In an age of mobile apps and online banking, “People effectively carry a branch in their pocket.” If you spend any time in finance and marketing circles, you’ve likely heard that quote from Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan before. But while account access may be just a click away, the brick and mortar bank branch still forms the bedrock on which consumers build their trust. To continue to foster trust in an increasingly digital world, local bank marketing requires innovative and adaptive strategies.

Why Is Local Bank Marketing Still Important?

local bank marketingTwo out of every three American adults own a cell phone. Nine out of ten use the internet. With these stats, it’s no surprise that digital banking is more popular than ever. According to the Federal Reserve, “Of the 91% of American consumers who have a checking, savings, or money market account, the majority use some form of technology to interact with their financial institution.” But do online tools nullify the need for in-person service? Definitely not.

A recent Gallup poll found that 75% of banking customers visited their local branch within the last six months. With so many digital banking tools, why are the lines at local bank branches still so long? Here are a few of the most popular motivators:

Why Consumers Visit Local Bank Branches

Ritual

The majority of bank customers open accounts at their local branch. As years pass, one bank visit becomes a weekly or even daily ritual. According to anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski, “People are more likely to turn to rituals when they face situations where the outcome is important and uncertain and beyond their control.” Digital tools may help consumers make important decisions about how to save for retirement or finance a college education. Yet our brains continue to steer us toward rituals and habits—and right through the doors of our local bank.

Empathy

Personal interactions in local bank branches offer something that digital account tools can’t—an emotional connection. Financial management can be stressful, but speaking to a human being who can acknowledge and validate fears and concerns helps. Through body language, facial expressions and tone of voice, employees at local banks prove to consumers that their concerns are valid and their business is valued.

Community

Local bank branches aren’t just businesses—they’re part of a community. When a consumer visits a local branch, they’re not acting as patrons of a multinational corporation. They’re supporting a local business and their friends, family and neighbors who work there.

Local bank branches provide an experience consumers simply can’t get through mobile apps or online banking. Different channels are able to meet different needs, even when offering the same services and solutions. To make the most of each experience, marketers should focus on an omni-channel strategy.

The Importance of Omni-Channel Marketing for Local Banks

Local bank branches play an integral role in the banking experience. While most marketers recognize this, they often treat these physical locations as a separate entity. They push bank branches out of the frame when picturing their overall financial marketing strategy. That’s a big mistake.

Customers access accounts on multiple channels, and what happens on one channel can affect the entire experience. Just look at these findings from Gallup:

Banks that leave customers “very satisfied” with channel experiences realize the greatest gains in customer engagement.

Take branch visits, for example. When customers prefer digital channels but use branches and are not “very satisfied” with their branch experiences, only 5% of these customers are fully engaged. When customers prefer and use branches but still are not “very satisfied” with their experiences, engagement rises to a mere 11%.

However, when customers are “very satisfied” with their branch experiences, almost half (48%) are fully engaged even when they prefer a different channel. The best-case scenario for banks is to perfectly match customers’ preferences and provide highly satisfying experiences. Doing so with branches boosts engagement to 57%.”

Local marketing campaigns for banks need to function as part of a larger omni-channel marketing strategy. Unlike multi-channel marketing, omni-channel campaigns focus on the customer. They meet customers when and where they want to interact. Most importantly, they deliver solutions across channels while keeping brand compliance consistent.

Are you making the most of your omni-channel marketing?

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Local Bank Marketing Ideas

In the words of Mike Kercheval, CEO of International Council of Shopping Centers, “Online and mobile channels are now being recognized as an enhancement to brick-and-mortar stores, not a detractor.”

In the financial industry, each channel plays a part in attracting and retaining customers. The following local bank marketing ideas provide benefits on their own, but function best when they play a part in a larger omni-channel marketing strategy.

1. Branch-Powered Trigger Marketing Campaigns

The best local banks are filled with financial advisors who are experts at uncovering their customers’ needs. Many consumers may be reluctant to share details about certain assets. Additionally, they may not recognize some financial issues on their own. That’s why this skill truly requires a human touch. Financial experts at local bank branches know how to ask the right questions to uncover consumers’ needs. The Information they discover can drive trigger marketing campaigns.

