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Financial Services Marketing: Everything You Need to Know

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Financial services companies invest a lot of money in getting potential customers' attention: around 14% of total digital advertising expenditure comes from this industry. 

But they don't invest as much in converting prospects into customers. For every $92 put into acquiring a lead, a mere $1 is allocated to converting them into customers. This jarring statistic reveals a critical flaw in the marketing strategies employed by financial services providers—they aren't as profitable as they could be.

At first glance, the significant gap between the amount spent on acquiring leads and the amount spent on converting them might appear to be a simple oversight or a mistake in resource allocation. 

But the reality is more nuanced. Financial service providers seeking to market their products effectively must navigate a complex marketing landscape filled with regulatory and compliance obstacles while relying on outdated traditional marketing tactics.

Companies offering financial services must reassess their marketing approach to bridge the gap between money invested in marketing and money made. They must find ways to convert potential customers into lifelong advocates while navigating the complex finance marketing landscape. We will reveal how to do that based on how we've done it for our financial services clients.

Are you looking for a team of marketing industry veterans who can do the work for you? Learn more about our agency here and about our financial services marketing offer here.

What is Financial Services Marketing?

Financial service marketing is all about how companies in the financial industry promote and sell their products and services to prospective customers. 

It's distinct from other types of marketing too. The unique nature of financial products and services means financial marketing campaigns have more trust and credibility than other services. Furthermore, the methods you use to build these two must adhere to strict regulatory frameworks. 

There are two main methods to promote financial services:

  1. Digital marketing: including inbound channels like blogs and outbound channels like pay-per-click (PPC) 
  2. Traditional marketing: including TV, radio, print, and signage

Most financial service providers will use a mix of digital and traditional marketing. However, due to legacy practices (like the heavy reliance on print advertisements in newspapers), most rely more on traditional marketing channels. 

This is changing quickly as digital marketing campaigns in the financial sector are proving effective in reaching and engaging customers. Most consumers looking for financial services use digital channels like online searches. For example, 93% of accounting customers call a business after an online search. If they don't find you in that search, they're not calling.

 

Why Does the Financial Services Industry Need Financial Services Marketing?

Financial organizations don't have the luxury of sitting and having customers come to them. While this used to be the case, the industry's "lay-back approach" is no longer sufficient, as the landscape has changed due to factors such as increased competition and shifting customer expectations. 

Financial service providers must now engage their target audience to build interest. Several factors have contributed to this shift from laid-back to get-in-their-face marketing:
 

  • Commoditization: Standardizing financial products has made it harder to differentiate from the competition.
  • Disruptive FinTechs: Aggressive FinTechs (Financial Technologies) challenge the status quo and completely upend the established order.
  • Lack of trust: The financial industry has suffered a loss of confidence in the eyes of customers; trust it must painstakingly win back.
  • Regulatory barriers: Tighter regulations are making it harder to market aggressively.
  • Digital transformation: Advances like marketing automation are rendering traditional marketing methods ineffective.
  • Digitization: Digital-first customers expect enhanced and personalized digital experiences.
     

With these barriers to success, financial service providers must create and implement innovative financial service marketing strategies that lead to new business.

Read more about the challenges of marketing financial services here.

 

What Differentiates Financial Services Marketing?

As we've said, financial services must adhere to more marketing requirements and legal regulations than the average industry. While these rules are in place to ensure the protection of customer interests, they act as a significant barrier to marketing financial services:

Examples:
 

  • Affiliations: All marketing must indicate appropriate affiliations, such as "Member FDIC."
  • Truth in Advertising Act: States that "no advertisement may be misleading or deceptive, should be based on scientific evidence whenever possible and cannot be unfair."
  • Truth in Savings Act: Prevents financial institutions from withholding information from business owners or individuals related to checking, saving, and investment accounts.
  • Fair Lending Laws: Prohibits discrimination by demographic or any other trait when providing credit.
     

These rules apply to the wide range of entities that comprise the financial services industry, such as retail, investment, commercial banks, credit unions, insurance companies, and brokerages. 

Depending on the entity type, marketing activities must consider the appropriate requirements. Non-compliance with these requirements can lead to penalties, legal action, license suspension/revocation, increased regulatory scrutiny, and reputational damage.

 

How to Approach Marketing of Financial Services the Right Way

According to Google, in the last two years, there has been an increase of over 65% in mobile searches that include the phrase "should I _____." 

These searches encompass various inquiries, from seeking advice on investment opportunities such as "What should I invest in" to deliberating specific investment options with queries like "Should I invest in _____."
 

