With a variety of emerging channels in the financial industry, it’s nice to know where banks and credit unions are truly placing their efforts.  One study that we’ve found to provide these insights is an annual survey conducted by The Financial Brand among banking/credit union marketing executives (which can be viewed here).

As expected, the survey finds that banks and credit unions are putting the most emphasis on loans, increasing share-of-wallet among their customers/members and attracting new customers/members.  However with that aside, it is clear that newer channels for the financial industry are becoming a priority among banks and credit unions.   Interestingly, “mobile banking solutions” was found to be number one in terms of the most important products/services that banks plan to promote in 2013.  On top of that, online advertising and social media were rated highest for becoming “more important” this year among the tested advertising channels.

2013 banking trends channels

We’ve found the emphasis being placed on mobile banking seems to accurately mirror what customers/members of financial institutions are now considering a “must-have” rather than just a “nice-to-have.”  With the increased usage of mobile banking, banks and credit unions seem to be on one end of the spectrum or the other; either working feverishly to get their mobile banking platform up and running, or looking to optimize and/or extend the functionality of their current mobile banking application.

One financial institution, Bank of America, recently announced that they plan to add a variety of new features to their mobile banking including scheduling in-person visits, informing the bank of travel plans (to ensure your accounts don’t get locked down while traveling) and making person-to-person payments.

In addition to mobile banking, it is also clear that social media and other forms of online engagement are becoming increasingly important for banks and credit unions.  Among tested online marketing tools – social media, banner advertisements and email marketing were all utilized by 68 percent or more of the banks and credit unions who participated in TheFinancialBrand.com’s survey.

There are some great examples out there of banks and credit union’s utilizing different forms of online engagement.  We’ve seen banks and credit unions utilize social media to service their current customers (and ultimately convert potentially bad testimonials into positive experiences – see last month’s post on social media integration).  We have also seen financial institutions use social media to drive traffic to their website in hopes of ultimately attracting new customers.  To demonstrate this, a study by Bank Innovation recently found that 1.52 percent of USAA’s web traffic is driven directly from social media.  While that may sound like a small amount to some, it adds up to a sizeable number of visitors, especially when you consider the total volume of visitors includes current customers who directly visit the website everyday for transactions.

Over the next few years or so, it will be interesting to observe how financial institutions are utilizing new technology platforms.  While we’re seeing some of the current data point to new channels such as mobile and social media being “must-haves,” the ultimate question with all new channels will be: which of the latest service/marketing channels will be fads and which will be long-term?  If you have any thoughts or comments on this topic, please feel free to comment below.