Bank marketing reimagined: Leaning into digital marketing for banks

Digital bank marketing is quickly becoming a primary focus for financial institutions around the world. With the added impact of the pandemic, consumers today are looking to manage everything digitally if they can, including their finances. Bank marketers need to rapidly transition to a digital-first mindset to grow deposits and take advantage of online-only opportunities—both with existing and net-new customers.

Bank marketers are starting to adopt that digital-first mindset, but the transition isn’t necessarily a simple one. For example, it's not uncommon to see a larger financial business target the wrong demographics. While for a smaller bank, digital marketing trends might feel like they're outside of allotted budgets. Forrester research indicates that a whopping 52% of financial brands can’t reach the right audience digitally, and 68% struggle to message the right person across devices (which is +10% higher than other industries).

As digital media experts for bank marketing, we’ve outlined the basics for driving new accounts digitally without accidentally wasting ad dollars. Learn how to connect with customers who are truly in the market for new accounts through better customer understanding, targeting and measurement, all with the goal of maximum efficiency so banks get more out of their marketing investments. Read on to learn more about digital marketing for banks.

Learn more: 3 ways digital media can grow deposits for regional banks right now

Step 1: Find customers who are actually in market

Digital bank marketing focuses on leveraging technology to build compelling and actionable campaigns—and that means finding people who are looking to take action. If you’re not connecting with customers who are looking to open a new account, your bank marketing strategy isn’t as efficient as it could be, which means you’re wasting valuable ad dollars.

Most bank marketers don’t see the full scope of customer interactions. Without incorporating data that happens online and across devices, banks are missing real-time signals that show intent to adopt, purchase or consume different banking products based on:

  • Browsing habits
  • Recent purchase data (online and offline)
  • Digital and video content consumption
  • Locations visited

When it comes to digital banking, marketing strategies must be based on in-depth data and metrics. A robust, complete identity solution will enable you to find in-market consumers in real-time. To accomplish this, a marketing partner needs to take contextual data about an individual, merge it with life triggers that signal intent to open a new account, and use AI and machine learning optimization to find customers with a high likelihood of conversion. This is what a comprehensive identity solution should look like.

Example: A regional bank in New England is looking for new customers. The bank has engaged in the past with Thomas, who is 35 and has an income of roughly $90k and lives in New York, but he’s not a current customer. Working with a partner that has advanced identity resolution, the bank is also able to understand that Thomas is moving to Boston based on recent online search behavior. With all of this information, the bank can then reconnect with Thomas through digital ads that highlight the benefits of banking locally in Boston before other local banks see his intent to move. That bank is already a step ahead of Thomas’ journey and helping as he’s making a major life move.

Step 2: Target in-market customers at scale with people-based IDs fueled by AI technology

When it comes to reaching customers, there are some common mistakes within digital bank marketing:

  • Repeatedly sending a user the same notification or offer
  • Promoting a financial product when the customer isn’t ready
  • Featuring a financial promotion the customer already took advantage of

What these errors, of course, amount to is significant wasted ad spend. But this waste is not an inevitable byproduct of a digital bank marketing strategy.

Many times, repeated ads are sent to customers by marketers who rely too heavily on third-party cookies and other third-party identifiers. Particularly with these types of identifiers going away, a future-proof way to connect with the right customers  should focus on delivering ads to individuals, not to cookies or devices. Building true people-based identities prevents repeated and/or irrelevant ads from being served to customers.

And knowing what, when and how to deliver a message to an individual requires those people-based IDs to be fueled by AI technology that’s constantly ingesting data and optimizing. Machine learning can update more than 2 billion times every minute as customers take actions, like browsing online, making a purchase and researching financial options.

This allows bank marketers to build a data-driven, personalized experience for every person, accounting for a preferred channel, device, time of day, real-time interests and more. When you can target customers individually at scale, you can make the most effective use of your media budget.

Example: Let’s say you have two women, both who are in their mid-30s, live in the same city and have roughly the same income. Should you message both similarly? To know, take a look at their intent data.  

Taking a look at their recent browsing history, it’s evident that one of the women is signaling intent to move (like Thomas in the previous example). So, she should receive a message to open an account in her new location. On the other hand, the second woman shows browsing history that indicates she is a bargain hunter who has searched for “savings account status.” The best ad to serve to this second woman would be a savings message: “Deposit $500 and get $200 back!”

Now, imagine those decisions happening at scale, hundreds of thousands of times a day. That’s the power of strong identity management paired with AI-driven digital media.

Step 3: Measure the full impact of your bank marketing strategy

In the world of banking, digital marketing offers access to insights that traditional advertising channels couldn't possibly achieve. However, while metrics like views, clicks and impressions are great—but they aren’t the end goal. Engagement metrics are important only insofar as they can be tied to conversions.  

Your bank marketing partners should be able to drive campaign performance around your specific goals and desired outcomes—all while showing clear impact, not just activity. Most vendors use complex attribution models or provide a limited, black-box view. It’s intentionally difficult to understand—and certainly not delivering the full picture down to contact-level engagement and acquisition. Especially if the digital media is served based on cookies, your reporting will be skewed and inaccurate.

Example: Through partnering with Epsilon, a regional bank was able to drive new deposit accounts and increase online engagement by achieving accurate and holistic views of their customers online and offline and delivering relevant messages via preferred channels. Unlike previous vendors, Epsilon’s solution offered transparent, closed-looped reporting that could attribute performance and prove efficiencies in the bank’s budgets. Their results were:

  • 16% growth in new deposit accounts
  • 33% increase in online engagements
  • 17% below initial CPA goal

According to the regional bank’s president of digital strategy & innovation, “Having the ability to determine ROI on our marketing spend is something that, frankly, we have never really been able to do before. We can now understand how many times we’re reaching individual prospects before we get them to take action.”

Improve your marketing to improve customer experience

When it comes to bank marketing, it’s time to transition to digital—and that means improving how you identify customers, connect with them and measure the true impact of your efforts.

At the end of the day, minimizing ad spend waste and maximizing efficiency is crucial in today’s effective bank marketing strategy, and this focus will necessitate better customer understanding. And when you can reach the right customers with the right messaging, their experience is all the better.

Ready to create successful marketing campaigns for your bank? Find out how to use digital media to drive deposit growth and learn what questions to ask your partners to increase accounts in our Regional bank marketer's guide to growing deposits.