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How Marketing Automation Can Help Your Bank Tackle the Top 10 Strategic Priorities for Banking in 2017

Digital Marketing

How Marketing Automation Can Help Your Bank Tackle the Top 10 Strategic Priorities for Banking in 2017

Eric Cook by Eric Cook

Chief Digital Strategist

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Full biography

Eric considers himself a “recovering banker” of 15 years, who for the past eleven years has focused his efforts as a digital strategist, helping his clients (mostly community banks) better understand and leverage the power of the Internet as a strategic business tool. An award-winning web designer with WSI, the world’s largest digital agency network, Eric is a two-time contributing author to the best-selling book Digital Minds – 12 Things Every Business Needs to Know About Digital Marketing. Consistently rated in the top five digital marketing books on Amazon, the book is in its second edition and available in three languages.

A sought-after, nationally-recognized speaker in the financial services industry, Eric is a member of the National Speakers Association and loves sharing his knowledge to help educate and inspire others. He is the co-creator of a weekly webinar show called Free Webinar Wednesdays, founder of the Banker Education Series webinar series, and serves as a faculty member at several banking schools around the country where he teaches bankers about digital strategy, online marketing and social media. He is a WSI Certified LinkedIn Professional and holds undergraduate degrees in business administration and psychology. While working full-time as a community banker, Eric earned his MBA and completed the three-year Graduate School of Banking program in Madison, WI in 2003.

Professionally, Eric helps his clients in all areas of digital marketing, which includes mobile-responsive web development, search engine marketing and optimization, social media strategies, e-mail communication, and “big-picture” digital strategic planning. He’s the co-founder of, a service created to help businesses understand their risk when it comes to operating in today’s digital world. When he’s not helping his clients succeed online, he can typically be found on one of his many bicycles training for his next mountain bike/triathlon race or spending time with his wife and two (very spoiled) golden retrievers.



It’s no secret I’m a big fan of the website The Financial Brand.

For those of us that play in the banking and financial services space, it’s hard to visit their site and not spend half the day reading all the great articles on strategy, social media, digital change, fintech, etc. It’s like a candy store of awesome content and I typically get at least a half-dozen ideas to share with my banking friends every time I stop by. If you’re not subscribed to their email newsletter, you should do that now.

Recently the co-publisher of The Financial Brand and publisher of the Digital Banking Report, Jim Marous, posted an article entitled “Top 10 Strategic Priorities for Banking in 2017” and I literally got goosebumps while reading it (yes, for real). The reason for my excitement was that while reading over the list of ten items, just about every single one of them can be accomplished with a marketing automation system, one of the newer technologies that I’ve recently added to my digital marketing bag of tricks to help our customers with their online efforts.

Marketing Automation for BanksWhat Is Marketing Automation?

If you’ve not yet heard of the term, not to worry. Based on my conversations with banks over the past several months, marketing automation is not (yet) a household term. To provide us with a definition for starters, Wikipedia defines marketing automation as: “Software platforms and technologies designed for marketing departments and organizations to more effectively market on multiple channels online (such as email, social media, websites, etc.) and automate repetitive tasks.”

Sure, as the name implies it does a great job with marketing, but it also does so much more. While you may think that it only addresses “marketing” challenges based on the definition, marketing automation can become an important part of your overall digital strategy and help with the following top ten strategic priorities for 2017.

Top Strategic Priorities for Financial Institutions in 2017

Below is the graphic originally shared on The Financial Brand’s site to give you a visual rundown of the Top 10 items. Below the graphic, I’ll mention each one individually and share some thoughts on how marketing automation can help address each of these items.

Top Strategic Priorities for Financial Institutions in 2017

#1 Improve the Digital Customer Experience

This one was by far the most selected item, and given the “digitization” of society I’m not surprised. While marketing automation won’t be able to improve your bank’s online banking system or mortgage application process, it can help provide a better digital experience with your customers, automatically delivering content they want, when they want it. You can also use marketing automation to provide a personalized onboarding process, welcoming each of your new customers to the bank and providing them with an easy way to let you know what other services they’d like from their bank. You can even take visitor metrics and preferences to customize website content and offers based on their activity, making the entire “digital experience” one that is unique and relevant at the individual customer level.

#2 Enhance Data Analytics Capabilities

Imagine if you could identify the actual names of the visitors that come to your website, based on past involvement with your bank. Sure, Google Analytics reveals data such as visits, time on site, bounce rates, etc. But imagine if I could know when a specific customer is on the site, what pages they’ve been looking at, what files they are downloading and if they’ve been opening my email messages. All of this data helps pick the right time for a follow-up call or position a conversation the next time I see them. With marketing automation, the amount of data that’s now available about digital engagement with your customers and those interacting with you online is mind-blowing! You can even combine your visitor metrics with third-party data such as customer profitability or other service preferences, and you’ve got one powerful data tool to help ensure you really know what’s going on.