Financial

 

The same study, conducted with the Boston Consulting Group, found that up to 50% of offline investors gather information online before closing a deal offline. These statistics point to a common theme: digital gives consumers more control and power over financial decision-making.

How can financial service providers respond to this new control shift? By evolving, adapting, and mapping marketing efforts to a digital-first customer journey.

 

Digital-First Financial Services Marketing Strategy

Reaching digital-first consumers requires a digital-first financial services marketing strategy. This approach allows you to engage with customers proactively, enhance customer engagement, and gain a competitive edge over rivals who have not effectively embraced digital channels.  

For financial service providers, this means incorporating the following tactics into your overall strategy:
 

Embrace Digital Marketing

Relying solely on traditional channels is a losing strategy. Consumers increasingly rely on digital channels for research, decision-making, and interaction with financial service providers. For example, over eight in ten potential investors spend more than an hour researching online before making an investment decision—these are all people you could persuade to buy your financial services or that might know someone who could.

A digital marketing technique like pay-per-click (PPC) advertising helps you segment your prospects based on demographics, behavior, interests, and preferences. This way, you can tailor your marketing messages and content to individual prospects, providing personalized experiences that resonate with their specific needs.

In contrast, you also have traditional marketing methods like print ads or TV commercials. They've been around for ages and have their merits. But they don't have advanced targeting abilities as digital marketing does. Instead, they rely on broader, less targeted approaches that don't attract attention as much. That's why most financial service providers are leveraging digital marketing techniques like:
 

  • Search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Search engine marketing (SEM)
  • Content marketing
  • Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising
  • Email marketing
  • Social media marketing 
     

Going without one or more of these techniques means you miss out on reaching a significant portion of the target audience, lose opportunities for customer engagement and lead generation, and fall behind competitors who effectively utilize digital channels to connect with consumers.
 

Go Omnichannel, Including Social Media

Omnisend found that omnichannel marketing campaigns gain 18.96% engagement compared to 5.4% for single-channel campaigns. Similarly, they keep 90% of their customers compared to single-channel campaigns.

To financial services marketers, this means campaigns must offer an integrated experience across websites, mobile apps, text messaging, email, social media, and other digital channels. 

For example, a credit card company implementing an omnichannel strategy would send new customers a personalized welcome package with a handwritten note and a physical card. The new customer also receives an email with instructions to activate their card and set up an online account. The company provides a mobile app for easy access to account information and personalized offers to enhance convenience. Everyone wins.

A good place to start omnichannel marketing is by focusing on the customer journey (ie.., the steps people take to buy from you) and enhancing the onboarding process.

Optimize your website so a customer can easily open an account from there. Then, follow up with a personalized welcome email or SMS that provides clear instructions on accessing their account and making the most of your services. Also, add a link to your mobile app in the email so they can seamlessly transition to the app. 

In the app, use a live chat agent so customers can easily get help on the app. They smoothly switch to a phone call for a more detailed discussion if needed. Following the call, they receive additional information via email. For more assistance, they contact the organization's social media account. This personalized and integrated approach increases customer satisfaction and loyalty.
 

Use Content Marketing to Educate and Empower Customers

Facebook IQ, a Facebook research firm, published a report stating that only 8% of millennials trust financial institutions for guidance. This data highlights the uphill task ahead for financial service providers. 

Customer education through a compelling content strategy can help overcome this challenge. For example, a blog post on personal finance can be a magnet for individuals seeking information and guidance on managing personal finance. This blog post attracts prospects, establishes your credibility, and persuades them to contact you for assistance if they require a personal finance consultant or similar expertise. Besides getting you closer to a sale, one research paper found that financial clients that you educate with content tend to be more loyal. 

But education isn't as easy as writing blog posts. If it were, every financial business would be profitable. Since you are likely building your marketing plan for the first time, we will share a few tips to create this content, not a full-on guide. For in-depth inquiries, contact us at no cost.
 

1. Identify Customer Needs

Customers respond the most to content that speaks to their problems. To create content like that, you must first identify their pain points. What questions are they asking? What queries are they making when they search online?

This personalized approach enhances engagement, builds trust, and positions your brand as a reliable source of information, ultimately leading to a more effective and impactful content strategy.

2. Provide Valuable Information

Offer informative and relevant content that addresses those customer needs. Create educational materials that explain complex financial concepts, provide actionable tips, and offer solutions to common challenges customers face.

3. Tell Stories and Use Real-Life Examples

Bring your content to life by incorporating stories and real-life examples. This helps customers relate to the information, making it more engaging and memorable.

4. Simplify Complex Concepts

Finance can be intimidating for many people. Break down complex concepts into simple, digestible pieces of information. Use precise language, visuals, and analogies to make the content more understandable and accessible.

