Real-Time Engagement: Too costly for Community Banks and Credit Unions?


For marketers at financial institutions, the big buzzword over the past five years has been “ENGAGEMENT.” In fact, we’d bet our piggy bank that when your financial institution planned its marketing strategy for 2015, one of your top questions was, “How can we ENGAGE with our clients?” Then after you brainstormed ways to encourage engagement, your CFO’s next question was probably, “How much will all of that cost?!”

Until recently, methods for customer engagement were expensive and time-consuming. The big banks could afford to allot big bucks to ad agencies to create compelling content for social media and other channels, so customers would (hopefully) think of their FI as they shopped, ate, played, and worked. Meanwhile, community banks and credit unions spent precious time and money trying to connect with and engage new and current clients, so those people would choose their FI for each and every financial need.

But no matter the size of the institution, the trouble was this – people just did not think of their bank or CU when they were buying a hoagie at the local deli, trying on a new pair of running shoes, or checking out the newest SUV. There was no immediate consumer-bank connection at or near the point of sale… until now.

This year the new (and only slightly revised) catch phrase for bank marketers is “REAL-TIME ENGAGEMENT.”

As Bruce Lowthers, Executive VP for FIS North American Retail Payments, explained in a recent interview “Is Real-Time Engagement Essential to the Future of Financial Institutions?”, FIs of all sizes can now benefit from the convergence of mobile, loyalty and payments. Lowthers said, “The benefit that financial institutions receive is the real-time engagement with the consumer,” and then he went on to describe how mobile technologies now allow banks “a number of interaction opportunities that will keep your brand front and center with the consumer.”

The good news for smaller FIs is mobile platforms have leveled the playing field. Community banks and credit unions can now provide tools that consumers want to use throughout their day – from mobile and online banking tools, to budgeting apps, to mobile discount programs that send alerts for local deals when users are near a participating merchant – whether it’s the deli, shoe store, or car dealership.

With mobile technologies, your financial institution can be present with your members throughout their daily routines, in a purse or pocket giving helpful tips, financial alerts, encouraging messages, and more. Savvy FIs also recognize that mobile technologies allow them to encourage clients to shop locally, buy smartly, and choose the appropriate payment method.

When it’s done right, real-time engagement is helpful not intrusive, and in the very near future real-time engagement will be what clients expect from your FI - although you might choose to call it something more meaningful like “real-time encouragement, generosity, and advice.” Better yet, perhaps your clients will come to think of it as “real-time empowerment” – because with you as their partner, they’ll have the power to do more with their money for their families, their communities, and their futures.

While we're on the subject, we've put together ten ideas to help you engage with those mobile customers.

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Larky is a mobile loyalty platform branded for your financial institution that drives retention, acquisition, wallet share, and interchange revenue. To learn more, visit or email us at

Posted on February 21, 2015 by AndrewB - No Comments

Topics: Financial Institutions, Mobile