Don’t fall for these nine myths when developing your digital strategy.
Common digital marketing fallacies can interfere with marketing strategy, validation and results. Katie Hamilton, digital marketing manager for The BA Group, Northfield, Minnesota, shares these common misconceptions when executing a digital marketing plan.
Myth #1: Digital marketing is the marketer’s silver bullet.
Not so, says Hamilton—there are real limitations. “Whether it’s social, display, email, audio or PPC (pay-per-click), each tactic has its strengths and weaknesses. For example, the rise of ad-blocking technology use will prevent some of your target audience (millennials and Gen Z) from seeing static, animated and video display ads. … CTV (connected TV, such as Hulu streaming via Roku) ads will not reach traditional TV viewers. Additionally, SEM (search engine marketing) campaigns are not a cost-effective way to conduct branding campaigns or target SEG members.”
Myth #2: Digital is for everyone and doesn’t require a strategic plan.
Marketers must realize the limits of their digital channels as they apply to their objectives and audiences. “And just because you can use it doesn’t mean you should,” adds Hamilton. “The approach to digital marketing requires the same level of strategic thought and planning as the traditional marketing plan—not a reliance on one tactic (such as PPC or social media) to deliver a message. You can’t just say ‘If we build it (or post it), they will come,’ no matter how beautiful the ballfield.”
She advises credit unions to hit multiple channels to ensure their brand and message will have the most opportunity to be seen—that includes advertising on social media, such as boosting Facebook posts and paid ads on LinkedIn or Twitter, as well as running Google Ads or mobile campaigns.
Myth #3: It’s a ‘fire-and-forget-it’ type of advertising.
Nothing can be further from the truth, says Hamilton. “AI (artificial intelligence) has indeed made buying social, display, CTV and even billboard placements accessible and automated. … However, the adage of ‘garbage-in, garbage-out’ applies. If a credit union employs flawed tactics to any of its channels, results will suffer.” Paid and organic social media posts, display ads, CTV ads, Google Ads, etc., all require skilled management to ensure key performance indicators are met. Bids, win rates, pacing (which is important in retargeting), view completion rates, keyword match types, creative A/B testing, organic engagement, unique visitors, sessions and bounce rates—these are only a partial list of metrics and indicators to monitor, analyze and adjust throughout a digital campaign.
Myth #4: Traditional media is dead or dying.
Credit unions cannot (and should not) rely solely on digital marketing. As of Nielsen’s Total Audience Report (Q1, 2019), the average American adult’s daily media consumption stands at 11 hours and 27 minutes—of that, 333 minutes (roughly 48%) is spent on a digital platform, notes Hamilton. Traditional platforms such as live TV and radio still occupy a sizeable chunk of America’s media diet; specifically, within the coveted 35-49 age demographic where TV consumes 32% and radio an additional 15% of a person’s day.
Traditional media complements, and in many cases, enhances digital media efforts. “One scenario we’ve encountered is with our Spotify campaigns,” says Hamilton. “We noticed a consistent trend of a high-workday-hours impression delivery and reach, specifically on mobile devices, with the opposite being true on weekends. Reviewing Spotify reports, we knew the music genres, ages and genders most popular and applied that data to a strategic weekend radio schedule on stations that skewed towards those demographics. This tactic probably saved thousands in radio spend without sacrificing reach or frequency.”
Myth #5: Search engine optimization is a one-time task.
Not so—SEO requires continual surveillance. “From Google to social media platforms, algorithms constantly change, and content and optimization tactics should be checked and adjusted accordingly,” says Hamilton. “This requires consistent testing and trial and error (i.e., reviewing current efforts and results at least monthly). There’s also a balance between updating content for better optimization without keyword stuffing or making changes so often that it strays from branding or lacks consistency just for the sake of SEO.”
