Financial advertisers – are you keeping up in the digital world?

When we first began working with community banks in 2000, there was little difference in the offerings between the mega banks and the community banks or credit unions.  Big banks offered more convenience, but the smaller players could level the playing field with more personal service.

But a lot has changed since then.  Digital and social media have entered the arena in a big way, and the difference in offerings between the bigger and smaller players is widening.  Recently, Deluxe published their 2017 Marketing Trends Report, which provides a good deal of insight into current goals, strategies, and budget allocations of today’s financial institutions.  The results were surprising and suggest that community banks and credit unions are not keeping pace with industry trends or consumer demands.

To begin with, it’s no secret that the consumer is spending more and more time in online channels.  And while the smaller FI’s express a desire to improve targeting and measure results, an astounding 50% dedicated less than 20% of their budget to digital and social efforts.

In addition, the study asked participants to rate their top marketing priorities.  For large and regional banks, the emphasis to increase adoption of digital channels was a top three priority.  But only 35% of community banks and 27% of credit unions rated it as highly.  This is going to make it much tougher for smaller FI’s to catch up and compete.  Additionally, if you’re one of the many FI’s interested in reaching millennials,  some studies suggest that the big banks are the choice of millennials, most likely because of better digital offerings.

Finally, while there has been a lot of industry discussion about the importance of an improved customer experience, only 11% of budgets were dedicated to this.  At TBG, we’ve experienced examples of this many times over.  We see clients spend significant dollars in media to drive consumers to their websites, yet don’t invest the time or money to ensure that the web experience is top notch and highly converting once they get there.

The landscape is rapidly changing, and community banks and credit unions need to get ahead of the game, not lag behind it.  Even if you’re a bank in a small town, your potential customers are on their cellphones and computers for hours a day.  If you’re not spending a significant portion of your budget to target them with digital advertising, you’re missing out on huge opportunities.