How digital content and online relationships can transform your financial institution

As your bank or credit union continues into the second half of the year and begins to plan a digital strategy for growth in 2020, here are three keys to transforming your financial institution’s marketing and sales approach for the changing consumer.

1. Create Content Your Customer WANTS to Consume

Today the digital consumer is spending more and more time researching or pre-shopping BEFORE they ever reach out to a bank or credit union with questions or new account decisions. So it’s essential for your FI to create content that consumers will use as they are considering new financial products and services.

The easiest and most effective way to figure out what content your customers are looking for is to simply ask your front-line staff members. 

Take some time to talk with your tellers, loan officers, call center staff, or any other employees who talk to members or customers on a daily basis. Interview these team members and ask them to share the top five questions they’ve heard recently from people who already bank with your institution. Then create content to answer these questions first.

Remember you will also need to make this content easy to find, SEO optimized, and present it in a variety of formats. You’ll need content in the form of blogs, eBooks, videos, social media posts, custom graphics and podcasts. But don’t be discouraged by the breadth and variety of this list of content types. You have to walk before you run. Just pick 1-3 types of content to start with and go! 

In addition to feedback from staff, Google Search Console can also help you find content ideas that people are searching for online. Through this tool your team can to download all of the search terms being used by people to currently find your website. Use these to inform future content you are creating. 

You can sort for keywords with the highest volume or click through rates on this platform, and these should be a high priority for future content creation. Some high-volume or high click-through search terms we’ve seen this month with clients include:

Home equity loan [city]

Credit unions near me

Credit unions [city]

Traditional ira(s)

Credit card protection

Best certificate of deposit

Health savings accounts

Coverdell education savings accounts

Green loans

So you might consider starting with these topics as you brainstorm new content you’d like to create for Q3.

2. There’s No Such Thing as Loyalty – Helpful Relationships are the Key!

Believe it or not, in the new digital age of buying, relationships STILL matter. The key here is that today relationships come in many forms. 

First, you have the in-person relationships that you’ve always had. A member or customer walks in or calls a branch and your staff jumps in to help. Stellar in-person customer service is obviously essential and that has not changed. But what do these kinds of relationships look like in the digital realm?

Social media and Google reviews are the first way your FI can leverage in-person relationships in the digital space. We recommend running review campaigns either on an ongoing basis by incentivizing staff to encourage happy customers to post reviews or run quarterly contests that help drive people to visit these review pages. 

You also have mobile relationships with your customers or members. These may not always be as personal as those more traditional face-to-face interactions, but make no mistake, they are still incredibly impactful to the success of your financial institution.

According to the 2016 Report on Consumers and Mobile Financial Services, “Among mobile banking users with smartphones, 54 percent cited the mobile channel as one of the three most important ways they interact with their bank, below the shares that cited online (65 percent) and ATM (62 percent), but above the share that cited a teller at a branch (51 percent).”

So let’s take that in… consumers are telling us that mobile experiences with FIs are more important than in-person experiences with tellers in branches! But when you consider this fully it’s not a huge surprise. It makes sense that people would value their mobile banking experience highly, after all our smartphones are quickly becoming extensions of ourselves. 

But the notion that people care more about their mobile experience than interactions with real people in branches points directly to the importance institutions must place on the digital buying journey. These online and mobile interactions are in effect RELATIONSHIPS between your customers and your financial institution. And these interactions matter a lot. 

In addition to in-person and mobile experiences, we are also seeing the growth of relationship managers as a new approach to customer service at credit unions. These are staff members who proactively reach out to customers on a regular basis to provide financial guidance. People who fit into this role best are experienced staff members at your FI who know a lot about your financial products and services. 

The relationship manager will familiarize themselves with the financial details of a customer and then check in with them at 3-6 month intervals, kind of like a dentist, to ensure the financial health of your customers.

When your staff is trained to help first, these interactions are authentic and real, and they help deepen your relationships with customers and improve customer retention.

3. Buy-In Throughout the Entire Organization

This may be hard to hear, but transforming your FI for the digital age has to be an all-in endeavor. Otherwise you WILL fail.

One of the main points that drives buy-in comes from a very simple quote that always pulls me back… “It’s ALL Sales!” 

No longer are you able to have member service, separate from marketing, separate from lending, separate from new member onboarding, separate from operations, separate from IT… you get the picture. In the end all of these need to work together to drive SALES. And this is the key to driving real digital success within your credit union.

Now trust and buy-in don’t just happen overnight. You’re going to have to work hard to bring your teams together around this shifting digital consumer. But if you focus on sharing resources and bringing departments together to learn you’ll find success. We’ve seen great success by conducting Inbound Marketing and Sales workshops for your FI teams and then pushing people to meet regularly to build an Inbound growth team. 

Instead it’s essential that your company embraces the process and gives the digital transformation time to take hold. We recommend having staff take an accountability pledge to spending the time necessary to do the work of digital transformation.

Meredith Olmstead

Meredith Olmstead

Meredith Olmstead is the CEO and Founder of FI GROW Solutions, which provides Digital Marketing & Sales services to Community Financial Institutions. With experience working with FIs in markets of ... Web: Details