Targeted marketing crucial for banks playing mobile catch-up

As banks develop their own mobile financial apps, extremely targeted marketing is a must if they are to maintain their market position, Webpals group CEO Inbal Lavi said.

Ms. Lavi said Webpals Group is a series of companies specializing in online mobile performance marketing. Webpals’ Media Business Unit uses custom technology and data analysis to optimize campaigns across paid media channels. Through a combination of in-house tools and connections to external sources, Webpals generates automated and programmatic media buys.

Inbal Lavi

Over the past two years Ms. Lavi said she has seen significant growth in the number of personal finance apps as many non-banks offer services ranging from education to money transfers. Once the exclusive domain of the major banks, these services are competitively offered by nimble companies unencumbered by legacy technology systems and communication silos.

“That is pushing the traditional institutions into understanding they have to be relevant 24 hours a day, seven days a week to their customers,” Ms. Lavi said.

The challenges traditional institutions face in playing catchup in mobile finance are well documented. But succeeding in the mobile sphere is not simply a matter of overcoming those issues, Ms. Lavi explained.

“The challenge is to find the most relevant high value users to them.”

Using specific targeting technology Webpals identifies sites producing content engaging to the ideal end user. How they get there can take different forms. They may produce a story attracting the end user, one which connects them to a specific experience. Another tactic is to cater to specific needs users have. For example they can produce an interactive ad which asks questions about personal finance that allows advertising partners to offer specific solutions.

While banks may be behind in some aspects of technology there are ways they can quickly catch up, Ms. Lavi said. There are many areas where they can use existing technology, for example. They often employ third party providers to track credit card use, for example. Banks can also white label outside solutions that are quickly deployed. Others choose to go it alone.

“On the app side, some use white label solutions, but we do also see traditional banking institutions developing unique applications,” Ms. Lavi said. “Some understand having own their own unique product can give them an advantage.

“The goal is targeting users by offering the best product available.”

Another method of closing the gap we can expect to see are acquisitions, Ms. Lavi said.

“Once more traditional brick and mortar institutions try and penetrate online mobile sales you will definitely see that.”

While the average bank is getting better at leveraging technology they still have a way to go as they are not an online-first business, she added. Webpals grew from crunching and using data – it’s in their DNA.

Keeping on top of constantly evolving technological preferences better be too, as that is a key factor in delivering optimized services, Ms. Lavi said. Facebook sees that few people under 30 use them any more, so they bought Instagram to hold on to that key demographic.

“Developing pictures is more attractive to younger users,” she said, while adding it likely isn’t the last such buy they make.

In summary if a financial institution wants to penetrate the online world they should begin with finding the most relevant products for their target markets. Once it is developed, market it to the most relevant users with the most creative content.

“Technology is the key to doing that,” Ms. Lavi said.