As a bank or credit union in the US, the past year has brought a raft of difficulties and disruption. It’s time to harness the new forms of online living that enable leads to become conversions without the need for in-house account action.
With this in mind, the Milestone team has gathered the tools and know-how needed to develop your successful bank or credit campaign for a 2021 audience.
Here’s what will be covered in this banking and credit union marketing article:
- Omnichannel thinking and planning
- Keys to a great and effective banking website
- Google My Business and local marketing
- Reputation and reviews management
- How to develop long-term content equity with SEO
- How to develop community and effective social content
Develop and leverage an omnichannel solution and clear marketing goals
Creating a brand presence over an array of platforms for an omnichannel approach to customer reach has jumped from 30% to 80% among US businesses in the wake of 2020 events.
According to a 2019 Celent report, 88% of banks and credit unions place omnichannel delivery as a top priority for maximizing audience reach and creating successful returns on investments (ROIs).
Understanding your business goals for the 2021 financial forecast will be the determining factor for how you decide to market your bank or credit union for digital marketing success. You can use the Milestone digital marketing roadmap to help build both the plan and buy-in from executives.
Decrease the customer journey
There are multiple chances for potential customers to ‘get lost’ along the customer journey and become a dead lead. In terms of the financial industry, this could be due to inconsistent routes to lending, bad customer service, unclear routes to opening an account, or indistinct CTAs that take users across the entire website.
76% of customers expect an online business to recognize their needs and provide a clear funnel and user experience (UX). Therefore, it’s critical to cater to the direct needs of the most critical stakeholder. These could be new-money clients, those who are the most-profitable with investments, mid-term clients who use standard banking and financial services, etc.
So, cater to each of these target groups individually, providing direct solutions to their needs and supplying clear and concise CTAs to allow for continued positive cash-in-hand-money-in-bank flow.
1. Effective online customer experience is paramount for acquisition and retention–and that means a great website
Forbes found that four out of five customers would rather digitally manage their accounts than head into a branch for assistance,
The foundation of online acquisition and experience is an excellent web site. The content management (CMS) and hosting you use should be the fastest you can find. Google and Deloitte research found that a 1-second delay decreases conversion by around 9%. Mobile pages should load in 3 seconds or less. That’s why Milestone built the fastest and only SEO-first CMS on the market.
The key areas of the site are your home page, products or services, relevant helpful content, company info, contact info, and forms that allow you to collect and channel user interest and intent.
Don’t force too much information and clutter onto your home page. Pick one or two experiences to focus on and make the rest discoverable. Ally bank narrows down the choices and makes it easier to select one.
The site should be well organized and clear and the information people want and need should not be more than 4 clicks from the home page.
The menu setup and navigation is critical. Milestone Research found that more than 65% of clicks on a typical website are via the menus. Items at the top of the menu will get more clicks than the middle and bottom, so put the most important site sections at the top rather than alphabetical.
Capital One also has an engaging routing mechanism that is interactive and gamelike.
Sites should make use of the range of asset types from text to images and graphics to videos.
Chat has become popular with people who prefer it to voice, so larger banks often provide that option. One of the appeals of a credit union is the local and friendly nature, so click-to-call links or at minimum prominent phone numbers staffed by live human customer service reps.
The site should conform to the ADA-accessibility standards to attract the widest range of customers. ADA conformance should follow the WCAG standards and special attention should be paid to PDFs to make them accessible to reader devices.
Larger banks should offer a mobile app, credit unions should consider progressive web apps to PWAs to give a mobile app experience. At a minimum, the site should be fully responsive, which means all the text and images, and buttons resize to be visible and usable on a mobile device.
Wells Fargo’s mobile app was redesigned to be truly mobile first and the desktop experience became more mobile-like.
A browser plug-in or extension is another way to build a relationship with consumers. Capital One offers this coupon plug-in that pops up automatically whenever you enter a site for which it thinks it has a discount code, and the codes often work, creating a lot of goodwill to Capital One.
Another key statistic to consider is that three-quarters of the US population checks their banking details through their phone on a regular basis.
2. Full use of Google My Business and Google Posts
Beginning with Google My Business, it is a free service allowing individual branches the opportunity to be found seamlessly through direct searches that increase face-value of the bank. This is done through quick identification in the customer journey for opening times, contact information, website links, location, reviews, and so on.
There are more than 40 elements relevant to banks and credit unions in Google My Business. Milestone Research has found the profile completeness is a more significant driver of SEO and local visibility.
Once the website and local profile are optimized, consider the digital channels that can extend reach to build awareness and attract visitors to the site–beginning the customer journey.
Incorporate personalized app user experiences
Focus on the development and enhancement of the UX in terms of smartphone access through apps. 36% of all banking monitoring and activity occurs on a bank’s available app (the biggest share of market access). This share has increased to 39% since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This is because, according to a research paper on the topic, people value being able to have quick-access to personalized online marketing experiences without needing to bypass generic website interfaces or find space for larger devices.
