As consumers continue to demand greater convenience with the online banking experience, many community financial institutions are investing in Web-based account opening technology. This enables them to offer a better customer experience, while still maintaining a competitive stance with larger institutions that already have the technology.

Several years ago, online account opening and funding technology was a novelty — perceived as being too expensive or too leading-edge for the average financial institution's investment.

Fortunately, advancements in technology have made online account opening and funding affordable for any financial institution. However, if it is to generate maximum return on investment, the new offering has to be marketed correctly.

First, Web site visitors should be directed to the account opening solution from various pages through an "apply now" button. The button should be on the home page of the Web site, the landing page of each new product and inside the online banking platform so that users can have the same quick experience opening a new account as they can when managing an existing account. Also, if the financial institution has an online switch kit, directing users to the account opening solution from that page can open and automatically prefill an application.

Marketing can be expensive, so institutions can leverage existing materials to include messaging about a new account opening solution rather than creating a separate marketing campaign. Materials that the bank mails out, point of sale signs inside the branches and meetings within the community are all opportunities to include information for existing and prospective customers. ATM screens and receipts can also showcase messages about the value of the bank or credit union's account opening offering.

In addition to working with existing marketing campaigns, financial institutions can also manage costs by using social networking Web sites to promote the new offering. Many institutions have created profiles on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, etc. and they are a great way to use organic networking to promote a new solution. This not only creates a clear purpose for an institution that may be struggling with understanding how to use an online profile, but it also adds value and helps grow the networking because the institution is providing relevant information.

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