Local banks and insurers are battling to attain new customers, but should they move more services online they can improve efficiency and gain better visibility, writes BIANCA QUINN DIAVASTOS, MD of 25AM.
South African banks and insurers have long struggled with the high costs of customer acquisition and fierce competition to attain new customers. The move online offers them ways to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their acquisition efforts and gain better visibility into the performance of their marketing spend.
The key here is how financial services companies can use data and analytics tools to streamline their customer journeys and make better informed decisions about their customer acquisition strategies. Today, they have information at their fingertips that can help them to find the best mix of media and engagement tools (lead generation and product offers) to create targeted online and offline customer journeys that reach new customers.
Here are some ways that financial services companies can drive better return on investment (ROI) from their online customer acquisition efforts:
Optimise for mobile
When thinking about ad placements, search engine optimisation and customer conversion, financial services companies would do well to remember that a high proportion of financial transactions and searches for financial products happen on mobile devices. We have found in South Africa that our financial service clients’ customers and prospects do most of their research for home loans and short-term insurance on mobile devices.
Embrace programmatic advertising
Programmatic advertising offers more than just advertising reach – it is also a wonderful tool for lead generation and customer acquisition.
Financial services companies can use programmatic advertising to reach the right person, at the right time and at the right price. Programmatic ad buys make it easier to segment audiences, deliver personalised messaging to them, and then measure the results.
This means that a financial services brand can see which placements and messages helped to generate leads and convert customers as well as how much these customer acquisitions cost them versus the value they generated. We can take this even further by measuring the value of a lead or customer – for example, the potential value of the interest it could generate from a home loan applicant over the period of the mortgage.
Use re-marketing to turbo-charge your efforts
Remarketing is one of the best tools a bank or insurer has at its disposal to improve customer conversions in a cost-effective manner. Remarketing is all about presenting a follow-up digital ad or email message or offer to a customer who has already expressed interest in the brand’s products and services.
For example, a customer that has already browsed mortgages on a bank’s website is probably looking to buy a house and is thus more likely to convert. The re-marketing message needs to be carefully thought-out and reach the person at the right time to ensure conversion. Some questions to consider:
• What kind of message did they react to the first time? How should this shape the response or follow-up message?
• What does history tell us about the journey? For example, have they moved beyond researching a car insurer towards getting quotes?
Make it easy for customers to get in touch
Once the brand has the customer’s attention, it shouldn’t squander the opportunity by making it difficult for the customer to find out more or get in touch. For example, don’t ask a customer to fill in a long form to express interest in a loan – keep it to three or four of the most important questions. Make it easy to look up more information on your website or contact an agent through an instant message or click-to-call link. Again, remember the customer might be engaging with you from a mobile phone and will expect convenience, ease of use and simplicity.
Provide valuable content
Customers shopping for banking or insurance products want information and answers at their fingertips so they can make informed comparisons. It’s important to invest in good content that will answer customers’ questions when they discover a financial services need and start investigating their options.
Content should be personalised based on what the bank or insurer knows about where the customer is in his or her journey as well as any behavioural or demographic data it has managed to collect. Interactive tools like calculators are also a great way to interact with customers.
Understanding the journey
Building a successful customer acquisition strategy is all about using data and analytics to fully understand the customer journey. This must go far beyond simple metrics like impressions and click-throughs. Financial brands should look at how their audiences react to their messages and offers; How are they engaging? What are they sharing? What are they engaging with the most? What are the touchpoints in their journey?
Furthermore, cost per acquisition is emerging as one of the most important metrics in the digital marketing world and one that financial brands need to embrace in order to measure the real value behind their digital marketing investments. Brands that wish to effectively leverage digital marketing tools to acquire new customers need to engage with digital agency partners who ultimately demonstrate real accountability by measuring their success through harder metrics such as customer acquisition rather than hiding behind the click.
When will we stop calling them phones?
If you don’t remember when phones were only used to talk to people, you may wonder why we still use this term for handsets, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK, on the eve of the 10th birthday of the app.
Do you remember when handsets were called phones because, well, we used them to phone people?
It took 120 years from the invention of the telephone to the use of phones to send text.
Between Alexander Graham Bell coining the term “telephone” in 1876 and Finland’s two main mobile operators allowing SMS messages between consumers in 1995, only science fiction writers and movie-makers imagined instant communication evolving much beyond voice. Even when BlackBerry shook the business world with email on a phone at the end of the last century, most consumers were adamant they would stick to voice.
It’s hard to imagine today that the smartphone as we know it has been with us for less than 10 years. Apple introduced the iPhone, the world’s first mass-market touchscreen phone, in June 2007, but it is arguable that it was the advent of the app store in July the following year that changed our relationship with phones forever.
That was the moment when the revolution in our hands truly began, when it became possible for a “phone” to carry any service that had previously existed on the World Wide Web.
