- The Internet is becoming the town square for the global village of tomorrow – Bill Gates
Financial innovation has long been a prominent feature of the financial industry – in the form of new products (e.g. new securities), new technology (e.g. credit scoring, ATMs or ticket machines) and new institutions (e.g. venture capitalists, mutual funds) (Tufano 2013). The current wave of financial innovation is supported by specific technological advances, including: smartphone technology, the Internet and application programming interfaces (APIs); artificial intelligence (AI) and big data technology; and distributed ledger technology (DLT) (Allen et al. 2021).
These new technologies are influencing the way banks produce and deliver financial services to their customers, while driving new fintechs and big tech companies into the production and delivery of services. This has potential implications for incumbent financial institutions, and especially for traditional banks. The recent wave of financial innovation based on the opportunities presented by digitalisation has mainly come from outside the incumbent banking system in the form of new financial service providers, competing with or partnering with other financial institutions… incumbent banks, but also carries the potential for significant disruption (Cornelli et al. 2020).
Digitalisation presents enormous opportunities for financial institutions to leverage and become successful as they market their services and products to potential customers or cross-sell to existing clients. Various digital marketing strategies can be explored and maximised to bring about sustainable growth that will positively impact the bottom line.
Digital marketing strategies for sustainable growth
A. Create, explore and maximise website to improve customer service
A bank`s website is essentially a digital branch. It’s critical that banks maximise this channel to deliver customer service 24 hours a day for the entire year. Whether a bank likes the current website or not, there are always opportunities to improve it. Focus on the things customers need most: e.g., help with online banking, finding their routing number, accessing current rates, finding a nearby branch or ATM, or asking a general question.
These can be done through:
I. Investment in online chat – Today’s digital consumer expects online chat. They’ve learned it can help them get their questions answered quickly and efficiently. Banks should think about how service reps always talk to one person at a time on the phone and compare that with how they can be fielding inquiries simultaneously from multiple people through an online chat platform.
II. Creating or updating FAQs – Many common questions members or customers ask can be addressed through a robust FAQ page. If banks don’t have one on their site, this should be added to it soon. A customer service department is a great place to start to see how better information provided on the website can reduce unnecessary enquiries and streamline support operations. If banks already have this information on their site, it should be revisited to ensure the content 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.
III. Providing a simple contact form – It’s amazing how many financial institutions don’t do this. It provides an easy way for visitors to contact the institution, ensuring the service team receives enquiries in a timely and structured manner. Saving submitted forms in a database will afford you the opportunity to periodically analyse 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.
IV. Presenting integrated service options – Banks may have added self-service options over time. However, from the visitor’s point of view, it is important to present all the service options together to give the visitor a choice – a true ‘multichannel buffet’. The help button, contact link and/or section on your page should have a call-centre number, contact form, FAQ, chat, knowledge base, social media and any other customer service options. Keeping this organised will help visitors feel like your site is clear and useful, and create a positive brand impression.
B. Explore and maximise content marketing to connect with customers
Content is king in digital marketing and vital to keeping people engaged, and also positioning the institution as a knowledgeable resource and provider of ongoing financial education. It also keeps your website fresh and interesting – something a specialty search-engine like Google would be proud of. Some content marketing strategies include:
I. Blogging – If the bank has a blog, content should be planned 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 maximise 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.
II. Third-Party Content – This can be a useful way to supplement your own proprietary content and 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 customise the content for your institution.
C. Integrate the institution`s marketing
With multiple chefs in the kitchen, it’s easy to have a discrete message or single-channel campaign. The problem is that audiences live in surround-sound environments, where the offline and online worlds are constantly colliding and brand-awareness is often fragile. It is better to do less, but integrate your marketing tactics, than spread and confuse consumers.
This can be carried out via:
I. Multichannel campaigns – Review all your channels when you have If auto loans are a priority during this time, plan backward for success. Strategise your landing pages, then map out campaign tactics and define your success metrics. Relying on organic SEO and paid search, ATM advertising, as well as social media and email marketing, your campaign must be integrated, consistent and memorable.
II. Utilise 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.
D. mplify data analytics
The institution probably has Google analytics. You can also be a little bewildered as you look at the data, struggling to make sense of it. How should you use the data? What are the most suitable ways to leverage it? You’re not alone, because with the right data, you can help answer CEO and CFO questions about the ROI of your marketing efforts. Google Analytics won’t tell you much about it ‘out of the box’, but if you know how to use raw data it can be a great resource. Here are some ways to optimise your analytical intelligence:
I. Google Tag Manager – Adding custom analytics code to the site can be a cumbersome effort involving web developers, and adding too much tracking code can slow down the 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 set up goals and dashboards to see the data’s performance.
II. 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 you have the dashboards you need in Google Analytics to understand the data.
E. Focus on Conversion Rate Optimisation
This 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 well and what’s not. This can be done in any of these ways:
I. Landing Pages – A landing page is a dedicated page that specifically supports a specific desired action. This strips out all unnecessary elements, so that the visitor is entirely focused on your desired conversion. Every bank should have at least one landing page template as part of its website.
II. 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 they can cost you conversions.
It is crucial for banks and financial institutions to invest in digitalisation to exorcise the ghost of legacy platforms akin to traditional banking. Digital marketing strategies will help keep clients and customers informed, engaged, happy and loyal; and eventually boost their confidence in transacting with the institution.
Invest resources in customer service, advanced analytics, mobile marketing, conversion rates and in-app marketing to increase ROI.
Digitalisation is the future of banking, and the future is now.
About the Writer
Ebenezer worked in banking & NBFIs for close to a decade. He researches, consults, writes, coaches and speaks on access to innovative & sustainable finance and investment for MSMEs, and also women & youth groups in entrepreneurship.
He is a Development Communication professional, Innovative finance & investment analyst, Certified digital marketer, Sustainability enthusiast and Writerpreneur.
You can reach him at:
LinkedIn: Ebenezer Asumang
Facebook: Ebenezer Asare Asumang