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Bank Communications: Thumbs Up or Down?

Bank Communications: Thumbs Up or Down?

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New Report Rates Bank Communications Effectiveness During A Year of Global Financial Turmoil -- The CMO Council Survey of 120 Bank Marketers Highlights Need for Greater Customer Reassurance and Use of New Digital Media to Engage, Educate, and Inform in Real Time.
 


PALO ALTO, CA (first issued Dec, 20, 2011) - The intense global media and regulatory scrutiny of the financial services industry is giving bank marketers pause for thought. Many are re-evaluating and assessing the best way to communicate, maintain customer confidence, and quickly respond to anxiety or fear, reports the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council in a new report released today.

Entitled "Delivering Positive Impressions During Market Depressions," the year-end survey of 120 marketers, sponsored by True North Custom Media, reveals that 87 percent of those surveyed in the last quarter of this year report that the current financial market turmoil is creating a difficult environment that is challenging them to reassure and more effectively communicate with their customers. Download the report at www.cmocouncil.org/positive-impressions.

Leading contributors to complexity and pressure include stepped up regulatory and legal scrutiny and attention; less public trust and more skepticism; and greater customer demand for information and contact. The majority of bank marketers surveyed (89 percent) note that customers have moderate, growing, or high levels of anxiety about the state of their finances based on insights gleaned from customer behavior studies and engagement channels. The most revealing include:

Customer feedback and listening systems
Call center inquiries and interactions
Customer relationship manager input
Account closures or withdrawals
Formal surveys and polls of customers

"Bank marketers, while highly sensitized to risk and regulatory considerations, are looking to improve their game when it comes to personalized, real-time interaction with critical audiences," notes Donovan Neale-May, Executive Director of the CMO Council. "However, this needs to be emphasized during uncertain times, as well as part of a continuous communications program that maximizes the lifetime value and profitability of customer relationships."

Only 19 percent of bank marketers believe they are doing a good job of leveraging the timeliness and value of digital media in their customer engagement programs. However, 82 percent expect to increase the adoption and use of new channels of content delivery, community, conversation, and interaction.

In this regard, they view digital media as offering:

Lower production costs
Quicker turnaround
Better measurement and tracking
Greater adaptability and versatility
More engaging and compelling content delivery

Surprisingly, less than half of bank marketers have formal strategies and contingency programs for handling customer concerns and increased information demands during times of financial market disruption and uncertainty. Some 49 percent either don't have a program or are scrambling to put this in place. In most cases, bank marketers are either allocating additional resources or adding new capabilities to deal with stepped up communications demands. Some 32 percent say they have already done so, while 20 percent expect they will.

Human interaction still remains the preferred choice for bank customers when they have inquiries or concerns. Marketers say account relationship managers (54 percent), call centers (52 percent), and branch office visits (48 percent) are the most common ways for bank customers to field requests or handle queries. Websites (29 percent) and email (22 percent) are growing sources of inquiry and interaction as well, while mobile messaging (2 percent) is still in its infant stages in the US market.

Looking ahead, bank marketers are seeing a big shift from print to digital media channels. Custom magazines, once a staple of customer relationship marketing, are being by eclipsed by more cost-effective, sustainable, and interactive rich-media options. Preferred ways of delivering brand marketing content today include:

Internet websites (76 percent)
Social media network pages and postings (47 percent)
Online or mobile video segments (41 percent)
Print magazines (39 percent)
Online communities and affinity groups (31 percent)

Factors influencing the selection of digital media channels by bank marketers include Internet research and fact-finding; growth of social networking; business and customer engagement; website analysis and registrations; and market forecasts and predictions.

"While marketers tend to rely primarily on websites to inform consumers, many are finding that custom content in the form of e-newsletters, print publications, videos, mobile content, and other media is highly effective in attracting consumer attention and providing valuable information to assist them with daily financial matters," says Jason Skinner, CMO of True North Custom Media. "Leveraging custom, integrated content to engage specific consumers with content that is truly relevant to them may go a long way in regaining consumer confidence."

When it comes to measuring the performance of branded content, bank marketers rely the most on the following metrics:

Customer acquisition (66 percent)
Reaction and response levels (62 percent)
Loyalty and retention rates (55 percent)
Circulation and readership (42 percent)
Branch and field force feedback (41 percent)

About the CMO Council (continued...)

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