The Missing Link For Financial Institutions

Posted by on October 28th, 2014

Over the past several years, financial institutions have come to recognize the importance of incorporating a variety of channels when communicating with their account holders. Direct mail, email and mass media all go hand-in-hand when conducting promotional campaigns. In order for account holders to see and hear the same messages, financial institutions must have all communications channels pull in the same direction to make marketing campaigns as effective as possible.

However, there is a missing link in this exercise. And, for marketers, it is sitting right in front of them – retail staff. All too often, campaigns are brain-stormed, devised and implemented without bringing tellers, platform staff and contact center employees into the mix. This oversight, or challenge, unfortunately can make the best of marketing initiatives fall short of their potential.


While the numbers are declining, better than two-thirds of bank and credit union account holders still visit a branch and more than a quarter of them still pick up the phone and call their financial institution in order to speak with someone about their finances. This indicates that branch sales can and will remain critically important to retail banking. Although more origination volume is shifting online, 71 percent of consumers still say they prefer to open an account in the branch.1

Across retail banking there is a vast surplus of branch sales capacity, however, it is less common that a retail bank or credit union has developed a truly proactive sales outreach. Most branch and contact center teams are still stuck in a reactive, order-taking mode that relies on advertising and promotion to drive sales. But, marketers are forgetting something critical, more than four out of ten consumers say they open an account after talking to a staff member, which means consumers want advice and consultation from branch staff to help them make a decision.2


While marketers are building promotional campaigns with advertising, direct mail and email, do not forget about bringing the retail staff into the mix. To support promotional campaigns, make sure branch staff is trained in needs-based selling and consultation. Remember, this endeavor is a journey and not a destination. Give branches realistic metrics to achieve in support of promotional campaigns and continually analyze and adjust based on the results. Always measure staff goals for each campaign and reward those branches that meet and exceed them. Finally, make sure to regularly share best practices among branches so that the weaker performers can strengthen their skills in time for the next promotion.

1. Novantas. Transforming Retail Sales Force Economics (2012).
2. Gallup. US Retail Banking Survey (2013).


Chip-based Technology To Combat Fraud

Posted by on October 22nd, 2014

MG_102114Recently, data breaches and credit card fraud have been in the headlines starting with the massive attack  on Target in December 2013 when every location across the country was hacked and nearly 40 million credit and debit card numbers were stolen.In September 2014, Home Depot was at the center of a data breach that impacted 56 million cardholders, and it probably will not end there.As more people utilize electronic forms of payment, the higher the risk for larger and even more devastating attempts for hackers  to steal credit and debit card numbers. But change may be on the way in the form of a microchip.

Currently, most American bank issued credit and debit cards rely heavily on a magnetic strip located on the back on the card. The magnetic strip “contains and unchanging set of information that includes the cardholder’s account number, expiration date, and security code.”1 Although you aren’t necessarily putting yourself at risk every single time you use your card, the static information on the strip makes it easy for the information to be reused once hackers obtain the data, because counterfeiters can easily create duplicate magnetic strips using encoding machines. The duplicated strips are then placed on fake credit cards and sold.

But, integrated circuit cards or EMV, which is named after credit card companies EuroPay, MasterCard and Visa, could change all of that. Currently, close to 100 percent of all credit card terminals in Europe are using a chip-based technology, which have proven to significantly reduce card fraud.1 Instead of utilizing the same set of static card information every time you buy something in the store, EMV focuses on a chip-based authentication, which changes the numbers every time the card is swiped making duplication impossible.

The jump from magnetic strips to EMV chips should help financial institutions and credit card companies alike. The promise of security has become a huge marketing tool as more Americans are asking questions about how their data is being handled and what processes are in place to rectify a breach. The switch could eliminate fear and encourage people to begin using their credit and debit cards at point of sale checkout machines once again without hesitation.





Re-Engagement Campaigns Are Important Prospecting Strategies

Posted by on October 17th, 2014

shutterstock_93214102Direct marketing principles indicate that in order to keep your list from dwindling, you need to implement prospecting strategies to attract potential customers. However, those same principles also state that attracting new customers costs more than reaching out to current customers. Email offers an ideal way to address this situation in the form of re-engagement campaigns, which focus on opening up a fresh line of communication with members of your mailing list to whom you previously stopped mailing due to inactivity. By converting the previously disengaged into “new” engaged recipients, you benefit from prospecting efforts without incurring additional costs of trying to attract new prospects.

