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In April, Google announced a significant change to its search algorithm, causing waves across the industry from concerned brands, publishers and marketers. Now widely referred to as “Mobilegeddon,” the latest tweak in Google’s search algorithm favors mobile-friendly sites and will more favorably rank sites that meet Google’s mobile standards. According to Google, this “will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.” As consumers increasingly use mobile devices to search or interact with their banks, do banks pass mobile muster?

Unfortunately, no. Recent Jack Henry research found that about two thirds of banks and credit unions do not pass Google’s mobile-friendly test. At the minimum, banks should ensure they pass the Google test for mobile usage. But this significant move by Google is an important reminder to the entire banking industry that we live in a mobile-first era, not mobile-last.

Some banks, such as Fifth Third, are even shifting budget and resources away from branches to mobile. Fifth Third recently announced that the bank would consolidate 100 branches as it shifts focus toward mobile and online services. In a recent article, Kevin Kabat, CEO and vice chairman of Fifth Third, commented, “This plan reflects the continued progression of our work on providing an integrated customer experience,” Kevin Kabat, CEO and vice chairman tells Cincinnati.com. “Meeting the evolving preferences of how our customers interact with us is our top priority.”

Being mobile-friendly is a good first step – but banks need to ensure that a mobile-first approach is taken. A customer-centric design is necessary to ensure mobile ease and success, particularly in an environment of digital transformation. In the move towards omnichannel, banks must be thinking about how to create a completely seamless, intuitive end-to-end experience for customers – and mobile is a crucial component of this strategy.

Particularly for brand marketers at banks, mobile is becoming the premier channel in which to further shape how customers perceive their banking partners, particularly amongst younger demographics. Recent research revealed that young adults view banks as “lemmings.” According to a recent American Banker article, a survey from a division of Viacom Media found that 53% of millennials think their bank does not offer anything different than other banks.

Additionally, simply creating a mobile experience is just the tip of the iceberg. To be truly digital, firms must completely transform the experience, externally and internally. True mobility involves digitizing processes, consolidating databases and moving processing to a cloud environment. Taking an analog process and throwing a mobile interface on top of it only creates an appearance of a mobile channel. However, for a bank to experience improved customer engagement, more cost savings, and service flexibility, banks must identify how to embrace mobile, inside and out.

Banks may be facing a new Mobilegeddon, and one not limited to Google’s new search algorithm. Instead, banks must be thinking more proactively and innovatively about creating a more immersive and helpful mobile experience for their customers. Let’s hope that this is an inflection point in how banks can and should be thinking mobile-first in the new digital landscape.

About the Author

George Ravich is Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of Polaris. He has been in the FinTech business for over 15 years, and was previously CMO at Fundtech and head of marketing for the consulting division of CSC. He can be reached at george.ravich@polarisft.com


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