Changes due to COVID-19 have quickly rippled through society, driving a shift in thinking about banking and other financial services. This is creating significant challenges, but simultaneously uncommon opportunities for local Caribbean banking and financial institutions.
The current COVID-19 pandemic has triggered seismic shifts in the way our consumers in the Caribbean and elsewhere in the world are approaching banking services. In a matter of weeks, the possibility of in-person banking became either distasteful or impossible. Unemployment soared, causing widespread financial hardships. Consumers that never considered online or mobile banking services were forced to make the uncomfortable shift.
These calamitous changes are quickly rippling through society, driving a shift in thinking about banking and other financial services. This is creating significant challenges, but simultaneously uncommon opportunities for local Caribbean banking and financial institutions.
Of course, no one wants to feel like they’re benefiting from the current situation, but at the same time, banking and financial institutions have a duty to help their customers through financial difficulties. Therefore it’s imperative that the Caribbean banking and financial system make the most of their marketing efforts to ensure themselves, and their customers’, financial health when the pandemic ends.
The Cost of PPC Ads Have Gone Down For the Banking and Financial Industry
Pay per click (PPC) has been an extremely competitive space for banks and other financial institutions, historically. Advertisers are generally fighting over some of the most expensive keywords on Google, Facebook, and other platforms. However, shifting consumer demand is driving these prices down.
Tourism makes up nearly two-thirds of the Caribbean’s gross domestic product. When Trinidad and Tobago, like other islands, closed our borders to commercial flights in an effort to combat the spread of COVID-19, the tourism industry essentially stopped. This has had a devastating effect on the region’s economies.
Unemployment spiked as hotels and related businesses furloughed and laid off workers. The newly jobless moved quickly, looking for professional advice about how to keep themselves afloat. This caused a significant uptick in online searches for financial institutions, driving down the prices for related keywords. According to WordStream, average cost per clicks for competitive banking and financial industry keywords have declined by 27%.
This presents an opportunity for smaller regional financial firms to make headway into advertising niches that were once dominated by large banks with the resources to pay the higher PPC rates and absorb the customer acquisition costs.
COVID-19 Responsibility Messages Represent a Chance to Connect With Customers
Banks are taking advantage of lowered PPC costs to connect with customers about the current crisis, and in the process, offer new ways to help.
Businesses in every industry are using PPC and social media to let their customers know what they’re doing to keep them safe. It’s a critical step, as consumers are understandably nervous to interact with businesses as they did in the past.
Social responsibility ads present banks with an opportunity to inform their customers about the steps they’re taking to ensure safe banking experiences while simultaneously promote their digital banking alternatives. This information is welcomed by consumers, feeling less like a sales tactic, and more like a public service announcement.
Banks are also using this pulpit to inform the public about initiatives they’re rolling out to help their customers during this difficult time. Regional Caribbean banks should use this opportunity to lend a helping hand to the community, and in the process, win customer loyalty.
Some of these programs include fee waivers and refunds, loan extensions, and deferred loan payments. These help prevent defaults and can be critical to a customer’s financial health. Promoting these initiatives to current and new customers aids their banking comfort level. Promoting digital alternatives to lobby services helps keep them connected to their money.
Shifts in Financial Priorities Are Accelerating Banking’s Digital Transformation
Banks and other financial institutions have been engaged in a process of digital transformation for a number of years. Even smaller banks and Credit Unions are increasingly moving traditional lobby services into the cloud. Banking apps have been increasing in number, complexity, and use.
In recent years, the adoption of digital banking services has been driven primarily by younger customers, those already comfortable with digital technologies. Older customers have lagged, preferring to continue standard branch banking habits.
However, COVID-19 has rapidly transformed the business landscape for the banking industry. Branches had to be shut down or had their hours cut dramatically. Sometimes only ATM and drive-through services were available. In very short order, consumers that might not have otherwise chosen to use online and mobile banking services were faced with switching or losing access.
Initially, this caught a large portion of the industry unprepared. For most institutions, particularly smaller regional banks, the process of digital transformation was slow and methodical, with new services rolling out on a periodic basis.
The sudden uptick in demand overwhelmed some banks, forcing a rapid overhaul of their transformation strategy. Only now are banks beginning to get caught up.
These Changes Can Benefit Your Customers
The dramatic acceleration of the banking industry’s digital transformation caused by COVID-19 has been a challenge and will continue to be. It has put a strain on the finances and the banking capacity of small and mid-sized banks in the Caribbean. But once the dust settles and things return to a semblance of normalcy, this process will be good for everyone involved.
That’s because a significant portion of the customers that are adopting digital technologies during the pandemic will continue to use them. And new services that banks are scrambling to update, like robust banking by phone, will also see permanent gains in use.
The pandemic is causing even digital holdouts to make the shift. These customers may never have switched in normal circumstances. But once they experience the ease and convenience of digital banking, they’re likely to keep using it.
Banks interested in making the most of the shifts in the banking and financial marketing space should use the current situation as motivation to complete their transformations, and then take advantage of lowered PPC costs to let the public know about what they’re doing.
The circumstances are certainly far from ideal. But they do present a unique opportunity for banks to improve their offerings and provide better service to their customers now, and in the future.