To begin, it is always best to determine a timeframe for inactive recipients. For example, you can decide any customer that hasn’t converted in the last 2-4 years is still a potential prospect. Then, you must understand why they became disengaged in the first place. This can be determined by conducting attrition surveys. These surveys provide valuable insight as to why customers are leaving and what could have made them stay.

If you don’t have access to attrition survey data, the next best option is to segment your buyers into groups, such as the RFM approach involving groups based on the recency, frequency and monetary value of their purchases.

Some ideas outside of the standard RFM include products purchased, geographic location, or previous email render/click activity. Once segmented, test out different incentives to entice your old customer base to come back. Do they respond to promotions? Discounts? Events?

Inactive recipients typically re-engage within the first 90 days, but those who don’t may need to receive a different type of communication such as an educational piece or a newsletter. If there still is no response, you may want to consider removing those names from your mailings to prevent future unsubscribes or spam issues.

While you won’t see your overall list grow, reactivating recipients will increase your “active” list, thus positively influencing your bottom line and improving customer loyalty. To keep your list healthy, continue to test out different segments and incentives while taking note of what is driving engagement and what is not. From there, adjust accordingly to get the most out of your current customer base.


Succeeding in the Social Age

Posted by on October 15th, 2014

MG_Blog_101514Being a leader in the Social Age is more than who has the most Facebook likes, retweets, Instagram comments, new followers and blog shares. It is about taking these communication platforms and leveraging them to form better connections and building solid relationships. You become an industry leader by listening to those around you for the greater good of your brand.

Social media shouldn’t be all about marketing, but should be used as a way to assign human characteristics to your business. The platforms should be used as an opportunity to take a more personalized approach by asking your customers questions about their experiences with your product or make references to topics your customers can relate to. By taking the time to address customers in a more approachable way, you are creating loyalty, which leads to advocacy.

The use of social channels leaves your brand open to public criticism, but also gives you the opportunity to rectify issues, which your networks will see. Any response to both positive and negative reviews will prove that you are listening, quick on your feet and can easily adapt to the changing minds and opinions of today’s Social Age consumer. If you are not easily malleable, this will make you slower to meet the needs of your customers, who can easily jump ship to a competitor who appears, thanks to social media, to always be there for its customers.

Social is still a growing media trend, but with Gen Yers leading the way, a world without it won’t exist in the very near future. Businesses will move away from hiring experts to run and leverage their social strategies, and C-level employees to college interns will all be connected. Everyone will have a smart phone with 24-hour access to email and social platforms, and everyone in the organization will be expected to network, communicate and make decisions on their own, because customers in the Social Age will expect it.


Captivate Your Audience With Video Content

Posted by on October 9th, 2014

video content marketingContent marketing continues to be an effective tool for marketers to engage consumers while promoting brand awareness. Although there are several budget-friendly options to choose from, one type of content marketing  that marketers continue to overlook is video. With a tight lock on marketing budgets and a lack of manpower, some organizations struggle to give value to a strategy that is seen as pricey. But recent studies have proven that implementing a video content strategy into a marketing campaign is not only extremely beneficial, but can be cost-effective with the right tools.

According to Forrester research, one minute of video is worth 1.8 million words.1 For marketers, this offers a great opportunity to promote their company’s brand, services, products and culture all while visually engaging consumers. Offering a clickable video on a company’s website, through social media or placed in an email campaign allows marketers to reach an unlimited number of existing and potential customers. Statistics show that video on a landing page increases conversion rates by 130%.2

The added entertainment value that video offers makes it a key component in any marketing strategy. Axonn research showed 70% of consumer’s perception of a brand was positively altered after seeing interesting video content.3 Consumers want and need to be entertained, and video offers marketers the opportunity to captivate their audience and illustrate a multitude of information in a short amount of time.

The value that video brings to any marketing strategy cannot be discounted. Some marketers do see the value and potential that video can offer, but they may not have the increased budget or time to allocate to a big video project. Luckily, with today’s technology and software, marketers can create video that offers some of the same benefits as a big production but at a very minimal cost. Presentation software such as Prezi and emaze offer marketers the ability to turn digital content into an engaging video by incorporating audio and music files, which then can be embedded on their website or pushed through social media channels to target customers.

Because of the impact video content can have on current and prospective customers, brands must not completely disregard implementing it into their marketing strategies. Consumers need to be engaged and marketers can use video to maintain customer interest while promoting brand awareness without breaking the bank.