What would a trigger marketing campaign look like? Imagine a national bank wants to advertise a new local bank branch. With a trigger marketing campaign, they can send an email and direct mail piece to consumers who live near the new location. Or, send a thank you note from the branch manager when a customer opens a new account at the branch.

Trigger, or automated marketing campaigns, can personalize multiple messages within the same campaign. So one consumer can receive information highlighting mortgage rates, while another learns about car loans.

Local bank marketing ideas work best when they’re highly targeted. All of these messages promote the opening of the new local bank branch, but each does so while addressing the consumer’s unique needs. Best of all, automated marketing campaigns leverage the skills of branch employees so banks can build relationships on all channels.

How can automation increase ROI in the financial industry?

Find out here.

2. Local Bank Marketing Ideas Inspired by Other Markets

“In Financial Services today there is greater focus on making sure customers can afford the products being marketed to them,” says Clive Gosling, Head of Consulting for ‎Experian Marketing Services. “New legislation like the Mortgage Market Review as well as scrutiny from the Financial Conduct Authority means brands need to put the customer first. They must be confident that they have in place the right processes to ensure both their brand and their customers are protected.”

In other words, targeting local marketing ideas for banks to the right consumers isn’t just important—it’s legally imperative. Luckily, local community banks aren’t the only businesses with this concern. Other professionals are struggling to meet consumers at the intersection of what they want and what they can afford. There’s great marketing insight to be gained from analyzing these local industries—especially real estate.

Here are just a few local bank marketing ideas you can “borrow ” from the real estate market:

  • local bank marketingHidden Gems. Many lower-income areas have affluent “pockets.” Use Zillow to discover hidden homes with high price points. Adjust marketing collateral for these areas to include products and services for higher income residents.
  • Dig Into Demographics. Real estate apps also share key demographics on specific school districts and areas. Are there areas with high ESL populations? Use marketing templates to customize brochures, banners, and other ads easily to reach consumers in their first language.
  • Virtual Open House. VR headsets are more popular than ever and savvy real estate agents are cashing in on the craze. Do the same by creating a virtual open house to promote a new bank branch opening.

Want to get more local marketing ideas for banks? Don’t be shy—talk to your connections in the real estate industry. Ask them about the trends they’ve noticed. How have they adapted to their local markets? Share your insights and bounce ideas off of each other. You’ll be amazed at what you learn!

3. Begin a Lifelong Relationship with a Single Note

Conducted in 2015, the FDIC National Survey of Unbanked and Underbanked Households revealed some startling statistics:

  • 68% of households in 2015 were “fully banked.” (The household had a bank account and did not use alternative financial services in the past year.) The amount of fully banked households rose only 1% from 67% in 2013.
  • Approximately 9 million U.S. households, including 15.6 million adults and 7.6 million children, were unbanked in 2015.
  • More than half (55.8%) of unbanked households thought that banks were not at all interested in serving households like theirs.

Do the math. This means that over 5 million households in the U.S. don’t have a bank simply because they believe no bank wants their business. These people drive past billboards and flip through magazines. They listen to the radio and watch T.V. Yet none of the local bank marketing they digest makes them feel “wanted” by their local bank.

To earn their business, local bank marketing needs to get personal. There’s no better way than to send nearby households a handwritten note. However, you don’t need to dedicate an entire workweek to this task. Digital handwriting services can save you from hand cramps by producing notes, cards and invitations for you.

With brand management software from BlueSky ETO, you can send hundreds of handwritten cards at a time—each one addressing the recipient by name. Send notes to locals letting them know how much your neighborhood branch values their business and would love to serve them. Sign the note as the local branch’s manager and include their business card. That way, your new customers will know exactly where to go and who to talk to about their banking needs.

4. Use Local Bank Marketing to Build Trust

Americans’ confidence in the bankslocal bank marketing plummeted after the 2007-2009 recession. It fell to 30% where it languished for eight straight years. Although perception has improved slightly, only 27% of Americans say they have “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in the banking institution. The military, police, organized religion, the presidency, public schools and more—as of June 2016, Americans trusted all of these groups more than they did the financial industry.

Luckily, local bank branches have the power to build trust from the ground up. And many do, not just through open and honest business practices, but by serving the community beyond their four walls. From fundraisers to food drives, local bank branches make a difference every day. Alone, these efforts build trust in the community. When incorporated into local bank marketing campaigns, they yield even bigger brand benefits.