As an example, let’s say you send out an email to new checking account customers as part of an onboarding program thanking them for selecting your bank. In that email, you provide them with a link to come back to your website and let you know what other types of services they may be interested in down the road. The actions of opening the email, clicking the link and visiting your website are all now tracked and recorded in the marketing automation system. It now has the individual’s device information (computer, phone or both) and from then on, is able to track when that person is back on your site, engaging with your brand online and when they may be ready for that next service recommendation. All of this can happen automatically, which makes the process super efficient (and cost effective… see #3).

#3 Reduce Operating Costs

With marketing automation in place, the process of handling each interaction individually is taken care of by the technology, not staff. There’s a bit of work on the front end defining the processes, content and responses necessary based on visitor actions. But, once these are in place the system can operate autonomously on the bank’s behalf. Don’t worry, that doesn’t mean you have no control though. The process can (and should) be reviewed on a regular basis using data (see #2) to determine what is working, and what may need to be changed.

#4 Increase Investment in Innovation

Until now, there’s a good chance if you’re a community banker that you’ve not heard (much) about the concept of marketing automation. The technology used to provide this type of personalized service has been evolving over the years, but we are by no means using it at its fullest potential. Embracing marketing automation puts your bank in the “innovative bucket” by putting technology to work for you in making your connections more efficient, timely and relevant.

#5 Meet Regulatory and Compliance Requirements

Let’s talk about email for a minute. When a loan officer or branch manager creates an email on their own that may be promoting a product or service you offer, are you 100% certain that it’s compliant? While I’m sure you provide training and for the most part they probably are, the reality is you may not be able to be sure. With marketing automation, you can have literally hundreds of different email messages all done (and compliance approved) for just about any type of product offer or service recommendation you can think of. Plus, when you use marketing automation to send the messages, that opens up access to data metrics (again, see #2) as the system tracks who opens up the message, clicks on links and visits your site.

#6 Update or Replace Components of the Core Operating System

Ok I’ll be honest, this one may be difficult to accomplish using marketing automation. But if you do decide to make a change to your core, one of the things to keep in mind is that marketing automation is core-agnostic. It really doesn’t care what system you’re using and if you make a change all of the data, tracking and other important information remains in-tact.

#7 Recruit and Train Talent

If your bank is looking to acquire new talent and in growth mode, adding marketing automation to the careers section of your site is a great way to consistently deliver helpful information to interested applicants. And, because the tracking code looks at all the variables of where someone came from to get to your site, what pages they are looking at, how long they spend on the site (and more), you’ll gain some valuable insight on just how interested the candidate is in working at your bank.

#8 Improve Business Processes

Sure, this one is #8 on the list and may not be the most important one, but this is where marketing automation shines. Because the system is at its best when it’s delivering content that follows a business process, simply going through the configuration effort helps you really understand what is happening (or what should be happening) for your critical business processes. What information do you normally send someone interested in buying a house for the first time? What are some of the things that you want to remind your online banking customers about when it comes to staying safe online? You pick the business function and with marketing automation we’ll build the process together.

#9 Enhance Security and Authentication

Keeping your bank (and your customers) safe online should be a “top 10” priority, especially these days. With marketing automation, important information can be shared with your customers efficiently and consistently so that you’re educating them on ways to stay safe (not just using the service to solicit product sales). Plus, email delivered via marketing automation is verified via DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail), which is part of the validation process for any .bank email service, so customers will know it’s legit (and the information will get delivered).

#10 Partner With Fintech Providers

I’m not going to classify marketing automation as fintech, but if your bank is looking to partner with one of these companies to “step up its innovation game” the good news is that most of them likely provide API (Application Programming Interface) connectivity. While some of the core systems still operate in a closed world, with an API available, data can be exchanged with other systems to further provide a rich and relevant experience for the end user. The solution WSI uses offers a robust Zapier library (a service that has some pre-configured integration options), as well as an open API to support all types of incoming and outgoing data.

The Ideal Marketing Automation Solution

Here at WSI, we’ve been big fans of marketing automation for several years, and recently announced a new partnership with one of the best marketing automation platforms, SharpSpring. I encourage you to learn more about our marketing automation solutions and would love to talk further and set up a demo. We can then talk about which of these “top 10” items are on your list for 2017 and how marketing automation will be able to help.


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