The financial services industry is caught between traditional and modern-day marketing methods. On one hand, the world has gone predominantly digital and financial services needs to keep up. At the same time, the industry still relies heavily on offline communications, especially when it involves complex financial decisions. That explains why 80% of consumers prefer face-to-face meetings when they’re seeking personal financial advice.
So where does that leave financial services marketing? The answers are below. Here are seven integrated insider secrets to guide you along the way.
1. Become a Student of Your Customers
Knowing your customers is key for any business. It’s about more than having their names and addresses, though. It also helps to know their hobbies, interests, and buying patterns, too. In fact, the more you know about your customers, the better you’ll be able to solve their problems and provide the products and/or services they need. There are plenty of statistics to back up that notion, as you will read throughout this post.
How well do you know your customers? According to Andrea Gellert, CMO of small business financer OnDeck Capital, you should aim to become a “student of your customers.” This means getting to know their needs and concerns. Technology has taken away that opportunity to a certain extent because we tend to rely on emails and text messages to communicate with our customers. But if you talk to them on the phone or in person, you’ll be able to better understand them—and make sure that your products and/or services deliver what they need. That doesn’t mean you rule out tech altogether, but don’t forget the “old school” methods that still work.
- 64% of consumers say they evaluate their financial institutions offline.
- When exploring loans, about 72% of consumers make at least two phone calls.
- To build a relationship with a bank, 75% of people use offline methods to communicate.
Stop Making Your Customers Swim Against the Current
According to a study by econsultancy, the top priority for financial services organizations is getting the customer experience right. In fact, financial services marketers are far more likely than marketers in other industries to regard the customer experience as very important (81% vs. 69%). So to keep up with your competitors, it makes sense to keep your customer’s experience first in your mind. How do you do that? For starters, most people want a personalized, omnichannel experience (keep reading for more on both of those). So it helps to know your customers a bit before you contact them. Let’s look at your telephone conversations. There are two major offenses you want to avoid:
- Transferring callers to multiple reps. (63% say this creates a negative feeling about a business.)
- Making the customer repeat information multiple times. (56% say this is annoying.)
To prevent these problems, route them to the proper rep the first time. Also, know about your customers’ relationship with your financial institution—including their account history—while you’re speaking with them.
2. Bounce Back From the 20-Point Drop by Building Trust
It stands to reason that trust would play a major role in the success of financial services organizations. After all, the industry’s dealing with people’s money every day. The 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer researched the financial services industry and found six international regions that experienced double-digit trust declines among their customers. The U.S. was the highest among them with a 20-point drop. That’s a problem. So what can your brand do about it from a financial services marketing perspective?
Find the Right Mix of Digital and Traditional Marketing Methods
Here are a few ideas (digital and traditional) to get you started.
- Use technology. About 36% of consumers said reliable fraud protection was a major way to increase trust.
- Include human interaction. Over 30% said it was important to interact with a real person.
- Create a customer journey map. Create relevant content for each stage of the customer’s financial journey.
- Be part of the community. Don’t talk at your customers, interact with them. Help them with their challenges.
According to Joanne Bradford, CMO of SoFi, trust is the most important quality for a financial services brand.
“I think trust is the whole value proposition. It’s really customer service. Do they (customers) identify with who you are as a brand? One of the things that’s really important to our trust is our reviews and ratings. We have a 4.9 rating on all the sites that review us. We think that’s really important. (For example) When people are declined, we want them to know why and to be as happy as the people who use our service. Trust takes on every aspect of our company … We think trust is #1, especially when it involves your money.”
Harit Talwar, head of Marcus by Goldman Sachs, also spoke about the importance of trust in finance:
“Trust in financial services is very important. 70% of millennials would rather visit their dentist than their bank branch. So, to build trust, you have to have products and experiences which are on the side of the consumer. And you have to make it simple and transparent.”
If you can build trust with your customers, it will greatly help the long-term success of your brand. Be honest, be transparent, and keep your customers first. They’ll thank you for it with loyalty and increased sales.
