A Comprehensive Guide to Modern Bank Marketing


What’s not to love about the digital age of banking? Consumers now can access services regardless of how far they are from their local financial institution.

While this all sounds super convenient and safe for customers, it’s a whole different story for marketers who are scrambling to keep up with the pace of technology.

Bank marketing today isn’t what it used to be just a few years back; a lot has changed. Today, an estimated 87 percent of adults globally are regular internet users, while 68 percent own (and regularly use) a smartphone.

Digital banking is no longer a strange phenomenon in the developed world, and sticking to archaic strategies is setting a course to oblivion.

The American Federal Reserve reports that over 91 percent of US citizens with checking and savings account constantly rely on technology to organize their finances, and to interact with their respective institutions.

For the traditional financial institution, this means that a change is necessary. A change that integrates traditional marketing plans with digital strategies that produce measurable results, insightful analytics, and ultimately, feasible results.

Why Bank Marketing Strategies Need to Change

As a discipline, marketing has evolved over the past few decades to become what it is today. Earlier, marketing strategies were primarily a means of spreading brand awareness.

Today, marketing has been reinvented to fit a much bigger role: that of creating both value and revenue to the institution.

It is a big step up from its previous communication role, no doubt, but one that was necessitated by the evolution of three factors: the consumer, the technology, and data analytics.

1. The Consumer Has Changed

Advertising is heading the way of the dinosaurs as consumers are beginning to trust objective web content and customer reviews more. The way they learn about financial products has changed, and so has the way they buy or subscribe to your financial services.

Splurging on advertising is no longer reasonable nor a feasible strategy, because all eyes are now focused on digital content.

2. Technology Has Changed

If your institution still perceives marketing as an “expense” rather than an “investment,” chances are you are spending all your energy and resources trying to minimize said expenses while you should be focusing on optimization.

Technology has brought us marketing automation as well as the ability to calculate marketing return on interest (ROI) and track sales. This has made it possible for companies to test marketing campaigns, optimize them for different audiences, and deploy them faster for increased effectiveness.

Technology has made successful marketing all about optimization. Investing in the right technology is the key to unlocking your institution’s full marketing potential.

3. Data Analytics is a Game Changer

Today, all the information an institution needs about its prospects can be accessed using the right data stream. We have analytics to thank for this. It is no longer touch and go, but rather a refined science.

You can easily utilize analytics to find prospective customers ready to spend on whatever you’re selling, the same way you can exploit it to identify the right digital media to deliver to your targeted audiences for maximum effect.

Analytics have made a lot of the impossible possible by handing marketers the keys to their clients’ financial and behavioral data, providing lots of tangible leads for the sales force to turn into conversions.

The Problem with Traditional Strategies

It wouldn’t be fair to say that traditional strategies have become completely useless. Regardless of technological advancements, billboards, newspaper ads, and business cards will always be there to serve a purpose. Don’t expect them to vanish overnight.

That being said, the flaws of traditional strategies can be summed up in three points:

  • There are no measurable results. Perhaps this is the biggest problem with traditional marketing strategies. Results are not easy to measure, and sometimes they can’t be measured at all. There is no way to know what’s working and what isn’t, because there are no results to go by.
  • It is quite expensive. Compared to digital marketing, good old traditional advertising will eat through your marketing budget much, much faster.
  • It is not interactive. This is the reason why traditional marketing simply has no place in today’s highly interactive digital marketing landscape. Sure, you can put up a billboard or place an ad on the paper, but it won’t do much but just sit there and wait for people to look at it.

Other than that, it serves no other purpose. You can see why digital marketing has the edge now, can’t you?

Why Digital Marketing is the Future

You don’t have to look far to see that companies left right and center are paying more attention to digital marketing. AdvertisingAge estimates that 80 percent of companies are interested in expanding their digital marketing budgets. Is this mere coincidence? Highly unlikely.

You see, digital bank marketing has a lot of perks despite being cheaper and much more effective than traditional tactics. Here’s how your financial institution stands to benefit by switching to a marketing plan that’s based on digital channels.

  • Digital marketing offers unparalleled reach. Never in the history of marketing has it been this easy to access a global audience. The main problem marketers face is learning how to restrict this flow of information to just their targeted audiences. That’s how much power they have at their disposal.
  • Digital marketing provides measurable metrics via data analytics. Almost every single aspect of online marketing can be measured, and not just that, but this data can be accumulated, adjusted in real-time, and refined to suit specific demographics. It’s no surprise that digital marketing is also known as fast marketing.
  • Tracking marketing ROI is no longer an insurmountable challenge. There is more than enough data analytics available. To reiterate, almost every aspect of digital marketing produces measurable results.
  • Digital marketing is not expensive. Forget the exorbitant costs of advertising through billboards or TV slots or placing ads in the paper. Digital marketing is affordable yet extremely effective.

Furthermore, canceling and extending campaigns has never had less red tape, so your institution has all the flexibility in the world to tailor its digital marketing campaigns as the need arises.

Local Bank Marketing is Also Very Important

So if digital marketing is all the rave now, does it mean the end for brick-and-mortar institutions? Not according to this Gallup Poll, which found that 75 percent of customers still pay a routine visit to their local bank at least once every six months.

Why is this still happening even with the numerous digital banking tools at their disposal? Because local bank branches offer two things, no digital marketing strategy can.

