A surprising way for financial institutions to get new customers

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Anatoly Sharifulin
A surprising way for financial institutions to get new customers

Table of Content:

  1. What are satellite apps?
  2. How to benefit from satellites
  3. How to make a successful satellite?
  4. How to choose the right area for a satellite
The examples of how using side projects — known as satellite apps — can help receive new bank customers through the app stores. Spoiler: no expensive promotion channels will be required.

Attracting new customers via mobile apps can be challenging, especially for banks. Banking mobile apps is a hot topic: over a third of Americans manage their finances from their phones, and the mobile banking area is predicted to grow by 70% in a four year time frame. Luckily, the majority of banks have already developed at least one app — good news for their current customers, but no difference for the potential ones: not being the bank’s customers, users will not be able to discover any of the bank’s benefits.

Paid user acquisition in the app stores or getting into top chart lists don't help a bank receive new customers. It is scarcely possible that someone will rush to open an account in a new bank only because their app is #1 in the Financial category. Still, there is a way to obtain new customers through app stores featuring, App Store Optimization, and Search Ads. And a financial organization gets an opportunity to 'reach through' the potential customers via their phones.

We have gathered the best examples of how banks from Australia, United Kingdom, Germany, and Russia attract new customers in the app stores. In the article we will be using public information and data from AppFollow ASO Tools.

What are satellite apps?

Satellites are so-called a company’s side projects that can be used even by people who are not its customers.

For example, Barclays, apart from the regular mobile banking apps, has two apps for their potential customers:

  • Pingit app allows its users to transfer money between banks or without a bank account at all.
  • Digital Wings app helps users study new subjects connected to finance, like bitcoin, trades, etc.
On the left: the Pingit app; on the right: the Digital Wings app. Source: Apple App Store

Using these seemingly off-target products, Barclays can receive new customers.

The process works as follows:

  1. A user finds an app in a featured list or looks for it in the search. For example, using a 'mobile payments' search request;
  2. They click install and start using the app;
  3. If they like it (we’ll learn about it from their reviews), the user may get interested in other bank services;
  4. All in all they will be more loyal to the brand after seeing ads of other products or having a special offer in the satellite app.

In order to make the process work, the app should be noticeable. Lots of banks possess inactive apps that have neither users nor ratings and reviews. To make it work a satellite should have a good rating, positive app reviews, and high top chart positions.

Why are app ratings and reviews so important? Check out what impact they have and how to work with them to get more users.

How to benefit from satellites

There is a chance that the satellite will not become successful, and investing millions into its promotion makes no sense. We’ve noticed that banks use two different promotion strategies for such apps:

  1. Mention their brand name
  2. Without mentioning their brand name.

A good example of the first strategy is ING Group and their Twyp app in Spain. The app allows users to transfer money between banks without commissions. It uses the ING bank keywords in the description and for Search Ads campaigns.

On the left: App Store’s search results page. Source: Apple App Store. On the right: the top chart in the Finance in Spain, April, 2019. Source: appfollow.io.

This one is an example of a very successful satellite that appears in the top-20 in its category and ranks even higher than the ING banking app.

How does this app work?

  1. Users find it in the top chart or while looking for an app to transfer money for free
  2. Twyp has an attractive app page, bright screenshots and a decent app rating, so a user may decide to give it a try
  3. If the user likes the app, they will continue to transfer money sending more and more
  4. At some point ING will limit their transactions and offer to create an account in their bank to continue transferring for free.

Russian Tinkoff bank uses the second strategy and doesn’t mention any brand name in their satellite apps, you can only check the developer name to find it out. The whole list of the bank’s apps includes:

  • mobile banking apps for individuals, corporations, and teenagers,
  • an app to check your taxes,
  • an app to pay fares,
  • an app to transfer money between banks.
Source: Google Play

As you can see, not all of the apps here are about payments, but all of them are related to the financial area. Although Tinkoff doesn’t mention its brand name in the satellites, they use these apps to widen the range of search requests they rank for and attract more users from related areas: money transfer, taxes, and fares.

How to make a successful satellite?

To make a satellite noticeable, it is essential that the app possesses:

  1. Basic ASO: title, subtitle, keywords, screenshots, icon, descriptions;
  2. High ratings (over 4 stars) and positive reviews;
  3. Absence of errors: the app stores can lower an app in search results if it crashes frequently, and users complain about errors.

Let us briefly cover each of the components.

1. Keywords and basic ASO

The higher the app’s positions in the search results, the more users will see it. While scrolling the search results users do not normally go lower the 10th position, that's why it is important to enter the top 10.

The approach to ASO and keyword research for satellites will depend on a strategy you have chosen: to show or not to show your brand name. In the first case you will use the semantic core from the banking apps; in the second one no bank name or branded slogans will be included which opens doors to more keywords not connected to your brand name.

The main advantage of using satellites is the opportunity to use far more keywords than your brand app allows. This approach helps you get new users that wouldn’t normally look for a bank app not being its customers, but look for apps to solve their problems: transfer money without a commission, track fines, or learn about making an investment.


The same is applicable to the icon and screenshots: if the app is non-branded, show the target action that the users will understand without reading the descriptions. To make screenshots work better, add a short description or a call for action. This way, the app advantages will be seen even from the search page.

On the left: the Pingit app (Apple App Store); on the right: the Twyp app (Google Play)
Don’t let the screenshots let you down. Check the common mistakes that prevent users from downloading your app.

2. High ratings and positive reviews

At a start, new apps have a few reviews, and it may push users away from it. However, a developer can increase the number of reviews by using an in-app rating request for iOS apps, and a customer rating request for Android apps. In the article we’re talking about their impact in the average app rating.

As soon as a user leaves a review, the developer can start working with them. We have discovered that only a half of banks from our examples communicate with their users via app store reviews. We have also noticed that the more reviews a bank can cover within a month, the more loyal its potential customers become and the higher rates they give.

Barclays and Pingit only reply to negative reviews. Despite having a good rating of 4,8, without replies the app slightly loses its positions.

Source: appfollow.io

ING and Twyp cover about a half of their monthly feedback. Their communication help grow their average rating.

Source: appfollow.io

Tinkoff with their Card-to-Card app covers more than 70% of reviews to keep their users engaged.

Source: appfollow.io
Why reviews are important? Check out how app reviews help developers to get new users.

3. Absence of errors

An app’s errors, crushes, and paralogisms make users delete it. The more users have deleted the satellite, the less a bank’s chances are to show them its offer and convert them into customers.

The first sign is represented by negative feedback and a lower app rating. Most frequently, such problems occur after app or OS updates. To increase your retention rate, allocate 1-2 days after the update to work with the users. This will help you keep the users, preventing them from shifting to your competitors.

Pingit app, for example, usually replies to negatives after the update the same or the next day. Their responses let customers know that the bank cares about their troubles and takes actions to fix them.

The Pingit app (Apple App Store)
Pick up the right response strategy to cover the feedback after app updates.

How to choose the right area for a satellite

Satellites will not attract new customers instantly; their task is to create your 'image' in the app stores. You do not necessarily have to publish a finance app to make use of a satellite. For example, one of the satellites of Commonwealth Bank of Australia is The Teleporter Adventures app. This one is focused on parents who download the app for their kids to learn finances. It doesn’t use the brand name, but builds trust with the parents before selling anything.

There is no limit regarding the app category or topic — your satellite may be about traveling or fitness. The good news is: the majority of competitors still haven't used this approach. Be among the first to acquire customers through satellites apps!

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