17 Digital Marketing Tips for Banks and Credit Unions

The banking industry is behind the curve. There's a digital marketing divide between what financial marketers know they should be doing and what they are actually doing. Here are 17 ideas, tips, tricks and techniques that banks and credit unions can use to close the gap.

Leverage Your Website for Customer Service

Your website is essentially a digital branch. It’s critical that you maximize this channel to deliver customer service 24/7 x 365. Whether you love your current website or not, there are always opportunities to improve it. Focus on the things customers need the most — e.g., help with online banking, finding your routing number, accessing current rates, finding a nearby branch or ATM, or asking a general question. Here are four ideas you can implement to effectively assist users of your site:

1. Create or update FAQs. Many common questions that your members or customers ask can be addressed through a robust FAQ page (or similar section on your site). If you don’t have this on your site you should add it soon. Your customer service department is a great place to start to see how better information provided on your website can reduce unnecessary inquiries and streamline support operations. If you already have this information on your site, revisit the content to ensure it is accurate, comprehensive and up-to-date. Bonus points if you warehouse this information in a database and serve it up contextually next to relevant product pages.

2. Provide a simple contact form. It’s amazing how many financial institutions don’t do this. It provides easy way for visitors to contact you, ensuring your service team receives inquiries in a timely and structured manner. Saving submitted forms in a database will afford you the opportunity to periodically analyze queries and look for common themes, giving you an objective, data-driven method to improve your website (such as your FAQ section) or other channels.

3. Invest in online chat. Today’s digital consumer expects online chat. They’ve learned it can help them get their questions answered quickly and efficiently. Think about it… your service reps can only talk to one person at a time on the phone, but they can be fielding inquiries simultaneously from multiple people through an online chat platform.

4. Present integrated service options. Like many institutions, you have likely added self-service options over time. However, from a visitor perspective, it is important to present all service options together to give the visitor choices — a true “omnichannel buffet”. A help button, contact link and/or section of your page should present the call center number, a contact form, FAQs, chat, a knowledgebase, social media and any other customer service options. Keeping this organized will go a long way to giving visitors the feeling that your website is clear and helpful, while supporting a positive brand impression.

Amplify Your Analytics Data

You likely have Google Analytics. You might also be a bit bewildered when you look at the data, struggling to entirely understand what it all means. How you should be using the data? What’s the most relevant ways it should be leveraged? Don’t worry… you are not alone. But with the right data, you can help answer questions from your CEO and CFO about the ROI of your marketing efforts. Google Analytics will only tell you so much “out of the box,” but if you know how to utilize the raw data, it can be a tremendous resource. Here are a couple of ways you can maximize your analytics intelligence:

5. Google Tag Manager. Adding custom analytics code to your site can be a cumbersome effort involving web developers, and adding too much tracking code can slow down your site’s performance. Instead, creating a Google Tag Manager account and linking it to your existing site analytics account is a must. Once it’s up and running, all of your tracking code can be placed within that account, and you can then setup goals and dashboards to see the data’s performance.

6. Third-Party Tracking. Knowing that visitors are clicking on Apply Now is a nice start. Knowing that they actually submitted a loan application is a big victory. Adding tracking code to your third-party vendors’ sites will allow you to connect the dots between your marketing efforts, and provide you the knowledge you need to answer that persistent ROI question. You will want to contact each of your vendors to find out if they allow for tracking code on their sites. Then, you will want to work with a vendor who understands custom analytics, so that you can be positive that everything is running properly, and that you have the dashboards you need in Google Analytics to understand the data.

Maximize Your Mobile Marketing

When even Grandma has a smartphone, it’s time to make sure that you have a plan for your mobile marketing efforts. Research fielded by Bank of America found that 39% of Millennials interact more than they do with their smartphones than actual humans. So if you want to reach that coveted Millennial audience, you’d better make sure your campaign is mobile-optimized. Or maybe you’re looking to reach young mothers? Nielsen confirms that 97% of them own a smartphone and depend on it for nearly everything. With that in mind, here are some mobile must-haves:

7. Responsive Design. If you still haven’t redesigned your website using responsive design, there’s simply no excuse in this day and age. Visitors expect their site to be mobile responsive, and if isn’t, it positions your institution as behind the times. What’s more, Google will heavily penalize your rankings if your site isn’t mobile friendly.

