The Financial Brand: Marketing
Insights for Banks & Credit Unions
Ideas and Insights for Financial Marketers
Digital Marketing Trends for Banks and Credit Unions
January 2, 2014 | Subsc ribe Free
Get a jump start on 2014 with the online, digital, mobile and social marketing
trends identified by leaders in the financial industry.
By Christophe r Rinaldi, Digital S trategist at ZA G Int eract ive
According to a recent informal survey, financial institutions will be seeking to improve their customer
experience, reduce overall costs and stand out from the competition by integrating unique delivery
channels, offering mobile solutions and learning from big data in 2014. T he recurring theme in 2014’s
marketing trends is information – how it is curated, viewed and analyzed.
Let’s dig into some of the major online marketing trends to understand how financial institutions will be
responding in 2014.
Content Marketing Builds Visibility, Trust and Loyalty
Content marketing — also commonly referred to as “inbound marketing” — is the strategic creation
and targeted distribution of media to acquire and retain customers. For financial institutions, content
marketing is key to attracting and maintaining consumers by integrating multi-channel approaches such
as affiliate marketing, direct mail, display advertising, email marketing, search engine optimization and
marketing (SEO/SEM), blogging, social media marketing and more. Typically, these strategies are
intended to drive individuals to a specific landing page, blog or corporate site. Whether generating
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new content or leveraging existing content, financial marketers must plan, create, place, audit,
measure and adjust content accordingly.
In 2014, financial marketers will bolster their content marketing efforts by investing in a range of
emerging digital techniques:
Branding and positioning
Social media marketing
Financial marketers will be accountable for analyzing the real results of content marketing strategies in
2014. Because every channel ultimately affects all of the others, attribution modeling allows marketers
to credit a specific ad or touch point along a sales funnel rather than just the last material viewed or
clicked. By looking at the historical big picture of a sales funnel, financial marketers can make better
recommendations on the proper mix of tactics in subsequent content marketing plans.
Behavioral retargeting — where existing and potential customers are served online advertising based
on their previous interactions with online content — will also become more prominent. Retargeting can
serve up display or search ads to consumers who have not been converted yet on the financial
institution’s site — or even those searching for a new bank or credit union.
In 2014, bank and credit union marketers must increase and improve their content marketing efforts by
developing compelling, branded campaigns that tap into the frequently elusive Gen-Y segment. This
means reinvesting in social media and email marketing to engage millennials in the manner they
prefer to be reached: online.
Banks and credit unions will be integrating more branded videos into their 2014 digital strategies,
serving up this interactive content along all online channels. The idea is to engage and entertain,
rather than sell and bombard consumers in their 20s and 30s. Presenting more digital touch points to
Gen-Y should help build credibility and increase awareness, eventually drawing the younger
demographic into your institution, where this valued segment actually prefers to discuss services faceto-face.
( Read More: Smarter Digital Bank ing Channels Drive Customer Satisfaction & Revenue )
Mobile Optimization Enhances the User Experience
Mobile optimization will continue to be at the forefront of digital strategy for banks and credit unions.
With tablets on track to outsell desktop computers and laptops in 2013, mobile Internet usage will
overtake desktop Internet usage in 2014. Furthermore, 99% of smartphone owners use their mobile
browser at least once a day.
While most Internet users in the United States still prefer online banking for managing personal
finances, mobile banking is catching on with consumers. About 94% of users in all age groups use
online banking and approximately 71% of respondents ages 18-60+ have signed up for mobile
banking, according to Celent’s research. The European Financial Marketing Association says that 91%
of banks envision online/mobile as the primary channel for transactions in five years. T he widespread
adoption of mobile devices means that financial institutions need to deliver an optimal user experience.
To deliver a more immersive experience on handheld devices, financial marketers will need to focus on
the following mobile methodologies:
Adaptive mobile experiences
Mobile Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)
Mobile email marketing
Mobile online ads
Responsive web design
Leading the way for mobile optimization, responsive web design utilizes a single source of HT ML code
that is built to adapt or respond to the display environment and screen size. Media queries interpret
the resolution of the device used to display the site and correctly fits the screen through flexible
images and fluid grids. Planning on linking to a landing page or a site from a display ad, social media
post or email? There’s a good chance consumers will view it on a smartphone or tablet. Not only will
the layout shift to accommodate the device, but the site’s behavior can adapt, as well. Adaptive design
allows for swiping on touch devices. Responsive web design enables banks and credit unions to offer
a “one size fits all” site for consumers to enjoy a friendly, seamless user experience.
