2020 Digital Marketing Insights for the Financial Services
Few industries have been as radically transformed by technology as the financial services sector. Today, it is virtually unrecognisable compared to what it was only a few years ago. Whether you’re a consumer-facing financial services provider, or you work with corporate clients, you know that digital technology has altered the very DNA of your firm.
Customers expect to have access to detailed information from remote locations via their smartphone or tablet. They expect you to have a representative available to speak with them at any time of the day or night. Your customers also expect you to act ethically, be transparent, and to put stringent safeguards in place to protect their personal and financial information from hackers and other information thieves.
As the digital revolution continues, you will find your industry transforming even further – some even say that traditional banking may fade away sometime this century as it is forced to compete with P2P lending platforms, algorithmic trading, and AI. These are just a few of the challenges you face when trying to build your brand, reach your audience, engage current and potential customers, and achieve success.
The good news is that digital marketing technologies and techniques can provide you with the traction that you need, allowing you to make the leap into the 21st century and foster growth and profitability. In this guide, we’ll explore some of the most critical digital marketing insights you’ll need to know for 2020 and beyond.
Essential Digital Marketing Insights for Financial Services Firms in 2020 and Beyond
- Content Marketing: When it comes to financial services firms, content is perhaps the single most important key to digital marketing success. Your audience is unique in that they need to know about your financial products or related services, but also how those products/services affect their lives, their ability to achieve critical financial goals in their lives or for their businesses, and what sets your offerings apart from your competitors. Create rich, unique, vibrant content focused around your audience – not your brand – so that you can educate, guide, inform, incite curiosity, and eventually position your brand as the natural answer to their quandary or goals.
- Email Marketing: Email marketing is one of the oldest tools available to you, but that doesn’t mean it’s without value. In point of fact, email remains not just a viable solution for building your brand and connecting with your customers, but also allows you to take advantage of other modern digital marketing trends, such as personalisation (which we’ll touch on shortly). There are numerous ways you can use email to your advantage, from Gmail ads to strategic subject line and header creation, all of which help to increase your open rates and CTR while delivering value to your recipients.
- Social Media Content: We’ve passed the point of no return with social media – it’s no longer optional. Even financial services firms find that Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and even LinkedIn (particularly for B2B companies) are essential ingredients in their digital marketing strategy.
Take the time to identify which platforms are worth your time – is your audience present in significant numbers? Then, establish your brand, create valuable content, and begin interacting with your customers and potential customers. Use social media to expand the reach of other content while connecting your followers with your website as the natural hub of your marketing efforts.
- Reports and Guides: As a financial services firm, you are uniquely positioned to provide invaluable insight and information to your audience in the form of reports and guides. From investment guides to how-to content, competitive industry reports, and everything in between, you can leverage the data you own to create dynamic traffic drivers, loss leaders, and incentives that can be shared via your website, through email, or promoted through social media.
- Whitepapers: Whitepapers help to position your brand as a leader within your niche in the financial services industry. Think of them as “case studies light” and use them to inform your audience about complex issues they face, and how your financial services or products can solve that problem for them. Whitepapers are ideally suited for use as digital collateral on your website, but can also be used in emails as incentives, and in other areas.
- Blogging: You might think that blogging is something best left to other industries, but that is not remotely the case. Use your blog to give the company a personal voice, to engage with your audience on a different level, and to build your authority in the industry as a thought leader and innovator.
- Case Studies: Case studies provide a unique opportunity to highlight what you were able to achieve for a specific client or customer, how your product or service was integral to solving their challenges, and what benefits the client was able to enjoy afterward. Use case studies on your website to help build authority, inform and educate your audience, and to help your site rank well within the SERPs.
- Remarkable Content: From blogging to creating reports and guides, it is vital that ever piece of content that you produce is not just usable. It must be remarkable. Understand that your customers or clients can find similar information almost anywhere, including from your competitors. Make sure that there’s a hook that makes your content stand out. It should be more detailed, more informative, more humorous, more enjoyable, or more accurate than anything else out there. It should encourage your followers, website visitors, or email recipients to like, share, and comment, thereby building your brand strength even more.
- Personalisation: Perhaps the most inescapable shift in digital marketing is towards greater personalisation in every single aspect. This goes much further than ensuring you address marketing email recipients by name.
