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Earning Digital Marketing Buy-In From Bank Executives

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As a bank marketer you're already aware of the value of digital marketing, so how can you get executive buy-in?

Since we work exclusively in the banking industry, we’ve had a whole lot of conversations with bank marketers about digital. As you might expect, most marketers we talk to are eager to implement digital strategies like search engine optimizationpay per click advertisingmarketing automation, and content marketing for their bank or credit union. Hardly ever do we meet someone in marketing who isn’t excited about the reach, targeting, and tracking that digital marketing can offer financial institutions. So why aren’t more FIs incorporating digital into their marketing plans? Often we find that bank executives are not yet on board.

Given our experience in digital marketing, we firmly believe that bank executives should get on board! We’re passionate about helping local banks thrive, and digital marketing is a powerful medium we believe every financial institution should be taking advantage of to reach new prospects, engage customers, and grow their brand. Whether your goal is to increase deposit accountsgenerate new mortgage leads, or acquire new business loan clients, there is a digital marketing strategy to help you achieve your objective. The hard truth is, while your bank is sitting it out on the sidelines, many of your local competitors (and all of your national competitors) are using digital strategies to grow their presence in your local market. Your bank’s conservative stance on internet marketing for fear of compliance, legal, or other reasons is giving more aggressive competitors a distinct advantage in today’s connected world. Competitors you might not even worry about in the real world are also enjoying a unique opportunity to gain local market share online.

So what’s a bank marketer to do?

Focus On The Facts

Since bank executives are often unfamiliar with digital marketing strategies such as search engine optimization, a succinct visual format focused on ROI can be especially effective:

In order to convince your executive team to give you the green light on a digital strategy, it’s important to speak their language. Avoid making your appeal about you, him, or her. Instead, avoid all the egos by directing your executive team’s attention to actual data. Here are a few digital marketing stats to help you get the conversation started:

  • [importance of content marketing] Content marketing generates 3 times as many leads as traditional outbound marketing, but costs 62% less. (ragan)
  • [importance of SEO] SEO leads have a 14.6% close rate, while outbound leads (such as direct mail or print advertising) have a 1.7% close rate. (Search Engine Journal)
  • [importance of search marketing] 70% of consumers look online for deposit products before opening an account. (The Financial Brand)
  • [importance of mobile marketing] Nearly 60% of all internet traffic in the US is from mobile devices (statista)
  • [pure peer pressure] 80% of companies plan to increase their digital marketing budgets (AdvertisingAge)

As you can see, the data is certainly on your side! After all, nearly every aspect of digital marketing is measurable, unlike many traditional marketing channels that your executive team may already be comfortable investing in.

Take a Phased Approach

Now that you have the executive team’s attention, you can build up their confidence in digital by slowly introducing digital tactics into your existing marketing strategy. Is your bank currently running billboards, radio, or television advertising? These campaigns come with considerable expense, a short shelf-life, and frustratingly vague value. Digital marketing can help measure the impact of these traditional campaigns and also improve their effectiveness through use of landing pages, tracking numbers, tracking URLs, personalized URLs (PURLs) and remarketing ads.

After you’ve successfully implemented digital tactics to improve your traditional marketing campaigns, you can more effectively measure the true impact of these efforts. Now is the perfect time to let the data do the talking; ask your executive team for approval to test the ROI of your current marketing campaigns against a purely digital campaign. Any digital marketer worth their salt would be delighted to face-off their pay per click ad campaigns against a billboard or radio spot. Simply allocate the same amount of ad spend towards your digital PPC campaign that you’re investing in billboards and see which campaign has better ROI after the chosen test period. Once your executive team can see real results from digital they should (hopefully) be a lot more receptive!

Align Digital Strategy to Strategic Goals

How many Facebook likes does it take to close a commercial real estate loan? The better question is- who cares?

Instead of trying to rally the marketing committee or executive team around vanity metrics, use real KPIs for your digital efforts to substantiate the investment. By defining leading and lagging indicators you can more effectively translate digital marketing jargon into a business case for your strategy. Even if you’re not sure of what your target numbers should be, at least you can benchmark your growth over time using the established success criteria.

How Not to Pitch Digital Marketing to Bank Executives

When earning buy-in for a digital marketing strategy, it’s important to try and put yourself in the shoes of bank executives. Just like any other marketing campaign, it’s worth mapping out what’s most important to decision makers and what barriers might exist. Executives want to maximize profits and minimize risk; they’re much less excited about the latest marketing trend or tactic. Keeping this perspective in mind, here are a few approaches to avoid with your digital marketing pitch:

Meaningless metrics – Facebook likes, click through rates, inbound links, and average ad position might be of value to you as a marketer, but not so much for an executive. Instead, focus on how digital marketing will impact the metrics executives care about: cost per lead, lead volume, mobile banking adoption rate, customer acquisition cost, conversion rate by channel, unique website visitors, etc.

Trendy marketing – We all know that most banks are quite conservative with, well, everything. If you are working towards initial buy-in for digital marketing, it’s probably not in your best interest to lead with Snapchat. True, the unbelievable growth and reach of a popular digital channel like Snapchat advertising is certainly appealing for marketers and may very well be a great opportunity for your bank or credit union- but one step at a time. Less than 1% of all financial institutions are using Snapchat right now, so if your executive team is hesitant about SEO or PPC advertising you’re not likely to get the nod for augmented reality.

Tech-talk – Yes, bank leaders want to understand how you plan to achieve results, but don’t steer the conversation into a technical TED Talk. Instead, help them understand how digital marketing works at a macro level, then show them how it can help improve the metrics they care most about. Look for examples and case studies from other banks (especially competitors) that can walk your executive team through a digital strategy from launch to results.





Final Thoughts on Earning Executive Buy-In For Digital

We know that earning executive buy-in for anything always comes with unique challenges and unforeseen push-back. Try to cover your bases by first educating yourself on the basics of digital marketing, then by understanding how it’s currently being utilized in the banking industry. Remember, you’re not alone! There are a number of bank marketing events and online forums out there to network, share, and commiserate together. You’ll also find a lot of useful resources and publications from marketing vendors who have a focus on banking. As always, don’t hesitate to contact our team with your questions or concerns, we love bank marketing and are happy to help you!

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