Banking customers are looking for more than just transactions — they want a human touch. Banks and credit unions are working to deliver on this expectation in many ways, as they recognize that improving the user experience enhances brand trust and loyalty. But one touchpoint often overlooked is the ATM.
It’s time to change that. ATMs can be an effective platform for customized marketing when financial institutions tap into the valuable data they collect on customers. They also deliver a captive audience that’s more receptive to those marketing messages than the audiences that institutions pay to reach elsewhere.
Here’s how to use ATMs to establish deeper connections with customers and provide experiences that resonate.
Why ATMs Are Great for Marketing
ATMs offer three important advantages for marketers at banks and credit unions: ubiquity, trust and data.
Ubiquity: The United States had between 520,000 and 540,000 active ATMs as of the end of 2022, according to the ATM Industry Association. These ATMs process around 10 billion transactions a year, which represents a lot of advertising opportunities.
Trust: In Morning Consult’s spring poll of 2,190 U.S. adults, 70% said they trust banks to do what is right. Many other surveys, including the annual Edleman Trust Barometer, show that trusted brands enjoy some key benefits. Consumers are more receptive to advertising from brands they trust, according to the 2019 Edelman survey, and 59% of consumers say they are more likely to purchase new products from a brand they trust, even if the products are more expensive than similar ones from competitors, according to the 2023 Edelman survey.
Real-time data collection: Modern ATMs have built-in analytics that can record user demographics as well as transaction times and patterns. Financial institutions can use this data to improve the overall customer experience.
Strategies to Implement
To make the most of ATM marketing, pursue the following strategies.
Personalized offers: Various tools allow banks and credit unions to create a comprehensive customer profile by gathering data from multiple sources. This includes online behavior, transaction history, banking services usage, and email campaign interactions. Financial institutions can then use this detailed customer information to deliver personalized content directly to ATM screens, employing standard data formats such as JSON or XML, depending on the ATM’s capabilities. This approach represents a significant step forward in offering tailored banking experiences across multiple channels.
Cross-selling: A relevant banking product could be advertised on the ATM screen while a transaction is being processed. For example, advertising a high-yield savings account or investment possibilities could pique the interest of a customer who has made large cash withdrawals.
Localized marketing: While an ATM in a commercial neighborhood might emphasize premium credit cards or corporate banking services, one next to a university might advertise student loans or low-fee accounts.
QR codes and near-field communication: ATM machines are now utilizing QR codes and NFC technology to enhance the security and convenience of transactions. Customers can conduct transactions using their smartphones via a bank-provided app, reducing the risk of fraud since the PIN is entered on their phone and no card is required. For enhanced security, the transaction process may include scanning a QR code displayed on the ATM screen. Additionally, by scanning a QR code at an ATM, consumers can quickly gather more details or initiate applications for insurance, loans, or new accounts.
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Mistakes to Avoid
ATMs are attention-getting billboards for banks and credit unions. But on the flip side, they can also get the wrong kind of attention, so avoid the following mistakes.
Oversaturation: Excessive, irrelevant ads negatively affect consumers. Avoid overwhelming ATM customers with advertisements; doing so can cause them to react negatively to your brand.
Generic content: For users expecting customized experiences, generic messaging might cause a disconnect. Create distinctive, captivating communications about your company, your brand, and your products to stand out.
Neglecting ATM maintenance: Both the displayed message and the condition of the ATM are crucial. Poor functionality and slow speeds detract from the user experience. While thinking about how to leverage your ATMs, don’t forget to make sure they are in working order first; this includes proactive and ongoing maintenance to prevent ATM skimming.
Steps to Effective ATM Marketing
The following steps can help your bank or credit union up its ATM game and ensure that it is really capturing all of the value that it can from this customer channel.
Take a data-driven approach: A strong data analytics system should be your first step. Recognize user trends, interests, and habits to gain knowledge that will guide your marketing efforts.
Use design to your advantage: Make sure ATMs reflect the bank’s branding. Consumers are more willing to trust an ATM branded by a financial institution over a generic machine. Some institutions have reported an average increase of 20% to 25% in consumer transaction volume after applying a branded wrap to their ATMs. The wraps, created from vinyl sheets, display colorful graphics and actively transform ATMs into dynamic billboards. They also can be updated regularly to align with current promotions.
That's a Wrap:
Wraps, which are created from vinyl sheets and display colorful graphics, can draw a lot of attention to an ATM. Some institutions have seen consumer transaction volume at their ATMs increase by upwards of 25% after applying a wrap.
Consider installing smart ATM toppers: These displays, mounted on top of ATM machines, serve as a dynamic advertising platform, promoting products both for the financial institution and local businesses. The system allows for wirelessly managing and deploying a variety of content, including static images, animated graphics, and videos, in a looping playlist format. The display captures the attention of passersby, increasing awareness and use of the ATM.
Leverage ATM receipts: Ensure ATM receipts are clutter-free and clearly display the major transaction details before redesigning them to include marketing messaging like special offers, discount coupons, or links to financial advice sites.
Regularly update campaigns: Financial markets change quickly. Make sure your marketing materials are up to date and accurately reflect the latest products, interest rates, and incentives.
Seek partnerships: Work with nearby retailers to help increase reach. Offer collaborative campaigns or unique offers that are only available to ATM users.
Ensure consistent experiences: Consistent branding across ATMs and other platforms grows brand awareness. Consistency across different experiences — customer journey, emotion, and communication — increases trust.
Monitor and repeat: Measure the success of a campaign using resources like feedback mechanisms and customer relationship management systems. To make sure products and services align with expectations, analyze this feedback often and take appropriate action.
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ATMs as Part of the Larger Digital Ecosystem
The digital world is changing, and banks and credit unions need to adapt to provide a smooth customer experience.
ATMs used to be thought of as standalone machines, but now financial institutions are seeing the value of merging them with other channels, including digital banking platforms, mobile banking apps and mobile wallets. They can enhance the user experience with a tailored approach, offering customized greetings, cardless transactions and more.
They also can serve up helpful banking advice based on customer history, such as suggesting a high-yield savings account to customers who frequently deposit large sums of money.
By bridging the gap between physical and digital banking and updating the ATM experience, a financial institution can give its customers a consistent experience that adds value each time they interact with it.
About the author:
Natalie Weintraub is digital marketing associate at BankBound, a marketing agency focused on the banking industry.