People walking around a small town with a bank in the background

Successful Bank Marketing Starts With Targeting The Right Consumers

Not all banking customers are the same – from the way they access their assets to the means by which they handle expenses. From those who hold steadfast to traditional banking to users who prefer the agile options of digital banking, common trends for the majority of users suggest the industry is
big enough for both the old and the new.

Katie Mapel considers herself pragmatic when it comes to technology. Never the first among her friends to know about new technologies, she relies on others to tell her about it first. If that technology helps her make all her bank transactions online, she’s all for it.

Katie, who owns a marketing firm in Charlotte, N.C., fits the banking persona of a Pragmatic Thinker, one of four classifications that emerged from a recent Global Web Index study.

The research centers on an examination of the modern banker, specifically their financial behaviors and attitudes. GWI, a market research SaaS company that provides audience insight to publishers, media agencies, and marketers globally, studied bank customers in the United States and the United Kingdom.

Common behavior among bankers can determine a demographic. GWI’s survey revealed these personas in modern banking.

4 Personas of Modern Banking

1. Financial Planners

“I always spend carefully and try to save money.”

They want simplified methods of tracking spending habits. They’ll use automated tools for this and would like to split payments into several installments. Charts and graphs to simplify their spending habits are welcome.

Anne Pond is a wellness advocate and dining services manager in Crozet, Va. She likes the idea of simplified methods of tracking expenses, and splitting payments.

“I prefer a budget that shows where the money that I have is going, not one that shows how much money I need in a month,” Ann says. “It’s an abundance-vs.-scarcity mindset.”

  • 59% male, 41% female
  • The highest percentage of financial planners is age 25-34 (26%)
  • The lowest percentage is 55-64 (8%).
  • 90% use traditional banks
  • 35% use digital banks

2. Pragmatic Thinkers

“I’m not usually the first to know when new technology comes out and having the latest products isn’t that important to me – just ease of banking.”

Speed is everything to Pragmatic Thinkers – fast loan applications, troubleshooting, and money transfers. They’re also after competitive interest rates – the lowest possible.

Katie Mapel might not be the first on the block with new technologies, but if she finds something effective, she’s quick to use it – and tell others about it.

“When it comes to finances, I’m not overly budget conscious but also not a frivolous spender – I know what’s in my account at all times and never spend beyond my means,” Katie says. “From a banking perspective, being able to handle things online is a top priority, including viewing detailed account information, transferring money from one account to another, or from my account to someone else’s and depositing checks.”

  • 45% male, 55% female
  • The highest percentage of Pragmatic Thinkers is age 45-54 (27%)
  • The lowest percentage is 25-34 (14%)
  • 88% use traditional banks
  • 18% use digital banks

3. Early Adopters

“I’m usually the first to know when new technology comes out and like to have the latest products.”

They want support through well-designed messaging apps and innovative mobile features.

Becca Semon owns a photography business in Wilmington, N.C. She’s an ATM-first banker, but uses third-party apps for most mobile transactions – a tendency perhaps both traditional and digital banks should take note of.

‘I don’t even use the (bank) app to deposit my paycheck,” Becca says. “Then I use Venmo and Apple Pay.”

  • 61% male
  • 39% female
  • The highest percentage of early adopters is age 25-34 (27%)
  • The lowest percentage is 55-64 (10%)
  • 93% use traditional banks
  • 38% use digital banks

4. Budget Stretchers

“I try to spend carefully but have to make my dollars go a long way.”

They want loan solutions for no or less-than-perfect credit. SMS alerts for overdraft and other events are critical, as is the ability to split payments, much like the financial planners want.

Sandra Newsome is an acquisitions editor for a publishing company in Cape Girardeau, Mo. She says mobile banking helps her stay on track and she identifies as a Budget Stretcher.

“It’s much more useful than writing in a ledger,” Sandra says. “It helps me to keep track of when monthly auto deductions come out, my exact balance daily, and I get security alerts.”

  • 48% male
  • 52% female
  • The highest percentage of budget stretchers is age 55-64 (27%)
  • The lowest percentage is 45-54 (11%)
  • 82% use traditional banks
  • 34% use digital banks

An Examination of Behaviors

GWI data broke down certain behaviors in banking, according to the persona group.

Loyalty Levels

Banking customers in the U.S. and U.K. were asked if they’re likely or very likely to switch banks in the next 3 months. Financial Planners were the most likely (32%), perhaps driven by features they see at other institutions that aren’t available at their own banks. Pragmatic Thinkers and Budget Stretchers (18%) were less likely to move their money elsewhere.

Anne Pond has had the same bank for many years, but …

“Free checking and interest-bearing savings with less of a minimum deposit would peak my interest for starters,” she says.

Willingness to Share Data

For this category, Financial Planners and Early Adopters (57%) were most likely to be okay with sharing data. This could be attributed to an understanding that targeted marketing often gives them content that caters to their lifestyles and needs, and that data sharing is part of that function. Pragmatic Thinkers (40%) were lowest, just beyond Budget Stretchers (40%), perhaps signaling a distrust of whose hands their data could end up.

Becca Semon says she knows what’s going on.

(Data collection) “doesn’t bother me,” she says. “Every app you use these days collects data. If they can offer services to me based on what they know about me, I’m okay with that.”

Expectations from Banks

Each persona identified features they’d love banks to adopt. Among Financial Planners, 33% want content that explains banking in simple terms, such as blogs, podcasts, or videos.

What about monetary rewards to keep you on a budget? That was the No. 1 ask for Pragmatic Thinkers (47%). “Sounds interesting,” Pragmatic Thinker Katie says. “I would definitely be more likely to be budget-minded.”

Integrated apps would be stellar, according to Early Adopters, at no surprise (43%). They use apps to order a ride or a roasted chicken from their favorite restaurant. They’d like a banking app that could handle the payment for them.

For Budget Stretchers, a feature that would bar themselves from using contactless transactions or spending money when they go over budget would be most helpful, they say (34%).

“I would say that type of feature would be useful,” Sandra Newsome says.


Not all characteristics are exclusive to a persona – and consumers could find themselves in more than one category as their careers and lives change.

Traci Ratzlaff is a broker in Charlotte, N.C. She feels like she started out as a Budget Stretcher because she didn’t track expenses or prioritize rainy-day savings.

“When I decided to become self-employed is when I really decided to put more thought into my budget and spending habits,” Traci says. “I hired the appropriate professionals to assist with my planning and once it became a well-oiled machine I switched over to managing all of it through the use of apps.”

For now, there’s room for both traditional banking and challenger banks in this consumer space. Innovative products, attentive service, and ever-improving convenience are essential for growth for all personas.

“Aside from going to a drive-up ATM, If I never have to step foot inside my bank, I’m a happy customer,” Katie says.

Source: Global Web Index