By Amber Farley
If your bank wants to get more heavily involved in digital marketing, here are the five most important steps you can take:
No. 1: Ensure that your website is mobile-friendly.
In late 2013, the number of global mobile users surpassed the number of desktop users for the first time. The world is entering a new era of mobile technology dominance, in which almost everyone is constantly connected by multiple screens. Technology gives consumers new decision-making and purchasing power. Mobile consumers are radically impacting the industry. The expectation of anytime, anywhere access to information and services is redefining how they interact and transact with financial service providers.
As mobile usage continues to surge, Google has adapted. Google wants to make sure that the highest search results are also the ones that have a mobile-friendly presence. On April 21, 2015, Google adjusted its search algorithm (fancy word for formula) to prioritize the display of mobile-optimized websites. It is also boosting the ranking of mobile-friendly pages.
Yes, having a stellar mobile banking app is an important springboard to success. But, it’s equally important to have a responsive and mobile-friendly website—both for your user experience and your search engine rankings. (A responsive website responds to its environment. When you visit a responsive website from your mobile phone, the website design adapts to the size of your screen.)
These days, in order to attract new customers and retain existing ones, it is absolutely imperative that your bank delivers a friendly experience when a user accesses your bank’s website from any device.
No. 2: Be visible when people search for you.
Search marketing is the process of gaining traffic and visibility from search engines through both paid and unpaid efforts. It encompasses both search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM), and allows you to reach people as they search for keywords or phrases in Google and other search engines.
SEO is the process of getting website traffic from the free/organic search results.
SEM is the process of gaining traffic and visibility from search engines through paid efforts. It is often referred to as pay-per-click (PPC).
When it comes to increasing your bank’s visibility online, nothing equals the precision possible through the use of a combination of SEO and SEM tactics. Since Google has close to a 70 percent search-engine market share, it is the perfect search engine to start with in order to increase your online visibility. Start with these solutions:
–Set up a Google Webmaster Tools account. Webmaster Tools is a free service offered by Google that helps you monitor and maintain your SEO efforts and your site’s presence in organic Google Search results.
–Create a PPC campaign through Google AdWords. Doing so lets you be seen by customers at the very moment that they’re searching on Google for the things you offer.
–Claim and manage all of your physical branch listings on Google My Business. Google My Business puts your business info on Search, Maps and Google+ so that customers can find you, no matter what device they’re using.
–Run ads on Google Display Network. GDN is an ad network made up of more than 2 million websites that reach 92 percent of Internet users worldwide. You can test various formats, ad scheduling and targeting options based on where your target audience is and what they are doing online.
No. 3: Use social media to build and cultivate relationships.
The power of using social media as part of your bank’s marketing mix lies within the ability to manage your bank’s brand reputation while simultaneously building and cultivating relationships in the communities you serve. Social media is allowing banks to add a human, fun and engaging element to what could otherwise appear as solely a transactional relationship.
Through the use of visually stimulating social media channels like Facebook and Instagram, banks are able to showcase their teams and their community outreach through the use of photos and videos, which entices others in the community to get involved as well.
Social channels like Twitter and Facebook are allowing banks to offer valuable content such as financial literacy, advice and education on financial wellness, upcoming events in the community and more.
Social channels like LinkedIn are allowing banks another avenue to network and develop business by showcasing their talent, credentials, knowledge and connections within the community.
And while there is no prediction on what new social channels will emerge and which ones will fade, we know that social media has fundamentally changed the way in which we communicate with one another and the way in which we expect to receive information.
No. 4: Create data and email marketing strategies.
We (the human species) create five gigabytes of data every 10 minutes. A CSC study predicted that data production would be 44 times greater in 2020 than it was in 2009. Not only do we have epic amounts of data, often recorded in real-time, but the data takes more forms than ever before—databases, social posts, photos, emails, spreadsheets, etc.
As an industry, we need to do a better job of organizing, extracting and using the data that we’ve collected over the years. And we need to somehow migrate the transaction data (leads, customers, account types, etc.) with the interaction data (life milestones, social posts, conversations, etc.) so that we get a true holistic view of each customer.
Doing so will allow marketers and sales professionals the knowledge to better serve the customers, and invest in email and other marketing automation solutions that help us promote relevant products when the customer actually needs it.
No. 5: Develop a content strategy.
Content is at the center of all marketing initiatives—both traditional and online. Content marketing is any marketing that involves the creation and sharing of content in order to acquire and retain customers. Good content marketing is essentially storytelling. Great content marketing is getting that story to the right audience in an efficient way.
This is where keyword research comes into play. When done right, keyword research improves your content’s relevance and exposure. By researching your market’s keyword patterns, you can not only learn which terms and phrases to target for SEO, but also learn more about your customers’ search patterns and preferred terminology.
A perfect example is how search patterns can differ between “home loans” vs. “mortgage loans” in certain markets. You want to make sure and style your content based on the most popular and relevant search terms. There are many free keyword research tools out there. One of the best is your own site search tool on your website. You can gather incredible insights into what terms or phrases people use when searching for products/services on your website. Some of our other favorite keyword research tools are Google Keyword Planner and Google Trends. Both allow you to compare keywords against one another and generate new or similar keywords that are being searched.
When you develop and distribute relevant content, you are not only providing value to the person consuming the content, but you’re also creating an opportunity for content to be shared. If readers digesting the content finds that it is of value and interest to them (whether that’s through an entertainment angle or an informative one), they will likely share it with their friends and family, which will create more exposure for your bank and the opportunity to generate more leads.
The steps above are meant to enhance your traditional and digital marketing/sales programs you already have in place. And while it isn’t a comprehensive list, implementing the five steps above at your institution will be a great place for your marketing, sales and information technology teams to start generating new leads and enhanced online visibility for your bank.
Amber Farley is executive vice president of FMS Social, Franklin, Tenn. Farley spoke Oct. 5 on the topic, “Building and Implementing a Successful Digital Marketing Strategy” at the ABA Bank Marketing Conference in Denver. Email: [email protected].
Online training in digital, mobile and social media from ABA.