At a recent speaking engagement, I was asked, “If you had to tell a bank to do five things and five things only to enhance their online visibility, what would you tell them?” It’s a difficult question, because there are a lot of things to consider, and most strategies work better when used together. But if I had to pick five, here they are:
No. 1: Have a Mobile-Friendly Website
We live in a multi-screen, constantly connected, mobile world today. 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.
The average consumer checks their phone 150 times a day. As mobile usage continues to surge, 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 algorithm (fancy word for formula) to be in favor of mobile-optimized websites and is boosting the ranking of mobile-friendly pages.
In addition to having a stellar mobile banking app, having a responsive and mobile-friendly web design is more critical than ever—both for your user experience and for 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.
If you aren’t sure if your bank’s website passes Google’s mobile-friendly test, enter your URL into this tool.
In order to attract new customers and retain existing ones, it is absolutely pertinent that your bank delivers a friendly experience when a user accesses your bank’s website from any device.
No. 2: Develop and Distribute Relevant Content
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.
Most of you already have content at your disposal that could be repurposed. Content like archived press releases, community outreach, educational seminars, product information, etc. It would be both enlightening and beneficial to do an audit of all the content that’s already available to you. Once you do, you might be surprised at what you already have. You might also find that you want or need to create new content to achieve your goals—content like videos, blogs, social posts, infographics, whitepapers, etc.
Whether you are collecting old content, creating new content, or a combination of the two, there needs to be a defined content marketing strategy that incorporates, organizes and optimizes the content that you already have as well as future content that will be generated.
When done correctly, a content-marketing strategy will help outline the audience(s) you’re going after, what types of content will be created or curated, who will be responsible for creating or gathering it, where it will be distributed, how often it will be shared, and where it will ultimately live. The strategy should also answer the following so that there is a defined plan in place before beginning your content marketing journey:
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 the person 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.
No. 3: 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 made possible by a solid search-marketing strategy that contains both SEO and SEM tactics. Since Google owns close to 70% of search-engine market share, it is the perfect search engine to start with in order to increase your online visibility. Start with these solutions:
No. 4: Utilize 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. 5: Invest In Data
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 transactional 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 customer, and invest in email and other marketing automation solutions that help us promote relevant products when the customer actually needs it.
The five steps above are meant to enhance your traditional and email marketing/sales programs you already have in place at your banks. 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 IT teams to start generating new leads and enhanced online visibility for the bank.
Amber Farley is FMS Social’s Executive Vice President and a recognized, industry thought leader in all things digital. For more information, contact Amber at Amber@financialmarketingsolutions.com or visit FMSSocial.com.