Welcome to a four part series of blogs written by Adrian Sarosi of mobile engagement platform provider OpenMarket

Be sure to check back for the following installments!

Today’s consumers lead a mobile-centric lifestyle. But for retail banks and the personal finance industry, mobile still remains a largely untapped resource. This must change if financial companies want to connect properly with their customers, and not appear out of touch.

In a four-part series, Adrian Sarosi of mobile engagement platform provider OpenMarket highlights how consumer financial service providers can learn from other industries on how to use mobile for effective customer engagement.

In part one, Adrian looks at the valuable lessons that high street banks and other consumer finance companies can pick up from charity fundraising and the gambling industry, on how to increase customer acquisition and retention, and also boost revenue.

Part one: Giving and gambling

Charity begins on the mobile
The charity sector is just one of several industries that already uses mobile for effective engagement with consumers. Mobile donations have exploded over the last few years: research in September 2012 by consultancy nfpSynergy showed a 200% growth in mobile donations in just three months compared to other donation methods.

When it comes to engaging potential donors, mobile combines convenience, simplicity, and the ability to react instantly to a call to action from a display ad, a TV or radio commercial – or a text message. Charities realise that SMS is not a standalone medium, but is instead an engagement channel which they can incorporate into all of their marketing activities across different platforms.

Multiple channels, connected by mobile
Use it effectively, and SMS is the glue that holds together a company’s engagement with customers across different media channels. For example, in March of this year the Disaster Emergency Committee (DEC) launched its Syria Crisis Appeal, which includes SMS shortcodes as a donation method. DEC is using shortcodes in all of its calls for donations for the Appeal across multiple media – not only via mobile, but also in TV and radio commercials, display ads, online and on Twitter.

As of September, the campaign has so far raised over £20M in humanitarian aid for civilians displaced or left homeless by the fighting in Syria. The use of shortcodes in the campaign means that DEC can track and analyse the keywords used in SMS donations, and identify which adverts (online, broadcat, print) for the appeal have generated which mobile donations.

Bet on mobile
Another valuable benefit of mobile messaging is how it can deliver personalised and time-sensitive information to large numbers of users for a very low cost.

The gambling sector is a perfect example of an industry using mobile in this way. What makes gambling providers experts at using mobile for customer engagement is how they make full use of mobile as a personal, discreet and convenient channel that is quick and easy for users to respond to.

They make sure they know how to contact customers with SMS promotions and reminders that are tailored to their interests or previous betting behaviour, or which take advantage of timely upcoming events – such as a major horse race or a high-profile football game. They may also then include in the message the means to place a bet from your phone, using a shortcode or a mobile internet link.

A consumer finance company or credit card provider can use SMS in the same way, to alert its customers of special offers such as 0% for three months on a credit card or low interest-rate loans that are available for a limited time only. As with the gaming provider, the finance company can tailor these offers according to the unique profile or previous spending habits of individual users.

Lessons learned
It’s clear from the charity fundraising and online gambling sectors that mobile is today an established and essential channel to reach and engage with consumers. It improves customer service and satisfaction and enables more accurate and effective cross-platform marketing and cross-selling opportunities.

Use mobile properly, and you can immediately reach customers working with data that you already have on file – such as demographic details and previous account activity or purchasing behaviour. But it’s also important to appreciate people’s deeply personal relationship with their phone. Any engagement via mobile needs to respect this relationship and deliver only genuine value to your customer.


Adrian Sarosi of mobile engagement platform provider OpenMarket