( Read More: 5 Reasons Why Banks and Credit Unions Need Responsive W ebsites )
Financial institutions need to understand that an optimal web experience means more than just making
it mobile-friendly. With a 68% annual growth rate, mobile payments are projected to amount to $214
billion by 2015, according to CUNA. As consumers continue to pay for items through their smartphones
and tablets, banks and credit unions will need to integrate with mobile payments. T he proliferation of
mobile banking also brings the threat of mobile malware. As mobile sites become the order of the day,
financial institutions will need to offer user-friendly and completely secure mobile banking experiences
while investing in mobile malware education, detection and prevention for the coming year.
Mobile content consumption gives financial marketers another avenue in mobile advertising. Mobile ad
spending in the United States is projected to hit $11.8 billion in 2014. Heading into next year, mobile
ads will account for 50% of Facebook’s revenue and $4 billion of Google’s projected ad revenue.
Banks and credit unions seeking brand impressions and click-throughs to products and services will
need to implement display ads, Facebook advertising, Google AdWords and other mobile pay-per-click
advertising in 2014.
Big Data Realizes Value by Analysis
As financial marketers work to deliver mobile-friendly, integrated content marketing experiences,
information about consumers engaging with the brand will become more and more abundant.
Commonly called “big data,” it is the collection and analysis of large, complex quantities of marketing
information. Financial marketers will need to figure out how to use big data marketing tools to capture,
curate, store, search, share, transfer, analyze and visualize these massive data sets into usable
information to better engage consumers.
To be effectual, big data requires managing, distilling and curating information for syndication and
optimization. Realizing value from big data requires collection and refinement via automated systems,
as well as a human touch to interpret and disseminate the information to others who can use this
intelligence to more effectively market to consumers.
Financial marketers can create new connections for banks and credit unions by understanding big
data applications based on the following consumer information:
Stock market and trade references
Social media engagements
Risk and finance trends
Big data and analytics can generate new revenue streams for banks and credit unions,
counterbalancing the many challenges these financial institutions face in 2014, including interest rate
reduction, financial market instability, regulatory constraints and low asset performance. Big data will
provide better insight into people’s wants and needs to give banks and credit unions an edge in target
For example, a bank or credit union can crunch big data to discover that a particular consumer might
be nearing his or her credit limit. As a result, the consumer is offered to extend his or her credit line
with the financial institution. T racking purchases made with this extended credit, the financial institution
then serves up contextual ads and offers for products, services and promotions that appeal to the
consumer’s specific interests via email, text message, display and search ads.
As consumers continue to spend and take advantage of offers through various online channels and
devices, the financial institution can continually cross-sell other products, programs and services. Big
data affords financial marketers the ability to enhance customer service and loyalty, while
simultaneously creating more revenue.
( Read More: Digital Marketing: T he Difference Between Death and Success? )
Convergence: Content, Mobile and Data
Bank and credit union marketers will use these evolving digital strategies to benefit banks and credit
unions — content, mobile, and data. Interestingly, these three points of emphasis all intersect. Content
marketing is most effective when all integrated marketing channels are accessible in a mobile-friendly
format. Mobile optimization is necessary for content viewing and engagement on consumers’ preferred
devices. Mobile advertising, such as display and search ads, as well as email and landing pages, is
integral to a sound content marketing strategy. Big data analyzes how and when customers/members
interact with content along various channels and mobile devices. This valuable information is then
leveraged to inform subsequent tailored content — special offers, contextual ads, personalized alerts
— to members most often via a mobile device.
For banks and credit unions to attract and retain new customers/members and build brand loyalty,
marketers must successfully serve up content on mobile devices while analyzing and leveraging the
data for improved brand engagement. The year 2014 will see financial marketers combine content
marketing, mobile optimization and big data in an actionable, cohesive digital strategy for banks and
Chris Rinaldi is a Digital Strategist at ZAG Interactive, a full-service digital agency in Glastonbury, CT