What will community bank marketing look like in the coming year? For many, this year will mean taking advantage of the technologies, such as AI (Artificial Intelligence) and ML (Machine Learning), that can enhance their business across the enterprise. They’ll also continue to leverage social media, as its role in the overall marketing mix continues to grow. And, they’ll make sustainable business practices a core component of their growth strategy. So, what can community banking’s C-level leadership be thinking about as we move into a new year?
1. Embracing the hyper-personalized digital experience
In our increasingly digital world, along with the growing customer expectation of convenient, seamless service, personalization is key; especially in attracting and retaining the younger, more digitally savvy customers that now comprise nearly 50% of the U.S. population. Leverage data insights to personalize online interactions – the mobile experience, in particular – tailoring content and offers to match individual customer needs and preferences. Utilize AI-driven tools to create personalized experiences across digital platforms, enhancing customer engagement and satisfaction. What are consumers looking for in mobile experience? 24/7 access, features that track expenses and make it easier to save, easy P2P payment options, and enhanced security, to name a few.
“Generative AI, epitomized by the release of ChatGPT, empowers banks to provide hyper-personalized customer experiences like never before. By analyzing vast amounts of data and understanding individual preferences, banks can craft tailored financial solutions, recommend investment opportunities and offer real-time assistance that resonates with each customer's unique needs.”1
This is critical when you consider the fact that 70% of people rate personalization as “highly important” to their banking experience.2
2. Implementing and marketing sustainable banking practices
To most, the word connotes “going green” by choosing paper over plastic, recycling rather than committing trash to a landfill, or driving fewer miles. For financial institutions, that notion of sustainability barely scratches the surface. With growing pressure from customers, employees, the federal government, and a wide range of both state and federal regulatory agencies, banks must now address what is known as the “Triple Bottom Line” (TBL) – people, planet, and profit.
How? By incorporating sustainable banking practices into their lending, operations, human resources, and management of physical assets. Incorporate sustainability into your bank’s marketing strategy. Highlight eco-friendly initiatives, such as paperless options, green financing, or community sustainability projects. Demonstrate a commitment to environmental and social responsibility. Those banks that do, and act on internal and external sustainability initiatives, will ultimately have a competitive advantage.
3. Enhancing customer service with AI and ML
By automating the capture and analysis of customer interactions across various channels - such as chatbots, call logs, emails, and social media - artificial intelligence and machine learning can assist banks in gauging customer satisfaction levels and pain points, as well as responding more promptly to customer questions and concerns.
AI can power robust customer experience functions, such as chatbots, as well as help with processes such as gathering, storing, and validating customer data from across the enterprise. Machine learning can sift through emails, reviews, and other customer interactions to understand the sentiments behind them, thereby helping to predict customer behavior, enhance their experience, drive loyalty, and improve retention rates. All while adding greater efficiency and accuracy to manual, labor-intensive and error-prone, "human-in-the-loop" processes.
4. Leveraging social media platforms and messaging
Why are social media platforms the ideal messaging platforms for community banks? Because social media IS community. Unlike the large, national banks, community banks are in the business of participating in their communities and, importantly, helping people through relationships. Community banking, at its core, is about connecting with customers on a personal level. And isn’t that what social media is all about?
According to the ABA’s 2023 State of Social Media in Banking, “three out of four (76%) banking executives agree or strongly agree that social media is important to their banks.” And why not? After all, social platforms can do a great deal; help you connect with your customers, build relationships and trust, increase awareness about your brand, and boost your leads and sales. How will forward-thinking banks make use of these powerful engagement tools? They’ll introduce new products, cross sell, gain valuable insights into customer preferences and market trends, improve their customer service support, offer financial management guidance, celebrate their employees and community involvement, attract new talent … the list goes on.
5. Leveraging data for better decision making
Unstructured data, or "big data," is the data associated with a whole new world of data sources that includes social media, image and video files, document scans, webpages, blog posts, call center recordings, emails, analytics, metadata, and more. This data lacks a defined organization or pre-set pattern, can range in size from a few bytes to very large documents and represents, by far, the lion's share of the data that banks process daily. It's estimated, in fact, that 80-90% of data generated daily is unstructured and the growth of unstructured data is climbing at 55-65% each year.3
This is where automation can, again, play a key role. Leverage data analytics to make informed marketing decisions. Analyze customer behavior, preferences, and engagement patterns to refine marketing strategies. Use these insights to create targeted campaigns that resonate with specific customer segments and maximize marketing ROI.
Community bank marketing in 2024 is rich with opportunity. Forward-thinking banks will take steps toward Integrating sustainable business practices, making the most of digital innovations, engaging the community via social media, and offering a seamless, customer-centric experience from in-branch to “in-hand.” What we’re all learning is that the future of banking lies in embracing automation and harnessing the power of data to unlock new avenues of growth and success. And that future is now.
Bank Marketing Center
Here at bankmarketingcenter.com, our goal is to help you with that topical, compelling communication with customers; the messaging — developed by banking industry marketing professionals — that will help you build trust, relationships, and revenue. Now, through our partnership with ChatGPT, customizing our layouts is even faster and easier. With the addition of AI-assisted content development, our clients can very quickly generate articles they need for newsletters and blogs and any other content they might need in their marketing efforts.
To view our marketing creative, both print and digital – ranging from product and brand ads to social media and in branch signage – visit bankmarketingcenter.com. You can also contact me directly by phone at 678-528-6688 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. As always, I welcome your thoughts.
1Forbes. Enabling Next-Generation Customer Experiences Through Banking Innovation. September 7, 2023.
2Capco Intelligence: Insights for Investments to Modernize Digital Banking.
3CIO Insight. How Businesses Use Unstructured Data for Business Intelligence. February 15, 2023.