Your customers expect to be remembered, and that applies everywhere. When they return to your website, they should be able to pick up where they left off. When they log into their account, your platform should remember their credentials. When they deal with your customer service reps (whether digitally or on the telephone), they expect to be remembered and for your firm to know their history.
Personalisation is key to relationship marketing, which is at the heart of modern digital marketing techniques. If you cannot get personal, you’ll be left by the wayside.
- Machine Learning: Much has been made of machine learning, and rightly so. It has enabled a wide range of benefits for firms in all industries, including the financial services sector. Google’s Smart Bidding system is a great example of machine learning deployed within the digital marketing arena, but there are plenty of others. Make sure you’re not just onboard with the idea of machine learning, but that you’re actively seeking ways to incorporate it into your digital marketing efforts.
- AI: Artificial intelligence powers just about everything these days, from Google’s search results to Amazon’s product recommendations. It can and should underpin your digital marketing efforts, too, where it may play any number of roles, from helping you home in on specific audience segments and create bespoke marketing collateral for each individual recipient to powering the search bar on your website.
- Chatbots: As mentioned during the introduction to this post, your customers and clients expect you to be available when they need you, no matter what time of day or night that might be. Of course, many firms simply cannot afford to have human staff available around the clock. Enter chatbots.
These little pieces of artificial intelligence have become incredibly sophisticated, and can answer questions, provide information, offer guidance, and even solve problems for your customers, without a human being ever needing to be in the mix. Employ them on your website, in social media, and many other areas.
- Know Your Customers: How well do you know your customers? That knowledge should be the foundation on which all of your digital marketing efforts are built. What are their pain points? How do your products or services answer those challenges? How do they compare to what your competitors are offering? Financial services firms can no longer afford to be seen as just another company in the industry. You must define what you bring to the table and inform your audience of how you can benefit their lives and address their challenges. Your website content, articles, blog posts, reports, social media posts, and other content should be built around this idea.
- Invest in Accurate Keyword Research: In the digital world, it’s imperative that you are visible to your audience through search results. Whether we’re talking about organic search or PPC ads, the key to achieving that goal is to use the right keywords and phrases in your content and copy. Invest in accurate keyword research. Identify the words and phrases that your audience uses to find financial tools, services, or products like those you offer. Identify keywords related to your customers’ challenges and pain points, or their goals and plans. Then, create content around those keywords so that Google (and other search engines) can identify what you’re all about and rank you accordingly in the SERPs.
- The Right Website: Your website should act as the central hub for all of your digital marketing efforts, but you need to ensure that you have the best site possible. Your customers expect a modern website, but what does that mean exactly? It can be broken down into several important elements, including the following:
- Responsive Design: More and more, mobile devices dominate when it comes to Internet access. You must have a website that’s capable of resizing and reordering content to fit various screen sizes and device types. Responsive design ensures that whether your visitors are using a smartphone or a desktop PC, they enjoy a good experience.
- Easy to Update: Your site must be easy to update and should be updated regularly with new content, news, press releases, and other content to encourage Google’s search spiders to re-index it.
- Professionally Designed: Your audience has certain expectations when they arrive at your website. One of those is that it should be professionally designed. Anything less makes your firm look amateurish, and there is a chance that your visitors will leave. Instead, invest in a polished design that helps to establish your brand’s authority.
- Imbued with Rich, Informative Content: Your website must also contain relevant information that appeals to your audience. It should be more than just a larger-format sales letter. It should speak to them on an intrinsic level about their needs, challenges, and problems, and then explain the solution that you can offer. Remember – it’s about your customers or clients, not about your company.
- Strategic CTAs Help: Your website content is a critical consideration when it comes to ranking in the SERPs, but you must go further. Make sure that you strategically place calls to action (CTAs) throughout your content in order to inform your readers of what action you want them to take. Of course, that also requires that you know what you want them to do – buy now, sign up, opt in, download, or request a consultation are some common examples.
- Testimonials: Your website is one of the most critical assets in your digital marketing efforts, and ensuring that it goes the distance when it comes to building your brand is important. Showing social proof of your value is critical, and testimonials from previous clients/customers can go a long way toward doing just that, as well as establishing trust with potential new clients/customers. However, be sure to only use authentic, genuine testimonials sourced from real customers or clients and correctly attributed to them. Anything less could erode your authority and dissolve any trust you’ve built.
