How Good Are Banks At Marketing Online?

In February 2011, I published a blog post titled Online Marketing Maturity Model (For Banks And Credit Unions). It was, perhaps, one of the most widely ignored blog posts I’ve ever published. And out of more than 600 blog posts, that’s quite an accomplishment. 

Here’s the idea: Banks and credit unions  need a way to assess their online marketing capabilities, in order to know if they’re any good at it, and for creating a roadmap of investments they need to make in order to improve their online marketing ability.

So  I developed an Online Marketing Maturity model for financial institutions.

There are two key premises to the model:

1. There are three core processes to online marketing: Demand generation, demand conversion, and account creation. FIs use the online channel (through search, email, their own site, social media, etc.) to generate demand for their products and services, then convert that demand into sales (through microsites, comparison tools, product configurators, etc.), and finally create accounts online.

2. There are three stages of maturity: Performed, integrated, and optimized. In the first stage, a firm performs activities that correspond to one or more of the three processes, but measurement is typically lacking, and there is often a lack of integration of those activities across products or channels. In the second stage, firms begin to close the integration gap. In the third stage, firms deploy quantitative marketing methods to optimize spending and the allocation of resources within and across processes.

A bank or credit union is assigned to one stage per process. Knowing it’s online marketing maturity helps FIs: 1) Develop a roadmap for improvement and development opportunities; 2) Resolve prioritization disagreements; and 3) Benchmark internal progress over time.

Despite the not-so-resounding success of my blog post, I’ve still managed to enlist 25 financial institutions (banks and credit unions) to take the test, and ascertain their online marketing maturity.  What did I find? Pretty much what I expected: A bell curve. Of the 25 FIs, two qualify as Optimized, 10 are Integrated, 10 are at the Performed level, and 3 are below the Performed level. 

Interestingly, an overwhelming majority of the participating FIs are aligned in their online marketing maturity across the demand generation and demand conversion processes. I expected to find a lot of FIs whose maturity level in one process would be higher than in the other process.

With seven of the FIs qualifying for the Optimized level in Account Creation, this may be an indication that FIs are overly focused on “taking the order” instead of “creating the sale.”

I’ll be publishing the results of this in an Aite Group report in January. In addition to receiving a copy of the report, each of the participants will receive a customized analysis of how their FI compares on each of the 100 criteria in the model. If you would like to participate, please contact me at rshevlin at aitegroup dot com.   

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