5. Leverage Visuals and Multimedia

Incorporate visually appealing elements like infographics, videos, and images into your content. Visuals help to convey information more effectively and keep the audience engaged.

6. Use Data and Research

Support your content with data, statistics, and research findings to add credibility and authority. This enhances the trustworthiness of your content and helps customers make informed decisions.

JPMorgan Chase exemplifies a financial services firm that adopts a distinctive content approach. Through their Research page, they create exceptional thought leadership content and conduct original research, enhancing their credibility within specific industries.

For instance, JPMorgan Chase recently published a report analyzing the impact of gas prices on consumer behavior during the coronavirus pandemic. This research leverages its unique data collection capabilities, making it exclusive to the company. By incorporating their own expertise and insights, they deliver valuable and tailored information to targeted markets, setting their content apart from competitors.
 

Connect and Engage
 
Connect and Engage

 

These days, consumers aren't just looking for faceless brands that offer products or services. They want something more. They want a brand that understands them and cares about what they care about. 

This is where the concept of brand empathy comes into play. Brand empathy means going beyond the mere transactional exchange. It involves understanding and empathizing with customers' financial goals, challenges, and aspirations. 

A survey by Edelman shows that 64% of consumers worldwide choose or avoid a brand based on its stand on social or political issues. This shift in consumer behavior highlights the importance of building a genuine connection and engaging with customers on a deeper level.
This means engaging in genuine conversations, demonstrating empathy in their communication, and showing that you genuinely care about the well-being and concerns of your customers. A great way to do this is to show your businesses' commitment to social and environmental issues.

By putting yourself in your customers' shoes, you can create meaningful connections, foster trust, and establish yourself as a brand that truly understands and empathizes with its customers.


Standardize and Optimize Branding and Messaging

Branding elements like logos, profile pictures, header images, and banner ads should share a common theme and design across all channels. Customers interacting with your brand across various channels should experience continuity and familiarity, crucial factors to building trust and gaining more mindshare.

Messaging should be consistent across channels, drawing from a core messaging brief that informs all messaging across channels.

Besides standardization, branding, and messaging should be optimized for each channel, including adjusting for:

  • Brevity (Twitter)
  • Imagery (Instagram)
  • Audio-visual (YouTube, Facebook, webinars)
  • Authority (LinkedIn, influencer marketing)
  • Searchability/SEO (website, business blog)

Design Frictionless Digital Experiences

Confusing content and visuals and unclear navigational structures can reduce the effectiveness of a financial services marketing campaign. Around 88% of online consumers are less likely to return to a website after a bad customer experience. With more friction (the challenge of completing a task) comes the risk of customers bouncing off the website/app/profile and going to a competitor.

A streamlined digital experience includes:
 

  • Removing unnecessary steps in navigation (e.g., linking directly to a download instead of to a downloads page)
  • Optimizing web pages so they load fast on desktop and mobile
  • Continually analyzing and optimizing the overall digital experience based on customer data and analytics
     

TD Bank did this with its mobile app. It introduced TD ASAP, a feature that enables immediate connection with a customer service representative through a single navigation button. This streamlined access improved the bank's customer satisfaction and enhanced its customer's overall banking experience.


Personalize All Touch Points

A Marketo survey found that 63% of consumers are annoyed by generic marketing blasts. Conversely, 78.6% of respondents said they would be more likely to interact with a brand that sent them offers based on prior interactions with the brand.

Personalized marketing involves understanding who the customer is, what action they have taken, and what they will likely do next. Financial services companies should leverage the treasure trove of consented data they have access to in creating such experiences.

Low-hanging fruit in this regard would be personalization through email automation. Through a carefully crafted drip campaign, financial brands can run effective campaigns that feel personal for each customer.

Here's an example of a personalized email that solves a problem:


However, personalization must go beyond just mentioning the customer's name in the greeting. Deeper personalization includes connecting the dots between actions, such as sending a link to a relevant blog post, case study, or infographics that further educate the customer based on a recent inquiry.


Optimize the Customer Journey
 
Customer's Journey

 

The customer journey is the step a potential buyer takes before, while, and after interacting with your financial services business. This process begins with discovering the product or service to purchase and potentially becoming a loyal customer. 

According to research by the Aberdeen Group, companies that prioritize customer journey management experience a 24.9% year-on-year increase in marketing-driven revenue. They also enjoy a 21.2% reduction in service costs and a 16.8% decrease in the average sales cycle. These results demonstrate the significant impact of managing the customer journey on revenue, operational efficiency, and sales effectiveness. 

