Achieving success in marketing has always required agility and a willingness to try new things. 2022 won’t be any different: Banks and credit unions should expect the unexpected, and plan for what they can.
There are at least four big shifts happening in the marketing world that are making 2022 a year for strategic adaptation. Smaller financial institutions are being impacted by these changes more than the big banks, but even the largest are feeling the effects.
1. Say Goodbye To Third-Party Cookie Tracking
Odds are that unless you were deeply involved in the world of marketing technology, programmatic media buying or consumer data aggregation, this statement may not seem to carry a lot of weight. But it’s crucial. Here’s why.
Cookies are very small files that accumulate on your computer or device when you browse the internet. A “first-party cookie” allows website operators to remember your preferences and tailor your experience when you return to their site later. Third-party cookies enable your browsing behavior to be aggregated into large data sets and used to serve you ads across a wide variety of websites.
Thanks to legislation such as the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), consumers will soon have to give explicit permission for their browsing data to be tracked and shared. In effect, this limits the simplicity and easy data access that advertisers have relied on for years. However, it does not mean the end of first-party cookies or the ability to precisely target an audience with ads.
Few consumers knew their behavior was being tracked because the digital advertising industry was allowed to do so without permission, including buying and selling the resulting data. It was an unregulated industry worth billions of dollars, and it was built on data that most people had no idea they were generating or that was influencing their buying habits.
Once third-party cookies are fully retired, consumers’ data will be far safer and more secure. And banks and credit unions can lean into the change. You already serve as a trusted guardian of people’s financial lives. It only makes sense that you would support increased privacy and security for their data as well. And by some estimates, a quarter of consumers will continue to allow their data to be tracked and aggregated — that means the future will still include some of the tactics banks have relied on for years.
Not All Data Tracking Will Disappear:
Roughly one in four customers will let their data continue to be tracked, even after third-party cookies go away, creating an opportunity for trusted bank marketers.
There are options for you to build your own audience and implement marketing tactics that are traceable and preserve the privacy of your account holders and target audience.
What community banks and credit unions can do: The most important action item here is to acknowledge that third-party cookies are going away and pivot to marketing tactics that don’t rely on them so heavily, such as direct response marketing. Some community financial institutions may not even experience a change at all because they didn’t rely on the third-party data ecosystem to begin with.
2. Banks Must Closely Follow Social Media Changes
Facebook (or Meta, as the parent company is now called) has been a massive player in the digital advertising space. Not just within its own social media platforms but across the entire internet. That era is winding down, precipitated by Apple’s changes to advertising tracking within iOS and evidenced by Meta’s falling stock price.
Many people are scrutinizing big tech companies such as Meta, Twitter and Google to see if their platforms and policies cultivate division and negative societal effects. As with most novel technologies, that question has more to do with how people use the platforms than how they are structured. But it’s still worth looking at the situation objectively and making sure that how you use social media aligns with your values — it’s a decision that each business must make for itself.
What community banks and credit unions can do: Whatever the changes to social media advertising or the public opinion about big tech, the platforms themselves are crucial for connecting with consumers and growing your audience. And they will continue to offer valuable marketing opportunities because they have become virtual neighborhoods where consumers spend time. Your institution can and should create visibility in these neighborhoods, just like you do in physical neighborhoods.
And the more connected you are to your audience on social media, the more effective your marketing efforts will be as a whole.
3. Shortform Video Is a Big Opportunity for Online Content
Video has dominated social media platforms in recent years. The rise of TikTok may even represent a peak in the use of video. You can see TikTok’s influence across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat.
In 2020, Americans spent 15 minutes a day watching videos on their smartphones. When you’re talking about 10- to 30-second clips, that’s a lot of videos by different creators.
What community banks and credit unions can do: Seek to add value and build trust with your audience. The key to posting videos to social media is to create content that aligns with your brand. As a community bank or credit union, you can reach people with meaningful content even if your team is small and wearing lots of hats.
4. Engaging Bank Customers 1-To-1 Is Crucial
While digital advertising is undergoing an uncomfortable shift, direct response advertising and communication are enjoying newfound relevance. Direct response advertising methods typically include physical mail, email and telephone outreach.
Email marketing is an effective channel troubled by unreliable metrics — another result of the consumer-friendly privacy shift initiated by Apple (to the dismay of many marketers). The emphasis for email will probably shift toward firmer metrics such as click-through rate.
Physical mail is bouncing back in a huge way thanks to the use of QR codes and personalized URLs (PURLs). It is possible to send a unique QR code to every consumer in a database and have incredibly accurate reporting on who scanned the code and visited your site. This degree of visibility is every marketer’s dream!
Add This to Your Marketing Toolbox:
Banks can attach a unique QR code to each recipient in a direct mail campaign and track who visits their site.
Although the phrase “telephone outreach” may trigger thoughts of family dinners interrupted by pushy salespeople, the landscape has changed in huge ways. Today SMS/text messaging has become an incredible channel for holding 1:1 conversations with consumers, and it’s a channel that consumers want to use.
To be clear, we’re not talking about using shortcodes to build lists of phone numbers to broadcast promotional text messages. We’re talking about the ability to single out individual account holders and talk with them over text message. A common example of this is a loan officer who is collecting the necessary documents to close an auto loan or mortgage.
What community banks and credit unions can do: Consumers want to feel seen and heard, especially by the bank or credit union that holds their money. SMS texting and other 1:1 communication channels help you meet those consumers where they are, and you don’t even need employees to use their personal phone numbers to facilitate the exchange.
With the right technology partner, communicating over text message is secure, convenient and builds trust with your account holders. Best of all, it is equivalent to calling them on the phone, so it isn’t governed by the same regulations (such as requiring explicit permission and opt-out mechanisms) as broadcasting promotions to a shortcode list.
Turn 2022’s Tough Challenges to Your Advantage
If you haven’t already, take some time to document the marketing outcomes you’d like to see in 2022. This will create a landmark you can use to measure against and help reorient your strategy as needed. In the world of marketing, there are always new shiny objects that will distract you from the bigger goal if you allow them to.
Now is also a good time to examine your marketing ecosystem and find out how dependent you are on third-party cookies for your campaigns. If you don’t rely on that type of data, then you don’t need to feel concerned about the coming changes. If you do depend on third-party data to run marketing, then you can get a head start on finding alternative partners and technology to hit your objectives.
2022 won’t be a cakewalk for anyone who uses digital advertising, but it can launch your financial institution into a much more sustainable, consumer-friendly way of communicating and growing your business.
Learn more about how to deal with the marketing challenges of 2022 in our podcast: Thinking Outside the Vault