Historically, The finance industry has been slow to develop any understanding of the value digital marketing can bring to their corporation or brand - and as technology increases they are continuing to struggle to harness it's power. Financial marketers have struggled to allocate budgets to digital channels and are often unable to provide appropriate measures of success. It need not be that way! Based on the areas where we see most financial services getting it wrong, here are a few simple pointers. 

Harness the power of advanced digital marketing analytics

We live in an age where companies have access to real time information on customer engagement, and are able to seamlessly and constantly tailor campaigns as a direct result. This isn’t about launching a campaign to a generic audience, hoping for the best and measuring results by asking contacts where they found you from. Rather it's about leveraging advanced data analytics to clearly define and then engage with a very specific and targeted audience and optimise accordingly. Data analytics should drive your marketing campaign, they should be the basis for how you move onto the next part of your strategy and they should be where you get buy in from whoever sets your budgets.

Not leveraging data analytics for campaigns simply decreases ROI - e.g advertising retirement homes to high school students. 

With the appropriate use and harnessing of this data, you should be able to lower your overall costs and improve profitability by using the data to identify your particular customers needs. One financial corporation did just that, they were able to identify customers who were still making branch deposits of cheques and launched a targeted marketing campaign to educate those customers on remote deposit capture. As a direct result over 5% of their customers made the switch permanently to remote deposit capture. 

Don’t blind with science, use plain English and sell the brand purpose not simply “a product” in every campaign.

Like any business, the culture of banking has created a whole new world of jargon and unfortunately some of those acronyms and internal languages make their way into their marketing campaigns. Similarly, financial marketers fall into the same old claim of “amazing rates” and “great service” followed by a product features list. How does this help you to stand out from your competitors? 

In our experience the way you stand out is to stop selling a product, and start selling your purpose. Instead of positioning the bank as the hero who saves the day, position yourself as the wise and helpful guide and position the consumer as the hero. Be Dumbledore to your customers Harry Potter. You’re there to be the steady hand that helps them achieve their goals. No matter how old, established and wise you might be, the customer needs to feel empowered.

No one-size fits all!

It’s easy to place “digital marketing” under one all inclusive banner  along with TV, radio, direct mail etc. but we must caution against this approach. Spend some time getting to know the variety of platforms out there, the big players like Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter are all somewhat different. They are unique with very different audiences, approaches and communities of their own and it is your job to harness the dynamics of the platforms to ensure that your marketing campaign is appropriate and effective for that channel. An approach that works on Facebook may not necessarily work on Instagram, it may even work against you.

You need to take into account the characteristics of each channel, who its audience is in relation to your business and how you can most effectively interact and engage that specific audience over your chosen platform. If you are thinking of adopting a multi-channel campaign it is important that your brand story is consistent across all those channels but that may not mean that the style, tone and method have the same delivery. 

Losing branding focus

In the digital age, It’s easy for financial marketers to get so caught up in new campaigns designed to drive new business that branding is often forgotten. 

Whilst this approach is something of an easy win, there could be longer- term repercussions. It’s important that staff and customers recognise the brand, and what lies behind it. Are you claiming your a digitally savvy company but your brand is outdated? A company that is trying to pitch to switched-on, mobile-centric consumers will struggle if its branding is perceived to be old-fashioned and past its prime. Financial institutions should ask themselves whether their brand still reflects their core values, and whether it contributes to the overall strategic direction that they are working towards.

Evaluating a brand means taking a hard look at all aspects of branding throughout the organisation, including how the company communicates with staff and customers, how the brand is seen in the eyes of staff and customers, and how it sits in relation to other companies within the sector. It’s easy to think of branding as purely the visual elements, such as print materials and website presence, without taking into account the organisation as a whole. Without looking into your back-office systems, workflows and operations, any visual rebranding is just window dressing.

Consumers today are looking for a meaningful and engaged relationship with the financial organisations that they deal with, and this goes far beyond the basic details of any financial product or offer. By focusing on the culture of the organisation as part of brand marketing, financial institutions can make a real connection with their audience, driving valuable long-term growth.

Not having a goal or plan!

Last – but by no means least – comes the common failure of banking institutions everywhere to have a definitive and achievable plan of action for the year ahead. In fact, you only have to mention those two infamous words “forward planning” to any senior management team and you’re almost certainly guaranteed to see blank expressions, last year’s marketing report (complete with well-earned cobwebs) and quite possibly, a few statistics which were most likely thrown together just ten minutes ahead of your meeting.

But why?! ...

With increasingly more consumers turning to online banking and using comparison sites in their search for products such as loans, mortgages and insurance, it’s a truly fantastic time for banks and credit unions alike to not only get on-board with a solid digital marketing strategy but, above all else, to engage with their customers through the use of very simple technology. And it really doesn’t have to be any more complicated than that.

Today’s global market offers so much potential through the use of search, social and email marketing that it’s almost impossible not to reap immediate benefits from it – not to mention, of course, the recent changes in data protection legislation which means that customers now only get to receive the marketing material that they’re actually interested in and have signed up for. 

So, by adopting a very simple marketing approach, you will delight both new and existing clients, whilst also using data, statistics and trends to plan ahead for the future. 

Plan ahead – create a physical roadmap of what your journey looks like now, where you want to be and how you will get there (small steps at a time).  Think about potential detours or any issues and make sure these pose nothing more than a little bump in the road – not a major road block!

Reach out to both new and existing customers. Get to know them and never assume that you know what they want in terms of products or services. Instead, take the time to actually ‘ask’ and engage with them and above all else, make it fun. Let’s be honest – no one actually ‘enjoys’ banking!

Interact with people who don’t already engage your services and find out why. Think about what you could do better to get them on board and above all else, find out what your competitors are doing. Knowledge is a powerful commodity.

Convert your services. Build multi-channel sales potential, make the customer journey is one they’ll remember for all the right reasons and know that they’ll be talking about you to others, for all the right reasons. Ever heard of Johnny the Bagger and ‘The Simple Truths of Service’? No? Google it. I promise you right now it’ll be the best few minutes your company ever spent. It’s simple. And it works.

Engage with others to earn customer loyalty and increase customer retention – see point “C” above and tell me it doesn’t work!

The crux of the matter is this. Without a given goal or plan to work towards your marketing campaign will never be capable of being the success you have in your mind’s eye. The benefits are huge and by simply keeping a close eye on how effective your online marketing is, you’ll quickly be able to manipulate the data to achieve results you never thought were possible.

But don’t just take ‘my’ word for it. Give it a go.