Customer research in the US found these 5 banks holding the most valued banking apps for customer use:
- Ally Bank
- Bank of America
- Capitol One
- Huntington Bank
- Wells Fargo
This is another indirect form of bank and credit union online marketing success–being able to provide customer demand through banking apps increases value, positive reviews, brand reputation, website views, SERP ranking, and, ultimately, lead conversions.
Provide 24-hour chatbots
The worth of AI within online banking architecture is projected to reach $53 billion USD by 2030, making a rise of 212% from 2020. This is because having 24-hour customer service providing answers to queries is a key part of continued value reputation.
Already implemented within financial institutions such as JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo, this level of service – among a society of individuals confined to behind-the-door living – is becoming more necessary.
3. SEO is the largest channel for most financial services providers. Successful SEO requires an optimized website and local profile and solid technical foundation.
One of the key goals in the SEO channel is to rank for non-brand keywords because the if people search for you by your brand name they already know you.
While SEO evolves weekly, the fundamental principles have not changed over the years:
- Create relevant, helpful content
- Display expertise in the content, cite your thought leaders, executives, and analysts
- Use a range of asset types and media, original images are much better than stock
- Develop authority through distribution, backlinks, and popularity
- Link to related content within the site
- Link to authoritative external content as a reference to bolster the authority
- Content length on a single page or article has become less critical over the years, but the linked and related content should create topical depth and breadth within the domain
- Answer a question and solve a problem, FAQs are a great way to achieve this, and that is why Milestone developed the FAQ Manager, which makes it easier to research, write, and deploy FAQs
- Use structured data markup or schema to improve the contextual readability of the site. Milestone Research has found that sites that use error-free advanced schemas see 2-3X better performance than sites that do not. Learn more about Milestone Schema Manager.
- Make the mobile pages load as fast as possible and reduce content layout shift. Google will roll out a new ranking algorithm in May called Core Web Vitals that will reward sites that are fast and stable
You can find the SEO benchmark performance in the Milestone Financial Services Benchmark Report.
4. Invest in reputation and reviews to provide customer validation and increase trust
60% of all customers value consumer reviews above all else in their transaction period. Understanding this, it is important to increase user engagement and user-generated content strategies for your bank or credit union. For example: incorporating bank digital marketing tactics that increase the churn of valuable content across the omnichannel solution while requesting current clients to engage in reviews or surveys.
Reputation management is another way of saying ‘online PR management’ whereby brand image is what shapes consumer journeys among an online society filled with choice.
Search for “best banks or credit unions near me” and see which review and comparison sites show up. Contact them, set up your profile, and drive reviews from your happy customers.
When it comes to banking, many of the demographics who would traditionally maintain the relationship with the family bank or credit union are exploring new avenues online and engagement and experience is a major driver to maintain and grow accounts throughout 2021.
Using these key facts, your bank digital marketing or credit union digital marketing will need to be optimized to fit the generation of smartphone users above all else.
5. Analytics and undervaluing the relevancy of data capture
Misconceptions lie within the idea that a digital and online marketing strategy is anything but a long-term and passive process requiring – above all – time investment and data evaluation.
In fact, 44% of a Vision 2021 report noted data analytics being a failed venture for many financial industries which leads to dead-end content, decreased brand valuation, and lowered lead convergence rates down-the-line.
Prioritizing data accumulation can help to refine marketing and content production while providing potential banking clients with the offers and content they are looking for at the right time. Equally important, is featuring competitor market research in the same capacity.
New analytics channel tracking can be added to your reporting by using custom UTM tracking tags from Google My Business and social channels where you can control the URL.
Financial services marketing has a number of inherent marketing challenges: regulation, commmodization, and the seriousness of money and risk.
Financial services can humanize and differentiate by developing and maintaining community and social media.
Among the disruptive new fintech providers, community plays a major role from original upstart Paypal on eBay to Venmo to Bitcoin to Robin Hood, these products make their own weather with community to drive growth.
Robin Hood got millions of dollars of mainstream PR in the Game Stop stock battle. I think the mainstream public got very interested in the Reddit group and Robin Hood because of it.
It was surprisingly difficult to find examples of good social and community in the financial services industry, so it is a nearly untapped opportunity. Here are five good ideas.
Evergreen Home Loans uses this branded and hash tagged Show Your Keys campaign to help people share the big news of their home purchase with their network, who are likely of similar age and economic means and this is a great way to get endorsement and referrals. In this post they are also able to cross-promote and advertise the loan officer, the branch, the real estate agent, and even the title company. Each of those partners is likely to share the post and increase awareness for all of them.
A bank or credit union or non-profit that does a small business or personal loans could feature those businesses or people on its social media channels to generate interest in both the customer business and the business of loans.
Develop a personality brand with memes or humor that attracts people before they need a loan and build a following of future customers.
Educate. The US is woefully undereducated about money, investing, credit scores, borrowing, insurance, and taxes. Create a following of people who benefit from getting smarter and be top of mind when they need a loan or credit card.
