Digital Marketing for Community Banks and Credit Unions

It’s never been more critical for small, community banks and credit unions to expand their digital footprint and step up their new customer/member acquisition. Digital marketing is essential here. In this post, we provide a few tips for effective online outreach in the COVID-19 era. Tips include:

  1. Ensure a mobile-friendly website
  2. Fill the site with valuable content
  3. Invest in SEO and SEM
  4. Host virtual events and webinars
  5. Use social media
  6. Embrace retargeting
  7. Send regular email updates

Digital Marketing for Community Banks and Credit Unions: Tips for Navigating the COVID-19 Landscape

Banks Credit Union Financial District

As the COVID-19 pandemic unfolds, community banks and credit unions may find themselves locked into a heated competition with larger banking institutions; that’s because, more than ever before, consumers are eager for loans and account products they know will be reliable. Big banks have name recognition and familiarity, which breeds a sense of trust; community banks and credit unions have their work cut out for them as they seek to prove their own products as trustworthy.

One step other smaller institutions can take is to embrace digital banking products, which offer consumers the convenience and the ease they’re looking for. This is an area where smaller banks and credit unions may lag especially far behind their more established counterparts. Banking and Fintech Technology companies can provide the needed access to digital loans and account opening tools, empowering community banks to be more competitive.

Even so, having the right digital lending or digital banking platforms may not be enough. Small, community banks need to continue growing their customer base, and credit unions need to expand their digital footprint. Digital marketing is essential here. Without an effective digital strategy, banks and credit unions will face an uphill battle in acquiring new customers and members.

7 Digital Marketing Tips for Community Banks and Credit Unions

  1. Make sure your institution has a responsive, mobile-friendly website. Remember that a majority of consumers will be shopping for banking solutions from their mobile devices. To meet their needs and establish a strong first impression, community banks and credit unions must have websites that are easy to access and navigate from any browser or device type.
  2. Provide informative, high-quality content. Bank customers and credit union members appreciate valuable content that helps them reach their financial goals. That content can come in many forms; in the form of blog posts, financial calculators, videos and podcasts, and downloadable materials. For example, writing a blog post about five tips for improving one’s credit score, or providing a short video on how a small business can secure an SBA loan, can establish your financial institution as helpful and as credible.
  3. Be findable. Having a responsive website with great content isn’t enough. You also need to get found by consumers who are searching for local banking solutions. That’s why SEO (search engine optimization) and SEM (search engine marketing), along with paid search marketing, is essential. The right strategy will increase your search visibility throughout the consumer’s search journey, including organic rankings and paid ad content. Ultimately, the goal is to send more interested parties to your top-notch, lead-capturing, content-rich website.

    Pro-tip: When you optimize your site for search engines or start buying search ads, you will likely want to have a hyper-localized approach. Customers and members still want to have a branch close to their home, even if they may not want to visit it in person.
  4. Be (digitally) social. Thanks to the pandemic and its quarantine requirements, a lot of people are turning to the Web for connections. Be ready to meet them there, with consistent social media activity. Consider a balance of organic reach with some precisely targeted, paid social media ads.
  5. Consider webinars and virtual events. Many financial institutions now offer free virtual events, such as live or pre-recorded webinars, to model smart financial habits to their consumers. This allows you to educate individuals and families without asking them to break quarantine. And it produces high volumes of quality content that you can redistribute on your website and on other digital channels. This is a strategy we employed for many of our clients and to great success. Hundreds attend our regular webinars, and thousands showed up for our Virtual User Forum.

    Pro-tip #1: Customize the content of your webinars or virtual events to your customers or members. For example, if your financial institution does well with personal loans, then perhaps a webinar on how to pay off personal loans faster would draw some attention.

    Pro-tip #2: Once you set up your webinar, announce it on your website, on social media, through email, and via text.
  6. Invest in Email Marketing. Email marketing isn’t dead. Spam is dead. But regular emails that provide useful financial insights, or alert your consumers to events and happenings, can help keep your brand top-of-mind. It also helps cultivate brand loyalty.
  7. Practice retargeting. Use social media and Web display ads to retarget traffic back to your website. This is an affordable and highly effective approach. Just be sure you segment your audience and provide carefully-honed messaging to each segment.

The bottom line: Customer/member acquisition requires a digital strategy and a consistent online presence. Use the tips here to ensure online visibility for your financial institution.

Author: Al Sefati

Al Sefati is an enterprise SEO and search marketing expert and the founder of Sefati & Company. Al works with marketing agencies and enterprise level clients and he is in charge of forming and monitoring their SEO and SEM strategies. Al blogs often about latest SEO, SEM and digital marketing trends and tactics.