This internship project is an informational campaign production on the behalf of State Farm Online banking; in efforts to highlight why it is beneficial to transition to Online Banking. This project is a requirement for the Professional Media Internship course offered at Savannah State University under the Journalism and Mass Communication concentrations. Specifications were set by the course instructor to demonstrate the acquired skills of department junior and senior level students.
Online banking is a technology wave that has recently become popular, however this innovative development has been around for as far back as the 1980’s. According to Sarreal (2016),
New York City was the first place in the U.S. to test out the innovative way of doing business by providing remote services as four of its major banks — Citibank, Chase Manhattan, Chemical Bank and Manufacturers Hanover — made home-banking access available to their customers. Throughout online banking history, customers have been slow to adopt this new method of banking (para. 5).
Although this may be true, the system has come very far today as oppose to what online banking was in the 1980’s. To further expound, Sarreal (2016) explains how “the phrase referred to the use of a terminal, keyboard and television or computer monitor to access one’s bank account using a landline telephone” (para. 4). Since then, the system has cultivated into providing the public with a fully virtual banking option that offers every service that any other brick-and-mortar location may render. Together with unique qualities such as mobile deposits, smartphone apps, and text message notification systems, consumers are beginning to see why online banking companies are an advantageous substitute to the traditional brick-and-mortar method. Be that as it may, the field of internet banking still has room for improvement. Therefore the student will aim to formulate what contingencies play part in most, if not all American adults not integrating from traditional to online banking.
In the course of performing secondary research by obtaining information from articles and past studies pertaining to the topic, a greater understanding of the phenomena was gained by the analyst. Data indicating how many U.S. citizens use some form of online banking was a shocking discovery considering the previous speculations. According to the Pew Research Center (2013), “Fifty-one percent of U.S. adults, or 61% of internet users, bank online. Thirty-two percent of U.S. adults, or 35% of cell phone owners, bank using their mobile phones” (para. 1). Surprisingly, over half of U.S. citizens use some form of online banking. This helps to shift into the next piece of necessary information for the research efforts.
In order to move forward, a question is raised: If so many Americans are online bankers, which specific demographics are most prominent in this industry? Young adults (ages 18-29) and Whites report the most significant increases for online banking. In 2010, 55% of 18-29 year-olds said they banked online; in 2013, 66% of that group did so. In 2010, 47% of Whites said they banked online; in 2013, 54% of that group did so (Pew Research Center, 2013).
Using the data above as a reference, several inferences can be made. Specifically, there is now enough information to determine that most U.S. citizens whom are enrolled in online banking are under the age of 30; and of that group, a majority of them are White Americans; however, only a third of cell phone owners use the device to access online banking. Now that this information is recognized, the researcher knows that U.S. citizens whom are minorities; 30 years of age and up; and cell phone owners should not be overlooked in marketing strategies. Provided that this audience is least represented within the online banking community. Equally, is to determine why the target audience mentioned above has yet to acclimatize to the pioneering banking option. Comparatively, we must recognize what Americans in general, fear about online banking.
According to US News, Americans six biggest fears when it comes to online banking are: Identity Theft, Technology Hiccups, Misuse of Information, Lack of Documentation, A Lost or Stolen Phone, and Fake Smartphone Applications (Calonia, 2014). Understanding these concerns is the first step to identifying which State Farm Online Banking features provides services that are effective in avoiding burdens, such as those that are mentioned above. Even so, these fears are merely a reflection of the entire U.S. citizen adult population. As mentioned earlier, those over the age of 30 show a significant decrease in internet usage according to several sources. Be that as it may, it is necessary for the researcher to further investigate the challenges faced by elderly Americans when it comes to technology and the internet.
