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Banks and Credit Unions: Marketing Automation is the Key to Successful Onboarding

by: SilverTech

As traditional banks and credit unions battle their digital counterparts for increased wallet share and new household relationships, victories are being won in the first 90 days after new accounts are opened. In this first 90 days, the “onboarding” period, research has shown that a customer or member’s lifetime value and profitability has essentially been set in stone. Further, according to the Financial Brand, there is a 25-40% rate of attrition among the top 100 financial institutions within the first year and a $400 negative impact of each attrited customer. An effective onboarding program can lessen this hemorrhaging and ensure that within those first 90 days you have built the trust, confidence, and brand loyalty necessary to maintain life-long, mutually beneficial relationships.

Most banking professionals understand the critical importance of an onboarding program, yet many traditional institutions are still using manual processes to onboard new customers. Why is this? Is it the fear of failing to comply with Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti Money Laundering (AML) requirements? Is it that the process is owned by too many departments? The answer is probably yes to both of these questions. But, perhaps too, it has to do with not having the right tools to solve this problem. Enter marketing automation.

Marketing Automation Has Been Sold All Wrong

The pitch for a marketing automation platform usually centers around getting better leads and personalizing communications. For sure, these are valuable benefits. However, many of the traditional banks and credit unions that we work with are already very good at this. Most have a solid traffic flow to their websites and have built a recognizable brand within their communities, and those with an integrated customer relationship management (CRM) tool can personalize communications and make individualized recommendations. The struggle for these institutions is not attracting new customers, it’s keeping them and deepening the relationships over time.

Banks and credit unions that have implemented a marketing automation platform are often under-utilizing it or more correctly, wrongly-utilizing it. Again, back to the sales pitch, these institutions don’t necessarily need to automate the processes related to lead generation because frankly they can’t be automated. Commercial clients are still won through personal networks and residential clients are still won through community involvement, educational and referral programs, and a combination of traditional marketing and (non-automated) digital marketing efforts. Your institution is not going to stop sending your commercial bankers to networking events or scrap your in-branch educational seminars because it has a marketing automation platform.

For traditional banks and credit unions, marketing automation’s true value is in the post-acquisition phase of client relationships. There are several processes that can be automated after the relationship has been won, but for the remainder of this post we will focus on the “onboarding” process.

Onboarding with Marketing Automation

Oftentimes, banks and credit unions don’t want to overburden their new clients with too many communications. This is based on a misconception that new clients don’t want to be messaged after account opening. The Financial Brand cites several research studies where “satisfaction and cross-sell success both improve as the number of contacts are increased up to 4 times, and is still effective if the consumer is communicated with as many as seven times during the first 90 days.” It’s hard to imagine personal bankers maintaining this pace of communication with every new account that they open. Fortunately, this is what marketing automation does really well.

An onboarding program is essentially a drip program or nurture program where emails are sent to certain prospects based on activity or the passage of time. Typically, drip programs are used to nurture leads until they are ready to purchase. Here we can use them to nurture new customers into loyal ones.

Consider the volume of information received at the time of account opening. In addition, to the aforementioned disclosures, new customers are given marketing brochures for all of the possible accounts they could have opened and all of the possible services they could have added on. The likelihood of an interested party processing all of that information is next to zero. So, imagine the 20-year-old who wants to open a checking account with an instant issue debit card and the ability to deposit checks on their phone. The only things they are going to hear are those that relate to the services they came in for. Though they may be a great fit for student loan consolidation, a credit card, and bill pay, pushing those ancillary services at account opening will only serve to overwhelm and disengage. After they have left your branch, your banker can tag or add the new client to a list that “drips” that information out over the next 90 days.

Another onboarding benefit marketing automation offers is the ability to segment and personalize. The drip campaign that our 20-year-old has been added to won’t be the right fit for a 45-year-old homeowner. Using personas, you can build multiple drip campaigns that meet the needs of several different segments of your new client base. At a minimum, I can envision an onboarding drip campaign for student clients, savings/investment clients, homeowner clients, and business clients. Once you have appropriately segmented, marketing automation allows you to personalize the communications with first name data or company data for the business owner. Though this is no substitute for the hand-written thank you note sent after an account opening, it perfectly complements the human connection.

A further benefit of marketing automation is the ability to create landing pages. Landing pages are purposefully isolated from your website to allow the visitor to focus on a particular offer or piece of information. As you begin to introduce your new 20-year-old client to the benefits of student loan consolidation, you can guide them on a student loan specific landing page. There they will not find home equity banner ads or branch locations and ATMs, simply information on the benefits of student loan consolidation.

The final benefit of using marketing automation to improve your onboarding program is the ability to measure results. You will gain insight into what offers resonate with your new clients and what offers don’t. You will gain insight into how much time a new client spends with your brand and a sense of their loyalty and satisfaction. These, and the many other strategic insights that a marketing automation platform can yield, will help you demonstrate marketing ROI and combat the 25-40% rate of attrition and the $400 negative impact cited above.