Gamify. Combine the public’s love of gaming with your brand and product. For example, simulated stock portfolios, credit score competitions, mathletics, or even more simply trivia about your industry for prizes.
An online marketing success story of bank digital marketing using social video
As 72% of consumers would rather watch a video to learn about new services and a further 95% are likely to remember a video over written content, it provides a solid argument to generate videos within your bank digital marketing strategy while optimizing them for smartphone usage.
The Monzo banking group is an online-only international financial services provider that won marketing success with their online video campaign. Despite being a new provider in the financial market (founded in 2015), an advertising campaign run across a multi-channel approach saw more than 250,000 new applicants in one month while prompting brand awareness to soar to 48%. The video has more than 20,000,000 views.
This online marketing success story was originally born out of a TV advert that was adapted for online consumption through YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and other platforms to reach a wide audience base.
Financial Services Marketing FAQs
Sometimes marketing jargon can get lost in the sea of leads, conversions, and somehow optimizing credit union marketing ideas or bank marketing ideas for a smartphone generation of consumers. So, we’ve gathered important frequently asked questions to help your financial business along the way.
How should banks and credit unions do reputation management?
The four elements of reputation management are: public trust and perception, organizational values, accountability, and individual behavior and responsibility. Allowing your organization to be transparent in all four of these reputation management qualities will allow both B2B and B2C perspectives of your brand to be trusted and valued.
Through value comes use of the brand, lead convergence, SEO optimization, ranking opportunities, and further lead convergence down-the-line. These four aspects are a vital part of the online PR plan that can help to influence website user trends and journeys for your business.
In a 2021 economy, users have the biggest choice of all between brands and companies, so it’s crucial to lead business survival through content marketing strategies that provide transparency through the four elements of reputation management.
What digital channels are best for financial services marketing? and What is the fit between omnichannel marketing and the customer journey?
Omnichannel marketing opens the doors for your users to engage with your brand through multiple online channels. Whether it’s through online review sites, an online blog, your website, or an array of social media platforms. Each of these channels provides a way for your lead to engage with your brand.
However, many businesses are not taking advantage of the fit between omnichannel marketing and the customer journey; dedicated landing pages with direct CTAs can take your potential leads straight to your website’s checkout in the click of a button. Thus, reducing the customer journey and increasing lead convergence rates.
Does schema help with SEO and online marketing success?
In late 2020, schema mark-up became one of the latest trends for optimizing a website or a webpage to include the correct information that will tell a search engine’s crawl bots whether your page is relevant to a user’s search.
Schema mark-up is actually code that is embedded directly into the HTML of a webpage, meaning your site visitors won’t see this extra information unless they inspect the page.
HTML typically tells a webpage how to display information to the site visitors with relevant HTML tags. However, these don’t tell the bots what the tags mean. Adding schema mark-up does exactly this; your SERP listing will present as far more relevant to search engine users and your likelihood of being on page one of a search will increase, thus increasing your SEO.
How can content be mapped to the customer journey?
Content mapping involves creating idealistic personas for your target audience. First, you need to consider the audiences that are already engaging with your content, then you need to consider the audiences who are converting, and finally consider your potential lead target audiences.
From here you can develop an omnichannel communication strategy that features a content map to enhance each individual customer journey.
The customer journey begins with an awareness such as suddenly realizing they’re in need of a new bank loan. Then, they’ll compare by searching for the best bank loans and APR rates. Next, they’ll make a decision and, finally, they’ll engage with a service. Without stealing money and ensuring every customer needs an emergency loan, you need to design a content strategy that puts your bank or credit union in the spotlight as close to the start of the customer journey as possible.
An example would be to generate content that helps individuals understand they can search directly for your bank by increasing reputation management.
Can third-party marketing agencies help with financial service content marketing strategies?
Content marketing strategies need ongoing content roll-out as well as analytic support and customer service attention. These are all aspects of a digital marketing agency’s role.
A good digital marketing agency will take a look at your company and perform a content health audit across multiple channels in order to determine your online reputation, reach, and any potential gaps that need filling with strong content and management.
In many cases, a digital marketing agency is there to help your business (whether it’s in the hospitality sector, financial sector, health services sector, or even the independent market) build your knowledge about healthy content marketing strategies for online marketing success. However, many do provide ongoing support through the creation of lead-generation content, customer journey revelation, and software management.
Here at Milestone, our team has the correct tools and ability to help your online bank marketing ideas and your credit union marketing ideas come to fruition for business growth. From developing a great site on the fastest CMS to compelling local reputation to SEO with error-free advanced schemas to content that is valued by communities, Milestone has a complete bank and credit union marketing solution.
Here are some research reports which you would be interested in:
How Do You Choose the Right Content Management System (CMS) for Your Financial Services Business?
Industry Benchmark Report: Financial Services
Schema Research 2020
Industry Benchmark Report: Financial Services