Elderly adults face challenges when trying to adopt new technologies. Some of those barriers are as follows: (a) Physical Challenges [such as health conditions that may affect coordination, reading, or other daily activities]; (b) Skepticism about the benefits of technology, [additionally, 49% of elderly adults who are non-internet users agree that they are at a loss due to all of the information the web provides that they miss out on, while the rest of the group (more than half) disagree with that statement]; and (c) trouble learning how to use new technology, [77% of elderly adults responded that they would need help with a new device] (Smith, Pew Research Center, 2014). Given these points, to wrap up the secondary research efforts, the researcher must specify the advantages and disadvantages of online banking.
According to NASDAQ, the three major downfalls to online banking are lack of security, transaction issues, and poor budgeting (Young, 2014). To further elaborate, Young (2014), states that “The new millennium is the age of the computer hacker and identity theft is one of the most widespread social diseases in America and around the world. As such, despite every bank's best effort to keep its website secure, unfortunately nothing is foolproof and there is always at least a slight risk that someone somewhere will hack into your account and gain access to sensitive information” (para. 9). Furthermore, Young proceeds by asserting that some things are better suited to be done in person when it comes to banking, such as depositing cash, or making international transactions.
Conversely Crone (2015), finds that with online banking “You have flexibility to do your banking wherever there’s Internet service, including on your phone, making it easy to transfer money, pay bills online, or monitor account activity” (para. 3). She continues with affirming that Internet Banks have lower costs for the consumer, and typically provide better customer service, along with more reward opportunities. This can help to lower fees and raise interest return on deposits (Young, 2015).
In order to maximize the efforts for the remainder of the campaign, it is imperative to employ the information collected when developing solutions to provide consumer with. Therefore, the practitioner will develop a strategic message which highlights services that State Farm Online Banking offers that are adequate alternatives to the threats listed above. To further explore this phenomena, a survey of 25 questions were created to gauge respondent’s opinions of things that matter most to them when selecting an online banking option.
The purpose of this awareness/informational campaign was to first discover, and then inform the consumer of the importance and advantages of State Farm Online Banking. In the approach of providing useful alternatives for a relatively threatening enterprise.
ii. Sample Size and Description
For this portion of the research, the sample size was 145 volunteers whom all were over the age of 18, but most of individuals were under the age of 30. These individuals were expected to have at least one source of income, have some knowledge of technology and the internet, and has previously held or considering holding some kind of bank account.
iii. Sample Selection Technique
The sample selection technique implemented was a non-random, convenience sample. Participants were selected based on their availability and willingness to take the survey to assure the most honest and diversified responses. In addition to the consideration that all of those over the age of 18 meet the minimum requirement to hold an online bank account.
iv. Data Collection Technique
The survey was made available via online through Google Forms so that participants did not need to be present with the investigator at the time of responding to the questions. This also helped to gather information from a larger range of people. This survey was made available from Friday, February 17th, at 5:00 p.m. EST and ended Friday, February 24th, at 5:00 p.m. EST. Submissions were reviewed for any corrections necessary and calculated on Sunday, February 26th, 2017 by 11:00 p.m. The survey was made available through text message, picture scanner, email, and group messages via an online link and QR code that was made available prior to the survey being available on the set date. All persons were eligible to share the link with anyone over the age of 18 due to the nature of the research focus.
In order to ensure reliable results, a total of 25 questions were listed to those who took the survey. 20 of those questions were used to gauge the volunteers opinion on services that matter most to them when selecting a virtual banking option in addition to questions that indicate which form of banking they prefer more Traditional or Online. This survey was provided to a non-random convenience sample of males and females over the age of 18, inclusive of open-ended, range, and multiple choice questions.
vi. Ethical Considerations
To ensure accordance of ethical principles established when conducting research, a consent form was provided to all volunteers prior to administering the survey. This consent form included the purpose of the study, the student, course, and instructor information, along with informing the volunteers that they could withdraw at any time in the survey, are not required to answer every question if they do not wish, and that all of their responses were fully confidential and that the only person they will be shared with is the instructor of the course, Professor Novella Holmes.
vii. Data Analysis Strategy
Data from the surveys were collected through the Google Forms Excel Software. The sheet was used as a visual for responses provided, in addition to a guide for analyzing data. Reported data within the report is equipped with visuals to represent the findings.
