Over the past few months, financial institutions have drastically shifted their daily operations to comply with both federal and state regulations to better assist customers during the COVID-19 pandemic. While 97% of the US population were adhering to stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders, many states have been able to slowly resume operations as of May 1, 2020, adjusting to a “new normal”. As the economy begins to reopen, businesses nationwide must communicate critical updates to their post-pandemic procedures, changes in operations, and safety protocols they’ll be adhering to ensure the safety of customers, as our society remains, understandably, still on edge. For those in the financial vertical, we’ve compiled the following local marketing tips for financial institutions to better prepare for their reopening.
For financial institutions specifically, customers will likely be most interested in knowing:
- Are you still temporarily closed or operating with reduced branch access (such as: offering solely drive-thru services or encouraging customers to use ATMs or digital channels to access their services to minimize in-person interactions)?
- How can they contact you for information about banking/financial services?
- Do you have drive-thru bank services or a drive-thru ATM?
- Can they schedule an in-person appointment at this time?
- Which of your locations are now fully open?
- What safety procedures do you have in place to minimize the spread of COVID-19 at each of your branch locations?
- If the community is being encouraged to use social distancing to help stop the spread of
COVID-19, will you be restricting lobby access if they need to go inside to get cash and conduct transactions?
While Google My Business (GMB) usage has undoubtedly declined recently due to COVID-19, multi-location financial services institutions must maintain accurate, up-to-date information on their local listings and local pages to prepare for the inevitable rise in search traffic that will come with phase one of the federal government’s guidelines for “Opening Up America Again.” Below, we will share our top local marketing tips for financial institutions to ensure your brand is fully prepared to be seen by searchers as your locations begin to reopen.
Update Your Local Listings
68% of consumers said they would stop using a local business if they found incorrect information in their local listing. As evidenced by this statistic, inaccurate business information is a quick way to deter customers from using your products or services, and furthermore will drive them to seek out your competitors instead. To ensure your financial institutions maintain accurate listing information, ensure the following are up-to-date across all your locations:
- Business name
- Phone number: Route to a working number if a location is still temporarily closed
- Hours: Include special hours if your location/s have adjusted hours
- Appointment URLs: Encourage in-person appointments to help monitor the volume of customers at each of your locations
Customers now more than ever need to know how your business is operating. Your local listings are one of the first places they’re searching for this information. Work with your local marketing partner to ensure each of your locations’ listings remain the source of truth, especially if they are reopening at different times if your locations are in varying states.
Create a Google Post
A Google Post is an ideal opportunity to share important announcements regarding your business’ reopening. Additionally, you can utilize a COVID-19 Post type to share information regarding safety precautions and procedures your financial institution is implementing upon your reopening. By leveraging Google Posts during this time, you can:
- Communicate critical, COVID-19-related information to your consumers
- Improve the customer experience by delivering timely information
- Promote offers, news, events
- Provide general information about your business
- Share any essential updates to your operations, including special hours/services
Monitor Your Reviews
During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Google halted publication of new reviews, review responses, and Q&A due to staffing shortages and the need to prioritize updates for healthcare-related services. Now that Google has begun publishing new reviews and review responses and Q&A functionality is slowly starting to return, your brand’s reputation management strategy should once again be a top priority. Customers are sharing useful insight—both positive and negative—that can shed light on how you may need to reshape your customer service and business practices during these uncertain times. Additionally, your locations should also be responding to all your reviews and Q&A to ensure customers feel heard about their concerns and that you appreciate their praises.
To learn more about how to effectively manage reviews at scale, download our free guide.
Communicate Important Information On Your Local Pages
Your local pages give your financial institution the opportunity to communicate more in-depth information with your customers. With character restrictions on Google Posts, your local landing page can serve as a resource for customers seeking more information on your business operations, any special services you are offering, and COVID-19-related resources. Local pages also allow financial services brands to:
- Highlight drive-thru banking options or drive-thru ATMs where available
- Improve local search rankings
- Build visibility for non-branded, product or service-specific searches
- Appear more often for long-tail keyword phrases
- Reduce friction in the path to conversion with click-to-call, click-for-directions, etc.
- Accurately measure online-to-offline across thousands of locations within a single dashboard
Rio SEO’s Local Pages are designed and built with all of these search optimization and local marketing best practices in mind. Learn more about the unique opportunities Local Pages present.
For more information regarding best practices for financial institutions in communities affected by COVID-19, visit the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation’s official website.
At Rio SEO, we have also been maintaining an up-to-date list of local marketing resources related to COVID-19 which we frequently add to. Check back often to get more local marketing tips and best practices during all phases of the re-opening.
If you need support during this transitional time, whether you’re a current client or simply in need of local marketing advice, we are here to help. Additionally, we are performing free local search audits for you to better determine your financial institution’s local presence. We encourage you to take advantage of this offer today as you prepare for your business’ reopening.