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Digital Marketing for Financial Institutions or Finance Firms

Digital Marketing for Financial Institutions or Finance Firms

by: George Iacovou

According to a study by the Hinge Marketing Institute (HMI), professional services firms within the finance sector, have not embraced online marketing at the speed at which other industries have for lead generation.

‘But online marketing strategies certainly impact profitability’.

If one considers that firms generating 40% of their leads online grow 4x faster than those with no online leads or that firms generating 60% or more of their leads online are 2x more profitable than those generating less than 20% online leads, it would seem surprising then financial institutions are not doing more to leverage the digital landscape for business expansion and client growth.

A report by Marketo further suggests that ‘financial institutions have traditionally been slow to change, mostly due to the existing perspectives of how things should be done and long time-scales required for their operations. In fact, a recent survey of more than 3,000 banks put out by Wipro Technologies found that fewer than 15% of banks have mature digital marketing policies’.

Statistics by CMO (by Adobe) purports that ‘financial marketers are pivoting to digital because they are seeing diminishing returns and poor audience engagement in traditional advertising channels. Seventy-seven percent believe high-impact ads can breakthrough as much as TV/print ads. Sixty-seven percent say digital is more efficient, believing that it costs less to reach targeted consumers online than off’.

Further, ‘financial services' worldwide digital advertising expenditure rose from $53.7 billion in 2008 to $95.7 billion in 2012, at a CAGR of 15 percent. It is expected to nearly double between 2012 and 2017 to reach $168.4 billion’.

So how does a financial institution or any other finance business maintain effective online presence?

1.  Build trusted relationships with customers through ongoing digital data analysis

As an article by CMO (Adobe) reports , 87% of CMO’s said that ‘their strategic vision for building trust includes perfecting the customer experience, and they recognise the need to embrace the latest data and analytics technologies to build credibility and long-term relationships with customers’.  

In addition, marketing analytics spending is anticipated to increase by 73% in the next three years.

Takeaway: Leveraging analytics in this way enables a company to understand where trust is breaking down in the customer experience life cycle.

2. Devise tactical mobile marketing strategies

Search Engine Land recently stated that ‘Google says more searches are now being conducted on mobile than on desktop’.  This means more and more people are using mobile in order to seek out information on products and services.  

During a recent Digital Marketing for Financial Services Summit held in Toronto, Canada, Erin Elofson, Director of Financial Services of Facebook Canada, informed the audience that there are 7.2 billion SIM cards, exceeding the number of people in the world, and that there are some 100 countries where mobile phones outnumber people.   

And according to Blue Fountain Media, ‘The European Financial Marketing Association says that 9 in 10 banks envision online/mobile as the primary channel for transactions in 5 years’.

Takeaway:  You need to have a mobile marketing strategy in place in order to cater to current consumer purchasing trends playing out on mobile and you need to ensure that your website is optimized to be mobile-friendly so as to ensure a good user experience.  If you don’t, you risk eliminating your business from the online buying cycle.  

3.  Utilise multiple channels and a blend of content

As with any other sector, financial institutions need to be able to identify their relevant buyer personas, those clusters of people to whom they will promote their products and services too.  Once this has been ascertained – based on demographics, needs and interests - establishing which online platforms these individuals are located on becomes far simpler.  

Armed with this arsenal of data, a business is then better able to produce or repurpose a mix of content - be it articles, E-books, guides, white papers, infographics, videos, webinar and more - that contains the information that each of those clusters of people are seeking, and which can be distributed to them through their preferred online channels.

Takeaway:  Generate or repurpose a content mix centred on the ways your customers consume information and distribute that content through multiple platforms so that it reaches your consumers where they are.

4.  Make use of social media

According to an article by The Financial Brand (TFB), ‘while historically late in embracing social media, financial institutions will catch up to other major industries in 2015, focusing on social media marketing, service and advertising.’

TFB further suggests that ‘financial marketers will seek to build brand loyalty by engaging consumers on the most popular social media channels, leveraging each platform strategically to maximize effectiveness’.

Takeaway:  Financial institutions will find themselves having to actively promote their brand through relevant social media channels for purposes of increasing lead generation, enhancing customer engagement and driving brand awareness.

5. Paid Media to ensure online visibility

Financial digital marketers have realised just how fierce the competition is in getting their company seen by a target audience being that online traffic has never been more congested.

As a result, Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising are becoming substantially more predominant as a means for a company to have their content noticed by consumers.

Takeaway:  Paid amplification of content across multiple channels will continue in 2015 so that online visibility is maintained.

6. Marketing Automation to attract leads

Marketing automation software has been designed to pull consumers to a firm’s site through the use of compelling content, so as to generate leads and to consequently convert those leads into actual buying customers.

As TFB infers, marketing automation does this by bringing ‘content management, data analytics, email marketing, SEO and other common tactics together with one holistic tool.  With user-friendly, built-in functionality and robust reporting, marketing automation makes it easier to create trackable campaigns, combining A/B testing, email marketing, landing pages, lead scoring, user profiling, webinar hosting, and more.’

Takeaway: By adopting marketing automation to leverage all means of content distribution, control becomes easier to achieve, not only in terms of consistency but also for compliance which is a significant concern for most institutes within the finance industry.