This is one of the most important, if not the most important question financial brands should be critically thinking about. The vast majority of bank and credit union leaders simply don't understand the concept of digital growth. That's OK. Digital growth builds on top of established digital service capabilities like online and mobile banking.

However, there are three problems this limited perspective and lack of awareness presents. 

1. Lack of definition 

When there isn't a unified definition of digital growth that runs throughout the organization, everyone will define it from their world view and their own experience. Although this is a normal way of thinking, it does not provide the foundation to maximize growth potential. 

2. A false sense of security

The misunderstanding of what digital growth actually is often creates a false sense of security for and by financial brand leaders who have either already, are currently, or are thinking about investing millions to build up digital service capabilities like mobile and online banking. While this is vital and strategic move, it can not be stressed enough that mobile banking and online banking function as service and support pieces of the business model. 

Simplified, digital Growth should be unified around the customer journey to increase website traffic, generate leads, and convert those leads to loans and deposits. 

3. Lack of strategy 

In the research conducted when writing Banking on Digital Growth, our studies found that almost 85% of financial brands currently lack or do not have a well-defined digital growth strategy. While many financial brands today have “dabbled in digital” by building a website with mobile optimization, the reality is that the vast majority of these websites are still what we diagnose as “glorified online brochures.” We also see more financial brands shifting marketing dollars away from traditional channels as they increase investments in digital ad buys. Unfortunately, these ads still promote great rates, great service, and the same look-alike list of commoditized product features that every other financial brand promotes. 

In addition, I hear complaints from both marketing teams along with their leadership teams that they cannot prove the value that these digital ads are creating beyond clicks (which in reality, clicks may not even be from a human being but instead from a bot). Furthermore, how many of these digital ads are even being viewed because of the ongoing rise of digital ad blockers that are natively being built into both mobile and desktop browsers?

If there is not a unified definition of digital growth, your financial brand will struggle with these platforms. For instance, we see financial brands throwing thousands of dollars and thousands of hours posting unhelpful, or even useless, content on social media. Marketing teams end up reporting back vanity metrics such as clicks, likes, and shares. As a result, it is no wonder CEOs don’t trust marketers… and that’s not just in financial services.

It’s Time to Escape the Circle of Chaos

“Dabbling in digital” alone can feel frustrating, overwhelming, and confusing. The options and opportunities are hard to manage and things seem to change over night. Financial brands can get stuck “doing digital” if they do not have the space and time to gain new insights about future growth opportunities to optimize their current strategy. When technology, consumer expectations, and competition are evolving faster than they can keep up, banks and credits get stuck in the Circle of Chaos.

The good news is you don’t have to stay stuck there.

So how can you get out of the circle?

Gain clarity. 

We define digital growth as a systematic process centered around the modern consumer journey that unifies marketing, sales, operations, and IT to increase in website traffic, generate leads and convert those leads into loans and deposits. As a result, you position your brand beyond the commoditized “great rates” and bullet point product features.

How can you quickly apply this thinking at your financial brand?

Conduct an assessment.

Survey key stakeholders in your organization to see what they think and believe digital marketing is. Ask your marketing team, sales team, operations team, IT team, executives, and even board members, “What is your definition of digital growth?” 

There are no wrong answers. This is an opportunity to assess, check for alignment, and gain clarity. You will probably find that the conversations tend to lean towards the service channel: mobile and online. You will be able to educate and inform that digital growth is an outward facing strategy with a primary focus on lead generation and lead nurturing. Digital growth brings people together. We cannot lose sight of the fact that it is about humans. It is about people. 

And you maximize your own digital growth potential you will begin to generate 10X more loans and deposits. 

With digital growth there is no finish line. 

There will always be new opportunities to create or capture. 

Digital growth is a journey. 

A journey from good to great. A journey that begins in the mind and is measured by progress not perfection. A journey that empowers you to lead people in the communities you serve beyond the financial stress that takes a toll on their health and wellbeing as you commit to guide them towards a bigger, better, and brighter future.