Bank customers are less and less likely to visit bank branches for simple transactions – they now prefer to conduct daily banking activities online. This means digital marketing is now more important than ever but the use of traditional advertisements in digital channels to sell products might not be giving banks the desired results, due to ‘banner blindness’.

Banner blindness is the phenomenon of users consciously or subconsciously ignoring web banner adverts. It was first reported in the late 1990s, when heatmap studies tracking a user’s eye movement over a given area showed that users did not focus on any banners.

They tend to ignore all content resembling a banner advertisement – even if it is not an advertisement.
Users are bombarded with excessive amounts of advertising on websites so eventuallythey become indifferent towards it. They also ignore text-based advertising on websites.

How can you combat banner blindness?

1. Focus on your customer needs.

Avoid tools that trick or force users to look at advertisements, such as pop-up messages, adverts that cover what the user is trying to see, or posts which automatically play sounds. These advertising methods can be effective in combatting banner blindness but could also frustrate and/or annoy users. Therefore, banks should avoid using these advertising techniques.

2. Do not spam customers with advertisements. Deliver fewer, but more relevant and personalised messages. 
Banks have to deliver messages that are relevant and targeted to the user e.g. a personalised offer that helps the customer to solve an actual financial problem or pain point. By doing so, banks can actually improve customer satisfaction.

3. Use design to attract attention.

Rather than tricking or forcing users to look at advertisements, banks should carefully design their online marketing banners using simple messages and images and make the advertisement less banner-like. It has been proven that certain design elements and images – such as human faces and eyes – attract human attention and that the more an advertisement resembles native online or mobile banking page content, the more users will look at it.Until they accomplish their goal or find what they are looking for, users do not read every word. Rather, they scan, looking for keywords.

4. Use A/B testing to optimise marketing messages.

The smallest difference in the advertisement wording or design – such as colour change of a button – can have a huge impact on click-through rates. Banks should use A/B testing to optimise their marketing messages.

5. Be relevant.

Deliver the right message at the right time: use location-based offers and contextual cross-sale links.

Personal financial management applications or gamification tools that reward consumers for providing details of their financial goals or aspirations – a reward could be a financial incentive, but it could also be a useful budgeting tool or data visualisation – are very helpful in providing valuable customer insight that can be utilised to segment and personalise marketing campaigns.

6. Use interactive tools instead of banners.

Banks should also look into the use of interactive tools to deliver marketing messages. They are often more successful in gaining the customer’s attention than traditional banners. Interactive ads can educate customers about products – by using tools such as quizzes, calculators, questionnaires and online chat tools. They will also help banks to understand the customer’s financial needs, pains and goals.

7. Remember, consumers listen to their peers more than their bank.

Banks should motivate and reward customers for recommending products to their friends and family. Digital channels integrated with social media can be a great combination for banks to run such recommendation and incentive programmes. Digital banking applications should also provide satisfied customers with the facility to share messages and reviews on social media, especially at the end of a successful sales process or customer interaction. Banks can also motivate and reward customers for sharing information on social media with the help of gamification tools.

With mobile penetration increasing on every continent, and over three billion internet users in the world, it’s no longer good enough just to have a basic ‘first generation’ digital banking platform. Banks have to address banner blindness and carefully understand their customers’ behaviour to help them achieve their goal. This will be essential to turn digital banking into a strategic revenue- generating channel and help banks meet customers’ needs in an ever-increasing digital world.

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About The Author

Chief Marketing Officer, Finastra

As Chief Marketing Officer, Martin is responsible for the global marketing organization at Finastra. Martin joined Finastra in October 2014 and brings more than 20 years’ technology marketing and executive leadership experience with global market players to the company. Martin came to Finastra from Akamai Technologies Inc. where he was the Vice President Marketing and Channels, responsible for all marketing functions and channel sales divisions across EMEA. Prior to this he was the worldwide Marketing Vice President Oracle’s Hardware Line of Business and the EMEA Vice President Marketing and part of the EMEA Executive Board for Sun Microsystems. He was also the Head of the Supervisory Board of the Sun Germany legal entity.