablet. As a result, mobile credit card applications are on the rise regardless of how the original credit card offer was received – online, in the mail, in person or via any other channel.

What card marketers need to do

Create a frictionless application experience: Having a mobile application process that is compelling but, more importantly, simple and easy to complete has become critical in 2015 given the potential for consumers to give up on the application if they get tired or frustrated with the process. Some issuers, such as Discover, are ahead of the pack in creating an easy to navigate application process that allows prospective cardholders to review rewards, pricing and security features along with unique functionality such as the ability to compare competitor cards and browse reviews.

Integrate channels seamlessly: These days consumers can find information and apply for a credit card through more channels than ever before. Citibank has embraced the omnichannel approach to card marketing, arguably, more than any other card issuer through its consistent use of direct mail, email, online and mobile banner ads, TV, print and more. In its recent direct mail acquisition campaigns, captured on Mintel Comperemedia, Citi has bridged the divide between direct mail and mobile by using Blippar, an augmented reality app that brings Citi’s direct mail campaigns to life by providing interactive experiences.

Mobile ad sales will reach an estimated $43 billion in the US by 2020, up from $17.6 billion in 2015

Be present with your customers: According to Mintel research, mobile ad sales are growing rapidly and will reach an estimated $43 billion by 2020, up from an estimated $17.6 billion in 2015. The growth is fueled by the adoption of smartphones and the potential for those phones to unlock location-based marketing and contextual advertising. Consumers, particularly millennials, are spending more time on their phones and brands need to be with them. Established players are realizing they need to evolve. American Express rolled out its “Journey Never Stops” campaign earlier this year with a strong mobile and social component in order to re-position the brand and make it more relevant for a new generation of consumers.

In the coming year, the mobile first card marketing imperative will drive innovation as issuers look to upgrade their mobile apps and create compelling mobile experiences. Card marketers who can minimize friction, integrate channels seamlessly and develop a strong mobile presence will gain a competitive advantage in a rapidly changing environment.

Andrew Davidson is SVP Comperemedia at Mintel. He is a multi-channel marketing and payments expert with over 20 years of marketing research experience. Andrew is regularly called upon to provide analysis for leading media publications worldwide and is also a key speaker at Card Forum and other high profile international industry events.

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