For banks, new social media projects are high on the agenda and the industry plans to develop such projects on Facebook, Twitter, Xing, LinkedIn or YouTube this year as well as expanding recruitment and HR applications to online communities or for getting insights into their customers’ mind.

The Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council’s year-end survey of 120 bank marketers evaluated the banking industry’s communication effectiveness during the year of global financial turmoil. The resulting report Delivering Positive Impressions During Market Depressions reveals that 87% of those surveyed in the last quarter claim the current financial market turmoil is creating a difficult environment that is challenging them to reassure and more effectively communicate with their customers.

Top contributors to complexity and pressure include: stepped up regulatory and legal scrutiny and attention; less public trust and more skepticism; as well as, greater customer demand for information and contact. Thus, many are re-evaluating and re-assessing the best way to communicate in order to maintain customer confidence and to quickly respond to anxiety or fear by using new digital media to engage, educate and inform in real-time.

“Bank marketers, while highly sensitized to risk and regulatory considerations, are looking to improve their game when it comes to personalized, real-time interaction with critical audiences,” notes Donovan Neale-May, Executive Director of the CMO Council. “However, this needs to be during uncertain times, as well as part of a continuity communications program that maximizes the lifetime value and profitability of customer relationships,” he adds.

Only 19% of bank marketers believe they are doing a good job of leveraging the timeliness and value of digital media in their customer engagement programs. However, 82% expect to increase the adoption and use of new channels of content delivery, community, conversation and interaction.

In this regard, they view digital media as offering:

  • Lower production costs;
  • Quicker turnaround;
  • Better measurements and tracking;
  • Greater adaptability and versatility;
  • More engaging and compelling content delivery.

Surprisingly, less than half of bank marketers have formal strategies and contingency programs for handling customer concerns and increased information demands during times of financial market disruption and uncertainty. Some 49% either don’t have a program, or are scrambling to put this in place. In most cases, bank marketers are either allocating additional resources or adding new capabilities to deal with stepped up communications demands. Some 32% say they have already done so, while 20% expect they will.

Human interaction still remains the preferred choice for bank customers when they have inquiries or concerns. Marketers say account relationship managers (54%), call centers (52%), and branch office visits (48%) are the most common way for bank customers to field requests or handle queries. Websites (29%) and email (22%) are growing sources of inquiry and interaction, while mobile messaging (2%) is still in its infancy - at least in the US market.

Looking ahead, bank marketers are seeing a big shift from print to digital media channels. Custom magazines, once a fundamental of customer relationship marketing, are overshadowed by more cost-effective, sustainable and interactive rich media options. Thus, preferred ways of delivering brand marketing content nowadays include:

  • Internet web sites (76%)
  • Social media network pages and postings (47%)
  • Online or mobile video segments (41%)
  • Print magazines (39%)
  • Online communities and affinity groups (31%)
Factors influencing the selection of digital media channels by bank marketers include: internet research and fact-finding; growth of social networking; business and customer engagement; website analysis and registrations; as well as, market forecasts and predictions.

When it comes to measuring the performance of branded content, bank marketers rely the most on the following metrics:

  • Customer acquisition (66%)
  • Reaction and response levels (62%)
  • Loyalty and retention rates (55%)
  • Circulation and readership (42%)
  • Branch and field force feedback (41%)


By MediaBUZZ