Marketing refers to the actions taken to promote and sell products or services. In the banking industry, your financial institution’s marketing strategy is critical to the success of your branch. This is true not only for extending offers to customers but also for building a brand image that evokes credibility and cultivates customer loyalty.
With the recent explosion of digitization and mobile banking, there’s never been a more opportune time for financial institutions to build relationships with their customers and attract new clients.
To be successful and remain competitive, financial institutions must adopt marketing strategies that connect meaningfully with customers and clients from a distance and in person. Read on for the top marketing strategies for banks and credit unions in 2024.
marketing challenges facing financial institutions
According to the Hartford Business Journal, banks closed nearly 4,000 branches throughout the U.S. in 2021, with smaller banks (those with less than $1 billion in deposits) bearing the brunt of this trend. To avoid such outcomes, it is imperative to have a strategic marketing plan in place.
When devising a marketing strategy — whether for a new credit union location or an existing bank branch — taking stock of present challenges is a good starting point. Once you have a better understanding of the areas in which your branch can improve, you can tailor your marketing approach to meet those needs. A few of the top obstacles financial institutions currently face include:
- New branch underperformance
- Nonexistent sales culture
- Lack of aptitude in educating and advocating for customers
- Reactive customer service
- Difficulty embracing digital while boosting the human component
While these challenges can be detrimental to your branch’s success, there are many different solutions that can help improve your brand presence while meeting the needs of your customers and members. Let’s dive into some of the marketing strategies your financial institution can adopt to boost your brand and remain competitive in 2024.
reframe tellers as customer advocates
The evolving role of the bank teller can serve as a great marketing tool for banks and credit unions. With the rise of self-service options such as ATMs, Interactive Teller Machines (ITMs), and mobile banking, now is the perfect time for traditional tellers to evolve into financial agents who advocate on behalf of customers and members.
Since clients can now take care of many routine transactions on their own, agents have an opportunity to focus more on learning who their customers are and educating them on the specific ways their lives can be improved through financial product and service offerings.
To help tellers transition to advocate roles, banks and credit unions can establish training programs that teach agents how to communicate with customers and members in a more intimate way. Training should emphasize the need for agents to be proactive rather than reactive in their interactions with visitors, providing helpful suggestions without being prompted. Additionally, agents should be educated on all available products and services and understand when cross-selling is appropriate.
streamline branch marketing tactics
Outstanding in-branch customer service is an important marketing tactic and driver for brand success. Each time a customer or member visits your branch, you have an opportunity to deliver a positive experience. While it’s important to improve interactions with in-branch personnel, it’s equally crucial to ensure that customer time spent unattended is satisfactory as well.
Two important tactics to incorporate into your branch marketing strategy include:
- Digital signage: Utilize graphics and videos that promote your top services, provide tutorials for the latest products, and communicate local information, such as weather, news feeds, etc.
- Digital brochures: Incorporate digital kiosks, tablets, or displays that customers can interact with while they wait. These digital brochures can provide information about services, such as mortgages, checking accounts, auto loans, savings accounts, etc.
Use these in-branch marketing strategies to reinforce your overall brand image while positioning your bank or credit union as a modern institution that provides valuable information as a way of engaging with customers, particularly while they are waiting.
embrace digital marketing
Digital marketing outreach should not be underestimated when it comes to connecting with customers and establishing your credibility as a brand. Today’s bank customers and credit union members are tech-savvy, with a recent Insider Intelligence study finding that 89% of financial consumers use mobile banking applications.
Your financial institution can build upon existing relationships and bring in new customers with an appropriate digital marketing strategy that includes:
- Email campaigns: Send periodic emails to existing customers and new leads on the latest news from your branch, including recent blog posts and upcoming promotions.
- Blogging: Write and post educational, search engine optimized (SEO) articles on your bank or credit union website that inform readers about branch services, product offerings, and popular topics from the finance industry. Blogging can help drive organic traffic to your website while helping build credibility as an industry leader.
- Social media: Maintain a steady social media presence that includes a mix of ads, educational content, and promotional contests.
- Ads: Use bank advertising to promote your latest product and service offerings. Use Google ad placement to attract potential customers who live in your area.
cultivate community partnerships
Another way to market your bank or credit union is through community partnerships. By teaming up with community organizations or participating in local initiatives, you can galvanize customer and member loyalty, bring in new customers, and make a difference in your community. Potential community partnerships could include:
- Sponsoring a local sports team
- Fundraising for local animal shelters
- Helping build houses in the community
- Hosting free classes or workshops on budgeting or other topics at a local library, community center, or high school
utilize promotional materials
Promotional marketing includes activities related to spreading knowledge of a brand to a wider audience as a way of increasing brand awareness and sales. Promotional materials include items displayed by in-branch employees, worn outside of the office, or sold to the public and often include:
- Apparel: Popular promotional apparel items include outerwear, performance wear, and polo shirts.
- Personalized collections that fit the service provided: For example, customers/members who are approved for their first home loan receive a branded kit that includes practical items such as a tape measure, level, screwdriver set, etc.
- Customized, branded gifts: Providing personalized mugs, T-shirts, water bottles, and other items help customers and members feel like part of the branch family.
- Employee dress: Maintaining a cohesive look helps set employees apart from visitors and demonstrates pride in the financial institution.
Embrace promotional marketing to take your brand outside the walls of your branch and show customers and members how much they matter.
leverage customer data
Data analytics encompasses a critical part of bank marketing, in which customer information is used to optimize resources, streamline operations, and maximize returns. By collecting and organizing data related to customer spending patterns, frequency of credit card usage, investment preferences, and more, banks and credit unions can learn how to best serve their customers and members.
Beyond increasing your bottom line, data analytics can also boost customer satisfaction. Using customer data can help to deliver much more personalized, relevant, and timely messages to existing customers. Data can help better understand customer and member behavior patterns so you can offer relevant, personalized deals that are complementary to your customers’ daily lives. Furthermore, data-informed processes help customers feel more connected and valued since you are offering the services they need and want.
Your financial institution’s marketing strategy is a key component of your overall brand success. Incorporating these marketing tactics can help boost customer loyalty, bring in new customers, and create a more cohesive and recognizable brand presence both within your digital channels and the confines of your branch space. Spread awareness, cultivate customer loyalty, and demonstrate your credibility with the right bank or credit union marketing plan. Reach out to the Element team today to get started.