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Be a Digital Marketing Superhero: ABA Conference Takeaways

Cayla Wedemeyer

Cayla Wedemeyer

Senior Marketing Coordinator
  • Last Updated: December 12, 2023

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Fear not – if you missed this year’s Bank Marketing Conference hosted by the American Bankers Association, we’ve got you covered. Check out our top takeaways to strengthen your brand’s digital marketing strategy heading into 2022.

While we’d have loved a reason to stay a few extra days in Austin post-FinCon, we took to our laptops for this year’s virtual American Bankers Association Bank Marketing Conference, and it did not disappoint.

One of the highlights of the virtual event was an engaging discussion on influencer marketing in our panel discussion on “Using Performance Marketing and Influencer Partnerships to Acquire Customers Digitally,” hosted by our own Chief Revenue Officer, Alana Levine. Alana was joined by Carie Kelly, VP of Marketing (BankProv) and Lauren Greutman, Publisher/Blogger (, who shared their advice on how to make performance marketing work for your financial institution.

We know that not everyone was able to attend the virtual event, so we thought we’d share our key takeaways that will have the most impact on your bank marketing strategy going into 2022.

Takeaway One: You don’t need to build branches to build connections

couple online banking
The customer experience is one of the most important elements to a bank’s marketing strategy. A big challenge many financial institutions are now facing post-pandemic is how to maintain a high-touch, high-quality experience in a digital ecosystem. Branch foot traffic is down, and expectations for quality service and support via online mediums is high.
During the session “Building Meaningful Client Relationships Remotely,” we heard from Liz Broekman, (VP, Director of P.O.W.E.R. at Fidelity Bank), Dr. Anissa Evans (DBA, Marketing Manager at Evolve Bank & Trust), Doug Wilber (CEO at Denim Social), and Shelly Loftin (CFMP, SVP, Retail, Payments & Lending at the American Bankers Association) on ways to use digital channels to connect with customers online.
The group mentioned that it is crucial to transfer that in-person brand experience to online. One way to do this is connecting with customers via social media channels like Facebook and Instagram. These platforms are touchpoints where customers are actively engaging with brands by asking questions through direct messaging, commenting on updates, and sharing posts with their networks.
“You have to get in tune with what is happening [online] as it is a way for you to grow your business and reach an exponential amount of people.” – Anissa Evans, DBA, Marketing Manager, Evolve Bank & Trust

ABA panel discussion
When entering the world of social media, the panelists discussed the importance of making sure that you have full transparency internally before taking the next step. Anissa suggested educating your sales teams on the different social platforms and the type of messaging that should be communicated – a key factor that has worked for her business. Getting your teams to start on the same page will help ensure that you are staying compliant and able to test and learn through new channels online. Remember to represent your brand in an authentic way, as it will help create trust between you and your customers.

Helpful Tip: Pay attention to how customers are communicating with your brand online. Did they leave a review? Did they comment on a post on social media? Just like in a branch, make sure that you are responsive to those comments and provide answers and support where needed.

Takeaway Two: Don’t throw away your shot – leverage the power of content

Don't Throw Away Your Shot
If you are a fan of the musical Hamilton, you will recognize the phrase “Don’t throw away your shot.” So how does this phrase relate to your bank? Angie Carson, Web Strategist at SiteCrafting, explained the link in her virtual session.
Whether your content orients around increasing SEO performance, boosting engagement, or supporting a recent rebrand, it is the channel that will provide the greatest value to your audience and a way to demonstrate leadership and engagement. She mentions that too often, content gets overlooked or pushed to the side, when really it should be at the forefront of everything that you do.
“Don’t underestimate your content. Be intentional with the content that you put out.” – Angie Carson, Web Strategist, SiteCrafting

When developing your content strategy, Angie suggested using the acronym CRUD (create, reuse, update, delete). Developing your content strategy doesn’t mean that you have to start from scratch. Audit your content and evaluate what is missing, what could add value, and what is no longer needed. Don’t be like Aaron Burr and “wait for it.” Be like Alexander Hamilton and “rise up.”
ABA Hamilton session

Helpful Tip: When building your content strategy, think about the areas in which you want your bank to be a thought leader. Structure you plan using content pillars to help organize which type of content you want to produce.

