In such a competitive market, banks aren’t immune to the challenges of earning and keeping loyal customers. Loyalty needs to be earned and re-earned.

Customers want to know that they matter, their money matters, their accounts matter, and their livelihoods matter. They want to know they aren’t just an account number, but a person.  

And SMS is by its very nature a more personal way to communicate than email or direct mail. By using it, you’re staying engaged with each customer and demonstrating through action that they matter to you. 

Why SMS Benefits Banks and Their Customers

SMS gets far higher open rates than email. It’s nearly 100%. Texts are very short and can be read almost anywhere and at any time. 

Texting is also a faster means of communication, because people usually know when they have a new text message, and check to see why their phone is buzzing or making whatever noises it makes when a text arrives. In contrast, they might check their email a few times per day. For immediate communication, SMS has no equal.  

SMS is also very cost-effective, and most text communications can be automated.  

Just be sure to get clear consent from each customer before adding them to your SMS list, because regulations are very strict about marketing texts. Subscribers should be told up front the sorts of texts they might receive from you and how often they should expect to receive them. For banks, you probably wouldn’t want to send general marketing texts more than once or maybe twice a month at most.  

Also, each text should include clear opt-out instructions.  

With that in mind, let’s take a look at nine smart ways for banks to use SMS to engage and serve their customers. 

1. Notifications and Confirmations

Banking security is probably a greater concern today than at any other time in recent history. So, it’s reassuring for customers to be notified when important changes happen to their bank accounts.  

You can send text notifications for important events in your customers’ accounts, such as: 

  • Account logins from new devices — security checks 
  • Withdrawals above a certain amount, or that happen in close proximity — unusual activity based on the user’s preferences
  • Deposit confirmations — money’s been safely received 

2. Fees Charged

Banking fees aren’t typically high, but because the customer doesn’t always know about them, it’s frustrating to find out well after the fact that you have less money than you thought you had.  

You can notify customers via SMS every time a bank fee gets charged, so they know about it immediately. This could catch frustrations so customers resolve them before they boil over. Plus, it helps customers simply feel informed. 

3. Low Balance Warnings

This is another great way to use SMS to serve your bank’s customers, because not everyone pays as much attention to their account balance as they should. Plus, with automatic payments happening frequently for some customers, they might not always realize how much money they’ve spent in a given month. 

You can use SMS to set up a low balance warning when it gets below a certain threshold. Your customers will greatly appreciate this, as it will help them avoid overdrafts. 

There will be, however, some customers that grow frustrated by these kinds of notices. If your system allows, let customers set their preferences for notices or turn them off completely.  

4. Payment Reminders

Different customers like to pay their bills using a variety of methods. You can use SMS to make sure customers know when a payment is about to be withdrawn if they’re using automated payments. Likewise, if a payment is coming due and it’s not automated, you can notify the customer via text that they will need to make that payment soon.  

This will help prevent late fees resulting from missed payments. 

And again, while email can perform some of these tasks, emails can more easily be missed or read later than texts. Texts are read by just about everyone, so important alerts like payment reminders will serve customers better when delivered via SMS. 

5. Holiday Hours

On certain days every year, your bank’s various branches will have unique hours. Send out a text message a couple days before these holidays so customers will know what to expect.  

This is just basic customer service, but it will be greatly appreciated by anyone who was planning to come in. 

6. Segmented Texts

Can you segment text messages? Yes, and sometimes that segment might be just one person.  

For example, suppose a customer inquires about a loan, such as a personal loan, business loan, or home loan. You now know this person is in the market for something your bank can help them with, but nothing stops them from going to other banks for this loan.  

So, have a couple texts pre-written for scenarios like this. Then, when appropriate, customize them to the customer and send them out when you know they are relevant.  

This approach is better than blasting texts about loan options to your entire SMS subscriber list. At any given moment, most of your customers won’t be looking for these services, and texts about this topic won’t be received warmly. Customizing them to people you know are in the market is a better approach.  

7. Appointment Reminders

A customer may have an appointment scheduled with a banker to discuss something like a loan or opening a new account.  

Use SMS to send them a reminder one day before the appointment, and another text a couple hours beforehand.  

8. Seminar Marketing

Your bank may occasionally run seminars on topics like real estate, investment planning, estate planning, and business loans. If this is something you offer now and then, SMS is a great way to notify customers about upcoming events. 

For this, you should definitely also be using your email list, but utilizing multiple channels for marketing is always more effective than using just one.  

And, you may also be able to segment these texts to certain customers. For instance, anyone under 40 might be a good candidate for a seminar explaining the basics of real estate. People over 60 may be receptive to a retirement planning or estate planning workshop.  

9. Polls and Surveys

Lastly, another type of marketing text to send out could include a poll or survey.  

The value here is to find out what your customers are interested in. To be sure your other marketing emails and texts are engaging a relevant audience, first use a survey or poll to gather information about where people are in life.  

You could use a poll or survey to discover things like housing situations, business aspirations, educational attainment (which suggests higher career and salary potential), and a variety of other topics.  

Just remember to keep these surveys short and easy to fill out since the customers will be completing them on their phones. It’s best to use fewer than ten questions in a survey.  

SMS: A More Personable Way to Integrate with Customers’ Lives

You can more instantly engage customers with SMS in ways that other media cannot. Mobile phones are ingrained in the lives of your account holders and reaching them there presents incredible opportunities to foster stronger customer relationships. Use it wisely as a way to serve customers and to be present at the perfect time for new business opportunities.  

emfluence has the tools to help your institution embrace the potential of SMS marketing without disrupting or taking away from other key initiatives. Talk to your account representative today about starting your first SMS marketing campaign.  


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