- Identify Ideal Customer: Earlier, we mentioned knowing your customers, but it is important to go even further here. Identify the characteristics of your ideal customer – are they young? Middle aged? Seniors? Are they business professionals, or consumers? What level of education do they have? What about income, or social background? These factors all play a role in creating digital content that will resonate with your audience, from PPC ads to social media posts to blog content.
- Create Customer Personas: With the information in hand from the previous tip, you should begin segmenting your audience into different groups. Each group should be represented by a “persona” – a mock-up that sums up each segment in a unique way. Then, you can use these personas to inform your email marketing efforts, social media outreach, content creation, and more. It’s all about ensuring that you’re delivering the right content to the right people at the right moment in time.
- Identify the Key Message for Each Persona: It’s important to do more than just create cardboard cut-outs to represent different segments of your audience. You must also identify the key message that will resonate most with each persona. For some, you might offer financial security. For others, you could offer the ability to improve their lives. For yet others, it might be related to their children’s future, not their own. Yet others want to achieve a lifelong financial goal. What is it that you can offer each segment of your audience? Define that, and make it part of the bedrock of your digital marketing efforts.
- Be Prepared to Help Audience Segments on Their Customer Journey: In addition to identifying audience segments and then determining the message that will resonate most with each of them, you also need to be prepared to help them along their journey. Every customer has a unique journey that begins by researching their goal or challenge. You must guide them along, providing information and assistance at each touchpoint. Understand that their journey doesn’t end when they convert into a customer or client, either. It continues, and so must your guidance.
- PPC Campaigns: Your digital marketing strategy should include pay-per-click campaigns. They’re invaluable for driving targeted traffic to specific destinations, and can be used while you wait for organic SEO to build, or to help with specific promotions. Make sure that you’re going about these campaigns the right way, though. Set strategic bidding limits, target the right keywords and phrases, and ensure that your ad copy incites curiosity without overtly selling.
- Individual Landing Pages: Each PPC ad (or social media ad, for that matter), must lead back to a specific landing page. It’s tempting to just funnel traffic to your homepage or your contact page, but if you do that, you lose the ability to track your results. Instead, make sure that you funnel traffic from each campaign or even individual ad to a specific landing page. That page’s copy should build on the language used in the ad copy, and it should also include a form so that you can capture lead information for use in your content marketing efforts.
- Automate PPC: It’s no secret that PPC campaigns can be time consuming to administer and monitor. You can save time and even improve your results if you use Google’s automation tools, such as Smart Bidding. This allows you to create campaigns and essentially put them on autopilot, while you focus on other elements of building your business.
Keep reading to explore another three bonus insights into how financial services firms can leverage digital marketing in 2020 and beyond.
- Measure Everything: As a financial services firm, you understand the importance of tracking and measuring. It’s critical to your survival as a business. The same thing applies to your digital marketing. Measure everything. Track all campaigns and efforts. This applies to everything from your PPC campaigns to the level of traffic being generated by your organic social media posts. The right analytics tools are critical here – Google Analytics is a great place to start, but there are others out there. Know which tools offer the most value and the greatest ability to measure metrics and KPIs that matter.
- Always Base Decisions on Data: The data you harvest from monitoring your digital marketing activities should be rolled into future efforts. For instance, use the information you glean about how well social media ads perform with various audience segments to refine your messaging or to create more compelling collateral, such as video content. Every decision you make regarding your digital marketing should be directly tied to hard data. The right customer relationship management (CRM) tool can be an invaluable asset here, allowing you to delve down into data, identify breakdowns at key touchpoints, and build strong, thriving relationships with those who matter most to your company – your customers.
- Focus on Continuous Improvement: In the world of digital marketing, you’re never really done. However, you cannot keep doing the same thing and expecting different results. It’s important that you set goals and milestones, track progress towards them, and identify key changes that need to be made in order to improve your success over time.
We’re talking about a focus on continuous improvement, something that every financial services firm will need to bake into their digital marketing efforts, from website content creation to ebook publication. What can you do better? How can you improve? How can you better serve your audience? Continually ask yourself these questions and push for improvements.
At the end of the day, digital marketing tools provide you with the means to build more brand awareness, educate your audience, expand your reach through a wide range of methods, and a great deal ore. However, it can be challenging to succeed in this area, particularly if you lack expertise in the realm of digital marketing or do not have your own in-house team of experts. If you’re struggling here, we can help. Get in touch with Emarkable by calling us on 01 808 1301 today to schedule a consultation and learn how we can help you build a stronger business.