“Start a new diet. Exercise more. Watch less television.”
You might already feel sick and tired of hearing everyone’s New Year’s resolutions and half-baked promises.
Still — I have one absolutely critical challenge to offer as another year begins in earnest: “How are you going to communicate more effectively with your customers over the next 12 months?”
After all, you’re not the only one stressed about planning a more successful (and financially responsible) year for the books.
In fact, 36 percent of Americans are uncomfortable talking about money and 18 percent say money is a taboo subject in their families according to the American Psychological Association’s 2014 Stress in America survey results.
How can today’s forward-thinking banks leapfrog their competition to deliver more helpful, relevant service to stressed-out customers?
Today, I’m proposing three key shifts your business should make this year by embracing empathy to communicate with your customers more effectively and win lifelong fans.
1) Embrace More Helpful, Conversational Website Experiences
Increasingly, financial institutions face the same pressures faced by all businesses to create more personalized and interactive online experiences.
Looking for a starting place to make the most impact? Start by re-evaluating your website from your customer’s perspective. After all, it functions as the digital doormat to your company’s online presence.
The American Bankers Association has reported that adults age 18 to 34 are driving the growth in both online and mobile banking.
But, when was the last time you asked those same customers about their experience on your website?
Their answer carries more weight than you might suspect since visitors who report having a bad mobile user experience are 60 percent less likely to revisit and purchase from that business in the future.
Consider updating your website’s most visited sections to closely replicate the kind of experience you’d expect from an in-person conversation with your best employees.
Then, convert your online experience by using updated copy, adding frequently asked questions, and perhaps, incorporating live chat.
2) Offer Smarter Follow-Up To Engaged Contacts
Did you realize nearly 1 in 2 organizations don’t have a clearly defined digital marketing strategy?
Most growing businesses collect phone numbers, emails, and other details to create contact records for keeping in touch with prospective and current customers.
And yet... Most of those people are never, well, contacted. Or if they are reached, there's no long-term plan for helping those contacts which means they grow disengaged.
In contrast, contacts who are effectively followed-up with through regular messaging produce, on average, a 20 percent increase in sales opportunities versus non-nurtured contacts according to a recent Hubspot report.
It’s time to establish a more disciplined system of follow-up if your customer-facing teams don’t have one in place yet.
Continue to start conversations in-person at your physical locations and events, but don’t shy away from continuing to keep in touch via digital channels including email sequences and social media advertising.
These channels offer a distinct advantage over offline communication in one crucial area: context. It’s never been easier to show the right message to the right audience with laser precision based on criteria including location, financial behavior, and actions taken on your website.
Just like a talented personal assistant can appear to read your mind with the right information and preparation, your business can provide a concierge-like online experience to your customers by adapting to their individual context.
3) Explain Your Key Products and Success Stories With Videos
It’s official: Video is too massive and effective for businesses to turn a blind eye to the medium any longer.
In fact, 96 percent of consumers ages 18-34 watch a social video a few times a week and 75 percent of millennials watch at least one video daily.
Compounding this sweeping trend, studies have shown that audiences can retain drastically more information from videos than text. Viewers retain 95 percent of a message when they watch it in a video compared to 10 percent when reading it in text form.
Instead of drowning your customers in bullet-points and dry text, experiment with a short explainer video to recreate the same face-to-face experiences that would normally require an in-person visit to a physical branch location.
If nothing else, challenge yourself to start filming testimonials of your best customer success stories starting this month. Few things build trust with your visitors more quickly than seeing and hearing how your business impacted regular folks just like them.
Not sure how to start? Follow this simple (and fun) guide for creating the picture-perfect testimonial from Wistia.
Your website traffic will thank you for embracing short and long-form videos too. The average visitor spends an eyebrow-raising 88 percent more time on a website with video.
This Should Be the Year Your Marketing Breaks Free from the Competition
Marketing your financial institution these days is tough and constantly changing. There's no way around it!
Fortunately, banks, credit unions, and loan providers who listen to new, incoming generations of customers and move quickly to speak their language will find themselves with a massive advantage over their straggling peers.
Jumping to ask your customers how live chat, more human-sounding website copy, personalized emails, and helpful videos can cut down on financial confusion will pay handsome dividends in the near future.
So, what're you doing still reading this post? Go talk to your customers and let's make a game plan for marketing they'll actually love.