Industry Perspective: Local Banking

Posted on May 11th, 2020 by Kim Odom

All banking customers want to know their financial institutions are strong, stable and reliable, even more so during times of crisis. This includes both retail customers and commercial clients who trust their local banking institutions to provide sound and helpful advice. 

There is no doubt the economic impact of COVID-19 is huge, and the finance industry has not been excluded in that. Banks are feeling the impact as lending needs are increasing. As soon as congress enacted the Paycheck Protection Program, banks quickly responded by distributing funds. With record unemployment, banks are working with customers to provide relief from loan repayments and fees. Unemployment and lower interest rates will cause savings to slow. Lower interest rates will also lead to an increase in mortgage loans and refinance needs. Banks also continue to compete with financial tech companies that attract consumers who do not feel the need to have a traditional bank. Many of these are currently promoting their services during COVID-19. 

So what can traditional banks do for advertising during hard economic hardships?

First, keep creating content. Next, remember that messaging is key during this time. And finally, make sure you are reaching your target audience even when many of their habits have changed with shelter in place.

Continuing to create content for your consumers during this time is more important than ever before because it illustrates your ability to be there for them no matter how hard a time. A desire for financial education and advice will increase among all ages. Try creating ongoing educational programs to hold online or whitepapers for download. These can be easily promoted on social media channels which have also seen increased usage and engagement.

When it comes to messaging, the message should be more about its customers and how it supports the community on a regular basis (not just during hard times) and less about gaining new customers. Many local stations are running encouraging “We are in This Together” messages and including local advertisers in the ads. Try securing opportunities like this as added value and have bank employees included in the messaging. Beyond that, consumers are looking for financial solutions and safety.  Now is a good time to promote products or tools that help manage finances or promote online banking tools that limit the need for in-branch transactions. Keep in mind that while most consumers have adopted online banking there is still an older population that does not embrace technology and online banking.

The average consumer’s daily lifestyle, including the use of media, has drastically changed during this time. Utilizing data is crucial in order to ensure you are incorporating the right tactics and the best strategy in order to reach consumers. TV is experiencing its highest ratings in years, and CTV and OTT advertising during this time grew exponentially, although it is now beginning to level out. In analyzing a client in the local banking industry, RADaR Analytics was able to find that Programmatic Display ads, that are typically responsible for driving most of the website traffic, displayed an average CTR 36% lower in 2020 in comparison to 2019, and a higher cost (CPC 117% and CPM 33%) even with a budget similar to 2019. Additionally, Social platforms, specifically Facebook, increased website traffic by more than 142% in the month of March. These are some key points to keep in mind when figuring out how to make sure your message is reaching your audience.

The next few months will be interesting as to how businesses will change and adapt and the economy begins to reopen. However, no matter the circumstance, local banking will continue to have an important role in helping communities and local businesses grow.

Kim Odom joined True Media in 2005. She serves as Associate Media Director overseeing strategy and account management on a variety of accounts. Kim has over 25 years’ experience ranging from traditional media buying to account planning.