How Critical is Local Search for Banks and Credit Unions to Succeed?

The very concept of consumer banking is currently in a state of flux. The traditional approach that had worked across the U.S. for so many years - a significant number of branches positioned to meet the needs of customers and maximize coverage of geographical areas - is changing at a fast pace. With consumers expressing preferences for more digital self-service options, the costs of operating branches rising and many other factors working in concert, future-facing banks and credit unions are taking a different, leaner and more effective approach.

Meeting consumer needs and cutting costs means fewer branches, but it also requires a significant shift in terms of digital outreach and marketing. A failure to do so means surrendering extremely valuable positioning in terms of local search, losing customers and declining revenues.

New Approach for Consumer Banking

The increase in the popularity of self-service options and digital at-home banking is exacerbated by the growth of financial institutions that have no branches and conduct the entirety of their consumer-facing business digitally and through the mail. These online-only institutions have certain undeniable advantages, but banks that offer a friendly and firmly physical presence in neighborhood storefronts offer a level of convenience and engagement that's impossible for these new market entries to match. In terms of financial services, there will always be certain transactions that either require or are greatly benefited by face-to-face interactions inside a branch.

Each branch becomes more important as the total number of such offices declines. Consumers who want or need to visit a branch may have to travel further than they did before or seek out a location in an unfamiliar part of the city or neighboring town. If they have trouble finding a branch consistently - if it doesn't show up in a high enough position in online searches, if name, address and phone number data or other info is inconsistent and leads a customer to an old location - they may switch to a competitor that has the infrastructure in place to maintain strong local SEO and otherwise manage pertinent digital information.

"Making branches easy to find online is a clear priority for financial institutions."

Making branches easy to find online is a clear priority for financial institutions that want to maintain physical offices and better serve their customers. A major consideration is visibility and how that affects both current and potential customers. New arrivals to a city or town could easily want to change their chosen financial institution, and they're likely to perform a location-based search if they value convenience. These non-branded searches - where a category such as financial services or banking is selected as the search term instead of a separate company - are critical to attracting potential patrons who aren't already familiar with your brand.

A failure to optimize local SEO, tune up name, address and phone number data and take other steps to improve search can choke off the flow of new customers and cause serious problems for financial institutions.

Getting the Most out of the Digital-First Marketplace

For financial institutions, being part of the community with visible and locatable branches is a major advantage. MomentFeed offers the software platform banks and credit unions need to manage their locational and contact information to optimize SEO for each and every branch, leading to higher search positioning and more eyeballs on the results. We also give banks and credit unions the power to efficiently allocate paid media on a branch-by-branch level, further boosting visibility and connection, and social media management tools that help nurture localized digital conversations and create online communities around individual branches.