Financial services marketing for 2016 – 3 key digital trends

Louise Stevens

Client Services and Operations Director

Posted on May 3, 2016

Financial services marketers have something of a reputation when it comes to trends, namely that we’re notoriously late to catch on.

And to a certain extent, that’s true. Our industry is so heavily regulated that nearly all our time gets consumed by documentation, compliance, and legalities. It’s no wonder that bandwagons are hard to jump on – we’re all too caught up in red tape.

That’s not an excuse to get complacent, however. Staying competitive means stretching ourselves to be relevant and responsive to the real life experiences, loves, and concerns of our audience. Trends matter, and paying attention to them is often what differentiates those brands that consumers connect with, and those they don’t.

To make life easier, we’ve researched and identified the three key digital trends in financial services marketing to keep an eye on in 2016.

1. The rise of self-servicing

Self-servicing isn’t new, but it is still evolving and beginning to shape financial services marketing in significant new ways.

With the impact of the Retail Distribution Review and the expectations of tech-savvy Millennials, we’re seeing a massive shift to ‘robo-advice’ and online wealth management. Algorithm-based advice platforms are enabling younger (and older) generations to self-serve their investment advice and make their own independent investment decisions. This is flooding the investment market with smaller private investors and investment companies that all with their own changing needs, expectations, and opportunities.

It’s unlikely that this new kind self-service functionality will stop with the wealth and asset management industries. In the coming years, the digital potential and skill of your brand are likely to be put under considerable pressure to keep up with the demands of an audience that want to be able to take charge of their finances and access advice and consumer tools anywhere, anytime.

Now’s the time to give your marketing strategy a digital health check. Can the Millennials find you, and are they going to like what they find when they do?

2. The customer experience

Putting the customer first, treating them fairly, nurturing trusting relationships and providing products and services that are relevant to clients’ needs and lifestyles – the financial services industry knows better than anyone the importance of keeping these things at its heart.

Heavy regulation has caught up to reflect these customer journey values, but has our marketing?

The relevance and power of content marketing are finally starting to catch on in the financial industry, but this year, we’re pushing our clients to take things further.

It isn’t ‘just’ about a content stream anymore – marketers need to tailor and deliver that content to the customer based on their unique stage in the buying process. One size fits all isn’t going to keep working.

In today’s market, people want to access your company’s content from multiple devices, platforms and channels, and as their experience of your business develops, their needs and interests will change. Will you be able to keep up?

Personal, ‘smart content’ automation systems like HubSpot are proving increasingly powerful allies to help financial services brands treat their customers like real people.  The savviest brands are beginning to target content based on what they learn about their contacts and how that information changes over time. Personalised content could reflect that it’s a client’s first visit to your site, or make use of their interest in a particular product or topic, or even tailor their experience based on their job role.

We looked at the data for more than 93,000 calls to action created using HubSpot over a 12 month period. What did we find? Calls-to-action targeted to the user performed 42% better than calls to action that were generic. – Hubspot 2016

Including website personalisation in your content marketing strategy is the perfect next step for financial brands in 2016, and marketing automation tools could make it far more easily achievable than you think.

3. LinkedIn Groups have changed!

Have you noticed? All LinkedIn Groups are now private, and the ability to post and view any open groups no longer exists! Open groups were getting heavily spammed with content, so LinkedIn made the decision to create two new group types: standard and unlisted.

A standard group now requires potential members to ask for permission from an administrator or receive an invitation from a first-degree connection before they can join and view.  The main difference, however, is that any content you post to a standard group will now only get seen by most group members if it makes it to the ‘highlights’ page. To do this, it needs to have been read a lot, liked and commented on.

An unlisted group, on the other hand, won’t show up in any searches on LinkedIn, and you have to be invited to join the group. They are a good source of sharing content within a company, as any content you share won’t go out publicly.

Because LinkedIn has decided to be more discerning and selective, marketers need to follow suit. If your shareable content isn’t making it to the highlights page, what could you do be doing differently? Now’s a great opportunity to up your game and make sure the time and content you invest in LinkedIn groups is actually achieving something.

So that’s what we think you should be keeping an eye on this year. And if any of it still feels like a mystery or you’re not sure how best to integrate into your marketing, give us a call: we can help.