Marketing and Communications: Let’s Go to the Video!

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How online video marketing can pay off for your community bank

By Marcia Lerner

Online video is not just for sharing adorably playful cats. More and more, it offers community banks a powerful tool to connect with existing customers and reach new ones.

Last year 182 million Americans watched 38.8 billion online content videos and 13.2 billion video ads—in a single month, according to ComScore Inc., a company in Pasadena, Texas, that tracks digital traffic. As more people watch and search for online video, community banks should consider taking advantage of this audience by using video to help with branding, sales and lead generation.

James Robert Lay, CEO of CU Grow, a digital marketing and lead-generation company in Pasadena, says, “The biggest benefit online video can bring is that it humanizes a digital experience.” Add to that video’s ability to express dynamically dry information and demonstrate complex products, and you have a powerful tool.

“It’s much easier to get your point across in a short video than it is trying to talk to a customer and walk them through everything.”
—Charlie Driest, Union First Market Bank

That’s what Charlie Driest, vice president online banking channel manager of Union First Market Bank in Ruther Glen, Va., learned. Last year the $7 billion-asset bank changed its online bill pay service. The bank knew the transition was going to be a challenge for its customers. So, in addition to distributing information in written form and on the website, Driest says, “we decided that an online instructional video was the best way of helping our customers through [the change], and at the same time attracting new customers.”

The bank created seven new videos to walk customers through the process. “Those were very successful,” says Driest. “We’ve been really pleased.”

Message in the media

According to Jim Marous, senior vice president of New Control Inc., a digital marketing agency in Chicago and publisher of Bank Marketing Strategy, video is a powerful and underused tool for community banks. “You have the ability to take any product you have and give it a life,” Marous says.

What to Know for Video

To effectively use video as a communications tool the first place to begin is to consider your community bank’s marketing objective. “Ask yourself, what are you looking to achieve as an overall marketing plan?” suggests James Robert Lay, CEO of CU Grow, a digital marketing and lead-generation company in Pasadena, Texas.

Caitlin Schlichting, Web developer and online marketing administrator at the Bank of Missouri in Cace Grrardeau, Mo., agrees, saying, “A lot of banks put out videos that are random, but you want to focus your effort.”
Other things to keep in mind for effectively using video for marketing and public relations:

Consider using an agency. “We don’t really do anything in-house,” Schlichting says. “It requires so much talent and time and so many resources. We find that outsourcing works better.”

Focus on quality. “Production matters, because video is part of your brand,” Lay says, noting that the resulting video will also be more easily shared.

Be brief. According to Lay, engagement drops precipitously at the two-minute mark, so be sure your bank’s videos are brief and to the point.

Consider low-cost solutions. Charlie Driest, vice president online banking channel manager of Union First Market Bank in Ruther Glen, Va., has solved the community bank’s production problems with a vendor that produces stock videos, then cuts them to introduce voiceover and branding specific to the bank, a lower-cost solution that still works to advance the bank’s goals.

Be inclusive. “Make the teammates on the field aware of the videos,” suggests Driest, before releasing them in a wider audience. Schlichting agrees, noting that working with product experts at the bank has been important. Also be sure to loop in compliance from the beginning. “You basically build your video from what you can and cannot say,” says Jeannette Poulin, vice president of retail banking and marketing at Profile Bank in Rochester, N.H.

Follow up. As with any other investment, video marketing needs to be assessed. While YouTube will let you know how many times a video has been viewed, Lay says it’s more important to determine who watched it and whether that person was engaged. He explains that some video hosting sites, such as Wistia and BrightCove, can give more finely tuned measurements.

Start small. Keep focused, both in your bank’s goals and the actual produced video. A significant percentage of online video is viewed on a mobile device. “Any video you do, test it on the smallest form,” says Jim Marous of New Control Inc., a digital marketing agency in Chicago. “Make sure it’s legible. If it works on mobile devices, it will work on other devices.”

But above all, when it comes to online video, Driest says, “Take the chance and do it. It seems daunting at first, but we’ve gotten tons of customer feedback—it was great.”

He thinks that product education is the best way for a bank to get started with online video. “Find a product that doesn’t necessarily explain itself. Mobile deposit capture is the best. I think 85 percent of the marketplace doesn’t get it. So you take something that’s not well understood, but that’s easy to demonstrate. And at the end you have a way for the customer to reach out.”

Collateral material is another area to focus on, Marous says. “Look at your brochures, and turn them into short-form videos,” he advises, noting that community banks can then turn their sales message into one that drives engagement. Driest agrees, noting, “Customers get all this collateral, but nobody reads anything.”

Product information in video form can be on a website or given out as a reference from the call center. “It’s a very good tool for cross-selling complex online products,” Driest says. “It’s much easier to get your point across in a short video than it is trying to talk to a customer and walk them through everything.”

Video’s personal appeal also can bolster community banks’ ability to connect. Marous suggests that community banks consider sending new customers an email with a link to a video welcome from the president. Using customers in videos can work too, says Caitlin Schlichting, Web developer and online marketing administrator at the Bank of Missouri in Cace Grrardeau, Mo. The $1 billion-asset community bank’s goal was to connect with the local business community, so it decided to use video testimonials featuring local business owners who are customers.

“These businesses are ecstatic to be on video, and it helps us because the business owner talks about how great the bank is.”
—Caitlin Schlichting, Bank of Missouri

“It’s a win-win for us,” Schlichting says. “These businesses are ecstatic to be on video, and it helps us because the business owner talks about how great the bank is.”

Jeannette Poulin, vice president of retail banking and marketing at Profile Bank, a $180 million-asset community bank in Rochester, N.H., says using employees in videos can build a sense of connection. But she suggests, “Be cautious on employees. They can come and go, and you don’t want to have to change your videos all the time.”

Distribution is a crucial part of a video communications strategy. While videos can be hosted on
YouTube or a similar website channel, bringing them to the attention of customers and potential customers is a challenge. Having the videos on your bank’s website is a great place to start. But don’t stop there. “I embed them on our website, and then I share them on our Facebook page,” Schlichting says. “We have more than 9,000 followers on Facebook, and we can also promote them and sometimes pay to sponsor them on YouTube.”

Schlichting is also considering posting the testimonials on a website called Business Interviews.

Reaching existing customers directly with email also works. “It becomes really strong content to combine with email,” Marous says. “You can say, ‘People have been asking us how X works, so we’ve made this video to take some of the mystery out of it.’” Links to videos can be distributed widely, including through QR codes on ATM receipts, he adds.


Marcia Lerner is a writer in New York.

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