Over the past three years, member engagement has plummeted in the financial services industry. Forbes reports that just 7% of consumers are highly engaged with their primary bank, and 22% are completely disengaged. But when finserv brands can get members to engage, those members utilize more services.
Attracting and engaging both new and current members of your finserv brand is crucial to the success of your branch. In addition to examining your current strategies, consider the following suggestions to improve engagement rates with your members.
1. Cooperate through community involvement
Modern customers care about the social responsibility and purposes of financial brands. 87% of Americans are willing to purchase from a brand that stands up/advocates for issues they care about. Companies that are transparent about their purpose and impact are 4x more likely to be purchased from, 6x more likely to be protected in challenging moments, 4.5x more likely to be recommended, and 4.1x more likely to be trusted by customers, a recent study reports.
Your financial brand may already be involved with service projects and community-building efforts—food drives through local elementary schools, projects for homeless shelters, or helping families in the community. But do your members and potential members know about these volunteer efforts? Spreading the word, not just through involvement, but on social media, blog posts, and partnerships with other community organizations can lead to positive engagement without the sales pitch.
Consider adding something to your website outlining the mission, goals, and impact of your financial brand. Invite members to be involved with your community efforts, and tell the stories with pictures, videos, and data.
2. Embrace social media
Conversations about your financial brand will take place wherever your members are—Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social platforms. Millennials, in particular, drive 40% of the finance conversations on Facebook. And it’s far better to initiate and take part in those conversations than to avoid or ignore them. Social media is a powerful (and free!) tool your finserv brand can use to connect with your audience, provide value for members, and further establish your brand through positive relationships and interactions.
Research your audience and discover what social media platforms your members use. Create business profiles for each platform you determine will be of strategic use, include location-specific information, and start adding value for your members. If you’re already active on social media channels, evaluate your content marketing strategy: are you clear about your services? Do you provide value in every interaction, whether that’s responding to a complaint, retweeting a positive review, or sharing engaging content? And are you aware of the other organizations your members interact with in the community?
If you’re interested in paid advertising on any of your social platforms, improving your presence on the platform first will increase the effectiveness of your ad spend.
3. Rethink the in-person experience
Although digital/mobile banking has increased greatly, the in-person experience still matters. To challenge some of the stereotypes of financial institutions, create memorable journeys for customers, and increase visibility, you might start by thinking outside the box with your brick-and-mortar space.
Try a more open floor plan, where members and staff interact on the same level, with no barriers. Use warm lighting, inviting color schemes, and comfortable seating to create an environment that people want to stay in, encouraging members to stop by and meet with advisors. Add a coffee bar, meeting spaces, and free wifi to draw in the community and create a word-of-mouth marketing buzz.
You’re no longer just competing against other finserv brands; you’re competing with the experiences provided by Amazon, Apple, and Google. Half of millennials say they would consider banking with Google or Apple. Breaking tradition, in one form or another, is likely to attract and engage new members.
4. Pay for digital advertising
Digital ads use demographics to target the exact audience you’d like to convert. Before investing in digital ads, consider your current member base and determine shared characteristics such as location, age, and social media habits. Use this data to target ads for your ideal member. Each social media platform will walk you through how to run a particular campaign (video, banner ads, etc.) and track the performance of each ad.
Metrics such as click-through rates, bounce rates, and conversions will reveal what’s working and what’s not, throughout the various steps of the member journey (awareness, consideration, conversion, and loyalty). 74% of consumers rely on social media (including ads) to help with purchasing decisions. And most consumers opt-in to receive personalized ads based on browser behavior anyway.
Evaluate your marketing budget, see what strategies are working, and consider buying ads to bypass most social media algorithms and pay for results. And remember this: not all ad spends are equal. More spend does not necessarily equate to more members. Set specific goals for your ads (CTAs: open a checking account, register for a webinar, sign up for a free consultation, website visits, etc.) and spend with purpose.
Zillow reports customers spending an average of 8 hours researching home loans before converting. Before customers want to know about your specific deals, they want general financial education and literacy. How do I qualify for a loan? What do first-time homeowners need to know? How do I improve my credit? How much should I be saving for retirement? Where should I invest? When should I refinance my home mortgage?
Answering questions like these (and many others) on your website will boost the number of indexed pages by 434% and help customers find you via search engines. Blog posts, how-to guides, eBooks, listicles, infographics, and videos also provide relevant content to share on your branch’s social media pages.
Additionally, podcasts provide a unique and increasingly popular opportunity to provide relevant, informative content for listeners. Among weekly podcast listeners in 2020, the average amount of time spent per week listening to podcasts grew to 6 hours and 39 minutes.
Consider creating your own podcast for financial services or pay to sponsor podcasts your target audience is interested in. Nearly 70% of listeners agree that podcast ads make them aware of new products or services. Podcast listeners are also more likely to follow brands on social media, be brand loyalists, and have high income levels.
6. Add digital representatives to your website through webchat
Customers cite digital representatives as the best technology to create positive experiences in financial services. Meet this expectation for positive interactions through webchat. Implement bots to answer FAQs in real time, connect members directly with a local representative, or help members accomplish specific tasks such as opening a checking account online.
In the past three years, digital banks have tripled their share of account applications. “Regional banks, credit unions, and community banks, however, have seen their collective share of new applicants drop by half from 51% to 25%,” Forbes reports. Consider using webchat to drive actionable items from your website. Members are generally happy to engage and use digital services when given the opportunity.
7. Text to schedule virtual consultations
Adaptivity matters to your members. 86% of consumers expect local businesses to offer more convenient communication and services now than they did prior to COVID-19. Furthermore, 66% of consumers agree that texting makes working with a local business more convenient.
Particularly during the era of social distancing, virtual interactions can be attractive options to members. Add a textable number to your business through Apple Business Chat or Google Messages and enable customers to contact your branch directly to set up appointments, advisement sessions, and consultations. And when the time comes, simply text a link to start the video chat appointment. This manageable option will help you stand out from the competition and please potential and current members with your adaptivity.
For additional insight on customer engagement and new leads, download our eBook How To Win Customers and Influence People.