Digital Banking in 2020: Navigating Trends and Transformation Through Strategy

By August 18, 2020 September 10th, 2020 CCG Financial Services Marketing Blog

Plus, tips and tactics to leverage digital tools that can help you increase customer engagement during the pandemic.

Article Highlights

  • Digital banking solutions are key to meeting growing consumer expectations
  • Banks are increasingly engaging with customers through social media and other digital channels
  • Leveraging data can yield more relevant, personalized content delivered to the right customer at the right time
  • There are multiple opportunities to use digital channels to position your brand as a helpful, informative resource
  • Communicating a consistent voice, tone and message builds trust in uncertain times

Most banks welcomed 2020 with a familiar strategy: Continue to ramp up digital banking solutions to meet growing consumer expectations, while competing with traditional and fintech banks for customer loyalty. Then came the pandemic, closing many branches practically overnight and limiting most customers to online banking. While some banks found themselves more prepared than others, one thing quickly became apparent: Digital banking transactions — and digital customer interactions — are here to stay.

Below we share trends driving the future of digital banking, explore what’s needed for banks to truly transform their organizations moving forward, and look at digital strategies banks can start to implement now to retain customers and build long-term loyalty.

Digital Banking Trends

In recent years, digital banking trends have been influenced by consumers who have grown accustomed to their positive digital experiences with other industries and who expect a similar experience from their financial institutions. Before the pandemic, most banks were already rethinking the customer experience in order to meet customer needs and expectations, as well as to keep up with competition from fintech companies.

Current trends also show digital banking moving beyond younger demographics to include older consumers. In fact, digital channels are becoming the preferred way to connect with almost every age group and wealth group as consumers increasingly want to connect and transact whenever and wherever it’s most convenient.

While most banks were already incorporating some level of digital into their financial marketing strategies, the pandemic has increased the prioritization of digital products and services. Seventy percent of banks report having shifted marketing resources toward building better customer-facing digital experiences, while nearly 60% say they’re investing in new automation technologies to improve virtual communication with customers.1

 Other trends include an increased use of social media and other digital channels. This serves as an effective way to build brand loyalty and reassure customers during uncertain times by keeping them up to date with rapidly changing information about their bank and financial accounts.

Digital Transformation in Banking

When done well, an effective digital transformation can increase bank revenue and decrease costs while having a positive impact on the customer experience. Yet despite progress, many banks are still playing catch-up while confronting common barriers that prevent their organization from undergoing a seamless digital transformation. These obstacles often include dealing with internal silos, legacy systems and outdated processes.

While it doesn’t happen overnight, addressing the areas below can put your financial institution on the path to a stronger and more effective digital transformation.

  • Start at the top. It’s crucial for senior management to see the value in digital marketing and prioritize an organization-wide commitment to a digital strategy.
  • Get all departments and employees on board to create a cultural shift within your organization, focusing on innovation and cross-department collaboration.
  • Keep the focus of digital transformation on enhancing the customer experience.
  • Redesign operations to automate and streamline workflows rather than simply trying to digitize existing processes.
  • Focus on a multi-channel approach with ongoing measurement of results.

Focusing on customer expectations versus your products and services and taking small steps — starting with the tactics below — can help position your bank for digital success.

Digital Banking Strategies for Better Customer Engagement

Customer-centric digital tactics, like the ones below, allow banks to provide customers with the products, services and financial tools they need, when they need them. Now more than ever, customers need access to information and convenient tools to manage their finances. Banks that can deliver those products and services along with personal, relevant and empathetic communications on multiple channels are best positioned for success. Use these digital banking solutions to increase customer engagement now and in the future.

Leverage your data for customer insights.

Use the data you already have to guide decisions about which digital banking solutions will provide the most value to your customers. For instance, what tools, products and services are your customers using and not using? Segmenting your audiences by life stage, demographics and behaviors lets you create more relevant content and deliver it on a customer’s preferred channels, so they’ll be more likely to engage with and respond to your messages.

