Financial Services Welcome and Onboarding Communications in 2021 

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Financial services onboarding programs aim to optimize the client’s experience, which should involve efficient technologies, minimal effort from the customer, and reinforcement of the brand’s identity. 

The Fintech Formula  

Fintechs displayed a common theme when welcoming new customers to their platforms: sending a one-pager, instructions to activate via mobile app, and a flashy envelope to add to the excitement of a new card. These issuers want to stand out from the typical bank while reaching a younger demographic. Results from a recent Mintel survey state that 12% of Generation Z and 12% of millennials would prefer to switch to a non-traditional bank (fintech) when prompted to switch banks. Fintechs know their target audience and used their welcoming and onboarding strategies to complement it. 

Seamless technology enhancements 

As the world continues to integrate into the digital space, brands must follow. Welcoming and onboarding strategies in 2021 began to revolve heavily into the mobile application market, with many issuers adding the option to “activate” in app and incorporate QR codes into the application process. American Express, for example, displayed a mobile-first approach by removing the option to activate one’s new card via phone call. Additionally, Capital One gave users a step by step guide on how to activate in app to seamlessly integrate the new process. 

Feeling of community 

With less people interacting with brands on a personal level, issuers are faced with the task of making a digital experience feel more personable. To make customers feel like they are a part of something special, Mr. Cooper outlined its company’s history and showcased three unique features in which they are “proud” of the brand. Furthermore, issuers that went through a merger & acquisition, like TFC and Huntington, included a “Get to know Huntington” brochure to ensure former clients that they are in good hands. 

Banking & Credit Cards Best Practices 

To keep customers informed, Truist alerted former SunTrust banking customers of its merger by highlighting the anticipatory date of the card’s activation. The mailer presented Truist’s advanced mobile banking technology as an added benefit, while featuring a QR activation code. 

Meanwhile, PayPal, Chime, and Citibank elevated new card activations with the simple placement of a sticker, encouraging users to activate via mobile app. By having to physically remove the sticker, customers may become more aware of the brand’s mobile-first intention. 

As for The First National Bank of Omaha, it included a “next steps” timeline and an “ideal purchasing list” in its welcome kit mailer to inspire banking customers to get the most out of their card. 

American Express displayed a mobile-first approach by removing the option to activate via a phone call and stressing activation in app. The welcome mailer elevated customers’ experience with the addition of an online benefits guide and next steps checklist for both the card itself and the Amex app. 

For Bank of America’s banking customers, they were greeted with three different ways to activate their new “safer and faster” vertical contactless card. The bank followed-up with a checklist aimed to guide new customers as they integrate into its banking system. 

Capital one decided to give customers a step by step tutorial on digital activation to encourage usage on its “award-winning” mobile app. The informative mailer included a one-pager regarding the general details of contactless cards. 

Citibank also went for the informative route with the AAdvantage welcome kit. The kit took customers on a creative journey, and highlighted travel imagery to outline the card’s details and fine print – an engaging tactic for what customers might have otherwise overlooked. Synchrony Bank’s Sam’s Club card also included a “guide to benefits” in its welcome kit as well as a rundown of the additional benefits if the customer chose to upgrade. 

Lastly, Canadian issuers Scotiabank and RBC pushed banking customers to shop online and add their cards to their virtual wallet, and CIBC sent new Costco World Mastercard users a sixteen page booklet outlining the benefits and details of their card. 

Mortgage & Loans Best Practices  

LendingTree and OneMain Financial also jumped on the digital train and pushed customers to interact with their new loan via online and mobile dashboards. 

Meanwhile, Mr. Cooper incorporated a brief company history and three unique service features that it’s “proud of” to welcome new customers to the brand. This technique invites customers to join a community rather than only being one of many.   

SoFi sent customers detailed explanations of where they fall in the loan process, as well as corresponding timelines for the next steps. SoFi pushed customers to track the progress of their loan via its mobile app. 

TD Bank utilized incentivization by promoting credit building for Canadians as a path to afford their dream home. The email included a variety of tips and tricks to increase one’s credit score. 

More Inspiration 

The majority of fintechs displayed a common theme when mailing out welcome packets: a one-pager, instructions to activate in app, and a flashy envelope to aid in the excitement of receiving the new card. 

Many issuers also made a robust effort to highlight new contactless cards, which often included detailed instructions.

To remind customers that their cards are on the way, brands included information on what specifically to look out for during the card’s delivery. For example, American Express and CreditOne included progress bars in its emails to keep customers up to date with their card’s delivery. 

In a similar vein, Bank of America and Discover also emailed customers a list of their recurring payments to easily manage the transition to their new cards. 

To alert customers of its recent merger and acquisitions, TCF sent a “Get to Know Huntington” welcome brochure. BBVA alerted customers with a detailed to-do list as well as a QR code to access additional PNC resources. 

Lifecycle Examples 

LoanDepot walked new customers through the home buying journey with a variety of informational emails during a six-month span. 

American Express actually new acquired business customers by sending promotional card offers, and followed up with small business and shop small resources. While Bilt, the newest credit card for renters, sent a flurry of email communications to the customer upon enrolment; these communications ranged from product and premium benefits information to new travel partners and event-related emails, giving this no-fee card a premium feel. 

To help customers maximize their cashback match, Discover sent a variety of offers from PayPal, Walmart, Amazon, and Target while additionally encouraging credit building and mobile pay, and Chase sent Sapphire Reserve customers communications on how to utilize rewards, as well as promotional offers to return to travel. 

Finally, Citibank encouraged current customers to compare cards that are eligible for an upgrade. The issuer cross-sold customers with personal loan offers. 

Heading into 2022, financial services brands can consider three key areas when welcoming and onboarding new customers: 

  1. Add to the excitement: Receiving a new card is anticipatory, yet exciting. When customers open up their card’s mailer, they should expect to be greeted with the brand’s identity and reminded of the reasons why they chose the card that they did. Fintechs, for example, integrated using their apps into the onboarding process, which highlighted their advanced technologies. 
  2. Post-activation communications: Communications with new customers should not end after the card’s activation and brands should continuously be making an effort to seamlessly welcome card holders for the long-term. Something as simple as sending customers a “thank you” for activating one’s card could make them feel valued and not just another number. Bank of America and Discover, for example, went above and beyond for their clients when sending them a list of past recurring charges to manage the transition to their new card. 
  3. Communicate frequently with new customers: Brands must make efforts to communicate more and more with new customers. Building an extensive cadence and ensuring the follow-up communications are meaningful and actionable generates brand equity. Customers feel satisfied and valued if brands reach out to them frequently in the beginning of the relationship. Bilt, for example, sent a sequence of communications after account opening, reinforcing product benefits and also building a brand image.

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