Get your digital game face on – added-value marketing with a sense of fun
Today’s hyper-connected retail world presents many challenges to financial institutions, but an information-rich society that thrives on social media reputations also presents particular problems for various retail segments. Small businesses and merchants may accept the need to market their services digitally, but shifting to the online marketplace is often problematic. Similarly, how can banks engage better with a consumer client base that operates exclusively through digital interfaces and smartphone apps?
You Can’t Do It All
Small business owners are used to being a Jack-of-all-trades; sales, financial, product and marketing manager, along with still being a frontline employee. But digital marketing presents new challenges to people who have little or no time to become experts at expanding a growing digital presence. Merchants and other small business owners now expect more value from their technology providers than ever before and prefer simplified relations, ideally getting all services from a single source.
Maximizing Digital Visibility
Merchants need a simplified holistic solution in order to compete and maximize business potential. There are now emerging solutions that combine many areas of digital marketing into a very simplified suite of tools that allow non-experts to do more than just have a basic digital presence, these platforms actively build a business through a smart, comprehensive and all-encompassing digital footprint. A digital marketing portal provides huge value to merchants by moving the conversation from simply a matter of product price point, to taking advantages of additional services that will positively impact the business. A marketing portal allows the merchant to better understand how their business is performing online and to help acquire, retain and grow customers by focusing on three core digital marketing services: listings, reputation, and social media presence.
Digital listings are how customers find merchants when they search online and a listings score represents how prevalent and accurate your business information is across popular websites like Google, Bing and Yahoo. Accuracy and consistency across these sites is critical for acquiring new customers and to search engine optimization ranking. Do not underestimate the importance, almost three-quarters of customers lose trust in a business when the online listings are not uniform.
A poor online reputation or a low customer rating are potential deal breakers with around 90 percent of consumers avoiding establishments with a low rating. It is increasingly routine for consumers to rate and review their experience with businesses and merchants, and more importantly, customers also rely on online reviews to guide buying decisions. The higher the business’s online rating, the more customers are acquired.
An active social media presence on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram is an excellent way to engage with customers, encourage repeat business and increase wallet share. Marketing portals can connect all social media accounts to enable merchants to manage, track and engage with customers centrally. But the conversation needs to be interactive, demanding a proactive approach to replying to comments to demonstrate loyalty and drive referrals.
Banks themselves face new challenges from the digital marketplace in terms of how best to engage customers through increasingly digital interactions. The digital experience offered by many banks has become somewhat commoditized. However, the evolution of better and cheaper data access, social media, and digital apps, there is renewed interest from financial institutions. The theory is that by incorporating gaming elements, design and principles, a banking application can be more engaging, educational and form a stronger bond with the customer. Moreover, it allows banks to engage with their customers on a much deeper level and keep the audience listening.
Gamification can be used to explain changes in a service and preemptively address customer concerns. Points could be earned simply by using e-banking services to encourage increased and more regularly online contact and help to build a stronger digital relationship. Rewards could be earned for reaching any number of financial goals or savings targets. Most importantly, gamification enables banks and customers to better understand their product needs – directly driving sales opportunities and revenue.
When evaluating a reward structure, it is wise to consider not only the types of rewards your consumers will find most valuable but also presentation of an appealing mix. In addition to cash discounts, free products, sweepstakes and lottery entry, consider adding points, levels and trophies to mark customer achievements – all individualized to match each consumers’ preferences.
Digital Relationship +1
Both merchants and banks need to become more fully invested in building digital relationships with their customers. Through improved online marketing portals, merchants can quickly improve their listings, presence and reputation with astonishing results. Consumers make decisions based on digital presence, and with the right tools, there is no reason not to be positioned front and center when customers decide.
These same customers expect a similarly compelling experience through their banking applications. The adoption of gaming techniques is becoming increasingly pervasive as banks leverage it to engage and service customers at a more fundamental level. Gamification is no longer considered a fad as it evolves beyond a marketing and education tool through increasingly innovative applications that deliver revenue.
Improved digital marketing to consumers, and the incorporation of gaming elements into the everyday banking process, is key to sustainability and enriches the experience for all parties; it is a game that everyone can win.