3 Ways to Make Online Marketing Relevant for At-Home Consumers

The only way to reach consumers now is digitally. That makes it a critical time for banks and credit unions to upgrade their online marketing strategy. Campaign results will depend on gathering current insights, deciding which combination of digital channels to use, and ensuring that your mobile or online user experience is up to today's expectations.

During a once-in-a-century crisis, how do financial institutions determine what their customers need? The answer: the same way VGM Forbin always has. Our marketing model for financial institutions has always been to put the customer first. So, you can consider us experts in gathering valuable insights about your audience.

Instead of selling products based on goals your team sets, flip the script and ask yourself what customers need from you. And in today’s digital age, it’s never been easier to determine what an audience is looking for.

Before we jump into how you can target customers based on their needs, let’s talk about why this is a smart strategy for today’s climate. When technology like computers and smartphones became readily accessible to most individuals and families in the U.S., they relied less and less on institutions to tell them what they need. The modern consumer is much more independent than any consumer population in history. This audience will decide what they want on their own and expect to look for the answer with their preferred search engine.

This start to the buyer journey is now the only way consumers can find what they are looking for after businesses across the country have been forced to temporarily or permanently close their doors due to COVID-19. Now is the time to adjust and strengthen your online marketing strategy and present your most relevant solutions to consumers as they are searching for them. Because if your marketing isn’t relevant, it will be ignored.

Step 1: Gather Insights

If you’ve never worked through audience targeting before, “insights” are pieces of knowledge that help you understand patterns in audience behavior. The who, what, why and when of their searches. The most helpful part about the audience behavior we mentioned above, is that it’s no secret what people are searching for. In fact, our Google gurus at VGM Forbin did a little research for us, and we can tell you exactly what your target audience is interested in while they are stuck at home. By some estimates, searches for these keywords have tripled across the United States.

  • Mortgages
  • Home loans
  • Home loan refinancing

And this makes sense, right? The country is anticipating a recession due to businesses closing and employees getting laid off. Many savvy individuals know that this may be the best time to make a real estate investment or refinance their home loan. So, don’t force it when it comes to other products and services if the accounts aren’t there. Focus your budget and time to meet consumers in their time of need.

Step 2: Develop a Digital Campaign

So now that you know your opportunities are with mortgages, home loans and home loan refinancing, it’s time to show people why they should choose your financial institution and loan officers over the competition.

A great way to reach individuals from your home office is through digital marketing. Consider these three tactics for a basic digital campaign:

  • Social media marketing
  • Email campaigns
  • Search engine marketing

Social Media Marketing: This is a brand awareness tactic for the existing audience you have on various social media accounts. If they have liked or followed your page, they have already established they know who you are and are interested in what you have to say. Start a conversation to ask individuals what their concerns are as we go into the uncharted territory of a possible recession. By giving expert advice, you establish yourself as a trusted thought leader and the audience is more likely to choose you over a competitor as they get closer to decision-making time.

Email Campaigns: If you’ve sent emails to current and potential customers in the past, check out how they performed. Look for:

  • What time of day has the best open rates
  • What type of emails have the best click-through rates (CTR)

” Don’t be afraid to adjust times and send dates. What worked for individuals before they worked from home may not be effective now.”

This will most likely line up with who your audience is. For example, if they are working professionals, early morning emails that are short and to-the-point may be the right direction for this campaign. Remember to make the email all about the consumer by showing that you understand their obstacles and how you can help. Don’t be afraid to adjust times and send dates after monitoring behavior patterns with your emails. What worked for individuals before they worked from home may not be effective now.

We recommend creating different segments of your audience based on what you know about them and where they are in the buyer journey. The language you use in an email to customers who already have a home loan with you is going to be different than an email to a contact you haven’t touched base with in a while.

Search Engine Marketing: This is a great way to find new customers who are not already in your database. Work with a certified Google expert to create ads that will show up when someone searches for products in this campaign. If you aren’t connected with an expert, we have you covered. Just reach out to our gurus.

Similar to email campaigns, you can create different ads for each stage of the buyer journey. An expert who has their Google Ads certifications will be able to create these ads to target different levels of interest. For example, an ad for those searching “how to refinance my home loan” is going to be very different from an ad for those searching “what bank has the best interest rate on home loans.”

Step 3: Hone the User Experience

Let’s take a step back and talk about user experience (UX) before we launch this customer-focused campaign. In your emails, social media marketing and search engine marketing, you need to have a clear call to action. Examples:

  • Give Us a Call
  • Read Our Latest Blog
  • Visit Our Website

And every call to action must have a destination. This is where UX comes into play. If the site or landing page that the audience clicks to is slow to load, hard to read, difficult to understand, or simply not compelling, the conversion rate for your campaign will likely be low.

The ideal web page that the audience lands on after clicking the call to action will focus on the subject from your marketing piece. If the campaign is about home loans, it’s not a great idea to send the audience to the home page of your website. The fewer clicks they have to make the better. So, think about the web page that would work best for your campaign. Does it follow the basic UX guidelines mentioned above? If not, now would be a great time to set up a campaign-specific landing page.

A landing page is a temporary web page that is made for a specific campaign. While it doesn’t always connect to your website, landing pages are great ways to track campaign success. Since it’s a standalone page, most traffic and conversions will come directly from any emails, social posts or Google ads that are sent out by your bank.

This is also one way you can create a great UX if the current website is not up to par. However, the best solution is to have a website that meets all UX guidelines and has a mobile friendly design. Create a landing page to meet the immediate needs of a campaign, but we still urge you to think about the long-term solution of a website upgrade if necessary. Even if your team is working from home, this is the ideal time to collaborate with the VGM Forbin team on developing a website that meets your current needs and carries you into the future.

While self-quarantine and shelter-at-home restrictions remain in effect, your website will be your greatest resource for customers. And we anticipate this being a permanent shift to individuals relying heavily on your virtual branch even after restrictions are lifted. This means that you’ll need to go to them by using digital marketing tactics instead of waiting for them to come to you.

Now is the time to adapt to this new culture of banking. As a web and IT company that specializes in the financial industry, we’d be happy to show you the ropes. Each financial institution that we work with is paired with a team that will get to know their specific needs and goals. Together, we can launch a digital campaign and web solution that encompasses your competitive advantages as a bank, all from our home offices. Contact us to get started.

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