Picture of Clara Hori Written by Clara Hori
on February 02, 2022

For our third Savvy Scenario, we hone in on marketing to one phase of the consumer journey. Each person’s experience with your institution is unique, and people discover new products and develop deeper relationships on their own timeline. In this scenario, we focus on the consumers in the onboarding phase.

After researching and discovering your financial institution, the first phase of joining a bank or credit union is important because it sets the tone for the future FI-consumer relationship. This is a great opportunity to provide educational resources and communicate the financial tools that you have to offer. Despite the importance of this stage, research shows that only 50% of institutions have a proper onboarding process in place, and even fewer institutions reach the desired touchpoints with their consumers.

In this article, we’ll discuss why it’s essential to focus on the onboarding phase, the importance of developing efficient internal processes, and how to create a loyal consumer base through savvy marketing strategies.

Lay the Groundwork of a Personalized Customer Experience

Gaining new consumers isn’t the accomplishment - what matters is developing long-term relationships that help people achieve financial goals and improve their overall financial well-being. Studies show that the first 90 days are critical for establishing a connection with your consumers, and if a new consumer doesn’t engage with your institution during this time period, chances of future engagement are slim.

To build an enduring relationship, banks and credit unions earn trust through consistent, reliable communication and consumer experience. During the onboarding process, people are still getting acquainted with your FI and their new accounts. This stage typically involves setting up online banking, direct deposit, mobile banking, alert preferences, and other familiarizing tasks. Today, a seamless, user-friendly digital onboarding experience is commonplace and expected.

Man using credit card online during onboarding process

Financial institutions should invest in consumer-oriented onboarding experiences to rival the competitive landscape of fintechs and digital-only banks. To start, you can include intuitive account opening steps such as information autofill and secure identity verification. Your FI should make the process as quick and straightfoward as possible, with fewer links taking people away from the page, easy access back into applications, and reminder notifications to finish uncompleted steps. Once you feel confident in making a few improvements, you can consider a website redesign to fully develop these changes.

During the onboarding phase, repetitive tasks, stacks of paperwork, or numerous branch visits are all points of friction that set your FI apart in a negative way. Even the most engaged consumers can become distracted with an inefficient onboarding process, so you only want to take a few minutes away from their day-to-day schedule.


Encourage a Loyal Lifetime Relationship

Even if your digital onboarding experience is excellent, it pays off to designate employees to focus on onboarding consumers because it complements their digital relationship. It’s more expensive to consistently acquire new consumers than it is to retain the ones you currently have, so building a strong relationship from the beginning can decrease costs for your FI in the long run. Digitizing onboarding and investing in the right technology can further streamline the process while meeting all regulatory guidelines.

In the following weeks and months of onboarding, FIs glean more information on consumers’ preferences and needs through their interaction with marketing efforts. People dislike a bombardment of messaging and sales pitches, but they positively respond to messaging and offerings that match their life stage, values, and channel preferences.

Marketing automation software such as Prisma Campaigns helps you avoid the common pitfalls of onboarding: poor coordination, bad timing, and generic messaging. We encourage a crawl-walk-run relationship with consumers over their first year belonging to an institution. You can create clear goals for each stage, such as a personalized, email-only campaign in the first 90 days to welcome consumers and encourage them to sign up for online banking and download your mobile app. As your relationship deepens and you learn more about them, you can add more personalization, channels, and calls to action in your campaigns.

Diverse group of people sittin on a sofa and using their device of preference

Consumer behavior, including spending patterns, ATM withdrawals, and how often they utilize mobile/online banking, is especially important to note during the onboarding phases. These actions can lead to future cross-selling opportunities and accurate segmentation. Segmentation creates efficient messaging, meaningful interaction, and increased consumer satisfaction. You can respect consumer privacy, but also become a trusted financial guide by offering relevant products and services using data insights based on behavior patterns.

Financial institutions aim for an engaged, multi-channel relationship, but it may take time to get here. Many consumers start with a digital account opening, but they still value traditional communication channels during the beginning stages of your relationship. People appreciate attentive customer service and knowing there is a person willing to help them on the other end of the line.

FIs can choose to welcome new consumers with a handwritten note, direct mail, phone calls, or a personalized email. Your financial institution should be prepared and readily available as a resource to clear up confusion and simplify the onboarding process. As the relationship matures, it’s important to test messaging through nontraditional channels such as video, SMS notifications, or even social media.

You’re more likely to form a loyal relationship if people feel supported and that your institution has a grasp on their financial needs. It should be evident to your consumers that they’re receiving an individualized experience and that each consumer is an important part of your institution. Whether this is shown through personalized birthday emails, rewards to try a new app feature, or early access to a credit card with relevant perks, your consumers will feel appreciated and more likely to engage.


Discover more savvy marketing strategies from Prisma’s Savvy Scenarios series.



Image credit: Adobe Stock