The financial institutions that find the most success in communicating with and serving millennials do so by using the devices and platforms preferred by young people. Offering push notifications through a mobile app, for example, is a perfect technique to connect with a group that values speed and efficiency. When push notifications are enabled, communications can be sent to a clients mobile phone or tablet instantaneously.
Push notifications hold several advantages over other digital contact methods like email or text for both financial institutions and consumers. Push messages typically reach customers faster than emailup to three times more quickly, by one estimate. Simply tapping or swiping the alert on the devices lock screen will automatically open the app and direct users to the alert center. This provides users with the quickest way to address action-required notifications, such as paying a bill on time.Using push notifications also forgoes the text fees that many people accrue when alerts are sent through SMS.
For firms, push notifications can offer a unique marketing opportunity. American Express has been using push notifications to promote their Offers for You deals program. These programs allow clients to use their mobile devices to sign up for discounts at various retailers and restaurantsfor example, to receive 10% cash back at Panera Bread or a $25 statement credit on $100 spent at J. Crew. Firms can then use geolocation tracking through the clients mobile phone GPS to send push notifications alerting customers when they are near the location of a deal for which theyve signed up or when a deal is about to expire. Firms are able to send these notifications at strategic times, making the message more effective and targeted.
More card issuers and banks are likely to adopt push notifications with Apples introduction of iBeacon, a location-based technology that uses a Bluetooth signal to communicate with nearby iPhones and iPads. An iBeacon-enabled device can receive push notifications and advertisements when in close physical proximity to an iBeacon transmitter, which can be placed in storefronts or by checkout counters. This technology can alert clients to sales or remind them of specific items they need.
This technology will provide banks and credit card issuers with even more opportunities to streamline the purchase process by putting the right message in front of the right user at the right time. Banks and credit card issuers would be smart to utilize iBeacon to further drive card usage.
The only risk is that some companies could send push notifications too often, thereby becoming intrusive or irritating. Millennials tend to react negatively to hard sells and frequent, pesky emails. Used correctly, however, push notifications can give clients helpful and actionable information, serving as an effective way to communicate with a generation that is skeptical of financial institutions but fond of technology and hungry for deals.
Matthew Eschmann is a senior research associate at Corporate Insight, a competitive intelligence, market research and consulting firm. He recently co-authored a comprehensive report on the topic of financial institutions and millennials titled The Millennial Shift: Financials Services and the Digital Generation.