3. Go Against the Grain to Connect With Consumers
When Capital One decided to open a series of cafés around the country, the goal was to appeal to their growing base of millennial customers. Still, it raised some legitimate questions. Why would a bank that started online build a series of branches/cafes—especially in a digital era where many other banks were reducing their number of branches? To the average consumer, it didn’t make much sense. But there was a method behind their marketing madness.
Capital One wanted to accommodate those customers who weren’t sold on the solely digital experience most banks were offering. They wanted an alternative. The result was 34 (and counting) locations where consumers can get financial advice—and a great cup of coffee (plus food, free Wi-Fi, and more).
Capital One Café: A Bank Branch or Coffee Shop?
The question is: Are Capital One Cafés coffee shops or bank branches? The answer is “yes” to both. According to the Washington Business Journal, it’s a bank masquerading as a coffee shop. The employees that work there don’t have to talk about banking unless they’re asked specifically about it. So they meander about ready to assist in any way possible. One way they relate to their customers is by providing free advice—even if they’re not Capital One customers. They call it Money Coaching, where you can book up to three confidential sessions and leave with a personalized action plan to reach your financial goals. Membership does have its privileges, however. If you pay for coffee with a Capital One card, you get 50% off your beverage.
Mike Friedman, market lead at Capital One, said they want to foster face-to-face connections with their customers who aren’t quite ready to go completely digital with their financial matters.
“It’s a lot more than just providing the community a coffee shop. It’s about allowing the café to provide those human connections.”
So how does this help you? In lieu of opening your own string of cafés/banks, you can learn something from Capital One’s ambitious enterprise. Stay in tune with your customer’s needs and how you relate to them. Connect with them on their terms, even if it means reimagining what your relationship with them is like. Learn what your customers need and show them that you understand in a way they’ll feel more of a connection to your brand.
4. Cross-Generational Connection Comes From Personalization
Almost 40% of financial services marketers say that personalization is one of their top priorities. If you’re among that group, you should consider yourself a smart, modern-day marketer. Finances are more personal than other types of consumer products and services. That’s why financial services consumers say that personalization influences their shopping decisions. They’re looking for personalized experiences that speak to them directly.
Financial services agency strategists Extractable found that people who receive a personalized online experience from banks and credit unions convert at a 3-8x higher rate. About 65% of millennials and roughly 60% of Gen X consumers are open to sharing their data with financial services brands. In return, they get personalized offers, discounts, and rewards. Furthermore, 25% of customers are more likely to buy from a brand more than once if they receive a personalized shopping experience. The key is to use the data you already have (plus data you have available to you) to better understand and market to your target audience.
The Buyer’s Journey and Retargeting
Your goal is always to treat each customer in a way that best suits their needs. Think of the buyer’s journey. Some visitors might be in the early stages (they’re reading blog posts) while others are closer to buying from you (they’re interested in your detailed webinars or free trials). You can modify your CTAs and navigation options to reflect this journey. Let’s say a customer logs into their account on your website. They visit a page that would indicate they might have an interest in a different product. This information allows you to market to them based on that interaction. That’s one way it works. There’s also behavioral retargeting, where you can market to them based on their internet actions. Once they leave your website, you still have an opportunity to stay in their minds with retargeted ads that are relevant to their interests.
Whatever method of personalization you use, remember to keep your customer’s best interests in mind. This will allow you to give them what they need when they need it.
5. Don’t Let Compliance Stop You From Addressing Customer Questions
In his sales and marketing book “They Ask You Answer,” author Marcus Sheridan outlines the various ways business owners and marketers can serve their customers by answering their questions. The concept is fairly simple, but it involves complete transparency and a willingness to always put the customer first. With inbound marketing, you create helpful content around your consumer’s needs. You address their challenges and solve their problems with content marketing, social media marketing, SEO, branding, etc.
In return, the consumer looks at you as a trusted source. Therefore, they’re more inclined to do business with you instead of one of your competitors. They feel you have their best interests in mind, regardless of whether you get a sale from them or not. The “They Ask You Answer” philosophy is an inbound strategy with a twist. Here’s a case study example you can read more about in the book.
For financial service marketers, Marcus offers the following advice:
“The thing about content in the financial space is that too often marketers and companies get caught up in compliance and convince themselves, ‘I’m not allowed to answer that question.’ But the key for that industry is the willingness to ‘address’ the question—as you can’t always answer it. Just by addressing it though, you’re now a part of the conversation, and that’s the biggest component to winning the battle of trust in the marketplace.”
