Choosing the Right Digital Marketing Channels for Your Bank

Alana Levine

Chief Revenue Officer


Webinar Recap: Choosing the Right Digital Marketing Channels for Your Bank

by Alana Levine | Nov 18, 2020 | Merchant

Thanks to all who attended last week’s webinar on choosing the right digital channels for your bank. We’re grateful to our friends Duncan Taylor and Megan Managan of the Washington Bankers Association for hosting us.

ICYMI, we’ve recapped the most important takeaways you need to be strategic in planning the digital marketing of your bank. Joining us in the conversation were Bryan Freeman, VP Marketing and Account Management at Plinqit, and Nick Smith, Digital Services Manager at First Financial Northwest Bank.

Laying the Foundation – Landscape and Trends

What has your bank (or banking partners) done to adapt to shift in consumer behaviors post-COVID?

Bryan recognized how of banking and payments. “Venmo, Stripe, and Square have all changed the customer experience,” he says. “The question is how do we respond and act without pushing too many changes on our own customers?”

For him, the answer was to make sure customers are confident and comfortable in online banking; focusing specifically on platform accessibility. He notes that it is essential that customers can quickly transfer money across accounts, pay bills, and manage all of their daily processes – without worrying that they’ve missed a step or clicked the wrong button.

Nick’s attention was on retaining current customers and addressing their transitions to digital. His bank expanded its use of mobile and email marketing channels for communication, education, and cross-selling products – all of which were brand new to many of their customers: “A lot of our customers never used email,” he explains. “We put efforts into preparing them for digital as the new norm.”

The digital channels Nick implemented also provided insight into consumer behaviors during the pandemic: he saw an increase in customers setting up savings goals and an increase in the search for savings tools and resources.


What are your experiences in introducing an online account opening process?

First Financial Northwest Bank implemented Instant Open for online account openings, enabling customers to open accounts quickly. With this technology also came better fraud management. ” is important,” Nick says. “With COVID … we had to mitigate this as it came in. The online account opening technology allowed us to screen different levels of questions [and] allowed us to be much more careful with applications.”

When it comes to the account opening process, consumers also seek speed and efficiency. “If you’re making me walk through 20 hoops, you’re going to lose me,” Bryan emphasizes, noting that account opening should be streamlined and quick.

“[Promoting non-profits] allowed us to be in the community,” he explains, “because that’s what we are.”
– Nick Smith, Digital Services Manager at First Financial Northwest Bank

In addition to streamlining forms, Alana notes the need to address interruptions and recapturing abandoned forms. “,” she explains, “and with constant interruptions at home, it’s not always possible to finish an online application in one session.” Alana recommends banks include the ability to save partially filled applications and retarget users that have not yet submitted to close the gap on new customer acquisition.

Understanding the Modern Digital Mix — Latest on Digital Marketing Channels

How has your advertising changed since COVID?

Between March and May, Nick and his team turned their attention inwards and focused on how their bank could support its community. Because their community bank has a sizeable non-profit customer base, they embarked on a campaign highlighting one non-profit organization’s work every month. Social and video channels were used to raise capital for the organizations, and they also presented organizations with large oversized cheques for funds raised. “This allowed us to be in the community,” he explains, “because that’s what we are.”

Additionally, Nick optimized the website’s SEO to amplify its organic reach to prospective customers. Rather than investing in paid ad campaigns, his SEO effort focused on building traction for basic functions like signing up for an account, getting a debit card, and doing all of your banking online from home.

“As people read an article about buying a home or lending, [your product is] hitting them at the right time, at the right moment. It’s a more personal experience [where] you have a better shot at taking consumers to that next step.”
–Bryan Freeman, VP Marketing and Account Management at Plinqit, on performance marketing

At Plinqit, Bryan turned his attention to performance marketing as a cost-effective way of driving qualified traffic. Compared to other digital marketing channels, Bryan says it’s less expensive than pay-per-click (PPC) search and social ads. Moreover, it has the distinct advantage of reaching customers already in a money-mindset. “As people read an article about buying a home or lending, [your product is] hitting them at the right time, at the right moment. It’s a more personal experience [where] you have a better shot at taking consumers to that next step.”

For Alana, the focus is on consumer financial literacy: offering guidance in financial management and recalibrating short-term and long-term financial goals. Like Nick, she also recommends focusing on driving organic traffic via SEO and leveraging performance marketing as an affordable channel for your marketing budget. From her experience, Fintel Connect’s network of publishers is continually seeking fresh content from financial brands. Their inclusion of your bank brand in their content can be a powerful channel for visibility and endorsement.

Considerations – Opportunities for Growth

Can you share any success stories for campaigns that have worked well?

In addition to increased communication within the banking platform, Bryan doubled engagement and adoption through email and social media. Marketers might be hesitant about sending the same message more than once, but Bryan assures it’s useful. “Send the first message, and if it’s not opened or read, wait three-to-four days to follow up automatically. Doing this has given us a significant bump in product adoption, with few opt-outs,” he observes.

Nick agrees that multiple touchpoints and reminders work well. “Throwing [your message] out there for six months and hoping that it works, doesn’t work.” He emphasizes the importance of measuring and quantifying those touchpoints as part of understanding your pathway to conversion. “You have to get the history,” he advises, as part of measuring your success.


Final Tips – What advice would you give to bankers as they are planning their digital budgets?

Include your customer support team’s input when deciding on spending. “They’re the first one to get the call if the mobile banking app goes down,” Nick remarks. “Keep your [customer support team] in the picture, listen to them, and engage them.”

Bryan concurs that bringing the customer support team to the table is impactful at all business levels. “Your frontline knows your customers better than you do. Have them at the table whether you’re looking at new digital technology, new product, or uncovering gaps in your service and technology.

When looking at your digital investment, Alana also recommends being realistic about what you can accomplish within a period. “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” she says. “Focus on just the handful of things you want to invest a bit of energy into. The beauty of digital is that you can test and have the data to back up your choices.”

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