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By Charles Potts, ICBA

Innovation is a priority for ICBA. That’s why we’ve spent the past three years educating community bankers on the why of innovation: why bankers should be thinking about innovation, why innovation is a top priority in a digital-first environment and why now is the time to act.

We are now exploring the how: how ICBA can help community bankers drive growth through innovation, and how community bankers can better engage new and existing customers.

Performance marketing

Performance marketing, which is a data-based approach to identifying customer engagement, is one such tool and an essential component of innovation. Good performance marketing platforms follow the complete lifecycle of a customer transaction, and reveal bottlenecks and obstacles. This allows community banks to triage, evaluate and rectify issues before they become problems.

An alumnus of ICBA’s ThinkTECH 2.0, Fintel Connect addresses issues such as these. Using tailored tracking and reporting technology, and a network of financially focused digital outlets, the company helps community banks monitor and measure customer engagement and sign-ups.

Often, the challenge for community banks is finding the right customers, addressing the right need and implementing the right set of digital solutions to attract customers. This is where a performance-based marketing partnership can help to drive growth and customer engagement.

Designed to meet the needs of the financial services industry, Fintel Check—a complementary product of Fintel Connect—ensures community banks remain compliant with their content and marketing efforts. This “canary in the coalmine” tool identifies problems early in the customer journey, preventing customer abandonment or drop-off issues tied to new products and services.

Because the digital world necessitates that you iterate faster, the customer feedback experience is critically important to monitoring and managing the success of innovation initiatives and ongoing utilization. Community banks compete against other solution providers that constantly refresh their approach to engaging customers. This means customer experience assessment is critically important to informing community banks of how well they’re doing with innovations.

Finding the right marketing partner

If you’ve already launched a new digital-first initiative or customer acquisition tool, and don’t yet have a marketing solution and strategy surrounding it, start with ICBA’s ThinkTECH Network Directory. It is a curated list of marketing solution providers and capabilities that address the complete life cycle of the customer transaction, from performance marketing to compliance and results management.

When assessing providers, keep in mind that there is no one-size-fits-all marketing solution. The beauty of innovation is that it comes in all shapes and sizes. Your marketing capabilities must fit your community bank and your customers.

In the end, that’s what marketing and innovation are all about. Are you getting the results you desire when you make a strategic decision to invest in innovative solutions, services and strategies? If not, consider investing in a performance marketing partnership and solution.

Charles Potts ( is ICBA executive vice president and chief innovation officer

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