The fundamentals of marketing haven’t changed over the past few decades. Marketers simply have more tools and channels at their disposal to market and sell financial services. For example, word-of-mouth marketing is still highly profitable, but consumers are now more likely to go online to get the opinions of the people they trust and respect.
Through innovative marketing strategies and in-depth customer analytics, you can laser focus your marketing, effectively doing more with less. But you must also appreciate that all our marketing triumphs and failures are magnified in the new era. Successful marketing strategies for financial services can be enormously profitable, whereas poorly planned marketing can backfire in viral, negative press, potentially tarnishing your brand forever.
It pays to keep abreast of the newest trends in financial services digital marketing so you can stay ahead of the curve. Here are the seven top trends we expect to see in 2021:
1. User Experience (UX) Must Be Perfected
The online user experience has improved year-on-year, to where customers expect a smooth, fast, easy, seamless user experience. Even if you have the greatest content, if your on-page experience isn’t outstanding, it will deter customers from buying from you.
Speed is perhaps the most important concern in UX, followed by the visual clarity of your message. It’s also important to ensure the user interfaces you offer on mobile are sleek, professional, and minimize the number of actions a customer needs to perform to get things done. Customers scrutinize financial service web pages and apps for their security and safety, more so than any other niche. Any unexpected occurrences while using your online services erode trust in your brand.
2. Embrace Programmatic Advertising
Pay-per-click advertising has long been a powerful tool in the digital marketer’s arsenal, allowing you great control over the amount you spend on advertising and who you target. Programmatic advertising turns propels pay-per-click by using artificial intelligence to automate the process of buying and dynamically placing advertisements on websites.
Programmatic advertising allows you to purchase targeted ads in real-time. Using outside data to inform your targeting, you can target very specific product offerings to the exact customers who are searching for them right now.
It is estimated that in 2021, 88% of all US digital display ad dollars will be transacted programmatically, so if you still haven’t moved to programmatic advertising, now is the time.
3. Personalization is Paramount
There’s no doubt that personalizing your content to each customer pays dividends. Four out of five consumers say they find personalized content appealing, with 63% saying generic advertising is highly annoying.
Gathering the right data on customers allows you to fully customize every part of the customer journey, from offering them the products they are most likely to be interested in based on prior purchases, to creating a personalized video campaign based on their age, interests, and location.
With personalization, your company can show it knows more about the customer and cares about them as an individual. As you only offer them content that’s relevant to them, they will see your brand as more closely aligned with their needs and values. In 2021, personalization is undoubtedly going to get smarter and central to any digital marketing effort.
4. Data Analytics on Customer Intent Remains a Priority
These personalized experiences are only possible with smart data gathering and utilization. Data analytics now goes far beyond customer demographics; we must capture consumers’ media behaviors, their sensitivity to promotions, their locations during the day, and purchase history, among other metrics. This way, we can perfectly customize marketing to each individual.
For data analytics in 2021, collecting data isn’t enough. It’s about knowing why you’re collecting the data and how you’re going to use it. You should place more focus on the data that shows user intent. By monitoring the pages a customer visits, how long they stay on each page, and the links they clicked, we can accurately gauge at what stage a customer is on the sales journey, allowing us to prioritize the best customer prospects and personalize campaigns to them.
5. Social Media Communication Should Be Two-Way
Social media marketing has long been vital to the success of financial services online, but in 2021 we expect to see a rise in one-on-one communication between customers and businesses. Customers value the ability to communicate directly with an actual person at your company instead of dealing with a faceless brand.
Customers have fewer real-world interactions because of the COVID-19 pandemic. One-on-one communication with representatives of the company can act as a substitute, lending the company more authenticity and opening a useful channel for customers to engage with the company in a semi-private manner.
6. The Rise of Conversational Marketing
Consumers have signaled they prefer conversational interactions online, a real-time one-on-one connection between the company and the customer that mirrors the instant back-and-forth they’ve become accustomed to with messaging apps.
70% of millennials say they have had positive experiences using the conversational interface of chatbots, also known as conversational AI. Consumers often prefer conversational AI for simple queries, as they can get a speedy response at any time of the day or night.
You can use conversational AI to help with the first line of customer support, reducing the time your staff needs to deal with basic queries. All the while, conversational AI gathers data on your users that can be used in marketing material or to improve the customer experience. Of course, conversational marketing can include real one-to-one human interactions too.
Conversational marketing allows you to learn about your customers in their own words. You can personalize future notifications based on what you’ve learned about them in prior conversations. And importantly, it’s easier to build an ongoing relationship with someone you’ve previously had a bi-directional conversation with. People are much less likely to block notifications from a company that’s earned the right to continue the conversation. You can earn that trust by only sending messages of high relevance to the customer.
7. Authentic Video Marketing
Content marketing has long been one of the cheapest yet most effective marketing tools available to financial services. Authentic content marketing is any content you offer to your readers that’s of genuine use to them that isn’t just another way to sell your products. People respond better to content that shows your business cares about its customers and is not only interested in making money from them.
Online businesses must work to make their marketing more authentic. the Bridging the Gap: Consumer & Marketing Perspectives on Content in the Digital Age report found that while 92% of marketers believe most or all of their content is authentic, most consumers say fewer than half of brands create content they consider authentic.
Authenticity can be improved by adding more varied forms of content. Don’t expect a boring company blog to net you many gains; video content has become an important tool for building authenticity while keeping visitors engaged.
By next year, video content will make up over 82% of all consumer internet traffic. By adding impressive video content to your website, you can answer important customer queries, demonstrate your industry knowledge, and offer opportunities for customers to share your content with others in a format that’s easy to digest. Video content can also help improve your search engine rankings for key search queries.
With the pandemic, video marketing has been even more important as the number of online video people watch has skyrocketed. 87% of video marketers report a positive return on investment for video content compared to just 33% in 2015.
Use Marketing Strategies Effectively
Though new marketing tools are unveiled each year and understanding new technological breakthroughs in marketing is important, getting caught up in new trends too early is a mistake if you can’t accurately evaluate how best to use the shiny new toy. No matter the technology you adopt, if you don’t know how to use it well for marketing your financial product or service that resonates with today’s informed customer, then it will offer little competitive advantage.
Not all of these trends will be of benefit to your business. But the rise in authentic content marketing, increased use of two-way social media interaction, and the greater focus on useful, actionable data analytics are trends you should certainly note.
Carefully consider where you can improve your digital marketing and what tools you can add to your arsenal. Is the user experience (UX) of your website up to par on desktop and mobile? Is your content marketing considering the rise in voice search? Are your interactions with users authentic and personalized?
Deciding which technologies to focus on depends on the needs of your business and the desires of your customers. At Learners.ai, we have helped several financial services firms increase the ROI from their marketing and business development efforts, extract value out of their data assets, and provide an exceptional customer experience to drive organic growth.