Absa's mobile site, which launched in May, is pulling in the youth market with value added lifestyle offerings such as free weekly music downloads and then using this captive audience to increase financial awareness and promote relevant banking products. Full tracks and games are constantly the top-selling content items. The site's daily downloads peaked at 60 000 in June, with 200 000 unique visitors.
"It is early days, but we believe our approach is effective - the site is growing steadily," said Christo Vrey, Managing Executive of Absa Group Digital Channels, of the Absa.mobi site. "It was felt there was a need to build an on-going relationship with this segment of our customer base, and mobile is a channel which is relevant to them.
"Absa.mobi provides a single entry point for customers using a mobile phone to access the internet and allows for an experience with Absa's products and content which is designed and optimised for a small screen," said Adrian Vermooten, Head of Absa Mobile Banking.
Looking at the profile of a younger audience, entertainment content was a must, this includes games, movie and album reviews and news content. "We have a catalogue of paid-for content, but needed a hook to encourage users to return regularly." Besides a daily poll which users can participate in, they can also download 10 music tracks for free each week, ranging from Kwaito to Pop and Hip Hop. Beyoncé, Shakira, Usher and R. Kelly are some of the most popular tunes.
"We are marketing the free offering on MXit (an instant messaging application for cellphones), on the splash screen as you enter the application, as well as sending broadcast messages to targeted users telling them about our offers," Vermooten said. Using MXit, Absa has also driven brand awareness for the MegaU Account, aimed at people under the age of 18. Those who maintain a balance of more than R 6 000 in the low cost transactional savings account are exempted from certain transaction charges.
Broadcast messages targeting youth aged 11 to 18 are run weekly on the MXit Tradepost. Absa's messages are performing at more than five times the average industry click through rate at between 10% and 12%, where average industry click through rates are between 2.5% and 3%
"Absa has always been aware of our different customer segments and strive to develop approaches that meet the needs of these different customers. Customers are often browsing the internet on a cellphone for different reasons than browsing from a computer," Vrey said. "In the mobile space we target a large part of our efforts towards the youth market, with a focus on growing financial knowledge in general, as well as growing awareness around the benefits of using cellphone banking.
Tools on the mobile site, such as the ATM locator, have proved to be popular with people who travel frequently and want to transact at their own bank's ATM without the usual hassle involved with finding one. Even fans on Absa's Facebook Fan page have given the tool the thumbs up.
Last month, Absa was voted South Africa's coolest bank in the Sunday Times Generation Next 2010 survey for the fifth consecutive year. The bank scooped the title after being voted the coolest brand in the banking sector by the more than 5 800 youth that participated in the annual survey. The win confirms Absa has established a meaningful connection with youth and that the brand is in tune with this target market's needs and desires.