8. Mobile-Optimized Ad Campaigns. All of your campaigns need to be mobile-optimized. From mobile-specific ads to responsive landing pages, your mobile experience should be seamless. Additionally, if you are using a third-party vendor, their mobile experience is critical, so don’t settle for “good enough” — be sure that their mobile experience is top-notch.

9. Mobile Apps. By now you have a mobile app, but visitors are increasingly discriminating. If your don’t have a killer mobile banking app, visitors will be frustrated and will judge your brand. Everyone is using mobile apps, with Millennials and women among the groups with the highest utilization. So talk to your vendor about your options if your mobile app is lacking or a source of negative feedback.

10. Email Design. Your emails should be designed and coded so that they display flawlessly on mobile phones. Most emails will be opened by consumers on a mobile device, so financial marketers should plan accordingly. Emails will render slightly differently across email clients, so be sure to thoroughly test your email templates to maximize the mobile user experience.

Read More: 19 Awesome Mobile Banking Apps From Banks and Credit Unions

Focusing on Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)

Conversion Rate Optimization simply means focusing on increasing the percentage of visitors that take the desired action on any given webpage. You’re putting a lot of time, effort and money into marketing tactics and you need to understand what’s working… and what’s not. Here are some relatively painless ways to improve your institution’s digital CRO:

11. A/B Testing. If you have A/B testing technology within your Content Management System (CMS) or email platform, you should use it this year. A/B testing will allow you to change something seemingly minor on your page to see if it impacts conversion. Something as small as the color of a button might significantly impact conversion, but you won’t know unless you test it out.

12. Usability Testing. Website redesigns are the perfect time to implement usability testing, but you can also implement usability testing on your current site, or a key campaign landing page. Usability testing allows you to confirm assumptions and fix items before it could cost you conversions.

13. Landing Pages. The term landing page is loosely thrown around by marketers to mean any page you drive visitors to. This is a bit of a misnomer. More accurately, a landing page is a dedicated page that specifically supports a specific desired action. Strips out all unnecessary elements, so that the visitor is entirely focused on your desired conversion. Every bank or credit union should have at least one landing page template as part of its website.

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Use Content Marketing to Connect With Consumers

In digital marketing, content is king. Content is vital to keeping people engaged, positioning your institution as a knowledgeable resource and provider of ongoing financial education. It also keeps your website fresh and interesting — something search engines like Google love. Here are a couple content marketing strategies to consider:

14. Blog. If you have a blog, plan your blog content strategically. With a little research, you can find out what people are searching for, what people are asking about in your branches, and what trends are hot. If you don’t have a blog, you should seriously consider investing in one. Don’t create a new, separate standalone site. Be sure that your blog is hosted on your domain to maximize its SEO value. And be sure to mix up the type of content you provide — from articles and videos to infographics. Once your blog has great content, use channels like email and social media to drive traffic.

15. Third-Party Content. Third-party content can be a useful way to supplement your own proprietary content, and a way to easily extend your library with purposeful content — particularly if the vendor allows your institution to “white label” the material. Always look for ways to customize the content for your institution (e.g., “localize” it for the communities and/or audiences you serve). While you can use third-party content to supplement your material, don’t use it as a substitute for original content; have a plan in place to invest in- and create your own customized content. And whatever approach you take for your content marketing strategy, be sure it is mobile optimized.

Integrate Your Marketing

With a lot of cooks in the kitchen, it’s easy to have disjointed messaging, or a single-channel campaign. The problem is that audiences are living in a surround-sound environment, where offline and online worlds continually collide, and brand perception is often fragile. It’s better to do less, but integrate your marketing tactics, then spread yourself thin and confuse consumers.

16. Multichannel Campaigns. Consider all of your channels when you have a promotion. If auto loans are a focus this spring, plan backwards for success. Strategize your landing page(s), then plot out your campaign tactics and determine your success metrics. Relying on organic SEO and paid search, ATM ads, as well as social media and email marketing, your campaign should be integrated, consistent and memorable.

17. Utilize the Strengths of Each Platform. Integrating your marketing efforts does not mean doing the same thing across all platforms. Instead, play to the strengths of each platform, while you unify your message for more effectiveness and brand continuity

Remember that above all, your job as a digital marketer this year is to deliver information to audiences and invest your institution’s money in things that will keep audiences engaged, happy and loyal. Invest your resources in customer service, advanced analytics, mobile marketing, conversion rates and integrated marketing to increase ROI. Focusing on the fundamentals of digital marketing, rather than checking the box on the latest online craze, will help drive results for your bank or credit union over the next 12 months.

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