Director of Insights, Alloy Labs Alliance
In this article
The marketing ecosystem for financial institutions is changing with many customers going online to fulfill their needs. Keep reading to find out what marketers need on the frontline of sales.
For over a decade now, customers have decided to bank with an institution before — and often without ever — setting foot in a branch. Customers choose their bank online. They compare products and rates. They seek out the recommendations of the blogs and YouTube channels they trust.
All this means that marketers have a new role. They are now a bank’s frontline salespeople.
The bank marketer’s role has evolved beyond placing orders for branded pens and lobby posters. Marketers are now charged with filling the sales funnel digitally, and they need the products and relationships required to do so.
Just as lenders need to participate in the local community to meet business owners, bank marketers need to build their network with publishers and influencers to attract new customers on the internet.
Firms like Fintel Connect, a Vancouver-based fintech, specialize in connecting bank marketers with those centers of influence. They enlist third-party publishers to review bank products or create other forms of content that push prospects to the bank. Financial institutions pay the publisher for this exposure, but only when those referrals convert by taking the desired action on the bank’s site. Instead of paying for clicks, banks pay for performance.
But before they can succeed in these relationships, banks must be well-positioned to take advantage of new site visitors. Solid digital account opening capabilities and easy-to-find digital applications are foundational requirements for successful digital marketing. After all, directing customers to the bank’s site isn’t helpful if they have no way to complete a call to action when they get there.
Once those foundations are in place, banks must turn their attention to driving traffic to their sites, as American Banker’s Digital Banker of the Year for 2020, Patrick Sells, explained in a recent Digital Marketing Panel hosted by the Alloy Labs Alliance.
“We saw a 30% increase in volume year-over-year for terms like ‘online business banking.’”
– Ruth Heneghan’s insight from Google Trends
“Just because you have [online account opening] doesn’t mean customers are going to come,” Sells said, “so you really do need to have a marketing strategy for how you’re going to drive traffic there. That’s why my background was all in performance-based marketing, and it’s one of the reasons why I really loved Fintel Connect,” which co-hosted the panel.
Banks have to have both digital account opening and applications and the marketing chops to get people there.
Part of where Fintel helps propel a bank’s marketing strategy is by connecting bank marketers with the specialized expertise of outside editorial partners. Publishing expert Ruth Heneghan, who has managed affiliate programs at Fit Small Business and CoverWallet, explained how good partners can help banks define their strategy using the publisher’s bird’s eye view of what types of content are performing well.
For example, she says publishers saw shifting habits over the course of the pandemic. Initially, large volumes of traffic were centered on the logistics of working from home, but that quickly shifted when the CARES Act was introduced. “On Google Trends,” Heneghan explained during the panel, “we saw approximately a 30% increase in volume year-over-year for terms like ‘online business banking.’” Working with publishers who understand the competitive editorial landscape for financial products can broaden bank marketers’ perspectives and help them hone in on key trends quickly.
There are a myriad of other considerations for bank marketers including SEO, design, webpage testing and more. Specific tactics in these areas were discussed during the panel, which was available exclusively to Alloy Labs Alliance members. To learn more about joining the Alliance, email email@example.com.
The expectations for modern bank marketers have transcended their old order-taking roles. Banks that expect their marketers to do more need to provide them with tools and partners that will drive traffic to a bank’s online real estate — because that’s where deals are done now.
About Amber Buker
Amber Buker is the Director of Insights for the Alloy Labs Alliance, a consortium of community and mid-sized banks that work together to adopt technology more efficiently and effectively. At the Alliance, Amber creates actionable insights based on member-driven discussions. Before Alloy Labs, she wrote for Bank Director magazine and developed the FinXTech Connect platform and awards program for bank-friendly fintechs. Reach out any time at firstname.lastname@example.org.