After reviewing the results from the survey administered, responses showed that most volunteers were at the least, somewhat familiar with State Farm Insurance Companies and the services they offer. In closer detail, 26.2% of those who took the survey were not at all familiar with the company or the services available. While 29.7% were slightly familiar; 25.5% moderately familiar; 12.4% very familiar, and 6.2% very familiar. This is a good indication that most Americans are at least somewhat familiar with the State Farm brand, and realize that they offer more than one service. Refer to (Figure 1.1) one to see the results from the companies brand awareness.
As mentioned earlier, White Americans adults under 30 are the primary demographic that uses online banking. As a result thereof, the survey was intended to reach those whom do not fit in that category. Data from the survey reported that 93.7% of those that took the survey were African-American; moreover Whites, Pacific Islanders, Native Americans, and Hispanics only made up 0.7% each of survey participants. While these results represent one component of the target audience, only 22.2% of the volunteers were age 30 and over. More specifically, 6.9% were between ages 30-34; 2.8% 35-40; 7.6% 41-50; 3.5% 51-64, and 1.4 % that are age 65 and up. On the positive note, this help supports the view that the older consumers use some form of technology, but are not hardly as engaged as those under 30.
Volunteers were asked what services matter most to them when selecting an online banking option. 31.5% reported 24/7 customer care as (Figure 2.1) shows; 36.4% selected high quality cyber-security software; and 25.2% chose accurate account balance information. Furthermore, as (Figure 3.1) shows, 60.4% of the 145 respondents reported that they feel comfortable with uploading personal documents via a smart device. It can be suggested that the responses to these questions indicate that American consumers are starting to become more comfortable with uploading personal documents through their devices. In the event that their personal information is protected by a high quality cyber-security system.
List of Skills Needed
i. Skills needed: Secondary and Primary Research, the ability to find scholarly references and literature reviews accompanied with the knowledge of APA format. Furthermore, the knowledge of different ways to practice and implement primary research; Microsoft Office Proficient, the ability to set page margins, format text, and add graph art or visuals to a legal document. In addition to the understanding that the software may be incorrect at times so the user should double-check all documents prior to approving; Adobe Acrobat Proficient, knowledge of Adobe InDesign, Photoshop, and Illustrator in order to create documents from scratch or edit any images or visuals, and otherwise to create deliverables for print; data analysis, being able to understand summarized data, and data spreadsheets in order to properly analyze data; budgeting; Google Forms Knowledge, knowledge of how to create an online survey through Google Forms that can be made available to the public and accessible from most smart devices, moreover the knowledge of creating a consent statement that follows research protocol; Campaign Principles and Production.
ii. Software Needed: Microsoft Office, Adobe Acrobat, Google Drive (Forms, Excel), SPSS, Adobe CS6, Internet Explorer
iii. Hardware Needed: Computer, Desk, Power Outlet, Flash Drive, Pencil, Paper, and Calculator.
Community Outreach Event
In order to achieve the campaign goal of bringing awareness to and highlighting the advantages of choosing State Farm as an online banking option, the practitioner chose community outreach events to implement twice a week over a 3 week period in March.
In order to ensure credibility and execute the objective of increasing consumer awareness of the products and features that State Farm Online Banking offers by 10%, the student furnished the table with fact sheets, brochures, and loan applications, all of which contained accurate information from the clients official website.
Personal and Auto Loan applications were made available in efforts to achieve the objective of enrolling at least 5 individuals that are age 25 and older, have a steady source of income, and a minority race in America in a State Farm Online Bank account.
It was understood from the gathered research that the target audience values credible information. Consequently, informational brochures were put in place to provide specific details about State Farm Online Banking account options, including loan rates, contact information and the company mission statement.
Due to the nature of the campaign, the contractor developed news releases and photo op advisories to send to local news affiliates to gain additional coverage.