The Evolving Role of Bank Branches

USA Today ran an interesting article last week entitled “Will Bank Branches Wither Away?”   It always catches my eye when someone even suggests the demise of brick-and-mortar branches, even in this day and age of iPhones, Droids, ATMs, etc.  The article does cover some interesting perspectives on how banks like Citibank are going greener by eliminating paper and other banks like Chase continue to expand branch presence into new geographies. So IS the branch going the way of the Dodo Bird and buggy whip? Not necessarily.

But the raison d’être of the branch has certainly evolved and reflects the changing needs and preferences of a more mobile and self-serving consumer population. In contrast to the ABA research quoted in the article, which reported 62% of customers prefer online versus only 20% branch, J.D. Power and Associates’ 2011 Retail Banking Study found a slightly narrower gap. In the 2011 study, preference to online was 52%, 23 percentage points higher than branch. While that still reflects a significant tilt towards online, it also shows that “…the report of the branch’s death was an exaggeration.” (our thanks to Mark Twain).

What role does the branch seem to play in today’s increasingly technological world? Continue reading ›

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Beyond the Wall: Ideas for Financial Facebook Welcome Pages

“Most visitors to a bank or credit union page on Facebook are greeted by the all-too-familiar Wall — a series of updates, comments, feedback and exchanges that can frequently lean to the dark side. But there’s another, arguably better option” writes Jeffry Pilcher, Publisher of The Financial Brand.com.  “When opting for a customized Welcome page over the standard Wall posts, you’ll have a wider range of visual tools at your disposal, making it easier to create more retail excitement.”

To create a more dynamic and thoughtful experience for visitors while getting them to focus on the topics you choose, Pilcher showcases specific examples of financial Facebook Welcome pages and offers the following ideas:

1.  Hi There….Please Like Us Banner Ads – Many Banks & Credit Unions

Used by many institutions, custom banner ads on Welcome pages encourage visitors to hit the Like button, and often include offers, news, job postings and other promotions.  “This approach isn’t terribly creative, but it’s better than visitors getting overwhelmed by a bunch of random Wall posts” Pilcher explains.

2.  Link, Like, Love – American Express

The AmEx Facebook page includes an ad with the ability to earn instant rebates after linking your credit card to the rebate application.  Users can choose from hundreds of familiar brands and earn cash back on purchases.

3.  Nonsense Feedback – Ally Bank

Ally Bank reserves a dedicated “Tell us about it” area that encourages bank customers to rant about their frustrations with general banking issues.  The Like button reads “if you dislike banking nonsense, “Like” Ally Bank.  Pilcher notes that “this is a good approach to stimulating engagement and dialogue with Facebook visitors, and Ally deserves credit for integrating a consistent marketing message across multiple channels.”

4.  Money Personality Test – Citizens Bank

Citizens encourages Facebook visitors to complete a brief “Money Personality Test” resulting in the user finding out what kind of saver they are.  “It’s moderately interesting” says Pilcher, “But once you’ve taken the test, there is not further call-to action.”

5.  Rotating Ad – UBank

“UBank is trying to create a more navigable experience – one that’s clearly focused on their branded tools and products” notes Pilcher.  UBank makes use of a rotating banner ad where they promote products, tips, solicit feedback and include social networking links.

Source:  The Financial Brand.  Read the full post and view all examples

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