Our team recently returned from the American Banker’s Association (ABA) Bank Marketing Conference. In addition to networking with bank marketers from around the country (and racing around our “Sphero” app-controlled gadget), our team conducted a survey of bankers regarding marketing goals for 2017 and channel preferences to achieve these goals. Here are the results from a sampling of 45 bank marketers:

Question 1- Rank Your Top 3 Marketing Priorities for 2017
We’ve always said, “The checking account is king,” and apparently ABA attendees agreed.  31% of respondents ranked “Checking Acquisition” as their #1 priority for 2017, and 56% ranked it in the top 3 priorities. “Mortgage Lending” was in the top 2 priorities for 33% of those surveyed. “Business Growth” came in third overall and “Cross-Sell” came in fourth. No surprises here. The checking account is at the crux of growth in share of household, and with the real estate market as hot as it has been, mortgage lending needs to be a priority for all banks.

Interestingly, “New Product Launch” and “Equity Lending” fell to the bottom of the list. With the growing opportunity for equity lending corresponding with the rapid increase in home values, it is surprising that more banks aren’t taking advantage of this trend.

Question 2 – What are your Top Channel Preferences for 2017?
So we know what the goals are. How are banks planning to reach these goals?

An overwhelming 49% of those surveyed plan to make “Digital Display and Social Media” their top channel preference for 2017. This was a telling, though not surprising statistic. The conference buzz, from talks at the booth to the speakers and breakout sessions focused largely on more targeted digital marketing, but sentiments from bankers throughout the conference were “How can we do it more effectively?” So although digital and social was defined as a top priority, the colloquial takeaway was that many bankers are still shrugging their shoulders on how to more effectively market digitally.

“Email Marketing” followed in second place for the channel of choice in 2017, with “Direct Mail” coming in a close 3rd. As the more traditional direct marketing channels, it was no surprise to see these high on the list.  Another hot topic at the conference was pairing these more direct channels with what was traditionally viewed as more broadcast digital channels (display and social). It was refreshing to share some strategies with our peers about how to effectively target using digital media, and sync digital efforts to a direct marketing list or model. Rounding out the survey were “Search/SEO” and “Print/Broadcast Media.”

So what did we learn from the survey and conversations at the Conference?

  • Bankers realize that display, social and other targeted digital advertising are core to business growth, especially when reaching Millennials
  • Although expanding digital efforts was a key priority, many bank marketers weren’t sure where to start, and placing budget dollars on an “uncertainty” was daunting
  • Checking accounts still drive core business growth and new account acquisition using direct mail paired with other targeted digital  channels is the best practice
  • Banks are still alive and well! Although online banking and online-only banks have taken a dig at the branch model, other value added services are making the human touch still incredibly valuable to customersCan’t wait to see everybody at next year’s Bank Marketing Conference!