What’s next for HSBC

Yesterday, I had a very good conversation with Catherine Ossemerct, Head of Media-Channels at Fortis. Catherine successfully, the online community for Entrepreneurs.

During ou conversation, Catherine told me that she was inspired, a website launched by HSBC back in October 2005 (the advertising agency was JWT).

If you traveled from London Heathrow in the last two years, you probably noticed the clever HSBC ads:

This was an excellent initiative from HSBC. The global scale and the budget of the advertising campaign made that marketing effort exceptional. The call to action (visit a micro-site) was quite uncommon too.

Engaging people is always a smart move, and this campaign was a perfect opportunity for HSBC to:
* communicate on their global presence
* demonstrate their understanding of the local markets
* communicate a positive image of the company (Corporate Responsibility): your comments matter to them and they are actively involved in good causes such as saving the Earth.
* promote their service: they display banners randomly (cf left handside). They could improve their landing pages. Many times I felt lost on a main page, even when I was invited to download the Social Responsibility Report 2005.

Please find below a few comments and suggestions.

Even though there is not much activity from HSBC, it looks like members are still reacting to old topics and posting comments.

There are four main sections: Topic of the week, Polls & Data, Commentary and eCards. You can also find a few links to the various parts of the HSBC Group, watch all the Ads, Email a Friend, and give your feedback.

Not a social network
It is not a social network, and with this site HSBC didn’t create an online community: there is no community section, no “your profile”/”your account” section, you can’t browse the member database, you can’t see your list of posts and comments, it is not possible to rate a post or find out who the most active member or best contributor is…

I am surprised that they chose not to add such a section. It is an efficient and easy way to do some profiling, identify evangelists and sneezers, reach smaller groups, and market your services in a cost effective way.

Limited web 2.0 features it is a kind of limited blogging platform. It is not a social network, there is no video, no rss feeds and no tagging.

Key remarks
* Customer journey: watch out the landing pages! You don’t want your members to get lost!
* The navigation is not intuitive. They should provide more statistics on the topics and polls (date, volume of responses), and improve the display of responses and comments.
* Search doesn’t work?
* Refresh your assets! Logos, banners…
* Email a friend is a good feature and it helps to spread the word. But opening outlook is outdated, it doesn’t look automated, and it is not easily trackable. I would create a form, ask for a few contact details such as the email address and name of the recipient, and automatically populate my php database.

Topic of the week

There are only 17 topics, whereas HSBC launched the site in October 2005.
You always need to manage expectations: if you have limited resources allocated to a project, why would you set a demanding frequence for updates? Fresh content and regular posts is critical if you want to drive traffic to your blog and keep your members curious and engaged.

Despite heavily promoting their current topic of the week (which week?), Global Warming, on the homepage, there are only four responses and no comments. And two responses are not even relevant: “Bakster, you know i don’t speak spanish!!!!!!” and “Stop illegal logging please!”.

There is no date. They don’t display the total nb of responses and only four responses are displayed at per page. There is no way to quickly identify the most engaging and relevant responses because the number of comments are not displayed either.

For instance, how was I supposed to know that “Do you worry about internet fraud?” generated so much interest among the members? I found 68 responses…

Polls and data
The most recent poll open was in April 2007, the others are usually from the end of 2006…
You can display the results by country: it is a nice feature, but it could be disappointing or difficult to use because of a potentially small number of respondents (or no respondent at all). They could display the number of respondents and comments.

There are only 11 key topics. The content is generated by a team of editors. The members can react and share their comments.
HSBC should leverage more the Polls and Data figures and create more dynamic pages (“how the world voted” in Is a can of tomato soup or an unmade bed really art? is static)
What is their editorial policy? They could ask the members for their favourite topics.

Why would I send yourpointofview ecards? You need to urge me to send one of your ecards!
And is it the right time to push for HSBC products and services?

How bright is the future for
It looks like there is not much activity on the website… I wonder what HSBC strategy is for
* do they plan to spend more money and take the website to the next level (create an online community, engage their members and leverage web 2.0 technologies such as rss feeds or tagging)?
* today, it looks like they don’t allocate any more resources to the website…

The key challenge is not to create a platform, but build and engage your community. Why would I visit this site on regular basis? What can I find on the platform? How useful is the content to me?
And the key question is what is your goal? Create online communities and leverage the trendy web 2.0 technologies is ok but what banks want to achieve? Which segment or group do they target?

Michael Udell – Creator’s Comments:
“Launched in October 2005, had been in formulation since the early part of the year; it changed form and structure but always stayed true to HSBC’s objectives.“
“After a number of brainstorms focusing on possible content and functionality we realized that the potential of the site was huge, we just had to remain focused. There was the risk of creating a global dating Web site, connecting people with similar points of view across a range of topics, but that wasn’t our task.“
“To develop an engaging platform that illustrates different points of view, we focused on the topics brought to life in the initial TV and print campaigns (modern art, cloning, wind farms, haute couture and gorillas) and attempted to understand how people reacted to them.“

What do you think?

Written by Christophe Langlois

Based in London for almost a decade, Christophe is an entertaining fintech marketing keynote speaker and a trusted advisor to the global financial services industry on the topics of digital marketing, innovation and B2B social media.

Christophe has contributed to over 140 events in 18 countries.

Currently, Christophe is advising a number of fintech startups on marketing and growth hacking and he is the Chief Marketing Officer of The Fintech Power 50, an exclusive annual programme helping fintech scale-ups to accelerate their growth globally.

Christophe's views on are his own.

Visible Banking on CommunityLend

Visible Banking News #17