You can also leverage your data to better customize the digital experience to build deeper relationships. One way to do this is to examine how your customers’ needs have changed in the past six months. Can you anticipate solutions to enhance the customer journey by creating the right recommendations at the right time? For instance, you may be able to target customers who could benefit from a loan refinance or who are exploring options to pay for their child’s college education.

Position your digital banking channels and platforms as a helpful resource.

Many bank call centers are overwhelmed right now as customers navigate the ever-changing uncertainty of the economy and their financial lives. Use this as an opportunity to help your customers by including answers to commonly asked questions on your website home page and through other digital channels.

Additional tactics include using your bank’s digital channels to educate customers about remote banking, such as how to check account balances and how to download and navigate your bank’s mobile app. You could even create a how-to video for your less tech-savvy customers on how to deposit a check using mobile banking.

With branches closed and face-to-face interactions limited, look for ways to use digital channels to establish personal relationships remotely. For example, provide personalized digital onboarding for new checking account customers, offer online loan applications or offer the ability to meet with bank lenders via video or online chat. Provide convenient online options to help customers better manage their financial lives, such as making it easy to check current interest rates or access information about retirement planning on your website.

Use content marketing to educate, inform and build trust.

Create and distribute informative personal finance content across the digital channels that are already part of your customers’ daily lives and on topics they care about. For example, you could provide access to a digital resource center on your website and app, filled with personal finance articles. Then link to the content through your digital newsletters and social media channels.

To enhance engagement even more, give customers the option to tell you how and when they want to engage with you. Preference centers and customer surveys are two ways you can do that.

Preference centers let your customers tell you how often and on what channels they prefer to receive your communications. Create a preference center page on your website that provides a list of channels to choose from, such as email, text and direct mail. Include frequency options, such as weekly or monthly. Include categories of content that customers can select, such as “personal finance tips,” “special offers” or “company news.” Make your preference center page convenient and easily accessible by including links to it in emails, on other areas of your website and on your mobile app.

Customer surveys are a cost-effective way to learn about customers’ specific interests. This can help ensure that you’re delivering the value-added content they want to read. For example, some customers might want to learn more about saving and budgeting, whereas others might be interested in articles about retirement planning strategies.

Case study: See how content survey insights increased content relevance — and clicks— for one Midwestern bank.

Enhance the customer experience by providing exceptional customer service.

Create a better digital banking experience for your customers by focusing on understanding and responding to your customers’ needs at every touchpoint. Leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) tools to more efficiently provide access to customer service 24/7 can complement your existing customer service channels by helping your institution respond to customer needs in real time. For example, chatbots or interactive videos can direct customers to digital tools, answer their basic questions about bank products and services, or help with a password reset request.

Aim for consistent messaging across all channels.

Communication is more important than ever during times of uncertainty — as consumers seek access to information and resources that help them make decisions. A consistent voice, tone and message will reassure consumers, whenever and however they choose to interact with your brand. Make sure that any information you’re posting or distributing is accurate and up to date across channels. This makes it easier for customers to quickly find what they’re looking for on the channels of their choice.

The Future of Digital Banking

While it’s impossible to predict the future, one thing is certain. Digital banking transactions and the need for digital engagement are here to stay. By focusing on the digital banking solutions above, today’s financial marketers can set their organizations up for long-term customer engagement success and stronger ROI.

If you’re ready to advance your digital marketing strategy or want to refine or audit your current approach, we can help. CCG’s financial marketing experts have more than 40 years of experience working with digital strategy, data and analytics, digital content and design. For a free consultation, click below or call us today at 303.986.3000.

1 “Digital Channels Critical to Financial Marketers in the COVID Economy,” Jim Marous, The Financial Brand, published July 13, 2020, https://thefinancialbrand.com/98301/financial-marketing-importance-increase-during-covid-digital-social-trends/, accessed July 30, 2020

Greg Sultan

Author Greg Sultan

Greg Sultan is CCG’s senior vice president, financial strategist. With more than two decades of experience in the sales and marketing industry, he understands client needs and how to both establish meaningful goals and plan a path to reach them. He brings a problem-solving mindset to help clients with their database marketing and custom direct-marketing programs.

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