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Driving Growth for Financial Institutions

The ongoing blog about driving growth for financial institutions

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Touches Not Toasters To Acquire More Checking Accounts


In boardrooms all across America, teams are collaborating trying to answer age-old questions, “How do we grow core checking accounts?”   “How do we drive a younger demographic?”  And finally, “How can we reduce last year’s spend by 10%?”  The two answers that are uttered most are, “we should invest in building a sales culture” and “we should send targeted direct mail with an offer.”  The correct answer is not more of the same, it is simply more touches.  “Always on” is the new “free toaster.”  Here are a few tactical elements to consider for a checking acquisition campaign. 

Goal – The success of customer acquisition programs is often measured in the number of accounts opened (a misleading stat) vs. new households acquired (most accounts in traditional mail programs are actually opened by current customers).  This is the driving factor for ROI, but can be skewed based on how the analysis is conducted.  As marketers, our primary goal is to drive leads to the top of the funnel, nurture those leads, and ultimately try and drive them to an opening opportunity.  To think that 1 piece of mail (as a stand-alone) can accomplish each of these stage gates is ridiculous. 

Offer – Offer is still a vital part of any acquisition program.  The days have come and gone where a $10 toaster can drive activity.  The mega banks are offering $200 - $400 for a new account, but you don’t have to be the market leader.  Data suggests cash is king, listen to the data. 

Direct Mail – In conventional direct mail programs, around 50% of the response comes from the top 20% of the ranked carrier routes.  There is still a place for targeted direct mail, just not in the same volume as the old days.  This should be less than 25% of the overall budget yet still produce results.  When quantity is reduced and better targeted, both response and ROI will increase dramatically. 

Targeted Pay Per Click – PPC is the key to the top of the funnel.  “Always on” is the new buzzword in bank marketing and PPC is the workhorse.  A proper PPC campaign can drive qualified leads, enhance SEO efforts, and out market the mega banks without breaking the bank.  This tactic should be a constant for checking acquisition. 

Social Media – Social media, when executed properly, is the best channel to drive prospects to the offer.  The reason is because people that will see your offer or your content are friends of your customers.  Meaning, they live in your markets and have some connection to the bank.  Social takes some time to build, but the investment is worth it. 

Digital Referral – Most of the marketing effort is usually focused on driving pure prospects through their most shopped channels.  Marketers seem to forget that there is an army of loyal brand advocates who are happy to drive in business if provided a good platform and incentive.  A successful referral solution is both mobile and digital, uses social media, allows your customers to refer through every channel possible and is 100% automated.

E-mail -  Email is the key to lead nurturing.  Once the interested party is captured, email can be used to provide relevant content, enhance offers, or keep the offer top of mind with repeated communication. 

Retargeting – Retargeting is the other “always on” piece of the puzzle.  Retargeting is the workhorse that provides multiple exposures to interested consumers.  According to the Financial Brand, the average buying cycle for a checking account is 30 days from search.  Retargeting is the missing link for most promotions.   What if you could see every person who opened your direct mail, and then mail just those people every day for a month?  In digital, you can!

Commercial Content – Content is the missing tactical link in the marketing funnel.  As marketers, much attention is focused on channel and targeting, but once you have them… what do you tell them?  A good content plan will provide information around products and services (using the channel your prospect is most likely to utilize).  At CS3, we call it commercial content because if you have 30 seconds of screen share, why not show them a video rather than a white paper? 

Click here for more information regarding new customer acquisition with CS3 Marketing.

Patrick Grosserode