Should The UK Banks Use Inbound Marketing?
So I’m waiting at Heathrow Terminal 3 for my flight to Boston to attend Inbound 2015, Hubspot’s annual convention for its partners and client’s alike reading through the financial news in the No. 1 departure lounge.
The FT and The Sunday Times are my papers of choice and I read an interesting article by Aimee Donnellan in the Times’ business pages “Challengers gang up on the big four banks”!
The article talks about new players starting to eat into the big lenders’ markets with a wave of mergers and acquisitions threatening to upset the current status quo. Talks of Secure Trust Bank taking a long term client from Lloyds and new smaller banks like Aldermore and Shawbrook rapidly adding smaller companies to their portfolios in a bid to extend their empires in this marketplace.
High Street Customers
But how will this battle affect the high street customers? Will we see an avalanche of current and savings accounts hit the market and if we do how do you suppose the regular person will find out about them?
Do these banks, like Metrobank remain defiant and think that the current strategy should remain, that pages of advertising in the national and local press and magazines remain the way forward, when searches like “competitive current accounts the UK” and “best high street current accounts UK” do not feature these banks on page one of googles search results? In fact, none of the banks’ figures for these searches unless of course reported by a comparison website. But that isn’t educating people about the bank, that’s relying on your interest rates or introductory offers to sell for you.
It’s time to wise up, we want to be educated, told what the strategy is for your bank, how risk averse you are, where you invest and all of the other stuff that creates a bond with a brand or in your case a bank. We no longer simply switch on the basis of reward.
So, does this mean that for the foreseeable future the big players like your Lloyds, Barclays, NatWest, HSBC and Halifax will remain winning the deposits of Britain’s hard-earned wages every month or are the new players’ intent on disrupting the status quo in full and delivering their message in an educational format for avid current account switchers. If they are, then there is a great chance that the possible future clients are looking for the product or service type on a mobile device, not in the back of the latest FT, Times or Metro.
Why no Inbound Marketing?
In the previous article, we’ve talked about how the use of inbound marketing helps the UK bank sites rank higher in overall customer experience.
So why aren’t the newbies on the block delivering great content like webinars and eBooks, blog articles and other forms of informative news content to ensure that potential customers operating in a massively mobile digital environment can find out all they need about the new products available?
Banks rely massively on data and conversion, that’s sales of accounts to the general public in order to build deposits and charge fees. That also means that the banks need your data to follow your spending habits and to try and offer you the products and services you really want.
Or do they?
I personally bank with Halifax and to be honest I don’t think they know too much about me except how long my accounts been open, my address and what’s gone through it. BUT! Even though they know what’s gone through it and most probably to whom, I can’t fathom for the life of me why the cashback offers it gives me are 95% of the time to places I would never shop or use. For example, I eat at Wagamama often and I get YoSushi cashback offers. My spending habits show I LIKE Wagamama so offer me a cashback there or don’t offer me one at all. It seems that they are trying to spread their net wide and give me offers from aligned or peer businesses for them to seem worthwhile, well guess what? I don’t want them and most probably neither do half of the other customers who receive them.
Why am I talking about this? Simple really, inbound is about education and also about segregation so you can learn directly what products and or services your readers/followers like through data collection at gated landing pages. Online surveys also form a massive part of Inbound from a data perspective so I’d really like to see a huge shift to digital from the newer banks.
If you need any advice, do feel free to ask!
Tip: To really offer your clients the products they want, study their spending habits far more intently and ensure that you offer the proper rewards, failing that find a reward partner to deliver through.
Inbound is based on using buyer personas. Buyer personas are developed from a thorough understanding of your current client database. Serving them means giving those personas information that they really want so that you don’t encourage a complete lack of interest in your bank and its products and that the right content gets to the right people at the right time in the right space.
Maybe banks are being too cautious and single-minded with their marketing budgets and too complacent with their application. Using Inbound Marketing is as much about B2C leads as B2B so banks should embrace it with open arms.
A new bank, old marketing style doesn’t work in this day and age. Don’t discount outbound marketing activities by any means but you need to work with systems that are proven to work and convert rather than rely on the scattergun approach. If you can reduce waste of effort whilst generating warmer more product educated leads surely you’re onto a winner that makes sense and will increase the bottom line.
What about the retail challengers?
Retail banking, are you thinking high street banks?
No, we’re not focusing on those, let’s look at the supermarkets that offer banking and saving products. Asda Money, Tesco Bank, Sainsbury’s Bank and M&S Bank all fall into this category and they are also gaining customers from the big players.
It’s said that challenger banks have become obsessional about their customer service in order to win and keep customers from the bigger banks who seemingly don’t have to try that hard to win our business, but is this because of the British mentality?
And whilst on that subject of customer service who reading this can tell this instant who is currently the number one bank in the UK for customer service?
Has Britain shown that it takes its time to adapt to new players in any market, such as the food industry where Lidl and Aldi were once pariahs of the English in employment but whom now make-up around 28% of the total food sales in the industry!
If we are a nation slow on the uptake, we seem to respond well to being educated around brands and their values and banks should take note of this (note this done exceptionally well by Lidl in its current run of TV adverts). Change in any environment can be slow and arduous but it will take time for a national swing to the best accounts rather than shopping with the known brands.
It’s like opting for Branston Baked Beans when everyone buys Heinz, or at least they once did, now other brands are eating into once staple marketplaces across the retail industry as a whole.
Should the challengers collaborate to break the stranglehold?
The general consensus in the banking industry is that the smaller challengers should maybe join forces to break the stranglehold of the big four, but how does this play out? It’s not like an airline that can join forces and share passengers for the better, banks need to have their own customers for obvious reasons that leave the M&A (mergers & acquisitions) option. But a small bank could generate referral fees by partnering with a rival bank offering different products and services that would be mutually beneficial for all parties involved.
There are many city rumours as the Times reports with Banco Sabadell who recently bought TSB now looking at purchasing Clydesdale, the Co-Operative Bank and Williams & Glynn. This all well and good from a competitive standpoint, but amongst all of this, there’s just a lack of education digitally about any of the challengers.
I’d really like to prove myself wrong, find masses of online education about the smaller banks and what they stand for. I would really like to see banks using inbound marketing more. And just to be sure that we haven’t underestimated the use of digital and particularly inbound methods in my next article I’m going to assess the websites of all the banks mentioned here and see just how well they do and if they score badly, well my phone’s always available if they need to be told how to do it.
Great Resources to read