Upgrading touchpoint experiences is only the start, you need to consider the entire journey when engaging with customers buying your financial services and products, says Geoff Griffiths, managing director of BuiltVisible. And the way to do it? Invest in data and content.
The financial services market has become a bit of a specialism for my own agency, with clients covering insurance (B2B and B2C), mortgage advice, health cover and more, so it’s interesting to have the opportunity to reflect on the special challenges of working with financial services (FS) brands.
Obviously, for marketers, one of the major challenges is the sheer volume of regulation that governs each and every individual FS product on the marketplace. Getting up to speed with the compliance aspects of FS marketing is a key task for any agency looking to partner a finance-focused brand and, in practice, agency staff will often be working just as closely with members of the client’s compliance team as with the marketing team.
This, in itself, is no bad thing. The agency can be a go-between for the marketing and compliance teams, and can often help to smooth-out what is often a fairly spiky, mostly combative relationship between the two business functions. Don’t get me wrong, we’re not engaged by the client as a relationship coach. Instead, the residual benefit of the agency’s involvement in compliance matters of FS brands can help to educate each side of the equation about each others’ priorities and concerns in a way that wouldn’t happen otherwise. Once they begin to understand that they do not need to be at loggerheads, the compliance team invariably welcome the chance to contribute to the marketing strategy of the organisation in a positive way.
Credit and credibility
The subject of ‘credibility’ in the minds of consumers is a very interesting subject when it comes to the FS market. Right now, the market is dominated by two distinct types of entity: the large, established FS brand and the young, fresh, usually online-focused challenger brands that are rapidly gaining market share. In the minds of consumers, both types of FS brand are seen as being ‘credible’ but for entirely different reasons.
While the established brand may still have a bricks-and-mortar presence in the high street as well as a hefty advertising budget to stay visible, when it comes to online presences these giants have struggled to keep pace with the latest expectations online due to the sheer scale of legacy technology, platforms and systems involved. Changing the digital direction of an established FS business is like trying to turn an oil tanker.
By contrast, challenger brands conceived as user-centric digital products from the outset have an obvious advantage when it comes to quickly responding to the needs and feedback of their digital-savvy millennial audience. These challenger brands have recognised that the customer experience of the larger FS companies has not kept pace with the modern standard of online mobile commerce, and they have filled this expectation gap. However, their lack of established history and track-record can mean that these challengers struggle to cut through to more traditional FS customers.
For both types of FS brands, established and challenger alike, a smart content strategy, led by the insights gained from customer data, offers an answer to their problems.
Content and consideration
It’s still fairly common for FS brands of all sizes to be spending a reasonable amount of time on content creation without having a clear idea about why they’re doing half of it. Most of them realise that it’s important to get content out there but many have failed to introduce any real structure or feedback loop into the equation to gauge the effectiveness of their content marketing activities.
FS products are very well suited to content marketing as each individual product usually involves a complex user journey and a variety of different users who might be interested. For this reason, there are various points where timely, relevant and often highly specific content can be served to a prospective customer to help them move further along the funnel to conversion.
This, in turn, requires that FS companies turn to customer and marketing data to help identify these key moments in the customer journeys surrounding their products. We do a lot of work upfront with FS brands, cleaning up and streamlining the web analytics data they collect and store. Investing in your data and achieving integrity in implementation and relevance in reporting is the best first step an FS brand can take on the road to an insight-led content strategy tailored to business priorities and customers’ needs.
This article originally appeared in The Drum Network Finance Supplement. For more information on how to get involved, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Geoff Griffiths, managing director of BuiltVisible