Ajay Tejwani

Category: Social Media

One Bank that Got Social Media right – Ally Bank (Case Study)

In 2001 General Motors Acceptance Corporation (GMAC) bank was founded by a company that began in 1919, and in May 2009 GMAC bank launched Ally Bank.  It was created as an online-only “direct banking” for people in the United States (US) and GMAC financial services.

In May 2010, GMAC decided to re-brand itself as Ally Financial Inc. and Ally Bank became subsidiary of that bigger whole. Ally Financial was originally created to provide financing to automotive customers but has expanded to have 15 million customers worldwide and now provides insurance, online banking, mortgage operations, and commercial finance. In 2012, Ally Financial I at #201 on Forbes Fortune 500.

In July 2012, the Ponemon Institute announced the results of the 2011 Privacy Trust Study for Retail Banking. The survey was conducted from December 2011 until January 2012 and derived from sample of 5,571 US audit consumers. The study has been measuring consumer perceptions of trustworthiness for 9 years. However unlike past years ranked at #5, this is the first year that Ally joined the top 5 list of Most Trusted Retail Banks for Privacy 

In March 2012 according to the Change Sciences GroupAlly was ranked #1 out of 22 in ”Financial Services Social Media 2012.” Their presence and engagement on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube contributed to their ranking, along with their customer-centric approach.  In the online article “Ally Bank Tops List of Financial Services Companies Using Social Media” they pointed out some very impressive numbers about their social media approach, “Every month, an average of 1,500 pieces of content are published on Ally Bank social media channels, including the Ally Straight Talk Blog, Facebook and Twitter channels. Topics range from Ally Bank product information to personal finance tips and tools. Followers across these channels increased more than 550 percent in 2011.

In April 2012, the website Financial Brand ranked Ally Bank #5 in “10 of the Top Best Banking Brands to Watch.” Among some of the reasons for the ranking was their straightforward motto “no nonsense, just people” along with “reject big bank nonsense,” their humor infused advertisement campaigns, and how they always manage to “keep things moving” in their ever evolving ad campaigns and constantly growing social media presence.

Ally Bank has listed 10 notable awards on their website for 2012 alone and many more for past years too. To recap clearly, I have listed the 3 awards that I think display their marketing success the best.

  • According to The Ponemon Institute, Ally was ranked #5 on the Most Trusted Retail Banks for Privacy
  • According to the Change Sciences Group, Ally was ranked #1 out of 22 in “Financial Services Social Media 2012,” due to their social media presence, engagement, customer-centric attitude and growth.
  • The website Financial Brand ranked Ally Bank #5 in “10 of the Top Best Banking Brands to Watch.” Since Ally Bank burst onto the scene just a few years back, they have been a formidable force and that award was a result of their huge accomplishments: The award notes their “no nonsense, just people” and “reject big bank” mottos, various humor infused advertisement campaigns, and their constant forward movement that is displayed in the constantly evolving ad campaigns and constantly growing social media growth.

Ally Bank has had 4 advertisement campaigns in 4 years and that might make consistency difficult but also shows that they are always willing to try new tactics to “keep things moving.” Their successful ad campaigns have helped them distance themselves from GMAC’s tainted past. In the online article “If Advertising Doesn’t Work, Then Why is ‘Ally’ A Household Word”  they pointed out their massive budget advertising budget the year they were launched, “Ally spent $25.8 million on advertising in the first half of this year, on top of more than $95 million in 2009, according to Nielsen, a media research company.“ Then the article continues on to quote impressive tangible results during that time frame

“Ally Bank has available, 40% of the financial institution’s target audience is familiar with the brand. 29% say they know something about the brand, while another 27% report having a fair- to significant amount of knowledge about the bank.” Next they go on to ask, “How has the bank achieved these impressive awareness numbers? They didn’t do it with PR or flash mobs or social media. They did it with a good old fashioned advertising strategy that includes TV, radio, online and — gasp! — even print.”

What were their 4 advertisement campaign approaches?

  1. In 2009, they had an extremely popular and humorous “do you want a pony?” campaign that focused on honesty, transparency and accountability.
  2. In 2010, they shifted their ad campaign to a different tactic:  an overtly obnoxious and awkward narcissistic love campaign. They seemed to lose some humor and their “no nonsense, just people” motto for a short period and then replaced it with the idea that if you don’t love your bank that you should switch.  But really does anyone really love their bank?
  3. In their 2011 ad campaign, they regained their twisted humor and refocused their messages to “no nonsense, just people sense” and created a nonsense” campaign.
    1. In the online article “No More Love for Ally Bank as They Search for the Right Ad Tactic,” they point out how they are spreading the latest campaign wide and far with the following quote:

It includes two TV and two radio commercials, as well as print, digital and outdoor. Spots will air on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, ESPN, HGTV and the Golf Channel. Print will run in Money, Fortune, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. Digital advertising covers CNNMoney.com, Yahoo, MSNBC, AOL, Kiplingers.com, Real Simple and Bankrate.

  1. In their latest campaign in September 2012, they launched yet another campaign for an undisclosed amount of money. This time they are stressing the customer always being first with the motto “Your Money Needs an Ally,” using two different ad tactics.
    1. In one of their ads, they use a “robot ad” to stress the importance of banks providing 24/7 human interaction and support to clients, as opposed to opting for cheaper automated systems like some larger competitors.
    2. In their other strategy, they use a “predictions ad.” The online article “Ally Bank Launches ‘New’ Stages Campaign”  explains the ad well in the following quote:

Thomas Sargent, Nobel Laureate in Economics, who is asked to predict what CD rates will be in two years—and is unable to do so. The commercial features Ally Bank’s popular Raise Your Rate CD, which offers the option to increase a rate once over the two-year term CD or twice over the four-year term CD should rates go up. Like all Ally Bank CDs, the Raise Your Rate CDs require no minimum deposit to open, feature no monthly maintenance fees and offer the Ten Day Best Rate Guarantee.

Some Essential Aspects of Their Successful Marketing & Media Campaign:

Simple yet straightforward philosophies of “no nonsense, just people,” “reject big bank nonsense” and “no robots” to stress the 24/7 human support they provide.

Changing their name from the tarnished GMAC to Ally Bank and later Ally Financial while allotting a large budget for a huge, creative marketing team, because they realized realizing that marketing was essential for creating a new, successful image.

Constantly evolving clever ad-campaigns that are well-funded and widely spread via TV, print, radio, and internet.

A large marketing presence on the internet that includes active customer engagement with engaging topics, direct connection to customers via social media interaction, and as a result extreme, rapid growth in their social media campaign .

Ally Bank’s customer-centric business model is also demonstrated through its 24/7 live customer service, Ally Perks debit rewards program and reimbursing ATM fees nationwide among other services, features and products.

Great Customer Reviews

Their “no nonsense” approach and perks have led them to be ranked highly for trustworthiness among retail banks. Trust can make or break a bank because when it comes to people’s money trust is one of the most essential components they look for in a bank.

In April 2012, they expanded their customer-centric offerings with the launching of Ally Mobile Banking for iPhones and androids. They exceed 1 million customer accounts, and the Bank has seen consistent growth—including a $1.6 billion increase in retail deposits in the first quarter…

If there short but eventful history is any indicator of the future, then Ally Bank is likely to see continued growth, success, and more ad campaigns. They just have to continue to use their “no nonsense” and “reject big banks nonsense” mottos, along with flexible marketing.

Additionally they have to use social media platforms to continue to communicate directly with their customers, and to keep things transparent so that they can maintain trust. Lastly, they have to keep their social media up-to-date so that they maintain that edge on competitors!


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