Fewer, smaller, and more automated branches are coming fast and online interactions are almost entirely transactional in nature, so how do banks and credit unions start dialogues that lead to face-to-face sales?
By Stewart Rose, President, Truebridge Financial Marketing
The banking scene is changing quickly. Branch traffic is low, branch closures are up and face-to-face sales opportunities are dwindling. Banks need new ways to start the dialogues that lead to revenue.
This isn’t the end of the world for branches, but it’s undeniable that mobile and online banking are increasingly the preferred means of day-to-day banking for most people. Part of the problem with this is that banks aren’t leveraging these channels anywhere near as well as they could.
Customers log on, move some money around and log out: It’s all transactional.
Furthermore, banks have an image problem among Millennials/Gen Y, who are indifferent to their bank and disinterested in what banks have to say. In fact, 71% of Gen-Y and Millennials say they would rather go to the dentist than listen to what banks are saying.
Banks need to get better at starting conversations with their customers and they can do it by providing content.
Content marketing has been around for over a century (John Deere was doing it in 1895) and it’s becoming a core element of any digital marketing strategy.
The idea with content is to put trust before the sale. If people at Home Depot teach you how to build a treehouse for your kid, who are you most likely to buy the materials from? This is a strategy that’s been really successful for Apple. While smartphones and tablets are commonplace today, Apple made strides by providing resources on how to use their technology.
20% of consumers who have a positive online education experience will purchase a product. 90% are likely to recommend the experience to a friend.
This basic principle can work in financial services too. Customers want to be able to understand their finances and banks should be able to provide easy-to-understand answers. Banks should be providing guides and articles that educate their customers. They can expand their online and mobile services while also working to generate revenue.
The way many people are using their bank today–for online transactions–demands a digital answer. Online financial content can help banks get more leads and face-to-face meetings if it’s delivered in the right way.
For a bank to succeed with content, they can’t just dip a toe in. They’ve got to go all the way to position themselves as the resource for simple financial answers. Content should be able to serve all customers–what if someone needs to replace a drawer, but all Home Depot had to offer were treehouse tips.
A range of subjects needs to be covered in order to serve different audiences. Millennials might want info on college planning, but let’s not forget that people in their 60’s use the Internet too and they’re probably looking for info on getting ready for retirement. A multitude of content allows for personalization of customer experience. Content should be based around life events, since research has shown that’s when customers are most likely to buy a financial product.
One of the allures of this digital strategy is that it’s fundamentally channel-agnostic–or what you might have heard called “omni-channel”. Web content like an article can be re-purposed into a blog post, can be tweeted out, posted to Facebook, emailed, downloaded, printed…
But what a lot of banks are missing out on with their current strategies is lead generation. As the role of the branch is changing, the quest for revenue continues. Banks can leverage articles and guides as a means to generate leads by using them to start conversations.
Content can be designed to put customers in touch with specific financial advisors at their branch.
The case for content is simple. As the role of the branch changes, get more revenue out of the channels that customers are increasingly turning to. Online and mobile are platforms where education, user experience and conversation come first. Financial institutions that can start conversations will increase their revenues.
Stewart Rose is the President of Boston-based Truebridge Financial Marketing. The Truebridge Content Marketing System enables financial institutions to provide educational content through branch and online channels in a way that generates sales leads for multiple business lines. Follow @Truebridge on Twitter.