Now that a financial brand’s reputation can be put in play online at any moment, it’s imperative that banks and credit unions keep take the pulse of what others say about them. Social media, news, blogs, YouTube, forums and review sites provide a nonstop torrent of data about what customers and prospects think of you.
But there’s also other valuable information to be found online, such as how competitors are performing, what new products they are releasing, and what customers are saying about them.
While the internet may hold valuable clues about the market, competition and your reputation, it can be challenging to track in the 24/7 cycle of news and web traffic. Social media monitoring apps, along with Google Alerts — the free analytics tool — enable bank marketers to keep tabs on the market and put that information to use.
Online Tools Provide Automated Monitoring and Analytics
When informed with the right data, banking executives can optimize operations, improve performance and find new opportunities. This is especially important as banks and credit unions strive to differentiate.
An essential part of differentiating is knowing what is being written and said about you — how you are perceived. Google Alerts enable anyone to monitor news, blogs, videos — anything indexed by Google’s search engine — on specific topics set up by the user. The search bot scrolls the internet and sends bankers a daily or weekly email with headlines, snippets and links to relevant content. Google Alerts can also be delivered as an RSS feed, which can be placed in emails or newsletters.
Bankers know they need to break out of the industry's 'commodity product trap.' Knowing what people are saying or writing about their institution is essential to doing that.
Google Alerts is only a starting point, however, and users have complained at times about inaccurate results and a lack of marketing analytics. New monitoring tools can supplement Alerts by scanning social media and offering deeper insights.
Talkwalker, for example, provides the basic functionality of Google Alerts but with some additional features and more customization. There’s also Awario, which analyzes data to measure the tone of the mentions and whether they are positive, negative, or neutral. The software also shows the author’s gender, age, location, language and the social media networks they use.
Here are four ways banks and credit unions can put these tools to use.
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1. Monitor the Brand and Improve Products and Service
Tools like Google Alerts enable financial institutions to hear the “beat on the digital” street regarding what people are saying about them, James Robert Lay, Founder, and CEO of the Digital Growth Institute, tells The Financial Brand. Banks and credit unions can use these tools to ask questions, listen to what people are saying and learn through observation. “Regardless of the tool and channels, the simple act of listening fuels and creates growth opportunities,” Lay states.
Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, for example, wanted to maintain positive sentiment around its brand. With real-time alerts from Talkwalker the bank was able to address issues as they happened, increasing positive sentiment by 40%.
Champion National Bank, a small bank in New York, uses Mention, another social monitoring tool, for reputation management. Jacqueline Hallock, Director of Marketing, says Mention helps identify negative comments as soon as they post. By quickly responding to them, the bank often turns a bad review into a positive experience.
“Many times these people, who were so mad at us a few minutes before, will then go back online and update their original comment to explain how we helped them,” Hallock states.
2. Keep Tabs on Competitors
As more banks and fintechs battle for customers, knowing what your competitors are doing is even more important. In addition to new products, services or announcements, bank marketers can also identify competitors’ weaknesses.
For example, a surge in complaints about a particular incident to do with a competitor or product shortcoming can all be picked up by social monitoring. This is especially important as banks and credit unions face new threats to their commercial business. Google Alerts also searches job feeds, which can inform an institution’s marketing team about turnover or a coming change of leadership at a competitor.
Setting up Google Alerts on your top three competitors gives timely insights into their performance, customer reviews and operations.
“You may be tuned in listening for complaints about competitors and then use those signals as a way to connect with those who are sharing a frustration about an experience with another brand,” says Lay.
He recommends making a direct social connection a day or two later. The key is not to connect from the corporate brand account but an account of someone working for the bank or credit union, “because people connect with people,” he states.
3. Keep Track of Business Customers and Prospects
The traditional face-to-face relationships of commercial banking are rapidly giving way to digital. Additionally, because banking is no longer necessarily local, relationship-building dinners and events are declining in relevance. This loss of close personal connection means relationship managers are now often less likely to hear about what their customers are up to.
In this void, tools like Google Alerts can help bankers learn of new milestones, new hires or other developments that could be fodder for relationship building. For example, a promotion or change in leadership at a business customer may warrant a congratulatory call or email. Additionally, learning of challenges a business may be facing — such as the loss of a big contract — offers the bank a chance to reach out.
Timing Is Everything:
The advantage of near-instant alerts about key customers or prospects will be wasted if bankers don't have a system in place to monitor online alerts every day.
These “listening triggers” offer valuable opportunities “to provide help, hope and guidance by sharing content and resources even though the company might not have an account at your financial brand,” says Lay.
Staying up to date on these developments also enables bankers to offer customized products or services geared towards new trends in an industry.
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4. Find and Cultivate New Banking Relationships
The growth in digital banking means bankers no longer have to confine prospecting to their own backyard. Yet while there are more opportunities, they are harder to find and secure. By using specific keywords in setting up Google Alerts, bankers can now sift out potential prospects and keep tabs on their existing customers.
Using a term like “new CFO hired in Atlanta,” for example, may alert bankers to potential opportunities. They could use these updates to follow-up with emails, phone calls or even a gift basket.
James Robert Lay recommends setting up alerts for your top prospects. This is particularly suited to commercial banking, where it can take time to build relationships.
However, mortgage lenders, investment advisors, and human resource directors can set up alerts to monitor opportunities in their own areas.