The Modern-Day Banking Experience: Brick & Mortar Vs. Digital

brick and mortar bank

As banking evolves, banks’ marketing strategies must also.

Roughly one-third of consumers surveyed by market intelligence agency Mintel felt that brick-and-mortar bank locations are no longer necessary while one-third of consumers believe branches still aid their experience. The others surveyed were undecided.

For banks, the challenge is offering an experience that appeals across the user spectrum. A sweet spot where mobile users and branch devotees can discover common ground through customer service, agile mobile options and seamless integrations of online and analog. In order to effectively promote these experiences, marketers must understand customer behaviors and habits.

Reliance on Physical Bank Locations Declining

Mintel found that 61% of consumers surveyed had visited bank branches within three months of the survey time. Mintel also discovered that 20% of consumers surveyed used online-only financial institutions, which completely omit the potential for in-person banking experiences.

Younger Generations Shy Away From Physical Locations

in-person banking

When broken down by generation, the popularity of in-person banking varies drastically. While 76% of the Silent Generation used branches, only 46% of Gen Zers went to retail locations.

Up-To-Date Technology And Easy Access To Transactions Is A Necessity For Many Consumers

A recent Harris Poll on behalf of Kasasa – a financial institution focused on community banking – found that, for local banks, a challenge arises when consumers don’t have enough ATM and branch options. This was a concern raised by 56% of consumers reluctant to open a checking account at a local banking institution. For 22% of consumers, the lack of up-to-date technology integrations at some local banks posed a problem, and this was true for 28% of Millennials.

What The Split In Banking Experiences Means For Marketers

Given the divide in banking styles, the ability to appeal to both online and offline customers is the ticket to successful marketing campaigns. The cheery posters in branches advertising promotions and products should extend to online banner ads, emails and SMS. Personalization should occur at every possible level, creating connections between banking institutions and customers, regardless of where or how they bank. Marketers must be agile and inventive across their campaigns, offering pro-active solutions that effectively promote their brands and reach their customers.

Create A Seamless Retail-To-Online Experience

It’s important that financial institutions don’t alienate their online customers. Marketers can keep the personable side of business and encourage seamless experiences between in-person and digital banking. For example, marketers can advocate for customers to use their banking apps to schedule branch appointments with financial advisors or deploy promotions across channels. Personalized branch transactions that mirror online habits also reflect integrated experiences for customers, and a level of customer service that encourages brand loyalty.

Put Mobile First

Marketers should put mobile first. Promote apps and digital services to consumers who are eager to adopt technology, and whose behaviors online can be successfully targeted. Remember, technological convenience is crucial for Millennials and Gen Zers, but technology is also used by Gen Xers and Baby Boomers. Ease of use is vital to successfully bring customers who prefer branches into the online banking universe.

Keep The Community Connection

It wasn’t so long ago that knowing the name of the bank teller at the window was commonplace. The rise of mobile and the comfort most users have with online banking has changed the personal connection many have to banking, but there are still ways for banks to connect with their communities of customers. Bank of America’s rollout of virtual assistant Erica last June has been very successful, reaching 7 million users and completing more than 50 million client requests. By combining artificial intelligence (AI), predictive analytics and natural language processing (NLP), Erica is able to navigate users through tasks that are more complex, giving apps a wider range of uses and creating customer-friendly associations with the banking institution.

Opted-in SMSemail campaigns and promotions advertised in the branch and online or in-app are additional ways to create personal connections with customers.

Digitally Upsell Opportunities


With fewer in-person visits, marketers might think there are fewer opportunities to upsell, but marketers can educate their consumers on services through digital platforms. Whether it’s through apps or browsers, marketers can reach consumers with dedicated landing pages, pop-up ads and notifications. Social media stories and dedicated posts can also reach younger customers less likely to use branches. And, if they are properly targeted and offer in-person services less easily accomplished online, they may increase foot traffic.

Financial Services Analyst at Mintel, Christopher Shadle, said, “[Some] people are completely fine digitally, putting those things [bank information] on a cloud and interfacing physically as infrequently as possible.” As consumer demand causes banking to adapt to the ever-changing digital age, marketers should promote the services and options that are most appealing.

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