1. A Sense of Community

Local banks are the backbone of small economies. They form part of the community your customers live in. Unlike your large multinational financial institution, they are not perceived as cold, impersonal, and business-like, but rather friends and family that help support local businesses.

No mobile banking apps can provide a sense of belonging and community offered at local bank branches.

2. Emotional Connection

Empathy is more important to your clients than you think. They want to feel like their money is being handled by human beings with feelings and emotions like them, which is why when in stressful financial situations, they prefer speaking to a person who can understand and assuage their fears.

Body language, facial expressions, friendly familiar faces all contribute to forming an emotional bond, which is extremely important for customers.

The Key to an Effective Bank Marketing Strategy

What makes a strategy successful? The answer is simpler than you think.

The key to making your strategy effective is to tailor it to inform and educate your clients. When you train your employees to provide your customers with all the information and education they need, trust begins to form.

Your customers feel more confident approaching you for financial guidance, and they will more likely be inclined to use your financial services as well as recommend them to others. It’s simple, but it is also extremely effective.

Strategies That Work

1. Targeting Local Demographics

You’ve probably heard the advice “target the right demographic,” but what exactly does it mean? The reason why most banking strategies fail is because they’re too general.

Forget targeting the baby boomers, or tailoring your services to fit the millennials. Instead, focus on the local population. Are you situated in a school district? Why not offer personalized loans to high school grad students looking to join college?

Is your institution in the suburbs? How about offering loans tailored to help new parents take their children to school? Better yet, why not provide a means for new families to acquire homes in the area with affordable mortgage loans?

It doesn’t matter how big or small your institution is, targeting local audiences with financial services tailored to meet their needs is as sound a marketing strategy as any.

2. Integrating Digital Services and Apps

Digital banking is fast, convenient, and easy to use, and if your institution hasn’t begun to integrate with apps and other digital services, then you’re behind the curve.

An estimated 77 percent of the US population own smartphones. The same percentage of the population is active on social media. Fewer people find it appealing to queue up at banks, so why not help them move into the digital sphere?

Lacking digital banking services is akin to pushing your trusted clientele away. With such a huge part of the population on social media, it shouldn’t be hard to get the non-tech-savvy among them onto the digital bandwagon through the use of social media campaigns and such.

3. Improving Customer Outreach

Customer outreach is a dying courtesy in this increasingly digital world, which is why you should pay more attention to it. The importance of one-on-one connection is not lost on your customers, but don’t just reach out without bringing any value to them.

Customer outreach strategies that work include financial literacy workshops, free one-on-one consultations, training customers on how to improve their online banking security, or even teaching them how to make the shift to online banking.

4. Staying Ahead of Technology Trends

This doesn’t mean that you should jump on every technology trend that emerges. Not all of them will benefit your institution. However, the importance of adopting new technology cannot be understated.

Automation and AI are two technology trends you should strive to get behind. Automation can be useful in loan and mortgage approval, while AI can help in the creation of interactive online sections, such as

FAQs loaded with exhaustive information about the services you offer. Remember that as much as it is important to stay ahead of the curve, it is also crucial to provide a high quality experience.

5. Giving Actual Value to Consumers

Always ensure that what you’re offering to your clients has value. If a product or service is no longer relevant, cut it. Streamlining your processes to provide the most value to customers isn’t just a great bank marketing strategy, it also helps you to avoid unnecessary costs.

Compare your products to those of your competitors and see which provides customers with more value, then move to optimize them.

An example is the new brand of modular services that allows customers to tailor financial packages according to their needs rather than get stuck with an outdated bank account, loan, or mortgage packages.

6. Adopting Good Digital Marketing Strategies

Digital marketing strategies like SEO boost your visibility online, while great content helps you build a loyal online customer base. Make use of these tactics when growing the digital side of your financial institution.

7. Making Good Use of Loyalty Programs

Loyalty programs aren’t just about dishing out rewards; they are about incentivizing your customers to keep buying your financial products. As such, don’t focus too much on credit card points or other common rewards. Get creative with it.

There’s a lot of ways to reward your customers for staying loyal. You can reduce (or eliminate) ATM usage fees, offer them discounted loan and mortgage rates, or even increase their savings and checking account interest rates.

8. Prioritizing Customer Experience

Last but certainly not least, make sure you are offering your customers quality experience. Customers are the lifeblood of any business, and in today’s fast-paced world, it’s all about the quality of the experience.

The key is to consistently offer value in all your services. Don’t strive too much to impress with endless promotions and marketing gimmicks. Instead, be their reliable financial advisor, offer them the best interest rates in town, and give them customer service to write home about.

In the end, it is about how you can make the customer feel about your institution. Do you inspire confidence, trust, and encourage a connection? If not, you need to go back to the drawing board.

Final Word on Modern Strategies

Bank marketing today heavily relies on digital marketing because that’s where everyone is today. The convenience and ease of access to banking apps and services is just too attractive to pass up for most people, and for most people, institutions that lack such rudimentary services are not worth their time.

With the array of tools and data analytics at your disposal, it is not hard to calculate your ROI, find out what works, and what doesn’t in order to better customize your strategies.

By: Frank DePino

Frank DePino is Principal and Founder of Mediaboom. Since 2002, Frank has led Mediaboom’s award-winning staff of creative and technical professionals building the most effective marketing and advertising solutions for its clients.