Content Marketing Case Study: Yale Appliance
Yale Appliance is a popular home appliance and lighting store in Boston. They’ve made millions of dollars using educational articles, videos, buyer’s guides, and e-books that answer consumer’s appliance-related questions. In other words, their business has thrived because of content marketing. By focusing on five different content topics:
- Pricing and costs
- Versus and comparisons
- Best in class
Yale Appliance was able to create helpful content that produced incredible results. The brand’s website traffic, leads, customers, and revenue grew rapidly as a result. In a nutshell, they produced honest content that genuinely helped consumers make their most informed purchasing decisions. The ROI? They connected their content marketing efforts to $10 million a year in sales.
Obviously, Yale Appliance is not a financial services entity. But you can apply the same principles to any business model. Use the five aforementioned categories and come up with content that answers your customers most pressing questions and persistent problems. As you consistently create content and solve those issues for them, you’ll reap the rewards.
6. Refine Your Focus for Financial Brand Consistency
As a brand, when you can clearly communicate your values, mission, and product/service offerings across all your marketing platforms (and all your locations, if that applies), you’ve achieved brand consistency. For financial brands, it’s important to stay consistent to build customer trust and loyalty, and better relate to your target audience.
Financial brand managers can create a more unified brand image by paying particular attention to the following areas:
- Determine your marketing personas.
- Decide what channels you’ll use to deliver your marketing messages.
- Look at what your competitors are doing.
- Define your brand values. Can you narrow it down to a sentence or a word?
- Conduct a financial brand audit.
Brand consistency for financial brands is more readily achievable with brand management software. It also allows you to better enforce your brand management guidelines. Every branch and employee that acts on behalf of your brand has the potential to affect your brand image. When you keep everyone accountable and on the same page, you’re positioning your brand to stay consistent with its image and deliver marketing messages that stay in line with your original intentions.
7. Capitalize on Fintech Advancements to Create a Seamless Customer Experience
Technology has evolved. Thus, so have marketing methods. As a financial services marketing executive, you’ve got a wide variety of channels at your disposal and you should use all of them to your advantage. Furthermore, you should make sure they all work in unison so your customers can enjoy a coordinated experience.
Omnichannel marketing has become a vital component in any modern-day marketer’s strategy. It’s equally as important in the financial services industry where more than three-quarters of consumers say it’s important or extremely important when dealing with their bank. About the same percentage say it’s important that they’re able to switch back and forth between channels when connecting with their bank. That includes their use of websites, mobile apps, text messages, chatbots, phone calls, in-person branch visits, and more.
If we look to the future, it’s clear that financial services organizations will provide consumers with the opportunity to interact with customer care representatives and bank managers without visiting a physical brick-and-mortar location. Bank of America began rolling out live-video capabilities in their ATMs in 2013. They call this service Teller Assist. This feature allows customers to speak with a remote teller for loan information, credit card payments, and other banking-related services.
Artificial intelligence is another example of a growing fintech opportunity. Over 60% of financial services marketers are either already using AI or they plan to start within the next year. That’s about 20% higher than other industries. How is the financial services industry using AI? Data analysis is at the top of the list. For example, Citizens Financial Group is well along in their AI adventure. They enlisted data scientists to combine statistics from multiple sources, both internal and external, to get a better view of their customers. Their data analysis has allowed them to look at their customers more holistically and understand them better.
You Can Apply the Secrets of Financial Services Marketing
When you’re marketing financial products and services, it’s important to use traditional and emerging technologies to get to know your customers. As you build trust and loyalty with them over time, you can personalize your communications and provide products and services that meet their needs and solve their financial problems. Remember, a consistent brand message leads to increased trust and loyalty. So don’t underestimate what a brand management platform can do for your financial services brand.
BlueSky ETO provides brand management software that can increase productivity, maintain brand compliance, enhance local marketing, and improve your marketing ROI. Would you like to find out more about it? Schedule a free consultation with a BlueSky ETO representative to learn how brand management software can take your financial services marketing to another level.
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