Are you a financial services marketer in Vancouver?

Back in September at BarCampBankBC I met a man named David Cesarini. David is truly interested in financial services marketing, and after BCBBC he and I met up and I enjoyed chatting with him a lot.

Now I see that he has organized The Vancouver Financial Services Marketing Meetup Group. Sounds interesting (if you’re an FI marketing geek, that is), so spread the word.

The first Vancouver Financial Services Marketing March Meetup will take place on:
Wednesday, March 25th at 6:30pm
At the Dulcinea Chocolate Cafe
1118 Denman Street (map below)

I’m going to try and be there, so let me know if you are planning on going!

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Vancity ranked in top five online banking sites in Canada.

This morning when I checked my Google Reader to see if there was any news about Vancity since yesterday, I came across a nice little surprise.

An article in one of Canada’s top national daily papers, the Globe & Mail had an article entitled TD rides customer service strategy to top of online survey ranking.

Yeah..? So..?

The article is about a recent analysis by Surviscor of the top Online Banking sites in Canada. I was so pleased to see Vancity ranked number four, nestled in between our top national banks, who can outspend us like crazy.

Here are their rankings:
TD Canada Trust 69.27
Royal Bank of Canada 64.40
Bank of Nova Scotia 61.85
Vancity 53.44
CIBC 53.13
National Bank 51.90
Bank of Montreal 49.45
Coast Capital Savings 49.33
President’s Choice 42.34
Desjardins 41.30
ING Direct 31.34

For me, representing a small player among the big national Canadian fish, this is amazing news. Here’s their commentary about

Vancity proved that they can play with the big boys in terms of offering a good online banking product, relative to the other Canadian banks. The online offering offers customers the basic features and functionality but does lack the additional features required to enhance the online experience. There is still room for improvement as its score suggests.

Fair enough. Happy we’re meeting the basics, and it’s true that we don’t offer all the things the big guys do. But I’m working on it, and hopefully the next time this is run we score better and even better the year after that.

In case you’re wondering, here are Surviscor’s categories of review:

  • Getting Started
  • Website Design
  • Customer Support
  • Website Transactions
  • Service Rates and Fees

One more thing. This absolutely proves the co-operative model. If we were left on our own to run our own online banking system, we couldn’t afford to compete with the national banks. We’d be on our own. But we’re not. Because of our partnership with Central 1 Credit Union, the credit union central covering BC and Ontario, all BC CUs come together and decide our online banking future together. We share costs and see ourselves united (well, most of the time) so that our members don’t have an inferior online service experience compared to the banks. This report shows that the model is working.

Hats off to Kelly West at Central1, in so many ways this is truly his accomplishment.

Monitoring your brand health – part two.

In part one of this series, I gave recent examples of when we respond to bloggers when they blog about Vancity. In this part, I want to talk about how to monitor the conversation so you can find those opportunities to respond.

The most basic tool – Google Alerts.
I have just changed the way I monitor the health of the words ‘vancity’ and ‘azaroff’. I have had Google Alerts set up for a couple of years now, so whenever a blog post, news article or web page is published that mentions ‘vancity‘ or ‘azaroff‘ I am alerted by email as it happens.

This helps me keep up with the conversation as it happens about my company or about me personally. Most of what is written is totally ignorable, and most often the post is not even about us. Vancity is a slang term for Vancouver (“Just landed in Vancity, ready for some skiing“), and is also the name of an art-house theatre in town (“Waiting in line to see the sci-fi, chop-socky, Korean anime slasher pic sequel at the Vancity Theatre“). But occasionally I hit a post worthy of a response.

Why should you monitor?
Truth be told, being the first to know puts you in a particularly good position within your company. You are the one with knowledge, and can raise issues. For an organization like an FI where a lot of people don’t get how this works, it almost makes you a magician. Use it! Nothing gets people excited like an extreme blog post, whether positive or negative.

How to monitor.
Monitoring what people say about Vancity is taking more and more time. I have my Google Alerts set, as I described. I also used to monitor Technorati, but stopped at some point because it just wasn’t top of mind. And I have found some good stuff using Twitter Search, but these were manual and I just don’t do it that often.

I was having lunch with my friend Gregory Krysa (“All social media is inherently authentic.“) recently, my equivalent at Aritzia, and he told me what he’s doing to monitor his brand’s online reputation. This is so simple, I almost hesitate posting it in case you are all already doing this and I’m the last one to the party. But here goes…

Using RSS as the aggregator.
So this is the stupid-easy part. I already use Google Reader daily to keep up with all of you guys and your blogs. Well Gregory simply said that all of these services have an RSS feed.

I mean duh!

So if you go to Google Blog Search and look up your company (I’ll use “credit unions” as a proxy) and sort by date, you can see all mentions of your company in the blogosphere starting with the most recent. This page has an RSS feed. You can see it if you use a browser that automatically discovers feeds, or you can see it in the left-hand column of the results page.

Google Alerts also allows you to subscribe via Google Reader instead of email. Google Alerts let you do a comprehensive search so you can get sent news, websites and blog posts. Google Blog Search allows you to do an advanced search, so I can remove words like “theatre” so I skip posts about what’s playing at the Vancity Theatre. Find the one that works best for your needs and add it to your preferred RSS reader (if you don’t yet use an RSS aggregator, I’m not sure I can help you).

Beyond Google.
Technorati also has RSS feeds included in their search. Look up your company in Technorati and then see that there’s a little RSS icon at the top-right of the centre column of the results page. For some reason, Google Reader was finicky with this, and it took a few tries, but it worked.

Now do the same thing in Twitter Search. In the right-hand column, there’s a link to the RSS feed to this result. Voila!

Now check Google Reader.
So then I created a folder within Google Reader called “vancity”, and put all these feeds in there, along with the feeds from our main website and from

It isn’t perfect.
I haven’t found a way to check Facebook. Facebook is a closed community, and there aren’t RSS feeds. If your needs become this sophisticated, perhaps it’s time to invest in a blog monitoring service who can add this dimension to your search. If you use one, please leave a comment and let me know which one you use and whether or not you are satisfied. I imagine we at Vancity are ages away from needing that.

I hope this was useful as a practical way to start understanding the word of mouth that is happening online about you or your organization. Let me know if you’re already doing this, or have better methods. I have just set this up, and it’s already been phenomenal.

I look forward to your comments…