Cover Story: First Dates, Sans Coupons
Jason Blackhurst wants every BankAmeriDeals experience to feel as good as a first date.
That's the premise behind one of Bank of America's (BofA) latest offerings to its customers, says Blackhurst, the bank's SVP and e-commerce product executive. BankAmeriDeals uses data in bank customers' accounts to find out what they buy, then partners with merchants to offer them deals on products and services—much like loyalty programs, but directly linked to their bank debit cards.
During the past two years, BofA has served 1.5 billion offers to its 30 million online and 14 million mobile banking customers. Blackhurst believes the Charlotte, N.C.-based bank has seen enhanced retention and engagement because BankAmeriDeals has helped customers save more than $20 million dollars since the program began in 2012. Indeed, BofA's retained 30 million online banking customers since January 2012, and the number of mobile bankers increased by 4 million since May 2012.
"We actually believe one of the compelling points of BankAmeriDeals is what we call the 'first date' phenomenon, which we talk about publicly, is that nobody knows you're using a BankAmeriDeal," Blackhurst says. "When you use it at a restaurant or you use it at a store, the only person who knows you used that offer is really you and Bank of America in data that we get from the transaction. The merchant doesn't know you, as an individual, used that offer." Therefore, he explains, unlike Groupon or social media marketing deals, which require the user to show a piece of paper or smartphone screen with the coupon so it can be scanned, nobody can tell the customer is using a BankAmeriDeal. And, "on your first date, you probably don't want to be ripping out coupons, because it might be your last date."
How They Met
"The idea came up, really, in 2009," Blackhurst says. "We understood that the customer was going to be engaged in a different way in the future—i.e., where 'payments' is going and how mobile was going to change the paradigm of it."