Marketing Minute: Optimizing Emails for the Small Screen

Recent email marketing research found that two-thirds of Americans regularly check email via smartphone and a significant number of total opens (as high as 70%) are now opened on a mobile device. Since most emails that look good on mobile look fine on a desktop (but NOT vice versa), you can pretty much disregard the desktop when creating a design template for your email alerts and marketing messages.

Here’s a few examples from my inbox during the past few weeks. Both Capital One and BBVA’s Simple use appropriate font size and a good mobile layout. Simple does an especially good job at grabbing attention with a small animation at the top of the message. In comparison, the BankDirect pitch is not well optimized for mobile, though it’s readable if you work at it. But it does nothing to grab your attention visually.

——–

Bank email samples (viewed on iPhone 6)

First: Business Savings account promo from Capital One
Easy to read opening line and big Open Now buttons on first screen and below the fold

Second: BankDirect to American AAdvantage mileage club members
Harder to read the small type, and call to action below the fold

Third: Simple announces its 100%-no-fee policy change
Grabs attention with small animated graphic at top with big “Hi FirstName” visible on first screen. The remainder of message is in a font easily read on a mobile phone

capitalone_email  bankdirect_americanair_email  simple_email2

Friday Feature Request: Banking/Card Transaction Annotation via Email

simple_annotation

On Fridays, I try to post a new digital banking feature I’ve discovered recently. But with nothing to report this week, I will instead take the easy route and make a request for a new feature:

Feature: Transaction annotation by email

BBVA’s Simple has been a leader in adding richness to transaction detail. We reported here on its web-based solution for annotating transaction in late 2012 (see screenshot at top of post). Basically, that capability needs to be ported to email for, forgive me, simpler access.

The specs:

  1. After each transaction that hits my account (preferably ALL my aggregated accounts) I get an email confirmation of each transaction with whatever data the bank/PFM can already provide on it (amount, date, merchant, category) and using a free-form field I add whatever text I want to the description, attach a photo or file (if I so choose), and categorize it (if I’m that kind of a user).
  2. Depending on how the feature is implemented, I press enter or hit reply and my annotations are recorded into my permanent transaction archives at the bank/PFM. (Note: You must have a long-term archive solution in place for this feature to have value).
  3. The transaction details must be in the email message itself so that I can use my email client to forward the message to others, flag for later attention, or file.
  4. The same thing could be done via text (with a link) or notifications, but email is the key for me.

Bottom line: For me this would be one of the best things a bank, card issuer or PFM could do to cement my loyalty (and even cough up a modest subscription fee). I want my transactions history to be both a personal diary (e.g. traveling or dining out), a tax record (for business or charitable transactions), and a searchable resource for future questions (eg. what did I pay last month for cable?).

——–

Note: Hit me on Twitter (@netbanker) if you know someone already offering this.

With Simple’s 2.0 Mobile App Update, Users Can Send Paper Check Payments Via Mobile

simpleLogoNew.jpg

After it was acquired by BBVA in February, Simple is showing the first major sign of access to the mega bank’s deep pockets.

The Portland-based startup updated its iOS and Android apps today to bring users an easier way to pay others via their mobile device. Aside from the redesigned interface, other major changes include: 

Simpleapp2.1
1) Simple Instant Transfer on mobile
Previously only available on the web interface, Instant Transfer enables users to instantly send funds to other Simple account holders. 
2) Updated goal interface on mobile
It’s easier for users to create and manage their goals with the ability to add notes to their goals and easily transfer money into and out of individual goals. It still lacks, however, the function to add pictures to goals. 
3) Customized profiles
Customers can customize how other users see them by adding a profile picture (see screenshot on right) to their account. They can also select other Simple customers as favorite contacts.
4) Mail checks from mobile

One of the more notable upgrades, is the ability to mail checks for free to anyone. All you need is their name and mailing address. I tested the feature on my iPhone 5S by sending a check to my mother, who does not have a Simple account.

Note the text at the bottom that indicates both when the money will be withdrawn and when the check will be received. Pulling that information out of the fine print and into plain sight aligns with Simple’s transparent policy.

SimpleApp2.4.2

After adding my mom’s address, I entered the amount, followed by the 4-digit verification code that I received via text.

 

SimpleApp2.5

Once I entered the code, the $1 had been withdrawn from my account and was ready to be mailed to my mother.

In the U.S., where writing checks is still common, the ability to do it from a mobile device is a very useful feature. Simple could improve it with a few small additions:

1) Option for users to pay for expedited shipment of the check.
2) Optional note field to send with the check that allows users to personalize the payment
3) The ability to assign a photo avatar to contacts who are not Simple customers

Simple launched at FinovateFall 2011. You can check out the demo video here.