Stop using the same handful of sanitized stock photos in every piece of digital marketing for financial services. Instead, share photos of local tellers and bank managers serving customers and volunteering in their communities. Digital asset management software makes it easy to store and share brand-approved images. Include these images in your local bank marketing ideas to boost brand image and build trust—all it takes is a friendly face!

5. Optimize Bank Marketing for Local Searches

Bank branches can’t survive solely on foot traffic and word of mouth. They need to be easy to find online too. Searching for a bank by name may help consumers find its national website, but what happens when they search for products and services in their area? With the help of localized digital marketing, your local bank branch can appear at the top of their results.

Here are a few of the most effective ways to make that happen:

  • Add dedicated web pages to the bank’s main website for each of its local bank branches. Be sure to include details like location photos, directions and operating hours.
  • Announce local branch news with press release distribution services. Be sure to use the branch’s city in the release’s title and link to the webpage dedicated to that specific branch.
  • Sharing images of your new bank location or events hosted by the branch? Before you upload, rename image files to include the bank’s name and location. Add city and state tags to alt text in images for an added boost.
  • Create separate pages on Facebook and Google+ for each branch location. Social Media managers can easily update these pages with the help of customizable brand templates.
  • Use Moz Local to check local listings for each branch location. This directory tool will even offer tips to improve listing visibility.

For an accurate look at how your local branch appears online, switch to incognito mode and put yourself in your customer’s’ shoes. How does your bank branch appear when you search for it? What about when you look up local banks, the nearest ATM, or the best places to get a loan in your city? Check a variety of terms and track your results to see where you stand (and maybe score some ideas from your competitors in the process).

5 Local Bank Marketing Ideas Worth Trying

Speaking of competitors, there are plenty of banks running unique marketing campaigns. While you won’t want to copy these ideas, they should give you some inspiration to create unique local bank marketing ideas of your own!

1. local bank marketingATM Gone Mad

In an effort to promote a new bank branch opening, Easthampton Savings Bank in Massachusetts turned its ATM into a “no lose slot-machine.” The “ATM Gone Mad” dispersed an occasional $50 bill in place of a $20. Locals swarmed the new branch to try their luck.

2. Coining a Phrase

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. This one is worth at least 61,000 pennies. A billboard by Vancouver credit union Vancity features a mosaic of copper coins under the tagline “Are you ready for change that counts?” The campaign highlighted the union’s dedication to fostering social change in their community. Talk about putting your money where your mouth is!

3. Automated Time Machine

CIB Bank recently celebrated the 120th anniversary of Budapest’s Grand Boulevard neighborhood by creating a steam-powered ATM. With brass and copper cogs and gears, this machine looks like blast from the past. In lieu of cash, it uses a camera to place users’ faces on custom banknotes. The creative “Bankomat” has been a hit with tourists and locals alike.

4. Secret Santander

Spanish bank Santander made a splash during the holidays with a “Secret Santander” marketing campaign full of good-willed pranks. In one, customers who pressed a “Jenson Button” got quite a surprise. Formula One Driver Jenson Button would appear through a secret window on the ATM and personally hand customers a little holiday bonus on behalf of the bank.

5. The Great Switcheroo

FNB won over customers by poking fun at their competitors. When a visitor inserted a competitor’s’ card into an FNB ATM, the screen would turn that competitor’s slogan on its head with a clever phrase suggesting the user make the switch to FNB. For example, clients of Absa received the message, “If your bank is making you see red with bank charges, switch to the bank with free card swipes, fuel rewards, and more.” Now that’s one way to put targeted bank marketing to work!

Marketers are innovative by necessity. There’s no lack of inspiration out there. For the latest creative campaigns follow outlets like Advertising Age and Adweek— and don’t forget to subscribe to the BlueSky ETO Brand Management Blog!

We hope this guide has inspired you to look at your local bank marketing strategy with a fresh perspective. When you do, keep in mind that you aren’t the only one with valuable insights to share. Sometimes the most innovative ideas come from the most surprising places.

With a culture of communication and accessible tools like brand marketing centers, everyone feels empowered to innovate—without threatening brand consistency in the process. As this case study shows, the right tools in the right hands make a world of difference:

BlueSky ETO helped over 200 local CitiFinancial branches improve their ROI.

Find out how.

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