Cross-Selling with Content in the Digital Future

Researchers at Bain & Company estimate that by 2020, 95% of interactions between customers and their bank will have at least a digital component (if not being outright digital). Banks need ways to improve and integrate digital experiences in order to meet their cross-selling goals.

In the face of a lot of complicated regulatory and compliance-related difficulties, financial institutions have made a lot of progress in the digital sector. However, in Bain’s study, more than half of the 78 banks observed were lagging behind. Banks need to leverage their digital channels for cross-selling in order to continue growing.

What Digital Channels Are The Best For Cross-Selling?

There isn’t a concise answer to this question. Web, mobile, social and email are all channels with increasing use. A strong digital strategy won’t ignore any of these channels.

Website – Your website is really the core of everything you do digitally. It’s a highly-trafficked space where you can do anything and everything you want. It’s what people are using for their day-to-day transactions more and more. Most importantly, it’s what people find when they google you. Everything you do through other digital channels should be pointing people towards your website.

Cross-selling is most effective through your website. You have the best capability to cross-sell because it’s a controlled environment on your turf. You can collect user info and connect users with reps in a place that’s safe and official. (I.e. compared to a public sphere like Twitter where people may not want tell the world about their finances.) Here is the best article on website compliance requirements.

Mobile – Simply put, 90% of mobile is making your website’s features and information available on a phone. (Something like photo-depositing a check might be in the other, unique-to-mobile 10%.) Your mobile strategy should work in parallel to your website strategy. If someone can open an account through your website, they should be able to do it on their phone. Think mostly in terms of feature parity, even when it comes to how you’re cross-selling (but don’t ignore that 10%!).

Social Media – If your bank or CU is on social media, then you’ve probably learned that traditional ads don’t get you very far. You can’t cross-sell effectively with product offers. Instead, focus on content promotion – which should lead back to your website. Share a blog post with tips on saving for college or buying a home. The key is to attract users with content that’s useful to them. Trust comes before the sale.

TIP: Be sure that you are the customer’s resource. Sending customers to other websites doesn’t really benefit you. Don’t become an aggregator, be a resource.

Email – Just like social media, email doesn’t quite jive with traditional ads. Those types of emails often end up in the spam folder, and rightfully so. If I’m not in the market for a car and my bank’s emailing me about a new auto loan rate I’ll ignore it for two reasons. 1) It’s irrelevant to my circumstances. 2) It’s clear that they’re just trying to sell me something.

Emails that cross-sell well should be targeted to the specific customer, which requires you to collect a little information about what they might want to hear about. Your emails should educate before they try to sell.


The running thread in all these channels is CONTENT CONTENT CONTENT. If you’re cross-selling digitally you need to have something to say to your customers besides “buy this at this price”. Content can work on all of your channels to drive connections between customers and reps/advisors.

In financial services the best type of content for cross-selling is educational and informative. Mortgages, IRAs, 401(k)s: They’re serious things that are also pretty complicated.

Here’s how being a content provider benefits you and your customers:

  • Content builds curiosity around financial topics that different customers are interested in
  • It puts education first, answering questions and giving the customer confidence in their decision-making
  • It gives customers opportunities to connect with specific reps who can help

This last point is vital for digital cross-selling. Your content must make a connection. Let’s look at two scenarios. One where a bank provides content with no follow up, and one where it does.


Carla the Curious Content Consumer and the No-Good Awful Missed Connection

Carla Cross Sell Comic 1

You wouldn’t leave a customer hanging like this in person…

Carla the Curious Content Consumer and Cross-Selling Success

Carla Cross Sell Comic 2

… so don’t do it online either! Help them make connections.


The simple, traditional customer service principles shown here apply to your digital marketing strategy. First, your content should tell customers what they need to know about your products. Then it should connect customers to a relevant rep based on their needs.

The road to better digital cross-selling is paved with content. Learn more and start your journey by checking out our next workshop!