Local SEO can be particularly relevant for smaller credit unions, or those with a more limited geographical reach. Over 80% of mobile shoppers use the ‘near me’ functions in their searches, and nearly 30% of those lead to a purchase. Having strong SEO is a way to rank well organically, locally, and stay competitive when SEM (search engine marketing) may be out of reach.
Myth #6: Digital is too expensive for smaller businesses and budgets.
False: It is affordable when a credit union has solidified its digital focus and strategy. “Just because you can’t afford to outbid national brands like Wells Fargo or Chase on competitive keywords doesn’t mean you can’t reach the audience via other methods,” explains Hamilton. “Focus on inbound tactics like SEO, social media, email and retargeting, which can organically draw people in by providing value and useful content.”
Also, assuming your credit union is tracking its website visitors, try retargeting those people (who should already have some awareness of your brand) to convert. This can be done based on general web traffic, or by retargeting specific service ads to visitors who engaged with pages or products.
It’s also efficient to utilize such current contacts as an email list and using it for targeting Facebook ads. Hamilton suggests taking a member list and segmenting it for specific ads—for example, targeting an ad for auto loans to members who do not have auto loans as part of their credit union account. And for credit unions with smaller or niche audiences, the targeting options available through digital channels can often be more cost-effective than traditional media in reaching a specific group.
Myth #7: Digital is just social media.
Social media is a digital channel, but digital marketing is the use of various digital channels—including web, SEO, search engine marketing, email, video, mobile and others—to promote brand and awareness. Just being on social media is not enough in most cases to have a robust digital presence. Assuming a credit union’s social channels link to its website, consider social as a separate but supportive platform. The list of digital channels and how they link together for an effective digital marketing strategy is limitless.
Myth #8: It’s invasive or intrusive.
Digital marketing tactics, especially geo-targeting and retargeting, can be intrusive if not used correctly. (For example, targeting a person with mobile ads while they’re standing in line at the branch can make people feel like they’re being watched.) However, getting an ad in front of the consumer hours or days later won’t seem as intrusive. “Retargeting is an excellent way of re-engaging people who already know about your brand,” Hamilton reiterates. “And it’s not intended to project that you know exactly what the member is doing online (especially in a financial setting) or to keep retargeting (following them) until the individual finally converts. Instead, make the message feel personal and convenient by making it relevant, not a nuisance.”
Also, be picky when presenting ads. “A credit union that targets ads for 15 different products to people who have landed on their auto loan webpage several times is more overwhelming or annoying than presenting an ad about the auto loan they expressed interest in,” says Hamilton. “In targeting people with relevant offerings using a reasonable number of impressions, you’re less likely to upset them or make them feel their privacy has been invaded.”
Myth #9: Negative reviews can kill business.
Most businesses strive for as many exceptional reviews as possible, but Hamilton believes that some negative feedback is inevitable. And there may be worry that with social media and other online review platforms, a credit union risks its reputation due to one member’s issue. “However, a negative comment isn’t detrimental and can sometimes help your brand, assuming there is an established best practice for responding while maintaining a level of professional transparency,” she says. “For U.S. consumers, trustworthy reviews now have a bigger influence on online purchase decisions than word of mouth (Statista, 2018).
“When a member makes a public complaint about an issue with their account, this is a chance for the credit union’s member service to shine,” she continues. “Often, the member isn’t choosing social media to shame your establishment, but because it is one of the best places (in theory) to get a response.” Also, consider that 59% of Americans believe using social media as a customer service channel makes getting their questions answered and issues resolved easier. “Being quick to respond and resolve an issue will allow future visitors to see how a negative experience was handled and the ability to rectify these situations,” says Hamilton. “A negative review or comment that has been resolved and still lives on the page is often more beneficial than an upset member whose complaint was removed without resolution.”
Stephanie Schwenn Sebring established and managed the marketing departments for three CUs and served in mentorship roles before launching her business. As owner of Fab Prose & Professional Writing, she assists CUs, industry suppliers and any company wanting great content and a clear brand voice. Follow her on Twitter @fabprose.