Takeaway Three: What people say matters

woman with megaphone
Consider the last time you made an important purchase or decided to try a new restaurant. What made you decide to choose that product or visit that restaurant over another? Chances are, you either heard about it from a friend or family member, or you went online in search of reviews. In his session on Leading Marketing for Digital Growth, Eric Cook, Chief Digital Strategist at WSI Digital, emphasized just how important it is to pay attention to how people talk about your brand – both in-person and online.
Here are some key statistics that he pointed out:

  • Consumers read an average of 10 online reviews before feeling able to trust a local business
  • 72% of customers won’t take action until they read reviews
  • More than half of consumers won’t use a business if it has less than a 4-star rating
  • Google accounts for 57.5% of all reviews worldwide
  • 91% of millennials trust online reviews as much as friends and family

“The power of reviews is tremendous.” – Eric Cook, Chief Digital Strategist, WSI Digital

So what does this mean for your bank? While you can’t directly control what people may say about your brand, you can use your marketing strategy to help shape the narrative.
As we mentioned previously, authenticity plays a role in developing trust between you and your audience. When creating your content strategy, become a resource that is informative and value-add, and more importantly, demonstrates that you care and understand your customers. Who is your audience and what are their needs? Are they a teen looking to set up a checking account for the first time? Are they a loyal customer who may be looking to invest further? Consider how you can become that resource and support them on their customer journey.
Eric Cook ABA presentation

Helpful Tip: Ask for feedback from your customers and make changes to areas where there is room for improvement. Use surveys or follow-up communications to stay connected with your customers so that they feel supported and heard.

Takeaway Four: Influencer marketing is the new black

influencer marketing
Influencer marketing, also considered affiliate or performance marketing, means partnering with trusted voices in your niche who can help your bank build credibility and reach new audiences cost-effectively. The channel generates a high ROI and is definitely one that needs to become a staple channel in your proverbial marketing closet.
influencer marketing - Fintel Connect
During our panel discussion “Using Performance Marketing and Influencer Partnerships to Acquire Customers Digitally,” well-known influencer, tv personality, and single mom of five, Lauren Greutman, explains the impact this channel can have in a very relatable (and real) analogy.
As a parent, if she were to ask her kids to do something, they never seem to want to do it. However, if another parent asks her kids to do the same thing, her kids are ready and willing. Just like Lauren’s kids (and probably most kids out there), people are more inclined to listen to third-parties that seem to have a more objective voice. Instead of listening to their banker, they’re more likely to listen to external parties providing the advice.
“Influencers are able to talk about your product in an unbiased way, which helps build credibility and boost brand awareness.” – Carie Kelly, VP, Marketing, BankProv

So how do you incorporate this channel into your broader marketing mix? Keep these key success factors in mind:

  • Set clear goals – Set goals that are realistic, measurable, and attainable. Have open discussions with your influencer partners and have defined metrics of success, such as volume of opened accounts from a campaign.
  • Have a clear value proposition– Think about what makes your bank’s products attractive. How do you stand out from the noise?
  • Make the journey to becoming a customer easy – Ensure that your account opening process is timely and accessible.
  • Be able to measure those goals you set – Make sure you can measure end-to-end from first click to opened account.

During our panel discussion, we were asked if performance marketing works well for brand awareness, or if it is more useful for specific product launches. The answer is – it is a great option for both!

Influencers generate brand awareness as they can help you to reach a larger audience, but they can also be a great tactic to drive lower-funnel conversions when launching a new product.

Helpful Tip: Not sure where to start looking for influencer partnerships? Ask your team which financial influencers they follow and start reaching out from there. Find out what you can manage on your own and if you don’t have the bandwidth, consider using an affiliate technology and marketing partner like Fintel Connect.

Final Thoughts

We are proud to have been a part of this virtual event alongside so many other amazing thought leaders. Thank you to the American Bankers Association for including us in your agenda, and for those who met with us or tuned in to our panel discussion, we hope to be able to connect with you again soon!

And when it comes to influencer marketing, we also heard from some of our attendees that they’re keen to try influencer marketing, but it is hard to get over the line. Here are some tips to help sell the opportunity internally:

  • Many experienced financial influencers or “finfluencers” do understand compliance standards and know how to help drive the right messaging. In addition, there are tools out there to help keep track and manage your campaigns. At Fintel, we understand these challenges, which is what drove us to develop our Fintel Check marketing monitoring tool to help our partners scale safely.
  • You don’t need a to be a large bank with a big budget to get started with influencer marketing. It is cost-effective and can be incorporated into any budget, big or small. Pilot programs are great ways to try out the channel – feel free to get in touch with our team to help build out a plan that’s right for your bank.
  • Influencer and affiliate marketing actually accounts for up to 40% of all customer acquisitions for financial institutions, which means if your bank isn’t looking at this channel as a way to drive new accounts, it’s missing out!

If you are interested in learning more about how to leverage influencer partnerships to generate brand awareness or create buzz around a new product, contact us and we would be happy to help you get started!

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