Bank marketers know relationships drive engagement, nurture loyalty and encourage word-of-mouth about products and services. They also know all too well by now that the industry can no longer rely on face-to-face interactions to maintain customer relationships to the extent once done.
Over the past five years, foot traffic has declined by about 35% in banks alone, according to Bancography. But future-forward banks and credit unions realize that the technology bringing people out of physical locations can also be used to strengthen their most important assets — relationships. Google has found 68% of consumers are more likely to work with brands that offer convenient communications — which is heavily digital now — so bank marketing strategy needs to account for that.
People still buy from people, regardless of the medium of interaction. Therefore communications need to center on the platforms most used by your target audiences.
But it’s not enough just to target one or two social media sites. It used to be that most of people got their information from the same sources — the local newspaper, the evening news, and maybe a specialty publication or two. Today, of course, there are limitless sources of information, and no two consumers have the same media habits. This means bank marketers must adopt an integrated, or omnichannel, approach — engaging with consumers on the communication channel of their choice.
Acting to Slow ‘Hidden Defection’
What does this look like in the real world? Perhaps you start with an email promoting a new product to a specific set of prospects, then later post a short video about the product on a social media channel they’re likely to use and then continually retarget viewers with paid social advertising. You’re meeting consumers where they are and moving them down the sales funnel along the way.
Failure to adapt to this new normal means losing relevance and relationships. While customers might not fly the coop entirely, the risk of loss of individual accounts within an existing relationship increases as better digital options become available. This disintermediation of accounts and/or balances makes the overall relationship less profitable.
Same Customer, Smaller Relationship:
With multiple loan, deposit and payment options available to consumers with the download of an app, banking relationships are shrinking.
Unless banks and credit unions respond with greatly improved digital experiences, what Bain & Co. calls “hidden defection” will only get worse.
Google found that firms working to rectify this — those devoting more of their budgets to developing better digital communications with customers — increased customer satisfaction by 9.5%. Growth also saw a bump to the tune of 5% or more.
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4 Ways to Improve the Banking Channel Experience
The only problem with integrated marketing is deciding where to start. It’s almost as if a new channel crops up each day, which can make the task feel overwhelming. A few practical steps and the right tools can help banks and credit unions focus their approach and connect with a target audience. Here’s what you’re looking at:
1. Open up your channels
You won’t know what channels resonate until you start using them. If your institution isn’t meaningfully using organic social, paid social, direct messaging and email (at the very least), you’re leaving opportunity on the table. Our research shows that too many institutions aren’t using social media to its fullest capability.
Jumping right in will allow you to start looking at where consumers are engaging — it’s the first step in the journey of improving and optimizing your social media strategy.
2. Take your human relationships online
As a traditional institution, you have one resource few fintechs can offer: real people. You need to take the real-life relationships your loan officers, financial advisors and associates have built and move them online.
Social selling helps put a face and a voice to your organization. It also builds the personal brand of your loan officers, financial advisors and other employees. Consumers begin to see these people as trusted sources of information, strengthening the relationship between your institution and those you hope to serve.
Activate a social selling strategy and empower employees with the tools they need to communicate digitally across social channels. Ask for feedback and optimize your strategies accordingly. Better yet, build a resource library filled with interesting and relevant content — all within regulatory compliance — that employees can share with target audiences.
3. Listen to your data
The great news here is that all your digital efforts reap significant data rewards. These are not the estimated impressions you used to get from traditional media. Set goals, benchmark your data and look for trends. All that data is now at your fingertips.
Eventually, you’ll see what content makes your audience click and linger. Invest in strategies driving results and revise those lacking engagement. And invest in the right analytics technology to make sense of the mountain of data you’ll collect from digital channels.
4. Ask customers for insights
Want to know how your customers communicate? Ask them — when they open a new account; when financial advisors have an annual review. Ask them on your institution’s social media pages. You’re already using digital channels to engage in two-way conversations, so take advantage of the medium and inquire about their thoughts and opinions. All this can highlight areas in need of improvement, inform new product and service offerings, and help develop content that wasn’t on your radar.