By optimizing the customer experience at each touchpoint, businesses can attract and convert more customers while reducing costs and accelerating the sales process. To do that, you need to start ticking these boxes:
 

  • Data-driven Customer Segmenting (divide customers based on shared characteristics for personalized experiences)
  • Optimizing Journeys for Each Target Audience (tailor touchpoints to meet unique needs and expectations)
  • Linking Journeys to Customer Care (connect care touchpoints for seamless support)
  • Investing in the Middle of the Funnel (nurture prospects with personalized content and targeted messaging to increase conversions)
     

When you fail to optimize your customer journey, it can have serious consequences. For instance, 50 percent of customers are willing to switch to a competitor after just one bad experience. That means if a customer has a negative encounter with your company, like a frustrating purchase process or poor customer service, they may take their business elsewhere.


Leverage Technology

Today's customers demand convenience, personalization, and seamless experiences across various channels. Technology is critical for financial service providers to rise to these expectations. 

For instance, technology facilitates automation and efficiency in marketing processes. With automation tools, financial service providers can streamline tasks such as lead nurturing, email marketing, social media management, and campaign tracking. By automating these repetitive tasks, you save time, allocate resources more effectively, and maintain consistent messaging across multiple channels. 

While the adoption of marketing automation technologies has increased, financial service providers need to approach their implementation with a clear strategy to avoid potential pitfalls. 

For example, although chatbot adoption experienced a significant growth rate of 92% in 2019, 60% of users still prefer to wait for a human agent rather than interact with a chatbot. This reservation underscores the need for careful consideration and appropriate deployment of technology.

Successfully adopting marketing automation requires:

Evaluating your customer base 

Understanding their target audience's preferences, needs, and behaviors helps them select the most suitable automation tools and personalization strategies.

Allocating a budget

You need to adequately distribute your budget to ensure marketing automation technology's implementation and maintenance.

Assessing data quality 

Before investing in marketing automation, evaluate the quality and accuracy of the collected data, as reliable and valuable data is essential for maximizing the benefits of automation.

Ensuring resource availability: 

You need the necessary human and technological resources to effectively utilize and leverage marketing automation tools to their full potential.


Collect Marketing Data and Analytics

Understanding financial services marketing ROI is crucial to ensuring suitable investments are made. However, without data, it becomes challenging to gain this perspective.

A Neustar report found that top-performing campaigns (exceeding growth plans by 25% or more) were more data-driven than lagging campaigns. For financial service providers, this means combining consented data from CRMs, social media, email, and other channels into a unified data structure that can provide actionable insights for better marketing ROI.
We use HubSpot here at O8, and it's been excellent for tracking and attributing data. Before using it, we struggled to track the customer journey, had limited visitor engagement, and lacked knowledge about prospects. HubSpot simplified everything by providing a unified source of truth and guiding decisions on social media, email, and content.

You can try out HubSpot's free ROI calculator. It'll help you make informed decisions on social media, advertising, email, and content marketing so you can maximize your returns.
 

[Also read: How To Make Data-Driven Marketing Decisions (With Examples and Results)]

 

Master Financial Services PPC

In a compelling case study, New Century Financial optimized its pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns and yielded impressive results. They experienced:
 

  • A sixfold increase in conversions 
  • An 80% reduction in cost-per-acquisition 
  • A remarkable conversion rate of nearly 10%
     

That's the power of PPC. With PPC, financial services can strategically influence customer behavior, optimize marketing effectiveness, and achieve a higher return on investment.

 

Partner with a Financial Services Marketing Agency

Larger financial service providers like commercial banks benefit from having internal digital marketing teams to drive their marketing agendas. For a small business with fewer resources, partnering with a financial services marketing agency is better than relying on limited internal resources.

Going with a digital marketing agency like O8 means partnering with a dedicated team of up-to-date financial services marketers with the latest marketing trends, tools, and techniques. By hiring our fractional marketing team, you immediately tap into a team of marketing industry veterans who specialize in solving the same problems you have. That way, you can hit your goals when they have the most impact, not at some unknown time when they no longer matter.

Book a free consultation with us.


About Karen Pomazal

Karen Pomazal is a collaborative and results-driven marketing leader with a demonstrated track record in digital marketing, marketing strategy, branding, thought leadership, content strategy, social media strategy, and content development. Karen has earned multiple national awards for writing and video content. Before joining O8, Karen led an in-house integrated marketing team that achieved record lead generation and new client generation, loyalty and profitability, grew inbound business from $0 to $1 million, and accomplished 20% year-over-year business growth for 6 years. She has also run...
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