Elements of an effective bank marketing strategy


Banking has never been more convenient than it is today. Smartphones and laptops have allowed us to manage our finances from anywhere at any time. This means the way banks market their products and services has changed, too.

Marketing is now reliant on an omni-channel approach, pairing traditional marketing strategies with digital marketing solutions. 

Marketing with today’s technology can help you deploy precious resources if used effectively; however, relying on a one-size fits all approach can have the opposite effect. With the right planning, community banks can reach their target audience.

But what makes an effective marketing strategy for community banks? Let’s dive in.

Why is marketing important for community banks?

Like other businesses, effectively utilizing digital marketing is an increasing priority for community banks that are focused on growing core customers. On average, an adult in the U.S. has the same checking account for 10 years or more according to our 35+ years of research. People like to stay with their bank for a long time.

Every community bank continuously needs to find ways of keeping their existing customers on board while enticing potential customers into switching. This is why marketing is so important. Your audience needs to understand why switching to your bank would be beneficial to them.

Will customers be able to conduct their banking activities easily via an intuitive mobile app? Is your checking product compelling, allowing customers to enjoy value-added services or save money by eliminating nuisance fees? Does your organization provide a differentiating customer experience? Many banks offer “lip service” instead of a differentiating customer experience.

These are some of the questions that should be asked when building a marketing plan, as they are things consumers will look for when they consider switching financial institutions (FIs).

Customer acquisition

Acquiring new customers is just as crucial as retaining your existing ones, but what’s the best way to go about it?

For banks, convincing new customers to switch can be a difficult, if not impossible, task. People only switch banks when they feel they have no choice; however, they do switch at slow, steady straight-line rates. A study found that 30% of people who visit bank websites looking to open an account will make it to the product details page, and only 13% will go through the application process, assuming online opening is an option.

Highlighting convenient features – like being able to open an account right from a computer or smartphone or providing an incentive such as a gift, gift card or chance to win – will go a long way in convincing consumers and businesses to pick your bank when they have decided to switch. Having simple step-by-step tutorials on how to transfer over information from a previous FI to your bank will keep them from feeling overwhelmed. With more complex services you may provide, customers may need additional support, so make customer support a priority.

One key to acquiring new customers is to make the process of switching as painless as possible. Train your team to do the heavy lifting, from assisting with direct deposit and automatic payment transfers, to offering to help setup payees in your bill pay system.

Expanding customer relationships

After taking on new customers, you’ll need to find ways to improve overall satisfaction through an excellent customer experience. To do this, you need to research and understand people’s needs.

Mobile banking, for instance, is high in demand in the U.S. In 2020, 86.5% of Americans used a mobile device to check their bank balance. During the same year, Americans made $503 billion in payments via mobile devices.

Features like mobile banking and person-to-person payment systems make it easier for customers to make the payments they need and keep them engaged with your bank. Also, the more features you can offer within your mobile app, the more it will be used. Offering features like scanning checks for deposits via the smartphone’s camera or the ability to send and receive money can be indispensable.

How can you develop a marketing plan for your financial institution?

Developing a content marketing plan for financial institutions consists of understanding your company’s values and differentiators. It means identifying your audience and allocating the resources you have available to market toward that audience. For most community banks, the primary audience exists within a radius of the bank’s physical branches. Going beyond a logical footprint is simply throwing those precious marketing resources down the proverbial drain.

As you allocate marketing resources, make sure you choose channels that produce measurable results, while playing to your strengths and creating engaging content that draws in potential consumers and businesses who’d like to learn more about the services your bank provides.

Omni-channel marketing strategies

The goal of marketing is not to convince prospective customers to switch; it’s to build and maintain top of mind presence so they think of you first when they are ready to switch. To achieve this, the best marketing strategies for a community bank is a combination of print marketing strategies through targeted direct mail and complimentary digital marketing tactics to IP addresses within the bank’s footprint. Hitting your best prospects with a compelling message at a good frequency and through multiple marketing layers ensures they’ll think of your bank first when they are ready to switch.

It’s equally important to continuously test and track the effectiveness of your campaigns. Why?  Marketing resources are scarce for most community banks. Analyzing the impact of your campaigns from specific tactic to targeted market area allows your bank to optimize and reallocate spending to achieve the greatest ROI.

For a community bank to effectively grow core customers, the goal should be to utilize data to target prospects, while suppressing those who already bank with your organization. Doing this allows a community bank to more effectively deploy its limited marketing resources.

Value proposition

A value proposition refers to the value a company promises to deliver to customers should they choose to buy their product or service. This is usually presented in a statement or as part of your messaging or marketing strategy. It should also be a function of your bank’s product and service offerings.

The goal of a value proposition is to communicate to potential customers that a company’s service or product will add more value or better solve a problem for them than other similar products or services will.

What makes a marketing strategy successful for community banks?

No matter what channels you choose, successfully marketing your bank boils down to a good understanding of your customer. Customers will bank at an institution that makes it easy for them to do so.

Your marketing strategy should put emphasis on how easy it is to bank with your organization, coupled with the perks people will receive after opening an account. Effectively communicating your value proposition is key to bringing in customers and, equally important, keeping them.

Want to learn more about how to effectively market your financial institution? Reach out to us today and get ready to accelerate your growth!

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