I had the opportunity to visit with James Robert Lay recently. He is the CEO at Digital Growth Institute. Below is our Q&A. Check out Part Two of the story here Thursday, October 5, 2017.

What is the Digital Growth Institute?

We are on a mission to simplify digital marketing for banks and credit unions. We want to help financial institutions grow their digital presence from good to great. In the last 15 years, we’ve worked with over 450 financial institutions to do just that.

How would you summarize the state of digital marketing as it relates to financial institutions?

It could be a lot better. We’ve been tracking that very issue through our digital growth score. Unfortunately, financial institutions digital growth score has only increased about one percent each year. Today, the average score is 27% across the industry. We are seeing slow and incremental changes.

What is interesting is there is no correlation between an institution’s score and its asset size. In some cases, the larger ones actually slow things down. Those institutions between $200 million and $1 billion in asset size are in a great position to grow their digital marketing.

What are some new and innovative ways credit unions and banks are using digital to grow?

It all boils down to one thing: online or digital lead generation. You need to capture names, acquire e-mail addresses and nurture those prospects over time. This is why marketing and sales need to work together. Marketing is positioning and generating leads; then sales is closing that lead. The focus in digital marketing needs to be on lead generation.

Why is storytelling such an important part of digital marketing?

Storytelling, or what we call StorySelling, is a foundational element of success of digital marketing. Google has commoditized financial services. While rates are important, education is just as important. This is where storytelling comes into play. When it’s all a commodity, there is no differentiation. You need to guide consumers towards their hopes and dreams. Storytelling is the differentiating factor in the digital channel.

How can the Digital Growth Institute help credit unions and banks?

We can help them become aware of what growth opportunities there are through digital. Digital marketing can be overwhelming. There are three main steps the Digital Growth Institute can help banks and credit unions take: education, planning, and implementation.

Once a bank or credit unions have a documented Digital Growth Blueprint, they can confidently commit to transform their marketing. This often begins with building a website that sells. We help financial institutions must break free from their website just being an online brochure.