Friday, April 30, 2010
Bailouts, Big Bonuses and Fees… The financial industry has been plagued over the past couple of years with negative press. As a result, many financial institutions are or should be focusing on rebuilding their brands. Some have even reinvented themselves by creating a new brand (like GMAC has done with Ally). Here are some tips for financial institutions to rebuild their brands, take control and improve retention through leveraging the power of the following digital communication channels:
Email: During the financial crisis, many customers switched banks and moved deposits creating a huge demand for retaining new customers that might not be fully engrained with their new bank yet. Banks can address this opportunity through tastefully promoting key retention tools (such as online banking features - bill pay, online statements, custom alerts) on transactional e-mail sends or even on traditional communications. For example, on an overdraft communication, say: “Next time make sure you have a low balance alert set up to make sure this doesn’t happen again.” Don’t worry banks – you won’t lose out. If someone is cash-strapped, they’ll still overdraft. But you just might save that high-asset individual who lost track of their balance for a change and is upset – and that will go well beyond any lost fee revenue! Another retention and cross-promotional email idea: give out free info through a newsletter that offers complimentary financial guidance and has links that drive customers to other paid products and services. Better yet – offer up some free training at your local branch on these topics and use email to send custom invites.
Mobile: As of Q3 2009 there have been approximately 41 million Smartphones sold globally, increasing the likelihood that any given financial institution's customers are using their mobile devices for banking purposes. Financial institutions need to understand how their customers are using their phones and optimize, especially when real-time alerts can be so effective and timely. Or use mobile capture in branches, at ATM’s and account opening points to promote email and alert sign up’s.
Social: Financial institutions need to hop on the social bandwagon with a focus on improving the customer service experience. Leveraging social networks like Twitter with applications such as CoTweet to manage brand(s) and be more responsive to customers will help repair brand integrity. The ultimate goal would be to cultivate some brand advocates that would actually start defending their financial institutions in the social sphere. Since banks and the like are already getting bashed, they might as well listen and join the conversation. Another thought - share the better side of banking and engage followers on Twitter with non-banking topics such as the promotion of charitable events and green initiatives (paperless statements), etc.
Sites: Due to past acquisitions and systems integrations issues, many financial institutions tend to remain very siloed. They should engage customers not only in what they want (like customized alerts and capturing “no-contact” times of day), but also expand across all channels and products to provide a more holistic marketing approach to ensure that customers are presented with the same branding experience across all products and channels. Financial institutions can start by mapping out all products and channels, identify gaps, and then create a custom landing page (a.k.a Preferences page) to capture and update customer data. This data can then in turn be fed back to all of the disparate back-end systems if necessary.
While they have their work cut out for them, financial institutions not only have a variety of digital marketing channels at their disposal to rebuild their brands, but also have companies such as ExactTarget that provide both the technology and the strategic, implementation, integration and design services to help them accomplish this feat.