In Part I, we covered how bank marketing is changing from the reliance on in-branch brochures, print ads and a couple of events per year. Now that banks have embraced social media, 2017 will be the year that banks build on that understanding and not only wage proactive social media campaigns and interactions but get involved with advertising and expanded content. The Trump Administration will provide banks with endless uncertainty and volatility. Tax reform, trade, less regulation, higher interest rates and new programs will have households and businesses yearning for more financial analysis. Bank customers will be looking for answers and banks are in the perfect position to take a thought leadership role.
While we discussed budget changes, strategies, and the first five trends that are core to our 2017 playbook and will be catching on with other banks, below are five more trends that are in motion:
For years, companies threw marketing at the refrigerator to see what sticks. Now, we know more about our customers through digital channels that we ever have before - their age, lifestyle, education, hobbies, profession and brands that they identify. In 2016, banks experimented with mining that data to create targeted approaches, and it worked. Our marketing efforts were 10% to 30% more effective, and in 2017, we are just going to get better at it. Lazy marketing hurts a brand, whereas personalized marketing keyed off events, lifestyle or trait mapping makes the recipient feel a strong connection. Look for banks to finally make use of all their data and get better at micro-targeted ads and promotions. Next year more banks will undergo customer persona exercises to better understand who the targets are in order to make both sales and marketing more effective.
The Visual Connection
Banks will make the distinction between marketing efforts that are driven by writing and efforts that are visual. Visual content will continue to increase in importances, and banks will find that combining visual collateral pieces with written language-heavy pieces will serve the most masters. Part of the increase for video will be driven by more innovation by Google and others allowing users to better search pictures, graphics, and video.
Social media as well will be thought of along visual lines such as Instagram, YouTube, and Snapchat, messaging lines such as Twitter and LinkedIn and then hybrid lines such as Facebook. According to ZenithOptimedia, the daily time spent consuming online video will rise 20% in 2016. That is good for banks because research by 17Production found that bank customers that watched video retained the information at twice the rate had longer time on the host site and preferred video over text by 30%.
Some banks did a good job of this in 2016, but 2017 will see the community bank get even more involved in producing quality content that can be used by their small business customers. Look for banks to leverage economic forecasts, real estate information, risk management, finance and business performance information to help their small business customers while promoting the bank as thought leaders. Equally important will be the fact that content will help drive traffic through search and partnership links to further promote the bank. More traffic will allow banks to grow their newsletter effort and will increase the leverage of content to further help inbound marketing drive sales.
Speed will become a brand attribute for more and more banks as bankers across the nation better understand the strong correlation between the customer experience and the time it takes to complete a transaction. There are banks that can now open a new account in minutes on mobile by leveraging cell carrier data and other identification. More banks than ever are moving their loan processing to a completely digital platform which not only serves to speed things along but provides the customer with automatic updates and progress benchmarks.
Also along these lines, look for more banks to experiment with location-based help. Already several community banks have this, and we look for more to roll out products in 2017. Click an app and the bank will know what products you utilize and where you are to better get you to the right person to help.
Digital, Video, And Mobile
Knowing your return on your marketing effort and being able to target specific subsections of the population are two big pluses for banks. As a result, digital advertising and marketing will get more resources. Email campaigns and webinars will remain equally popular, but banks will try greater digital partnerships online and place more of an emphasis on mobile. Banks will soon move away from thinking regarding marketing “channels’ and leverage mobile to unify the branch and the online world. Conduct a site survey on a new piece of commercial real estate and potential customers will find the latest rates and a link to a quick application pop up. Go to a manufacturing convention and banks will be sponsoring advertisements for financing and cash management services that are location specific to the booth or type of equipment that customers are looking at.
Finally, the trend of making websites more user-friendly, better designed around solutions and more conducive to search engine optimization (SEO) will continue. At a minimum, banks will need to spend money to get their website American Disability Act (ADA) compliant and include the tags, headers and picture description that allows screen readers to more easily translate their page to sight-impaired users.
Banks will also start to fight over keywords and further embrace more A/B testing to see what SEO strategy works. Look for more banks to utilize landing pages and integrate marketing campaigns with online, mobile and social properties. Banks that do this will find that their website will be more effective as their best branch as, if done right, product conversion rates can be higher electronically than in person.
Getting the Hang of It
Marketing, brand building, and engagement will finally get the respect it deserves. Any bank that faces price competition will realize that by investing in marketing, the bank can differentiate themselves and highlight their value proposition in order to better maintain margins and loyalty. The trends above make bank marketing more effective and give CFOs a quantifiable return.
Look for the coming year to be a barbell of banks making a more confident investment in digital channels, while experimenting with things like podcasting, video, and live streaming. For banks that want to appeal to a younger and more affluent household or business customer, picking up on some of these ten trends will help banks optimize their efforts.
Submitted by Chris Nichols on November 16, 2016