Today, most activity carried out by most people on their mobile devices would probably follow the order of social media in first place – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn all jostling for attention – and instant messaging in close second, thanks to WhatsApp, Messenger, SnapChat and the like. Phone calls – using voice that is – probably don’t even take third place, but play fourth or fifth fiddle to mapping and navigation, driven by Google Maps and Waze, and transport, thanks to Uber, Taxify, and other support services in South Africa like MyCiti, Admyt and Kaching.
Despite the high cost of data, free public Wi-Fi is also seeing an explosion in use of streaming video – whether Youtube, Netflix, Showmax, or GETblack – and streaming music, particularly with the arrival of Spotify to compete with Simfy Africa.
Who has time for phone calls?
The changing of the phone guard in South Africa was officially signaled last week with the announcement of Vodacom’s annual results. Voice revenue for the 2018 financial year ending 31 March had fallen by 4.6%, to make up 40.6% of Vodacom’s revenue. Total revenue had grown by 8.1%, which meant voice seriously underperformed the group, and had fallen by 4% as a share of revenue, from 2017’s 44.6%.
The reason? Data had not only outperformed the group, increasing revenue by 12.8%, but it had also risen from 39.7% to 42.8% of group revenue,
This means that data has not only outperformed voice for the first time – as had been predicted by World Wide Worx a year ago – but it has also become Vodacom’s biggest contributor to revenue.
That scenario is being played out across all mobile network operators. In the same way, instant messaging began destroying SMS revenues as far back as five years ago – to the extent that SMS barely gets a mention in annual reports.
Data overtaking voice revenues signals the demise of voice as the main service and key selling point of mobile network operators. It also points to mobile phones – let’s call them handsets – shifting their primary focus. Voice quality will remain important, but now more a subset of audio quality rather than of connectivity. Sound quality will become a major differentiator as these devices become primary platforms for movies and music.
Contact management, privacy and security will become critical features as the handset becomes the storage device for one’s entire personal life.
Integration with accessories like smartwatches and activity monitors, earphones and earbuds, virtual home assistants and virtual car assistants, will become central to the functionality of these devices. Why? Because the handsets will control everything else? Hardly.
More likely, these gadgets will become an extension of who we are, what we do and where we are. As a result, they must be context aware, and also context compatible. This means they must hand over appropriate functions to appropriate devices at the appropriate time.
I need to communicate only using my earpiece? The handset must make it so. I have to use gesture control, and therefore some kind of sensor placed on my glasses, collar or wrist? The handset must instantly surrender its centrality.
There are numerous other scenarios and technology examples, many out of the pages of science fiction, that point to the changing role of the “phone”. The one thing that’s obvious is that it will be silly to call it a phone for much longer.
MTN 5G test gets 520Mbps
MTN and Huawei have launched Africa’s first 5G field trial with an end-to-end Huawei 5G solution.
The field trial demonstrated a 5G Fixed-Wireless Access (FWA) use case with Huawei’s 5G 28GHz mmWave Customer Premises Equipment (CPE) in a real-world environment in Hatfield Pretoria, South Africa. Speeds of 520Mbps downlink and 77Mbps uplink were attained throughout respectively.
“These 5G trials provide us with an opportunity to future proof our network and prepare it for the evolution of these new generation networks. We have gleaned invaluable insights about the modifications that we need to do on our core, radio and transmission network from these pilots. It is important to note that the transition to 5G is not just a flick of a switch, but it’s a roadmap that requires technical modifications and network architecture changes to ensure that we meet the standards that this technology requires. We are pleased that we are laying the groundwork that will lead to the full realisation of the boundless opportunities that are inherent in the digital world.” says Babak Fouladi, Group Chief Technology & Information Systems Officer, at MTN Group.
Giovanni Chiarelli, Chief Technology and Information Officer for MTN SA said: “Next generation services such as virtual and augmented reality, ultra-high definition video streaming, and cloud gaming require massive capacity and higher user data rates. The use of millimeter-wave spectrum bands is one of the key 5G enabling technologies to deliver the required capacity and massive data rates required for 5G’s Enhanced Mobile Broadband use cases. MTN and Huawei’s joint field trial of the first 5G mmWave Fixed-Wireless Access solution in Africa will also pave the way for a fixed-wireless access solution that is capable of replacing conventional fixed access technologies, such as fibre.”
“Huawei is continuing to invest heavily in innovative 5G technologies”, said Edward Deng, President of Wireless Network Product Line of Huawei. “5G mmWave technology can achieve unprecedented fiber-like speed for mobile broadband access. This trial has shown the capabilities of 5G technology to deliver exceptional user experience for Enhanced Mobile Broadband applications. With customer-centric innovation in mind, Huawei will continue to partner with MTN to deliver best-in-class advanced wireless solutions.”
“We are excited about the potential the technology will bring as well as the potential advancements we will see in the fields of medicine, entertainment and education. MTN has been investing heavily to further improve our network, with the recent “Best in Test” and MyBroadband best network recognition affirming this. With our focus on providing the South Africans with the best customer experience, speedy allocation of spectrum can help bring more of these technologies to our customers,” says Giovanni.